Autumn in Provence~The Land of Lavender

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Beautiful lavender fields abound in Provence.

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By the time we arrived in September, the lavender had already been harvested for the year.  Lavender is a fragrant bushy shrub that reaches the peak of its growing cycle in late summer. This is a small lavender field depicts the recent harvest.

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Lavender is prized for its essential oils that have many medicinal properties.  It is said to have a tranquilizing effect making sleep easier as well as an antiseptic used for insect bites and treating wounds.

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Visiting the distillery was interesting.  Steam is used to extract the prized essential oils from the blooms and stems of the plant.

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Once extracted the oils are kept in plastic vats and shipped all over the world.

Lavender can be used in our food too, like in my recently published Goat Cheese Truffles or the Lavender Vanilla Scones that are sure to please!

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Lavender Vanilla Scones

3 cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks cold butter, cubed

1 cup chilled buttermilk

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1 teaspoon edible lavender plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles small peas.  Mix extracts and vanilla seeds and lavender into the buttermilk.   Pour buttermilk into food processor and pulse until dough is formed.  Gather the dough into a ball and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead it gently not more than a dozen times.  Cut the dough in half.   Roll ½ of the dough into a circle ½ inch thick. Slice the circle like a pizza creating triangles.  Repeat with second half of dough.  Place triangles on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown around edges.  Frost scones with glaze and garnish with lavender sprinkle if desired.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon vanilla

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Pinch of salt

Cream

Add all ingredients in a bowl except cream; add cream slowly until desired consistency is formed.  Drizzle tops of baked scones with glaze.

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Fox 4 This Morning- The Humble Tart

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Tune into Fox 4 KDFW this morning, Monday October 8th, about 9:30, to see me making one of my most favorite things, tarts!

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Tarts have humble beginnings.  Originally they were served as a way to stretch protein and ingredients into additional meals.  If you have a crust on hand, cheese and eggs, you can have a tart for dinner tonight!

I love to make tarts for so many reasons, for starters they are pretty.  You can make a rustic version, like my Caprese Tart, simply folding the puff pastry crust back over the tart or for a classier tart, like in my Peach and Blueberry, use a bottomless pan to give you the pretty fluted edge.

In my home I often have leftover salmon or chicken.  Adding this extra protein to a prepared crust, along with vegetables, cheese and eggs, and I can have a beautiful tart in the oven in a matter of minutes.

Tarts can be sweet or savory.  Generally, savory tarts include an egg custard filling that acts as the glue to hold everything together.

After spending time in commercial kitchen in Paris, I learned foolproof strategies for creating the very best savory tarts! Start by getting your crust into a baking tin or dish.  Next, arrange all of the goodies, the cheese, meat and vegetables evenly over the crust. Mix up fresh eggs with salt, pepper and a dash of milk or cream, not too much, or the tart won’t set.  Last, pour the egg mixture slowly into the center of the tart and let it seep into all the crevasses.  Place the tart onto a baking sheet and into the oven until the tart is puffed and brown.  Let tarts set 10 minutes before serving with a salad for a bistro style lunch or dinner.

Fruit tarts are really straightforward. Crust + fruit and a little sugar = dessert heaven.  If you use frozen fruit, always add about 1 tablespoon of flour to the sugar and fruit before you pop it into the crust.  This will help absorb the extra moisture created by the freezing process.

The humble tart, a crust, a filling and a fork is all you need! Bon Appetit.

Caprese tart 2

Caprese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry

10 eggs

¼ cup milk or cream

1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

3 medium tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick

10 leaves fresh basil cut in a chiffonade

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degree.  Unfold puff pastry sheet and eliminate creases by rolling it out on a floured surface. Place the pastry into a 9 inch pie plate allowing the corners to hang over.  Sprinkle an even layer of Gruyere cheese in the bottom of the crust.  In a mixing bowl combine eggs, salt, pepper, milk and basil and beat until well blended.  Pour egg mixture into the crust.  Top with tomatoes in a single layer, don’t worry if they sink.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top and fold the corners of the pastry over the filling.  Bake the tart for 40-45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

 

Chicken Red Bell Peppers and Leek Tart

1 prepared pie crust

1 tablespoon butter

1 leek, cleaned and finely chopped

10 eggs

¼ cup milk or cream

1 cup grated Gouda cheese

1 cup of rotisserie chicken, cubed

1 red bell pepper, sliced in rings

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degree.  Heat butter in a small chef’s pan and sauté leeks until soft.  Add the leeks and chicken to the bottom of the crust and spread out.  Sprinkle an even layer of cheese into the bottom of the crust.  In a mixing bowl combine eggs, salt, pepper and milk and beat until well blended, pour the egg mixture into the center of the crust, top with red pepper rings.  Bake the tart for 40-45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Peach Blueberry Tart 2

Peach Blueberry Tart

Crust

1½ cups flour

¾ cup cold butter cut into cubes

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling

2 cups frozen peaches, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 cup fresh blueberries

½ cup sugar

1 lemon zested and juiced

2 tablespoons flour

Crumble

1 cup flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon salt

To prepare the crust, combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix well.  Add cold butter and pulse until dough forms a ball.  Prepare tart pan by coating with butter or non-stick spray.  Press dough into pan evenly, prick bottom of crust with a fork. Chill crust for 15 minutes in the freezer.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To prepare filling, add all filling ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Pour fruit mixture into prepared crust. Make the crumble by whisking all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add the butter and mix with a folk or your hands until the mixture resembles peas. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the fruit and bake for 40-45 minute until fruit is bubbly and crumble is browned.

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Cute tartlets, I recently served at an event!

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Can you feel my face pressed against the glass?  This is pretty window of tarts in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.  I especially love the Mushroom pies!

 Travel with me to Provence in 2019 or Paris in 2020!

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Dinner Party~Flavors from a Provençal Market

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I am thrilled to say that you are invited to a fall dinner party featuring flavors from the markets of Provence.  I’ve only been back from the heart of Provence a few days and my soul is bursting with inspiration I will soon share with guests of this magnificent event.

I have partnered with Lauren Palmer from The Art of Living Beautifully who will open her stunning home for the evening and Tracie Miller and Marcie Heneham from Unique Unique Designs who will  be styling  this glorious event.

The evening will begin with cocktails and nibbles and then a short program; I’ll share more about the menu and of course fabulous Provence! Tracie and Marcie will give you plenty of inspiration for tablescaping and centerpieces sure to inspire you for the upcoming entertaining season.

After our short program we will invite our guests to sit for a wonderful meal including wine pairings that have been graciously donated by Andy Doyle of McKinney Wine Merchant. I am particularly excited to share the splendid dessert planned for you.

I look forward to seeing you there!  Don’t delay, only a few tickets remain.

For Tickets CLICK

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Apple Tart

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Making an apple tart is so easy you could have one for dessert tonight!

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Start with Granny Smith apples.

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Core and slice the apples.

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Roll the crust out to eliminate creases.

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Arrange the apples in 3 rows.

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Sprinkle with sugar.

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Dot with butter and Bake!

Enjoy!

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Apple Tart

1 sheet puff pastry

4 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thin

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On lightly floured surface roll puff pastry slightly to eliminate creases and to form a rectangle.  Place the crust onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread out apples in three rows.  Sprinkle the apples with sugar and dot with butter. Fold edges of the crust up to create the border.  Bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.  Allow to cool before slicing to serve.

Love Apples?  How About Hard Cider and Calvados?  Then register TODAY for:

The Foods of the Normandy Coast, 2 Day French Workshop-Thursday-Friday October 25th and 26th 10:30-2:00

Join me for a truly unique culinary event as we travel to Normandy for some of the most delectable food on earth.  In Normandy they cook with the 4 C’s; cider, calvados, crème and camembert. We will explore these ingredients as we prepare some of the most iconic, mouthwatering dishes full of love and flavor.

This 2-day workshop is immersion style and we cook side by side. Each day we will prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and a sweet along with a snack or two!  Wine will be served and a cheese course each day for an authentic French dining experience.  Dinner portions will be packed up to-go.

In addition to this fabulous menu, we will prepare classic, slow fermenting French Bread and European Style Butter to be enjoyed with our meals each day.

For those that want to arrive 30 minutes early on the second day, I will demonstrate the fabulous perfected Saint Eve from Bayeux to be enjoyed by all! And just for fun, we will prepare and taste the Normandy, a cocktail that is all the rage in NYC!

This course promises to improve your overall kitchen skills; French cooking is the gold standard and expertise acquired will last a lifetime.  Be a part of the fun! Limited enrollment, Fee $189.00

Day 1 Our day will begin with time honored baking skills.  Using an old fashioned French recipe, we will prepare French Boule and amaze your taste buds with European Style Butter, both to be eaten during our class.  The perfect start to our days together will be sumptuous Oeufs Cocotte.  For a luxurious snack we will prepare Caramelized Apples and Calvados over Camembert.  For lunch we will have gorgeous Tartine topped with avocado, ham, tomatoes and Balsamic Reduction served French style with a Green Salad. For dinner, Chicken Normandy with Potatoes, Onions and Apple Cider is a classic slow roasted dish with a rich complex sauce as only the French can do!   For dessert each guest will prepare an Apple in Filo and Calvados served with Carmel Sauce, my favorite Normandy bites as pretty as it is tasty!

Day 2 Arrive 30 minutes early for a demonstration on the perfected Saint Eve of Bayeux, a truly unique treat that offers creamy, crunchy, chocolaty goodness in every bite.  We will start our day with moist and dense Apple Cake.   For an irresistible snack we will make Apple Bacon Gruyere Madeleines.  We will prepare a composed lunch of White Fish Meuniere served alongside pretty Vegetable Gratin and creamy Brie Potatoes Dauphinoise.  For a lovely take home dinner we will prepare hearty Spicy Sausage and Lentil Soup and a fabulous Normandy Salad with apples, cherries, walnuts and creamy cheese. For a beautiful finish to our day we will make Apple Soufflé with Calvados Sauce.

 

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

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Nothing makes me hop out of bed the morning faster than something yummy coming out of the oven!  Squeeze the last drop out of seasonal berries and make a batch Of Lemon-Blueberry Muffins for the ones you love TODAY!

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Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

Batter

½ cup butter softened

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

The zest of 1 lemon

Topping

½ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

¼ cup butter, room temperature

Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar in a bowl using a whisk, add eggs, milk, vanilla and zest and mix well.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, add to liquid ingredients and mix only until combined.  Toss in blueberries.  Spoon into 12 muffin tins lined with paper cups.  Prepare topping by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl with a fork until crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping over each muffin and bake for 18-22 minutes until muffins are puffed and beginning to brown.

Cook with ME! Register TODAY!

French Market– October 5th, 10:30-3:00

After spending several weeks combing the markets of Provence I will be filled with inspiration for this magnificent class on French cooking. Fresh local ingredients will be gathered including vegetables, cheese, wine and more, downtown before you arrive. Together we will design the menu and prepare a 5 course meal just like in the cooking schools in Paris!  You won’t know what’s on the menu because we will be creating from fresh, in season, locally grown ingredients!   Come ready to cook and have a fantastic day of food and fun. Cooking class will include 5 courses including a composed dessert, cheese course and wine! You will leave with an ingredient map so you can shop for local products. Each class participant will receive a special gift from the markets of Provence. Limited Enrollment Class Fee $92.50

Girls Night OUT It’s Time for a Break!-Thursday, October 11th 6:30-8:30

Grab a girlfriend and join the fun in this entertaining night out.  We will cook for the first hour and enjoy our yummies the second hour, cocktail party style complete with a crafty take away treat!  The festivities begin with a libation that hints fall is finally upon us, Pomegranate Orange Martini is oh so refreshing.  The amazing food starts with precious Goat Cheese Savory Madeleines, almost too cute to eat.  Green Goddess Crudité Cups offer color and crunch to our party table.  Crostini makes a happy gathering, we will have 2, delicious scratch made Deviled Crab and Ham and Cheddar with Jalapeno Jam, oh my. We will make the insanely simple and irresistible Cranberry Brie Pull Apart Bread. For the prettiest party platter we will make zesty Mediterranean Cherry Peppers stuffed with Prosciutto and hard cheese and cute as pie Stuffed Snow Peas filled with a luscious creamy cheese. Everyone will have fun decorating our charming Chicken Salad Tartlets. For a sweet finish we will make Lemon Cheese Cake Mouse.  For a party favor, each class participant will decorate a Brownie Tart to take! Fee $59.50

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It’s a Provencal Happy Hour!

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DATE CHANGE!

Happy Hour October 18, 6:00-8:00

Celebrate Autumn in Provence with an ATOP Happy Hour just for fun!

Have you been to the beautiful new Toulouse at Legacy West?
Join A Taste of Paris for a Provencal Happy Hour. Drink and food specials just for ATOP!

Registration for A Taste of Provence 2019 is OPEN and Toulouse is helping us celebrate!
Travel with me in 2019 for an unforgettable experience.

Immerse yourself in the flavors of Provence.  Soak up sundrenched farm land, cultivated by artisans passionate about their craft.  Visit and taste at local producers of wine, cheese and olives for an up-close view of the fabulous food this region is known for.  Enjoy private cooking classes and some of the best markets in the world. Your taste buds will sing with the flavors of France.

September 7-14th, 2019  Only 2 seats OPEN

OR

September 14th-21st, 2019  Only 1 seat OPEN

Join the fun as Toulouse transports us to Provence,
for a full list of Happy Hour offerings and the address CLICK HERE

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Registration for Fall and Holiday cooking classes is underway, dont miss out on the fun!  Register TODAY!

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Peppered Cashews and a Final Nod the the Past

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I’ve been looking back through the last few years of travel, sharing comments made by previous ATOP travelers.  I hope you have enjoyed getting to know this fabulous group of people.

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I knew A Taste of Paris™ would have a personal impact on travelers.  Immersing in the French way of life, and exploring this country through its food, alters your point of view.  The part of this experience I did not expect, was the gift these incredible travelers would give me in return.  Each of their stories is a precious gift. Intimate moments and the meeting of hearts around a table, have become invaluable treasures to me.

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“Why did I choose A Taste of Paris/Champagne? Paris has always been on my bucket list. I haven’t been to Paris since I was a young girl.”

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“Paris is a beautiful city filled with wonderful culinary experiences as well wonderful historical and cultural venues.” 

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“And to add Champagne, my favorite drink to the mix was a no brainer. Sipping wonderful French champagne and seeing the beautiful countryside was an incredible experience.” 

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“Also traveling with a “seasoned” American Chef who was able to escort us and  provide her insights of France was a great add!” Zorianna Spies

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Thank you Zorianna, you are always so full of life and fun!  It was a pleasure to share the experience with you.

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Nothing goes better with Champagne than my peppered cashews.  Make a quick batch and pop open a bottle of bubbles this weekend!

Travel to France with me in 2019 and make some delicious memories of your own!

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Peppered Cashews

1 pound raw cashew nuts

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a chef’s pan melt butter and stir in all seasonings.  Mix well.  Toss in nuts.  Spread nuts on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until nuts are beginning to brown.  Serve warm.

Provence and Pastis

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Have you ever heard of Pastis?  This aperitif cocktail was a mystery to me until I visited Marsalis France a few years ago.

This is my last week to explore my recent travelers response to the questions  “Why France?” Registration for my trips to France in 2019 is OPEN

A Taste of Paris- March 31st-April 7th 2019

A Taste of Provence- September, 2019 

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“My favorite thing about my ATOP trip was getting to do so many things, cooking, the history, shopping, eating and having cocktails only the way the French do.

“I loved the bonding of the ladies and getting to branch out on the side to go to the big flea market.”

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“Knowing Lorie personally, I knew the trip would be well planned and informative and now I can place a check on my bucket list!” Kelly Jacob

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It’s true Kelly, having cocktails in France is an event and serving Pastis definitely fits that bill!

Pastis is an anise flavored aperitif that’s strong and a bright green color.  It’s served  with water and a few cubes of ice, unless you are in America, you know how we love our cold drinks! To drink this beverage, add desired water, a few cubes of ice and stir.  At this point pastis looks like milk.  With its fresh licorice flavor’ pastis, is really quite refreshing especially in August.  If you have not tried it before I highly recommend it!

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It was super fun having Kelly along for our France adventure!  To make some memories of your own in 2019 contact me by email lorie@atasteofparis.net or phone 214 551 9630!

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Cheese Truffles, Oh My!

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“After my first ATOP trip to Paris and the champagne region, meeting food artisans;

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I could not wait to go to Provence where we get to meet the farmers and local producers!” Tonni Callan

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Cultivating relationships with French food artisans is something I take very seriously.  I have been working for decades to find the very best experiences France has to offer!

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I am excited too, Tonni, about taking my Provence 2018 group to meet the farmers and producers of fine foods and wines of the region.

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A Taste of Provence is a bit more relaxed pace.  Unlike Paris, people tend to take their time and get to know one another.

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We may even get to milk the goats before seeing how this creamy tart cheese is made.

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I was inspired to create my recipe for Goat Cheese Truffles by a visit to a cheese cave in Saint Remy-de-Provence.

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I’ll be taking my travelers here to enjoy local wine, some of these luscious morsels and the beautiful cave. Saint Remy, nicknamed the jewel of Provence, will be our home for a week.

There is still time to register for travel with me to Provence in 2019!

And meanwhile, make some of these beautiful treats to enjoy with a bottle of rosé this weekend!

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Goat Cheese Truffles 3 Varieties

Base

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

6 ounce package fresh chevre

Prepare base mixture by combining cheeses and mixing well. Split mixture evenly into 3 small bowls. Proceed with each recipe below.

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Paprika Goat Cheese Truffles

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 clove garlic, pressed

3 tablespoons paprika, divided.

To one of the small bowls of cheese mix onion powder, garlic and ¼ teaspoon paprika and mix well. Shape scant teaspoon sized amounts of cheese into balls.  Place remaining paprika in a shallow dish and roll each cheese ball into the paprika coating all surfaces

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Herbed Goat Cheese Truffles

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley divided

To one of the small bowls of cheese mix herbs and ½ teaspoon parsley and mix well. Shape scant teaspoon sized amounts of cheese into balls.  Place remaining parsley in a shallow dish and roll each cheese ball into the parsley coating all surfaces.

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Lavender Goat Cheese Truffles

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon creamed honey

¼ cup crushed lavender

To one of the small bowls of cheese mix onion powder and honey and mix well. Shape scant teaspoon sized amounts of cheese into balls.  Place lavender in a shallow dish and roll each cheese ball into the parsley coating all surfaces.

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Did Someone Say Food?

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When traveling with A Taste of Paris, food is pretty much always on our minds.  You know what they say…”When in France, do as the French do” and food is always on the minds of the French!

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When asked, Why France?  Jacqui Cooper, a former ATOP traveler, said it best…”To me, the mere mention of Paris evokes thoughts of exquisite food, wine, and pastries;” 

See the recipe below for Sweet Red Chili Basil Tomatoes from our Parisian chef; you may be surprised by one of the ingredients that make this stunning morsel an explosion in your mouth.

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“the first hint of trendsetter fashions; beautiful countryside and gardens; and a city of lights illuminating some of the world’s magnificent historical architectures.” 

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“Paris also brings to mind the flea and food markets where ordinary folks shop for the necessities of the day.” 

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“I chose the ATOP trips because it enabled me to revisit some of Paris’ breathtaking historical sites,”

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“such as Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and the Pantheon;”

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“and to enjoy again, the French countryside and wonderful champagne.” 

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“The tour also gave me the unique opportunity to delve into the food side of Paris.”

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  “Of course, we went to lovely restaurants and bistros to partake of the Parisian cuisine,”

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“but the motivating reason for choosing ATOP was the “hands on” activities.  For example, we had an afternoon at the world famous Le Cordon Bleu School, where we actually, under the watchful eye of a French pastry chef, participated in the painstaking detailed process of making macrons.” 

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“Another day found us meeting the Chef for our market class at the food market in mid-morning to shop for ingredients for the day’s luncheon.” 

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“We purchased what was needed and returned to the Chef’s school to cook.  We again participated in every step of preparing a meal and how to beautifully present it on the plate.”

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“These kinds of “hands on” experiences made the ATOP tour truly an unforgettable trip.”

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“An ever present reminder of the trip is the personalized chef’s jacket that Lorie gave each of us while in Paris.  Thanks Lorie.”

So Thank you Jacqui for summing up the A Taste of Paris experience so articulately!

You can still travel with ATOP in 2019 CLICK HERE for all the details!

And try Sweet Red Chili Basil Tomatoes with produce ripe from the field today!

Sweet Red Chili Basil Tomatoes

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

Basil leaves, one for each tomato

1 teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon Piment d’espelette (or substitute, 11/2 teaspoon paprika and a healthy dash of cayenne pepper)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make a slit in each tomato about ¼ inch deep.  In a bowl, mix sugar and seasonings very well.  Add tomatoes and coat well with the sugar mixture.  Place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment and using the back of a knife; slide a basil leaf into the slit of each tomato.  Place baking sheet into the oven to warm through for 4 minutes.

See you soon!

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