This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Two Tartines from La Croix Rouge. According to Ms. Greenspan, our leader extraordinaire, La Croix Rouge is one of Paris’s busiest, most chic cafés. Chic grabs my interest but it’s the roast beef and smoked salmon tartines that whet my appetite.
Besides being just darn delish, these tartines are easily thrown together and require little equipment, dishes and utensils. Last Saturday the water guru in Cambria, where I am living this winter, invoked Mandatory Stage 3 Drought Restrictions. The crucial word here is mandatory. Everyone has to play or fine$ are imposed. Despite our recent rains, more than 22% of California still remains in the worst category: Exceptional Drought. Unfortunately, we on the Central Coast are part of that number.
Let’s leave water issues for later and get to the tastier part of my post. Tartines are simply fancy French toasted, open-faced sandwiches topped with any spreadable ingredient that one would eat. The combinations are endless. We Americans being Americans prefer to just slap another piece of bread on top, toasting is optional, and enjoy a sandwich. A Brit, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, claims credit for that.
The French love their tartines and there are five of them in Greenspan’s Around my French Table cookbook. We’ve made them all. You may remember the Nutella, Dieter’s and Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartines. Of those three, I remain nuts about Nutella.
At La Croix Rouge the two most popular tartines are Tartine Saint-Germain and Tartine Norvégienne. For the Tartine Saint-Germain, start with a 2-inch thick slice of rustic bread. Grill or toast it on one side only. Then, slather the toasted bread with mayonnaise (I suggest using Aïoli, a garlicky mayonnaise and très français.) Although Dorie says to thinly slice a cornichon or gherkin to lay on top of the mayonnaise before covering the tartine with rare roast beef, I suggest not. Save the pickles for the surface along with salt and pepper. Cut the bread crosswise into one-inch wide strips. The wine is red.
Will it surprise you that the Tartine Norvegiénne includes smoked salmon? First, repeat the bread drill. Once toasted, spread butter (I used homemade dill sauce) on the bread and smother it in smoked salmon. Don’t forget those one-inch crosswise cuts. Top it off with pepper, capers and sliced lemons. The wine is white.
These were tasty, light dinners for me. Two tartines. Two nights.
Even better, these were no fuss, no mess, little clean-up, which helps as I try to restrict my water use here. Cambrians are restricted to using no more than two units of water, 1,500 gallons per resident per month. When I think of all the people in the world who have little access to water, I’m not feeling abused.
What I am feeling, however, is naive. Last Saturday I stopped by the local hardware store to purchase a bucket (for the shower, in case you were wondering). While paying, I said to the clerk, “I am a winter resident here and haven’t experienced water restrictions before. Could you give me some tips.”
The moral of this story is whenever you have a question, stop by your local hardware store. Business screeched to a halt. Customers gathered around the counter and my water-saving seminar began. Within 15 minutes I knew more than I wanted to know. No dishwasher. (Okay.) Launder colors and whites together. (Maybe.) Buy bottled water for cooking and drinking and brushing your teeth. (Aren’t all those plastic bottles bad for the environment?) Your car remains dirty. ( Or, grab a sponge and that bucket of shower water.) The other tips? (You don’t want to know.)
Next week-end my friends Susan and John Lester who blog at Create Amazing Meals will be coming here to join me for “Vintage Paso: Zinfandel and Other Wild Wines.” Readers, be honest, do you think it would be rude to ask them to bathe before they come?
French Fridays with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours. Please visit the blogs of my other colleagues who do bathe frequently by clicking here.