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Thursday, November 28, 2013


I wish I had something to show for this wonderful holiday,

but I don't...

I've never roasted or stuffed my own turkey
cooked candied yams
green bean casserole

and maple pie

but one day I will...

Anyway, this holiday is not about things you wish for, but being happy with what you have and giving what you can,
so I'm extremely grateful and blessed to have the life I have today.. filled with so much love and spice!

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Masoor Dal, North Indian Style

After a 4 hour India therapy, I finally feel like my energized self again...
I'm not sure how to explain the feeling, but these last 2 months, I've been on the road 70% of the time, which is fine because I'm lucky enough to have a job that I love, so that working isn't so much of a constraint, but more a way of expressing myself.  Don't get me wrong.. there are stressful moments, ups and downs, and sometimes unexpected homework, but overall when I'm out of town for business, I'm a crazy tourist as well.
That said, there's nothing like the feeling of coming home sweet home.  My life is far from being routine (probably due to the open mind and lack of offense) but there is nothing more comforting than sleeping in your own bed, pooping in your own toilet, wearing your own bathrobe, listening to your own vinyl records on your own sound system, and most of all, cooking in your own kitchen with full access to all the happy places.  Yes they have multiplied to properly adjust to the massive daal collection.
So it's not a big surprise that upon my return, I indulged in all the activities mentioned above, giving special attention to the cooking part, which, I may have previously mentionned, is the best therapy for anything from stress to anger to depression.  For me anyway.  The best part is when I'm feeling like the top of the hill, I equally enjoy it because it makes me feel creative and useful..and oh so very much in love.
I have no idea where I found this recipe, so I can't site it, but I wrote it down a few months ago after coming across masoor dal in Lyon, and integrated it into a thali.  The actual dish doesn't take more than 45 minutes.  The 4 hours is because I did a bunch of different things and not all at the same time.. to make the pleasure last for hours.......
1 cup whole masoor daal, washed then soaked 30-40 minutes, then drained
3-4 cups of water or whey
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 chopped green chili
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
2 chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder or to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
chopped cilantro or fresh fenugreek for garnish (I don't have fenugreek yet)
1.  Bring 3 cups water and the dal to a boil, then simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes or until bite tender.
2.  In a wok or tadka, heat the oil, then add the onions and cook until translucent, then add salt, approx 5 minutes.
3.  Add the chili, ginger, and garlic and cook until the raw smell goes away, approx 2 minutes.
4,  Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture becomes mushy.
5.  Add the cumin, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and kasoori methi.  Stir to incorporate and cook for another minute or so.
6.  Add the mixture to the dal.  Bring to a boil again, then simmer until ready to serve.  I simmered mine 15 minutes.
7.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Stir in the yogurt, then serve with some chopped cilantro.
Here's my representation...
From the top clockwise:
Lobia Pakoras
Plain Basmati Rice
Sabut Masala Chicken
Masoor Dal North Indian Style

I'm drunk with spicy pleasure...
Each time I cook I learn something new.  I had an epiphany about north Indian style cooking.
They almost always use tomatoes and garam masala and some kind of cream (ghee, cream, or yogurt).
They almost never use whole spices, mostly ground.
There is usually red onion involved, unless it's during fasting.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

2 Weeks in Quebec

 Traditional meal: Eggs, smoked bacon, sausages cooked in maple syrup, pinto beans, potatoes.. all doused with a dash of home made maple syrup.. followed by buckwheat pancakes with maple butter.  Maple butter is 100% maple syrup simmered down to a buttery consistency.  That was the real highlight of the trip.  Very good.. very filling
 Local fare: La Tourtière.  It is like a Boeuf Bourguignon pot pie.  Actually, that's exactly what it is.
 La Poutine:  Popular fast food (and restaurant food) consisting of home fries topped with cheese curds, a gravy sauce, and then exotic toppings.  On the right is duck and on the left, lobster.  Pretty good.  It reminded me of carne asada fries.. mmmmm carne asada fries... except I was sober, and there was no guacamole or salsa. 
Buffalo wings:  I don't think I've ever seen as many restaurants specialized in buffalo wings as I did in Trois Rivières.  Nothing spectacular, but you can't miss them if you go there.
 Getting Asian.  Most non fast food food happens to be Asian.  Here is a Mongolian hot pot in Chinatown in Montreal.  One half of the hot pot is spicy, the other half regular.  The spicy side was seriously spicy.  Wow.  The surroundings are all you can eat Mongolian lamb, hand pulled noodles, tofu, algae, bok choy, quail eggs, and various other things you can keep ordering as you go.  This meal was so good, I decided to go back on a later date.  That never happens while I'm traveling.  Can you sense the happiness going on in my mind?  The photo doesn't show all the fixings.
 Then you fish your goodies out of the broth and plop them onto you plate and can arrange dipping sauces and eat with chopsticks or a spoon.  NO FORKS!!
 What a lovely rule.
The meat was heavenly, and the rest just made me drunk with pleasure for several hours.  Really, I didn't want to have dinner after a lunch like this because I didn't want to ruin the day.
I need to convince that Mongolian girl that works at the Coreen Barbecue in Lyon to open up her own restaurant.  I'd definately go regularly!
Vietnamese.  This dish is chicken sautéed in cari sauce with veggies and bean thread noodles.  Nice and spicy!
And then there was sushi..
The small makis were disgraceful.  Who puts industrial smoked salmon in a Philly roll?  Gross.  The rest was good though.  Especially the mango yellowtail roll.  Maybe it was just my Trois Rivières experience, but they have a loooong way to go before catching up to California or Florida sushi.

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Comfort Food

After 2 weeks of almost full time fast food, this meal was a blessing.
Chanterelle mushrooms, cooked in some of the duck fat, with a dollop of cream.

All of these simple but delicious and easily accessible things make me very happy to be living in France (or at least not living in a certain part of Quebec).

I calculated the cost of this simple but fancy meal, just for kicks.. 6€50 per person.  You can't even get a fast food meal in Quebec for that price!

My real craving is obviously Indian food, but I decided to do that tomorrow when all my senses will be correctly functioning.  I can't really correctly arrange a sentence right now.. plus, I needed overnight soaking time.

I would have happily started to make cookies, pie, or muffins from pure maple products, but my luggage decided not to take the same plane as I did, so I won't have access to any of the good stuff until tomorrow evening.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Thai Yellow Curry Coconut Noodles

I'm craving something creamy and spicy exploding with flavor that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Lets see what I can come up with..
coconut milk
3 Tbsp Mae Ploy yellow curry paste
1 chopped onion
few chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 lb (500g) mixed frozen seafood
handful broccoli
handful cauliflower
handful peas
handful chopped celery leaves
Topped with...
drizzle nuoc nam
hard boiled egg
crushed peanuts
chopped thai chili

That's a mighty fine no fuss meal exploding with flavor, not too heavy, satisfyingly filling, and interesting enough to be able to redo.
I found it to be perfectly balanced heat wise.  I may have been the only one.. the others thought it was too spicy, even without the thai chili as a topping.
If you are a wimp, use less curry paste.
I'm thinking of it as my last supper before the transatlantic culinary discovery I'm about to make.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Off the Grizzle

I'm going off the grid for a while.. not because I want to, but because I'm about to spend 1 week hotel camping (with no kitchen)

I may make a brief appearance at this time if I have the energy

followed by another 2 weeks hotel camping.. but in Quebec, where I won't be cooking but I'll be discovering Canadian winter food.
I hope there will be moose!

Oh dear it´s only been 2 days and I'm already fantasizing abour masoor dal...

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Roasted Calloused Squash Soup

The other half of my calloused pumpkin pulp went into a soup.. which is almost exactly the same soup as the Roasted Butternut Soup
but I swapped sage for rosemary
only used a tsp of cream
swapped chopped green chili for cayenne
used EVOO instead of butter
swapped cilantro for celery leaves
swapped parmesan for swiss

So it actually isn't the same soup if you think about it.

Oh, and the decoration?
Those are Kale Chips.  They gave it extra special texture.

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Kale Chips

Guess what I'm munching on...
Chili oil rubbed and lightly salted 180°C baked for 10 minutes
kale chips
ta daa
and I can't stop..

I feel like a crazy person

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Courge Galeuse - Calloused Pumpkin Muffins

It's not the most appetizing thing in the world, but after reading the description, its flesh is supposedly rich and sweet.
It's such a bizarre fruit of life that I couldn't find the English translation for it.  Does that mean there are pumpkins and squash in France that are not available in the US?
I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.
Looks rotten... but I'm trying not to judge on appearance.  We shall see..
Ooh looking sexier already...
Ok I decided to make muffins.
The oven business yielded about 450g pulp (after letting it drip off most of its moisture).
It's a good thing, because I have this very interesting spice mix I like to use that would mix perfectly with this delicately sweet flesh.
Yield 14-16 muffins
4 Tbsp (50g) butter
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
1 overflowing cup (220g) pumpkin purée
2 1/2 tsp pain d'Epices spice mix
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
little under 1 cup (120g) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup oats
1.  Whisk together the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, pain d'Epices, and milk.  If you are not fortunate enough to have Pain d'Epices mixture, you can sub the following: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, fennel, but you choose the dosage.
2.  Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.
3.  Add the wet ingredients into the flour and stir until just combined.  Don't overdo it or you'll have hard muffins.
4.  Incorporate the oats.
5.  Preheat oven to 400°F 200°C.  Grease your muffin tins or whatever you feel like using.  Fill each hole about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way.
6.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and let cool.

When it's safe enough not to burn yourself, take a pleasurable bite.. Mmmm.
Enjoy the moist, tender, and warm muffins and purrrrr.

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Sautéed Kale

Ladies and gentlemen, you can now find kale in Lyon!
That was probably the happiest part of my day.
I washed it, dried it, tossed it in a mix of grated garlic, lime, EVOO, and pepper,
Then I sautéed it for 2-3 minutes until it wilted.

I tasted it raw.  It does kind of taste like its fraternal twin, the chou frisée.
Wilted, it becomes a more distinctive taste and does not get rubbery like the chou frisée.

So... half went into this (grilled chicken, sautéed kale, black trumpets à la crème with quinoa and parmesan),
and the other half will become chips, since I've never tried kale chips and that's the first thing I hear people doing with it.

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