|Laura Calders Nicoise Salad|
Laura Calder was born and brought up in the province of New Brunswick. Before delving into the cooking world, Calder studied liberal arts and linguistics in Montreal and Toronto, and later received a master's degree from the London School of Economics. She gave up a desk job in an office in Toronto to pursue her dream of becoming a chef. She moved across the country to Vancouver, British Columbia to follow her dream and study.
Her interest in French cuisine began after she worked in California in the wine industry. She met Anne Willan at a food writers’ conference who told her to come to Paris to work on a book about wine and food. She was supposed to stay nine months, but ended up staying seven years. During that time, Laura fell in love with French food!!!
She is the host of "French Food at Home" which is in it's third season on the Canadian Food Network. It is a lifestyle series featuring simple French home cooking which anyone, anywhere, can make. The show is shot in a home kitchen in Nova Scotia where Laura spends her summers, and includes scenes of France, trips to the market, and glimpses of everyday French food life. Laura says, "French food is, above all, a state of mind: caring about the quality and freshness of ingredients, delighting in the kitchen, and indulging in the social and sensual life of the dinner table".
It’s too bad that French food has been so widely misunderstood. People hear the words “French cuisine” and immediately think... heavy sauces, chefs in fancy restaurants and huge textbooks on pastry. In other words, when people think of French food, they imagine haute cuisine and not home cooking!!! I think the time is right for getting back to French home cooking and discovering how it has evolved, how easy it is for anyone, anywhere to make; and how appropriate it is for today.
**Laura Calder's Salade Nicoise**
1/2 clove garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon tarragon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mild olive oil, or half olive oil and half peanut oil
Lemon juice, to taste if needed
Salt and pepper
About 10 leaves from a head of bib lettuce
About 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
6 baby red potatoes, boiled until tender, and sliced
4 ounces green beans, blanched in salted water, refreshed, and drained
3 baby artichoke hearts, cooked and quartered
1 very small purple onion, sliced very finely and separated into rings
A handful of Niçoise olives
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
3 or 4 anchovies
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper
For the dressing: whisk together the garlic, vinegar, and mustard. Whisk in the oil, adding it in a thin stream. Taste, and add some lemon if the dressing isn’t sharp enough. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To serve: toss the lettuce leaves with a very little bit of the vinaigrette and the shredded basil, and arrange on a platter. Toss the tomatoes, potato slices, green beans and artichoke hearts separately in a bit of vinaigrette, and arrange on the platter. Scatter over the onion and olives. Arrange the eggs on top. Season with salt and pepper, and eat.
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