I thought about calling this post French Lessons on Stony Lake or Tapenade and Herbed Goat Cheese (stay with me here) before I had an unexpected and entirely welcome epiphany about garlic bread.
Not long ago, a close friend of my mother’s, and mine for that matter (not to mention my #1 commenter and enthusiastic blog supporter–Merci Pat!), requested some basic French lessons. She didn’t so much want to speak French exactly, or learn the complicated grammar behind the language, but rather she wanted to know how to pronounce words encountered whilst reading, such as Joyeux Noël and arrondissement. Since her house has a stunning lakefront location and her husband is an extremely skilled and generous home cook, I couldn’t resist. Between the two of them, they’ve got the entertaining thing down pat.
And since we’re also headed to France in mere days, I insisted that my mom and another friend join as well. This other friend, whom I will refer to as Hélène (because that’s her name), and who
was born summered in Québec as a kid and has retained that special accent, needed a refresher on “how to order a beer without getting a fizzy red pop”.
We worked on the vowels and nasal sounds (I taught them the handy nasal-heavy phrase un bon vin blanc), accent marks and how they affect pronunciation, the tricky pronunciation of articles le, la, and les and other random linguistic tidbits. We also worked on the better part of a couple of bottles of vin rouge et blanc, bien sûr!
I intended to tell you about the two appetizers that I brought along, Black Olive Tapenade and Herbed Goat Cheese, which are pretty much summer staples for me. But those will have to wait as Rick intervened with his multi-course meal and ample and generously distributed leftovers. I ate three meals with the food he sent home with me! En plus, he gave me a whole bag of leftover garlic bread which quickly begged to be turned into a Panzanella and alas my best-laid plans went awry. That’s ok. I’m often surprised myself by what I post.
Garlic Bread Panzanella
The Italian Panzanella stale bread salad is the perfect destination for your (or Rick’s) leftover garlic bread as it is already at least a day old and sufficiently dried out to hold the vinegar and oil. I wrote about another version here when I was reminiscing about my 2010 trip to Tuscany.
Serves two but can easily be altered to suit the amount of leftover bread you want to use up. Try to use equal amounts of veg and bread.
- 2 cups diced leftover garlic bread
- 3 baby English cucumbers (1 one large), sliced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- a few basil leaves, torn
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- coarse salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat with vinegar and oil. Try to coat all pieces of bread, adding more vinegar and oil if necessary. Allow flavors to meld for at least an hour, on the countertop or in the fridge. Taste and adjust seasoning and add the basil just before serving. This makes a nice side dish for roasted chicken in the summer, or can easily serve as a light main dish salad.
As for that Tapenade…I know you want to know about it (even if you don’t know you want to). I made another batch tonight to take up north for the 4th of July holiday. You’ll know about it soon enough.
In the meantime, enjoy some images from Pat and Rick’s spectacularly located home on Stony Lake.
Someday I would like to have a water view. Sigh.