Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Book Tour Stops Here: "The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted" with Salade de Pâtes Fraîches aux Herbes (Fresh Herb Pasta Salad) & a Giveaway!

"Every woman needs one lost summer in her life. This is yours." So says Heidi's mother in order to push her to travel to Provence and check on the generations-old family cottage that suffered a kitchen fire, but more importantly, to bring her back to the land of the living. It's been two years since Heidi's husband and soulmate Henry was killed in a tragic car accident and Heidi is (just barely) going through the motions of living. She needs to pull it together and find a way to heal her broken heart, if not for herself then for her young son. So Heidi, son Abbot and her teenage niece Charlotte head for the tiny village of Puyloubier in the south of France, to restore the house that is rumored to mend broken hearts.

"The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted" by Bridget Asher is a beautifully-written novel that tugs at the heartstrings, it is in turns--sweet, romantic, sad and hopeful. Heidi struggles to deal with her devastating loss, seven year-old Abbot desperately misses his father and is challenged by his obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and wise-beyond-her-sixteen-years Charlotte has pain over a secret she is hiding. All three are in need of the healing power of family, friends, love, and a crumbling old house in need of a bit of healing itself. Asher's descriptive prose had me reveling in the feeling of the the warm summer air, the smell of the flowers and vineyards, seeing the beautiful French countryside, and tasting the delicious food and pastries. My only real complaint is that the end of the story seemed to come much too quickly, especially when so much time was spent setting up the story. I wanted more time and more details about the characters in the wrap up. But still a very charming and heartwarming read overall.

As is my habit when reviewing books on this blog, I wanted to cook a dish inspired by the book so I dug through my cookbook shelves and pulled out my copy of "Chez Nous: Home Cooking From the South of France" by Lydie Marshall. There I found a pasta salad recipe full of flavorful tarragon, chives and parsley that intrigued me. (Could it have been the capers that drew me in?) ;-) It sounded like something fresh and lovely that Heidi might have enjoyed, cooked by neighbor Véronique, for dinner in the book.

Salade de Pâtes Fraîches aux Herbes (Fresh Herb Pasta Salad)
From "Chez Nous" by Lydie Marshall
(Serves 8)

Marshall says, "I serve this herb vinaigrette with dishes other than pasta; it's perfect for poached or grilled fish, steamed new potatoes, cold chicken, etc."

2 hard-boiled eggs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon drained capers
fresh egg pasta, cut into fettuccine or angel hair
freshly ground black pepper

Dice the cooked egg-whites.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the egg yolks, mustard, herbs, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt, occasionally scraping the work bowl. With the motor running, dribble the vinegar and oil through the chute.

Pour the dressing into a large bowl, add the capers and the egg whites. Set aside. In a large kettle, boil several quarts of salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute.

Drain and toss the pasta in the dressing. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Taste and correct seasoning.

Notes/Results: Full of fresh herbal flavors, this is not a dish for the flavor-shy! Between the garlic, mustard, capers and the assertive taste of the fresh herbs this pasta dish packs a strong punch. I really enjoyed the creamy sauce with the diced egg whites and salty tang of the capers and the tarragon really stands out. I ended up serving this over fresh egg fettuccine noodles and alongside some shrimp cooked in olive oil and herbes de provence (a little trick I learned from Giada), which paired very nicely with it. A glass of white wine and a simple green salad, and I could imagine myself in the French country side. It is an easy recipe, pretty to look at, and the sauce would be wonderful on fish too so I will definitely be making it again.

Book Giveaway!

The publisher will be providing 1 copy of "The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted" to a lucky U.S. book lover!

I will be randomly drawing one winner from all of the applicable comments.

How To Enter:
It's very simple! Just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite food or place to go when your heart needs some healing. (Make sure you leave me a way to contact you either by blog or e-mail in case you win!)

Note: This giveaway is open to US residents only. (Sorry to my International readers.)

Deadline to enter is midnight (Hawaii time) on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

Obligatory Disclosure Statement: Review and giveaway copies of this book were provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours but I was not compensated for this review or influenced by anyone--as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more blogger feedback on this book you can check out the other Book Tour Stops for "The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted" here.

Finally, such a great pasta dish has to be sent to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by its founder Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. Stop by her blog on Friday to check out her round up of some incredible pasta dishes.



  1. Sigh. I think maybe i need to go to the french countryside...or read this book! I love strong bold flavors...and I'm sure I would adore this pasta dish! The vibrancy of its green color is just gorgeous!

  2. If I could, the french countryside would be my healing place of choice! Or maybe Greece?!

  3. Would love to try the herb vinaigrette on...well, anything!

    I'd go to New Orleans, sit along the Mississippi eating beignets, watching and listening to the river traffic. Always helps.

  4. What a super sounding book. It's definitely on my wish list ... as is a trip to Provence - no heartache here, but it still seems like a wonderful retreat from life's craziness. As for the pasta.. served with shrimp, no less... thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  5. I'm really into lemony parm pastas right now! Throw in some spinach or kale and I'm all about it! YUM!

  6. What a lovely review! And what a gorgeous looking recipe to go with! Thank you so much for being on the tour and for sharing the wonderful recipe. It sounds fantastic!

  7. I got my kitchen and bake when I need comfort. I get lost in the measuring, sifting and stirring. For a little while my worries drift away.

  8. Thanks for a terrific review and a great recipe to try. Your salad is beautiful. I would head to the island of Ischia to heal and enjoy sunset dinners by the water at Porto.

  9. I came to your site from Kat. You have so many recipes and I don't know where to start! I've bookmarked your site. :-) Thanks for sharing pesto pasta dish. I usually can't use all the basils, so I needed basil recipes! Thanks!

  10. yum, this looks great! I spent all of last year living in France, and this definitely looks like something you'd find in the countryside. I'm also a caper fiend (I'm actually am eating a salad now tossed with capers), thanks for the recipe!

  11. Ok so it could vary from going for a nice run to let off steam, to a visit to Barnes & Nobles .... yes I love being among books, I don't know what it is about books but I find a lot of comfort in them ... to cooking up something new ... of course the south of France would be nice but not usually possible!

  12. Well Deb, I think that meal would be a good start on curing the broken-hearted. But, given the opportunity, would eat at Alan Wong's again in Honolulu.

  13. This sounds like a wonderful book. I think the south of france would probably heal all kinds of wounds. I've been wanting to go to New Orleans forever so I'm gonna go sit by the river with Michelle. She can bring the beignets. I'll bring the Hurricanes :)

    I'm drooling over your shrimp and herby pasta! A heavenly combo for sure.

  14. What a great-looking plate of pasta! Nature has healing powers for me. A walk on a deserted beach or in the woods would do me good in a difficult emotional situation. I'd bring some chocolate (70% cocoa or more) to help me too.


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