Almost every review of Nina Parker's Nina St. Tropez says, "It's the next best thing to being there." First, let me just clarify -- there is no "next best thing." There is being there and NOT being there. We are NOT there and we are not that happy about it, either.
That being said, while we are not in the South of France, that is simply no excuse not to cook like we are. So grab a copy of this book and go native. Now it may seem from the cover and very glam shots of the photogenic Ms. Parker, that this is a cookbook for the high end diner. But it is actually a very comprehensive look at the food of the Mediterranean. Food served in homes and bistros off the tourist map. Parker writes:
"I want to show you the classic, often forgotten side of town -- far away from the mega yachts and spray of champagne....This is not the new St. Tropez, it's the real St. Tropez; much of it has remained intact since its heyday in the 1950's, holding on to that old-world charm and glamor all the while."
Don't worry, there are lovely photos of water and boats and beach and markets. And there is food, food, food. It is food one immediately wants to eat. Beautiful and simple. It is a page turner. Rarely does one find a cookbook that has something to offer up on every page. (Frankly, I hate bananas and even the banana split looked like I might even take a bite -- or two!)
The seafood it a stand out. Alas, as stated before -- we are not there, so finding the gorgeous seafood can be a bit of a problem, but we often find scallops and we do love them. Here is a great combination.
Brochettes de Saint-Jaques et Chorizo au Thym
350g fresh scallops, roe removed
100g soft cooking chorizo
bunch fresh thyme, leaves roughly chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
150g cherry tomatoes
20g unsalted butter
sea salt and black pepper
Carefully rinse the scallops under cold running water and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Slice the chorizo into chunks roughly the same size as the scallops. Put the scallops, chorizo and half the thyme in a bowl with some of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and gently tumble together with your hands, making sure everything is coated.
Thread the scallops, chorizo and tomatoes on to the skewers and scatter over the remaining thyme. Heat the remaining oil in two large frying pans over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the skewers and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning every so often, until all sides are browned. One minute before they’re ready, squeeze half a lemon over each. Carefully stack them on a serving dish. Reduce the heat and squeeze another half a lemon into each pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the juices on the bottom of the pans and add half the butter to each pan. Cook for a moment, stirring, before drizzling the tasty pink sauce over the skewers.
You know you want to make these this weekend. I know I do! I can assure you, it will not be the next best thing to being there, but it may just be the best thing you do this weekend. If you can't wait, grab a bottle of wine and make them on Wednesday. It will be the best Wednesday ever!