Tag Archives: Parsley

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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Lemon mi amore

Le citron c'est important

Le citron c'est important

You are going to think that I am flaky, unreliable even: still no luck at Momofuku Ko. But that’s also because I still didn’t manage to be there at 10:00 am on the dot. I was there at 9:58 – and then something happened and next thing I know it’s 10:10 am already and Momofuku Ko is all reserved for the next week.Oh well.

I already shared my love for flat-leaves Parsley. Wonderful Parsley. And with Parsley comes Lemon, often. Lemon is indeed another one of my must-haves. I am wondering whether I shouldn’t have started with it actually. For when I am out of lemon, I am not the same. Really. A little bit like when you are out of salt. Or when you get the filter in the coffee machine in the morning, add water…and then realize you are out of coffee. Well, you get the picture.

Lemon does wonder in the kitchen. It’s cheap: I got 5 for 2 dollars at Union Market the other day (and Union Market is not really known for being cheap). You can keep them forever in the fridge (which means that you CAN buy 5 lemons). And here is an idea of all the nice things you can do with them:

  • the obvious: la vinaigrette. I use it all the time instead of vinegar – I find that vinegar is usually not good if you are not willing to pay the price (don’t get me started on fake balsamic vinegar). So my usual vinaigrette is as follows:
  • 1 measure of olive oil+ 1 measure of lemon + 1 measure of water + salt & pepper
    + 1 handful of parsley

    Yes: water. Because it’s light – but wet also. Likewise, I use lemon in mayonnaise, but also in any sauce, cream with yogurt or cream cheese or both.

  • the less obvious: did you know that lemon is a thickener? That’s why I often use it in pasta sauce (see for example my Baby Spinach Carbonara). Not only does it thickens the sauce, but it’s also light (unlike corn starch) and it can give the sauce a little twist which I like.
  • also less obvious: in soups. I like to finish off a vegetable soup with a little lemon juice. It’s actually a trick I learned from my sister’s Hungarian husband (not only does he play a gazillion instruments, but the guy can cook too AND il a de la vigne (he bought a vineyard, yep).

Note that I also like lime – great in salsas of course – but also in vinaigrette when summer comes (which has yet to happen on my part of the world). And of course, there are also recipes entirely centered around lemons, including one of my very best favorite desserts: la tarte au citron meringuee de ma maman (my mommy’s lemon pie with meringue). Too bad I can’t bake, otherwise I would have shared it with you.

Oh – and one big caveat: please don’t use store-bought lemon juice. Please. It tastes like plastic. And what, you are so lazy you can’t squeeze the lemon with your hands? Your hands are so delicate you can’t use one of them as a colander to prevent the seeds to get into your vinaigrette? Please.

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Parsley mon amour

In an ideal world, I would select all the recipes I want to make during the week, and build my shopping list based on these choices, and then go shopping. Well, thing is, I am pretty lazy . And I usually think of what I am going to cook AFTER I go to the grocery store. And of course I can’t be bothered to go back to the grocery store. (Although I am planning on using tastyplanner.com some day and see if that helps)

img_0230How can I even cook – let alone cook good stuff if I don’t shop accordingly ? Well, that’s – among other things – because I heavily rely on my must haves, some key ingredients which I would add to almost every single dish – and couldn’t cook without.

First of: Parsley. Granted, I haven’t posted a lot of recipes yet, but I am pretty sure parsley is almost in all of them. I always use flat leaves parsley. Never could understand why you would use the curly kind –  it’s gross.  Parsley goes pratically everywhere:

  • Salads & salad dressing : I usually add Parsley to almost every salad dressing I make. Also, it is a good replacement in case Spring comes in, you have tomatoes, goat cheese/mozzarella (di buffala, please) or feta cheese, some black olives, lemon. But hey, you don’t have basil. Well, use parsley instead. Or, you have these great avocados, so ready to be transformed into a nice tasty guacamole but hey, no cilantro. Well Parsley will do the trick. Why not, you would ask, use basil in a tomato-mozarella salad and cilantro in a guacamole? Don’t get me wrong, I love basil & I love cilantro. But I remember so many occasions where I would buy this big, great bunch of basil…and end up throwing half of it because it went bad. Mind you, what about doing a pesto with this? And you would be right – could be the topic of another post.
  • I have the nicest childhood memories of poelee de cepes in the Fall. OK, might be difficult to find cepes here (and ridiculously expensive) but sauteed mushrooms with parsley and garlic is always a delish. If you want to make it into an omelet that’s good too. And you can even throw in a little bacon if you wish (bacon is another must-have-of-mine).
  • Oh – and what about fresh green beans with crushed garlic, olive oil (or butter) with parsley? Or green peas for that matter.
  • I also love to add parsley to my pasta (see my Baby Spinach carbonara recipe for example).

Anyway, you get the point. I find it difficult to find an aromatic herb easier to use than parsley. Not that parsley should be the only herb in your fridge. But still, it’s a pretty good one to have.

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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.