Canard Sauvage

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I think the French could take lessons from the Americans on how to verbally abuse others who have been rude or are acting in an uncivilized manner.  While we were at the train station in Strasbourg, my husband needed to renew his “old person” discount card.  There was a long line because on Sundays the French train stations operate with a bare skeleton crew.  The way they live for the weekends and holidays, I guess we should be grateful for that!  Anyway, a really obnoxious lady, too much in a hurry to line up, went to the front of the line and shoving the man in front aside, forced her way to the counter.   The man, absolutely furious, called her a canard sauvage which means wild duck.  Really!  The French curse like children!  If this had been Texas, the abusive language would have been a lot more interesting and shots might have been fired :D  Wild duck, indeed!  SMH.

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I am the trip planner in the family and pride myself on creating enjoyable, comfortable trips.  Using our young people and old people discount cards, I always book first class tickets on the train.  I also knew that whenever Jade and I go to Sens from Stuttgart, they serve drinks and a meal at your seat.  Lunch solved!  But not.  This time we drove the car to Strasbourg, parked it and took the train from there to Paris.  No meal, no drinks, just a bar car.  So now I know. After looking over the food on offer in the bar, we chose starvation and a couple of miniature bottles of red French a la Thunderbird.   When I got to Sens, I did some quick shopping at the supermarket for a picnic lunch for the train back and threw in some cans of beer and 1/2 bottle of a good St. Emilion.  We had a four seater all to ourselves, so we “dined” and drank with abandon :)

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Knowing that I would be taking pictures during Antonio’s birthday celebration, indoors with artificial light, I searched the internet for “taking pictures indoors with artificial light.” I set my camera on automatic focus, the dial on Av(whatever that means), my ISO on automatic and my white balance on tungsten light.  I probably should have set it on florescent light because I think that’s what it was at the hotel, but this setting changing is new to me and I still prefer manual with natural light!  But Mad will be pleased.

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The party was held in a hotel conference room about a kilometer outside of Sens with close to 80 people in attendance.  This was a combination birthday/retirement party for Antonio.  He’s been retired for about a month already, I think, and the adjustment is going to be hard for him.  He cleaned my three oven stove while I was in Stuttgart!  I appreciate it but what’s he going to to next?!  The garage is kind of messy :D

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We were glad to see M. Parret and he was disappointed that we only came for the day but he does love a party.

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Of course he brought the cheese and a fabulous platter it was with fruit and nuts.  I wanted to snatch the plastic wrap off, but that would have been ugly American of me :D

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I didn’t get a lot of pictures of the meal because there were so many people that I knew and although we were seated with name tags, the affair was very “décontracté” and there was a lot of movement between tables.  I love parties like that!

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We began with an excellent duck terrine, probably the best I’ve ever tasted!  The main dish was roasted chicken with perfectly cooked potato fries; crispy outsides and soft and hot insides.  The cheese, of course, and then pastries filled with vanilla ice cream on top of a plate of creme Anglaise, drizzled with chocolate.  Champagne, a very good Chablis, and a St. Emilion, a-go-go.

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Everything was so good and I didn’t see one person “texting” or talking on the phone.

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So far, the French haven’t forgotten the art of good conversation.

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The French, like the Swedish, also seem to have eating/drinking songs, minus the shots of schnapps.

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First you laugh, drink wine, talk and then you sing.  Finally, you throw your hands up in the air and laugh some more :)

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Repeat.

Posted in Cheese, Food and Wine, French | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Mushroom and Chicken Omelette

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Tomorrow we’re going to Sens for Antonio’s birthday!  Wisely I think, we’ve decided to drive to Strasbourg, park the car, and then take the TGV to Paris and the local train on to Sens.  This way, we won’t have to worry about a long drive after a long night and on the way back, we can get the car, drop Jade at school then only have 1 1/2 hour drive to Stuttgart.  No problem with transportation in Sens; we have a little Citroen that is parked at the house.

I really couldn’t be bothered making anything new for dinner yesterday, so I chopped some leftover roasted chicken, sliced some scallions and mushrooms, heated it up with butter and we ate that over toast.

With the leftovers, I made an omelette for my lunch and poured myself a fortifying glass of tomato juice to build up my stamina for the weekend :)  Sacramento Brand Tomato Juice is the best!

Chicken and Mushroom Omelette

1 tbsp butter

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese, shredded

Chicken and mushroom ragout (see below)

Thyme leaves

Melt the butter in an omelette pan and add the eggs, then season with salt and pepper. Cook the egg until almost set, sprinkle with some of the cheese, add a little bit of the ragout, then fold and cook until done.  Top with ragout, cheese and thyme leaves.

Chicken and Mushroom Ragout

2 tbsp butter

2 cups cooked chicken, coarsely chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 scallions, sliced

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp soy sauce, mixed with a 1 tbsp water

Toast

Melt the butter in a saute pan, then add the chicken, mushrooms and scallions.  Saute until the mushrooms begin to release their water.  Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the soy sauce water.  Cover and cook for a few minutes, then serve over toast.

Beverage suggestion:  Tomato juice

      

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Pork Belly and German Style Cabbage

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I do love violet/purple vegetables!  There’s a science fiction like quality about them that I like.  I imagine that early man didn’t think much of the color purple, especially after some deadly encounters with the color red in the form of deadly nightshade.  But you evolve and you learn or you don’t.

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Today I had a little cabbage and a little pork belly.  Sounded German to me.  The pork belly came from the commissary (my husband is so pleased that the government shut down did not affect the commissary.  It’s open.) but was not USDA approved!  Oh my God! I think they bought local!

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I scored and salted the little pork belly, rubbed in some Bavarian Essence and put it into my little refrigerator.

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This is my little kitchen refrigerator.  The drawers are storage drawers and the rest is refrigerator.  When the landlord showed me this refrigerator, I politely congratulated him on the cleverness of having a refrigerator installed as a cabinet, then I gave my husband a look. We have two “normal” sized refrigerators in the downstairs laundry room.

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Look!  Where have the tajines been?  In the closet because, after being traumatized by the cracking of my gold tajine in the apartment’s cheap oven, I hesitate to use them in the house’s cheap oven.  I felt lucky today.

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I scattered some sliced onion, rosemary sprigs and apples on the bottom of the tajine.  It looked like Christmas!

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I know I should have left the pork belly in the refrigerator for overnight to get a perfectly crispy skin, but I didn’t because I just thought of making it this morning.  3 hours.  It was a little crispy.  I ate it.

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The apples caramelized in the bottom of the tajine and were ugly but tasted fantastic.

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Pork Belly Roasted with Apples

1 1/2 -2 lb pork belly, scored

Salt

Bavarian Essence

1 onion, halved and sliced

1 -2 apples cut into eighths

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Rub the pork belly all over with salt, then with Bavarian Essence.  For a really crispy skin, refrigerate overnight uncovered.  If you can’t be bothered, 3 hours works.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  On the bottom of a tajine or roasting pan, scatter the onion, apples and rosemary.  Whisk the olive oil and vinegar together, then pour over the onions, apples and rosemary.  Place the pork belly on top and roast for 1 1/4  - 1 1/2 hours.

German Style Cabbage

1/2 cup lardons

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, halved and sliced

1 small head purple cabbage, shredded

3-4 sprigs thyme

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 -1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

Salt and pepper

Brown the lardons in a wok.  Add the olive oil and the onion, then cook until the onion is soft.  Add the cabbage and thyme, then stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper together, stir into the cabbage, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Beverage suggestion:  Beer.  We’re in Germany now.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, German, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

My Husband’s Lunch

IMG_4855bbAs you might know, I absolutely adore the blog My Dad’s Lunch, a playful look at mid-day dining and nutrition.

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Everyday I make my husband a bento box to take to work using a combination of leftovers and items made especially for his box.  It’s funny about the box.  When we were in Senegal, the Japanese country representative (no Japanese Embassy in Senegal) and his wife came over for dinner one night and we started discussing bento boxes.  They were both pretty impressed that I knew what a bento box was, and that I made daily bento box lunches for us to take to work.

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Proudly, I showed them my bento box collection.   Yes, I have lots.  But you knew that :) Anyway, they looked at all of my boxes, then exchanging puzzled looks, they explained that all of my bento boxes were for children.  Cuteness for adults is obviously frowned upon :D Seeing my dismay, they comforted me and promised to bring an “adult” bento box on return from their vacation in Japan and they did.  Now my husband only wants his lunch packed in the adult box and spurns the cute little butterfly top he used before.  Of course the Hello Kitty bento box that he used to like is completely out of the question :)

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Today I made some 5 spice rubbed, USDA certified baby back ribs from the commissary for the family’s Sunday lunch and for my husband’s Monday bento box that also included leftover grilled chicken, courgettes, salad, a hard boiled egg and cheese.

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This impromptu recipe was so popular that I just managed to save enough ribs for his lunch!

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Grilled 5 Spice Rubbed Ribs

1 tbsp 5 spice powder

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp white pepper

2 slabs of baby back ribs

For glaze

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp sugar

Mix the 5 spice powder, coriander, sugar, garlic powder and pepper together, then rub on both sides of the ribs.  Preheat the gas grill to 400 F, then turn off the burners on one side, adding the ribs to the cold side, close the top and grill for about an hour.

In the meantime, mix all glaze ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.  After the ribs have grilled for an hour, baste the ribs with the glaze, turning and grilling for about 30 minutes.

        

Posted in Asian, bento, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Herb Grilled Chicken with Orzo

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When modern man no longer had to hunt, nor cultivate, nor worry about where his next apple was coming from, he created pesticides.  This was about the same time that grapefruit started to taste bitter because man had a surfeit of comestibles at his disposal that he didn’t necessarily have to shoot or grow himself.

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Having time on his hands, modern man decided that he not only wanted to see beauty in art but also on his plate because, you see, he wasn’t really hungry and had a desire to eat also with his eyes.   The French started this.  In France it is essential to get to the farmers’ market early if you don’t want produce with fingerprints that has been squeezed and pawed so much that it’s practically colorless.  The French invented food art.

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As more and more people passed over bug eaten, malformed fruits and vegetables in search of perfection, no longer content to wash it off and kiss it up to God, business man decided to supply that demand by talking the problem over with science man.  The concern was health; who knows what those bugs and/or worms were eating they asked, and although the answer was apparent, it wasn’t marketable.  So that’s why.

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Jade’s home today, ready to “eat Hell off the cross” as my grandmother used to say.  Soon I will be as old as my grandmother was when I knew her and am practicing these “bon mots” to insert into conversations with young people :)

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The poultry man in the market sells great local products; fresh and pre-boiled eggs, turkey, duck and chicken.  Last week he was out of poussin, but he had some Spring-like chickens that caught my eye.  Why did I buy two?  They looked nice sitting next to each other and I didn’t want to break up the set.  Plus, we like chicken salad :)

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Spatchcock time!  I haven’t spatchcocked anything in a long time and needed the practice in case my mind starts to go.  I looked in the garden and saw loads of herbs, so I took some sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano to slather on the chicken with olive oil.

I don’t like rice or risotto.  I know, gasp.  That’s just the way it is.  But I like orzo/risseti/risoni because it’s shaped like rice but is actually pasta.

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The Italians are so clever!  Thank you Italian people!  I boiled some orzo with chicken broth and mixed in chopped fresh basil and Parmesan before serving.  So good.

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We had courgette with the chicken and orzo because it’s good and you can practically cook it with just a smoldering glance.

Herb Grilled Chicken

2 small chickens, spatch cocked and seasoned with salt and pepper

3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano), chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 -5 tbsp olive oil

Mix the herbs, garlic and olive oil together in a small bowl, then smear it all over the chicken.  Save any reserve for basting.  If you don’t have any reserve, pour a little olive oil in the same bowl and baste with that.

Preheat the grill by turning the burners on to the maximum, until the temperature reaches 450 -500 F.   Turn half the burners down to low and brown the chicken skin side down, weighting them with a cast iron skillet to flatten.  Remove the skillet, baste the inside of the chicken and turn over, skin side up, basting the skin.  Grill the inside for about 5 minutes, turn the burners on the chicken side completely off, lower the top and grill for about 45 -50 minutes, turning and basting occasionally.

Basil Orzo

2 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 cup dried orzo

1 2/3 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in a large saute pan, then saute the orzo and garlic until the pasta begins to brown.  Add the broth, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir in the basil and cheese and serve.

             

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Italian, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Poached Egg Topped Foie Gras with Piperade

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Today I decided to cook myself an elegant lunch.  Not because of The Dog’s lightly veiled sneers about my lack of enthusiasm for cooking and eating solitaire, but because, sleepless in Stuttgart,  I thought of foie gras poêle and it’s melting, rich goodness.  Another consideration was the pornographic picture I might be able to take with a poached egg and my leftover piperade.

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In honor of the foie gras, I brought out one of my favorite Villeroy and Boch plates, the Baccarat crystal and my slightly tarnished Ethiopian silverware.  Wine, being absolutely necessary with this meal, I opened a rosé from Provence, France that I thought would compliment the Mediterranean flavor of the piperade.  I sat down, sipped the wine, tasted, and thought of how much my family and friends would have enjoyed this feast.

Foie Gras Poêle with Poached Egg and Piperade

2 small scallops of fresh duck foie gras, not canned

1 egg

Piperade

Quickly sear and brown the foie gras scallops in a very hot skillet on both sides, then place in a 425 F oven for about 3 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the piperade and poach the egg.  Place the piperade on a plate, top with the foie gras, then the egg.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Barbecued Turkey Salad

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Last week, at some point, I barbecued some small turkey legs and this morning I found a leg and a half in a tupperware container.  My first impulse was to grab the half leg and take it upstairs to munch in front of the computer for lunch but it sounded as if Quincy whispered, “turkey salad.”

Quincy

He only seems to talk when no one else is here, not even in front of the other cat, Bandit.   That, or I’m losing my mind :D  It would really be helpful if some of the neighbors spoke either English or French, that is, someone besides the Anglican minister next door.

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Anyway.   I chopped the leftover turkey, added scallions and chopped German picnic eggs. I really like having these pre-boiled eggs on hand and they look pretty in the refrigerator. I think they must color them because they wouldn’t want anyone to mistake them for fresh eggs.  So efficient or anal, however you want to look at it :)  Thank you, whoever’s idea it was!  While in Germany, I shall never boil another egg.

Turkey Salad

Mixed salad greens

1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

2 boiled eggs, chopped

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 heaping tsp grainy mustard

Place the salad greens on a plate and set aside.  Mix everything else together and mound it on top of the greens.    

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments