Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Tartiflette for a summer lunch

A few years ago I won a short break to Aix en Provence. One day we drove out into the surrounding countryside, towards Mont Sainte-Victoire, much loved and painted by Paul Cézanne. Apparently he painted it over 60 times, and many of the viewpoints around the mountain are dotted with artists creating their own versions of the views he loved. We stopped at a small restaurant close to one of these viewpoints, sat on the warm sunny terrace and enjoyed a delicious lunch which I now often recreate my own version of for a relaxed meal with friends.

My husband's main course was tartiflette. I've tried several recipes, some quite complicated, but the one I come back to time and time again is Mary Cadogan's recipe which I found on the Good Food website.  It is the simplest, and the most like our first experience of the dish.

On the day of our mountainside lunch, I chose the house salad, which was similar to a salade nicoise but with smoked ham and cheese added as well as the tuna and eggs. Leaving out all the protein except the eggs transforms it into a delicious accompaniment to the tartiflette.  This salad is made of cooked new potatoes and green beans, wedges of boiled egg, olives and wedges of tomato, on a bed of green salad, with a light vinaigrette dressing.

To complete the meal, some fresh, crusty bread. I like to mix the dough in the bread machine, using the standard dough from the manual but replacing half the white flour with mixed grain flour. Then I shape it into a ball and put it onto the baking tray to rise, underneath a very large greased mixing bowl. This seems to encourage the dough  to rise evenly and keep its shape.

While it is rising, I heat the oven as high as it will go and place a small bowl of water on the oven floor to create a steamy atmosphere. Once the dough is risen, I slash a cross in the top then when placing it in the oven, turn the temperature down to my chosen cooking temperature. This initial blast of extreme heat coupled with the steam seems to give a crust that is crisp rather than hard, with the dark colour I love in bread (I'm always the one who picks out the slightly burned loaf at the baker's)

I may not be able to capture the landscape of the area by painting like Cézanne, but at least I can create a meal that gives us the flavour of that lovely day out.


Claire Toplis said...

This looks utterly scrumpious x

Galina Varese said...

A lovely meal, Jane, and thank you for the tip for baking the bread, I will definitely try to bake it like this.

garden girl in SA said...

Finding new dishes that all 5 of us would enjoy is never easy, but this looks like a winner.

Jo Bryan said...

I adore Tartiflette it has all the ingredients I want in a dish, potatoes a staple for an Irish girl, cheese and Reblochon smells so stinky but after cooking the taste and scent is heavenly. Good smoky bacon and the cream just add to the delight. However I have had to stay away from this dish as it does not fit with my healthy eating. Plus Reblochon is so hard to come by, Waitrose stopped stocking it here. Possibly a good thing for now!

Jane Willis said...

It's only a very occasional treat here because of the fat content, but our local Waitrose does still stock Reblochon so I'm constantly being tempted by it.

Carole said...

Jane, thanks for linking this in to Food on Friday. We now have 90 great potato/sweet potato links. Wow! Have a great week.