Labor Day Dishes For Six

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Patrice Rames is the executive chef and owner of Bistro St. Tropez, where for 15 years he has provided Philadelphia a slice of his native Provence.

The Bistro overlooks the river and the art museum area. Along with the beautiful view of the city, patrons of the Bistro are treated to the finest cuisine in the city.

Chef Rames cooked a two-course meal with a little strawberry desert.

The Menu:

  • Napoleon of Grilled Vegetables with Farm Goat Cheese and Black Olive Tapenade
  • Fire-Grilled Salmon Brochettes with Dry Fennel, Red Bliss Potatoes and Charred Corn
  • Sauteed Strawberries with Fresh Mint and Whipped Cream
Food Definitions:

Tapenade: Hailing from France's Provence region; a tapenade is a thick paste made from capers, anchovies, ripe olives, olive oil, lemon juice, seasonings and sometimes a piece of tuna. It's used as a condiment.

Napoleon: Napoleon, for many of us, refers to the dessert. But for Chef Rames, "napoleon" simply refers to "layers," in this case created with vegetables.

Here are Chef Rames' recipes:

Napoleon of Grilled Vegetables
With Farm Goat Cheese and Black Olive Tapenade

Serves 6

Ingredients:
Napoleon:

2 eggplants - medium size
2 tomatos - medium size
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 zucchinis - medium size
6 ounces goat cheese
1 bunch arugula
6 wooden kebab sticks

Black olive tapenade:
20 black Greek olives, pitted
10 capers
1 ounce virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
2 rinsed anchovies (optional because of cost)

Preparation:
Add the olives, the capers, and the optional anchovies into the blender. Pour in the olive oil and the lemon juice last. Puree until blended.

Preparation for the vegetables:
Slice all vegetables, marinate with a good olive oil or basil oil if you have some made. Season and then grill on each side for a few minutes. Scoop the inside of six cherries tomatoes, grill (delete grilled) them briefly, and stuff them with a little goat cheese.

To assemble:
In the center of the plate, stack the grilled vegetables starting with eggplant, then tomato, a little goat cheese, then zucchini. Between each layer, add some arugula leaves that you have tossed lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Then top with a cherry tomato pierced through with a wooden stick to hold the layers in place..

Drizzle the olive tapenade around with some cracked pepper and sprinkle with salt. (Use sea salt if you have it.)

Fire-Grilled Salmon Brochettes
With Dry Fennel, Red Bliss Potatoes, Charred Corn

Serves 6

Ingredients:
Basil leaves
Olive oil
15 fennel seeds (use a coffee grinder to freshly ground the seeds)
salt and pepper
2 ears of corn
18 small red bliss potatoes
3 leeks (white part only)
6 rosemary stalks
Fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

Mix washed basil leaves with warm olive oil and process ina blender. Reserve.

Wash leeks, potatoes and take the husks off the corn. Bring some water to a boil in a pot, add the potatoes first, then the leeks and the corn. Remove after about 6-8 minutes. You are blanching just for a little bit - you still want the meat of the vegetables to be "firm." Brush with olive oil and grill them for a few minutes. Remove them from the grill. Shave the corn off the cob, then place ina mixing bowl with the other vegetables and toss with the basil oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the salmon in cubes. Marinate with a mixture of olive oil, ground fennel, salt and pepper. Thread the salmon cubes onto the rosemary stalks. Grill 3 minutes on each side.

To assemble:
In a center of a plate arrange the vegetables with the salmon brochette on top. Drizzle with the basil oil and lemon juice.

Sauteed Strawberries
With Fresh Mint and Whipped Cream

Ingredients:
2 pints strawberries
3 fresh mint stalks
4 ounces granulated sugar
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
6 ounces cream or 1/2 pint

Preparation:
Wash the mint and strawberries, then remove the stems. Julienne the mint. Sprinkle with 2 ounces of sugar and toss the strawberries and the mint quickly in a hot saute pan, squeeze lemon juice over them using a strainer to catch the seeds.
In a cold mixing bowl, whip the cream and 2 ounces of sugar until soft peaks form.

To assemble:
Arrange the strawberries on a plate. Top with the soft whipped cream.