My Michigan family was visiting recently and my sweet DIL mailed me a "thank you" cookbook after they returned. Angie's an excellent cook and she loves looking through my cookbooks. I bet she looked to see if I had this one....I didn't and was really thrilled to get it.
As you can see, it's Avec Eric and the only way I can describe it is to say it's a cookbook/travelogue/scrapbook. With LOTS of photos of Eric. But that's OK with me; laid back and handsome Eric Ripert is a favorite of mine and his restaurant, Le Bernardin in NYC, is as near perfect as you can get. I've eaten there and can state that unequivocably. As one reviewer stated: "it is a high church of reverently prepared fish."
What I found unusual about this cookbook was the way the chapters were labeled. Not according to food groups as one expects, but location. Eric has this to say in his introduction: ".....you really have to get out of the city and visit the source to appreciate what it takes to cultivate and produce the food that ends up in our markets.....you have to walk the fields, talk to the farmer, see the animals and taste everything in its purest form."
So Eric takes us with him on his travels....to California, to Italy, to the Cayman Islands...where he finds inspiration for his restaurant, his home and hopefully, for us. The directions are not fussy, the recipes easily within the reach of everyone and they include wine pairings and notes. It was a pleasure to read.
Because spring is already here (Hopefully summer can't be far behind!) I chose this recipe first because just looking at it made me think of summer. It was in a chapter entitled Star Ingredients, which I certainly think these are. I like savory/sweet desserts and everyone loves fruit for dessert. The syrup for the tomatoes and blackberries made me close my eyes and go mmmmmm....such flavor! The cookbook had a scoop of ice cream or sorbet on top and I just happened to have some vanilla bean sorbet in the freezer. It was the perfect touch.
Blackberry and Tomato Crumble
From Avec Eric by Eric Ripert
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, diced
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
1 pint small grape tomatoes
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
3 tarragon sprigs
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 pint fresh blackberries
lemon zest strips and tarragon leaves for garnish
Sorbet for garnish, optional
Stir all the ingredients in a large bowl until it forms a pebble-like consistancy. Cover and chill for one hour.
Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the crumble mixture on the parchment paper and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, drop the tomatoes in for 20-30 seconds. Remove to ice water and peel the skin.
Combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the basil, tarragon, lemon zest and juice and the seeds from the vanilla pod. I tossed the pod in as well for good measure. Cover and allow to infuse until cool. Strain the mixture.
Rinse and dry the blackberries. Place the tomatoes and blackberries in the syrup. Chill for at least 1 hour. Drain, but reserve the syrup.
Arrange the fruit in 4 bowls and top each with a spoonful of the syrup, along with 3 or 4 tablespoons of the crumble. Garnish with lemon strips and tarragon and top with a small scoop of ice cream or sorbet.