Christmas Day

Christmas dinner Honesdale

The above meal was the first Christmas dinner ever, made by my children and spouse in Honesdale, PA.  Gorgeous feast!  Photo taken by our son with his iPhone.  Of course I’m still in France.  We won’t discuss the unfinished bathroom.  I plan to go home later in January.

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I wanted to make some tender, pan fried guinea fowl supremes (breast with the little wing drumstick attached)  for dinner but the voracious French had bought them all, leaving just the legs for those of us not in the know :(

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The guinea fowl supremes cook rapidly in the pan but the legs take a bit more time.  I cooked them in the oven with a bread crumb/flour coating and butter.

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I wok-ed some lardons, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme, added some shredded cabbage and it was good.  I used coarse lardons that comes in a big plastic bag.  This lardons was a lot like bacon scraps you can buy in some American grocery stores.

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You could just eat a big bowl of this and save the guinea fowl for a sandwich later.  I did :)

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Green Lentil Stew with Chourico Mouro

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One advantage of buying staples that you don’t have any immediate use for is that one day when you can’t be bothered to go to the store and you need to empty the freezer and refrigerator of dated items, there are possibilities.  God knows how old the tomato pulp is! I decided not to look at the date and just smelled and tasted it.  It was okay ;)  The El Paso seasoning mix smelled okay too.  The lentils, ground veal and Portuguese blood sausage were frozen and not so old.

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I bought the mouro chourico (Portuguese blood sausage) after it was pointed out to me while I was trawling the freezer section of Auchan supermarket with Portuguese friends. It is not completely dry/cooked like most Spanish and Portuguese chorizo that you find here in France.

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Le Parret:  This is truly delicious!

Me:  I know :D

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Green Lentil Stew with Chourico Mouro

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground veal

1 chorizo mouro, chopped

1 onion, coarsely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 1/2 cups jarred/cooked lentils

2 cups tired cherry tomatoes, halved

1 dry bay leaf or 3 fresh

1 pkg El Paso seasoning mix

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 cups tomato pulp

Saute the veal and chorizo in the olive oil until all the pink is gone in the veal.  Add the onion and garlic and continue to saute until the onion is soft.  Blend in the lentils, cherry tomatoes, bay leaf, seasoning mix, salt, pepper and tomato pulp, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 -40 minutes.

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Portuguese, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Soupe aux Pois Jaune

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I’ve always been fascinated with French Canadian cuisine.  In fact I have a cookbook somewhere from the famous Au Pied de Cochon restaurant in Montreal.  I’ve never been to Montreal but it’s on my list.  In the meantime, in would be nice to find that cookbook.

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My impression of French Canadian food is that it is a hearty, farmers’ fare for the cold climate, yet sophisticated, having it’s roots in French cuisine.  My inspiration for this soup comes from the website, Canadian Living.  The recipe called for yellow split peas. Although I badgered M. Parret into driving me around to every store in town, I couldn’t find yellow split peas nor yellow lentils.  I found “coral” lentils which turn yellow when cooked, so that was okay :)

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This is a very easy soup to make with all the usual suspects; onion, garlic, bay leaf, celery, carrots and smoked pork.  This is a smoked jambonneau, similar to a ham hock.

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Just to keep interested, I took down my construction dust covered Le Creuset casserole, washing it twice in hot, soapy water.

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Encouraged, I made some parsley, garlic croutons.  Very easy to make with a crusty baguette, good butter, good olive oil, fresh parsley and garlic.

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I know this bathroom won’t be finished by Christmas but I’m glad I cooked.

Quebec Yellow Split Pea Soup

2 tbsp butter

4 celery branches, diced

4 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 3/4 cups yellow split peas or lentils

1 tsp dried thyme

3-4 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 smoked jambonneau or 2 ham hocks, skin removed

8 cups water

Cook the celery, carrots, onion and garlic in the butter until the celery is crisp tender.  Stir in the peas, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper.  Add the jambonneau and cover with the water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the jambonneau, separate the meat from the bone, dice the meat and return it to the pot.  Continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Garlic Parsley Croutons

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

1 baguette, sliced thin

Melt the butter in the olive oil, then add the garlic and saute until it begins to brown. Remove the pan from the flame, add the parsley and baguette slices, then mix well to coat the bread.  Place the slices on a cookie sheet in a 200 F oven and cook until the slices are dry and crispy.

 

 

 

Posted in Canadian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Fresh Tagliatelle with Mushroom Sauce

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The renovation of the Farmers’ Market is finally complete!  Such a relief for me and my coffee buddies because that means that the market door is again just a few feet from our table :)  The temporary market, located on the promenade, wasn’t far but there was no cafe near by and it meant we had to “vary our route.”   But everything is fine now.

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The market looks pretty good and there is a new,  fresh pasta stall also.  This is good and bad.  Bad because I just bought a new, shiny, fresh pasta machine that just might continue to gather despondency and dust on the top shelf.  I chose the tagliatelle.

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Very nice, very brown mushrooms at the mushroom and aromatic stall.  I wanted mushrooms with pasta but didn’t want a heavy cream sauce that would cover the flavor of the mushrooms.  I think I worked it out.

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Yes, the pasta can be a stand alone dish, but I made some oven chicken in case a carnivorous, hungry, old French guy stopped by, which he did :)

Fresh Tagliatelle with Mushroom Sauce

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

2 oz white wine

4 oz cream

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Hot, cooked fresh tagliatelle

Melt the butter in the olive oil, add the shallots and garlic, then saute until soft.  Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms are slightly brown and begin to release some of the their liquid.

Add the white wine and simmer until all liquid is reduced by half, then add the cream and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Toss the pasta, parsley and sauce together and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Tajine de Sanglier

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It’s the gibier (wild game) season here in France and when M. Parret came to me with a portion of wild boar fillet, I knew he was hungry.  Since the operation on his second knee, his appetite hasn’t been what I consider normal.  Can’t have him wasting away ;)

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I had some apples and fingerling potatoes from M. Parret’s garden.  I always have the wrong apples for cooking!  Of course they melted after about 30 minutes but the flavor and aroma was correct.

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These soft, dried figs are perfect with either duck or pork.  I tossed a few in for fun.

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I visited my surviving potted herbs and grabbed some rosemary, thyme, added garlic and onion from the bin, cooking on a whim.  Tajine, herbs, aromatics, fruit, gamey meat; there was no way I could fail!  I don’t believe that y’all have seen my new blue tajine.  I finally seasoned it today before using it for the first time.

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Le Parret made a superb, peppery, cucumber salad that we devoured with chunks of heavily buttered baguette.  I really could have stopped there but the chief of the course police was giving me the ole “Americans can’t hang” eye.  Onward.

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The boar was very good with the fruit.  In fact, I would make this again.  Sage in the upper right hand corner of the photo is a plant I gave to M. Parret last year.  He claims to not remember that :D

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This is the first time I’ve tasted Mont d’Or cheese.  It is soft and butterfat rich.  Le Parret says that it is a delice (delight) heated for 30 minutes in it’s box and served with a crusty baguette.

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I think M. Parret’s doctor must have told him to lay off the creme (custard) that he adores. He’s now doing fruit compotes; red peach and raspberry.

We drank moderately; Petit Chablis with the meal and a Julienas with the cheese.

Tajine Roasted Wild Boar with Fruit

1 lb piece boar fillet

1 lb fingerling potatoes, halved

2 cooking apples, cored, quartered and halved

4 soft, dried figs, quartered

4 tiny onions, quartered

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl, mix everything together, then place in the bottom of a tajine with the fillet on top.  Roast for 30 minutes at 400 F, stir the vegetables, then continue to roast for another 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Don’t Go in the Kitchen

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I set my scarf on fire while browning veal.  I looked down and there was a ball of fire on my chest!  It was funny, in a kind of sitcom way, but not.  I told my son about it and he choked out words of sympathy over gigantic peals of laughter.  He’s still not married.  I really liked that scarf!  Maybe I should stay out of the kitchen while the workers are here but I want to cook.

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Anyway, it’s the sweet potato season and they are gorgeous!  I definitely wanted to roast some and one thing led to another or at least to veal and roasted vegetable stew.  It also gave me a good excuse to “tajine” something.

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It is also the season for Chinese pomelos.  I adore Chinese pomelos!  It’s a lot of work to get the peel and membranes off, but I think well worth it.  Unprocessed snack food!

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I originally bought these veal cubes to make bitterballen about 2 months ago.  Oh well, they made a very nice stew.

Veal and Roasted Vegetable Stew

2 tbsp olive oil

2lbs veal, cut into cubes

Salt, pepper

Flour

4 small red onions, halved vertically and sliced

2 cloves garlic,  coarsely chopped

8 cups water

2 veal/beef Maggi cubes

2 fresh bay leaves

1 small head cauliflower, separated into florets

1 or 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed

2 tbsp olive oil

5-6 stems fresh thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Season the veal with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.  Remove your scarf, then brown the veal in the olive oil.  Remove the veal from the skillet, add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, scraping up the brown bits.  Add the veal, water, Maggi cubes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour.

In the meantime, mix the cauliflower, sweet potato, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper together, place in a tajine or other roasting pan and roast at 400 F for about 40 minutes, stirring half way.

Stir the vegetables into the meat mixture, bring to a boil and simmer for another 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

San Andreas Kiri Cheesecake

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When things go wrong with recipes that involve meats and vegetables, there is usually ample room to successfully adjust and substitute.  Not so with desserts!  That’s one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of making desserts.  It’s nearly impossible to wing it.  Dessert making, most times, is a science; one formula mistake and it’s over!  None of that “I can’t be bothered.”  It sort of takes the fun out of cooking :(

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I saw a recipe on Epicurious for Peach Cheesecake and I do like peaches so decided to give it a try.  Things immediately started to go wrong.  The peach season has come and gone. In France that means there aren’t any, period.  Disappointed, I bought some strawberries from Belgium.

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For some odd reason I looked at the Philadelphia Cream Cheese in the supermarket and didn’t buy any.  I think the constant banging and clanging going on in the house is snatching my mind!  Having preheated the oven and prepared the cookie crust, I trotted down to the local 7-11 but they didn’t have any Philadelphia.  I thought that maybe Kiri cheese might be a good substitute and bought 6 packages containing 8 individually wrapped  1 ounce servings.  This was getting ugly.

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I made a strawberry compote that boiled over and necessitated adding more strawberries and spending an unhappy time cleaning the stove.  The recipe called for layering fruit compote between two layers of cheesecake batter. Honestly, I thought this was wrong but by that time it was a brief WTF thought, quickly forgotten.  Of course the compote soaked the cookie crumbs and ran out of the springform pan.  Good thing I put some aluminum foil under the pan, otherwise I might have gone postal.  Clearly I was having compote issues.

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The cheesecake was not done in 1 hour.  It wasn’t just “jiggly” in the center, it was jiggly all over!  I cooked it for another 30 minutes, turned off the oven and left it inside where, by the time the oven cooled, it had developed a San Andreas fault in the center.

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I ceased to care and glazed it anyway with a peach glaze, piled some strawberries in the center, hacked it in half, giving half to Steve at the fish store and the other half to the ladies at the Litteraire, apologizing profusely but assuring them that it was edible.

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I almost never have complete disasters with non dessert foods.  I would not have wanted to serve this at a lunch or dinner.  Such a bummer and I should have had peaches.

 

Posted in American, Cheese, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments