Green Apple Leek Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

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Fried chickpeas have been on my mind for nearly a month now.  Something I never considered doing until I ate some at a restaurant in Belleville called Le Grand Bain.  I remember crunching on this little pea that was mixed in with a salad that my gal pals and I ordered and thinking Yum, what is this crispy thing?  Chickpeas are a favorite in our family but we usually make regular hummus, beetroot hummus or just have it whole as a snack or mixed in with salads.

I was just waiting for the right time to experiment...

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All set up in my kitchen lab,  I patted dry the chickpeas and placed them carefully into the frying pan.  After 5 minutes of sizzling, they started to brown.   I fished them out with a slotted spoon and let them cool down.  Et voilà!   Here we have some rather crispy tasting snacks with a creamy interior.    You can shake these fried chickpeas up in a paper bag with some herbs and spices or for those with a sweet tooth just add some brown sugar to the mix. 

I'm always looking for toppings that I can sprinkle and toss over a soup or a salad.    This is at the top of my list for the moment so you'll be seeing it in my future posts.

Green Apple Leek Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 3 leeks, julienned
• 2 Granny Smith apple, match sticks
• 1 cup chickpeas, fried
• 170 grams crab meat, shredded (6 ounce tin or 1/2 cup ), or smoked salmon (optional)

Vinaigrette:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• black pepper, adjust accordingly

PREPARATION

Cut the top green part of the leeks off.  You can get rid of the outer stiff layer.  Wash the rest of the greens and store for use another time (vegetable brouillon).

Cut the end of the leek off and then slit the leek down the middle to rinse out any dirt.  Pat it dry.

To cut the leeks into fine julienne slices, fold the leek over in half (not lengthwise), press down and slice thinly lengthwise.

Prepare your steamer basket.  Place the leeks, cover , and steam. 

You want the leeks to be slightly soft but not completely. 

Then take it out of the steamer and run under cold water.

Pat it dry with some paper towels or a clean tea towel.

Fried Chickpeas:

Add some olive oil up to an inch and a half in a medium size pan or pot.   Turn on heat up to high.  Drop in a chickpea to see if the oil is hot enough to fry in.  The chickpea should sizzle.   Add the rest of the chickpeas making sure not to crowd and fry them up for about 5 minutes or until they start turning brown.  They should taste crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Use a slotted spoon to take them out and lay them over a fine wire rack (I used a mesh skimmer) or paper towels.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large serving bowl add the vinaigrette to the leeks and mix thoroughly.  Let it marinate for about 15 minutes.

Then combine the apples and the chickpeas and toss.  Add some black pepper accordingly.



 

Velouté d'Epinards, Fancy Name For Spinach Soup

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Either the green appeals to you or it doesn't but hey I'm not judging it by its color.  I got a eww from my son, Viktor, when I placed a bowl of this soup in front of him which led me to throw in a few ravioles (mini ravioli) to tempt him.  It worked.  He polished off the bowl and I couldn't help but feel smug about it.

Green happens to be one of my favorite colors.  There's something soothing about it along with the scent of fresh cut green grass on a hot summer's day.   During long family road trips as a kid Mum was always telling us to look out the window at the greenery.  "It's good for the eyes", she would say.   Green to me is a peaceful color and when I have a bowl of this soup set in front of me there is this moment of calm and I am grateful for the nutrients that are about to replenish my soul and connect me to Mother Nature.

This is a pure soup which leaves your palate clean and keeps your body feeling snug and toasty.

Vélouté d'Epinards

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

• 400 grams spinach, fresh
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium size onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 leek, chopped
• 2 medium size potatos, small cubes
• 2.5 cups vegetable broth
• 2 cups almond milk
• 1/4 teasoon chili powder ( I used Espelette red pepper)
• 1 sprig rosemary
• Black pepper and salt, adjust accordingly.

Toppings:

Fried or roasted chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, ravioles (I used ravioles du Dauphiné)


INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and then brown your onions and garlic.

Add the leek and potatoes and and cook until the leeks soften.

Add the vegetable broth and bring it all to a boil and then turn down the heat to let it simmer.  Throw in the sprig of rosemary, add the almond milk and wait until the potatoes are cooked through.

Finally add the spinach and let it cook until it starts to wilt. 

Turn off the heat and let it stand.  Take out the sprig of rosemary before whizzing up the soup.



NOTE

I enjoy this soup simply on its own but you can add ravioles, fried chickpeas, pine nuts, etc.
You can adjust consistency of the soup by adding less or more broth as well as keeping it more or less chunky by controlling the blending time.
 

Roasted Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Ingredients: onion, cardammon seeds, ginger, Esplette red pepper, coconut oil, coconut milk, vegetable broth, roasted pumpkin

Ingredients: onion, cardammon seeds, ginger, Esplette red pepper, coconut oil, coconut milk, vegetable broth, roasted pumpkin

I didn't think I could have mishaps with my camera while taking photos of food that doesn't move, food that sits still, and no-motion food but just before the hols I broke my 50mm lens taking pictures of the the raw veggie makis —um, let's just say I had two left feet while jumping over my very still food set.   Then, today my camera somehow fell out of my hand and took a dunk into the soup before splashing everywhere and all I could recall was orange patchy blotches everywhere. 

Clumsy, clumsy me, and a very lucky, lucky me as I had a protection filter that actually did what it was meant to do, protect my lens—close call.   We are all cleaned up now.

Soups are the thing for me lately.  I'm purging myself from refined sugar, dairy products, wheat, and alcohol this month so it's just easier for me to keep a big batch on hand and heat it up whenever I want.   Besides, it's less hassle when I don't have to think about what to eat myself.  Thinking for the three others in my family is plenty enough for me.  Wouldn't you agree?

I usually have a variety of dairy replacements at home but I don't exclude it.  We like to mix it up day to day so it makes it easier for me to snatch a bottle of dairy replacement out of the fridge when I am making something that normally needs some dairy product.  These days I'm just making more of a conscious effort of what I consume than usual.   I'm taking care of myself instead of neglecting myself.  I call it my period of restoration.   This is my jump start into the new year.

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Roasted Pumpkin Ginger Soup

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 700 grams pumpkin, roasted with skin
• 1 small onion
• 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) knob ginger
• 2 cardamom seeds
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 1/4 teasoon chili powder ( I used Espelette red pepper)
• 2 cups (500ml) vegetable broth
• 1/2 cup (100ml) coconut milk

Toppings:

Crushed sea salt, grilled sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds, goji berries




INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot, drop your coconut oil and add the onion, ginger, and cardammon seeds. 

Cook until the onion is brown. 

Add the vegetable broth.

Cut up your roasted pumpkin with the skin into chunks and add it to the pot along with the coconut milk and the chili powder.

Bring the soup to a boil.  Then turn off the heat and let it stand before you use your hand mixer or blender to liquify it.

Use a mortar and pestle and crush some sea salt, grilled sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Sesaon with this topping accordingly. 


 

Creamy Broccoli Soup Without The Cream

Creamy Broccoli Soup—and it's vegan.

Creamy Broccoli Soup—and it's vegan.

Slighty behind from all the holiday celebrations, nevertheless, Happy New Year!   After a fun-filled holiday in the south of France I returned to Paris only to meet "Flu"...

She was relentless and kept me homebound.  She had no plans for me to do a thing.  She wanted me all to herself.  So I obeyed and paid attention.   All I could do was to make offerings of fresh lemons and limes, slices of ginger, lots of honey, some golden powder named tumeric, and sea salt.    She wanted us to have a steam bath...many times.  I think I had 5, 6, 7, I dunno,  I was quite delirious really.  I can't say I much enjoyed bathing in my own sweat.  She finally realized that she overstayed her welcome and left me with some tidying up to do.

Back up on my two feet and I'm ready for some reboot!  I am thinking soups, soups, and more soups.  It's still brrr here and it's the best way for my family and I to get our veggie intake. 

Not being in the mood for dairy these days,  I easily replaced the cream and milky bit in this recipe with almond milk which was what I had on hand.  Give it a try.  I think you may be surprised.  You'll find a gorgeous creamy texture without the fat.  It's a light but very filling soup.   Keep healthy!   xx-M

Creamy Broccoli Soup

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 1 broccoli head, cut into florets and roasted
• 4 cloves garlic, sliced, divided
• 3 tablesoon olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 celery stalk
• 1 onion, small
• 2.5 cups vegetable stock
• 1 cup almond milk


INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl combine the broccoli, half of the garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and toss.

Pre heat the oven to 200° C ( 400° F°).

On a baking sheet spread out the broccoli and bake for 20 minutes until you see the tops get dark and toasty.

During this time, prepare the soup. 

In a medium size pot, add some coconut oil, onions, carrots, celery and cook until slightly softened.  Add your vegetable stock and bring it to a slow boil.

Add your roasted broccoli along with the almond milk and let it simmer until bubbling slightly.

Then turn off the stove and let it cool before whizzing it up in a blender or using your hand blender.

 

 

Pumpkin Roll With Lemon Zest Filling, A Light Version Of La Bûche de Noël

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Buche de Noël is a traditional French dessert often served at a Christmas dinner.  You can find it everywhere during the holiday season.   Elaborately designed Yule logs can be found with a hefty price tag in chic patisseries but you can find industrial made ones and frozen ones in the supermarket too.

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Traditionally made from a Génoise, a light sponge cake covered with chocolate, coffee, or chestnut cream, it is rolled up to resemble a log. 

The tradition of this log dates back to the Celtic times celebrating the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  The burning log was a symbol of the rebirth of the sun as well as an offering of thanks for its return.

As time passed the tradition of burning logs in large hearths were replaced by smaller burning stoves.   With all eyes on the center of activity, the burning log made its way onto the table as a decorative and edible tradition.

You'll be sure to find one at Christmas on most French table tops.  Happy Hols!  xx-M

Pumpkin Roll with Lemon Zest Filling

INGREDIENTS//Yields 1 roll

• 3 eggs, seperated
• 1/2 cup sugar, divided
• 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
• 3/4 cup all purpose flour (I used a blend of all purpose flour and chestnut flour)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch of salt

Filling
• 200 grams cream cheese
• 30 grams butter
• 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest, untreated


INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl beat the egg yolk and half of the sugar( 1/4 cup) and then add in the pumpkin purée.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Pour it into the wet mixture in parts and stir. 

In a mixing bowl, whip up the egg whites until it turns white and forms peaks.  Gently fold this into the above mixture until well combined.

Line a 15 x 10 inch baking pan with parchment paper and pour the batter across the pan.  Smooth it out with a spatula.

Bake at 190° Celsius for 12 minutes.  The cake should be spongy so that when you press down on it it should spring back.  Let it cool for a few minutes.

Spread out a kitchen tea towel on a flat working surface and dust it with some confectioner's sugar.  Turn the cake onto the towel and line up the ends of the cake and the towel.   Carefully peel off the parchment paper and begin to roll up the cake and towel together.  Then set it aside to cool completely.

Prepare your filling by beating the first three ingredients together until smooth and stir in the lemon zest.

Unroll the cake after it has cooled down completely and spread the filling all over it.

Roll it up again and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar when ready to serve.

Raw Vegetable Maki Wrapped in Chicory Leaves and Nori

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Here's a salad wrap to make our winter days brighter.  The idea of eating a salad on this very cold, blustery day was as dim as the grey, gloomy winter sky.   I just made some makizushi for the kids last night.  With no rice left, nor any salmon and avocados, I had a sugarloaf chicory staring at me from the fridge and my leftover cauliflower fluff (plain, grated cauliflower).  

I had been saving the sugarloaf chicory to use as a leaf wrap for another dinner endeavor but that moment was now.   So I seized it and pulled out whatever else I could find from the fridge.

Oh and by the way, cauliflower fluff is used as a rice replacement for those Paleo followers.   Hmpf—I love rice too much to do that!

Well, I found myself in a situation you see... and guess where the cauliflower fluff ended up?  In my maki.

I quickly mixed up some tahini-tamari sauce with a splash of lemon juice to dip these relishing novelties into.   And there you have it, a bite size salad bursting in your mouth.

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Raw Vegetable Maki

INGREDIENTS//Yields 1 roll

• 1 sheet of nori
• Lettuce leaves (I had radicchio and sugarloaf chicory on hand)
• Carrot, raw and match stick size
• Beetroot, raw and match stick size
• Cauliflower, grated


INSTRUCTIONS

Place a piece of nori flat on a bamboo rolling mat lining up the edges.  Starting from the bottom up line a layer of your choice of salad greens until half way up.  I used winter salad leaves like radicchio and sugarloaf chicory since I had it on hand and to add some color to the maki.

Spread your grated cauliflower evenly over your salad greens.  Then add a layer of carrots and beetroot.

To roll, lift the mat up, roll and tuck in the edge of the nori.  Continue to roll over the contents while applying some pressure until you reach the top.  You want the roll to be tight so the ingredients don't fall out.

Slighty wet the top edge of the nori with water to seal the maki.

Using a sharp knife cut the roll in half, then in thirds for 6 bite size pieces.

 

Scrambled Eggs à la Française

Prepare a bain marie.  Fill a pot up with water a little less than midway and bring it to a boil.

Prepare a bain marie.  Fill a pot up with water a little less than midway and bring it to a boil.

In a heat proof bowl (we didn't have one here so we improvised) add your ingredients.

In a heat proof bowl (we didn't have one here so we improvised) add your ingredients.

One of the best ways to start a morning is when you are invited over for an impromptu breakfast.  What was supposed to be a quick café catch up turned into a simple power breakfast à la française.  Meet the man with the orange gloves, Fred, who is my neighbor down the road, an actor, and a clown...

Fred, explaining the basics.

Fred, explaining the basics.

Stir during this slow cooking process.

Stir during this slow cooking process.

Really , Fred is a clown.   I mean besides having a bit of fun in the kitchen, he is a professional clown in the performing arts.   You can usually catch his performance in Paris.  It's a fun family moment to share.   Check in for his next performance here.

Recently, he acquired some heavy duty, vibrant orange cleaning gloves and he was showing them off to me.   Parisian kitchens can be tiny and easily cramped with stuff so he decided to keep the gloves on to distract from the overflowing surroundings and to draw attention on his scrambled eggs à la française that he was about to cook up for me.   This was all in good fun but as an afterthought...probably a safety hazard to keep the gloves on.  Do Not Replicate!!  Burnt rubber stuck to skin will hurt!!

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This morning I was getting an all in one surprise package: a cooking lesson and a power breakfast. 

I thought scrambled eggs was just cracking an egg into a pan and stirring it all up until scrambled.  Who knew? 

Patience though.  This is a slow cooking process and adding good whole fat to the eggs adds taste to this creamy version of scrambled eggs.    Do not expect a light, airy, and fluffy version.   It makes a great spread over toast. 

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Et voilà...

Scrambled Eggs and Beans

Scrambled Eggs and Beans

Scrambled Eggs à la Française

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2-3

• 6 eggs, preferably free-range or organic
• 2 tablespoons buttermilk, crème fraîche, crème liquide, or whole milk (something fatty will do—we even replace it with Philadelphia cream cheese)
• 10 grams butter



INSTRUCTIONS

First prepare a bain marie.    Fill a medium pot with water less than halfway and bring it to a boil.

During this time prepare your eggs.

Add the eggs in heat proof bowl and beat it with a fork. 

Add the buttermilk and stir. 

Now place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and stir your egg mixture around with a spoon. 

This is a slow cooking process.  It takes about 15 minutes or so.

Once it starts to get creamy, take the bowl off the pot and add the butter.

Continue stirring until it gets scrambled.

 

NOTE


Improvisation plays a huge role in the kitchen for me and as you see from the photos we don't have all proper or called for material like a heat proof bowl, nor buttermilk, etc.  Fred used Philadelphia cream and a heavy cream with the eggs.  It turned out fantastic.  So use your instincts and don't be put off from making something just because you don't have the exact ingredient.

Buddha Bowl #2 Featuring Curcuma Cauliflower

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Curcuma, Tumeric, call it what you like.  They both have curcumin as the main active ingredient and apparently this golden spice has great health attributes.  A commonly used Ayurvedic spice, not only does it add a vibrant color to your dish and a nuance to your palate when added in cooking but we can benefit from it too.  Apparently it promotes digestion and supports the immune system and is a a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.  That's just a short list of benefits. 

I love adding this spice to my pasta, rice, and other foods when I feel it's appropriate in taste because everything it touches turns golden in color.  It's the same with beets and the deep blood violet color it rubs off on food turning everything pink-like: beetroot hummus dip and beetroot crackers.

Adding some tumeric to my finely chopped up cauliflower and sautéeing it in some fine fatty butter with garlic is one of my favorite ways to eat cauliflower.  This is one of best ways to cook up a head of cauliflower.  You can add it as a topping over salads, rice, pasta, and serve it as a side dish.  My kids are finicky about this vegetable but when it's in a pasta salad there's no doubt about it.

Curcuma Cauliflower

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

• 1 head cauliflower, finely chopped or grated
• 30 grams butter
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon curcuma (tumeric) powder
• salt, adjusted to taste
• 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet over medium to high heat, melt your butter and then add the garlic and let it  sizzle for about 30 seconds.

Then sauté the cauliflower with garlice in the butter for about five minutes.  Be careful not to over cook as it will turn soft.  I like the cauliflower to be slightly crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.  So keep tasting and cooking it until you find the texture you like.

Add the curcuma, salt, parsley, and give it a quick stir.  It's ready to be served.

 

 

 

Good 'Ole Fashioned Apple Sauce

Speckled Garden Apples

Speckled Garden Apples

It was fall break and many families took advantage of this time to travel within our beautiful country, France.   We went to Marseille in the south of France to visit my belle mère and of course I came back with 3 liters of olive oil.

I reaped in the goods from friends as well: calissons d'Aix au chocolat, piment d'Esplette, sel de Guérande.  Add a crate of garden apples to that and a shoebox of whole shell walnuts and I feel like it's the night before Christmas.

Pictured above are my speckled beauties from the garden of Eden—literally.   Eden goes to school with my daughter, Mila and she picked these apples for us.

From a garden in Limousin to my Parisian table...here we have some good 'ole fashioned apple sauce!

 

Apple Compote

Apple Compote

Good 'Ole Fashioned Apple Sauce

INGREDIENTS//Yields 450 ml or 2 cups

• 11 Golden apples, peeled, deseeded, sliced
• 1 cinnamon stick
• pinch of lemon zest
• 67 grams (1/3 cup) brown sugar
• 100 ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) water

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, combine all your ingredients and cover with a lid.  

Bring it to a boil on high heat and then turn down the heat to let it simmer until it all softens.  It should take about 20 minutes.

You can either mash the apples by hand for a chunkier consistency or use a blender for a purée.

Crustless Potato Leek Tart

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This dish can easily be made with a crust as well but today was one of those days I figured my family could do without wheat in their meals.  Without the crust it's a rendition of the Spanish tortilla where one cooks down the potatoes and the eggs in a frying pan over the stove top and then flips it over.

In this version, I prepared the potatoes and the leeks by cooking them first, then lining the pie pan with the potatoes and topping it off with all the ingredients and popping it into the oven so that the end result you get a nice looking crust of potatoes. 

My potato crusted tart also came out thinner than a Spanish tortilla.  It makes a great combo with a salad served along the side.

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Crustless Potato Leek Tart

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 2 big potatoes , sliced thinly
• 2 leeks, sliced thinly
• 6 eggs
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon cumin powder
• 1/2 teaspoon dried chili powder (I used Esplette and I always have Korean red pepper powder on hand)
• Sea salt, adjust accordingly (I used 1 teaspoon)
• Fresh black pepper, adjust accordlngly
 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pan, heat up some cooking oil.   Then add your potatoes and cook them until they turn translucent and slightly golden around their sides. 

Take it out of the pan and place it in a bowl on the side.

In the same pan, add your leeks and cook them until they soften up.

Take it out of the pan and place it in a bowl on the side.

Using a small glass mixing bowl, combine your eggs, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.  Mix all together.

Using a tart mould (around 10 inches in diameter, 1-1/2 to 2 inches deep or 25 cm in diameter, 4 cm deep), line it with the potatoes up to the sides.  You will have some leftover and you will use this later.

Now spread the leek over the potato lined tart mould and then pour in the egg mixture.

Place the leftover potato slices on top.

Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (approx. 350° F)

Then place it in the oven for 25-30 minutes until set.

 

Pumpkin Lentil Soup

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This is a very hearty soup.  It's a good time for it in Paris since the weather in Autumn goes from grey, cold days to vibrant sunny days where we still need a scarf wrapped around our necks—and it's not just a fashion statement.

The lentils beef up this soup and it makes it a nice replacement to potatoes,  and you'll get some added protein in.      As we are surrounded by an abundance of boulangeries in this city, nothing beats a straight out of the oven baguette.   Tear off a piece, lather it with some slightly salted butter, and drench it in this soup.  Just be sure to have enough leftover to mop up the bottom of your bowl.

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Pumpkin Lentil Soup

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

• 1 medium size yellow onion
• 1 litre vegetable broth
• 1 small pumpkin (around 800 grams), cut into small chunks
• 124 grams (1 cup) lentils
• 1 carrot, chopped into chunks
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon of curcuma (tumeric)
• 1/2 teaspoon dried chili (I used Esplette and I always have Korean red pepper powder on hand)
• salt, adjust accordingly to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large Dutch oven on medium heat add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook your onions until translucent and soft.

Increase the heat.  Add your vegetable broth, the pumpkin, the lentils, the bay leaf, and the carrot and bring it to boiling point.  Then turn down to low-medium heat and cover.

Let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin and lentils are cooked (they will have softened up, and if your pumpkin is slighty harder than the lentils, it's fine.  It will be blended together).  Stir in your tumeric and chili powder.

Let it cool down enough so that you can pour it in a blender and whiz it all up. 

To reheat your soup, pour it back into the Dutch oven and heat at low heat.

 

 

 

Red Kale Aubergine Zucchini Salad

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Oh Kale, you are nutritiously dense,

you are a super food.

Our bodies keep healthy after devouring you

finding ourselves in a good mood.

It only makes sense

you are immense in variety and vitamins.

Loaded with antioxidants and a good source of Vitamin K,

a natural coagulant— blood clotting's great way.

The story is

you are an anti-inflammatory,

fighting against arthritis and autoimmune diseases. 

Detox with you,

and we'll be walking like peacocks spreading its plumes.

 You are in bloom,

It's your day and we will have it your way.

Happy National Kale Day.

 

Red Kale Aubergine Zucchini Salad

INGREDIENTS//Serves 3 (as a main plate)

• 1 bunch Redbor kale, shredded
• 1 eggplant, sliced and grilled
• 2 zucchinis, sliced and grilled
• 1 red pepper, diced
• 120 grams feta cheese, crumbled

dressing

• 3 tablespoons tahini
• 100 ml water
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
• Salt, adjust accordingly

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the dressing first.  Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

In a large mixing bowl combine the kale and the dressing.   The kale is tough so you'll want to massage the dressing into the kale.  Let it marinate for an hour if possible so that it softens up.

I use a grill pan to grill my vegetables.    For the eggplant, salt them first and put them in a colander for it to drain for 30 minutes.  Then rinse it off with water and pat it dry with a tea towel.

Brush olive oil on both sides of your eggplant.

Turn on the heat to medium-high.  Place the eggplant on the grill and cook until brown and until the flesh has softened up.

To grill the zucchinis, just brush both sides with olive oil and place it on the grill pan for 3-4 minutes on each side.

In a large serving bowl, combine your dressed kale, pepper, and feta cheese.  Then lay the grilled vegetables over the salad and serve.

Tiramisu aux Mirabelles

Beautiful destoned mirabelles.

Beautiful destoned mirabelles.

Cook down until nice and soft, almost mushy but still intact.

Cook down until nice and soft, almost mushy but still intact.

I love visiting kitchens that aren't mine and most of all I love it when people cook things up for me.   This week I had the pleasure of visitng Corinne's new home and we christened her kitchen with a tiramisu aux mirabelles.

Corinne whipping up the filling.

Corinne whipping up the filling.

Cream filling.

Cream filling.

I told you in my last post that I couldn't get enough of mirabelles.  I also couldn't forget the tiramisu aux fraises that Corinne once made for me.   Mirabelle season is in full swing and they are sold everywhere at the moment.  So when Corinne offered to make tiramisu aux mirabelles I thought aloud, "ooh, how could I refuse a beautiful invitation—double ooh—I never even thought of a recipe like this!"

Cooking with style.

Cooking with style.

Madeleines soaked in mirabelle liqueur.

Madeleines soaked in mirabelle liqueur.

For her recipe she used liqueur de mirabelle which she made herself.  I missed out on the "making of " this liqueur so I simply replaced it with Grand Marnier which I found much subtler than the liqueur de mirabelle.  I'm not a huge liqueur fan when it comes to mixing it with sweets but that's just personal taste.

The first layer.

The first layer.

Keep layering.

Keep layering.

Corinne, being her gracious, gorgeous, red-headed self was not satisfied with the overall presentation of the dessert.   It did not give off the tantalizingly delicious effect she expected but au contraire, I can tell you it certainly was delish. 

Time to chill.

Time to chill.

Hours later enjoying the fruit of her success.

Hours later enjoying the fruit of her success.

Her tip: try using non-transparent individual jars or glasses to fill your tiramisu and add some edible colorful flower or herb to give it that "pop!" to the eye for those special guests you want to impress.

Tarte aux Mirabelles

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

• 400 grams mirabelle, destoned
• 30 grams butter
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liquor (optional)
• 3 egg yolks
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 sachets vanilla sugar
• 375 grams mascarpone
• 20 cl heavy whipping cream (keep it in the refigerator until you use it)
• 6 madeleines
 

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt the butter in a medium size pan over low heat.  Add the mirabelles and cook it over low heat for three minutes and then add the sugar.

Keep cooking the mirabelles until they soften up and caramelize.  Add the Grand Marnier.

When the mirabelles are nice and mushy (similar to the texture of an over riped fruit) turn off the heat and let it cool.

Pass it through a sieve to collect the liquid.  Set it aside.

To prepare the cream filling first whip your cream. 

In a small mixing bowl add the heavy cream (it should be cold, right out of the fridge).  Use a hand mixer and begin to whip increasing the speed until medium.  Continue whipping until the cream stiffens.  It should take about eight to ten minutes.  Set it aside.

In another medium size mixing bowl combine the egg yolks and the vanilla sugar.  Then add the mascarpone and mix well. 

Add in half the liquid you strained from the cooked down mirabelles and slowly add in the whipped cream mixing by hand.  Combine well.

Save the other half of the liquid to coat your madeleines.  Set it aside.

You can use individual dessert jars or a small pan for your tiramisu.

Begin with a layer of madeleine, a layer of the cream, a layer of the mirabelles, and finish with a layer of cream.

Cover it up and place it in the refigerator to chill for at least 3 hours.  Take it out when ready to serve.



 

'Tis the Season for Tarte aux Mirabelles

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At the farmer's market you'll find an abundance of these lttle darlings, mirabelles.  It's the season and they are everywhere.    Apparently the etymology of mirabelle means "wondrous beauty".  

These cherry tomato size plums are flavorful, delicate, and sweet.    They hail from Lorraine, the north-eastern region of France and they are nowhere to be found in the U.S.A. because they have a protected origin designation that makes it impossible to import them.    So, they are banned from the U.S. which is why I was deprived of these wondrous beauties in my youthful years.

These plums don't have a high liquid content so they are perfect for dessert pies and jams.  This is an easy, "impress your Amercian friends and guests"  kind of dessert.

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Tarte aux Mirabelles

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

Pâte Brisée (pastry crust)
• 220 grams of flour
• 110 grams of unsalted butter, cut up and just out of the fridge
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 50 ml water

Fruit Filling
• 500 grams of ripe mirabelles, halved and destoned
• 1/2 sachet of vanilla sugar (optional)
 

INSTRUCTIONS

To prepare the pastry crust use a medium size mixing bowl and sieve the flour and cinnamon powder into it. 

Then knead in the pieces of butter so that you have pieces that resemble coarse breadcrumbs.

Add some water into the mixture and keep on kneading gently until you can roll the dough into a ball.

On a flat surface add some flour and roll out the ball of dough with a rolling pin to fit a 23 cm (9 inch) tart mould. 

Pat the the pastry into the round mould carefully pressing in the sides.  Cut away any excess dough and use it fill gaps in round.

Wrap the dough lined mould in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to chill for an hour.

Prick the dough all over with the tips of the fork.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and line the dough with some baking sheet paper and baking beans or use rice to weigh down the pastry dough.

Preheat the over to 200°C (390° F) and place the pastry in the oven and pre-bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the baking beans and baking sheet paper and you should have a biscuit like texture.

Once your pastry is pre-baked, starting from the outside of the mould arrange the mirabelles face up and back to back working inwards.

Sprinkle vanilla sugar over it and pop it back in the oven for another 30 minutes at 200° C (390° F).

The mirabelles will have softened and caramelized, and will have a glistening shine.

Cut into equal parts and serve warm or cold.

Spaghetti Squash with a Splash of Red Curry Shrimp

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Oh là là...la rentrée est là!  It's back to school here for us Parisians.  After an 8 week summer break we are happy to be eating our local veggies again.  This week I came home with a spaghetti squash in my bag.  Its been a long while since I've had one of these.  I can actually say the last time I had it was when I was living in New York— ahem, that would be more than ten years ago.

Association pour le Maintien d’une Agriculture Paysanne (AMAP)

Association pour le Maintien d’une Agriculture Paysanne (AMAP)

While collecting my veggies of the week I overhead many fellow food co-op members struggling about how to season their spaghetti squash.  It seemed like many of them were not so excited to meet the spaghetti squash again this week (note: it's my first one I've encountered since I have been a wanderlust this summer). 

Fearing a bland and soggy outcome and not wanting to follow the traditional marinara sauce route because nothing is worse than non "al dente spaghetti" and red sauce, I opted for an Asian twist—I was not in a gratin state of mind either.

It turns out the spaghetti squash on its own has a slight buttery sweetness which you can taste through the red curry piquant sauce.  The assisting pineapple adds to that sweetness.  This dish is filling enough to eat as is but for the rice eaters out there, this is a great topper.

Big cheer to starting off the school year with a rah-rah spirit!

Spaghetti Squash with a Splash of Red Curry Shrimp

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4
• 1 Spaghetti Squash (mine weighed 1400 grams), roasted
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1.5 tablespoon red curry paste (add more if you like it spicy)
• 125 ml ( 1/2 cup) coconut milk
• 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
• 150 grams pineapple, canned and cut
• 1 cup edamame beans
• 300 grams (23-25 pieces) shrimp
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 3-4 stems fresh coriander
• 3-4 stems fresh Thai basil or regular basil

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat your oven to 200° celcius.

Cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Using a soup spoon scrape out the seeds.  Place it flat down on a baking dish and add a quarter cup of water to the pan to help keep the surface from drying out.  Let it roast in the oven for 40 minutes.  All ovens vary so slice a knife through the skin to see if it is tender.

Take it out and let it cool.

To prepare the red curry sauce, add your oil and onions in a pan and cook it until it becomes translucent. 

Combine the red curry paste, tamarind paste and half of the coconut milk and stir until it slightly thickens. 

Add the edamame beans and shrimp and let it cook until the shrimp turns pink and then add the fish sauce, the pineapple and the rest of your coconut milk. 

Stir in some fresh basil leaves and let is simmer on low heat until ready to serve.

After the spaghetti squash has cooled down, use a fork to pull out your spaghetti shreds lengthwise for longer "noodles".

Place it in a large serving dish and top it off with the shrimp red curry sauce.

Garnish with lots of fresh coriander and serve.

 

NOTE

I used frozen edamame beans and I put them in directly to cook with the sauce.  It only takes about 5 minutes for it to soften up.  You can also use frozen shrimp but just be aware that there will be more liquid content. 

If you don't have any shrimp on hand, salmon and chicken are good substitutes.

 

Kohlrabi Salad with Beetroot and Granny Smith Apple

Oh boy, it's hot in Paris.  I call it cani-kill but most properly in French it's canicule which is a scorching heatwave.    With temperatures reaching the high 30's (celsius) and even near the 50's for the poor bakers in the bakery, one has to remember to keep hydrated.   

No air con here—  this is living in France.   Air conditioners are not commonplace in France, especially in Paris where the city codes don't allow us to blemish their beautiful historic building facades.  So I sit in my bathing suit while writing this with beads of sweat dripping down the sides of my face, forming along the back of my nape, and rolling down my back and chest.  We are on a heatwave alert, level orange.

Fortunately, Paris has plenty of municipal pools and fountains.  Remember the scene from La Dolce Vita with Anita Ekberg wading into the Trevi Fountain—well, then you can imagine how lucky we are to be able to jump into the waters of our equally beautiful fountains in Paris and recreate that scene.   They are open to the public and it's a fantastic way to keep cool.

These days it's tough to muster up any energy to do anything, much less cook.   I've got a super simple recipe for us today.   Just chop, chop away these three crispy, hydrating and refreshing ingredients and voilà, the hard part is done.  Otherwise just throw it all in a robot (food processor in French) and let it do the work!

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So raw & crunchy...and so simply delicious.   Stay cool.

Kohlrabi Salad with Beetroot and Granny Smith Apple

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2-4
• 1 medium size kohlrabi, matchstick
• 1 small size beetroot, matchstick
• 1 granny smith apple, matchstick
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• Salt and pepper, adjust accordingly

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the matchstick size kohlrabi, beetroot, and Granny Smith apple in a bowl.

Squeeze some lemon, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

 

Christoph, the Man Behind the Mayo

Separate the egg yolk from the egg white.

Separate the egg yolk from the egg white.

Drizzle a thin stream of oil while whisking continuously.

Drizzle a thin stream of oil while whisking continuously.

Whisk it up with Dijon mustard.

Whisk it up with Dijon mustard.

After 4 minutes you will have thick mayonnaise.

After 4 minutes you will have thick mayonnaise.

We just spent the long weekend in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace.  It is not only home to several European institutions, ahem, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe just to name one or two but it is also the new home to our ex-Parisian neighbors and friends who left us behind.  So we had to pay them a visit and found ourselves in the Upper Rhine Plain sandwiched between the Vosges mountains and the Black Forest.

Remember Lady Jo?  Well, take a look at her hubby, Christoph, making mayonnaise.   What a dynamic duo!  While she reigns over the sweets, he reigns over the savory bits.   It's a four minute process and it is way better than any of that store-bought stuff.  Trust me, I am documenting this for our own good.  You won't go back to mayo in a tube (that's how it's packaged in France) once you have tried this.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise

"A successful mayonnaise is one with a standing spoon in it"  says the man behind the mayo.

Christoph introducing a crémant d'Alsace, domaine Zinck.

Christoph introducing a crémant d'Alsace, domaine Zinck.

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While Christoph was making the mayo, our boys were out in the garden picking cassis or blackcurrant for our muesli breakfast in the morning.  By the way,  here's a post on my milk kefir,  those very same grains have spread and traveled to Alsace tooWhat did you think we were having our muesli with...kefir and cassis of course!  Leave it to Lady Jo to keep us nice and healthy before attacking the Black Forest—and I don't mean the cake, I mean the hike.

Cassis

Cassis

Cassis is a small deep purple berry and —boy, it's tart with a mild sweetness and jam-packed full of vitamins and antioxidants. 

This Alsatian cake landed on our breakfast table too...

Kugelhopf, Alsatian cake.

Kugelhopf, Alsatian cake.

Needless to say, we had a fantastic time with the dynamic duo and now I have another memory jotted down.  Sharing great moments with friends and recipes of course brings me joy.    We can thank Christoph for this one!

Christoph's Homemade Mayonnaise

INGREDIENTS

• 1 free-range egg, yolk only
• 150-220 ml sunflower oil
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• salt, adjust accordingly
• pepper, adjust accordingly

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl with the mustard, 

Continue to whisk and add some of the oil with a steady thin stream.   It will thicken up.

Then add more oil.  It will loosen the mayonnaise up.  Keep whisking until it thickens up again. You will find the color turning paler and brighter.

Gradually add the remaining oil while whisking continuously. 

Then add some salt and pepper accordingly.  Transfer it to a small dipping bowl and serve.
 

 

 

 

A Date With Bok Choy

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White Bok Choy, 白菜

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I am home alone and a simple meal with bok choy is what is in store for me.  Apparently, it's a top nutrient-dense food full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are associated to promoting strong bones and good eye health.   That means a good amount of vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Studies have shown that this Chinese cabbage is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables that contains glucosinolates (more than most other cruciferous vegetables) which is associated to a reduced cancer risk.

No drooling please but I'm dining with a cancer-fighting warrior tonight. 

Stir Fried Bok Choy

INGREDIENTS

• 1 bunch bok choy
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• salt, adjust accordingly


PREPARATION

Cut off the ends of the bok choy and then cut the vegetable lengthwise.   Wash all the soil off and then let it dry.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Add the oil in your wok and turn the heat up high. 

Add the garlic and swirl it around the wok, then quickly add the halved bok choy. 

Stir quickly so that the garlic doesn't sit at the bottom and burn.  Keep stirring for about a minute or until the green part of the vegetable starts to wilt. 

Add some salt, stir, and cover with a lid.  Turn down the heat and continue to let it cook for another 30 seconds.

The leaves should be soft and the stems should have a slight crunch to it.

 

NOTE

Bok choy can be steamed and boiled as well.  You can easily find this on a menu in a Chinese restaurant served with oyster sauce.

Rainbow Fresh Spring Rolls

Ingredients for a colorful fresh spring roll.

Rice paper wraps filled with raw vegetables.

Rice paper wraps filled with raw vegetables.

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I love Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, also known as summer rolls.  Rice paper wraps offer another gluten free wrap option.  Be sure to double check the ingredient list as not every rice paper wrap is gluten free if you are looking for this option.

Just like nori for making sushi maki, rice paper wrap can be used to roll up anything you can think of.  My kids like to make their own and they can get very creative with it;  imagine a fresh fruit coulis drizzled over it—blueberry to be precise.  I am kindly reminded by them that I a missing a spectrum of blues, indigos, and violets for it to called a rainbow.

Here's a blend of my veggie fruit wrap.  It's a light starter and a pretty bite size treat for everyone.

Rainbow Rolls

INGREDIENTS

• 1 carrot
• 1 red pepper
• 1 mango
• 1 cucumber
• 1 avocado
• A handful of mint leaves
• Rice paper , 22 cm

PREPARATION

Cut and slice your vegetables into thin strips.   Place them into separate bowls.

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare a pan filled with a half inch of warm water.    Take a piece of rice paper and place it in the pan of water, flipping it quickly so that both sides are wet and then place it on a flat work space (I use a silicone or wooden chopping board).  Use your fingers to rub in the water and to flatten out the rice paper.

Place your sliced vegetables about a a third up of the rice paper and leaving an inch and a half on the sides.  Then line up two or three pieces of mint leaves next to it and another line of avocado so that you will have 3 rows neatly lined up next to each other. 

Start from the bottom and roll up into your first line of vegetables, tuck in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll up.

Using a sharp knife cut the rolls in half and then in thirds.  Line them up on a tray and serve immediately.  You can also plastic wrap it and place it in the fridge to serve later.

NOTE

You don't want your rice paper to be too wet otherwise it will tear. Give it a give dip on both sides and quickly take it out as it will continue to absorb the water once it is placed on your flat work space.

Practice makes perfect.  Keep your rolls tight when rolling and make sure not to overstuff your rolls. 





 

 

Beetroot Brownies

Beetroot Brownies

INGREDIENTS//Yields 12 squares

• 1 medium size beetroot (approximately 250 grams), finely grated
• 130 grams dark chocolate, chopped
• 130 grams butter
• 3 tablespoons agave or honey
• 100 grams chestnut flour
• 30 grams cacao powder
• 3 whole eggs, whisked
• A pinch of sea salt
 

INSTRUCTIONS
 

In a medium size pot add some water and boil the beets until soft.  Then use a sieve and drain all the water out.  With the help of a back of a spoon, press into the beets to squeeze out any excess liquids.  Set it aside.

Melt your chocolate and butter in a bain-marie.  Then pour it into a blender, add the beetroot and the agave, and whiz it up.  Set it aside.

In a seperate mixing bowl combine your chestnut flour, cocao powder, and egg.  Mix by hand.

Add a pinch of sea salt and fold in the chocolate beetroot mixture.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and pour in your mix.

Pop it into your pre-heated oven at 160° Celsius and bake for 30 minutes or until you can slide a knife into it and pull it out clean.