February 25, 2007
The little bites that delight the palette before a meal are the amuse bouche. They are the greeting of the Chef du cuisine and an insight into his or her approach to cooking. They are intended to excite the taste buds, stimulate the appetite and awaken one’s desires. In other words, David, this is food foreplay and foreplay foreplay.
After she’s slipped off her coat to reveal her ravishing party dress, that’s when you pull this one out of your tocque. She won’t see it coming, which will make it all the more delightful.
Parfait of Roasted Eggplant, Tapenade and Creme Fraiche
Don’t be afraid to throw your weight around and or words like Parfait. It makes you sound manly. Try unbuttoning your shirt down to your solar plex before you say it.
2 medium sized purple eggplants
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs fruity olive oil
1/2 tsp deseeded, minced habanero
2 pinches of salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 425. Poke the eggplants with a fork so they don’t explode and make a mess of your stainless steel Viking. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Place the eggplants on the parchment and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the eggplants over and roast for 20 – 30 minutes more until they collapse.
Slice the eggplant lengthwise on one side and place in a collander to drain out the bitter juices. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Scoop out the meat and place in a food processor with the garlic and oil. Puree until smooth. In a bowl, combine the pureed eggplant and the remainder of the ingredients. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins.
1/2 pint oil cured olives, destoned
1 Tbs capers
1 anchovy filet
1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic
Pound the olives with the broad side of your chefs knife to loosen the stone. Remove the stones and discard. Pound the ingredients in a molcajete or use the food processor to make a course paste. I think you’ll get more points and look more manly if you use the molcajete. You make this several days in advance.
The Creme Fraiche
You can make your own creme fraiche or you can find it in your grocer’s dairy case. I like the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company’s version. It has a rich, nutty flavor and is the closest to what I’ve enjoyed in Brittany. If I were you, David, I’d find the nearest family-owned dairy farm and beg them to set aside a cup or two of fresh cream for a couple of days. Home run.
Create the Parfait
In a stemmed sherry or liqueur glass, layer the creme fraiche, the tapenade and the eggplant. Add another layer of tapenade, again with the creme fraiche and finish with a slice of preserved lemon. Serve with an oh so cute little spoon and a glass of prosecco. Consider tango lessons.