It started with thumbing through a cookbook at my favorite local shop. Unable to resist reaching for a binding printed with the block-letter words "New French Recipes" a luxurious but simple lunch idea was born.
Since I left Europe in December of 2005, I have been nurturing a love of its various regions. My ventures into cheesemongering and macaron-making have inevitably grown a particularly French intrigue, and so it is impossible for titles concerning this culture and its cuisine not to thoroughly entice me.
And yet, constantly aware of the ability a cookbook collection has to boom out of control, I try to be extra selective about what I purchase versus what I browse for on food blogs versus what I check out from the library. In this case, selecting and mentally tucking away one recipe within the pages of Éric Kayser's New French Recipes allowed me to peaceably put the book back on its shelf.
Not feeling rushed, I figured I would eventually get around to the recipe (if it can even be named so formally), but the next day it was convenient to stop by the local cheese shop and my grocery list started to form. I was hoping to find Comté, but the next closest option was a cave-aged Gruyère, which would do just fine. Continuing to piece together ingredients, I picked up a croissant at the bakery as well.
This is where my sights were set: a pan-grilled sandwich of melty Alpine-style cheese, crunchy bites of sweet hazelnuts, and savory nibbles of green garlic, simply seasoned with cracked pepper and assembled within a flaky butter croissant. To make it a meal, baby heirloom tomatoes waited at home to nestle along the side of the plate.
A little more grand but similar, this sandwich reminds me of the nut, cheese, and bread combination I latched onto while living in Oxford. Planning a coach trip into London or a study session at the park, I would slice cheese and lay it flat across the face of whole wheat sandwich bread. Gently pressing halved walnuts into the cheese, I would complete the sandwich with another slice of bread spread with blackcurrant jam. Sometimes I would use marmalade or a different flavor of jam, and sometimes the cheese would be Brie, sometimes Port Salut, or sometimes sharp English cheddar; it was simple and on a college student's budget, but I loved it. These sandwiches, Digestives, and ten cups of black British tea a day (plus chicken breasts from the farmer's market) were my staples that semester.
Before ending this blog post, let me revert briefly back to France. The very same day I made that grilled croissant sandwich, I received a cookbook from my brother and his wife, a cookbook I have no qualms adding to my collection.
I love curling up and reading Dorie Greenspan's voice, whether it is out of my copy of Baking, her blog, or many of her publication appearances. Now, I get to listen to her from Around My French Table, a cookbook that thoroughly won me over several months ago when first seeing it at a bookshop and flipping to this page:
This tourteau sounded so enjoyable, I am hoping to make it my first completed recipe out of the cookbook...if the strawberry, tomato, mozzarella salad or olive sables do not push their way to the top first. I will be sure to keep you posted.