Tajine de Sanglier


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 ;)


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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 , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Don’t Go in the Kitchen


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.


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.


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!


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


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


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 :(


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Practice What You Preach


When speaking to the French about their style of pizza, I’ve always been snobbish and probably annoying, yet honest.  It’s true that their pizza sauce, when there is any, doesn’t have the necessary Italian herbs and aromatics and that their crusts lack the flavor and texture of “normal” American pizzas.  I’ve gone on about this so long that I’ve decided to make a “real” pizza for a select few to demonstrate the difference.  And it’s a good excuse to insert my favorite Barry White song ;)

I had a little “souci” this morning.  I knew that I had yeast, so I didn’t bother shopping for any.  When I looked at the yeast this morning, it had expired three years ago.  Forever hopeful, I put some in hot water with sugar and waited for thirty minutes.  Not a peep!  I finally acknowledged that ‘He was dead Jim’ and trotted off to the local 7-11.


Here is a gratuitous picture of me kneading :)


I made the tomato sauce yesterday and forgot to take a picture of it.  For toppings, I chose mozzarella, parmesan, ham, homemade Italian sausage, mushrooms and black olives.


The French, while consuming some of the richest foods in the world, tend to avoid excess. That’s another reason they get the pizza wrong.  I gave a generous slice to the young electrician working here today and, ignoring the fork (very un-French), he ripped through that baby like Hurricane Katrina!  American exposure is bad for the French.  Obesity could creep upon them as it did us.

Making homemade Italian sausage is easy, you just purchase some ground pork and then add herbs and spices.  You can also add some crushed red pepper for a spicier sausage.


Homemade Italian Sausage

2 lbs ground pork

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground anise

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

3 tbsp red wine

Mix all ingredients together, fry and place on paper towels to drain before using.

Tomato Sauce

2 large cans of peeled tomatoes

2 large onions, chopped

4 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup of red wine

1 teaspoon each rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft.   Add the tomatoes, wine, herbs, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally,  or until sauce is very thick.










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

Fresh Sardine Fillets with Herbs


Workers have gutted my large upstairs bathroom for a complete renovation.  It gets on my nerves that construction dust covers the whole of my townhouse.  I drink coffee at the cafe for as long as possible, go shopping for things I don’t need and while avoiding the house I don’t cook very much and eat French junk food (really bad).  I limit my glasses of wine to avoid becoming an alcoholic during the renovation.  I’m not very happy now but know that I will like the bathroom.  So….


Steve, the ‘monger had some very nice, fresh sardines; headed, gutted and butterflied.  I couldn’t resist, even though I knew that the sounds of buzz saws and hammers would be ringing in my ears and probably construction dust adding to the crunchiness of the fish coating.  Whatever.  I’ve made this recipe several times but not with butterflied sardines. It’s always good!


I used a mixture of potted fresh herbs that were still in good shape after the sometimes below freezing weather; oregano, thyme, dill and a small, surviving bunch of parsley.  Use a normally hot, red pepper for the chilli or not.

Fresh Sardine Fillets with Herbs

1lb fresh medium sardines, headed, gutted and butterflied

1 cup flour or whatever coating you want to use

Peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, slivered

1 small red chilli, sliced

2 tbsp butter

1 handful each; dill, oregano, thyme and a little parsley, chopped

Coat the sardines in the flour and fry in the peanut oil until crisp and golden.  Melt the butter in a pan, then saute the garlic and chilli until aromatic.  Remove from the flame and add the herbs, then pour over the sardines.




Posted in American, Appetizer, Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 37 Comments

French Pork Belly Ribs


The new French Saveurs magazine is out and loaded with fabulous recipes for Autumn!  I didn’t know what to make first!  I’ll be cooking this “book” and am very excited about their showcasing of meats to “mijoter”  or slow simmer/roast.  I decided to go with the Asian travers de porc or French style ribs.


Also Elodie and Mylan at the Litteraire cafe are starting to have that sallow, lean and hungry look from eating take out “pizzas” and kebabs.  I told them not to order anything for Tuesday and that I would bring their lunch.  “Hell yeah!”, said Elodie or the French equivalent.  They have eaten with me before :D


I was a little disappointed in the travers de porc that I unwisely bought at the Carrefour supermarket.  It was mostly pork belly with a portion of ribs vaguely on top.  I know better. The only supermarket butcher that can produce a reasonable travers de porc is at Leclerc. The “ribs” were good but more like pork belly.  This is what happens sometimes when you can’t be bothered.  Also I didn’t think my orange was sweet or flavorful enough.  I bought that at the supermarket also.  Fool!


Anyway.  I bought some gnocchetti dried pasta and just added the ingredients for Texas Potato Salad.  That always works in a macaroni salad and you could also add a small can of tuna for a stand alone meal.  Really good!

Use baby back ribs if you can find them for the pork, buy a decent orange and increase the sugar if you like.

French Pork Belly Ribs

1 travers de porc, cut into individual ribs

1 bottle (33cl) of Heineken or whatever’s in the house

1/3 cup soy sauce

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp orange marmalade

Juice from 1 orange

1/2 onion, minced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 inches fresh ginger, grated

Black sesame seeds

Mix the beer, soy sauce, sugar, marmalade, orange juice, onion, garlic and ginger together. Place the ribs in a ziplock bag,  pour the marinade over, squish around and refrigerate overnight.

Place the ribs in a roasting pan and pour over about 1/2 cup of the marinade.  Put the ribs in a 400 F oven and baste turning every 15 minutes for 1 – 1 1/2 hour until tender and golden.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes, Salad, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Autumn Leaves


The autumn leaves in France don’t have that brash, unrealistic, American defiance of death look.  That “we’ll be back!” shout of color found mostly on the east coast of the United States.  I love the season and am vaguely sorry I’m missing it.

Why the grapefruit?  I don’t know.  I liked the way it looked.  It tasted good.  Yes I’m cooking, but slowly ;)

Posted in American, Food and Wine, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments