A Taste of Provence-Tomatoes Provençal

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DownloadedFileHave you ever been to Provence? I have never been to France but if I have the chance to go, Provence will be one of the areas I want to visit! This region of southern France stretches from the Mediterranean to the hills of Haute Provence, and from the Rhone River valley to the Italian Alps. It was the site of the first Roman colony beyond Italy and today it’s known for fragrant lavender fields, beautiful beaches like Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and Nice, quaint small villages, and fine wines and food. The cuisine of this area includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts–basically the core of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

I learned these things and more about Provence as I was looking through my review copy of Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, by François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska. This softcover book introduces you to the geography, history, traditions, wines, and recipes of the region. Here are some images of Provence you’ll find in the book:

Provence

Above images used with permission © François Milo.

Isn’t it beautiful? You’ll find more full color photography of picturesque Provence as well as many of the 47 recipes in the book, which are traditional favorites of the region…like Niçoise Salad, Fougasse with Tomatoes, Olives, and Peppers, Artichokes Barigoule, Tapenade, Swiss Chard Tart, Mediterranean Cod with Caramelized Onions, and Lemon Tart. The recipes are organized by the different areas of Provence that they’re popular in–Aix-en-Provence and Haute Provence, Marseille, La Cote Varoise, and Nice and the Riviera.

I decided to try the recipe for Tomatoes Provençal, because I love tomatoes and this is a simple yet delicious way to fix them–fresh tomatoes topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, and minced garlic. This makes a great side dish and would even work nicely for a spring or summer brunch. The book recommends serving “as a light meal with other Provençal delicacies and some crusty bread, or with meat.” For best results, use fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes!

 TOMATOES PROVENÇAL from Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living

Makes 4 servings

This traditional Provençial dish relies on the quality of the tomatoes used; they must be fresh and ripe. It’s best to prepare this dish in the summer, when tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness, sweet, and full of flavor….

  • 4 small to medium ripe tomatoes, halved and stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) chopped fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf parsley)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (I used the very fine breadcrumbs you purchase, but I think fresh breadcrumbs would be even better!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: I added some additional chopped parsley for garnish

Lightly dust the cut sides of the tomatoes with the sugar.

In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, cut sides down, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until they caramelize.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the parsley and garlic.

Flip the tomatoes and distribute the parsley and garlic mixture evenly onto them, pressing down so the mixture adheres to the tomato. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Distribute the breadcrumbs evenly among the tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and fully cooked through. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and serve warm. Note: I drizzled the remaining olive oil from the sauté pan over the tomatoes and garnished them with additional chopped parsley.

I thought the blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and touch of sea salt made a great flavor combination as a topping for the tomatoes.

Have you made or tasted this dish before? And are you ready to take a trip to Provence now? :)

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The World’s Largest Outdoor Pool

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Memorial Day weekend has begun and you may be one of many who will be spending the weekend at a sunny beach or poolside. Well, take a look at this pool…called The Crystal Lagoon, it’s the world’s largest outdoor pool and you’ll find it at the San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, Chile.

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A half mile long, it’s filled with 66 million gallons of water!

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There are smaller pools within this gigantic man-made pool…

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…which is actually larger than 20 Olympic-size pools put together!

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A computer-controlled suction and filtration system keep the pool filled with water that comes directly from the sea.

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Not only is this the world’s largest outdoor pool, it’s also the world’s deepest, going down 115 feet.

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So if you need a little R&R, this may be just the place for you! It sure sounds good to me! :)

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! Will you be traveling anywhere or relaxing at home?

Photos from Yahoo! News, courtesy of Crystal Lagoons Corp.

A Trip to Altanta

Recently I went to Atlanta with some co-workers to attend the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) and the Atlanta Gift Show. Our hotel was right by the Centennial Olympic Park (photo above by David Henry). While at ICRS, in addition to seeing new books, card, and stationery products, we had the opportunity to view a special preview showing of a new film that will be coming out in September called CourageousIt’s a touching, inspiring movie that will make you laugh and cry, so bring tissues! You can learn more about it and watch a trailer of it by clicking here. The group Casting Crowns has made a music video for the movie, too–click here to see that.

The gift show was at AmericasMart® in the huge Atlanta Convention Center, with floors and floors of the newest items in stationery, giftware, home accessories and furnishings, jewelry and fashion…you name it! One of my favorite showrooms was Natural Life. I loved the colorful, unique, handmade look of their products.

Another showroom I liked was Gabby Home. They had great home accessories and furniture with a rustic and weathered look. It made me want to do some redecorating! :)

Of course, we had to eat, too, and found some great places in downtown Atlanta. We had some delicious breakfasts at the Landmark Diner and enjoyed several lunch and dinners at the Cafe Intermezzo. This cafe has so much to choose from, and if you’re wanting dessert they offer over 100 different tortes, tarts, cakes, pies, and cheesecakes!

It was fun seeing everything in Atlanta. Now I have to do some not-so-fun stuff like laundry…

Iced Tea on a Hot Day

I’ve been drinking a lot of iced tea during this hot summer weather. I’ve tried some herbal teas by Twinings of London and really like them. The three flavors that I’ve enjoyed so far are African Honeybush with Mandarin and Orange, Lemon and Chinese Ginger, and Cherries and Madagascan Cinnamon.

With flavors like that, you really feel like you’re drinking something special!

When I was on the Twinings website checking out their other tea flavors, I discovered that Thomas Twining, the founder of Twinings, opened the very first known tea room in 1706, in London. What’s even more interesting is that it’s still open today, after three centuries! It was called Tom’s Coffee House back then and it was the custom at the time for men, not women, to gather there to have coffee and tea while they socialized and met on business. Tom’s was the only coffee house that sold tea, and tea was growing more and more in popularity at that time, so Mr. Twining did very well with his shop. Today, the shop is still in the same location at 216 Strand, serving and selling tea, coffee, hot cocoa, biscuits, cakes, chocolates, and tea accessories. There’s also a little “museum” with antique teapots on display, highlights about the history of tea, and old photos of the Twinings family.

There are all kinds of teas and tea flavors you can check out on the Twinings website, www.twiningsusashop.com. You’ll even find instructions for brewing tea. Here is their recipe for making Iced Tea:

So have a nice tall glass of iced tea and keep cool this summer! :)

Linked to Tea Time Tuesday.

The Primrose Bakery

While I’m on the subject of baking and cupcakes, it seemed like the perfect time to tell you about the Primrose Bakery, a quaint little place I discovered on the web. There are two locations in London, and they make some really delicious–looking cupcakes. They have a cute, clever little logo, too!

It looks like just the sort of cozy place you’d expect to see in London. I found some photos on the Primrose Bakery website of the bakery itself and their cupcake creations that I thought I’d share with you.

The owners founded Primrose Bakery in October of 2004 and their cupcakes quickly became a hit. In addition to their marvelous-looking cupcakes, they also offer cakes, biscuits, handmade croissants, and other breakfast items. Wow, I’m ready to go! It looks like a wonderful place to take a coffee break or enjoy a cup of tea with a special sweet treat.

And now, what you are probably really interested in seeing are those yummy cupcakes! We’ll just have to settle for imagining how good they are…

Customers of the Primrose Bakery include U2, Kate Moss, and Jude Law, who is quoted on the website as saying, “I defy anyone to find a better cupcake.” So it sounds like they have some pretty satisfied customers! :) They have even come out with a cookbook called Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery, and you can order it on Amazon. I don’t have it myself, but I think I’d like to add it to my cookbook collection!

I’m having an irresistible urge to eat a cupcake right now…that’s the downside of blogging about food! :)

For more on cupcakes, check out Cupcake Tuesday.

If you’re looking for inspiring ideas for your home, check out Inspired by Friday.

 

A Cute Little Cupcake Bakery

A few days ago, I did a post about some fun ribbons with polka dots. I did a search to see if “polka dots” was one word or two (it’s two), and came across this cute little cupcake bakery! I think their logo is really nice–I like the way they put a little cupcake in the “o.” :)   The inside of the bakery looks really inviting–here’s a picture they have posted on their website–it originally was a house built in 1908.

Now this place is in Austin, which is quite a drive from where I live, but if I’m ever in Austin, I definitely want to go there–especially after seeing some of their yummy cupcake creations! Here’s a look at a few of them…

I like a lot of frosting on my cupcakes, so I know I would love these. If you live in or near Austin, or if you’re there on a visit and craving something sweet, this looks like a good place to try!

Hydrangea Heaven

The hydrangea is one of my favorite flowers! I had the opportunity to see some lovely hydrangea bushes this past autumn on the picturesque garden grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was so glad I had my camera with me so I could take these photos and try to capture some of the beauty of those flowers. In addition to a beautiful garden area, the library has an excellent multimedia tour that features historic moments in Billy Graham’s life and ministry. It’s well worth taking the time to see if you’re in the area.

Have you had a chance to visit the Billy Graham Library yourself?