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Tomate Farcies – stuffed tomatoes

Of all the produce that taste best in season, none are more inspiring than ripe, soft, juicy and sweet summer tomatoes.  With their silky skin, meaty flesh, soft pink juice, and the generous array of colors and shapes they offer, summer tomatoes are nothing like their winter counterparts. Now is the time to take advantage of their delectability, to be creative and incorporate them in as many dishes as possible.

There is a very traditional and rustic French dish called tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes) that inspired me a few weeks ago. In the original recipe, firm red tomatoes are cut, cored and stuffed with meat, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, aromatic herbs.  My new recipe, Tomates Farcies, takes a playful and unexpected twist on the stuffing. When served, the tomato looks like it has only been boiled and peeled. Only when our guests cut it do they discover “la farce”. In French this word has two meanings- stuffing and joke- which both apply here.
As for the stuffing itself, it is a lightly salted fish mousse. Its light texture and medium firmness make each bite smooth and subtle.

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A variation on red radish-butter-fleur de sel

Two leitmotivs in my cooking process are thoughtfulness and zen. A recent illustration of this approach is a variation on the traditional French small bite : radis beurre et fleur de sel (red radish with butter and fleur de sel).

Red radish? Too mundane, might you think. You have a point, given that the root was fed to the laborers working on the Egyptian pyramids. But consider this: radishes contain about 42% as much vitamin C as fresh oranges, help improve your digestion and hold anti-cancerous properties. There are some stunning varieties boasting vivid red, purple, or fuchsia colors. The sheer sophistication of the root’s taste may also surprise you at times. Crunchy, juicy, with a peppery finish that sometimes reminds us of Dijon mustard. Not so bad for a small root!

Now, back to the radis-beurre-fleur de sel combination. It brings salty and smooth qualities to the tangy, peppery flavors of the vegetable. As such, it is a perfect, perfectly simple concept. Keeping that in mind, my variation replaces salt with caviar, butter with home-made customized crème fraîche, and adds some texture and flavor sparkles with a savory meringue and lemon pulp. Still simple, yet more colorful and tasty.

Oh, and did you know that radish greens can be used in a variety of dishes, including raw in blended drinks or in salads? They can also substitute for arugula.

Bon appétit!

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Curry and the art of spicing

Curry powders found in grocery stores are as diverse in flavor as are the origins given to the word “curry”. While in Britain, “curry” means almost any Indian dish, most people from the Indian sub-continent would say it is not a word they use. Some believe that the word holds its origin in the Tamil word kari, others believe that it derives from the French word “cuire” which means “to cook”. No matter what the history of the word is, for the curious and adventurous cook, curry is a great opportunity to be creative and thoughtful. Coriander, turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, red pepper, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, caraway etc. are just a few examples of the spices you can use to make your own concoction.

When mixing spices, one rule to keep in mind is to start with equal amounts of flavor, not volume. Some spices are stronger because they naturally release a stronger scent, others simply have a longer shelve life. Once the spice’s strength and proportions are determined, then you can start thinking of both your personal preferences and the other (main) ingredients of the recipe that you are preparing.

At Baumé Restaurant, we make our own custom curry powders that we weave subtly into dishes inspired from Asian Cuisine. For example, in the “New Caledonia Prawn, Peanut and Thai Curry”- my personal interpretation of Pad Thai – I use two different types of curry sauces, one red and warm, the other green and frozen mixed with lime pulp to accentuate its flavor.  Each curry complements one part of the recipe, and they work really well together, without overpowering the main ingredients.

For those of you who would like some guidance to start practicing, I would like to share two curry recipes :

Red Curry Powder:

1 part Garam Masala

1 part Red Chili Powder

½ part Paprika

Use dry as a seasoning for meats and vegetables, or mix with lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and water to make a sauce

Green Curry Paste:

Ingredients :

1 cup shallots (loosely-chopped)

10 cloves of garlic

1 cup ginger (loosely-chopped)

1 cup  lemongrass (loosely-chopped)

½ cup jalapeños (loosely-chopped)

½ cup grapeseed Oil

6 Kaffir lime leaves

1 cup yogurt

2 Tbs coriander

1 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs white Pepper

2 bunches cilantro, (loosely-chopped)

1 Tbs shrimp Paste

3 ea lime Juice

Sugar, Salt To Taste

Steps :

Cook the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and jalapenos in the oil over low heat until they are well broken down

Add the lime leaves and the yogurt and remove from the heat

Separately, toast the cumin, coriander, and white pepper until fragrant

Add to curry along with cilantro and stir

Allow mixture to cool

Blend in mixer until smooth

Pass through a sieve to remove fibrous material

Season to taste with lime juice, sugar and salt

This curry past may be used as a marinade for meats, vegetables, tofu, etc. It can be thinned with water to use as a sauce.

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Bay Scallops

Scallops “à la provençale”

I want to share with you a scallop recipe inspired from my mother’s cuisine.

I would choose bay scallops over sea scallops because of their sweetness, but either kind would work. My main advice would be to heat the pan properly before tossing the scallops so that you can have this nice golden coloring without overcooking them. Fresh herbs and good quality butter are also a must. The scallops can be either served as an appetizer or as a main dish with risotto for instance. As for wine, I included a couple of suggestions from our sommelier  Tim Augello.

At Baumé Restaurant, each portion is a tasting portion. We strive to make the most of each bite by bringing out nuances and delicate flavors in a subtle and original manner. We also create lighter versions of traditional recipes, ones that fully keep or enhance the taste of ingredients without overloading the plate with calories. Our version of the scallops “à la provençale” comes with a citrus mousse.

Scallops à la provençale :

Serves 6
1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 oz grape seed oil
1 lemon, cut in half

Cut the sea scallops in half horizontally if they are very large. Sprinkle
with salt.
In a very large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil over
high heat and add the scallops in one layer. Lower the heat to medium
and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side, then flip them over and brown
lightly on the other side. This should take 2 to 3 minutes total. Set aside
the scallop. Melt the butter in the pan with the scallops, then
add the shallots, garlic, and parsley and sauté for 2 more minutes,
tossing the seasoning with the scallops. Serve hot with a squeeze of
lemon juice.

Wine suggestion :

AOC Chablis ’07-’08 – Burgundy; or

Domaine Drouhin “Arthur” Chardonnay ’08 – Willamette Valley Oregon

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Which sauce for a Halibut filet?

The first important choice when preparing a halibut filet with a citrus beurre blanc sauce is – of course – the choice of the fish.

A good Halibut is a slimy-skinned, firm-fleshed, bright-eyed fish that should look like this :A tip to evaluate a halibut’s freshness is to “look it in the eye”. If it is still a firm and bright looking ball, chances are the flesh won’t disappoint you.

If you are cooking at home and decide to buy the fillet instead of a whole fish, then my advice is to carefully select your fishmonger. Freshness and quality are key to reavealing the fish’s delicate sweetness and crunchy flesh.

At Baumé Restaurant, our supplier is CleanFish. They are a San Francisco based company that promotes sustainable, clean fishing methods and ensures us to serve among the best fish of the season. The fish comes from artisan farms whose fine stewardship not only ensures the fishes’ well-being, but also preserves the environment. In the Bay Area, you can find them and learn about their fish selection at the San Francisco Fishing Company store located inside the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market every second Saturday of the month.

Halibut is one of the most elegant white fishes. Its firm flesh and delicate flavor allows a wide choice of cooking methods and pairs beautifully with a warm and tangy sauce such as a citrus “beurre blanc”. For this recipe I chose to pan fry the fish. Because halibut is such a lean one, it can quickly overcook, so err on the side of being underdone, and let it finish cooking outside the pan.


Serves 4

1 oz of white wine
1 small shallot, chopped
1 lemon, zested & juiced
4 oz of cream
3 oz of un-salted butter

Place the shallot and white wine into a pot and simmer over medium
heat until almost dry.

Whisk 4 oz of cream into mixture, return to heat and reduce by half.

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the soft butter. Then use a
microplane to add the zest of lemon & juice at the end.

Add salt and pepper to your taste.

NOTE: make sure all ingredients are handy prior to starting.

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