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 ;)

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Fresh Coco Bean Chili for Babies


When I shared my enchiladas with Toutoune and Willy, after the initial “spicy” shock, Toutoune said how much she liked another Mexican food, Chili con Carne.  Now people, everyone’s French palate was stunned by my “enchiladas for babies” and Toutoune has never been to the States, so I wondered where she could have tasted chili con carne and of what ingredients it could have been composed.  Imagining kidney beans, sugar, ketchup and kernels of sweet corn, probably from the French chain restaurant, The Buffalo Grill, I resolved to make a chili for her to taste, realizing that the “hotness” would necessarily have to be toned down, though not the flavor.


I love the fresh, garden flavors of Mexican cuisine and it’s simple flat breads (tortillas). Mexican food doesn’t necessarily have to been screaming hot; chillies come in all shapes, sizes and vary in pungency (heat) .  These long green chillies from Spain are mild and with the seeds removed have a lightly, spicy bell pepper taste.  I had to add some sriracha to my bowl ;)


Top up your bowl of red with diced tomatoes, sliced scallions and grated cheese.  If you can’t get fresh beans, soak dried beans overnight, cook for an hour, drain and continue with recipe.

Fresh Coco Bean Chili

1/2 -1 cup smoked lardons or diced country bacon

2 small red onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 mild, long green chillies, chopped

1 1/2 lbs ground veal

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp Mexican chili powder

2 fresh bay leaves

3 cans diced tomatoes

4 cups shelled fresh beans

2 cups water

Diced fresh tomatoes, sliced scallions, grated cheese

Warm corn tortillas

In a large pot, brown the lardons, remove and set to drain.  Remove all but 2 tbsp of lardons fat from the pot and add the onions, garlic, bell pepper and chillies, sauteing until just soft.  Add the veal and continue to cook until all the pink has left the meat.

Add the diced tomatoes, oregano, cumin, chili powder and bay leaves to the pot and cook for about 2 minutes.   Stir in the beans and water, bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for about an hour.

Ladle the chili into large bowls and top with tomatoes, scallions and cheese and serve with a warm corn tortilla.





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

French Fried Red Mullet


What I really wanted was yellow cornmeal coated cat or buffalo fish fried by my father. But my father died many years ago, there’s no yellow cornmeal in the French supermarkets that I know of and my ‘monger would certainly sneer if I requested the equivalent of Mississippi bottom feeders.  I needed to “encourage myself.”

‘Couraged, I strode into the fish market, pointed at the fresh, pretty red mullets and requested that Steve perform a major gutting and scaling, which he did.


Boldly, I added a box of the French fish coating to my order.  It’s nothing like yellow cornmeal but mullet is nothing like catfish either.  You can’t always get what you want.


Back at the house, encouraged already, I fortified myself with a direct swig from the bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot :D


Concentration broken, I took a picture of the garden onions and garlic I found at the vide grenier (community yard sale) in Maillot.


Then another gratuitous picture of Jessie with her rabbit bed that I got for 4 euros.  Such a deal!


And, in case of deep frying disaster, I took a picture of the prepped plate I also found at the vide grenier.  Finally I fried the fish.  It wasn’t Louisiana wild catfish, but it was good in a “French” fried way.

Deep Fried Red Mullet

4 red mullets, scaled and gutted

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Peanut oil for deep frying

Season the mullet with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Mix the flour and bread crumbs together, then coat the fish with the mixture.  Heat the oil until very hot and fry the fish until golden and cooked.



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

Enfant de Supermarche


I had planned a rant this week and I think it was about knowing where your food comes from, for example a shank of meat.  But I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say and you’ll be sorry when all of us baby boomers are dead and you’ll never learn anything.  You’re asking yourself now, “What’s a baby boomer?”  Case closed :D


Anyway.  I love shelling fresh beans.  It makes me feel so old school.  To be honest, I didn’t grow up shelling beans; we bought them dried at the supermarket in bags like everybody else.  My mother probably grew up shelling beans but was ashamed to talk about it :)  She came from the South and moved to the West where supermarkets were cool, sophisticated and, at that time, still sold real food.  No way was she going to be labeled “country” by her peers who were all, in reality, country.  Ubiquitous Texas potato salad was only one manifestation.

I love my kitchen in France!  The kitchen in Pennsylvania, while larger and brighter, doesn’t have the same ambiance or maybe feng sui.  It must be situated on the dragon’s eye or somewhere uncomfortable.


In preparation for a small Sunday lunch, I bought some lamb shanks from the butcher Deneaux.  This is the first time I’ve visited his shop because it’s on the outskirts of town and I’ve been satisfied with the butchers in town.  However, my friend Babou showed me a pamphlet that listed Deneaux as a source for Mont St Michel salt marsh lamb.  Of course I had to go!


Deneaux has lovely meat!  I did buy a leg and a rack of the Mont St. Michel lamb for later revels, but for Sunday I chose the lamb shanks of normal French lamb because, panicking, I wanted to be sure to make fresh beans again before the season ends.


I cooked the beans in a traditional French method with rustically smoked bacon and bay leaf, added some brown sugar and mustard and briefly heated them in the oven a l’American.


I tajine-ed the shanks with onion, shallots, tomatoes and random herbs.  Melt in the mouth perfection!


We began with a Champagne apertif and a shrimp, avocado and mango cocktail.  I must spend more time at the fishmonger’s!  I’m sure I must be deficient in vitamin B, D or both ;)  This cocktail or salad would be great with some spicy Mexican food.


Thierry and Arielle brought a 40 year old bottle of Pomerol and we all prayed as Thierry painstakingly pried out the cork.  Not vinegar!  In fact, enjoyably drinkable!


We took our time as usual, talking politics, children and of course food.  Catherine Marceau, a good neighbor, is going to guide me through the mushroom and truffle season. So excited!  Here in Bourgogne we are lucky to have a “gray” truffle, less expensive at 300-400 euros per kilo than the black truffle at 600-1200 euros per kilo.  The Bourgogne truffle is known to be the only truffle present on French royal tables from before the Middle ages, up until the Renaissance.


I teasingly threatened not to serve the cheese course and wiped that happy look off Le Parret’s face :D


M. Parret’s vine peaches are so beautiful.  I love that layer of cherry color just underneath the skin.


Rich, blushing peach ice cream for desert.  I imagine I’ll continue to make ice cream, no matter the weather, until there’s no more fresh fruit to put inside ;)


Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Cocktail

1 lb shrimp, shelled, headed and deveined

1 mango, peeled and cut into cubes

1 avocado, peeled and cut into cubes

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

1/4 tsp piment d’espelette

3 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

Place the shrimp, mango, avocado, scallions, cilantro and piment in a large bowl.  Whisk the lime juice, sugar and olive oil together.  Pour over the shrimp mixture and blend well. Refrigerate for an hour and serve.





















Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Pascal’s Turnips



Pascal is a maraîcher or truck gardener.  He grows a lot of lettuce that he sells to both farmers’ markets and supermarkets.  Besides lettuce, he also has turnips, mirabelles and probably some other vegetables and fruits that I haven’t discovered yet.  He gifted me with some very young and tender turnips.  Merci Pascal :)


Coming off an ice cream overdose, Pascal’s gift was timely.  I immediately browned some lardons ,sliced some shallots and considered spinach for a possible iron deficiency ;)


Turnip Medley

1/2 cup lardons or bacon, diced

1 tbsp butter

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 lb young turnips, large dice

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp water

2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped

Brown and crisp the lardons in a large skillet then remove and set aside.  Remove all but 1 tbsp of lardons fat from the skillet and add the butter.  Add the shallots and saute until soft and a little brown, then remove and place with the lardons.  Add the diced turnips to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, then stir and cook until a light brown.

Return the lardons and shallots to the skillet, add the vinegar and water, then cover and steam for about 3 minutes.  Add the spinach and saute until just wilted.







Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Strawberry Ice Cream

IMG_8922bApparently, I’m not over the homemade ice cream craving and although the strawberry season is well over in France, I found some sweet strawberries from Belgium in the market.


My Cuisinart ice cream making machine is so simple to use and clean, I’m practically forced to make ice cream, even though it’s cold and raining outside.  You think Le Parret will say no?   Not until he doesn’t have the strength to lift a spoon :D


Even though he criticized the fact that I don’t make custard ice cream, he was disappointed to hear that I’m retiring the ice cream maker until Spring.  It’s getting cold and time to make heavier, warmer fare.  I’ve got a new pasta machine that I hope to impress myself with ;)

Strawberry Ice Cream

1 1/2 lb fresh strawberries, sliced

Juice 1/2 lemon

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

Mix the 2/3 of the strawberries, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar together, refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.  Strain the juice from the fruit, refrigerate the fruit and reserve the juice.

Whisk the eggs together in a bowl for about 1-2 minutes until fluffy.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar a little at a time until blended.  Add the cream and milk and whisk until blended.  Blend in the juice and put this mixture into the chilled container of an ice cream making machine, then turn it on for about 30 minutes.  Add the sugared and natural 1/2 lb of strawberries and continue to run the machine for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the ice cream from the container and freeze for a couple of hours.  Or just follow the instructions for your ice cream machine.

Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Fruit, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Chez Willie and Toutoune


Whenever I think of Mexican food, I think of my mother.  She wasn’t Mexican, but she could have been.  I’ve only had comparable or better Mexican food at old school Mexican cafes in California where nobody speaks English and there are a maximum of 12 tables. This was before Taco Bell, and burritos had beans/beef/pork in them with no rice.  Those days are gone.  It seems as if I’m going to be one of those whiny old ladies bemoaning the passing of an era.  Oh well.  Sigh…


I like onions a lot.  I’ve heard of people who don’t like onions but I don’t know them. They probably don’t like food at all, just eat to live, joylessly, stick thin, dry and no sense of humor.  Sort of sad :D


Anyway.  The most important thing when making enchiladas is the sauce or tomato gravy. You can find an okay sauce in a can but it doesn’t compare to making your own and it’s fairly easy.


I would have made the corn tortillas if I had been smart enough to order the masa harina from Roger’s Mexican food website, but I didn’t and had to buy the inferior El Paso brand tortillas available in the supermarket.  Really stupid because I have a tortilla press that flattens and bakes the tortillas.  Of course nothing can compare to the tortillas that our neighbor patted out by hand.  She was from Mexico :)


I made these veal and cheese enchiladas to share at Willie and Toutoune’s house.   They had never eaten Mexican food and I thought it would be an experience :)  Although I did tone down the spices a bit(chili powder for babies), but there was still some huffing and blowing accompanied by deep sips from their wine glasses.


Babies!  Wait until I make authentic Thai!  But they did okay and loved the flavors.


I used “smart fix” on these pictures but bad lighting is bad lighting.  It’s okay, I’m over it :) Unfortunately, I didn’t get the picture of Toutoune’s stuffed tomatoes with potatoes until we had already served ourselves.  Excellent casserole!  Have you seen this article?  It has to be satirical.


Toutoune and Willie have an excellent garden and Willie wins the award for the best garden in Sens every year.


Garden season is over and it’s raining constantly, so we couldn’t sit in the garden but  I wanted to.


Yes, Le Parret was there with his running buddy Maurice.  Maurice made a super quiche Lorraine for the entree.  M. Parret was uncomfortable because he was obliged to eat non-French food.  He had 2 helpings of the enchiladas.  He makes me laugh too much :D


The stuffed tomatoes and the cheese were more to his taste with the very good wines that Willie served.  “Correct”.


Every one helped to arrange this cheese plate.  Basil leaves by Willie.


Okay.  To make the enchiladas, first make your tomato gravy.  You can make this days ahead and refrigerate.  Then cook the veal filling with onions, garlic, oregano and chili powder.  Add a little tomato gravy to moisten.  Warm the corn tortillas in a hot skillet, dip into the gravy, coating both sides, fill with the veal, sprinkle with cheese, then roll up and place in a baking pan that has a thin layer of tomato gravy on the bottom.  Spread some tomato gravy on the top of the enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese, cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400F.  Sprinkle the top with sliced black olives, if desired, before serving.

Enchilada Sauce (Tomato Gravy)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup flour

3  14 oz cans diced tomatoes

2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp cumin

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 cups water

Salt and pepper

Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until just soft.  Whisk in the flour, cooking until the flour is no longer raw, about 2 minutes.  Don’t brown!  Stir and blend in the tomatoes until smooth.  Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder and sugar, then blend in the water.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.


















Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments