A Toast to Summer
To celebrate the arrival of Summer, I invited Guinevere Milliner, my new French friend, chef, and the owner of the French market, Little Gourmand, to come make some gypsy mischief with me in the kitchen!
Guinevere and I decided to make a quintessential French luncheon! I have always wanted to learn how to make a quiche epinard et champignon (spinach and mushroom quiche) from scratch! And, ask any French cook and they will tell you that in a pinch, make a tomato tart! A colorful salad culled from the kitchen garden was a must! And then, homemade Madeleines, fresh whipped cream, and a cup of vervain tea with rosemary honey, and one would think we’d crossed the Atlantic.
As the host, I was ready with a French playlist to welcome my new friend. But Guinvere would have nothing of it! It was Dirks Bentley, Tim McGraw, and a little Kenny Chesney that inspired our cooking! As a side note, Guinivere and her husband moved to Nashville eight months ago to follow a dream! If you ever doubted their Southern devotion meet their dog, Nashville and nine year old daughter, Tennessee!
The day before the lunch I made a shopping trip to Little Gourmand and picked up authentic dijon mustard, Herbes de Provence, and French pastry dough. Then, on to Williams Sonoma for the French olive oil and a Madeleine baking sheet. And, finally to Whole Foods for Gruyere cheese and the tomatoes. Our menu included a tomato and gruyere tart, (8) mini spinach and mushroom quiches, a radicchio and mint salad with a traditional French dressing, crusty olive bread dipped in olive oil, sparkling water with mint, and a dessert of warm Madeleines served with a cup of vervain tea. The recipes for the quiche, salad, and Madeleines will be forthcoming!
Following is the traditional French recipe for a tomato tart. You’ll find it’s the perfect accoutrement to any menu. It would be delicious served with a roasted chicken for dinner, or paired with a green salad and slices of melon wrapped in proscuitto for a light dinner.
1 pkg of Frozen pastry dough
1-2 blocks of Gruyere cheese (grated)
2-3 tomatoes (sliced)
Herbes de Provence
Salt & Pepper
Handful of fresh basil
The tomato tart is ridiculously easy to make and delicious every time! First, I suggest you thaw your pastry dough the night before (I recommend Little Gourmand’s French brand but you can use any packaged dough). Leave in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Carefully lay the dough over the tart pan or any round pie plate. Guinevere taught me to use the included pastry paper for the ease of removing the cooked tart at the end. Trim around the edges of the dough and then prick the bottom a multitude of times with a fork. Next, lay a thin layer of French mustard on the bottom of the pie. After you have sliced your tomatoes, dry them off and then arrange them neatly around the circle of the pie. Grate your block of Gruyere cheese (I have also used Parmesan) and thickly dress the tops of the tomatoes. Next, generously sprinkle the tart with Herbes de Provence, salt & pepper, and then place in the oven to bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Garnish the tart with fresh basil.
My friend Anne did a beautiful job setting our Summer table with flowers and herbs from my garden. The china and linens are from Anthropology. The Venetian goblets were a wedding present from my college roommate decades ago! And the friends and family, well they are my greatest blessing!
I pray you will honor Summer with sacred time spent outside in nature, savoring yummy food with friends and family that you love!
P.S. A big Merci Beacoup to Guinevere Milliner from Little Gourmand on Bandywood and Ashley Hylbert from White Studio for capturing the fun!