Michel Guérard, on Dieting and The Right to Food

The inventor of Cuisine Minceur (Haute Diet Cuisine), published his diet cookbook in 1976. Below is one of his recipes, “Fresh Tomato and Spinach Tarts with Thyme.” I like to read the recipes, menus, really, in his cookbook side by side with “Food For Life, Recipes and Stories on The Right To Food.” The reason? A chef is called to live artfully in an ever-shrinking, communications-driven world, and to interpret the most elemental of life’s moments, eating. To be tuned in to the global community and concerned about both, dieting and justice, is natural. I’ll post later about Alice Waters and also Houston’s own, Monica Pope.
Recipe:


Recipe:
“Fresh Tomato and Spinach Tarts with Thyme”
from: Cuisine Minceur by Michel Guérard, 1976
To serve four or five
Enough fresh spinach to provide about 20 handsome leaves
1 quart of cooked diced fresh tomatoes, made with about 3 pounds of firm, ripe tomatoes (See Note)
Salt and pepper
4 or 5 small springs of thyme or small pinches of dried thyme
UTENSILS:
To cook and serve: 4 or 5 individual ovenproof baking dishes or blini pans, 4 ½ to 5 inches in diameter.
Preheat the oven to 425 F
Cut off the stems of the spinach, blanch the leaves a few at a time in boiling water for 2 minutes each, and spread them out flat on a dry cloth to drain. Line the baking dishes or blini pans with the spinach leaves; they must cover the bottom and sides with enough extra beyond the dishes so they can be folded back over the filling.
Drain the tomatoes of excess liquid if necessary, and taste for seasoning. Spoon them into the tarts and put the sprigs of thyme in the centers. Fold back the spinach leaves, completely covering the tomatoes or not, as you prefer. Bake the tarts in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. At the last, add a spoonful more of cooked tomato for color if the spinach covers all the filling. Serve in the baking dishes or pans.
Note: The recipe for cooked diced tomatoes below specifies that the tomatoes be “coarsely” chopped. For this tart they will be best if, after they are peeled, halved and seeded, you then cut each half into 6 or 8 pieces and cook them rather briefly, 15 instead of instead of 30 minutes. They will need to be drained; you may reduce the juice to a thin sauce and add this back to the tomatoes if you wish before filling the tarts.
Recipe for Diced Fresh Tomatoes
To make about 1 ½ quarts of raw diced tomatoes, or about 1 quart of cooked tomatoes:
3 pounds of firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled
1 teaspoon of olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, crushed
A bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
UTENSILS:
Kettle of boiling water
Bowl of ice ice water
Enameled or stainless saucepan
Glass or stainless container for storage
NOTE: It is convenient to hae these tomatoes prepared in advance for use in a variety of recipes.
To peel the tomatoes, they must be plunged into boiling water for 15 seconds and then plunged into cold water so the tomato just under the skin will not begin to cook.
After peeling , cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, gently squeeze them in the palm of your hand to eliminate the seeds and excess juice, and chop them coarsely.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and in it gently cook the shallots. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and bouquet garni, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the garlic cloves and store the cooked tomatoes, covered, in the refrigator.
AM

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