One Day I Wanted a Burrito


One day I wanted a burrito.  Not Tex-Mex or the new fangled kind with rice in it.  Do they even grow rice in Mexico?  No, I wanted a burrito like my mother made; refried pinto beans, green chilie, cheese and sliced scallions, wrapped in a warmed flour tortilla.

No pinto beans in France :(  But there was that lobio from Georgia About.  Because I had to soak the beans overnight, it took two days to make the burrito.  So, I took no more pictures.  I just ate it.  It was good.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Georgian, Mexican, Recipes, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments

Baked Chicken with Broccoli Pasta


I’ve been thinking a lot about chicken tetrazzini.  That used to be one of my Mom’s special dinners.  In the 50s-60s, chicken tetrazzini was the Betty Crocker epitome of elegance a la casserole, ranking high along side banana pudding with vanilla wafers and sweet potatoes with tiny mashmallows.  Yeah.  Post war abundance that lead to, I’m sure, the present fattening of America; felled by casserole mania and the craving for large, over rich portions of whatever.   Still, chicken tetrazzini was good!


Feeling fairly “blaise” this Sunday with Thierry and M. Parret coming to lunch, I just followed my instincts and cooked in a non-stressful, can’t be bothered way with fairly aggressive suggestions from my refrigerator.  The broccoli seemed to be particularly needy, so that was definitely happening.  Of course, chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, flour and baked in butter goes with everything.  Ask anybody.


I came nowhere near to making chicken tetrazzini but it was on my mind when I was making this pasta to accompany the baked chicken.


Cheese plate beautifully arranged by M. Parret while whining about the shape of the platter I supplied.  According to Le Parret, cheese is always properly presented on a round surface.  While I, more courteous than he, suppressed wild, incredulous, ugly American laughter.


M. Parret made his famous “creme” or custard, this time beautifully sprinkled with groseilles or red currants.


Baked Chicken with Broccoli Pasta

1 head of broccoli, separated into florets

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 cups of milk


White pepper

6-8 chicken thighs

Salt and black pepper

Garlic powder


2 tbsp butter

1 lb fresh pasta

Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter, then whisking in the flour, cooking over a slow flame, whisking, for 2-3 minutes, just to cook the flour, not brown it. Whisking, slowly pour in the milk and continue to cook and whisk until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  Add salt and white pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and garlic powder, then dredge with flour.  Heat the butter in a baking pan in a 400 F oven until melted.  Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken over, put back into the oven and continue to bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Boil the pasta until just cooked, about 3-4 minutes, drain, then add the broccoli.  Reheat the bechamel sauce, adding a little milk if too thick.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli, toss and serve immediately with the chicken.

Wine suggestion:  Main course supplied by Thierry – Pouilly-Fuisse 2003.   Cheese course supplied by M. Parret – Pomerol Baron Philippe 1985

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Les Champignons de Babou


The recipe today comes from the elegant and very interesting Babou, my coffee drinking “copine”.  Born in France, Babou’s father moved the family to Ivory Coast in the 50s where she spent most of her life.  Her father Raphael Matta, a wildlife conservationist ahead of his time, gave up a successful career in Paris in order to devote his life to the preservation of endangered animals, becoming the warden of Ivory Coast’s Bouna Reserve. Unfortunately, his commendable commitment was brought to an ignoble and tragic end when, stumbling upon a sacred manhood ceremony, the outraged participants incapacitated him with poison arrows and then finished him off with a primitive axe.  Boy Howdy!

Babou's Family 2

Photo of Raphael Matta, Babou (Martine) and her brother.

The book is called “Le Crepuscule des Hommes”, written by journalist Jacques Guillaume. I’m reading it now.


Anyway, the mushrooms.  I always think that the French must all have an innately suspicious nature; always insisting on having the head to make sure it was a rabbit or inordinately satisfied with buying a chicken that includes feet, head and a few feathers, just to be sure. It’s the same with some vegetables; always a little dirt attached to the item so that you know that it was grown, in the ground, and had to be picked.  People please!  The dirt accumulating in my kitchen sink pipes is going to be a problem one day!


The delicious idea is to pickle the mushrooms whole by boiling them with herbs, spices and cider vinegar.  After the mushrooms are cooked, you load them into jars and fill the spaces with olive oil.  They will be ready in 2-3 days.  Babou’s husband, Nico, suggests eating them as a side with chicken or veal.  If you just eat them plain, he won’t know :D


I went outside to my neglected, moss ravaged garden to try some outdoor shots.  I think I wasn’t listening to Roger when he explained about taking pictures of dark objects in glass jars.  It’s either the lab specimen look or annoying glare.  Oh well.


Babou’s Pickled Mushrooms

3 lbs mushrooms, washed and stem trimmed

1 1/3 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water

4 sprigs thyme

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs rosemary

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp red or black peppercorns

1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds

5 whole cloves

1/2-1 tsp salt

Bring the vinegar, water, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, cloves and salt to a boil.  Add the mushrooms and boil aggressively until all the liquid has evaporated.

Cool the mushrooms, then place in jars, filling in the spaces with olive oil.  Refrigerate for 2 or 3 days.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Hors d'oeuvres, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Pork and Aubergine Stir Fry

IMG_0076b After a busy morning of drinking coffee and nonessential shopping, I developed a taste for something Asian.  With the refrigerator at maximum capacity, filled with leftovers and vegetables, it was child’s play to figure something out ;)  I had two leftover baked pork chops, an aubergine, 1/4 each of green and red bell pepper, and the rest was practically automatic. IMG_0091b Of late I’ve been doing a lot of sneering at people who can’t tell the difference between to/two/too, they’re/their/there, etc.  “God don’t like ugly”, said my grandmother and I really have to watch my typos because my spell check and grammar isn’t working on this computer :D

Pork and Aubergine Stir Fry

2 tbsp sambal oelek

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sake

1 tbsp sugar

1 aubergine, cubed, skin on

3 tbsp peanut oil

2 large garlic cloves chopped

1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 each, red and green bell pepper, sliced

2 cooked pork chops, bone removed and thinly sliced

Mix the sambal oelek, soy sauce, vinegar, sake and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved, then set aside.

Heat tablespoons of the peanut oil in a wok, add the aubergine and stir fry until brown and tender.  Remove the aubergine from the wok and set aside.  Add the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil, the garlic, the ginger and bell pepper to the wok and stir fry until the peppers are just tender.

Put the aubergine and sliced pork chops in the wok, blend together for a minute, then add the sambal oelek mixture and simmer for 6-8 minutes.

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Pork Belly Surprise


Knowing that Jacques of Le Litteraire would be closing up and going off for vacation for 2 weeks, I asked him to have the butchers at the slaughter house cut me a few slabs of American ribs like the last time.


Mind snatched by his upcoming vacation he either misunderstood me or just couldn’t concentrate :)  When I came to pick up the ribs, he had gone on vacation but left them in the Litteraire fridge for me, I saw that he had given me an enormous, beautiful piece of skin trimmed pork belly. Bummer, but not a wrist slashing disappointment.


M. Parret gave me a rolled roast of sanglier (wild boar) that he wanted me to make for Sunday’s lunch but I didn’t feel like making wild boar, so I put it in the freezer for another day,  cut the pork belly in half and made that instead.  No complaints.  Although I did think he sliced the meat savagely, but with his really primitive knives, what could he do :D


Funny, but the way I made this meal was sort of in a can’t be bothered way but not exactly.  More like, whatever.  I took out my red tajine because I like it very much, then tossed some onions with rosemary sprigs, olive oil and dried sage and placed them on the bottom.


I slashed the fat of the belly diagonally, rubbed in various dried herbs, salt and pepper, then placed it on top of the onions.  That was sorted!


I took out some vegetables from the fridge, cut them chaotically and put them in a pan to roast with some herbs and olive oil.  I poured myself a Petit Chablis and turned on the country western music :)

Pork Belly Surprise

1 large piece of pork belly, skin off

Assorted dried herbs (thyme, sage, cumin or whatever)

Salt and pepper

2 onions, cut into eighths

1 tsp dried sage

1 tbsp olive oil

3-5 fresh rosemary sprigs

Cut the fat of the pork belly in diagonals, then rub in the herbs, salt and pepper.  Mix the onions, sage, olive oil and rosemary sprigs together, then place in the bottom of a tajine or baking pan.

Roast for 1 hour 15 minutes at 350 F, then turn the oven up to 425 F for the last 30 minutes.

Roasted Vegetables with Fennel

2 bulbs fennel, sliced

1 aubergine, cubed largely

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into large squares

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into large squares

1 onion, quartered 

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Assorted dried herbs

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

Mix everything together then roast in the oven at 425 F for 30-35 minutes, stirring half way.


Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Rognons de Veau Chez Guy


Having arrived in Sens on Friday and not really feeling up to doing the market and cooking on Saturday, I found my favorite old French guy,  M. Parret, and asked him to lunch with me at the very “correct” restaurant, Chez Guy.


Little by little, with his well deserved increased clientele, Guy is smartening his place up.  There were fresh flowers on each table and the tables were equipped with either placemats or tablecloths ( Le Parret was pleased).


After the restaurant filled up, we realized that we knew just about everyone in the restaurant!  Chantal and Tonio were there for a family lunch with their daughter, son-in-law and their grandchild.  Such a relaxed atmosphere!  Everyone felt free to move around to say hello and Tony was in and out of the kitchen until his food was served.


I think pretty soon Guy will need an assistant in the kitchen.  He makes an effort to make sure that his customers are not kept waiting and that the food arrives in a timely and attractive way.  But with the increasing demand for tables in his restaurant, he will need help to keep this up.  We are all so happy for him!


Guy’s entrees are huge!  Or maybe he just makes them like this for our crowd, hoping that we’ll skip the main dish and just go home quickly and quietly.  He should know better by now.  We stay until the bitter end, when everyone else is gone and he has time to have a coffee and a little wine with us.  This salad with brie topped puff pastry, potatoes and kidneys was out of this world and quite filling!  Still, his main course special was veal kidneys with a carrot puree.  Impossible to refuse, delicious and perfectly cooked.  Note:  I saw the waitress buying the carrots in the farmers’ market that morning.


In the beginning I thought I would have the dessert of strawberries and pineapple but I just didn’t have room.  M. Parret disparaged the strawberries because he thought they were from Spain or anyway knew they were not from France because it’s not the season.  Still, he ate them and looked pleased.


We all love this restaurant!  We can’t wait until he’s ready to open for Sunday lunches!  Poor man, he doesn’t realize how long we sit at table on Sundays :D

Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, French, Fruit, Main dishes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

I’m Back!


Everything’s good.  We extricated Jade from the insidious French child protection system that believes that a minor who leaves an affluent, non-abusive home to live with street bums has the capacity to make wise decisions.  We prayed at Notre Dame in Strasbourg the Sunday before Jade’s Monday custody hearing and it must have worked because God apparently whispered in the child protection judge’s ear, “Hello!?  What ARE you thinking?!” But in French, of course.  Jade has gone to the U.S. with her father to a secure school that will help her with her adolescent problems and to continue her education.  I am in Sens, in order to recover my sanity and sense of humor :)


I ate this in Strasbourg.  It was okay.  I wanted scrambled eggs but the cook, a specialist, only knew one way to make eggs; fried.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine | Tagged , , , | 61 Comments