I have this thing with dishtowels -- especially French dishtowels. I have so many, that sometimes I elevate their status and use them as luxurious, oversize napkins at a dinner party, or as a pretty place mat when I have lunch.
Something about the subtle colors of 100% cotton jacquard varieties always seem to cheer up my kitchen. I also covet the vintage linen and hemp versions with the classic, French red accents. I found of few of those beauties, too, on my recent trip and was very happy to tuck them in my suitcase.
I have a very nice selection in the shop right now -- and they're the perfect gift for your favorite Francophile -- and make great hostess gifts, too
I fell in in love with this 100% cotton jacquard, Eiffel tower design that shows the (famously photographed) construction sequence on the border design and features a big, ghost-like rendering of the Eiffel tower in the center.
By the way, the Summer Salad above just sings of Provence in the summertime and it's a fresh way to enjoy the best, flavorful tomatoes in season right now and incredibly easy and fast to make. I cheat and use the handy, already steamed cooked lentils available from Trader Joe's. Most Francophiles will also tell you that the beauty of these ingredients is they are delicious cold or hot! PS~ This is flavorful, filling and nicely low in calories.
Provençal Summer Salad (serves 4)
6-8 ounces fresh, organic arugula
1 package steamed lentils from Trader Joe's
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp mild Dijon mustard (optional)
2 tbs fresh oregano (optional)
6 medium tomatoes
a squeeze of lemon
4-5 large leaves of fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Lemon mustard vinaigrette (see previous post for recipe)
In a mixing bowl, snip the arugula into bite size pieces. You can skip this step but I prefer to cut down the long arugula leaves -- just easier to eat. Drizzle the salad with a table spoon or so of thoroughly blended vinaigrette (shake the jar for a few seconds -- and make sure the lid is secure!) Toss the arugula.
Empty the package of cooked lentils into the arugula bowl and separate the kernels with a fork to loosen and separate the clumps. Drizzle the second tablespoon of vinaigrette, over the lentils and then sprinkle the powdered cumin, Herbs de Provence and mustard and mix them all gently into the lentil layer.
Wash and pat dry the tomatoes and chop into bite size pieces. Salt and pepper the chopped tomato pieces on the cutting board. Add them on top of the lentils and arugula waiting in the bowl.
Chop the basil finely and sprinkle them over the tomatoes and toss all the ingredients together. Taste and add a squeeze of lemon if it needs a little more tang and acidity.
Plate the mixture and enjoy!
Alternatively, you can heat this exact prepared mixture in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees and serve it warm. This will be just enough to warm the lentils, wilt the arugula and soften but not completely cook, the tomatoes. Served warm, this is a great side dish with a grilled fish and also satisfying as a vegetarian main course.