Category Archives: Recipes

Sweet Roasted Tomatoes

So plane travels used to be for watching crappy-yet-oh-so-distracting movies, stuffing your face with horrible-yet-oh-so-distracting food, while drinking your tomato juice. Bref, planes used to be your own little space, where one could do all the horrible stuff one is not supposed to do past the age of, say, 12.

But here I am, with my new MacBook Air, a flawless wi-fi connection, low-calorie vegetables dips and organic roasted almonds. Where is the fun all gone?  So I have no choice but respecting my newborn healthy resolution and catching up on my blog.

And what a better topic than tomatoes to combine all the issues at stake here:

  1. Like the vast majority of the population, I drink tomato juice only when flying;
  2. In case you hadn’t noticed, tomatoes are healthy. Because it is a vegetable (oh, sorry, a fruit), it is light and you can eat a lot of them. Also, it has a lot of vitamin C;
  3. And it is definitely one of my must-haves. Fits into my blog.

The only problem I have is that tomatoes are tasteless. I mean, not in general. Just lately. And this dates back to before I moved to this wonderful country. Yes, even in my douce France, good tomatoes are difficult to find. Usually rare and expensive. And the sad thing is, one tends to forget the taste of good tomatoes after a while.

Luckily for you, I found a nice solution. Nice nice nice. Very happy about it. Granted, it certainly does not replace a nice ripe juicy tasty tomato. But it certainly does the trick. I roast them: put them whole in the oven (250F), on a baking sheet, with a little drizzle of olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper.   For two hours. Or longer if you want. Let them cool a little, peel them, get rid of the seeds. And there you go. Nice tomatoes, to use in salads, sauces, gaspachos, whatever you like.

Granted, this does not make a tomato juicy tasty and fresh. It tastes different. And this does not prevent you from selecting organic tomatoes, and decent looking ones. But still. It works well in the following salads I tried:

  1. Tomatoes + roasted peppers* + mozzarella di buffala + scallions + basil + salt + pepper + olive oil + balsamic vinegar;
  2. Tomatoes + roasted peppers + potatoes (be careful, don’t cook them too much or it will turn out mushy) + salt + pepper + pitted black olives + scallions + parsley + olive oil + balsamic vinegar;

* One day I will have to spread my love of roasted peppers too. Red roasted pepper, that is.

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Bonne Fete Maman

Maman

I am not a very good daughter. I rarely call my mum. I write a blog in English. I am not a good sister or aunty either actually. I regularly forget my sisters’, nephews’ and niece’s birthdays (except for Delphine, but that’s also because she was born exactly 6 years and 364 days before me – I am that selfish).

And I feel guilty, often. And all the fuss in this country around Mothers Day revived the guilt, big time. In France, mother’s day is not that big of a deal. You just call your mother, tell her “Happy Mother’s Day” and you’re done. Here it is an entirely different level. And although I know that this is more of a commercial attempt to make you buy stuff for your mother and make you spend money to make the economy better and Obama happier, still, I am under the influence.

So: Maman – Joyeuse Fete – Happy Mother’s day. I know, I am way past deadline in this country. As a matter of fact, I am way, way past deadline in France as well (Mother’s day was on June 7). Blame it on my free-lance job.

So, as a belated present, I thought I would share a recipe my mother sent me recently. Because not only is my mother my mother but she also happens to be a great cook. So here it is. In French. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks yummy and easy, my favorites. Very versatile too. As we discussed at length with my mother, you can use strawberries instead (and why not use basil instead of mint, that would be nice too. I will report back when I try it. Very summery. Very chocolaty. Comfort food with a healthy twist. Healthy food with a decadent twist.

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Pulled-Pork & Roasted Vegetables Sandwich

Mon livre fetiche avec des traces de chocolat dessus

Mon livre fetiche avec des traces de chocolat dessus

Ok – so I didn’t try Momofuku this morning. But that’s because I do have – sometimes – to look for a job, go to interviews and what not. I could do it now, but that would be tricher (cheating) : everybody knows that it is impossible to get a reservation at 7:20pm.

Instead, I had long promised a recipe to use my leftovers of my pork shoulder roast – so here’s a start with this sandwich. You may remember also that I roasted zucchinis & bell peppers to go with the roast and I used the leftovers of this in my sandwich as well – so I figured why not giving you the recipe too?

Roasted Vegetables
I took this recipe from one of my favorite book Petits Plats entre amis from Trish Deseine. In France, Trish Deseine is a real mega super star. I think I offered her books to all my sisters (I have three), my mother (I have one), and any of my friends who had at least a vague interest in cooking (I have one) – or did not cook at all (I have one too)- and obviously had to learn, right?

Just to be clear, I made a list of what I love about Trish Deseine:
– she loves chicken and I do to
– most of her recipes are so simple I could do them les yeux fermes (blind folded)
– the pictures are nice (unlike mine)
– she loves soups and I do to
– she is not a big fan of appetizers and so am I (not a big fan).

Roasted vegetables are an example of how simple her recipes are. Here it goes:

Placer les legumes coupes en petits morceaux, arroses d’un filet d’huile d’olive, dans un plat sous le gril de votre four pendant environ 40 min. Salez et poivrer.

And here is the version I did last Monday:

Ingredients:
4 zucchinis & 2 yellow red bell pepper
3-4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt&Pepper
A little bit of Thyme

Preparation: 10 min
Cooking 30-40 min
Yield: 4

Dice the vegetables and place on aluminum foil on your oven grill. Sprinkle a little bit of olive oil, salt & pepper and roast at 375F for 30-40 minutes (depending on the size of the vegetables). Keep an eye on it and mix from time to time so it doesn’t burn.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (for 4 hot dogs)

Ingredients:
2 tbspoons of roasted vegetables
1/2 cup of cream cheese
1/2 cup of yogurt
Parsley
Salt&Pepper
Lemon Juice
4tbspoons of roasted pork shoulder leftover
Mustard

Preparation: 5min

Put the cream cheese on high for 30 sec. in the microwave if too cold. Mix the cream cheese with yogurt – add the roasted vegetables with a little bit of lemon juice, salt & pepper. You can also add a little bit of cumin. And, if you still have those garlic cloves you roasted, peel & puree them with the cream cheese.
Stuff the hot dog buns with the roasted vegetable mix, the pulled pork and add a little bit of mustard to taste.Yummy

You get the idea: if you don’t have roasted vegetables, you can use the same sauce but add parsley + cilantro and more cumin for example. If you have time, prepare the sauce a little early so that all the flavors blend in. And of course, you don’t NEED to have pork shoulder leftovers. Pork tenderloin leftovers will do to. I could also imagine this combination with chicken leftovers too.


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Shoulders

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So I invited Alice & Toto for diner last Friday – because that’s what 30 something do on a Friday night. And, reading that article by Jane Sigal in the New York Times on how to find yummy – yet cheap – meat parts to cook, I set up my mind on pork shoulders.

Well, I actually had a plan set up for lamb shoulder – but here I am at fairway with a lamb shoulder at 6,99/lb and a pork shoulder at 1,99/lb. So I had to re-think my plans. No offense Alice & Toto; I want only the best for you. But if that best comes at 1,99/lb instead of 6,99/lb, it’s even better. So here I am on a Thursday night falling asleep making plans for diner (that’s usually how I fall asleep) when F. starts complaining about pain in his shoulder, so much that we end up in the ER at 5 in the morning. Silver lining is: I met the handsomest cowboy ever.

Turns out Florent will very probably be too high on meds to handle a diner without drooling on his plate. So we had to cancel Alice & Toto. But, as you learn when you are unemployed (or rather, as people tell you when you are unemployed), one always should look at the bright side. So here are my bright sides:

  • I get to test my recipe one more time to get it perfect when Alice & Toto come for real & and get the perfect side to go with my perfect dish;
  • I get to have loooots of leftover to test other recipes with pulled pork and indulge in my favorite part of cooking: l’art d’accomoder les restes.
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the handsomest cowboy ever and his swine-flu wife

But first thing first: the shoulder.
I tweaked a recipe of Pernil al Forno (Puerto-Rican roasted pork shoulder) from Tyler Florence I found on foodnetwork.com to make what turned out to be a very tasty, tender, rich shoulder with a fine glaze (although I am pretty sure there was nothing Puerto Rican to it). Here it goes:

Recession-Proof Pork Shoulder

1pork shoulder (5 to 6 lbs)
2 1/2 tblspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper
3 tblspoons of  olive oil
2 tblspoons of white vinegar
4-5 garlic gloves (yes 4- 5)
1 handful of flat-leaves parsley
2 or 3 branches of thyme

Yield: 6
Preparation: 10 minutes –  start the day before for the marinade
Cooking: 5 hours (or one hour per pound)

  • Slice the skin of the pork shoulder to make nice squares like that.
  • Thinly chop the parsley & thyme, add crushed garlic (make sure you remove the germ), salt & pepper. Add olive oil & white vinegar.
  • Rub the purée on the shoulder. And please, do it with love and great sensuality, even if your hands are going to reek of garlic for the next two days.
  • Envelop the shoulder in plastic film and keep onernight in the fridge (I guess it would be Ok to leave if for three hours only, but you might have to use 3 tbsppons of salt then).
On the day of:
  • Remove your meat from the fridge at least 30 minutes before (never good to shock the meat from one extreme temperature to another.
  • Pre-heat your oven at 300F.
  • Roast the meat in your favorite Le Creuset – or IKEA – French oven on high heat on every side to get a nice brown color. No need of fat here, pork is fat enough, believe me. Add two cups of water.
  • Cook for 5 hours (or one hour per pound), covered, at 300F. The key here is to keep the meat moist by spreading the juice on the roast roughly every 30 minutes. You can leave it open for the last 30 minutes to make it crispy.
Boy was it good and it’ll be even better when you come, Alice & Toto. I made oven-roasted zucchinis and pepper to go with it, in a tapenade vinaigrette. And as predicted I had tons of leftover…so brace yourslef for my pulled pork sandwiches recipe. F. loved them (and no, he wasn’t high on Percocet then).

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Mon frigo est COM-PLE-TE-MENT vide – day 2

I was actually very proud of myself last Monday when I managed to pull out one more meal out of my sadly almost empty fridge. And even prouder of the results! I love pasta – it is certainly one of my favorite dishes and I could eat pasta for lunch and dinner. I manage to restrain myself though, and for this Florent is very grateful. But, I find pasta difficult to make. Don’t get me wrong, everybody can boil water and pour pasta in it and see what happen.s But managing to get the pasta al dente – enough sauce that it’s not too dry – but not too soagy or fatty – this is to me one of the greatest challenges (did I tell you I was unemployed?). So Monday night – I was proud of myself.

Here it goes:  Carbonara with Baby Spinach (I know, after such an emphatic introduction, I could have made an effort on the name).

Ingredients:

  • 7 oz – 200 g of Fusilli  (De Cecco are my favorite – Barilla is authorized during recession only)
  • 1/4 pint/125 ml of heavy cream
  • 2.5 oz/150 g of baby spinach (i.e.: half a box of pre-washed baby spinach)
  • 1 cup of sliced bacon
  • 1 cup of Italian parsley
  • 1 or 2 tbsps of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of parmiggiano
  • Salt & Pepper

Yield: 2-3
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes

1. Bring water to a boil (as much as you can – with loads of salt). Cook Fusilli al dente (i.e. – for me – usually time on the box + 1 or 2 min). Always keep a cup or two of the water you cooked the pasta in. It might be helpful if your pasta sauce is a little dry.
2. Sautee the bacon for 5-10 minutes on medium until crisp but not burnt. Get rid of all the piggy fat and get the bacon back in that skillet – with parsley & salt & pepper. Right before the pasta is cooked, add the heavy cream (which SHALL NOT BOIL) & lemon juice – you’ll see the sauce get ticker – don’t ask me why.
3. Pour the pasta in the skillet with the bacon, parsley & creme fraiche. Give it a little stir. Add the baby spinach – in two three times. Why? So that you don’t end up with a big clutter of spinach. Let the spinach sweat a little with the pasta. Add the parmesan, here again in 2-3 times and stir in between. If you feel your sauce is a little thick, now is a good time as ever to add a bit of that water from the pasta you were wise enough to keep. And there you are. I was so happy.

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Mon frigo est COM-PLE-TE-MENT vide – day 1

How many times have you looked at your fridge in utter disarray, asking yourself how you could possibly make even a single meal with the two desperate carrots and three eggs forgotten in some remote corners of your fridge (that is, besides carottes rapees et oeufs au plat). So that was my state of mind last Sunday while staring rather blankly at my poor fridge, and thinking:

  • I don’t want/I don’t have time/I hate grocery shopping. Plus, in case you haven’t heard – it’s RECESSION time. The least you can do is try and not waste food you might be able to use.
  • It’s spring already, so let’s try something a little springy like for a change.

So here’s my challenge: let’s try and make as many meals as possible with the remnants of my fridge and see where this leads us. Sunday was really sunny in Park Slope, the first day you would actually venture outside, and I thought salad, like a nice hearty salad with many colors for diner. I had a few carrots (two), some italian parsley, a can of corn kernels, and some frozen green beans. I know, I know, there is nothing better than fresh ingredients in season but hey, please see above. Oh – and I forgot I had some celery too. And parsley, and olives.

So that’s how I came up with la salade du frigo, a sort of macedoine of corn, celery, carrots, beans and parsley. Ok, granted, macedoine is not necessarily the first dish that would come to mind, at least for the French: Macedoine is a potato-carrots-beans-peas salad with mayonnaise, typically French, but also typical reminder of les dejeuners a la cantine (that’s were kids eat for lunch in French schools), right about the time when my mother forced me to wear this horrible bib with a pink elephant on it and the other kids would make fun of me. But that was UNTILL I tasted the ultimate macedoine, made by a friend of my mother I was visiting in Alcala de Henares, Spain (famous for its gigantic jail – no kidding). OMG, OMG, OMG it was good: fresh ingredients, and first and foremost, very very good, homemade mayonnaise.

Believe me, I would not even dare to come close to this Macedoine, but in any cases that’s what I had in mind when I prepared this salad.

Ingredients (and no need to say that if you have FRESH ingredients it’s even better):

  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 can of corn kernels
  • 2-3 celery branches
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • oh and some black olives, that’s always nice
  • salt, pepper, cumin and a little bit of cayenne pepper

For the mayonnaise

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tblspoon of  moutarde de dijon
  • vegetable oil (I like to use a neutral oil and then finish off with a little bit of olive oil)
  • lemon juice (just a little bit)

Yield: 4

Start with the mayonnaise. Bear in mind that you should try to have the ingredients – roughly – at the same temperature (just remove the egg & mustard from the fridge a little before if you think about it)

  • Mix the yolk with the mustard, salt & pepper;
  • Progressively add oil with a whisker until it reaches the consistency/color &taste you like (I typically taste it regularly and like it when it is still a little mustardy).
  • Now : the secret (to make sure that you mayonnaise ne tourne pas): first make sure that your mayonnaise “prend” by using only a small quantity of oil at a time. The beginning of a mayonnaise is indeed a critical time.
  • Finish off with a little lemon juice (just a gentle squizz). You’ll see the mayonnaise turn to a paler color. It’s cool.

Actually, I shouldn’t call this a mayonnaise but rather a mousseline: I added half the egg white – whisked. Why? Well this way the sauce is lighter.

Le persil plat c'est important

Le persil plat c'est important

Once the mayonnaise is done, well just add the grated carrots, sliced celery, corn, and cut green beans. And of course  the parsley. Never forget parsley. And the olives. I also add a little cumin (half a teaspoon), salt & pepper.

OK – I am all for changing recipes and what not (and I don’t think I have ever followed a recipe a la lettre actually – that’s why I don’t like baking. However, here are a few things I would not advise:

  • Replace handmade mayonnaise by store bought mayonnaise, especially if you live in the US: no offense, but your mayonnaise does not taste like mayonnaise. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t like it or use it. It’s just different. It is OK in sandwiches (i.e. sandwiches you make when you come back from work at 10pm, are starving and want something quick and comfy to put in your stomach) but I would advise against it here, especially if you don’t use fresh ingredients.
  • Use canned green beans. That’s just gross.
  • Use the other kind of parsley, the frizzy stuff… Hate it. No matter how thin you slice it, you always end up with a bit stick in your throat and then you can’t talk and then you can’t swallow and then you die.

I served this with a Croque Monsieur (also a savior when your fridge is almost empty). Not that there is a need of a recipe for this, but I was actually pretty proud with this one – might share it one day.

Poireaux Pommes de Terre

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So Alice told me that I should blog. It’s true that I don’t have a hell of a lot to do these days. Or, rather, I should be actively looking for a job. As everyone knows, and as everyone – especially my dear beloved – keeps telling me “chercher du travail c’est un travail a plein temps” (looking for a job is a full time job).

Well…okay…fine, but you tell me if you manage to write 15 cover letters a day, send thousands of emails and tell everyone all day long how amazing you are and what a great asset you would be to their companies, with you ability to strive under pressure, your particularly acute attention to details – while – it goes without saying – keeping in mind the bigger picture with your strategic mind and analytical skills.

It was time indeed to follow Alice’s advice and example (check out fantastic Quatre Cinquieme, made me realize I desperately needed a white shirt) and start blogging about the only thing I knew a little about – besides of course event planning, project management, human rights, transatlantic relations and all these skills that make me an indispensable asset to any company. That is: FOOD. And, recession oblige, it had to be food on a budget.Poireaux Pomme de terre – Potatoes & Leeks – is actually one of my favorite combination for a good – cheap – hearty meal. It IS spring, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it here in Brooklyn. So let’s take this opportunity to cook a nice poireaux pomme de terre gratin. Because soon we WILL have to cook with those boring springy summery basil, tomatoes, melon and what not. And, lesson number one: never miss an opportunity to use creme fraiche (well, here in Brooklyn, United States, I tend to use regular heavy cream. If I had to use creme fraiche each time I needed creme fraiche here, I would be broke in no time).

I used this recipe from goosto.fr – which I tweaked a little: adding two leeks (I love those leeks), using only a cup of heavy cream (250 ml) – because that’s all I had (and I did quit smoking not so long ago and find it hard to fit into my jeans) – added one fig leaf (because I always do). Oh – and I replaced the hazelnuts by bacon (I know – it doesn’t go too well with my I-just-quit-smoking-and-need-to-loose-weight-remark) but I didn’t have hazelnut.

For those of you who don’t read French (and don’t understand metrics) – here it is:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • 3 leeks
  • sliced bacon (1/2 a cup I would say)
  • nutmeg
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • butter
  • salt & pepper
  • bay leaf

Set your over on 375 F.
In a large saucepan, sautee the bacon and add the leeks – sliced thin and really really nicely rinsed if you don’t want to eat dirt. Salt, pepper, bay leaf. Let it sweat for 10 minutes or so. Add cream & milk and bring to a boil. Add the thinly sliced potatoes. Pour the mix in a buttered oven dish and cook for 1 hour and a half.

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