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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Griddled Asparagus

After roasted asparagus, here is the exact same thing done on the griddle.
I love love love that it is spring and we now have spring veggies readily available, as well as remnants of winter veggies.
Here I have a sort of transition salad: griddled asparagus, zucchini, and long white turnips with some red oak leaf salad (feuille de chêne) and a poached egg.
I suppose the only winter vegetable in the lot is the turnip.
That baby does really well on the griddle too!
I don't know why I didn't heat up my plancha for this, but I like the way the house gets smokey and I did this in the morning, so it was a bit chilly outside.  This could definitely be done on a BBQ over foil or something, but I just love my griddle pan.
1 bunch (500g or 1 lb) fresh firm green asparagus, washed and stems peeled
1 Tbsp EVOO
a pinch of sea salt (fleur de sel)
a few cracks fresh black pepper
a few shakes piment d'espelette
juice from 1/2 lime
Toss it all together and griddle on high heat for about 3-4 minutes, turning to color.
The asparagus are done when they start getting a bit floppy and are nicely colored.  They will be slightly crunchy, but that's the best part of the whole deal.
I did the zucchini and turnip slices in exactly the same way, working in batches.

I wish I had more bunches of asparagus to nibble on tomorrow...
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Veal Paupiettes in Roots and Mustard

Paupiettes are something I rarely cook, but when I do, I'm always in for a treat.
The thing about paupiettes is that you either make them yourself (which I didn't) or you buy good quality ones.  The concept of a paupiette is to have a beaten thin cutlet wrapped and tied around some sort of stuffing.  In France, that stuffing is usually meat based.  The inexpensive ones you can find are usually pork wrapped around a ground pork stuffing.  Sometimes you can find the Turkey/ground pork ones, but the best ones (in my opinion) are the Veal/ground veal ones.
When I can get a good deal on those, I usually go for them.
In this version, I decided to get them nicely colored, and then add some thinly sliced mushrooms, turnips, and carrots in some mustard.  This yielded a beautiful sauce that I decided to pair with tagliatelles al dente.
The result was very nice, delicate, and very French.. which is good once in a while because I do live in France after all...
Serves 4
4 good quality Veal Paupiettes
1 onion, thinly sliced into moon crescents
1 carrot, thinly sliced into half circles
1/2 long white turnip, thinly sliced into half circles (or 1 normal round turnip)
1 large handful mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tsp thyme
3 Tbsp extra strong mustard
1 cup water (as needed)
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
few pinces fleur de sel
1 Tbsp heavy cream
drizzle EVOO
some chopped parsley
1.  In a high edged heavy based pan, drizzle some olive oil and color the paupiettes until they are nicely golden on each side.  This may take about 10 minutes.  They should release a bit of juice, which is good.  Remove and set aside.
2.  Add the sliced onions with a sprinkle of fleur de sel into the pan and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
3.  Add the carrot and turnip slices, thyme, and some pepper and cook, stirring for another 10 minutes.  Add a bit of water if it gets too dry.
4.  Stir in the mushrooms and mustard and cook, for another 5 minutes.
5.  Add the paupiettes in with half the water.  Cover and simmer while you prepare your pasta.  I let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, adding water if dry.
6.  About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the heavy cream, chopped parsley, and add more fresh cracked pepper.  Heat through, then taste and add salt if needed.  Mine were perfect at this point.

Serve over a bed of hot tagliatelles al dente with a bit of fresh chopped parsley on top.

Mustard really gives depth to all the other flavors.  Carrots and turnips are a perfect match to the veal and melt in your mouth with each twisted forkful.  It almost doesn't even need cream, I just added it because I like a bit of cream with pasta.
I'm gourmande like that...
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Orange Marmelade & Mustard Salad Dressing

This post is about the salad dressing, but it's almost really all about the salad as a whole.
I've been experimenting with the sweet-savory-tangy mix of flavors by putting fruit in my non dessert salad.  So far I've done it with orange, pomelo, mango, melon, by mixing with shrimp, avocado, chicken, cheese, fennel, egg...
All this works so well it's like magic, so why not include it in the dressing?
As I mentioned in a previous post, some orange marmelade magically appeared in my kitchen.  Since the flavor is so particularly different than normal jam, it mixes surprisingly well in savory as well as sweet.  To take it an extra step I added grapes to my lambs lettuce salad, which made the whole deal an extremely pleasant mind boggler.
Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side.
1 heaping Tbsp orange marmelade
1 heaping Tbsp strong mustard (I used Amora Forte)
1 heaping Tbsp excellent EVOO
1 heaping Tbsp apple cider vinegar
pinch fleur de sel (flake salt)
a few grinds fresh black pepper
few large handfuls mâche (lambs lettuce or baby spinach) washed
1/2 tomato, chopped
few large delicious grapes, halved and seeded
a bit of fresh goat cheese, chopped
1 Tbsp capers
1 perfectly poached egg
1.  Mix the dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
2.  Add all the salad ingredients on top.
3.  Toss that salad!

Zippity doo daw this salad blew me away!
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Linguine with Grilled Veggies & Meatballs

I may have already shared my love for grilled veggies, especially eggplant.. mmm eggplant.
I recently bought zucchini, artichoke, and eggplant to grill on my griddle pan to top my last pizza.. and since I had to grill in batches, I decided to grill a bunch to use later on in a salad.
That salad idea turned into a pasta idea.. spontaneously out of nowhere.  I needed to store some ground beef in the freezer, which meant make hamburger patties, or just freeze it as it is for some future spaghetti sauce..
oooo pasta
ooo if I'm going to handle the ground beef, I may as well make something interesting.. right?
ooo meatballs!
That's how dinner happened.
Serves 6
1 lb (500g) linguine, cooked al dente, then drained.
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise
1can artichoke hearts, drained
2 small shallots, sliced
3 Tbsp watercress pesto (or whatever other pesto)
some EVOO
juice from 3/4 lime
fleur de sel (flake salt)
1 tsp piment d'espelette
some fresh cracked pepper
crushed red pepper
drizzle heavy cream
1 cup water
parmesan and swiss
350g ground beef
1 carrot, finely grated
5 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbsp strong mustard
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp watercress pesto
1 Tbsp piment d'espelette
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
lots and lots of fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (flake salt)
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
drizzle EVOO
1.  Make the meatballs.  Mix all the meatball ingredients together using your bare hands, until everything is evenly incorporated, then form them into palm sized balls.
2.  Cook the meatballs.  Heat a wok or heavy based pan and brown the meatballs until nicely colored. Remove and set aside, but keep the juice in the pan.
3.  Meanwhile, griddle the veggies (if they aren't already griddled).  Toss the eggplant, zucchini, and artichoke hearts with some EVOO, lime juice, piment d'espelette, fleur de sel, and cracked pepper.  Grill (I did mine on a cast iron griddle pan) for a few minutes on each side until cooked through and set aside.
4.  Heat the wok with the meatball juice and add the shallots until golden.
5.  Add in the pesto and water and simmer while the pasta cooks, then add a bit of cream and all the grilled veggies and meatballs to heat through.
6.  When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.
7.  Toss the hot al dente pasta with all the lovely goodness, adding a bit of reserved pasta water if needed.

Serve with parmesan and swiss and top with a bit of crushed red pepper.

Dear me this was a meal worthy of guests!  I can't believe how delicious my meatballs were!  They were not dry at all (being all beef).  No need for sausage.
The secret is in the fennel and garlic, the carrots add a bit of moisture giving them perfect texture.
The griddled veggies add a whole other dimension to the pasta.. BBQ pasta..
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Orange Marmelade Buckwheat Muffins

Just when I thought I had run out of muffin ideas, an extra large jar of homemade orange marmelade and whole fig preserves just dropped out of the sky.
Seriously, my neighbors were gifted those items and didn't know what to do with them and supposed they'd have a better life with me.
Marmelade has tons of uses besides the very obvious one (spread it on some toast).  It works well as a zing factor in salad dressing, marinade for fish or duck, in cookies, as glaze on a cake, and as a fun flavor for muffins.  I'll probably think of more once I'm done writing this, like mixed with chocolate, peanut butter, coconut, in breakfast oats...I just don't get how you can be so entirely clueless that you give it away.
So at 10 pm, after thinking about the recent acquisition, I had a sudden urge to use that marmelade....
Yield 19 muffins
2 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/3 cup (60g) cane sugar
scant 1/3 cup (50g) canola oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp powdered ginger
5 Tbsp orange marmelade
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1cup (120g) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oats
Walnuts (I only used one per muffin)
1/2 tsp marmelade per muffin
1.  Beat together the eggs, sugar, bananas, oil, milk, and marmelade.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3.  Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the oats.  The texture should not be dry.. it should be very goopy.
4.  Grease your muffin tins and fill them 3/4 to the top, then drop a bit of marmelade int each muffin and  top with your single walnut wishing you had more, but happy to have enough left.

5.  Bake in a 375°F (180°C) oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after a nice stab.

I love the tanginess of orange marmelade and it works perfectly in these muffins.  These are actually quite healthy too.. not too sweet, full of fiber.. just lovely.

I can't wait to make multiple jam flavor buckwheat thumbprint cookies now!!
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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Grilled Veggie and Chicken Rillettes Pizza

For me pizza has a minimum of 3 basic toppings:
roasted tomatoes

The rest is all freestyle and I very rarely make the same pizza twice... it all depends on what I have on hand.
Tonight's pizza had a trio of grilled veggies.. eggplant, zucchini, and artichokes, all grilled on the griddle pan.
I had a bit of rotisserie chicken rillettes left and decided to make little blobs of it on the pizza.  Those rillettes are really the best.  They are 100% chicken (most rillettes have pork lard although labeled duck or goose).

It was all lovely and perfect, but I still can't get over my crust.  It is my 2nd time using fresh yeast instead of dry and it really makes a world of difference.  The taste and texture is just perfect.  The crust was crunchy and chewy all at once with a nice fluff.
Pizza perfection has been obtained!
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Kerala Fish Curry

First of all, if you are planning on making fish in a sauce, I'd highly suggest monkfish.  It stays firm and chunky and does not disintegrate out of fragility like other white fish does.  It also tastes wonderful and absorbs the curry very nicely.
I don't do fish in curry very often, because I don't like to hide the taste of what I'm eating, and I usually prefer my fish grilled or raw.  This dish may make me change my habits and make it more often.  What I love about it is that you still know that you're eating fish, and the texture of the monkfish is like that of crab or alligator tail.
Tonight's thali is laced with coconut.. ooh!
Serves 5-6
2 lbs (1 kg) monkfish or other firm white fish, deboned and cubed
2 tsp turmeric
some salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red chilis, split
1 inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 400mL can coconut milk
1 cup water
3 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 Tbsp fish stock (I used dried shrimp)
1.  Rub the fish cubes with some salt and turmeric and set aside while you prepare the curry.
2.  Heat the oil in a wok and sautée the onions with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until soft.  You don't want them to brown.
3.  Add the chilis, cumin, and ginger and stir fry for a few minutes.  The aroma should be sweet from the ginger and cough inducing from the chilis.  This is good.
4.  Add the coconut milk, water, and dried shrimp.  Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Taste and add salt if needed.
5.  Add in the fish.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Serve with some basmati rice, naan, and whatever other sides you see fit.
I served mine with Lobia Palak Curry, Man'ouché, and Samosas.

I love meals like this.  Spicy, tangy, earthy, crunchy, comforting.. and almost effortless.. well, today at least...
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lobia Palak Curry

Today was samosa day.  I spent a few good hours today making the dough, rolling, stuffing, and frying samosas, in preparation of welcoming the family.
Naturally, tonight was Indian night to accompany the samosas.  Some crispy hot munchies to snack on, then samosas with lemon yogurt sauce (I didn't have time to make chutney) and finally, some nice healthy Lobia Palak Curry along with Lebanese bread (can't let that deliciousness go to waste).  Lobia are Black-Eyed Peas and Palak is Spinach.  The original recipe calls for Malabar spinach, which is something I've never seen or tasted, but looks more like basil and isn't really part of the same family as spinach.  Either way, the recipe inspired me to put some palak into my lobia, which I've never done with any dal for that matter.  It makes the already earthy black eyed peas even earthier, and then balanced out by the coconut, ground spices, and garlic.
It's a small twist off of the last Lobia Curry.
Serves 5-6 as a side
3/4 cup black eyed peas, soaked overnight
1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils) soaked overnight
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida (hing)
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed, skins on
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
To grind:
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 peppercorns
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 dried red chilies
1.  Cook the black eyed peas and masoor dal in 3 cups water in a slow cooker on low for about 5 hours.  You want the beans to be tender, but not complete mush.
2.  Dry roast the seeds and chilies under "to grind" then grind into a fine powder.  Add the coconut and a bit of the bean cooking water to the grinder to make a paste.  Set aside.
3.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds until they sputter, then add the hing until it fizzes.
4.  Add the garlic and swish around for 5-10 seconds, then add the onions and cook until translucent.
5.  Add the tomato and cook until it becomes mush, then add the spice paste.  Cook for about 5 minutes and add a bit of bean cooking water if too dry.
6.  Stir in the thawed spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.
7.  Add in the contents of the slow cooker.  At this point, I had very little cooking water left, so I used all of it.
8.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding salt if needed.  I added about 1 tsp.

Serve garnished with cilantro (which I forgot).
The garlic, when cooked in its sheath, seems to roast and releases a nice flavor into the curry.  I didn't notice the skins while eating, so I guess they just disappear.
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Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Muffins

I may have a disorder.
Out of nowhere, between preparing the dough for the samosas and grinding the spices for my black eyed peas curry, I had a sudden urge to make muffins.
Especially since I have fresh blueberries that were not entirely finished at breakfast.
Mmm real blueberries.. The American kind, not the French kind.  I had no idea there was such a difference, but apparently, the French kind are too sour and only good for making jam or pie, but not for eating fresh like the sweet american ones.
I flashed to eating them with my honey, oats and goat milk, but the muffins were almost finished cooking by that time...
These are the same as the Peanut Butter Banana Muffins I recently made with a few substitutions:
buckwheat flour for regular flour
approximately 100g real blueberries for jam
only 1 Tbsp peanut butter
only poppy seeds as a topping

It makes a big difference to use the actual fruit.  I love how they just popped while cooking and stained the muffins with their purple goodness...

So do I have a problem?  I will now go back to making samosas..
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hummus-Ful bi Tahini (Chickpeas and Favas)

With the most delicious hand pressed olive oil and home made Lebanese bread, I may be in paradise...
It's Saturday Night Fava
haa I love it!
The Patels will be here in less than 2 weeks, and I promised them not to spend too much time in the kitchen while they're here... And since I don't get many opportunities to cook for them, I must optimize what I can by making ahead the things I most want to show off to them but that take time.  Hummus freezes well..and so do samosas, which is perfect for it will leave me time to plancha with the father and discuss different coffee and beer making methods with the brother during happy hour.
The reason behind tonight's endeavors are clear, and it is a perfect way to make it a Lebanese evening with man'ouché and a fresh salad.
This time though, I did half chickpeas, half fava beans.  At first I thought it would be ugly, since the favas turned the cooking water brown and tainted the chickpeas.  The puree pre-tahini was a brownish color, but once the tahini was mixed in, it lightened it all up.
The taste is just amazing.  It has a fresh springy taste, though very similar to plain hummus.
To serve I made a little well in the center and poured in an excellent olive oil made and gifted to me by a friend, and to dip I made some Lebanese bread and cut some cucumber into sticks.
The Ma'nouché was perfect this time with fresh yeast and za'atar.. mm
Lets talk about that now, shall we?
Today was my first time using fresh yeast vs dry.  There is absolutley no compairison.  Hands down fresh wins.  It rises like a skyscraper and gives the bread such a nice texture and tastes like love.
Seriously, it tastes like love!
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