Me? I'm thinking like this cat who loves art:
Who lives near here (see the red, white and blue tints), a gate house:
Which is on the grounds of here, Chenonceau chateau in the Loire Valley in France:
Why would I be thinking about France this week? Well, I mean there is that who thing about France helping us win the Revolution so we could blow up fireworks in our cul-de-sacs in perfect freedom.
But also because France is where I learned the secret for the best fruit dish in the world. And a lot of fruit is coming in. Blueberries, blackberries and peaches, peaches, peaches.
When we visited the castles of the Loire Valley, we stopped at a little restaurant in Chenonceaux, the town near this famous chateau that spans a river. We were the only ones in the restaurant because you know it was 7:00pm and folks there eat at 9:00! I don't remember anything about the meal except the BEST PEARS I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.
Yes, they were. Since the owner wasn't busy, she told me the recipe, the secret ingredient for this marvelous dish. And I practically fainted on the spot. SO SIMPLE. She cut up the pears, sauteed them in butter, added a bit of sugar and then, the secret ingredient, vanilla.
Now I know vanilla is the most purchased ice cream flavor in the US. I know half the heroines I read about in books wear vanilla-scented perfume. But I didn't know you could put vanilla on plain fruit and turn it into a masterpiece of flavor. Biggest culinary revelation ever.
So now I put vanilla on all my fruit and suddenly I don't feel deprived that I can't have a pie crust (darn wheat allergy) along with it. Who needs pie when you have fruit that reaches new heights of deliciousness?
So I am thankful for France being a good friend to America in her time of need and to giving me one of the simplest ways to enjoy summer's bountiful fruit crop.
This week it was peaches. They look deceptively plain but if you want to gild the lily, add vanilla ice cream and a cookie:
Sauteed Fruit, Chenonceaux style
2 cups fruit
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar (any type but I use organic or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon or more vanilla to taste.
Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
Add fruit as soon as butter is melted.
Stir until fruit has softened a tad.
Add sugar and vanilla and continue to stir until evenly distributed.
Serve warm, plain as a side dish or with ice cream for dessert.
So what about you? What ingredient is your secret weapon? What is your favorite simple recipe for July 4th? Do you dream of running away and living in a castle?