Search this blog


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wolf Berries

Who are these little goji berries in my breakfast and my crazy dreams?

The Tibetan monks that discovered these berries hundreds of years ago outlived those who did not eat them.  They have a unique taste.  They almost remind me of dried cranberries, but more bitter than not.  I believe I need to live a long and eventful life.
Tomorrow, I'm adding dried figs into the mix.

It's the little things that make me wild...

**I almost put in chili powder instead of cinnamon by accident this morning, and then thought to myself, why not?
Then I busted out the Cayenne Pepper and it was Me vs Breakfast.  I won. 
I shot out of the house like a solid fuel rocket!
I'll be sprinkling heat into my cold cereal every morning now.

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Fish Soup

The photo is not very glamorous.  I had an inexplicable desire to use peanut butter with fish.  This idea evolved into soup form after a long walk in the freezing cold weather.  Why is it so cold?  I'm way more sensitive to the weather this year than last.  I shouldn't be complaining.  My People are dealing with a Hurricane in NY.  This soup did warm my bones, though.
Serves 3-4
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 branch of celery, diced
1 small can of corn
1 cube frozen spinach
4 large florets broccoli
4 large florets cauliflower
1 handful frozen peas
2 large filets cod or other white fish, cubed
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 pinch cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 large Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 handful chopped celery leaves
sacrifice of 1/2 of your happy hour beverage (beer)
1 tsp soy sauce (or GF alternative) (wtf who invited that guy?)
salt/fresh ground pepper
some EVOO
Wow that is a large list of ingredients.  I didn't plan this, it just came together magically while sipping on my Heiny and deciding I would rather be drinking a microbrewed dark beer.
1.  In a large pot, sweat the onions in the EVOO.  Add the carrots and cook a while, stirring.
2.  Add the cayenne, cumin and fennel seeds.  Lean in and smell that.  Nice, isn't it?
3.  Add the broccoli and cauliflower and stir until nicely colored.  If it starts to stick to the bottom, that's your sign to pour in the beer you will no longer be drinking.
4.  Add the spinach, corn, and celery.  Add water to level.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
5.  Add the peanut butter and soy sauce and stir until it is absorbed.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Find a piece of carrot.  If it is tender, continue to step 6.  If it is not, keep simmering.
6.  Add the fish, peas, cream, and celery leaves.  Simmer for 5 minutes maximum.  Do not overcook the fish, you will spoil all the fun.

Serve with some red pepper flakes for heat.
I enjoyed this mix of flavors.  I don't know why I added soy sauce, but it worked well.  I think I was going for some sort of fish chowder at first and then the peanut butter made me think of Thai, but in the end everybody (meaning me, for I am the only soup eater in my Pack) turned out happy with the result..

Print Friendly and PDF

Ostrich Party

I'd been contemplating for some time with The Pack the idea of having a themed dinner fresh from the farm.  Opening, cooking, and decorating an ostrich egg as a group is quite an entertaining activity.    This little Ostrich party started with a road trip to the Ostrich farm.  Unfortunately, the people I confided this important task to did not photograph the lovely lady who strenuously provided us her womanly sacrifice.  They did, however, come back with some excellent quality ostrich fare.
Happy Hour:  Plain and Cêpe Ostrich Paté, Ostrich Saucisson, and Radishes in Red Robin Seasoning.
 Appetizer:  Ostrich Egg Omelet.
 Main Course:  Ostrich Steak with Sautéed Ratte Potatoes
I would have decorated this with a feather or 2, just to keep with the theme.
 Dessert:  Chocolate Moelleux with Mango Sorbet and Organic Homemade Strawberry Salsa.

The original idea was to soft boil the Ostrich Egg and have everybody dip in with various items like a Fondu Party.  At the farm, they advised against the idea being it's the first time we cook an egg of this size.  I didn't want to risk a cooking flop, so we decided to go for a plain omelet to really enjoy the pure taste of the egg.
To avoid a Massacre, the Egg needed to be drilled.  (Those hairy arms are not mine)
Then, with a straw inserted deep into the yolk, some air bubbles were blown to create enough pressure for the egg to flow out.  This step was supposed to take 6 minutes, but it took us about 15.  The amount of material compacted inside that egg is just amazing!
1 Ostrich Egg = 24 Hen Eggs.  Interesting.
With a mixer, it was homogenized.
It was seasoned with salt and pepper and then cooked into omlets for 6 people as an appetizer.  The texture was much lighter than hen eggs.  It was quite delicious, although there wasn't an enormous difference in taste.

For the steaks, 5 minutes on each side cooked in duck fat instead of butter.  Just lightly seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper. (That strange hand is mine)
The meat is just lovely.  There is definately a distinct flavor in Ostrich meat.  It is tender and full of flavor.  Although an Ostrich is from the bird Family, it is red meat and eaten medium to medium rare.

I labelled this as holiday, but the only thing we were celebrating was the acquisition of fresh farm products.  I DO believe that is a valid reason to celebrate!

Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Piment to my Mangue

These two lost souls become enlightened when they are together.
Of course, Kiwi and Avocado can join the fun from time to time, but Mango will never reach its full potential without her beloved Chili.
This time, I seasoned with a dash of California Habanero Olive Oil, some lemon juice and fresh ground pepper.
To the soundtrack of Wish you were Here.

Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Love My J-Diddy

How do you define a friend?
Someone you can talk to and enjoy doing social activities with.
How do you define a BFF?
Divide by 0.  Undefined.  If not by the fact that this person is capable of bringing you infinite happiness.

A best friend (and by that I mean mine), will send you (and by you I mean me) things like this.
If you were trying to touch my soul with this habanero business, target attained.

I will make excellent use of both, starting tonight...

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Green Roast

I feel like getting my hands dirty.  Like smothering something warm and undoubtedly green into the crevices of my turkey.
I'm not even hungry, I just want to feel it in my hands, and maybe even get some of it on the floor with The Rain Song playing in the background...

Before going into the oven
Coming out of the oven
 Carefully sliced
I think some quinoa would pair nicely with this.
Aaah there we go!
That's what I call dinner.
Thank you for following my train of thought.

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rotisserie Chicken Sandwiches

I do NOT live in sandwich country.. unless you consider a slice of ham in a buttered halved baguette a sandwich.  This is not sandwich country to the point of having cooking shows making a GOOD sandwich one of their challenges.  I like Masterchef, but Really?  A fricken sandwich as a challenge?  As an American (sandwich country) living in France (gastronomer land) I feel outraged that such a thing is going on.  I stand strongly by this remark:  if you own a regularly stocked fridge and know where to find good bread, you can make an extravagant sandwich.
This being said, I had leftover rotisserie chicken and excellent whole wheat bread I need to use up (and no guests tonight.. on Friday night wtf?).

Here's how it went down in the G house tonight:
Meat:  finger pulled rotisserie chicken
Veg: shredded cabbage, tomatoes, avocado
Cheese:  Parmesan
Seasoning:  Fresh ground pepper
Spread:  one side mustard, the other side mayonaise
Bread:  O my goodness whole wheat 'pain de campagne'

No regrets.

I would like to add that the first part of this cooking show completely knocked my socks off with the "getting high off tomatoes" bit.  It reached deep into my happy place with the description of the different races (not species) of tomatoes.  The Chef Patel agreed with me on this point.  Here's how the rest of the conversation went:
Me:  So it must feel nice to finally have your braces off.  You need to send me a picture.
Papa:  No need, Nini.  Just look in the mirror.
I loved this talk.  Just what I needed after such a day of discovery...

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Creamy Salmon Linguine

The lower temperatures creeping up on us is making me crave creaminess.  I'm not sure I'm really craving creaminess, but I'm hoping to fill the void I'm feeling with creaminess.
I found this was a perfect way to use up the rest of my cream cheese from the Artichoke Dip.
Serves 5-6
1 lb dry Linguine
250g salmon, cubed
1 Zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbsp cream cheese
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pinch saffron
some EVOO
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
salt/fresh ground pepper
1.  Cook linguine in boiling salted water.
2.  Sweat the zucchini in some EVOO until tender.  Add garlic, saffron, some salt/pepper, turn heat on low and melt the cream cheese in, stirring.  Liquefy with the heavy cream.
3.  When pasta is al dente, save some of the cooking water before draining.
4.  Toss pasta with zucchini mixture.  Add the salmon and some of the pasta water until sauce is of desired creaminess.

Serve topped with parmesan and (of course) red pepper flakes

I wasn't very hungry today, but I've decided that hunger is NOT a prerequisite for this dish.

Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Home Made Laundry Detergent

Domestic engineering at its finest.  
I figured I'd rather spend my money on things that make me go wild than on household products.  My sister in law gave me this recipe that I've been using for over a year and a half, and so has most of my neighborhood.  This process ends up costing me about 30 cents for 3L of detergent.  This leaves room in my budget for things like Tahini (finally!!!)
for 3 L - 1 gal
150-200g savon de marseille
empty previous container of detergent you will no longer need to buy
elbow grease
few drops essential oil for fragrance
1.  Grate the soap using elbow grease.
2.  Place in saucepan and cover with water.  Heat on low, stirring to avoid burning until the soap has melted and there are no clumps.
3.  Pour the melted soap into the previous detergent container you will no longer be buying.  Immediately fill the rest of the container with very hot water.
4.  Close it up.  Shake it shake it, then leave it for 24 hours.
5.  It will have solidified a bit.  The texture will be kind of goopy and slimey..that is what you want.  Add 10 drops essential oil (I use eucalyptus) and shake it again.

Ready to use.  
Those of you who have chosen to reproduce may find this very useful, since you probably do twice as much laundry as I do.

Print Friendly and PDF

Spinach Artichoke Dip

 My happy hours are getting more and more elaborate, and since I often have the same guests over, I've been varying the selection of things to nibble and dip into.  Last night was Mexinight.  I introduced Black Bean Chili to The Pack, but this jar of artichoke hearts has been begging me to participate in my gatherings, so I finally let it partake in the happiest hour of the day.  I also am pleased to annouce that cream cheese is no longer a foreign unfindable ingredient in France.  They even have a French version of Philadelphia to avoid American monopoly.  I'd have to blind taste them side by side, but the Elle & Vire copy comes extremely close to the original!
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cube frozen spinach (or large handful fresh)
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp cream cheese
1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp mayonaise
3 Tbsp grated parmesan
fresh ground pepper
pinch of cayenne
1.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and lightly color the artichoke hearts.  Add the garlic and spinach and stir until spinach is thawed and heated.
2.  Turn off heat and stir in cream cheese, cream and mayonaise.
3.  Gently insert a hand blender and homogenize the goodness.
4.  Put on low heat and stir in the parmesan, pepper, and cayenne.  With the tip of your right index, dip and place in the center of your tongue.
Can you feel the warmth?
Serve warm with dippable items such as tortilla chips, pita chips, carrots, breadsticks, celery, broccoli, cauliflower....whatever makes your artichoke heart skip.  To keep with the theme of Mexinight, I varied the dips with salsa and homemade guacamole.

This reminded me of home sweet home.

Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I've been trying widen my grain horizon.  Not only for health, but because sometimes you just get tired of eating the same thing all the time.  Except shrimp.  I could eat shrimp everyday and never get sick of it.  I think I would add shrimp to every meal if I could.
Anyways, the idea is to eat less of the empty calories like bread and potatoes and more of the nourishing ones like quinoa, rice, oats, and well, today's star, whole wheat Bulgur.
Where do I come up with all this?  It is as if a food genius is living inside me and expressing himself through spontaneous acts.
I'm not sure what I'm going to pair this with.  I'm considering this a side dish because there will soon be a piece of meat next to it, but I suppose with the addition of garbanzo beans, this can be a full meal.
1 cup dried whole wheat bulgur, well rinsed
1 zucchini, diced
2 shallots, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 pinch saffron (can't get you out of my head)
1 handful frozen peas
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp harissa
A few tbsp EVOO
salt/fresh ground pepper
1.  Sweat the shallots in the EVOO until tender.  Add the carrots and cook stirring for 3-4 minutes.
2.  Add  the zucchini and saffron and cook a few minutes more.
3.  Add the broth and harissa.  Bring to a boil, then add the rinsed bulgur.  Bring to a boil again, then cover and simmer on low, stirring occasionally.
4.  When almost all the water has absorbed (approx 20 minutes), add the peas, and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Non-ignorant Bliss.  Nuance.

Print Friendly and PDF

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Pascale's Chocolate Caramel cake with Mango Ice cream was excellent.  It was a happy ending to the Pho Party.
I'm not really a dessert person, unless it is ice cream of an extreme flavor, but this one melted in my mouth and made my pallet happy.  I absolutely cannot take credit for this, but it deserves to be published.
serves 6-8
100g powdered sugar
50g flour
100g salted butter (softened)
3 eggs
125g dark chocolate, melted
75g milk chocolat, melted
100g powdered sugar
15cL heavy whipping cream (apporx 1/2 cup)
50g salted butter
pinch of salt
1.  Whip together the chocolate, butter and sugar until mixture is smooth.
2.  Alternate mixing in the flour and eggs until everything is incorporated.
4.  To make the caramel, melt the sugar in a saucepan on medium heat.  As soon as it starts turning golden, take off heat immediately.
5.  Warm the whipping cream (in the microwave) and pour gently, but all at once, into the caramel off heat.
6.  Add the 50g butter into the caramel and mix with a whip.  Place mixture back on low heat and whip (whip it good) to disolve all the hardened pieces into a nice, smooth mixture.  At this point, if you like it salty, add a pinch of salt.
7.  For baking, pour half the cake mixture into a cake mould, pour the caramel over it all, then pour in the other half of the cake mixture and cook 12-15 minutes at 150°C (300°F)

The result will be gooey goodness.  You can then decorate with a hazelnut found while rummaging through your neighbor's kitchen cabinet before serving with a scoop of ice cream.

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spookie Brownie Cake

This is one of our favorite things to make for Halloween =)
We make a brownie in a cake pan. Then make rectangular brownies to serve as gravestones.
I have a skeleton form that i melt white chocolate in for the skelatons.

Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Zucchini and Spinach Pesto

I'm not sure I can correctly describe the joy that shot through my body upon eating this concoction.
I can hear my angels singing to me just remembering this...
Serves 5-6
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cube frozen spinach (or large handful fresh)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pinch saffron
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp consomme
1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 bunch basil
1 lb Spaghetti (I accidentally bought spaghetti instead of linguine)
salt/fresh ground pepper
lots of parmesan for topping
red pepper flakes for heat
some other cheese (mozza, jack, swiss, whatever) for melting in the sauce
1 slice prociutto per person
 1.  Put spaghetti to boil in salted water.
2.  While waiting, sweat the onions in a few tbsp EVOO.  Add the zucchini and spinach and cook until tender.
3.  Add the garlic, saffron, consomme and 1 cup water.  Heat through, then add the basil and blend with an immersible blender, adding some olive oil to smooth out the sauce.
4.  Turn the heat on low and add the "other cheese" so it melts nicely in the sauce.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
5.  When the spaghetti is al dente, reserve some of the cooking water and drain.  Toss with the sauce and add some of the cooking water if too thick.

Serve with prociutto and topped with parmesan, fresh cracked pepper and red pepper flakes before taking the stairway to heaven.

My pinch of saffron has been making its way into many of my dishes lately.  Did you know it is an antidepressant and aphrodisiac (not that I need it) as well as anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever?

Print Friendly and PDF