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Take a french dip

Monday is Bastille Day and events will take place here and in Paris. Bastille Day is the French Fourth of July, so to speak. It is the day angry Parisians stormed the Bastille, the famous French jail, which in turn led to the French Revolution.

The French gave us the great Marquis de Lafayette, who helped the young America win the Revolutionary War and the Statue of Liberty. France and her people are famous for so much more.

This country, no larger than the state of Texas, creates more than 600 cheeses, great wines (2000 Bordeaux are going to be truly exceptional) and artisan bread, and is the world capital of gastronomy.

Since Bastille Day is July 14, it is usually brutally hot here in Philadelphia. To celebrate this great moment in history, I prefer cool French dishes with a rich yet simple flair. Traditional foods include top-quality store-bought p�t�s, an assortment of cheeses including ch�vre, Beaufort, Roquefort and Morbier; charcuterie, including sausages and jambon, the pale pink ham from France; small bowls of olives, marinated mushrooms and marinated artichoke hearts; an array of crudit�s, sliced baguette and tapenade — what I like to call French salsa. All are served with red and white wines. Unlike the Americans and the British, the French rarely sip a martini or any other type of cocktail before dinner. A side of poached salmon with cucumber sour-cream dill sauce also will be on offer.

I usually think of the South of France during the summer. Avignon, Cannes, Nice and the entire French Riviera are packed with American and European tourists taking advantage of the brilliant blue sea and the beach.

Here are recipes to celebrate Bastille Day.



1 (7-ounce) can tuna packed in oil
4 tablespoons sweet butter
1 cup top-quality green or black olives, pitted
4-5 white anchovies
Basil or Italian parsley leaves from about 8 sprigs


Place the tuna in a bowl and flake with a fork. Place the flaked tuna into the bowl of a food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Process the mixture using the pulse lever until the tapenade is just blended. The mixture should be slightly coarse. Taste for seasoning. You may wish to add a tablespoon or 2 of fresh lemon juice.

Makes 1 cup.

Note from Phyllis: White anchovies are packed in jars and can be easily found in cheese shops and gourmet shops. Regular canned anchovies can be used in place of white anchovies.

Roquefort Dip
From Patricia Wells at Home in Provence


2 cups cottage cheese
3 tablespoons fresh chives snipped with scissors
2-1/2 ounces imported French Roquefort cheese, at room temperature, broken into pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just to break up the cheese curds. Add the chives and the Roquefort and process briefly, pulsing once or twice just to blend. Season to taste. Pulse once again to distribute the seasonings. Transfer to a container, cover securely and refrigerate at least one day to allow the flavors to blend and emerge. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 2 cups.

Note from Phyllis: This dip is delicious with crudit�s and spread on little toasts or crackers.

Cold Summer Tomato Soup


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2-1/2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into dice
5 cups water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, snipped with scissors


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the onions and saut� until translucent, about five minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and saut� for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the basil, and cook for about one hour.

When the soup has cooled, place the onions and tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Return the onions and tomatoes to the pot. Chill the soup for at least four hours or overnight. Add the basil when ready to serve.

Serves four.

Note from Phyllis: This is another marvelous free-form recipe. You can substitute a leek for the onion, add a clove or two of saut�ed garlic and a few strips of roasted red peppers. If you can find really ripe yellow tomatoes, the end result will be a topic of conversation among your guests.

Marinated Mushrooms


1 pound white button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Italian parsley leaves snipped with scissors


Place all the ingredients in a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl. Blend well. Place the mushrooms in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator about one hour before serving. Place the mushrooms in a pretty glass or ceramic bowl and top with snipped parsley.

Serves four.

Cold Poached Salmon


1 side Norwegian salmon, at least 3-4 pounds
1 cup dry white wine
Small handful peppercorns
3 large bay leaves
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 pint sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Snips of fresh dill


Place the salmon in a deep roasting pan or deep skillet. Pour in the wine. Add water to cover and the remaining ingredients. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The salmon should be a bit translucent inside. Remove from the heat and allow the fish to cool at room temperature in the liquid. When the liquid has cooled, carefully lift the salmon from the pan or skillet and place on a large platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, place the sauce ingredients in a bowl and blend well. Taste and correct for seasoning.

Serves four to six.

Note from Phyllis: I like cool salmon prepared in a number of ways. If you like, you can make this dish with oven-broiled salmon or salmon that has been grilled on the barbecue. You can even bake it in the oven.

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