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Monday, December 31, 2012

Tandoori Frog Legs

Fusion at its best.  Some may find it sacriledgeous to eat frog legs other than with escargot butter.. or to eat frog legs at all, but I'll eat just about anything I can find, so those who are offended can just kindly look away.  I thought I was completely out of the box when I came up with this idea, but after some research, I realized I will not be able to patent it, unfortunately.  I, however, almost guarantee that mine will taste great and my guests will be surprised.
1 lb frog legs (40-50 pairs)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups beaten plain yogurt
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp grated garlic
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp tandoori masala
1.  Rub the frog legs with lemon juice.  Let it sink in while you make the marinade.
2.  Mix all the marinade ingredients together.  Coat the legs while massaging each one to make sure the marinade coats everybody.  Let marinate in the fridge overnight.
3.  When ready, heat a grill or skillet and cook without overcrowding while wetting with the baste, 1-2 minutes on each side.  I didn't baste.  They were excellent anyway.  I love eating with my hands in fork and knife country.  I love doing it at restaurants too and getting dirty looks from people.  Don't judge me, the french eat their burgers with a fork and a knife and I'm the strange one?

While cooking they will look like ballerinas.  It made me laugh so hard I cried.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kadhai Chicken

This hit the spot.  I'm really getting better at this.  It was even requested that I make this next time we have company.
Who needs restaurants?
Another recipe from the lovely ladies at
Serves 5 as shown above
1 lb skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 whole dried chilis
1 large onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
2 chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp amchoor (which I still don't have by the way, so I subbed lemon juice)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
some EVOO
salt to taste
1/2 cup whole milk to taste
chopped cilantro + julienned ginger for garnish
1.  Dry roast coriander and fenugreek seeds with the dried chilies.  Crush with a mortar and pestle.  Set aside.
2.  In some oil, fry onions until brown.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
3.  Add the tomatoes and cook until soft.
4.  Add the ground spice mix along with the chicken.  Let all the lovely juices penetrate.  Then add some salt and the rest of the spices and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring on low heat.
5.  Add the sliced bell pepper and milk.  Cook until boiling, then reduce heat until bell is desired tenderness.

Serve with basmati rice, some palak paneer, and rotis. 
I ate the whole meal forkless.  I love keeping my silverware clean and my hands messy...

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Palak Paneer

My Indian background growing up included 2 major sides.  The Gujarati vegetarian family side, and the north Indian go out to the restaurant family side.  This dish is something I grew up eating restaurant side, and it has been one of my all time favorites since always.  I had never made it before because I didn't have paneer.
Now I have it!  I also have
Serves 5 as a side
400g spinach (9 cubes), defrosted and chopped
100g (or double that amount) paneer
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
1 tomato, chopped
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
some oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1.  Fry paneer in some oil, then pat dry with a paper towel and set aside.
2.  Fry onions in some oil until translucent.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook 5 minutes.
3.  Add tomatoes and cook until oil separates, stirring.
4.  Add the spinach, garam masala, cumin, coriander, salt, chili powder, and turmeric.  Cook stirring for 5 minutes.
5.  Add as much cream as you feel necessary, then add paneer until it all heats through.

Serve as a side or meal with basmati rice and rotis.
This is perfectly the way I remember it being.  Melts in your mouth (not in your hands.)

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Bagel Bombs

Mmm the house smells so good with the aroma of these Bagel Bombs wafting...
 I probably shouldn't have made these so close to dinner time.  Oh well, I'm having bagel bombs and oysters on the half shell for dinner tonight.
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 3/4 cups (or 225 grams) flour + a few handfuls
1/4 packet (or 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
7/8 cups (or 185 g) room temperature water (warm enough to activate but not so hot it kills the yeast)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon dried onions
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg + 1/2 tsp water
1.  Make the filling.  Whip together the cream cheese and other stuff.  I used some random spices but fresh herbs would be nice.  On some parchment paper, place 8 equal doses of the filling, then pop into the freezer.
2.  Make the dough.  I don't have a fancy machine.  I used my bare naked hands.  In some warm (not hot) water, let the yeast dissolve a few minutes.  Then mix it with the flour and salt.  Keep mixing with those muscles.  It should be a wet sticky mess.  I added a bit more flour because it wasn't coming together.  It should end up being a wet sticky ball.
3.  Brush a plastic bowl with some oil and place the sticky ball into it.  Cover with a towel and let rise at least 2 hours.  Mine took forever to rise.  I even made a second batch because I thought I had killed my yeast with water that was too warm.  They both ended up rising after a long long time.
4.  Make your topping.  Mix together all the good stuff in a bowl.  Make your wash.  Whisk together the egg and bit of water.  Preheat oven to 325°F or 160°C.
5.  When the dough has risen, knead it a bit on a flat dry floured surface.  Separate into 8 equal parts.  Make mini pizzas with each part, then plop a piece of frozen filling into each pizza.  Fold the dough over and roll the ball around in your hands so the seams close.
6.  Place all your bagel balls onto some parchment paper, well separated because these things will expand.
6.  Brush some wash onto each ball, then liberally sprinkle the topping onto all sides.
7.  Cook in oven for 25-35 minutes until they are nice and golden and you see little explosions going on.

Explosions are good.  Very good.

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Homemade Paneer

Paneer is an Indian cheese used in many recipes, like this one.  In the US, if you know where to look, it's relatively easy to find.  Here in France, I've never seen it.  That doesn't mean it's inexistant, but when I saw how easy and cheap it was to make it myself, I thought: Why bother searching?
You only need 2 ingredients:
Whole milk (I used raw)
Lemon juice or yogurt (3-4 Tbsp per Liter of milk)
1.  Scald the milk while stirring.  Take off heat.
2.  Add lemon juice 1 Tbsp at a time while stirring until the curds separate from the whey.  Let cool briefly so as not to scald yourself.
3.  Strain over a cheesecloth or handkerchief (which I did not have) over a colander, rinse, press into square shape,
and wait 30 minutes.

Aren't we all Little Miss Muffet at one time or another in our lives?
I got quite excited at the chemical reaction of the curds and whey.  Do not throw away your whey.  It is a healthy alternative to stock in soups or stews, and can be used instead of water for kneading dough.  It can be conserved in the freezer if you don't have immediate whey needs.  Also, whey from a previous batch can be used instead of the lemon juice for more tender paneer.  I learned this after having drained away my whey.
What I like most about making paneer is watching the precise moment the milk starts to curdle as I feels so it's doing its best to resist, and not let itself be possessed by its osmoser, until that last second when its muscles fully contract to the point of no return...the climax.

1 Liter does not yield vey much paneer (between 100-120g) so plan ahead according to your needs.
This freezes extremely well.  I should have bought more milk this morning to make several batches for my future needs.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fettuccini Carbonara with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

Why not?
This time I drizzled basaalmic to caramelize those whole cherry tomatoes.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Plancha time

I'm not sure there are many things more satisfying (ok I can only think of one) than heating up the plancha for homemade burgers on the balcony between christmas and new year's.  I think this time last year we had snow.
For a first time plancha experience it turned out perfectly!  For the onions, a squirt of basaalmic vinegar sufficed.  For the burgers, no lubrification needed...their own essence was enough to keep things slippery between them and the plancha.  I probably should have sprayed some oil before cracking the eggs, though.
Overall, this is probably the best self gift I've ever had.  I can't wait to try it with sexy things like squid, gambas, sardines, scallops...or anything from the deep blue.

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Cèpe & Lamb Mixed Grain Risotto

Here's another twist to leftover Equinox lamb.  Riceless risotto!  I just threw this together not really knowing what to expect and it turned out to be a hit, even with our unannounced teenage company.
Serves 4
1 overflowing cup mixed grains (bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries, whatever),rinsed
handful dried cèpes or other wild mushrooms
whatever amount leftover lamb you have
2 Tbsp EVOO
a drizzle heavy cream
1 clove garlic, grated
juice from 1/4 lemon
handful parmesan
lamb stock (I didn't measure)
salt/fresh ground pepper
1.  In a large deep pan, heat the EVOO and fry the rinsed grains a bit while stirring.  When they start to stick, wet with a ladle of lamb stock.
2.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, and lamb.
3.  Keep ladling stock while stirring until absobed.  I may have put in 2.5 cups total.
4.  Taste for doneness.  When the grains are bite tender, add the cream, parmesan, salt and pepper.  Watch it coagulate nicely.

Congratulations Master Chef.
I suppose the only condition for this dish to be a success is that your guests have no issues with fungi...

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Laban Immor

Have roast lamb leftovers?  Have a sensual Lebanese cookbook just waiting to be tapped into with the correct vigor and motivation?
Well, I do.
The smell of this is even more appetizing than last night's Equinox dinner.  It must be the spices that run through my veins.
250g lamb
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 handful chopped celery
1/4 cup sherry or Xeres vinegar
1 red chili, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice (quatre epices)
3-4 cups lamb stock (mine was homemade)
1/2 cup rinsed kamut or rice
1 beaten egg
2 plain yogurts (250g)
Handful frozen peas
Handful chopped cilantro or mint
Salt/fresh cracked pepper
1.  Heat the EVOO in a heavy based pan.  Brown the pieces of lamb.  Remove and reserve.
2.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring about 5 minutes.
3.  Cut the lamb into cubes, then add back into the pot with the vinegar and stock to level.  Boil then lower heat to simmer.
4.  Add the cinnamon, allspice, red chili, and cumin and simmer approx. 10 minutes.
5.  Add the kamut (or rice if you don't have any) and simmer 45 minutes or until your grain is cooked.
6.  While waiting, add the yogurt to the beaten egg and beat some more.  Add the mixture along with the frozen peas to the soup and cook, stirring for 10 minutes.

Serve with chopped cilantro (or mint...I just didn't have any) and a drizzle of olive oil.
Close your eyes, inhale, smile, and exhale.
Welcome to Mediterannean Heaven.

*don't use kamut if you're GF

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Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb

Here's someone who knows how to get my juices flowing!
For the main course of my Christmas dinner, I took this 2.5kg guy to the spa before putting him in the oven.  First, I poked him with a knife to place garlic inside of him.  Then I rubbed a mixture of salt, ground coriander, and rosemary with olive oil and gave him a deep tissue massage.
I let all this penetrate a few hours.
Then I roasted him at 375°F for 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting regularly so that there were parts of him medium well, and some parts rare.  I ate the tendon which was almost rosy, but not quite.
I accompanied this with green beans (which I added at 1 hour), sautéed potatoes and cèpes.
Among other things that I didn't photograph, this dish was preceeded by these lovely androgenous creatures...
Initially, it was going to be a party of 5 eating twice, so I had enough for 10 or more.  We ended up being 3 and eating once, so I think I'm going to be eating this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until NYE.
I don't mind at all.  It will give me new material for recipe creations.
I wonder if lamb ravioli would work well, or maybe I could pair it with some kamut?  The bare leg bone is going to be used to make lamb stock. 
We shall see...

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Maple Cinnamon Sticky Buns

Cinnamon Rolls, Seminar Rolls, Sweet Rolls, Sticky Buns
Whatever name for these delicious chewy stimulates your warm childhood (or warmer recent) memory glands will work.
It's funny how the words sticky and buns would never pleasantly be paired if we weren't talking about food.
Anyway, this is going to be my Christmas dessert.  I know it's not very traditional for Christmas, but I here in France you are supposed to eat Buche or Yule log for dessert.  What can I say?  I'm just not that buche-y kind of girl and I wanted to make something myself that would be somewhat of a challenge.  To make cinammon rolls, you need to make a dough using yeast.  Challenge accepted. 
I'm using the Pioneer Woman's recipe but halved, and then used half of the dough to yield my 12-14 rolls.  The rest I put in the freezer for NYE or another occasion.
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small packet of yeast (10g - 0.25oz)
5 cups flour
1 large tsp baking powder (levure chimique)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup melted butter
plenty of cinnamon and sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1/8 cup melted butter
1/8 cup coffee (optional)
pinch of salt
1.  For the dough, scald (almost boil) the milk, oil and sugar.  Set aside and let cool 45 minutes.
2.  Sprinkle the yeast and let dissolve at least 1 minute.
3.  Add 4 cups of the flour and stir until combined, then set in a warm place with a towel over the mixture for at least 1 hour.  It will rise like the sun.
All this mixed together with my bare hands, just the way I like it.
4.  Add the 1 cup remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.  Refridgerate for at least 1 hour.  I left mine overnight and had fun punching the dough down in the morning.
5.  Roll the dough into a large rectangle 2-3 ft by 10 in.  I only used half.  The rest I froze and will bust out another time.
6.  Pour the melted butter for the filling onto the dough.  Then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar.
 Put on your flamenco ladybug apron and smother it like there's no tomorrow.
7.  Roll that baby starting from the far end bringing it toward you.  It will ooze.  This is good.  When you reach the end, pinch to seam.

I would have sprinkled some cayenne pepper in there, but that idea was not approved.  Feel that ooozy goodness between your fingers.
8.  Cut up your log into 1 inch slices and place into baking pans.  Allow to rise for at least 30 minutes.
oh they are naughty little fellows aren't they?
9.  Bake at 190°C (375°F) for 15-20 minutes or until rolls are golden.
10.  While this is going on, whisk all the icing ingredients together.
11.  Pour the icing onto the hot sweet rolls to make them sticky.  It will absorb and increase the gooey factor.  This is good.

I am soo not a dessert person, but I had 3 of these after a heavy Christmas Eve dinner, which should give you a hint of how wonderfully heartwarming these are.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Homemade Ravioli Experiment

I bought myself a new toy yesterday.  It was very hard to keep it in the box until Christmas and today it has become futile to even try.  We're all adults here, don't judge me.
I'm so excited it's coming out NOW and I'm getting my hands dirrty!!
 Join me along with Dark Side of the Moon on my quest to make Ravioli.  
This is a test.  I repeat this is a test.  the results will then be evaluated and ingredients readjusted for an appetizer I will be presenting among various other things on NYE.
 2 cups flour + 2 eggs
 + a bit of EVOO, salt and a drizzle of water = dough.  I didn't use all the flour.  We're just going to have to see where this goes.
Filling made of salmon, spinach, fresh goat cheese, parmesan, garlic, a bit of chili powder, a dash of turmeric and some tarragon.  Mmm I licked my fingers.  Oops!

I'm not finished yet.  I'm waiting for the dough to settle 30 minutes before I proceed by passing it through the torture machine.
 Ah yes, here we are.  Let the torture begin...
 Isn't that nice?  At this point I confirm that 4 hands would be better than 2.  At least for the dough catching.  Any volunteers?
 These first ones were a little large, so I decreased the filling in the following ones.
 1 tsp filling, fold over, and cut out.  Then repeat until the dough or filling runs out.  My filling ran out and I only used 3/4 of my dough.  Interesting.
Yield: 29 ravioli or 3 servings.  I'm going to number them and eat them in order.
Boil for 4 minutes 
and then carefully place in a dish with 2 tablespoons of a nice buttery lemon garlic cream sauce.  Sprinkle with chives, parmesan and pepper.

Oh how I love creating beautiful things.

This was quite an experience.  Wonderful texture, great flavor.  I can see myself doing a number of variations with the filling now that I got the hang of using the machine.  For NYE I was asked not to put any fish or meat inside them, so I may be going with goat cheese/sundried tomato/zucchini or something similar.

It takes a lot of time, but I enjoy doing this type of thing with my 2 hands.  Now if I can only find a cheesecloth and possibly another hand.
Some people prefer to paint...
(you can be proud now)

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Broccoli Rouy Quiche

Today my emotional rollercoaster is making a stop for quiche.
Quiche is so easy to make if you can find an appropriate crust, and is so versatile you can make it as insanely shocking or as traditional as you want.  I'll eventually make a fusion style quiche using spices or chili, but today, I'm using French cheese and my favorite trees, broccoli and cauliflower.
My source of inspiration will be increasing exponentially during the following week.  There is some sort of inverse proportional relationship regarding number of beats per second and something divided by zero during my imposed vacation time.  In the horizon are things like khandvi, samosas, raw milk paneer, and ravioli..which may be in continuous evolution as the week continues.
1 pâte brisée (raw pie crust)
4 eggs
1 small handful small cut broccoli florets
1 small handful small cut cauliflower florets
1/2 Rouy, sliced (or whatever other cheese you have)
 2 Tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 handful shredded swiss
3 or 4 grinds of fresh cracked pepper
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
1.  Beat the eggs with cream and cream cheese.  Add the pepper, salt, nutmeg and swiss.
2.  Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare crust as instructed (usually put it in a baking dish, stab it with a fork and cook it 5 minutes).
3.  Pour half the egg mixture into the crust, add the broccoli/cauliflower and cheese, then add the rest.
4.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until nice and golden.

Serve with salad and feel fancy for making quiche.
To make this really fancy, find mini individual pie crusts and make a bunch of mini quiches as hors d'oeuvres or as the French like to say, Amuses Bouches (mouth teasers).
The French can be so naughty with simple language...

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Artichoke Linguine

Don't tell the Inceptor I licked the wooden spatula, plate, pot, fingers, and just about everything that touched the sun-dried tomatoes.
Serves 6
1 lb dried linguine
100g dried sundried tomatoes (not the jarred oily ones), chopped
1 can drained artichoke hearts
3 filets chicken, nicely grilled and chopped
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (or other nuts or seeds you find appropriate)
1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 handful shredded swiss
1 handful dried basil (I would have used fresh if I had it)
3 large or 5 small garlic cloves
2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
Salt/fresh pepper
1.  Boil a large pot of salted water for the linguine and cook until al dente.
2.  In a heavy based pan, place a little EVOO with the grilled chicken and artichoke hearts.  When it starts to stick, add wine to deglaze.
3.  While all this is happening, blend together the garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, seeds, heavy cream, and EVOO.
4.  Add this blend to the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke along with the shredded swiss.  Heat through, taste, adjust seasoning and add more wine if necessary.  Simmer approximately 5 minutes.
5.  When pasta is al dente, drain and reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water.
6.  Toss with the mixture and add some of the cooking water for desired creaminess.

Serve with extra parmesan, fresh ground pepper, and red pepper flakes.
I believe there is a heaven for each desire.  
This dish is the embodiment of one of mine.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Gujarati Kadhi

My bindi must have seeped into my brain to bring out childood food memories.  Tonight's Kadhi is something I eat regularly in my Indian family.  I don't know why I waited so long to make it myself.  I guess I just recently learned the name of this dish by browsing this wonderful website so I couldn't really search for it.  It's actually quite simple, and it's one of those dishes I can whip out whenever I want because they are ingredients I have on hand.  You wish your spice drawer looked like mine... don't you?
1 cup beaten yogurt
3 cups water
4 Tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 inch grated ginger
(green chilies if you have them)
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 dried red chilies (I used oiseau)
4 cloves
1 small piece cinammon
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp carvi seeds
(1/8 tsp hing if you have it)
sprig curry leaves (I used corsican tangerine leaves)
cilantro + green onions to garnish
1.  Mix together the yogurt, water, and chickpea flour until there are no lumps.  Add the turmeric, ginger, and green chilies (if you have them).
2.  Pour in a pot and bring to a boil while stirring.  Keep stirring or the yogurt will separate strangely.  Then turn heat on very low.
3.  In a frying pan, heat oil,and add dried chilies, cinammon, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, and carvi until it snaps, crackles, and pops.  Pour into the yogurt mix and stand back in case it explodes.
4.  Add some cilantro, hing, and curry leaves and keep on low heat until you finish doing whatever you were doing.  Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve with chopped cilantro and green onions as soup or over rice with rotis.  Tonight was just as soup but oh my I can't wait to make rotis again!

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chole Masala

Remove feathers, lower crossbow, adorn sari, center bindi, put on Concert for Bangladesh record.
I'm going to spicy hot chana tonight...And since I can never stick to the recipe which is somebody's family recipe, it's becoming chana daal.  That is the only thing I changed out of my own will (the other change was lemon juice for amchoor, but only because I had no choice).  Otherwise it is 100% Punjabi tradition.
Who would like some nice tangy Gujurati Dohkla as a starter?
It came out perfectly in taste, but not as fluffy as it should have been in texture.  However, I will not give up on you Dohkla.  More on that another day.
Now for the Chole Daal Masala.
Serves 6
Dry roast spices:
4-5 Cardamom pods
1 inch Cinammon
5-6 Peppercorns
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp coriander seeds
1.5 tsp fennel seeds
2 dried red chilies (I used Oiseau)
1.5 cups dried chickpeas (chana) soaked overnight and cooked until tender, and undressed
3-4 cups reserved chana cooking water
1/2 cup lentils (daal)
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3/4 inch ginger, grated
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp amchoor (or sub lemon juice)
some EVOO
salt to taste
basmati rice for serving 
chopped cilantro
green onions
squeeze of lemon
1.  Dry roast the spices until fragrant.  Do not burn them!

Transfer to mortar and grind.  Oh yes.

mmm smells like love...
2.  Heat EVOO in a heavy bottomed pan or wok.  Add onions and cook until translucent.
3.  Add ginger.  Smell that raw ginger smell.  When you can't smell it anymore, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring a few minutes.
4.  Add the ground spices as well as the garam masala and chili powder and distribute evenly.
5.  Add the chana and cooking water to level.  Bring to a boil,then simmer.
6.  Add the daal and more of the cooking water depending on how juicy you want it.  Simmer approximately 15 minutes.
7.  Add the amchoor if you have it.  You are lucky if you do.
Serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro and green onions with a dash of lemon.
Mmm.  I could wake up to this...

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

I got Herring my mouth again...

...but that's where it belongs!
I don't always get all fancy at feeding time.  Just because you've been busy rebuilding your kitchen all day so all you have time to do is open up a can and spread some herring on some organic bread doesn't mean you aren't going to absolutely enjoy your guilt free snack.
These guys are pretty good.  I just added some tapatio to spice it up a bit. 
 I'm not sure we eat much herring in the US.  It's more of a nordic bottom of the food chain food, but those who are closer to plankton give us the best of the omegas.   
Mmm plankton...where the light is...

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Thursday, December 13, 2012


If you think about something hard enough, it might just magically appear.
It is almost a proven theory.  Nothing is more powerful than the mind, especially one like mine, which, when coupled with another planet's electromagnetic field can provoke a hurricane within seconds...

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yellow Curry Fish Soup

After being away from a kitchen for 3 days, the first thing I did getting home was peel and chop carrots.  The relief and relaxation of being in front of my own stove was a perfect way to welcome myself home.  I innovated so this looks quite like this other yellow curry with fish, but still different.
It hit the spot... I Just Can't Help Believin.
2 filets white fish, cubed
1 Tbsp yellow curry paste
1 handful cauliflower florets
3 carrots, peeled and diced
handful chopped celery
1 cube frozen spinach
chopped fennel stems
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, grated
fresh ground pepper
 2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup mixed multipass grains
1 handful frozen peas
some EVOO
1.  Sweat the onions in the EVOO, then add the carrots.  Stir and cook a bit, then add the celery, fennel, and cauliflower.
2.  When it all starts to stick, add the spinach, cauliflower, curry paste and lemon juice.  Add water to level, bring to a boil, then simmer approx 15 minutes or so.
3.  Add the garlic, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Add the mixed grains and simmer another 5 minutes.
4.  Add the peas and fish and cook until done, about 5 minutes.
5.  Stir in the cream, add some fresh ground pepper, and be happy.

The shrimp in the photo was part of my happy hour.  He asked me if he could go for a swim and since I'm lenient, I said yes.
  It's not quite Thai, let's call it fusion.

*omit the cream and this is fight food.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ficelles Picardes

Sometimes it is hard to determine whether or not a dish is French, American, Italian, or even Asian if it is not a known specialty.  Living in the US does not mean you eat mac n cheese or hamburgers everyday.  Living in France does not mean you will eat fois gras or snails everyday.  Using fish sauce does not make it officially Asian and a pasta dish is not always Italian.  If you are physically in the US but cook and innovate with every meal, does that make it American food?  Likewise, I'm living in France and have access to the same basic raw materials as everybody else, but I sure don't cook the same way "French" people do.  Does that make it French food or American food?  I'm feeling philosophical today, pondering such things while listening to House of the Holy and drinking my Macadamia George...
With that said, I usually don't label something as French unless it has something quintessentially French about it.  Today's dish is a specialty from the Picardy region, where I do not come from, but where all my in laws are from, so this is even a family recipe loosely translating to Picardy Rope.  It is usually served as an appetizer, but it is extremely heavy so we're eating it as a meal with a salad.
The fun part about this recipe for me is that I get to be the kitchen dictator without having to do any of the work, except artichoke dip and the salad.  I'll blow them away with my salad though.
Serves 5-6
2 cups mushrooms,cubed
1 1/2 cups cubed ham or turkey
1 cup shredded swiss
salt/fresh ground pepper
drizzle white wine
dash of estragon
1 Tbsp butter
 100g butter
80g flour
4 cups Milk
dash nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded swiss
4 eggs
250g flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt
some vanilla sugar
1.  For the crêpes, whip the flour and eggs together by hand and add the milk little by little.  Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of vanilla sugar.  Let sit while you make the béchamel.
2.  To make the béchamel, mix the butter with flour on high heat until slightly colored.  Take off heat and add milk, little by little and whipping constantly.  Place on low heat and continue whipping.  It should be nice and thick.  Add the nutmeg and swiss and set aside.
3.  In a frying pan, heat the butter and sautée the mushrooms.  Add some salt, pepper, and estragon.  When the mushrooms render a bit of liquid, add the white wine and cubed ham.  Heat through, then add to the béchamel.  Taste this potion and adjust the seasoning.
4.  Make the crêpes:  In a thin crêpe pan (flat low lipped frying pan) smear some butter and on high heat, ladle the batter in batches of about 1/4 cup per crêpe.  Heat 2 minutes, then flip and cook 1 more minute.  Set aside and repeat until the batter is finished.
5.  Place 3-4 Tbsp of the mixture into each crêpe and roll it like a fajita before placing it in a buttered baking dish.
Do this until you run out of mixture.
6.  Sprinkle swiss liberally over the baking dish.
Cook in oven at 390°F for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden.

Serve with a salad.
Go into a food coma.

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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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