Saturday, September 21, 2013

Return to Sablet and a wonderful Zucchini Beignet recipe

We are on the way to Sablet. We are spending the weekend in Lausanne (I will share highlights in a future post) where my late father Daniel was born in 1920. We will also be attending my little cousin Audrey's wedding a short distance away in Gland Switzerland on Sunday. The weather is divine so this should be a fun weekend.

We can't wait to get to Sablet and see our friends Steve and Mary from Michigan, our friends in Sablet and nearby villages and the cousins who won't be at the wedding tomorrow. Tuesday morning, we will be at the market in Vaison-la-Romaine.

There is so much we want to do during our visit. Eating favorite Provencal foods, either at our favorite restos or cooking at home and drinking wonderful wines are high on the list. We buy fresh produce at the weekly markets but when we need something, I happily run to Vival and get it.

Vival Epicerie

Our favorite people and friends in Sablet include Alain and Mimi Fabre, the proprietors of Vival. I treat their well-stocked mini-market like my personal pantry. They have everything we need and just 5 minute walk from the house. Prior to when the Fabre bought the store, there was very little on the shelves and made me wonder if that was how stores were during the War or in third-world countries.

Alain and Mimi Fabre

As I said, I love to make and serve food from Provence. One of my favorite cookbooks is "Made in Marseille" by Daniel Young. Many of the recipes come from restaurants in Marseille.

This summer, Shirley planted several zucchini plants and they have produced prodigious numbers of zucchini. It seems that if you don't check daily or miss one hiding behind some leaves, that they grow as big as your arm in a day or so. If you have zucchini in your garden, you know what I am talking about.

I have been trying all kinds of recipes with zucchini and we have given what we can't use away to the neighbors. My favorite new zucchini recipes are; Clafoutis Provençal from Barbara over at Cuisine de Provence and this recipe for zucchini fritters from the "Made in Marseille" cookbook by Daniel Young.

Zucchini Beignets (fritters) with tomato sauce

Beignets de Courgettes
Makes 4 servings (About 12 Fritters)


2 pounds zucchini
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Frying oil


1. Peel the zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks, place in a pot of boiling salted water, and cook for 15 minutes; drain and let cool. Wrap the zucchini in a clean dish towel and squeeze out all the juices (It will be like a faucet; you may have to scrape zucchini off of the dish towel).

2. Dice the onion (I sauté the diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until cooked).

3. Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the zucchini, onion, parsley, and eggs. Season lightly with salt and pepper and mix well.

4. Heat a good 1/2 inch of the frying oil in a sauce pan over moderately high heat. Working in batches, scoop up a heaping tablespoonful of the mixture, drop into the sauce pan, flatten it just slightly with a spatula, and fry until golden about 2 minutes on each side.

5. They are delicious plain, even better accompanied by a simple tomato sauce.

It is very easy to double the recipe if you want more for a bigger party. The recipe may seem complicated but it's not! It makes for a nice change to side vegetables. Since zucchini is available year around, you can serve it for holiday parties.

Have a great weekend. Chat soon.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Visit to Faucon and a delightful Lunch at Le Laurier Restaurant

Sorry, I have been a little distracted the last few weeks so I have not written for the blog. As some of you know, my wonderful mom, age 93 just passed away. Besides dealing with that, we have been working on a couple of deals at Chancellor Health Care, and Shirley hooked me on "The Good Wife" starring Julianna Margulies.

Truth be told, the little free time I have has been taken up watching the first ten episodes of season 1. The series focuses on Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), whose husband Peter Florrick (Chris North), a former Cook County state's attorney, has been jailed following a very public sex and corruption scandal.

Alicia returns to her old job as a litigator (having taken 13 years out to be a stay-at-home mother) to provide for her two children. The series was partly inspired by the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, as well as by other prominent American political sex scandals, like John Edwards and Bill Clinton. The writing and cast is wonderful. But I digress.

Faucon is another example of a village in the Vaucluse we discovered through a restaurant. Faucon is a small village (416 inhabitants) perched on a hill with a magnificent panorama of the Alps and Mont Ventoux. An ancient walled city, the houses were built with local stone which gives architectural unity and character to the village.

The Village of Faucon

We went to Faucon for lunch at Le Laurier Restaurant, a resto on my list of places to try since we moved to Sablet. There is no shortage of good restaurants in the Vaucluse so it took us a while to get there. Once in Faucon, we found the restaurant at the top of the village near a fountain at Place de la Chapelle.

Le Laurier Restaurant at Place de la Chapelle

Le Laurier Restaurant

Le Laurier has seating on the patio in front of the restaurant and on a covered terrace with protection from the wind. It was a cool day so we chose to sit in the small dining room.

The Interior of Le Laurier Restaurant

The chef offers a market menu with three choices for starter, main course and dessert, all for 26 Euros. The menu changes frequently based upon availability of local products, organic as much as possible. They adhere to the slow food philosophy.

For my starter I chose the "Terrine de foie gras de canard fermier, compotée de fruits du moment" (Duck foie gras with a fruit compote) for a 2 Euro supplement.

Shirley chose the "Velouté de petits pois printanier, bavaroise de chèvre frais de Aubres" (spring pea soup with fresh goat cheese).

I selected the "Croustillant d’agneau de Pays confit miel et gingembre, légumes de saison" (Slow cooked local lamb in pastry with seasonal vegetables), also with a 2 Euros supplement.

Shirley's main course was the "Poisson retour de criée, risotto de petit épeautre bio de Buis" (fish served over spelt cooked risotto style). This was one of Shirley's favorite dishes ever based upon all the little noises she made after each bite.

For dessert, we both chose the "Entremet chocolat et poire" (chocolate ice cream with pear dessert). Our lunch at Le Lauier restaurant was the culinary highlight of this visit to Sablet. We will be back again.

After our very good lunch, we walked around the village (see the pictures which follow). There were many pretty sights but I could not find much written about the history of Faucon so I can't tell you anything about what we saw.

The original date of construction for Saint-Germain church seen below is unknown. It was restored in 1668 and again in 1677.

Saint-Germain Church

There are lots of narrow streets with archways.

The medieval arch seen below overlooks the valley and frames a beautiful view of the north face of Mont Ventoux.

Medieval Arch

Remains of the Feudal Castle

The houses are built of stone.

The clock and bell tower of Saint-Germain Church

The clock and bell tower of Saint-Germain Church

Notre Dame des 7 Douleurs Chapel was constructed in 1644 and restored in 1850.

Notre Dame des 7 Douleurs Chapel

Memorial to the children of Faucon who died for France in World Wars

You can add Le Laurier restaurant to the list of very good restaurants in the Northern Vaucluse. I will try to do a better job of posting regularly as I love hearing from you with your comments and feedback. Have a great Sunday.

Le Laurier Restaurant
Place de la Chapelle
84110 Faucon
Tel: 04 90 46 55 54

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Perfect Sunday in Sablet and Lunch with the Cousins

As we travel up and down the roads around our corner of Provence, we come upon brightly colored signs announcing upcoming wine festivals, special markets, concerts, vide greniers (literally, it means empty attic) and "Brocantes" (flea markets).

One day, we saw signs that said "Brocante Dimanche à Sablet" (a flea market Sunday in Sablet). Closer to the weekend, flyers started to appear on cars parked near the main square announcing that parking would be prohibited around the main square on Sunday because of the brocante.

If you don't know, a brocante is actually a French cross between an antiques' fair and a flea market where the sellers are generally all professional dealers. If you like antiques, you can find a brocante almost every weekend during the summer, generally on Sunday in one village or another it seems.

Before we knew there was going to be a brocante on Sunday, we invited the cousins who live near Sablet to come for lunch. Up early to start cooking, the weather was perfect for the brocante and dining on the terrace. Before we headed to the kitchen, I shot the picture of Shirley below on our bedroom terrace.

Shirley on our bedroom terrace. You can see the Dentelles de Montmirail in the distance.

Brocantes in Sablet are held at Place de l'Aire de la Croix, the main square in the village. The pictures that follow show some of the antiques being sold by sellers that day.

A seller set up his display near Le Tilleul d'Or retirement home

A furniture dealer near Le Tilleul d'Or retirement home

A dealer's stand in front of the restaurant

A dealer set up his stand in front the beauty salon

A view across Place de l'Aire de la Croix towards  Le Tilleul d'Or retirement home

A dealer with an eclectic mixture of stuff for sale

A view down Boulevard des Remparts

Another dealer's stand near the retirement home

Another dealer with an eclectic mixture of "antiques" to sell

A dealer set up his stand in front of the Festival bakery

A dealer specializes in knives and cleavers

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we had invited the cousins to come for lunch. Our menu included: Chilled Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese and Olive Puree; Haricots Verts and Cherry Tomato Salad; Cucumber Salad with a Creamy Lemon Dill Dressing; Fillet of Cod Stuffed with Spinach in a Saffron Beurre Blanc; and to finish a Strawberry Rhubarb Tart.

Chilled Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese and Olive Puree

Believe it or not, I had never made a chilled tomato soup before. I found a simple recipe in "The Provence Cookbook" by Patricia Wells. It was delicious! Since tomatoes are in full production and you may be looking for new ways to use them, I have included Patricia's recipe below.

Chilled Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese and Olive Puree
Serves 8


10 to 12 medium fresh tomatoes (about 3 pounds), cored, peeled, seeded, and chopped.
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
8 teaspoons soft, fresh, goat cheese
8 teaspoons Olive Puree
12 fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonnade


1. Place soup bowls in refrigerator to chill

2. In a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Puree. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a bowl and cover securely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

3. At serving time, re-blend the soup to a smooth puree with an immersion blender, food processor or blender. Pour the soup into the soup bowls. Break off a small piece of goat cheese and place on top of the soup in the center of the bowl. Place a tiny dollop of olive puree alongside the goat cheese. Garnish with mint and serve.

Olive Puree
Makes 1 1/2 cups


2 cups best quality French brine-cured black olives, pitted
2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence


In a food processor or blender, combine the olives and herbs. Blend to a thick paste. Transfer to a container and cover securely. Store, refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Haricots Verts and Cherry Tomato Salad

Cucumber Salad with a Creamy Lemon Dill Dressing

I didn't take pictures of the fish course or dessert. Both were delicious and we made both dishes again later that week when we had friends from the village over to eat. The cousins and friends were shocked to find out that Shirley made crust for the tart rather than buying pre-made in the grocery store.

After lunch, we went out a walk to see the goods for sale at the brocante. It was a beautiful day and the cousins indulged me for a group picture.

From left: Josiane; Christine; Annick; Pascale; Shirley; and Ginette

We boys were outnumbered but we got our group picture too.

From left; Me; Matthias; and Jean-Marc

We finished our walk with drinks in the center of the village at Café des Sports.

It was a perfect Sunday; perfect weather, great food and wine, the brocante and time with family. I hope you all are having a perfect Sunday too. Chat soon.