Vaguely Indian


I wanted to eat fresh peas.  Why?  Because it’s time and they’re in the market.  It’s always such a quandary; should I eat them plain with just some lardons and shallots? A carbonara with lardons, fresh pasta and cream?  Lamb stew?  This was too hard!  Best thing to do is just to start cooking while trawling the pantry and refrigerator.  That’s the way my mother did it!


I had 1/2 onion, and a piece of tomato in the refrigerator, along with 2 whole tomatoes. There were about a cup of les noirmoutiers from the other day and about 3 normal, new potatoes.  On a visit to the apple farm, Noslon, I saw some bizarre meatballs called cooked “boulettes de viande” containing potatoes, spices, herbs and beef.  “Why not”?, I said to myself out of boredom and bought them.  The texture was terrine-like.


Since it was pretty much established that there would be potatoes involved, and a known fact that a combination of peas and potatoes can equal Indian curry, and not being anywhere close to an Asian of any type, thus having no face to save, I set aside some ginger, garlic and spices.  Voila!  Pass the chapatis.


You can substitute any kind of cooked meat for the boulettes or none.

Vaguely Indian Stew with Fresh Peas

3 generous tbsp butter

1/2 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, slivered

1 inch ginger, grated

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp mustard seeds

2 large tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp tumeric

1 tbsp dried coriander

1 tsp piment d’espelette

3/4 – 1 lb new potatoes, coarsely cubed

2 cups cooked meat, coarsely cubed

1 cup water

2 cups fresh, shelled peas

1 handful coriander and parsley, chopped


Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin and mustard. Saute until the onion is soft and lightly browned.  Add the tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.  Stir in the tumeric, coriander, piment d’espelette, potatoes, meat and water, then cover and cook for another 15 minutes.  Stir in the peas, herbs and salt to taste, then continue to cook until the potatoes are soft.








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Chicken Thighs, Artichokes and Fava Beans


Fresh fava beans/broad beans/feve are in season now along with artichokes.  I was inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine featuring the artichokes and beans with chicken.  This looked like a job for red tajine!


This recipe takes a bit of prepping but after you’ve got that out of the way, it’s really worth it.


Don’t be afraid to remove too many of the tough outer leaves of the artichokes.  I could have removed more.  In fact, the best thing to do is to make sure you choose the tiniest baby artichokes you can find, even if this means not shopping at your usual vegetable stand.  Just sneak away, hide behind other shoppers and get what you need :D


Random raspberry tart that we ate while drinking rosé cremant later on in the day.  A perfect pairing.  The raspberries were very very fresh and sweet  :)


Chicken Thighs, Artichokes and Fava Beans

2 lbs fava beans in pod

8-12 baby baby artichokes

Cold water

Juice from 2 lemons

2 tbsp olive oil

6-8 chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and pepper

6 shallots, peeled and quartered vertically

1 cup white wine

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 cup chicken broth

Chopped parsley and chives

Remove the beans from the pods, then blanch them in boiling water, cool quickly in ice water and remove the outer hull.  Set aside.

Trim the artichokes of the tough outer leaves, cut off the stem to about an inch and peel, then cut of the top of the artichoke by about an inch.  Cut in half vertically and place in cold water with the lemon juice.  Dry the artichokes and saute in a stove to oven tajine in the olive oil until brown and crispy.  Remove and set aside.

Place the chicken thighs in the tajine and brown.  Remove and set aside.  Add the shallots and saute until soft.  Add the wine and vinegar and boil until liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in the reserved beans, artichokes and broth, bring to a boil, then stir in the chicken to coat.  Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, skin side up, cover with the tajine top and cook in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes.  Remove top and continue to cook for 15 minutes.












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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 :D


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 :D


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 :D

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.


Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments