The Jules & David Project

bas vin-4

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L[/dropcap]ast year I read a great little book by Chris Guillebeau who fulfilled his dream of visiting every country in the world.

With the title, ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’, Chris’ latest book is all about quests. It chronicles the adventures of not only Chris’s globe trotting but a heap of other people with quests as diverse as cooking a meal from every country in the world to watching a baseball game in every major league stadium in the US.

Being a Virgo who loves writing (and crossing things off) lists, I found the whole ‘quest’ idea super inspiring.

Not only did it motivate me to finally start my ‘bucket list’, it also gave me the idea for a few mini quests that I’m working on this year.

My Quests for 2015

1. Cook every meal from David Tanis’ ‘Platter of Figs and Other Recipes’.

2. Post one photo on Instagram every day for a year.

3. Eat at every restaurant in Canberra on the Good Food Top 20 list.

4. Have a conversation in French in Paris.

The David Tanis Project

My best Christmas pressie this year was a copy of ‘A Platter of Figs ‘. I fell in love instantly with Tanis’ writing but even more so with the sound of his food.

I just love the way he tells a story about a meal and then gives the menu and recipes.

I also love that even though he is a chef, his favourite way to spend time with family and friends is to cook at home. A man after my own heart.

After reading the book cover to cover, an idea struck.

Maybe I should try and cook every meal from the book over the next year?

And the ‘Jules & David Project’ was born.

The story so far

I made our first meal last week on a suitably hot Summer’s day. If you’d like more detail on the actual menu, I’ve created a separate page over here (excuse the crappy iphone pics).

Overall I just LOVED the meal.

Of course there were many Stonesoup simplifications because sometimes I can’t help it.

I also loved the process of following someone else’s well planned idea. And the chance to try some new tricks that I wouldn’t thought of on my own.

The menus

menu seven: TOO DARNED HOT. ALORS!
menu nine: YELLOW HUNGER
menu thirteen: FEELING ITALIAN, PART 2
menu fourteen: IN CATALONIA
menu fifteen: THE BEAN SOUP LUNCH
menu seventeen: DINNER FOR A TUSCAN
menu nineteen: TAPAS PARTY (coming soon)

Plus! Watch this space for more to be added during the year…

bas vin-4

Versatile Basil Vinaigrette

As an Australian I love shortening words wherever possible. For example the dishwasher is called the ‘dish’ and this basil vinaigrette becomes ‘bas vin’. I’m not sure how David would feel about that but I think it has a nice ring to it.

I’ve simplified the recipe because I can’t help myself! David uses shallots and he uses much more oil than me. See the ‘variations’ for the original quantities and ideas for uses. He also lets the dressing sit for 1/2 hour before using and instructs that it’s best used within a few hours.

makes: a bit over 1/2 cup
takes: 15 minutes or less

1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
small handful basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Smash garlic with a generous pinch of salt to form a paste. I use the side of my knife on a chopping board but you’re welcome to use a mortar and pestle.

2. Macerate garlic, vinegar salt and basil leaves in a small bowl or bottle. 10-15 minutes or less if that’s all you’ve got.

3. Whisk in the olive oil. See below for serving ideas.

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david’s version – 2 shallots finely diced, 2 cloves garlic smashed with salt to a paste, 3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, small handful basil leaves, 1.5 cups olive oil. Remove basil before serving (I missed this step and left it in… extra fiber!).

more wintery – if it’s not basil season where you are try rosemary leaves or thyme. Remove these before serving.

different vinegar – sherry or a sharp cheapish balsamic would also work. Or try white wine vinegar.

with tuna – crush 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and rub onto two tuna steaks or other fish fillets that have been rubbed with oil. Season and grill or cook in a pan on a medium high heat for 3-4 minutes each side. Serve fish drizzled with the ‘bas vin’.

tomato & pepper salad – drizzle over sliced super ripe tomatoes tossed with finely sliced red capsicum (bell pepper).

green bean salad – simmer green beans in salted boiling water until tender – about 5 minutes. Drain and cool. Toss in the ‘bas vin’ and serve as a side or top with a couple of sliced hard boiled eggs.

potato salad – simmer unpeeled whole new or other small waxy potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and cool a little. Slice thickly and toss in the ‘bas vin’.

drizzled on soup – I had some from the fridge drizzled on a minestrone-ish soup for lunch the other day. Divine!

lively green salad – brings a surprising depth of flavour to a simple green salad.

What do you think?

Would you like to see more blog posts on my David Tanis project this year? Let me know in the comments below. I’d also love to hear if you have a project or quest you’re working on.

With love,
Jules x

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  • Lovely stuff, but do note the spelling of Tanis (one N). No need to keep this comment, btw.

  • Oh my goodness!
    I’ve been reading your blog for years and only just realised you’re in Canberra :)

  • Hi,
    What a wonderful idea, to go on quests. Not goals or resolutions. With goals or resolutions I have a picture of lots of work you don’t really want to do to accomplish something hard. Hope you post about every meal you make from the book. I love figs. I may have to get the book too!
    Love, Julie

    • Yes Julie! Quests are definitely more fun… Although i must confess im a fan of setting goals as well :) i love figs too… Have planted 2 fig trees in my little orchard this year. One is doing really well so hopefully i wknt have to wait too many years for home grown figs! Jx

  • I would love to read your healthier versions of some ideas from his book! I really appreciate the variations and explanations you provide at the end of your posts also xxx

  • I make a similar basil vinaigrette but put all the ingredients directly into a blender and swirl — the resulting dressing stays bright green and delicious for days (refrigerated). It’s delicious on tomatoes!

  • I would probably be interested in seeing more of what you do with David’s menus, although the food you’ve described doesn’t do much for me. I like the idea of a basil vinaigrette, but if you make ½ cup of it and there are only two people eating it and it only keeps for a few hours – that’s wasteful. I also would not use even as much oil as you did (I basically like equal parts vinegar & oil – which is what my mother always did).

    I actually do have a quest this year, although I didn’t think of it that way until I read your post. My quest is to learn contentment. I wish you the best in your quest.

    • Thats an awesome quest Susan! I hope you find your contentment.

      And i meant to say in the post that i keep the dressing in the fridge and it is still lovely a week later… Not as fresh but still tasty… Kinda like the way pesto ages. So it need not go to waste!

  • Jules, I have and love this book as well. Looking forward to what you make of it. One note – his name is spelled with one ‘n’ (Tanis).

  • What a wonderful project for the new year! Best wishes on your success. I’m sure you will have a wonderful experience.
    I’ll be following your recipes.


  • I would love to see more of the Jules & David project. It kind of reminds me of the book and movie Julia and Julie, which I absolutely loved. What a fun adventure! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Great Eve! To give credit where its due, ever since seeing Julie and Julia ive been on the lookout for a book i loved enough to cook everything from… So excited to have found it at last! Jx

  • David Tanis is one of my favorite cookbook authors. I would LOVE to read about anything you cook from this book!!!

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