On Rue Tatin by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Most times I travel through the written word, through books instead of airline terminals…….so many reasons (I wrote about that issue HERE)
Much of what I enjoy is the detailed descriptions of the sites and history, paired with the local food. From afar I have fallen in love with France, as did Susan Herrmann Loomis. I visited France about 100 years ago when I was a young pup of 21. Culture shock aside, I loved the food, anticipated exploring the cultural differences and it was all an adventure. I had stepped through a looking glass of sorts as this was my first European experience.
The author fell in love with France too. Our similarities? She went to France when she was 20, she was interested in cooking and very interested in the culture and food. But I was an old hippie enjoying what life brought, not seriously looking beyond the next chocolate croissant to be scored in the morning. But Susan……. Susan acquired an apprenticeship at La Varenne de Cuisine in Paris . One girl coasting, another with drive and goals.
Susan and her husband Michael decide to move to France , bringing their small son along. Through a fortuitous turn of events, they are able to purchase a dilapidated former convent in Louviers – This leads to another portrait of Susan’s industrious work ethic. The convent was in awful condition but together, they fixed it up and Susan embarked on a writing and culinary career. She hooked up with Patricia Wells and fell ass backwards into an amazing cooking gig. Wow.
A life as ex-patriates……what a romantic idea. One Doug and I have hashed out over the years, the venue changes periodically but the end result has us living overseas, enjoying all the wines, cheeses, specialty foods of the area …..I guess I haven’t changed too much but have a soul mate that shares the (unattainable)dream.
In this book Susan shares the stories of her family’s adjustment to French culture, interactions with her friends, neighbors and best of all…..recipes!
If you enjoy the genre of Peter Mayle, Frances Mayes and Carol Drinkwater (I love Carol Drinkwater) – the sort of travel, adventure in settling in another country, foodie type book, then I think you’d like On Rue Tatin.
Many good recipes but let me share the Stuffed Tomato.
3 tablespoons canola oil
8 round medium tomatoes, halved crosswise
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound ground veal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Using a melon baller, hollow out the tomato halves, leaving thin cups; reserve the scooped out tomato flesh in a bowl. Set the tomato cups on the prepared baking sheet.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the ground pork and veal and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the ground pork and veal with a wooden spoon, until the meats lose their pink color, about 4 minutes; don’t let them brown. Add the reserved tomato flesh to the skillet and cook until the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the meat mixture to a bowl and let cool slightly. Beat in the parsley, eggs, 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and the Parmesan. Spoon the stuffing into the tomato cups, mounding it slightly. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs over the tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
Make Ahead – The baked stuffed tomatoes can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Cover them with foil and reheat in a 350° oven for 10 minutes, then uncover and bake for about 15 minutes longer, or until heated through.