Hotter Than July

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We seem to be caught in a horrible French canicule or  heat wave, with temperatures as high as 101 F.  I hate that.  Unfortunately, I challenged M. Parret to a national day cook-off beginning with the 4th of July at our house and ending with the 14th of July at his.

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What a miserable time to cook!  Wisely I made the salads, cheesecake and pre-baked the ribs the day before, eliminating the need to turn on any flames, other than the grill, on the day.  Still, I was hot.  Our house doesn’t have air conditioning nor fans on the ground floor because in normal summer weather it is still very cool and pleasant inside.  That is, if you’re not dashing in and out to the grill.  Ugly.

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Still, and as always, our guests made my day and we had a master blast that lasted from noon to 6:00 p.m. without a cheese course :D

Yeah, yeah!

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Because of the heat, the conversation and wine, I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked (the ocean fresh Normandy oysters were gone before I could think) but I knew that would happen so I took some prep pictures from the day before in case I was having too much fun  ;)

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Orecchiette pasta salad with tuna.

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A salad of roasted aubergine, courgette, bell pepper with chilli for babies, capers and basil.

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I grilled char sui flavored ribs(French cut travers de porc) and Bavarian flavored chicken (see pictures above).  I also made a cherry compote topped cheesecake and then scandalized M. Parret by serving it on American flag paper plates  :- 0

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I am forever surprised by our cultural differences.  The oysters and dessert were served at table but when I told everyone that the main course would be buffet style, self-service, there was so much confusion, I mean, the music stopped and I could tell that our guests were slightly uncomfortable with this style of eating, not sure on how to proceed! Questions were asked!  Lord have mercy :D

Stay tuned.  Next Sunday we will be celebrating July 14th at M. Parret’s.  I should have loads of pictures because he will be hosting and I will be guesting  ;)

Orecchiette Pasta Salad with Tuna

1/2 onion, finely chopped

6 sweet gherkins, finely chopped

1 large jar diced pimentos

4 boiled eggs, chopped

14-16 ounces good quality, solid chunk tuna, flaked

1-2 tbsp yellow, French’s mustard

1 cup or to taste, mayonnaise

1 lb orecchiette pasta, cooked

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fried Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese

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We invited Le Parret over for a casual lunch of chicken, macaroni and cheese.  You should have seen the effort he made to remain polite when he saw me frying the chicken, distaste written all over his face.  When I put it on the table, all crispy and brown, he faintly admitted that the chicken might be edible, although it was certainly not the French way of preparing chicken.  After the first bite, he grudgingly conceded that it was fabulous and had two more pieces :D  On one hand he gets on my nerves but on the other hand you want to applaud his insistence on quality food.  France is gradually following in the footsteps of America the Great in a quest for food that is abundant, cheap, fast and filling, no matter how it’s grown, treated and raised.  M. Parret would die first or, at least, lose a lot of weight before he would accept this kind of compromise.  So that’s why I continue to give him my food ;)

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This is my favorite way to make macaroni and cheese; 3 cheeses, creme fraiche, onion, bell pepper, elbow macaroni and bread crumbs.  Never fails.

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Over the last year I’ve had this insatiable craving for watermelon.  Could this be a black thing?

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Anyway, I mixed yellow and red watermelon with blueberries.  Nice.

Macaroni and Cheese

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp butter

1 lb small elbow macaroni, cooked

1/2 cup reblochon cheese, grated

1/2 cup beaufort cheese, grated

1 cup comte cheese, grated

1 1/2 cup creme fraiche

Bread crumbs

Saute the onion and bell pepper in the butter until the onion is soft, then toss with the hot macaroni.  Add the reblochon, the beaufort, 1/2 cup of the comte and the creme fraiche. Stir to blend well.  Pour the mixture into a baking pan and top with the rest of the comte, then the bread crumbs.

Bake in a 425 F oven for about 30 minutes.

Posted in American, Cheese, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Lamb and Barley Soup

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Here in Sens, the days are starting to heat up, although the mornings are still chilly.  I think, because of the heat, our lunchtime appetites have diminished and we are more willing to eat moderately after it starts to cool down, about 5 or 6 in the afternoon.  That’s why I decided to make a soup to have in the refrigerator for those early evening “casse-croutes” when we are hungry but not ravenous.  The family and random neighbors agreed.

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I went to the farmers’ market with nothing particular in mind, relying on the bounty of the summer market to guide my footsteps.   Sure enough, there were those slices of lamb neck that have been throwing me seductive glances since I arrived from the States several weeks ago.  Not the same ones!  But certainly members of their family- :D

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“Get those carrots”, said the pushy lamb slices in my shopping basket.  “You’ve got leeks, celery and fresh herbs at home.  Trust us on this.”  When I’m in France, good quality food talks to me. Maybe this sounds bizarre but when I’m in the States, I don’t hear a thing, understandably.  Or maybe I’m just bat sh*t crazy.  There’s that :p

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Anyway, this was a mah-velous idea and delicious.

Lamb and Barley Soup

2 lbs of lamb neck sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, cut into eighths

1 celery branch, quartered with a few leaves

1 carrot, quartered

3 fresh bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

Water

2 leeks, sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 celery branches, sliced

3 carrots, sliced

1 cup barley

Salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan

In a large skillet, brown the lamb on all sides with the olive oil, then set the skillet aside. Place the lamb in a large stock pot with the onion, celery branch, carrot, bay leaves, thyme and water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours.  Reserving the broth, remove the meat from the bones, discard any unsightly vegetables and/or herbs, then return the meat, vegetables and broth to the pot.

In the reserved skillet, saute the leeks, garlic, celery slices, carrot slices until the leek is tender.  Add the sauteed vegetables and barley to the pot, season with salt and pepper, stir, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Trifling

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Whenever my husband and I are in France together, it’s as if we are on vacation, no matter what our real responsibilities are; registering the cars, going to the bank, fielding estimates for house renovation, replacing the gas bottle for the grill, in general, getting things done. We can’t seem to get up to speed!  It also doesn’t help that Le Parret always suggests “une verre” to help us think.  Not.

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So that’s why we didn’t buy a gas bottle on Saturday to grill the the cote de porc on Sunday when everything is closed.  In fact, it wasn’t until Sunday morning, while I was making the pear and tomato salsa, that I thought of the gas situation.  Trifling, as my mother used to say, just trifling.

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So that’s why we had a mixture of inferior quality, pan fried,  chorizo and Toulouse sausages for lunch on Sunday.  Okay but not stellar.

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The baguette was gummy too because the normal baguette shop was closed :(   Good thing M. Parret was in deep country at his daughter’s house for Father’s Day, so that I was spared his nonconstructive criticism.

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On Monday, when I had a gas bottle, I was a little concerned if my Trotoux roast should off flame grill straight up or on it’s side.  When it fell down, this ceased to be a concern and shouldn’t have been in the first place.  Sometimes I’m ridiculous.  After all, I’m not a chef, who cares :D

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This was outrageously good!  Make it and don’t stint on the marinade/glaze.

Pork Rib Roast with Pear and Tomato Salsa

1 8 rib pork roast, gently poked all over with a fork

1/2 cup grainy mustard

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup melted butter

1-2 tbsp rosemary, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

For the salsa

3 pears, peeled, cored and diced

1 shallot, chopped

1 large tomato, pulp and seeds removed, diced

1 handful each mint and cilantro leaves, chopped

1 long green, mild chilli, seeds removed and chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

Mix the mustard, honey, butter, rosemary and garlic together, then brush all over the roast. Grill off flame at 375 -400 F, top down, basting with leftover mustard mixture every 30 minutes.  At the end, dump the remaining marinade over the top of the roast and continue to grill for about 5 minutes.

For the salsa, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

 

 

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

Sandwich Jambon a l’os

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There is nothing so good as a sandwich, no matter the filling, made with a fresh, crusty baguette.  I filled today’s sandwiches with watercress, heirloom tomatoes, mayonnaise and jambon a l’os or ham cooked on the bone.

Ham on the bone is pretty expensive here in France, a delicacy.  It’s good, with a flavor almost but not quite like the American, less expensive ham on the bone.  Sometimes the French exaggerate :D

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Smoked Salmon Pate

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M. Parret showed me something interesting about butter; I had just bought a new batch of butter but had a small piece of leftover butter from the last batch still in the butter dish.   He pointed out that because of the cows’ diet, winter butter is paler than summer butter when the cows are eating a lot of greenery.  Huh.  I wonder if that’s true in other places…. Anyway.

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Jamie has an interesting recipe for smoked mackerel pate on his web magazine.  The ‘monger didn’t have any smoke mackerel, so I took some of his always excellent saumon fume a la ficelle (salmon smoked on a string) to make the pate.

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Doesn’t this look like a picnic table in France?  Because it is :D

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This pate is very easy to make and the cress salad was tasty and refreshing.

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Smoked Salmon Pate

1lb of smoked salmon, cut into cubes

Leaves from 1 small bunch of parsley

1 tsp grated lemon zest

Juice from 1 lemon

1 cup cream cheese

2 cups cress

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced plus leaves

In a food processor, chop the salmon, then add half of the parsley leaves, zest, lemon juice, cream cheese and continue to process until smooth.

Toss together the cress, the other half of the parsley leaves, the celery and it’s leaves. Dress with your favorite vinaigrette and serve with country bread slices.

 

 

Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, English, fish, Food and Wine, Hors d'oeuvres, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Travers de Porc Laque

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My husband and daughter are coming next week.  So excited.  They would probably like to eat ribs and potato salad.  So why did I make it today?  I don’t know.  I’m old :D  Anyway, I have more ribs in the freezer.

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The French travers de porc cut is not really a rib cut a l’American, more like pork belly with ribs on the bottom.  Meaty.  Succulent.  I first treated the pork old school by rubbing with dried rosemary and garlic powder before roasting for 1 hour in the oven.  This is a good method if you want to do ahead.  They can last in the refrigerator overnight like this and be finished in the oven or on the grill with the glaze.

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My yellow mustard is in the garage  along with my pimentos and because I couldn’t be bothered, I didn’t make authentic Texas potato salad but another potato salad using roasted peppers and Dijon mustard.  Different but still good.

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Travers de Porc Laque

1 large travers de porc or 2 baby back slabs

Dried rosemary

Garlic powder

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin

1 tbsp sake

1 1/2 tbsp honey

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Rub the ribs on both sides with rosemary and garlic powder.  Roast in a 325 F oven for 1 hour, fat side up.

Bring the soy sauce, mirin, sake, honey and ginger to a boil, then remove from flame. Brush both sides of the roasted ribs with the glaze and return to the oven for 15 minutes, turn, brush again and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.  Turn, brush and return to the oven for the final 15 minutes.

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