Chez Les Carnivores

“You can’t serve meat as an entree!”, said a guest that we considered hanging after lunch, the guillotine being too good for him.  Hanging, not for the comment, but because he arrived a full hour late and only had the tag end of the meat entree that featured Halal mereguez  and duck breast medallions wrapped in their skin.  I almost snatched the plate from his hand  😀

It wasn’t Le Parret, the sweetheart who is never late, in fact he was going to help me build the scaffold 🙂  But as usual, all was forgiven after a few bottles of the fruit of the vine and a generous if overlong and cheese-less meal.  Somebody (Him) muttered about the lack of cheese before dessert but I told him it was un-American, especially for a barbecue, an explanation that amused no one but myself 😀

I just love eating at our picnic table in our ersatz courtyard.  For those of you who don’t know, our townhouse is at the very end of a dead end street.  An adjustment of the yellow parking blocks has allowed us to make a comfortable space for a small picnic table, flowers and herbs in pots and our grill.  See this POST

The table seats 6 and doubles as a prep area when I want to sit outside with my coffee chatting with the neighbors and passersby.

Anyway.  The French cut travers du porc is not, strictly speaking, what we Americans call ribs; this slab from Maison Trotoux  has some ribs but is mostly high quality, grill-able, pork meat.  I’m good with that.  I used the old school, simple method of rubbing the slab all over with rosemary and garlic before grilling.  During the last about 20 minutes of cooking, I brushed with barbecue sauce, turning the ribs frequently.

My husband is not at all interested in grilling but will lend a hand with the carving and eating 😉

Succulent meat.  Thanks Trotoux!  I just realized that this platter is older than our 34 year old son.  It has a few dings here and there, but don’t we all  🙂

Of course we had accompaniments to the meat including these green and yellow wax beans from the garden of my friend Veronique who unfortunately couldn’t be with us today but was certainly on my mind when I tasted this mixture of the beans with butter, shallots and mushrooms.

For over 40 years I have traveled with a recipe that I have made and served in every country that I lived and barbecued in.  The recipe has adjusted well through substitutes of bean varieties, available mustards and sweeteners.  Once again, Aunt Kay’s beans rule, may she rest in peace.

One of the reasons I love to eat with the French is that they are both serious about food and stimulating conversation.  Here they are probably discussing Laurent’s hanging 😀

A fairly uninspiring lemon meringue pie from the local Carrefour supermarket.  Move along, nothing to see here.

I don’t remember how this happened but somehow we morphed into mojitos with fresh mint from my garden pot.  Crazy old people 😀

Aunt Kay’s Beans

1 lb bacon chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 16 oz can of butter beans, drained
2 16 oz can of Goya pink beans, drained
2 16 oz can of pork n beans(do not drain)
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce
1/2 cup of ketchup
2 tbsp of chili powder
2 tbsp of brown sugar or 3 tbsp of molasses
2 tbsp of mustard

1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon then remove from pan, drain on paper towels, then set aside   Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until soft.    Add ground beef to the pan and cook just until all pink is gone.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together bacon, ground beef and onion mixture, beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, chili powder, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper and water.  Pour into a baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.














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Sauce African

Our neighbor Laurent had a ravenous craving for Thai cuisine.  There are a few restaurants here, one run by a Thai lady, that purport to be purveyors of authentic Thai cuisine. Having eaten at 1 of these restaurants where my husband had to administer a kick below table to keep me from asking which part of Thailand the lady came from, I realized that, like most of rural France, Sens is Asian cuisine poor and proud of it 🙂  Ask M. Parret.

Still, with the right incentives, he can be convinced to eat almost anything I make in my kitchen, reserving his inalienable right to criticize any “odd” cuisine prepared on French soil.

Now Laurent’s family is originally from Armenia therefore he is not intimidated by hot chillies and doesn’t mind a little weeping and snorting 😀  Unfortunately, the hottest chillies I could find were chillies for toddlers, even when you cook them with the seeds 😦 Fortunately, for the last 12-15 years Sens has been “colorized” by an increasing flood of West Africans and other Africans from Paris.  I think housing is a lot cheaper here and there are multiple 1 hour trains into Paris for work.  Lucky for me because I was able to find some very serious West African chilli sauce a la Abdoulaye.   Sauce African 🙂

The barely suppressed sneer on Le Parret’s face when I told him we were having frog legs as an entree!  I thought he’d be happy.  Heck, they’re as much a delicacy in France as escargots!  I found the small delicate legs at Picard, the frozen food specialty store, imported from Indonesia.  So good, simply prepared with garlic and parsley.  Of course he ate them and had seconds.  Yeah, I missed him a lot during my exile in the States, but I can’t let him have the run of the picnic table.  It’s actually on American soil but I won’t upset him with that fact.  He’s too old 😀

I made an Asian style “riz gras”  with scallions, multicolored peppers and a ham hock that my husband brought back from Germany.  Very rich, tasty and filling, if somewhat gummy said my husband accidentally  😀

This Thai stir fry of beef strips with basil was good, especially after I stirred some sauce African into my portion 😉  Although the favorite, Thai chicken and aubergine curry, was the hit of day (top picture).

Thai Chicken and Aubergine Curry

3 small aubergine, cubed


2 tbsp peanut oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

3 tbsp Thai curry paste

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup water

1 can bamboo shoots

Zest from 1 lime

4 medium sized hot chillies with seeds, cut into strips

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp sugar

1 small bunch basil leaves (Thai if possible)

Salt the aubergine cubes, fry in 2 tbsp of oil until lightly brown, then set aside.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and the curry paste, cooking and stirring for about 1 minute.  Add the chicken pieces and the reserved aubergine, stirring to mix.  Pour in the coconut milk and water, bring to a boil, then simmer until sauce begins to thicken.  Add the fish sauce, sugar and basil leaves, simmering for 10 minutes.

Serve with rice.













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Pork Cheeks with Red Coco Beans

In France, pork cheeks are classified as “les abats” or offal because they are attached to the pig’s head.  The head, considered by no Frenchman ever as a thrown away item, is part of the stripped carcass.  I don’t even understand why the French place the head of anything with les abats, considering their affinity for attached heads.   Just try to buy a headless rabbit here and you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, I was strolling by Maison Trotoux last week and noticed that his blackboard featured veal kidneys and veal liver so I stepped right in.  I haven’t eaten les abats for about 1 1/2 years because I’m suspicious and distrustful of normal meat handling and processing in the U.S.,  so the insides of anything are out of the question.  Thank the Lord for the French who specialize in making everything edible and safe to eat.  It’s the law! Coincidentally, I was also in the market for pork cheeks in order to make a recipe I found in an old French Saveurs magazine and Trotoux had some; beautiful trimmed and irresistible.

For the last few days the weather has been almost wintry cold with rain.  On Sunday we had a pause in the rain and everyone was happy to get to the picnic table for the usual all day Sunday lunch.  We had lots of wine and we began with an apertif of  Bailly Cremant Chardonnay, continuing with this through the entree of a refreshing salad with quail eggs and cubes of fromage bleu cendre (blue cheese rolled in ash).  I guess I forgot to take a picture of the salad or the camera ate it 🙂

The unseasonable heavy rains have rotted some of the fresh beans in the fields.  These red cocos that I bought were picked before time and were a little green, taking longer to cook. There was one green bean in with the bean pods that pleased me and led me to imagine a romantic, pastoral scene of the farmers harvesting in their bean fields, putting me in remote touch with the source of my food 😀

Lardons, onions, garlic, fresh cherry tomatoes, oregano and basil sorted the negativity of the not quite ripe beans.

I even included the lone green bean.

M. Parret brought over well aged bottles of Morgan and Epineuil from his cellar for the main course.  I’d like to say we sipped instead of guzzled, but I can’t remember 🙂

Le Parret criticized this tarte because Kevin bought it at a supermarket.  He called it “industrialized”.  I think he was a little befuddled by the wine once we got to the dessert because he ate a very large piece with relish 😀

Pork Cheeks with Olives

12 pork cheeks, seasoned with salt and pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 large carrots, sliced

2 celery branches, sliced

1 tbsp flour

10 ounces of a yellow cooking wine (like Chateau – Chalon)

2 cups water

1 bouquet garni

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 cup nicoise olives (substitute kalamata if not available)

Brown the cheeks on both sides in two batches then set aside.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the pan and cook until onion is soft.  Put the cheeks back in the pan, sprinkle with the flour, then cook and stir for about 1 minute.  Add the wine and stirring, reduce for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the bouquet garni and garlic, then place in a preheated 350 oven for 1 hour, covered.

Remove the cover, stir in the olives and return uncovered to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.












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Back in the day, when we were in Niger, I remember being invited to a pig roast hosted by another American and his Vietnamese wife.  I will never forget this barbecue because when the pig was done, every inch of the pig skin was crisp and crackling.  We ate this delicacy as an appetizer with drinks.  This occurred sometime in the mid-80s and it’s only in the last few years that I have finally been able to roast a skin on piece of pork with perfectly cooked skin.

The secret:  Score the skin of a pork belly with a knife or poke the skin all over with a big cooking fork, then rub with salt.  At this point, you can also rub with a flavored dry rub like Emeril’s essence or Bavarian essence.  Place the pork in the refrigerator uncovered.   You want the skin to dry out.  Refrigerate overnight, rubbing with salt again at least 6 hours before cooking.  Grill off flame for 2 hours.  And that’s it!  Works every time.  Slather both sides of a baquette with garlic mayonnaise, add a slice of pork with some crispy skin and you’re good to go.

My other pork challenge was the French answer to American ribs, travers du porc, less bone and more fat.  I could not understand what the French saw in this cut!  Well, first of all you should buy this cut at a good butcher.  The butcher cuts this portion of pork to include a generous portion of meat to each bone and trims the fat to a thin layer.  I now like this cut almost as much as normal ribs 🙂

I browned some local turnips with thyme because they were very pretty, I had thyme and I like turnips.

Okay, these were my last pictures in the camera from when I didn’t have a computer. Now I can start to share our adventures in gluttony in an “au courant” fashion.





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Fish Mongery

The absolute first thing I wanted to do after my arrival was to go to Steve the fishmonger at L’Ambiance des Halles, and I did.  Although I’ve gotten off to a slow start; the weather was a horrendous 96 F for 4 days when we arrived, but I’ve got big plans that could well involve seafood on the “barbie”.  In the meantime, the petit pois called out to me in the market:  “Hey girl, where you been?”

I love to shell peas and beans.  I think it makes me feel, well, “country” but in a good way. I like to shell them outside at the picnic table so that the neighbors and passersby can comment on my technique 😀

These peas were a little older and starchier than I like, but in combination with lardons and shallots, who cared?

The cod fillets at the monger’s were ocean fresh and lovely as usual.  I cooked them simply, sprinkling with salt, pepper and a dusting of ginger.

Fresh Peas with Bacon and Shallots

2 lbs unshelled peas (makes about a pound when shelled)

1/3 cup of lardons or bacon, cut into batons

2 tbsp butter

3-4 small shallots thinly sliced, vertically

3 tbsp water or chicken broth

Shell the peas and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until brown and crisp.  Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel.  Remove all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease from the skillet and add the butter to melt.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook until just soft.  Add the peas, sauteing for a minute or two.  Add the water or broth, cover and steam until tender but still green.  Stir in the bacon and serve.



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Les Cerises de Pascal

Pascal is a maraîcher or truck gardener, mainly supplying lettuce and cabbage to the sellers in the farmers’ market and local supermarkets.  I think of him as the lettuce man and he is also the petit chouchou of my friend Veronique.  Choux is cabbage in French 🙂

He’s also got fabulous bing cherry trees.  So that’s why.  Ice cream had to made!  I bought ridiculously rich and thick cream from the market along with farm eggs.  Ben and Jerry can’t compete.

Recipes for ice cream can be found by a search of my blog.  All the recipes are the same, I just change the fruit.


Posted in Dessert, Food and Wine, French, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Oh La La!

Well I’m finally back in France and have been here since June 7th, but then a bunch of annoying things happened, like my computer declaring itself old and dead.  I won’t bore you with the saga of how I ordered a computer without an operating system online but, in general, things like that just kept happening!  Still it didn’t stop me from eating and drinking and laughing to exhaustion 😀

The first thing I made was a big pot of mussels Roquefort.  However, those pictures went down with the ship and included a picture of M. Parret 😦   I don’t remember when I roasted these coquelets but I had fresh, green beans with lardons and fingerling potatoes!

I know I’m in  France when vegetables and meats taste like they did when I was a child. And I’ve got lots of fresh herbs still growing, although they were abandoned for almost a year and a half!

This is the good, simple food that I’ve missed along with my Kenyan serving fork and spoon.

No recipes.  I’ve got to catch up!




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