Tomato and Fresh Corn Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

Tomato and Fresh Corn Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette // FoodNouveau.com

It’s corn season and I can’t eat enough. I love it on the cob, but I also like to mix things up and use it in soups, risotto, and fried rice, just to name a few of our favorites.

Recently, I was reading Delancey, an excellent memoir about the opening of a pizzeria in Seattle written by one of my favorite bloggers, Molly Wizenberg. In one chapter, she shares the recipe for a corn salad they served at the restaurant on their opening week at the end of August. After months of dreaming about it, her husband and her were finally serving food to paying customers. As novices in the restaurant world, they had to learn their trade fast. Molly was responsible for first courses and she created simple salads made with the freshest market produce—the kind of dishes they would eat at home. Reading her recipe, I realized I had everything on hand to make the salad, so we tried it that very night and fell in love with its fresh and generous taste. It’s the kind of salad that’s so simple but so delicious you can’t believe you didn’t come up with it yourself.

I’m using my own homemade shallot vinaigrette in the recipe because I always keep a jar of it in the fridge. It’s handy to put together a quick salad such as this one, and its taste gets better over a few days (I usually use it within a week). Take the jar out of the fridge 5-10 minutes before using the vinaigrette so the olive oil becomes liquid again.

To make a quick job of prepping the corn kernels, I use the miraculous microwave method to shuck the corn, which also slightly steams the kernels, making them just right for this salad.

Use whichever tomatoes you have on hand. Mixing colors and sizes makes for a beautiful plate, but simple red garden tomatoes will of course also do the trick—just make sure they’re perfectly ripe and juicy.

Tomato and Fresh Corn Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings (and extra vinaigrette)

For the vinaigrette
½ cup [125 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup [60 ml] Sherry vinegar
1 tsp [5 ml] Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
A generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly crushed black pepper

For the salad
Enough tomatoes for 4 people, for example:

  • 4 regular-sized tomatoes, sliced + 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced + 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 regular-sized tomatoes, sliced
  • 6 handfuls cherry tomatoes, different sizes, halved or quartered, depending on the size

1 ear of corn, kernels cut off from the cob and lightly steamed (see the microwave shucking method)
5-6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Crunchy sea salt, such as Fleur de sel or Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

To make the vinaigrette
Put all the ingredients in a screw top glass jar. Tightly close the jar and shake vigorously. Put aside until ready to dress the salad, or store in the fridge if you’re making it ahead of time.

To make the salad
Place the sliced tomatoes on a large serving platter (or divide between individual serving plates). Scatter corn kernels over the tomatoes. Season with fleur de sel, then drizzle generously with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the fresh basil. Serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Recipe credit: Adapted from Molly Wizenberg.

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Five Gourmet Lunches in Miami

5 Gourmet Lunches in Miami // FoodNouveau.com

During our stay in Miami a few weeks ago, we rediscovered the pleasure of gourmet lunches. Not only did it fit our new “with baby” travel schedule better than did going out at night, but also it allowed us to treat ourselves with fantastic food at a much lower cost. The lunch menu at gourmet restaurants is just as lavish and creative as the dinner menu is, and tables are often much easier to snatch. In fact, we simply walked into each restaurant without a reservation before rush hour, at around 11:45 a.m., and we were seated immediately every time. Although I usually like to handpick each and every restaurant (and book tables early) when we’re traveling, we did things differently this time, and I really enjoyed this spur of the moment attitude. One shouldn’t be surprised that a lunch at one of Daniel Boulud’s or José Andrés’s restaurants exceeds expectations, but we also made delicious and unexpected discoveries.

Here are my picks for gourmet lunches in Miami:

1 / db Bistro Moderne

The dining room at db Bistro Moderne, Miami // FoodNouveau.com

We stumbled on this one while looking for a place for lunch on Easter Sunday. I had never eaten in any of Boulud’s restaurants before, so the opportunity was too good to pass up. After being seated in a corner of the elegant dining room filled with chic families celebrating together, we discovered that a three-course brunch menu was being served. Five to nine choices were offered per course, and everything looked so appealing that it took us a while to decide. I finally opted for the heirloom tomato salad (pictured) for the appetizer, ricotta gnudi for the main course, and rhubarb tart for dessert. Each dish was wonderfully intricate in textures, flavors, and presentation, without feeling overdone. I loved that they all showcased an unexpected accent that highlighted the star flavors: The tomato salad featured blistered padron peppers, which added an intriguing smoky and slightly spicy dimension to the dish; the gnudi sat on a fresh and silky nettle pesto to form a dreamy texture combination; and in the dessert, the zesty rhubarb flavor was complemented by yuzu in the form of a creamy curd that was dotted on the plate. It was an outstanding culinary experience, and for $49 per person, it was also by far the best value of the restaurants we tried in Miami. I will remember my meal at db Bistro Moderne as one of the best I’ve ever had.

The heirloom tomato salad at db Bistro Moderne
Food at db Bistro Moderne, Miami // FoodNouveau.comContinue Reading

Banana, Blueberry and Ginger Muffins

Banana, Blueberry and Ginger Muffins // FoodNouveau.com

I’m a big fan of homemade breakfast breads, but E isn’t easily sold on the idea: he often finds baked treats to be too sweet for his taste in the morning. Because I don’t want to devour whole batches of muffins by myself, and because I agree breakfast usually isn’t time for dessert, I like making recipes that find the right balance between healthy and delicious. These muffins are filled with good-for-you ingredients: whole grains, juicy blueberries, protein-rich bananas, and zesty ginger combine to make the perfect breakfast-on-the-go. Maple sugar makes these sweet enough to be flavorful but far from falling into the cupcake category. I usually sprinkle a little more maple sugar on top of the batter before it goes into the oven: it makes for a crispier top and a wonderful aroma.

Banana, Blueberry and Ginger Muffins

1 cup [250 ml] quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
½ cup [125 ml] all-purpose unbleached flour
½ cup [125 ml] whole-wheat flour
¼ cup [60 ml] wheat germ (or ground flaxseed)
1 tsp [5 ml] ground ginger
1½ tsp [7.5 ml] baking powder
1 tsp [5 ml] baking soda
½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt
1 tbsp [15 ml] candied (crystallized) ginger, very finely diced

1 egg
½ cup [125 ml] granulated maple sugar (or brown sugar, packed)
¼ cup [60 ml] canola oil (or melted butter)
1 tsp [5 ml] pure vanilla extract
1½ cups [375 ml] ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 large)

1½ cups [375 ml] fresh or frozen blueberries
(Variation: substitute ½ cup [125 ml] blueberries for chopped walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 375 °F [190 °C]. Grease a 12-cup muffin tray, or insert a paper liner in each cup. Combine oats, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the candied ginger, making sure all the small dice gets coated with the flour mixture and doesn’t clump together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown butter, and canola oil until fluffy and pale. Mix in the mashed banana and vanilla extract. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and fold using a spatula just until moistened and no pocket of dry ingredients remain. Gently fold in the blueberries (and the nuts, if using).

Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle a little maple sugar over each batter-filled cup, if desired. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool to room temperature and enjoy! Extra muffins can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Make-ahead tip: The muffins also freeze really well. To revive that “freshly baked” taste, simply thaw the muffins at room temperature then place in a 300 °F [150 °C] oven for 5 minutes. Your home will smell just as good as if you had just baked the muffins!

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Janet and Greta Podleski.

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More Breakfast Ideas:

Lobster Club Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

It's lobster season! // FoodNouveau.com

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: lobster season! I love cooking with lobster because I find it incredibly versatile. Although many people like to eat lobster straight out of the shell, using the lobster’s meat as the star of a recipe is my favorite way to enjoy it. Its delicate texture and taste makes any dish feel extra special.

This year, I got to taste some of the very first lobsters out of Gaspésie, one of Quebec’s biggest lobster-producing regions. Gaspésie is a peninsula that stretches along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Now, I know all the lobster-producing regions will say their lobster is the best, but I must vouch for our own: the cold and clear waters of the Gulf make for an especially sweet and delicate meat. Because we’re lucky enough to have such an abundant source right here in our waters, to us, eating lobster from outside Québec is like pouring maple syrup from Vermont on our crêpes: a cardinal sin!

What I learned this year is that a local nonprofit organization closely monitors fishing methods to make sure lobsters are harvested in a sustainable manner. Plus, lobsters harvested in Gaspésie wear a special tag around their knuckle that says Aliments du Québec (literally, “food from Québec”). This designation, inspired by France’s appellation d’origine contrôlée (that AOC tag you can see on wine, cheeses, and charcuteries) aims at maintaining quality standards and having valuable resources recognized as being part of our terroir. On that tag is also a number that corresponds to the fisherman who harvested the lobster. You can enter that number on the organization’s website to view the lobster’s exact provenance and get more information about the fisherman, see him at work in a short presentation video, and even get his e-mail address—you know, just in case you want to thank him for the goodness that made its way to your plate.

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And Then They Were Three (On Being a Food-Blogging New Parent)

Baby J with hand on keyboard // FoodNouveau.com

In late December of last year, I gave birth to our son, Baby J. And then started the biggest adventure of our lives.

Having a baby wasn’t easy for us, so we had been waiting for him for a long time. As we grew older and more attached to our lives as child-free adults (“free” being the key word here), we had many moments when we thought, why mess with the balance we have now? Why trade our freedom for a family? My freedom was the thing I was most reluctant to let go of; as a long-time freelancer, I had grown accustomed (addicted, perhaps) to being by myself most of the time, doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I expected that my biggest challenge as a new parent would be to learn how to carve a space for a little one in my life, and indeed it was. I went from being alone most the time to being with someone all the time.

The challenges awaiting new parents are many, but this is not a parenting blog so I’ll leave parenting advice to those who are far more competent on the topic than I am. I wanted, however, to share my experience as a food-blogging new parent.

In the last few months of my pregnancy, my plan was to write several recipes and posts in advance and schedule their publication so my post-delivery break would go unnoticed. I expected I’d get back into things after a month or two. How hard could it be to find a few hours here and there to keep posting regularly? Other new-mom bloggers managed it, so why wouldn’t I?

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