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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pinto Chicken Soup

Beans Beans the magical fruit.... I never thought I would be so excited to eat pinto beans.  In my US life, when given the choice, I would always choose black over pinto.  My French life makes me crave the most basic things.  I still love black beans and get completely insane over them, but these days I'm on a pinto roll.
After a long day and heavy lunch, a nice little bean juice fix was perfect for tonight's menu.
Serve 4-5 depending on what you serve with
1 cup shredded chicken (or leftover turkey, why not?)
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 small can corn
1 handul chopped celery
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cups bean cooking liquid (or just use water)
1 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Some red pepper flakes
1 cube bouillon
Shredded cheese
Chopped green onions
Salt/ pepper
1.  Sweat the onions in the EVOO until translucent.  Add the carrots and celery and stir, cooking 2 - 3 minutes.
2.  Add the corn, bell, cumin, chili powder, and pepper flakes.  Then add the bean juice and bouillon cube.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and let simmer until carrots are tender.
3.  Add the chicken and level with water.  When the simmer returns, add the beans and pepper and heat through.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve garnished with green onions, cheese, and Tapatio.
Mmmm if I had an avocado handy, it would have been an integral part of this dish.
Can be eaten over fries, as a soup, or even over rice and a lemon wedge.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Roasted Tilapia on Fennel with Multipass

Since last week's fennel experience and this week's insanely low prices (45 cents/kg are you kidding me?), I couldn't help myself... I am eternally pleasant to be with when I get what I want.  Keep that in mind will you?
This time, I paired it with some Tilapia, garden zucchini, and fun 5 cereal mix business.  Surprisingly, the multipass grain party was validated by everybody!  I was actually expecting complaints as to why we weren't eating fries or potatoes, but this lovely meal was happily scarfed down by the wolves, and peacefully enjoyed by, well, ME!
2 fennel bulbs, quartered
1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into quarters (these really weren't the center of attention, use whatever "filler" you want)
3 filets tilapia (mine were frozen)
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 cup multipass mixed grains (quinoa, wheat berries, bulgur)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
some white wine for deglazing
1 shake cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp tarragon
1.  Toss the fennel slices with some EVOO, salt and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and bake at 400°F for 30 minutes.
2.  Toss the zucchini in EVOO, salt and pepper and add to the baking dish.  Flip over the fennel and bake another 40 minutes.  Deglaze with the white wine.
3.  While waiting, boil 2 cups water and add the multigrain mix.  Cook on low for approximately 20 minutes, adding the turmeric at the end.  You may need to drain.
4.  While the grains are cooking, place the fish, cayenne, garlic and lemon juice, and tarragon into the baking dish and cook for another 15 minutes.
Healthy.  Delicious.  What else?

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pinto Bean Dip

While I haven't really bean searching for pinto beans in France, they just happened upon me in the "world" section of the store.  Of course, I got all excited about seeing the word Pinto and embarassed my shopping companions.  Here they are called coco beans and are not very common, though much easier to find than black beans.  When I got home I couldn't stop thinking about them.  Imagining beans and rice, bean dip, bean and chicken soup... it was making me crazy.  Although we were invited out for dinner, I decided to go with the flow and do something anyway.
These are probably the cheapest beans you can find in the US, but here, they go for almost 4€/kg.  Pricey, but so worth it.  I made a bunch and froze most of it in batches for an impromptu happy hour or until I buy some cilantro and costena salsa to get mexican in the house!
2 cups dried beans = 4 cups cooked beans
2 cups dried pinto beans
8 cups water

For dip:
1 1/2 cups cooked beans with some liquid
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno which i didn't have, so I drizzled some habanero EVOO
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 shake cumin
Salt/pepper to taste
1 green onion

1.  Soak the dried beans overnight, then wash very well and cook on low in the crock pot for 4-5 hours.  Mine were exploded.
2.  Gather the ingredients for the dip and blend together, adding cooking liquid if necessary.

Serve with tortilla chips or other dippable items.
I added a small spoon of cream cheese, but some salsa would have made it perfect.

I like it warm.  I had it again with my eggs topped with cheese and tapatio for breakfast this morning.  I'm soo not over it!

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Spinach Nest Eggs

I'm noticing a pattern here.  My femininity must be trying to make a stand.  Hmm interesting...
  Since the quail eggs I've been enjoying eggs in the oven and making food volcanos... Now apparently I can't stop.  This time I made spinach nests.  I adapted the recipe from turnip greens, which I did not have on hand.  I'm not sure the French even eat turnip greens.  I don't beleive I've ever seen them here.  So I made this just for the sheer pleasure of making nests and having the yolk flow into my plate while eating.
Makes 2 nests
1/2 red bell, chopped
1 onion, chopped
8-10 cubes frozen spinach (sorry I didn't weigh)
2 organic eggs
2 tbsp butter
Drizzle white wine for deglazing
Few shakes chili powder
Grated parmesan
1.  Sweat the onions in the butter.  Add some salt to release the moisture.
2.  Add the bell and stir, cooking until almost tender.  Deglaze with the wine (I need to finish the bottle and white just isn't my thing, and I don't waste, so into my recipes it will go until it is done.)
3. Add the defrosted spinach and chili powder.  Stir and heat through.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4.  In a baking dish, make 2 nests with the spinach mixture and crack an egg into each one.  Sprinkle with parmesan.  Bake at 400°F for about 10-12 minutes (just check once in a while).
That is the other half of the red bell for a parallel project.

Serve with whatever you want.  I made fries, but it would have been great with wild rice or something unusual like that.
If you haven't hopped the organic bandwagon, it is important to at least eat organic eggs if nothing else.
(Swap the butter for EVOO and this is fight food)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Renaissance Seafood Linguine

How does that chili always get into those curious positions?  It must have had a life changing experience..
Tonight I decreed that it had been too long since the last pasta event, and so this mixed seafood linguine was born again.  Why was this such a renaissance?  Chopped fennel stems... yes, chopped fennel (and that naughty naughy thai chili).
Serves 6 - 7
1 lb dry linguine
1 lb frozen mixed seafood
1 handful broccoli florets
1 handful cauliflower florets
1 tomato, chopped
1 handful chopped fennel stems (leftover from the magic roasted fennel bulbs)
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp Habanero EVOO (or just regular, but be sure to spice it up)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
some reserved pasta water
salt/fresh cracked pepper
garnish: parmesan, red pepper flakes or the magnificent thai chili
1.  In a large pot, cook the linguine in a large volume of salted water, al dente.
2.  While waiting for this, in a deep frying pan, melt the EVOO with butter and stir fry the broccoli, cauliflower, and fennel stems, approx 5 minutes.  Add a bit of salt and pepper.
3.  Add the tomato, chili powder, paprika and white wine.  Stif fry until your pasta water starts boiling, you've plunged in the pasta, and the water starts boiling again.
4.  Add the seafood and garlic and stir.  You want all of the seafood to absorb the goodness of the sauce you've been preparing.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  The pasta should be al dente by now.
5.  Drain the pasta but reserve some of the cooking water.  Toss the pasta with the seafood and add the cream while tossing.  If it needs more liquid, add some of the cooking water.

Serve with grated parmesan and all the heat you can handle.  I can handle large quantities.  The good thing about thai chili is that it doesn't take away from the integrity of the dish.  It enhances everything worth enhancing.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jerusalem Artichokes

These strange knobby looking roots really DO taste like artichoke hearts!
At the market, they advised me to treat them like potatoes, but they can stand proudly on their own without being compared to their lesser uprooted friends.
I had to use up the rest of the quail eggs, so I constructed this little appetizer/side dish.  I ended up having it for dinner with some ostrich paté and fresh goat cheese.
Serves 3 as a side
3/4 lb sunchokes (topinambour)
some leftover chopped mushroom stems
1 tbsp butter
handful chopped fresh parsley
handful grated parmesan
3 fresh quail eggs
1.  Scrub the sunchokes well, then steam them under pressure for 10 minutes.
2.  While steaming, sautée the mushrooms in some butter and add a little salt and lots of pepper.
3.  When the sunchokes are done, rinse them and peel off the skin before adding them to the mushrooms.
4.  Mash it all together and add the parmesan and parsley.
5.  Place into individual oven dishes and crack a quail egg in each dish.
6.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F.

I never cease to be amazed by nature.  I do have to admit that I drizzled a bit of Habanero Olive Oil on my portion.  Not sure what I'm going to do when I run out...

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Roasted Fennel

I got a little bit naughty with some fennel bulbs and beets...
It was my first time eating or cooking fennel bulbs, and now that I've felt the way they melt in my mouth, there is no going back.  I've used fennel seeds before, but there is really no comparison.  It's like comparing cilantro to coriander seeds.  In a certain point in space-time, they are the same, but in their natural NOW state, there is a world of difference.
Fennel bulbs, you will now be part of my life while you are in season.  I will find new ways to make you shine.  My only regret is only having one bulb.  If I would have known how much pleasure they would give me, I would have multiplied the purchase.
Today I roasted them with some root vegetables and chicken.  I was planning on making 3 servings, but it turned into 2.
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 beet, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
1/2 long turnip, quartered
3 chicken legs
EVOO and Walnut oil
drizzle basalmic vinegar
splash of white wine
some chili powder
1.  Get your hands dirty and smother the veggies with a mix of EVOO, Walnut oil, salt, pepper, and basalmic vinegar.
  2.  Place in the oven at 400°F for 35 minutes, flipping once so all sides get roasted.
3.  Add the chicken splashed with a bit of white wine (for deglazing purposes only) and the chili powder.
4.  Cook for another 40 minutes or until chicken is done.

I didn't get a plate shot, but it was just as gorgeous to the eye as to the tongue...

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Quail Shrooms

 In the midst of a lingering desire to use quail eggs and self imposed idea of doing something other than hard boiling them, inspiration called on me, and against all odds, advised me to use my quail eggs to pop mushroom caps at happy hour.  This idea intrigued me.  Mushrooms, mini eggs, happy hour...can life get any better?
large fresh mushrooms caps, hollowed out
fresh quail eggs
some minced garlic
cream cheese
freshly chopped parsley
fresh ground pepper
1.  Inside each mushroom cap,  place a pinch of minced garlic with a fingerful of cream cheese, some parsley, and some pepper.
2.  Place them all inside a baking dish with a small amount of water.
3.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400°F.
4.  Remove and crack a quail egg inside each mushroom cap.  Bake for 10 more minutes.
Serve warm.
The mix of textures is fabulous.
Since I hate to waste divine food, I made another version with the chopped stems and it ended up pleasing me more than the original idea.
I added a drizzle of Habanero Olive Oil and Piment d'Espelette flavored vinegar.  I followed the same method as above using a silicone cupcake baking dish for individual servings that I then served in verrines.

Both versions were appreciated.  The textures were different.  The caps are easier to pop into your mouth, but the verrines had a nice spicy tangy kick that I can't get enough of.

Next guest appearance will be the Jeruselem Artichoke.
I heard those turn your blood into will inevitably undress my heart...

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Soup

The epitome of American fall comfort food called me to its summit.  
(Oh look at that creamy beauty mark)
I didn't follow a recipe, but I imagined what I wanted it to taste like.. and I made it happen.  These days I'm either inspired or possessed.  It's as if something else takes over my soul when I'm in the kitchen.  Either way, I'm happy with the results, and so is my entourage.
Serves 2 as a meal or 3 as a side
1 cup roasted pumpkin pulp
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
1 small turnip, peeled and cubed
1 white part of a leek, sliced crosswise (I usually don't discriminate, but I wanted the soup to stay orange.. no worries though, I used the greens in a different recipe)
1/2 beer
2 cups water
1 cube chicken (or vege) bouillon
1 small handful roasted pumpkin seeds
1 dollop heavy cream or sour cream
2 tbsp butter
salt/fresh ground pepper
 1.  In a large pot, sweat the leeks in the butter, then add the carrots, potatoes and turnips.  When it starts to color, pour in the beer and the bouillon cube and simmer approximately 10 minutes.
2.  Add the water, pumpkin, and most of the roasted pumpkin seeds.  Those seeds give it a nice nutty flavor.  If you don't have any, use pine nuts or sunflower seeds, but please don't leave out the seeds!
Bring to a boil and simmer, another 20 minutes or until carrots and turnips are tender.
3.  Bust out the immersible blender, that magnificent tool, and blend to give it a nice velvety texture.  Add more water if too thick.  Taste and add some pepper (I didn't add any salt, but go ahead if that's your deal.)

Serve as a meal or side dish with a dollop of heavy cream or sour cream and a few roasted pumpkin seeds.  I served this as a side to my Entrecote...
and was incapable of finishing my Entrecote.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Naked Hummus

Chickpeas are odd little beings.
The bumpy texture paired with the way they melt in your mouth makes eating them and preparing them a sensual experience.
Pair that with Tahini and this little gingerbread cookie starts to crumble!
Hummus usually is a guest at my happy hour festivities, but this is the first time I make it myself.  The store bought one I buy is very good, however I needed to feel the power within.
I got his recipe from a real Lebanese cookbook.  I stayed true to the recipe (for once) except for the baking soda.  I couldn't find any so I used levure chimique instead, which is similar.  I was very happy with the results and so were my tasters.
makes 4 servings
1 cup dried chickpeas
juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup tahini, well mixed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp baking soda (or levure chimique)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup reserved cooking water
some Za'tar
1.  After washing them thoroughly, soak the chickpeas in a large volume of water for at least 15 hours with most of the tbsp of baking soda.  They will double in size.  Drain and wash again very thoroughly.
2.  In a large pot, cook the chickpeas in double their volume of water and the pinch of baking soda that's left.  Once the water starts boiling, reduce heat and let simmer about 1 hour, skimming off the foam from time to time and adding water if needed.  Check to see if they are done by squeezing one between your fingers.  It should show little to no resistance.
3.  Reserve some of the cooking liquid before draining.  Rinse the chickpeas again and let cool.  You need to let cool to avoid burning your fingers, because now you are going to get intimate with each chickpea.  The skins need to come off.  (I wonder why it's so popular in Israel)
 The little fellows should easily slip out of their suits, you just need to take the time to get all those boys ready for the next step.
4.  Place the naked chickpeas in a food processor with the lemon juice, salt, cumin, garlic and tahini.  Blend and add some of the cooking water for texture.  You want it to be smooth and creamy.  Be careful not to make it too thick since it will harden as it cools.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve sprinkled with spices and a touch of EVOO alongside other happy hour fare and dippable items.
I have done this with raw beet as a dippable item and was very pleasantly surprised.  It's just that your fingers will be stained red and so will your morning output the next day.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin

Has anyone roasted a whole pumpkin before?
I'm giving it a try right now.  
Pumpkin, I thought about you all night long!
Actually, I've been thinking of you since the day the angels dropped you into my life.
Now that you're here, I'm going to treat you right.
I will roast you whole, to preserve ou flavor and juices.  Your skin will be nice and crispy.  I will undress you of your pyjamas to expose your flesh.  I will extract your seeds with my bare hands, and they will pleasure my tastebuds in yet another way...
Your flesh will be used in various recipes.  Tonight you will be dessert.  Tomorow, soup, then chili, then who knows? You will never cease to inspire me.
Pumpkin, I've waited so long for you to appear.  You are awakening a comforing feeling inside me with the aroma you are dispersing through the house.  I hope you are enjoying your stay.

Yes, this is exactly my idea of a perfect rainy saturday.  Spending all day in the kitchen making pumpkin business and hummus (thanks to the Tahini that dropped from the sky).
After 2 hours at 190°C
 It rendered a lot of water.  So much that I spilled some on the kitchen floor and got yelled at.
Here's the amount of pulp I collected.  Those are chickpeas on the back burner waiting to be transformed into delicious homemade hummus.
 Then,  I started my Pumpkin Pie
Here's the best part:
The seeds were tossed in some EVOO and Red Robin seasoning, then roasted.
These are going to be great in some pesto... if there are any left by the time I buy some basil.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Calamari in Ink Linguine

I succumbed (again) to the natural juices of the calamari. 
Completely undecided tonight about the meal plan, I stood, hunched several times in front of the open fridge, then the "pantry" cabinet (I no longer have the magnificent walk-in pantry I once had).  The can of calamari in ink was begging me to let it shine tonight, though I had bought it to use as happy hour fare originally.
1 can (125g) calamari in ink
1filet white fish, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 yellow bell, diced
I tomato, chopped
1lb linguine
3 cloves garlic, grated
3 tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt/ fresh ground pepper
Grated parmesan
1.  Cook pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water.
2.  While you wait for all the magic to happen with the pasta, sweat the onions in the EVOO.
3.  Add the bell and cook until it starts sticking to the pan.
4.  Add the tomatoes for some juicy goodness and garlic for flavor.  Stir and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the water and simmering.
5.  When the bell is at desired tenderness, add the fish and calamari with ink and heat through about 2 minutes.  You do not want to overcook the fish or it will fall apart.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.
6.  Toss with the al dente pasta and stir in the cream.

Serve topped with grated parmesan and some heat (red pepper flakes worked well).

As if sent directly from above...

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Yellow Curry with Fish and Cabbage

After having spent a long weekend with the in laws, my body is in need of something stimulating and hot.
At least now my stomach is appeased.
Serves 4-5
4 filets white fish (I used frozen cod)
1 can coconut milk
4 Tbsp Thai Yellow Curry Paste
1/2 head of cabbage, julienned
1 chopped onion
handful broccoli florets
handful frozen peas
handful chopped celery leaves
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
cooked basmati rice
some EVOO
1.  In a large wok, heat the EVOO and mix in the yellow curry paste.  Add a little water if too thick.
2.  Toss in the cabbage and onion and stir fry about 10 minutes.
3.  Add the broccoli and half the coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for another 10 minutes.
4.  Add the rest of the coconut milk and 1 can water and bring to a boil again.  Taste one of the pieces of cabbage.  If it is too hard, simmer some more.  If it is al dente, add the peas, sesame seeds, and chopped celery leaves.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
5.  Add the fish and poach approximately 2 minutes on each side.  I tried not to break my filets, but they broke anyway.
Serve with basmati rice.

Amazingly spicy.  Perfect.  The addition of the thai chile is still making me tingle.  This was approved of for company on the condition that I use less curry paste.
Ah those poor wimpy French pallats....

*I tried this with shrimp and it rocked my world!!

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