Posts Tagged ‘French cooking’

Authors Eat… Features Romance Author Jackie Weger

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

6f9bf340c1ab0ad8956e70.L._V147432054_Who doesn’t like a little romance? The Culture and Cuisine Club believes without romance the world would be a pretty dull place. We are excited to share with you a recipe from world traveler and prolific romance author Jackie Weger. Jackie is not only successful in her own right, but has made it her business to assist other writers in marketing and promoting their work. She believes in paying it forward. And now in the author’s own words…

How many lark’s tongues make a meal?

I have eaten strange foods. I once was the guest of a family who lived on the top of a mountain in a dry Pacific rainforest. No electricity, no ovens in the thatched-roofed kitchen—all foods prepared fresh and on a native stove built of river rock and sand. I was served the choicest part of the meat. Boiled chicken head. Eyes intact. Beak intact. Little tongue sticking out. Yes, I ate it. One does not offend when one is the guest of honor. I have since learned to make chicken feet soup. Do not forget to cut off the nails. It is wonderful and tasty. The feet do startle guests when they find them in the bottom of the bowl.

On another note of cuisine and another continent: Many French people speak English if one is on a tourist route. However, off the tourist grid where I prefer to travel, you need to know a little French. Thank goodness, I had spent many a weekend and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, which gave me a heads up to order un café au lait. Every server in every tiny village or sidewalk café or bistro gets it—in spite of my Southern drawl.

You cannot get through Paris and its environs without sampling the foods. You can eat grand by shopping in open-air vegetable and fruit markets, the tiny bakeries and chocolatiers or street vendors—which I did. Lunch was often in museum cafés and I did not go out for supper. An apple, some grapes and a small loaf of bread or a meat pastry and perhaps some cheese sufficed as I soaked my sore tourist’s feet and hung out the tiny hotel window watching the locals on the narrow, cobbled streets—an entertainment all its own.

Nevertheless, late one night I did get hungry. I somehow lost my goody bag of fruits and cheese and followed a gaggle of natives to an outdoor café. Tables were tiny and elbow-to-elbow. My dining companions were an archeologist from the UK, on his way to another adventure in Egypt and his long-suffering wife—on her way back to the UK to hold down the fort, raise the kids and earn money to support her adventurer, certainly the worst half, on his escapades. The chat up was interesting and a writer never knows where we will find a character to make an on page visit, so I didn’t glance too much at the menu, and ordered une salade de poulet (chicken salad), a glass of house wine.

I do not like to order tossed green salad in foreign countries because it never comes with dressing, except perhaps vinegar and oil. I like blue cheese. However, I soon learned un salade de poulet de France is not chicken salad USA.

The salad came and it was monstrous. In a bowl. An entrée served with a quarter cup pitcher of vinegar. Not. The pitcher was vinegar sweetened with local honey—served hot. The salad had fresh greens, boiled, sliced eggs, crispy slices of chicken light and dark, grand slices of vine-ripened cantaloupe and tomatoes dotted with cracked pepper. Who knew? The hot honey watered with vinegar enhanced the flavor of every tidbit in the salad. And then a surprise. At the very bottom of the bowl, les pommes de terre sautées(diced and crisp fried potatoes)—still warm and gently flavored with honey-vinegar.

It was to this day the best salad I have ever tasted and so easy to duplicate. The salad was not salted and I did not add a grain.

Here’s what you need:

Large wooden bowl.

Salad greens—your choice.

Two boiled eggs shelled and quartered.

Fresh tomato—quartered

Fresh cantaloupe, four generous slices.

Sliced cooked chicken white and dark. Sauté in olive oil.

Potato diced—boiled for two or three minutes—drain and sauté in olive oil until tender. Don’t worry if not browned.

¼ cup of white vinegar.

¼-cup honey.

While ‘building’ the salad allow honey-vinegar mixture to warm over low heat. Do not boil.

Here is what you do:

Layer the bottom of the bowl with a large lettuce leaf. A must have to catch any honey mixture that settles.

Put a couple of heaping spoonfuls of potato in the middle of the leaf.

Add salad greens to cover potatoes. Add chicken slices. Add tomato quarters. Add egg quarters. Add cantaloupe slices. Sprinkle with cracked pepper.

Place hot honey-vinegar mixture in a cruet ready to pour over salad once served.

The French serve every meal with bread. American crackers of any description, however fancy, will not do for une salade de poulet.

A warm French loaf, sliced or whole makes the meal. Do not use butter because it greases the palate and you want your taste buds open to receive the wonderful, sensuous and unexpected mingling of flavors.

Marie Antoinette could have easily dined on the same salad. Along with lark’s tongues—a favorite of royalty on all continents.

Did you know that honey is the only food in our universe that does not go bad? It has shelf life of a thousand years and more!

I will be making this salad in the near future for sure.

 

To learn more about Jackie and her books visit her blog http://jackieweger.com/91CLXa173oL._SL1500_

Her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jackie-Weger/e/B001JS2M62/

E Novel Authors at Work blog: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/

Vichyssoise – The Other White Soup

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

IMG_1295It is ninety-five outside and horribly muggy. I have a freezer full of homemade stock which I make for the variety of soups we love to eat. “It is too darned hot for soup,” my husband said. I don’t like to waste my culinary efforts, and the stock kept calling to me. I got on the Internet, determined to make a creative cold soup, and began to peruse the plethora of recipes for cold potato and leek soup. Finally, I found one that suited my purpose, a luscious recipe from Les Halles, the restaurant Anthony Bourdain runs in the Manhattan.

I adjusted the recipe as I usually do.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter     8 leeks, white part only, cleaned and thinly sliced     2 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes     2 1/2 cups chicken stock (if you’re a vegetarian you can substitute veggie stock)    2 cups heavy cream    4 fresh chives minced, and more left long for garnish     2 shakes of nutmeg     salt and ground white pepper to taste

Method:

Melt butter in a heavy stock pot over medium-low heat. When butter has melted, add leeks and sweat for five to eight minutes. Do not allow the leeks to brown. Add potatoes and cook for a few minutes stirring several times. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are very soft. Cool slightly. Carefully, immersion blend the soup. I wore oven mitts on both hands. This mixture is very hot and you will get a severe burn if it hits you. Whisk in cream and nutmeg, and bring heat up to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes. If you want to thin the soup this is a good time to add a bit more chicken stock. Transfer the soup to a glass or other non metal bowl and chill over an ice bath. Adjust salt and pepper. When cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This soup can be served cool or very cold. Garnish with chives and enjoy!

Skillet Scallops with Orzo and Sauteed Tomato Vinaigrette

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Skillet Scallops with Orzo and Tomato Vinaigrette

During Lent it is a challenge to prepare a variety of fish dishes that everyone in the family can agree upon. I love scallops, my husband… not so much. This particular recipe is one that I have wanted to prepare for a while. It is from the Bobby Flay cookbook Grill it! It is based on a classic scallop dish called Scallops Provençale.

I used my iron skillet for this recipe because it was rainy outside. As a result, I did not get the nice char lines on the scallops.

Ingredients:

6 plum or ripe tomatoes, I used about 12 sliced grape tomatoes      1/3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive    Kosher salt   Freshly ground black pepper     2 cloves garlic, finely chopped     1/4 Niçoice or Kalamata olives     1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves     4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves  1 pound sea scallops, muscle removed

Method:

Heat your skillet to high. Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skin down in hot skillet and allow to become charred, about ten minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the pan and put to the side in a small bowl.

Immediately add the rest of the above ingredients, reserving 1/4 of the oil for the scallops and 1 tablespoon of the basil for garnish. Let this mixture rest at room temperature for at least half an hour. Do not refrigerate.

Mop out the cooled skillet with a paper towel, heat to high, brush the scallops with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook scallops for 3-4 minutes, until golden, and then flip and cook on the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. Place a scoop of the tomato vinaigrette in the center of the plate, arrange the scallops, drizzle the scallops with some of the liquid from the vinaigrette, and sprinkle the remaining basil across the scallops. I prepared orzo and placed the scallops on them with the vinaigrette to the side. The next time I will put the tomatoe vinaigrette in the center and arrange the orzo and the scallops around them. This way the olive oil will be absorbed by the orzo and won’t be wasted. Enjoy!

Ina Garten’s Vegetable Tian

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Tian and cassoulet

One summer we travelled with two other families to the Cahors region of France. There were fifteen of us, six adults and nine children. We visited castles, wineries, churches, audacious gardens, bridges where no battles were fought, and the caves of pech merle. One night we shared the excitement of France competing for the World Cup with townies in a local tavern in the quaint village of Sauveterre. Another evening we watched as a colony of bats exited the side of our country house, crawling out from spaces in an ancient rock wall. Our group leader discovered a three-star restaurant, Privilege du Perigord, in the bastide town of Monpazier. This unassuming restaurant provided us with one of the most memorable meals of our lives. We are all still close friends, and it is no surprise that our recent Culture and Cuisine Club dinner celebrated the fabulous cuisine of southern France.

I have an extensive collection of cookbooks, and Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris has many wonderful recipes and is an interesting read. Below is her recipe for Vegetable Tian, my contribution to the C&C Club dinner. I used a mandoline to slice the veggies except the tomatoes, which I cut with a serrated knife. I have one small adjustment to her recipe. The next time I make this I will drain the onions by scooping them into the casserole with a slotted spoon. After all the veggies are lined up, then I will drizzle a bit of the juice over the top. Otherwise, there is too much liquid.

Ingredients:
Good olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled
3/4 pound zucchini
1 1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Brush a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes until browned. Serve warm.

Per Serving (based on 4 servings): Calories: 289 ; Total Fat: 15.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 9 grams; Total carbohydrates: 31 grams; Sugar:6 grams; Fiber: 4 grams; Cholesterol: 16 milligrams; Sodium: 550 milligrams

Authors Eat…

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

This month the Culture and Cuisine Club features the bubbly and perennially fun Carol Wyer. Carol is an award-winning author of three books including the newly released “How Not to Murder Your Grumpy.” Carol currently resides in  the United Kingdom. Throughout her life she has traveled extensively, and she successfully adds a cultural richness to her writing. She spends a great deal of time in her adopted country, France, with her husband. Lucky lady!

In Carol’s own words, here is her recipe for a luscious Bouillabaisse.

I am a terrible cook. Honestly, I really am. Whatever I cook has to be simple. One of my greatest achievements was cooking a Bouillabaisse for a group of ten people, when I lived in Casablanca. It was my turn to host the monthly expat dinner party and rather foolishly I asked the guests what they would like to eat. One of them, a French girl, suggested Bouillabaisse because she missed France. The others thought this was a great idea and so I had to find out pretty quickly how to make it.

I asked the French girl how to cook it since she came from Marseille, considered the Mecca of Bouillabaisse, and knew what to do.  The morning of the dinner party, I drove down to the far side of Casablanca along with half the city to purchase the ingredients fresh off the boats as they pulled in. I rode back to the apartment at breakneck speed on my VeloSolex bike with clams and shellfish wheezing in plastic bags dangling from my bike handles, followed  the recipe and voila! That night my culinary dish was applauded and the French girl told me it was some of the best Bouillabaisse she had ever eaten. I have made the dish quite a few times since, adapting it to suit where I live and what I can purchase, but you really need to get very fresh fish to make it ultra tasty..

Hubby doesn’t like shellfish so I haven’t cooked it in a long while, but I still have that crumpled up piece of paper with the recipe scrawled on it just in case I ever get asked to cook it again.

In Marseille they use at least seven types of fish in a Bouillabaisse. If you can’t get extremely fresh fish – caught and cooked the same day – then use quick frozen fish. That’ll be fish frozen on the day it was caught. You can use almost any combination of fish you fancy and use as many different types of fish as you can. The bouillabaisse is often served with a spicy sauce. It is up to you if you want to make it or not. (I didn’t.)

Bouillabaisse Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of at least 3 different kinds of fish fillets, fresh or quick frozen (thaw first)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 pounds of oysters, clams, or mussels
  • 1 cup cooked shrimps, crab, lobster meat, or rock lobster tails
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 4 stalks thinly sliced celery
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fish broth
  • 2 Tbps lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • Sliced French bread

Ingredients for Sauce Rouille (Not compulsory.)

  • 1 Tbsp hot fish stock
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 small red hot pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup soft white bread in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

 

Put hot fish stock or clam broth into a blender. Add garlic and red hot pepper, salt and bread. Blend until very smooth. Add olive oil slowly and stop the blending as soon as the oil disappears. At serving time, serve the sauce Rouille in a little bowl next to the bouillabaisse. It is strong so don’t use much! Don’t put more than ½ teaspoon into your soup.

 

Bouillabaise

1 Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add onions and shallots. Sauté for a minute, then add crushed garlic, and sweet red pepper. Add tomato, celery, and fennel. Stir the vegetables into the oil with a wooden spoon until well coated. Then add another 1/4 cup of olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, cloves and the orange zest. Cook until the onion is soft and golden but not brown.

2 Cut fish fillets into 2-inch pieces. Add the pieces of fish and 2 cups of water to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add your shellfish, crabmeat, lobster tails.

3 Add saffron (it was ridiculously inexpensive in Morocco so I added a generous portion), salt, pepper. Add fish broth, lemon juice, and white wine. Bring to a simmer again and cook about 5 minutes longer.

4 At serving time place a thick slice of crusty French bread in each bowl. Spoon the bouillabaisse over the bread. If desired, serve with Sauce Rouille.

Serves 6 approximately.

Carol’s new novel, “How Not to Murder Your Grumpy” will be released on June 1, 2013.

Is your Grumpy Old Man getting under your feet? Is he wrestling with retirement? Are you wondering if you should bundle him up and entrust him to basket-weaving classes? Then this book could be the answer to your prayers. This light hearted guide is packed full of lively ideas, anecdotes and quips. Not only does it set out to provide laughs, but offers over 700 ideas and ways to keep a Grumpy Old Man occupied. From collecting airline sick bags to zorbing, you will be sure to find an absorbing pastime for your beloved curmudgeon. There are examples of those who have faced extraordinary challenges in older age, fascinating facts to interest a reluctant partner and innovative ideas drizzled, of course, with a large dollop of humor. Written tongue-in-cheek, this book succeeds in proving that getting older doesn’t mean the end of life or having fun. It provides amusing answers to the question, “How on Earth will my husband fill in his time in his retirement?” It offers suggestions on what might, or most certainly might not, amuse him. Ideal for trivia buffs, those approaching retirement, (or just at a loose end) and frustrated women who have an irritable male on their hands, this book will lighten any mood and may even prevent the odd murder.

You can find this book in both the UK and in the US in book shops and on Amazon. To find out more about Carol and her books please check out the following links:

Links to sites and purchase links for book.

Amazon US Author Page

Amazon UK Author Page 

 

Blog: http://facing50withhumour.com