There’s a definite chill in the air. A little windy too. After those hateful few days of 90 and 100 degree (Fahrenheit, Roger) weather, I must say I was cheered :) Time for a warming coffee and hot chocolate at Le Plat d’Etain.
Jacques’ place, where we usually have our drinks, has been closed for vacation for the last couple of weeks. So disorienting! We had to look for another comfort spot. While the Tete de Veau always has a bar full of entertaining characters, it lacks the coziness we seek when town loitering. The cafes in the square between the cathedral and the market are just way too impersonal for our tastes.
The Plat d’Etain, right next door to Jacques’, has lots of sidewalk tables, polite, if not friendly staff and good plain French cuisine. The coffee and hot chocolate are “correct” and come with both a chocolate and a fruity bonbon. They serve Joker brand fruit juices that we have decided are the Champagne of bottled fruit juices. Not Sacramento Brand tomato juice, but almost!
Anyway, I wanted to get in one more pot of fresh Coco de Paimpol beans before I start running up and down the road to Alsace. Until we get to Stuttgart, I have to pick up Jade from the Strasbourg train station, where the school bus drops off the kids every Friday, stay in a hotel with her until Sunday then drop her off at the school bus stop, take the train to Paris, change train stations, then take the train to Sens. I have to do this twice before my husband arrives to play this “Game of Trains” with me until we go to Stuttgart. I should make another pot of these beans to freeze and they’ll be waiting for me when I finally get home :)
This month’s Saveurs magazine had an interesting recipe for a tajine of lamb and coings that I wanted to try. Coings are quinces which I don’t believe I’ve ever had before. Still haven’t, because there were none in the market. I decided to substitute very firm pears. Worked.
Something struck me today; I am always attracted to French recipes for their interesting combination of flavors and ingredients. And after that, I am often annoyed with the methods and techniques they use to prepare them. For this recipe of collier d’agneau, sliced lamb neck, let’s just say, I did it my way. Emile Henry, the King, and I :)
Fresh Coco Beans and Chard
1/2 cup bacon, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
4 cups fresh coco beans
2 tomatoes, diced
1 lb chard
Cook the bacon until it starts to brown. Add the butter, onion and garlic, then cook until the onion is soft. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, salt, pepper, coco beans and half the tomatoes. Add water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
While the beans are simmering, wash the chard, tear into bite sized pieces, then steam until just tender. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Add the chard to the beans and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Remove from flame, add the remaining diced tomatoes and serve.
Lamb Tajine with Pears
4 slices lamb neck, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp raz el hanout
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Juice of 1 small lemon
4 pears, cored and cut into wedges
1 preserved lemon, diced
15-20 violet olives
Quickly brown the lamb slices in the olive oil, using a stove top tajine. Remove the lamb and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute until the onions are soft.
Mix the raz el hanout, cumin, ginger, salt and pepper together, then add to the onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
Return the lamb to the pan, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover with the tajine top. Simmer for 40 minutes.
Stir in the pears, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add the preserved lemon and olives and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from flame and sprinkle with the parsley and cilantro before serving.