Asian Oxtails with Vietnamese Noodles and Turnips

I’m never shocked at the price of oxtails in France.  The French have always considered them to be more than worthy as a meal.  I’m always shocked at the prices in the U.S. because when I was a child, my mother would buy them cheaply as a least desirable portion of the animal, like pig tails, ears and chitlins.  Well, I guess the American T.V. traveling chefs have ruined it for everyone, exposing the public to the least desirable cuts of meat, turning them into the stars they should have always been, while punishing the knowledgeable with enormous price hikes.  Thanks guys.

I’ve missed lardons.  I used them as the basis, along with sauteed shallots for my turnip-spinach side dish.

The turnips and spinach were delicious!  I could eat this melange with just a piece of baguette and be satisfied.  I know this is true because I tried it out before I finished cooking the oxtails 🙂

This is certainly not the way my mother made oxtails, but with her love of Asian food, she would have tried it if she knew; garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks and a peel of mandarin.  She just didn’t know, poor thing 😉

I fairly enjoyed wedging the oxtails into the pressure cooker so that they fit flat on the bottom, a challenge but beautifully over come.  The bonus in this recipe is that the oxtails do not have to be browned before cooking.  Think of that 😀

I purchased the noodles already made from the Vietnamese traiteur in the market but you can make your own if you like.  I suggest somen or soba.

Pressure Cooker Asian Oxtails

2 1/2-3 lbs oxtails

1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

8 thin slices of fresh ginger, skin on

2 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

Peel from one mandarin, cut into strips

Mix the soy sauce, sake, brown sugar and water together and set aside.  Place the oxtails in the bottom of a pressure cooker.  Sprinkle the scallions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks and mandarin peel over the oxtails.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over all.

Put the top on the pressure cooker and seal well.  Put the little bobble thing over the vent in the middle of the pressure cooker top.  Turn the gas up to high and when the bobble starts to swing back and forth, decrease the heat until the bobble continues a gentle swing. Cook for 35-40 minutes, remove from flame and set aside until the pressure button, located at the top of the handle, sinks completely to the bottom.

Open the pressure cooker and place the oxtails in a platter.  Boil the liquid down (no top) until it is reduced by half, then pour over the oxtails.






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Pont sur Yonne Market

Pont sur Yonne is a charming town about 6 miles from Sens.  The gothic Notre Dame church there was built between 1130-1140 and consecrated in 1169.  You can still see the remnants of the “old bridge” built 1684-1700 and mostly destroyed by bombs during World War II.

Sunday is market day in Pont sur Yonne and our favorite saucisson maker is usually there.  He makes a dry salami type sausage with different blends of mushrooms, cheese, boar, venison, garlic, plain smoked and numerous others I can’t remember.  He has received many awards for his sausages and they are well deserved.  Sliced, these are perfect for cocktails.  This year we had to go to the Sunday market 3 times before he showed up.  He told us that since his product has become so well known, he has been busy hosting salons and attending receptions.  Good for him and good for us 🙂

While in the market we picked up some hot rotisserie chicken and potatoes roasted under the turning chickens to take home for our Sunday meal.  Dee-licious!

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Chicken Elbows and Turnips

“Chicken elbows and turnips”, sounds so southern 🙂  There were nice turnips in the market, including golden or yellow turnips.  Looked great to me!

I sauteed some shallots in butter before browning the turnips and adding bay leaf and  chicken broth to simmer for 10 minutes.

Of course I made my chicken wings in the usually way; salt, pepper, garlic powder, flour and baked in butter.

Turnips with Shallots

1 glob of butter

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

6 turnips (2 golden and 4 regular), peeled and cut into medium dice

Salt and pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup chicken broth


Saute the shallots in the butter until very soft and slightly browned.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.  Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.

Heat the olive oil in the same skillet, add the turnips, salt and pepper, then saute until the turnips are soft and slightly brown.  Add the bay leaf, sauteed shallots and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.







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Coco de Paimpol Bean Chili

It’s the season for fresh beans in France.   The most famous of these are Coco de Paimpol and also my favorite.  In order to take full advantage of the season, this is my 3rd dish I have made with these beans.  They never disappoint; firm on the outside with a perfect creaminess on the inside.

I had completely forgotten to bring chili powder from the States.  Sens does not “do” chili powder and the chili powder I had left behind was expired and completely dead.  With low expectations, I searched all open supermarkets on Sunday.  Expectations were proven right, so I waited until Monday to try the Leclerc supermarket which one’s my last and only hope.  Miracle!  After 15 years, Leclerc has finally stocked chili powder.  It’s not Mexican chili powder but it is chili powder and worked beautifully.

This wasn’t traditional Mexican chili but it was a good bean stew with a spicy taste.

Coco de Paimpol Bean Chili

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lb of coarsely ground beef

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tbsp oregano

1/2 cup red wine

2 medium sized cans diced tomatoes

1 tiny can, about 3 tbsp tomato paste

1 lb fresh coco beans or plump white beans soaked overnight

2 cups of water

Brown the beef in 2 tbsp olive oil, remove and set aside.  Wipe the pot out with a paper towel, then add 2 tbsp olive oil, the onions, garlic and bell pepper.  Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent.

Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano, stirring in for 2 minutes.  Add the red wine and cook for about 3 -4 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and paste, then add the beans, beef and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hrs until beans are tender.






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Caramelized Fig Tarte Tatin

It’s fig season and my friend Veronique gave me a load of figs from her neighbor’s tree.  So many things to make with figs; magret carnard, pork roasts, etc.

Although my husband was not enthusiastic about my proposed fig tarte,  avowing his distaste for figs that he based on his experience with the Fig Newtons of his childhood.  Nobody liked those but I tried to convince him that this would not be the same.  Fine, he sneered.

I made a fig tarte tatin anyway because I wanted to and knew my husband would love it. But mostly because I have a really cool Emile Henri tarte tatin set 🙂  This set is also available in the U.S.  I bought one for the house in Honesdale.  It is so easy to make a tarte with fruit using this set!  Especially if your forte is not dessert making.

With the Emile Henry which can be used on the stove top and in the oven, you just melt the butter, simmer with some sugar until you get a nice caramelized color, add the halved figs or apricots or as you like, pop on a pre-prepared pastry round, then in the oven for 40 minutes.

The last time I made this, I used a “brise” pastry but this time I used buttery puff pastry and loved the way it puffed.

The puff pastry created a flaky shallow bowl base for the figs and caramel sauce.  He ate two pieces.

Caramelized Fig Tarte Tatin

8 tbsps butter

3/4 cup sugar

12 fresh figs, halved

1 pre-prepared puff pastry sheet

Melt the butter in the bottom of a stove top to oven tart pan.  Remove from the flame and sprinkle on sugar.  Place the figs, cut side down, on top of the sugar, return to a medium high flame and cook until the sugar has caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.

Place the pastry on top and, with the handle of a wooden spoon,  poke the overhang down into the inside of the pan.

Bake the tart in a 375 F oven for about 30-40 minutes until the pastry has browned.  Place a serving plate on top of the baking pan and quickly flip over.








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Pintade Tajine with Aubergines and Figs

The French Nov-Dec 2019 Saveurs magazine includes several recipes inspired by Mahgrebian tajines.  The one prepared with guinea fowl, eggplant, figs and Moroccan spices inspired me!

My usual source in the market that specializes in poultry products, unusually, didn’t have any guinea fowl and suggested I return on Friday.  Not wanting to wait, I visited the butcher Trotoux that is located a block from the market.  He always has quality meats and poultry, including Brest chicken.

I chose one of the whole guinea fowls and he cut off the head and feet, burning off any stray feathers, yet insisting that I take the carcass, which he wrapped in a separate package, along with the liver, heart and gizzard.  Whatever, I made a stock from these to use as the liquid in the recipe instead of water.  Boil and simmer for 1 hour with celery, carrot, onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

The recipe called for 2 doses of saffron which comes in these cute little caplets that I love 🙂  It also called for powdered “piment doux.”  In African French piment doux means fresh bell pepper or poivron in France French.  I didn’t know you could buy this powdered but I was impressed and am taking a bag or two back to the States to include in future recipes.

The pintade pieces are first seasoned with salt and pepper, then rubbed with a mixture of saffron, ginger, piment doux, paprika and olive oil and browned.

I liked the idea of lots of onions and dried figs as the base for the sauce and congratulated myself for making a stock 🙂

The aubergine are salted drained and dried, then browned in olive oil and set aside to be added to the tajine for the last 30 minutes of cooking.  I’m reducing the total cooking time to 1 hr 30 minutes instead of 2 hrs.  The tajine was very good with a nice thick sauce but I thought perhaps a little overcooked.

Also, use the larger measures of spices if you like a more authentic mahgrebian taste.

Pintade Tajine with Aubergines and Figs

1 Pintade (guinea fowl), cut into pieces

Salt and pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

2 doses of saffron

1-2 tsps paprika

1-2 tsps ginger

1/2-1 tsp piment doux (powdered bell pepper)

2 tbsp olive oil

4 onions, chopped

8-10 dried figs, halved

1 1/2 cup poultry stock

2 aubergines


Olive oil

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Season the guinea fowl with salt and pepper.  Mix the 4 tbsps of olive oil with the saffron, paprika, ginger and the piment doux.  Rub this mixture into the guinea fowl pieces and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a stove top to oven tajine.  Add the guinea fowl pieces, brown then remove from the tajine and set aside.

Add the chopped onions, lower the flame and sweat until the onion is translucent.  Return the fowl to the tajine, along with the figs and poultry stock.  Cover and place in a preheated oven at 350 F for 1 hour.

While the tajine is cooking, slice the aubergines, salt and allow to drain for about 15 minutes.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Half the slices, lightly brown in some olive oil, then move to paper towels on a plate and set aside.  After the tajine has cooked for 1 hour, gently stir in the aubergine, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice.














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Away From the Ray Too Long

I have really missed fresh fish and plan to eat a lot while I’m here.  Although the mussels and oysters were calling my name, I decided to start with ailes de raie(skate/sting ray wings).  I like the texture and flavor of this fish and L’Ambiance des Halles, as usual, had some nice ones.  Steve, fish monger extraordinaire, tried to prevent me from taking more than I needed.  He tried 😀

They were not disappointing and my husband, not a fish lover, surprisingly said he would eat them again!

I adore these “bouquets” of small, violet artichokes.  It’s artichoke season and I plan also to “have in” some of the luscious, bright green globe artichokes.

So cute!

I guess you could remove the tough, outer leaves a steam them like the larger globe artichokes, but they are so delicious, if a lot of work, using the French method; ripping off all leaves except the very inner core and cutting half of them away and peeling about 2 inches of attached stem.  Not too difficult but monotonous.

The individual bouquets are then slice vertically, browned in olive oil, flavored with garlic and parsley, then steamed for 5-10 minutes until tender.  Lovely!


Violet Baby Artichokes 

Bouquet 10-12 baby artichokes

Juice 1 lemon

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Crushed red pepper

3 tbsp water

Remove all the leaves from the artichokes except for the soft pointed center.  Slice off about half of that. Cut the stems to about 2 inches and peel them.  Place the artichokes in cold water with the juice of the lemon for about 20 minutes.  Remove from the water, drain and dry.  Half each artichoke vertically and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the artichokes and brown for about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, parsley and crushed red, sauteing for an addition minute.  Add the water and steam for 5-10 minutes or until tender.




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