Les Haricots


I saw a blog earlier about beans posted by Marinating Online that set off a chain of thought; the fresh beans that will be available in autumn, my mother’s Mexican chili beans, the paucity of pantry items.

Rummaging around in the cabinets, I discovered that I did not have a stock of canned white beans, in fact all I had was a jar that said “les haricots rouge”.  They were not kidney beans, which I do not prefer, but some random French beans, jarred locally.  Okay.  I also did not have a reserve of diced canned tomatoes.  Oh la, la!

However, “one monkey don’t stop no show”.  I rummaged around in the refrigerator and found 4 mushrooms, a green pepper, and some exhausted cherry tomatoes.  To these I added ground veal, an onion, garlic and some tomato coulis from a carton, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Good to go.  And look!  M. Parret’s dinner “gouter”.


I’m sure he’ll add an entree of charcuterie, salad after the beans, cheese, some of his flan he always has on hand and coffee with a drop of the local whiskey.  What can you say? He’s still alive and looks good🙂



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Old School


Among the things I could make when I got married; meatloaf, potato salad, spaghetti and meatballs, baked chicken, beef stew, chili and enchiladas.  When I had guests coming that hadn’t been recently and I wanted to go all foreign and chic, lasagna🙂  Really.  I was such a rube!


The lasagna was always a hit.  Why wouldn’t it be with kilos of cheese, sauce, pasta and meat?  To gild the lily, I would also make butter soaked garlic bread.  We were hungrier in those days and “too much” wasn’t a part of our vocabularies.  We always had salad because that is what you served with the lasagna.  I don’t know who made that rule but it still applies today🙂


I think obesity began in the 50s when there was plenty of actually good food (non-GM) that we decided wasn’t good enough and added sugar and other bizarre things to it; marshmallows in the sweet potatoes (heave), sweetened tomato sauce (bleah), sweetened evaporated milk as a sauce (gag).  I always like to throw in these random rants about the evolution of American food.  Okay, I’m done😀


Anyway.  Even though France is close to Italy, I don’t think your average French person has tasted real Italian food.  Their pizzas, spaghetti bolonaise, eggplant parmesan lack something.  Something called garlic, herbs; mainly basil and oregano.  Maybe they don’t cook the tomato sauce but just take it out of the can and thinly spread it on the pizza, that is, when there is any tomato sauce.  The crusts are funny too.


My idea today was to educate M. Parret.  No, I didn’t say that to him, I just said that American Italian food tasted different from the French Italian and that I would make a lasagna to demonstrate.  I told him there would be a lot of cheese in it but, you know, cooking with cheese doesn’t really impress Le Parret, he’s a crust of baguette and a chunk of cheese man.  Still, he will not soon forget the lasagna.  He’s telling all his friends :)

Try not to substitute reduced/low fat ingredients (there’s something sinister about these) in this recipe, it wouldn’t be the same. Have a smaller portion, no bread and 1/2 glass of wine or, even better, splurge for a day. For the noodles, make your own or buy a package of the boiling kind or the non-boiling kind, your choice.


2 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs lean ground beef

2 onions, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup port

2 cans tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 cups ricotta cheese

1 cup parmesan cheese

3 cups buffalo mozzarella cheese, shredded

Prepared lasagna noodles

Begin to brown the beef in the olive oil, then add the onions, garlic and herbs and continue to cook until the onions are soft.  Pour in the port and boil for about 2-3 minutes, then stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.

Mix the ricotta and 1/2 cup of the parmesan together in a bowl and set aside.

In a large baking pan, coat the bottom with some meat sauce, then place some noodles on top.  Layer with the ricotta, mozzarella, more noodles, meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella and the rest of the parmesan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 F for 50 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes.  Cool for at least 15 minutes, then slice and serve.





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Tajine Roasted Veal


Finally getting caught up getting my meals out of the camera and onto the blog.  Well yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time staring into Trotoux’s window, walking in and buying stuff. Of course I wanted this veal roast.


I promise that after I make the pork loin roast I’ve already bought, I’ll stop and shop somewhere else, just for variety🙂  Also my green Emile Henry tajine was begging to be used for roasting.  I was wearing out the red one and still haven’t gotten to the blue because it’s new and needs to be seasoned first.  Anyway.


Gluttony?   HA HA HA


I love these tight little mushrooms I bought at the herb lady’s stand.  For authenticity’s sake, all of her vegetables have dirt/sand/grit clinging to them.  That must be the reason😀


There was a bit of moaning because we weren’t sitting at the picnic table today, but I had absolutely no desire to haul plates and food back and forth for a multi-course meal.  So that’s why.


Some people always have a good time, no matter where they’re sitting.


Thierry helped out with the carving and Chantal with the serving.  It’s too bad his girlfriend Arielle couldn’t make it.  Maybe she’ll be here for the pork🙂


We began with a cocktail of lobster, melon and winter cucumber.  I’ve made something like this before and it was a good beginning for a heavy meal.


After the main course we had salad greens from M. Parret’s garden.


And predictably, cheese.


And you remember the cheesecake.


After the cake, clutching our hearts, we fell from the table.  This could really happen one day but it won’t be after a visit to McDs.  Dead, but somehow healthier and a little drunk😀

Tajine Roasted Veal

1 large veal roast, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 lb small, tightly closed mushrooms, halved

1 lb small, new potatoes, quartered

3 fresh bay leaves

5 sprigs thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup Jura wine (vin jaune)

Brown the veal roast in the tbsp of olive oil on all sides, reserve.

Mix the onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil together, then place in a large tajine, topping with the browned veal and pouring the wine over all.

Place in a 375 F oven with the tajine top on and roast for 45 minutes, remove the top and continue roasting for 15 minutes.

Wine suggestion:  Petit Chablis and Brouilly


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Veal Kidneys in Port Sauce


Something I really missed in the U.S. was “les abats” or the nasty bits.  Offal is so delicate that even if they had been available, I probably wouldn’t have bought any because I don’t trust industrial handling of them.


These veal kidneys were supplied and cleaned by Trotoux.  I didn’t really like the way they were cut and had to cut them again but they were fresh and of good quality.  I made a simple sauce with shallots, California port and cream.

Veal Kidneys in Port Sauce

3 tbsp butter

3 shallots, thinly sliced

1 – 1 1/2lb fresh veal kidneys, cleaned and cut into bite sized chunks

2 sprigs thyme

1/4 cup port

1/2 cup cream

In 2 tbsps butter, saute the shallots until soft, add the last tbps of butter, then add the kidneys and continue to saute until a little pink is still visible, then stir in the thyme, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the port to the pan, then boil down until half the liquid has evaporated.  Stir in the cream and cook until the sauce has thickened.  Add the kidneys to the sauce and just heat.


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Everyone who has been following the blog for a while knows that I rarely make desserts and I never make cake.  There are two reasons for this:  1)  I don’t really like sweets,  2) Cake and pastry making is an exact science and seems tedious and boring to me.  My family has accepted this and when they get tired of the crumbles, panna cottas and mousses I do make, they make their own cake/cookies/pies.


This is so nerve wracking for me!  I lack confidence and am always sure that something will go wrong.  I made this cheesecake because Steve, the fishmonger, has been asking me to make it for over a year.  I imagine he must have had it somewhere in the U.S.  It’s funny, France seems to sell an awful lot of Philadelphia cream cheese.  I don’t know what they do with it but it’s in the supermarkets.  Anyway.  I looked for the easiest, Kraft, old school cheesecake recipe on line and found one that wouldn’t have me jumping through hoops. I’ve never seen graham crackers in France, although they do sell a Dutch cookie called speculoos that is similar but sweeter.  I didn’t want to use those, so I just chose a plain, butter cookie called Petit Beurre.


The gariguettes, the Cadillac of French strawberries, are in season and I reasoned that if I screwed the cake up, I would just top it with the gariguettes and Steve would like it😉


This turned out okay and I’ll probably make one for the family when they arrive.  Hit the cheesecake link above for the recipe.  The topping is made with about 1 1/2 lbs of strawberries, half made into a compote and the other uncooked half stirred in.


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Petit Sale with Puy Lentils


Someone gave M. Parret a good quality, smoked morteau sausage but he wasn’t quite sure how to prepare it.  I thought it would be a good idea to cook it in a casserole with lentils.  I took the above photo before the casserole went on the flame with broth.  M. Parret threw on a random bunch of herbs for the photo shoot.  Thanks.


I could have cooked the sausage with just the vegetables and lentils but while browsing at Le Village Gourmand, I decided to add some more pork; echine and poitrine (pork shoulder and belly).  I think it would have been better if the shoulder had been salted but it was still good.


I’ve always liked cutting up vegetables.  I guess it’s because I was my mother’s “coupe oignon” from the time she thought it was safe for me to hold a knife.  And clever woman that she was, she always praised me for my indispensable contribution to the meal.  So that’s why ;)


Nobody wants to eat in the house anymore since I bought the little picnic table, even though the sunlight can be brutal.  Still, we’re having a high ole time!  I can’t wait until Jade and my husband arrive.


My posts are backed up.  I hope I remember the recipe correctly, this was very good🙂


Petit Sale with Puy Lentils

1 lb piece pork shoulder, salted if possible

1 inch slab smoked bacon

1 large smoked morteau sausage

1 bouquet garni

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, cut into eighths

1/2 large red pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, slivered

4-5 small carrots, diced

4 cloves

1 thyme sprig

2 fresh bay leaves

1 lb Puy lentils

Place the pork shoulder and bacon in a pot with the bouquet garni, cover with water and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Add the morteau and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the meats from the pot, cut into bite size chunks and set aside, reserving the broth.

Saute the onion, pepper, garlic cloves and carrots in the olive oil until the onion is soft. Remove from flame and stir in the cloves, thyme and bay leaves.

In a large bowl, mix together the meat, vegetables and lentils, place in a stove top safe tajine, pour the reserved broth over all to cover, bring to a boil, cover with tajine top and simmer for 40-45 minutes.





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After several weeks of rampant excess, I suggested to my co-revellers that because we were going to have petit sale, a porky lentil dish, for lunch tomorrow that we should have a light dinner with refreshing glasses of water as the beverage.  In principle, everyone was in agreement.


It’s the asparagus season and I bought a kilo (2 lbs) of the white variety to roast with herbs and shallots.  Le Parret did mention that this was not the traditional French way to prepare asparagus.  I patiently (not) told him that of course it wasn’t the French way because I was American and he had to expect that it would be different, and that France doesn’t have a patent on food preparation.  The wine-less meal probably had our nerves a little bit on edge😀


Anyway, I served the asparagus with a warm lemon sauce, fresh baguette and butter.   M. Parret thought they were very good, if different, and had 3 helpings.  I counted😉


For dessert we had succulent, sweet mandarins from Spain.  Yes he asked, but deciding to let sleeping Americans lie, peeled his mandarin and ate it without a murmur.


This was a delicious, fresh and healthy meal.  I don’t know why we looked so sad😀

White Asparagus with Lemon Sauce

2 lbs white asparagus, trimmed and peeled

3 small shallots, thinly sliced

2 tbsp mixed fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary)

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup white wine

1/2 cup cream

1 1/2 tbsp butter

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

In a large bowl, mix the asparagus, shallots, herbs, salt and olive oil together.  Preheat the oven to 450 F, place the asparagus mixture in a roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring about 3 times.

In the meantime, make the sauce:  Boil the wine down to half the volume, then add the cream and cook, stirring until the liquid is thick.  Stir in the butter, lemon juice and parsley, continuing to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Place the asparagus on individual plates and pass the sauce.


Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments