Butternut Squash With Wild Rice Medley

 Roasted Butternut Squash With Wild Rice Medley

Roasted Butternut Squash With Wild Rice Medley

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! Hollering out to my compatriots worldwide…I just feel like shouting out. It’s a day to remind us to be grateful for the love that surrounds us and the abundance of food that keeps us alive so let’s be loud about it.

I’m so far away from all the festivities of family, long weekends, parades, football playing on the t.v. set (who really cares but it has its role on this day) , turkey basting, the savory and sweet scents wafting through the house like living in a gingerbread house with a dash of falling salt snow. Then there’s the stuffing recipes, oh! and the classic tempting pecan pies, pumpkin pies, sweet potato mash— might as well throw in the marshmallow fluff. Every which way you turn in the kitchen there is some side dish or dessert to stick your nose or fingers into until the big bird is ready to be served. Alas, stuffing ourselves silly with these cornucopia of Thanksgiving ritualistic delights, then spending the long weekend recovering from food coma.

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So you see I am slightly nostalgic about this day although I really hadn’t had a thought to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for today since we will be acknowledging and celebrating Thanksgiving with friends on December 1st ( a Saturday) due to the work and school schedule tomorrow. I can’t cash in on all the U.S. holidays over here in France but it’s alright because overall we get more holidays in France than in the States.

There is a warmth that flows through my blood on this cold and grey looking Thanksgiving day and it’s my duty to share that with my kids and my French hubby. Our usual ritual is to go to a local American diner-themed restaurant called Breakfast of America where we are transported momentarily to the States and milkshakes are the first call to order as we continue our own family tradition living in Paris and give thanks to what we have today.

Butternut Squash With Wild Rice Medley

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 1 butternut squash
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• A pinch of ginger, freshly grated
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 250 grams wild rice
• 240 grams or 1 cup green lentils, cooked
• 30 grams butter, divided
• 1 garlic clove, grated
• 1/2 small cauliflower, grated
• 1 teaspoon curcuma(tumeric) powder
• 1 tablespoon nut oil
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 bunch flat parsley, chopped
• 60 grams of pecan, roasted and brown sugar coated
• 2 tablspoons brown sugar


PREPARATION

Roasted Pecans

In a small pot melt the butter (15 grams) and the brown sugar together.
Stir in the pecans and try to coat all the pecans with the syrupy mix.
Pour it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper so that it’s ready to go in the oven.

Butternut Squash
In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar, ginger, and honey together.
Halve the butternut squash and score the flesh with a knife.
Pour the sauce mix over the butternut squash before placing in the oven.

Cauliflower Fluff

In a pan, heat up 15 grams of butter.
Add the grated garlic and cauliflower. Cook for about 8 minutes.
Add the curcuma and stir. Take it off the stove until ready to add to the wild rice medley.

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre heat your oven to 170°C.

Then place the pecans in the oven for about 10 minutes to roast.
Take them out, let it cool, and place it aside until ready to use.

Pre heat your oven to 200° C or 400° F. Place the butternut squash in a baking pan with the flesh face up and place it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Wild Rice Medley

Combine your cooked wild rice and lentils.

Add your olive oil and nut oil.

Then toss in the cauliflower fluff and the parsley.

Add salt and pepper according to your taste buds.

Once the butternut squash is roasted, take it out and place some of the wild rice medley in the groove, garnish with the roasted pecans and serve.

NOTE

If your butternut squash is small enough you can serve each half individually. If it is a large butternut squash, you can quarter it with a knife or tear it apart with your hands (make sure not to burn yourself!). Then plop a few spoonfuls of the wild rice medley on top and it’ll be ready to serve.



Open Face Tortillas With Seared Tuna and Mirabelle Chutney

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The great thing about open face tortillas is that it’s a fun and colorful presentation added to the dining table. It’s simple as long as you have all your ingredients laid out before you to choose from.

The best thing is that you can even immerse your guests or entertain the kids in their own experience by letting them build their own tortillas (less work for you to do!). This is the way we do it at home.

It’s one of our favorite meals as it resembles our maki-making meals too. As long as you offer enough veggie choices and a protein option you won’t have to worry about your kid not eating a balanced meal.

This mix and match combo is an enjoyable meal for the family.

 Seared Tuna With Mirabelle Chutney

Seared Tuna With Mirabelle Chutney

Open Face Tortillas With Seared Tuna and Mirabelle Chutney

INGREDIENTS//Yields 6 tortillas

• 6 tortillas or corn tortillas (gluten-free option)
• 500 grams fresh tuna, seared and sliced
• 2 tablespoons sake
• A handful of fresh coriander, chopped up or torn into pieces
• 1 red onion, sliced thinly
• 1 tomato, sliced thinly
• 1 beetroot, steamed or boiled and sliced thinly

Mirabelle Chutney

• 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
• 2 cardamom pods
• 1 clove
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1 clove garlic, grated
• 1/2 lime juiced
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1/4 -1/2 inch fresh chili pepper
• 250 grams mirabelle, de-seeded and quartered (mangoes are another option)

Preparation

Marinate the tuna in the sake for at least 15 minutes before searing. Before cooking, make sure to pat it dry.

Instructions

Mirabelle chutney

Place the first nine ingredients in a medium size pot on medium heat.

As it starts to simmer, add the mirabelles and let it simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

It will start to thicken and get syrupy.

Take it off the stove and let it cool.

Tuna

To sear your tuna simply coat your cast iron skillet or pan with some cooking oil and turn your stove up on high heat.

Gently place one side of the tuna down and let it cook for about a minute and a half depending how thick your tuna is and how rare you like it. Turn it over and repeat. I also like to give the sides a quick turn as well.

When it cools down, cut it in slices about a quarter to half inch thick.

Assembling your torillas

Lay out your warm torilla and place your vegetables over them, following with a piece or two of the seared tuna.

Sprinkle some coriander over it, finally topping it off with some chutney.

NOTE

I used whatever vegetables were in my fridge so it happened to be a green tomato and beetroot. You can use whatever vegetable combination you have in your fridge. It’s a great way to use what’s left in your fridge.




Kale Azuki Power Bowl With Tahini Almond Dressing

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Kale has long been hailed as a superfood and with its health halo its been trendy for quite some time now. I took a break from kale when I arrived in France in 2005. It was hard to be found if it was even offered at all.

By now, fall 2018, it has popped up in a bunch of health food stores all over Paris. I just noticed this season I am even starting to find some in my AMAP basket.

Inconvenient to find at times, I’ve been disappointed when preparing this salad while starting off with all the other ingredients and then discovering that I have to go out and search for my kale only to come back with replacement chicories. Replacement chicories are fine too, don’t get me wrong—but it’s just that when you have your heart set on something…

It has gained popularity here and no wonder since it’s packed with vitamins A, C, K and is rich in antioxidants. And if you want twice the amount of antioxidants go for the red kale !

This cruciferous vegetable has a hearty leaf and will soften up when coated in a dressing. You can prepare this ahead of time since the leaves won’t wilt straight away.

I love it on a bed of mixed brown rice and quinoa for a full meal accompanied with some beetroot hummus and avocado. This power bowl will keep you plowing through the day.

Kale Azuki Power Bowl with Tahini Almond Dressing

INGREDIENTS//Serves 3-4

• 250 grams fresh kale leaves, chopped finely
• 50 grams azuki beans, dried (black beans work nicely too. Use tinned beans if pressed for time)
• 1 eggplant, roasted
• 2 zucchinis, grilled
• 1 beetroot, steamed and diced

Dressing

• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
• 1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter (Purée Amande Complete en français)
• 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 100 ml water

PREPARATION

For the dressing combine the first six ingredients in a blender ( a mini blender is convenient for dressings like these) with half the water (50ml) and whizz it up. Gradually add the rest of the water to get loosen the dressing up.

INSTRUCTIONS

Put the chopped kale leaves in a large mixing bowl and add the dressing. Be sure to coat the kale all over.

Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale if need be.

I like to let the kale marinate for 15 minutes if I’ve got the time.

Then toss in the beans and the rest of the vegetables: eggplant, zucchinis, beetroot.

Ready to serve!





Fried Green Zebra...Tomatoes!

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Green Zebra tomatoes and fried green tomatoes are all a first for me. Unfortunately, I was too eager to cook them up before I could snap a portrait of the Green Zebra tomato to show you its beauty.

It’s vibrant green skin is vertically striped all around with a slight yellow hue. It’s perfectly taut, citrusy, and sweet.

The film title Fried Green Tomatoes popped in my mind straight away when I hovered over my little lovelies on the kitchen top. So there you have it…

Fried Green Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS//Yields 12-15 pieces

• 3 green tomatoes or Green Zebra Tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch (approx. 1.3 cm) thick
• 1/2 cup (60 grams) corn starch
• 1 egg, whisked
• Half tablespoon crème fraîche (I didn’t have buttermilk but it is widely used in this recipe)
• 2 cups (100 grams) panko bread crumbs
• 1 tablespoon of mixed herbs and spices, your preference (I used cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper)

Dip

• 125 grams greek yogurt (an individual container serving size)
• Half clove garlic
• 5 sprigs of parsley
• 1 lemon wedge
• Salt, adjust accordingly

PREPARATION

Mix the herbs with the corn starch in a bowl.

Add the crème fraîche to the egg and whisk in a separate bowl.

Add salt and pepper to the panko breadcrumb in another bowl.

Lay out the three bowls in the order you will use them: corn starch, egg, panko.
 

Dip

In a small blender or mixer combine all the ingredients and whizz it up.

Pour it into a small bowl, add salt to adjust accordingly.

INSTRUCTIONS

Pour some vegetable oil in a large skilet about a half inch deep.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat.

After the oil is heated start your tomatoes by going down the assembly line: dredge it in the corn starch, then dip it into the egg mix, and then completely coat with the panko, and place it gently in the heated oil.

Continue until the pan is almost full making sure not to overcrowd the tomatoes.

Fry each side until golden brown. Take it out and lay it on a wire rack or napkins to drain some of the oil.

Serve with the dip.


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.

Turning Leftover Mash Potatoes to Homemade Gnocci

Mamie Jacotte was in town.  She usually cooks up a storm for us and it was no different this time around. 

I leaped at the idea when she mentioned that we could make gnocci with the leftover mash potatoes.  We love gnocci and had never made them from scratch.  On top of that, Mila was home so what better idea than to spend the afternoon with her Mamie Jacotte learning how to make gnocci.

The kids are lucky to have grandparents with healthy appetites or rather in this case a grandparent who loves to cook.   Needless to say, Mamie Jacotte spends a lot of time in the kitchen.  She's a wonderful hostess who adores entertaining too and you can usually find her with a glass of bubbles in her hand.

One nice thing is coming home from a long day, stepping off the elevator and being enveloped by the warmth and aroma of her cuisine.  The best part is opening the door to the apartment to be greeted by her and to feel so thankful all that warmth and aroma is coming from my own home.

 

Homemade Gnocci

INGREDIENTS//Serves 5-6

• 650 grams mashed potatoes
• 2 eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg yellow)
• 1/4 tspn nutmeg
• 200 grams flour

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl with your mash potatoes, stir in the nutmeg and the eggs.

Slowly add some flour, a tablespoon or two at a time to combine with the mash potatoes.

Keep adding the flour and gently knead with your hands until you get a dough-like consistency and until the dough does not glue to your finger or the sides of the bowl.  You still want the dough to be slightly sticky but firm enough to hold its shape.

Once you have a ball of dough, you can quarter it, take a piece and roll it into a thin, long log.

On a floured surface, place the log shaped dough in front of you and cut it into 1-1 1/2 inch size pieces.

With the back of the fork, gently press into each piece to create the ridges. 

Sprinkle the dough with a litte flour.

In a large pot of boiling water, add a bit of salt.

Add a batch of gnocci in the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they rise to the top and use a slotted spoon to scoop it out.  Continue to cook in batchfuls.

Season with some salt and pepper, sprinkle with your favorite cheese and drizzle on some olive oil.

 

NOTE

I used our left over mashed potatoes in this recipe which was already seasoned with dallops of crème fraîche, olive oil, nutmeg, and salt.   It brought out more flavors in the gnocci. 

 



 

Beetroot Crackers

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'll be celebrating on Saturday with friends.  As the years go by in Paris, I find myself defeated against upholding a traditional fanfare feast each year.  The thought of basting a Turkey—which I don't even eat—for hours and preparing all the side dishes that go along with it just plain 'ole fatigues me.

The fact that it is celebrated on a Thursday is another challenge.  We obviously don't get the long weekend to recuperate from all that feasting, but we don't even get the turkey Thursday off to feast.   But of course, I'm in France.  What do I expect?  What does anyone expect around me?  What does anyone expect from me? 

You got it...nothing.

I try to give a nod to turkey Thursdays, as there is a whole lot to be thankful for.  I've been reduced to taking the family out to a local "American" diner called Breakfast of America (BOA) in the Marais where they usually serve turkey plates on this particular Thursday. 

The ironic thing is that my French husband usually winds up being the only one ordering the turkey plate.  My kids don't have any recollection of a moment when their mum comes out of the kitchen with the star turkey and places it on the table along with the beautiful side dishes that match.  Ooh, and stuffing, well I never got the traditional stuff as I grew up in an Asian household and our turkeys were stuffed with sticky rice but at least I grew up with the concept and nostalgia of stuffing.  Stuffing is for stuffed animals as far as my children are concerned.

This is the time when I miss my family the most.  I miss the football playing on the t.v. screen (it's just part of the background scene), Nat King Cole singing in the background, adults drinking, kids playing, and the scent of sweets and spices tickling our noses—Mmmm, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potato marshmallow mash.... 

So this is just another Thursday in Paris, France...no turkey day recipe here.  Like I said, I'll be celebrating on Saturday, we'll be creating new traditions.

Beetroot Crackers

INGREDIENTS//Yields 20 pieces

• 100 grams beetroot, raw and finely grated
• 30 grams chia seeds
• 60 grams oats
• 70 grams sunflower seeds
• 20 grams flax seeds
• 10 grams poppy seeds
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

PREPARATION

Let the chia seeds sit in 12 tablespoons of water for about 15 minutes.  It will become gelatinous.
 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a food processor, pulse your beet. 

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine your beets and chia seeds.

Then stir in your oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and poppy seeds.

Add the salt and cumin.

Pre-heat your oven to 150° celsius.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and then spread your mix onto it.

Use a spatula to spread and flatten the mix flat to form a rectangular shape, and don't forget to score it into square bite-size pieces.  Thiis will make it easy to break into cracker shapes afterwards.

Place it in the oven for an hour.   Your crackers should harden up around this time.  If not, leave it in longer.

Take out your ready made crackers and let it cool down.  

Break your beetroot sheet along the lines you have scored for bite size cracker shapes.

 

 

 

 

Chard and Kale Chips

This is not something I would normally make but given its popularity over the past few years and then seeing the cost of a 35 gram bag (6 euros!—Well ok, 5.99 euros but still... ) at the Veggie World trade fair recently, I thought I would give it a go and make it myself.

I'm not quite convinced on these chard and kale chips but I suppose it's a great option for those looking for something healthier than regular potato chips.  Though there's no comparison since potatoes, kale, and chard don't taste the same anyways.  If you are going for the crunch factor then I suppose these offer a healthier crunch.

It seems like the more I eat them, the more I enjoy them or perhaps I am subconsciously telling myself that since I am the only person in the family eating them.  To be fair, my husband hasn't tasted them yet and my eldest is away on a class trip.  So that just leaves my youngest and me.  Viktor was more amused by the fact that he was eating a feuille, a leaf that is.  He is entertained in thinking he has eaten a leaf from a tree.

It's on my list to make in the future and to place it along side with other dips and tidbits during apéro with friendsthen I will know if it is well-received or notKeep ya posted!

Chard and Kale Chips

INGREDIENTS

• 1 cup or 50 grams kale
• 2 leaves swiss chard

FLAVORING FOR KALE

• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind paste
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 5 grams roasted buckwheat
• coarse sea salt (according to taste)

FLAVORING FOR CHARD

• 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
• 5 grams fried onions
• coarse sea salt (according to taste)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Wash your chard and kale leaves, then make sure they are completely dried off.

For flavoring the kale:

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the buckwheat and and salt for flavoring the kale.

Add the kale and rub in the flavored sauce making sure to coat it well.

Then add in the buckwheat and the salt and toss it around.

On a baking tray with parchment paper, lay out each leaf of kale making sure it has its own space.

Place it in the oven at 135° Celsius for 30 minutes with a convection setting if you have one.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool before serving.

For flavoring the chard:

Add all the ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add your cut up chard leaves and rub in the flavored sauce making sure to coat the leaves well.

Be sure your chard leaves are big enough so that they lay flat and that thefried onions and salt can sit on it.

Line your baking tray with parchment paper and lay out each leaf side by side.

Place it in the oven at 135° Celsius for 30 minutes with a convection setting if you have one.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool before serving.

 

NOTE

I don't have a food dehydrator, so baking these chard and kale leaves in the oven in low heat and over a long duration of time is another way to dehydrate food.

 

 

 

Pâté aux Pommes de Terre

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There was an interesting article in the NY Times a few months back.  It was about families in the city and in Brooklyn forming tight-knit communities who live in the same building or in the same neighborhood.  They were willing to sacrifice space and to stay put in their close-fitting apartments to forge their children's close relationships with their neighbor's children.  It then turns into a nice network between the parents where they can rest worry free knowing that their child is just next door, upstairs or downstairs.   Inevitably, gatherings and dinners are hosted between them deepening their relationships, and eventually leading to kid sleepovers and babysitting swaps.  

This story hit home.  I live in a 14-story building and I keep an open door policy the minute the kids get home.   They are usually rotating between our home and their neighborly friends' homes.  Instead of running through backyards, my kids are runnng down the hall or up and down between floors of our building.  They love this liberty of being able to run between their friends' apartments on their own.  I love it too since I know there is always a surrogate parent around to keep an eye out for them, one of whom is my neighbor Natalie.  

Nat is originally an Auvergnate (someone from Auvergne, located in the middle of France).  Just a tidbit of history, she comes from the ancient provinces of Bourbonnais (where the long string of Kings in France were sired) which now comprises territory in the department of Alliers, and some in the department of Puy-de-Dômes and Cher.  Alliers and Puy-de-Dômes make up part of the Auvergne region.   Fast forwardNat has a daughter who is in the same class as my daughter.  Needless to say, our daughters spend a lot of time together which in turn means we moms usually find each other around wine o'clock for a quick catch up and to pick up or drop off the kids.  It was during one of these times that I found myself in her apartment, glass of red in hand, learning how to put this charmingly simple pâté aux pommes de terre together.   A speciality dish from Bourbonnais—her personal tip to me was "lay that butter on"!

Pâté aux Pommes de Terre

INGREDIENTS//serves 6

• 1 medium size onion
• 4-5 medium size potatoes
• 2 pâtes brisée (tart pastry)
• Bunch of fresh flat parslely
• 50 grams unsalted butter
• 20 cl crème fraîche
• Salt and pepper according to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice your onions thinly and put it aside.

Peel your potatoes.  Using a mandoline or a sharp knife slice the potatoes into slivers.  Salt them slightly and put them aside.

Take your tart or quiche pan (around 10 inches in diameter, 1-1/2 to 2 inches deep or 25 cm in diameter, 4 cm deep) and roll out one tart pastry and place it into the pan.  Press the pastry into the sides of the pan. 

Use a fork to poke some holes into the bottom of the tart pastry and place in the oven to bake for 3-5 minutes so that it's slighty baked.  Take it out of the oven and then begin layering your ingredients.

Getting back to your potatoes, wipe off the excess moisture and place a layer of potatoes covering the entire tart pastry.  Follow up with a layer of sliced onions, then snip (I love to use scissors in the kitchen) some parsley leaves all over.  Add slivers of unsalted butter all around.  Repeat the layering until you have used all your ingredients.

Roll out your second tart pastry and place it over the layered potato tart.  Fit the top into the tart.  You'll need to press down gently along the top edge of the tart pastry to even out the crust edges with the underlying tart.  Then press along the sides to seal the pastry together.

Take a paring knife and with the sharp tip cut out a one inch circle in the middle of the tart pastry.

Place it in the oven at 190° C (375° F) for 45 minutes.

The tart pastry should be golden brown.  Take it out of the oven. 

Keep your oven mittens on.  Hold onto the pan and use the paring knife with your other hand to cut along the interior seam of the potato tart.

Take a large size spatula and slip it under the top tart pastry and lift up to place it on a flat surface on the side.

Prepare the crème fraîche.  Add some salt and pepper and stir it up with a fork.  Scoop out the the crème fraîche and spread it all over the open face potato tart.   Finally, cover it with the tart pastry that you lifted off earlier and put it back in the over for 5-10 minutes so that the crème fraîche spreads through the layers.  Then it's ready to be served.  Bon appétit!

Healthy Baked Salmon Panko Crusted Nuggets

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Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb.  It is airier, flakier, and crispier than the Western breadcrumbs.  It adds a delicate crunch to whatever you coat it on and seems to make everything taste good.   Pan means bread in Japanese and ko* means child.  I guess we could think of it as offsprings from a bread loaf?   A popular plate in Japan is tonkatsu which is a deep fried pork cutlet that is coated with panko crumbs.  It's usually served along side with shredded white cabbage.  I stopped eating meat a long while ago so I usually use fish, tofu, beans, or nuts as meat replacements.  I loved tonkatsu as a kid.  Because the tonkatsu is fried, I naturally craved the raw cabbage salad on the side to combat all that grease in my stomach.  So if you want to opt for a healthier alternative using the baking method, try this baked salmon panko crusted nugget recipe. 

Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce is the dressing and dip for the cabbage salad and the tonkatsu.  The sauce has a flavor that consists of apple purée, tomato paste, carrots, prune paste, onions, and apricot purée.  It's basically an interpretation on the Worcestershire sauce suited for Japanese cuisine.  It is sweeter and thicker.   To reconcile my Asian taste buds and fond memories of my times in a tonkatsuya (tonkatsu house)—a place specialized in serving tonkatsu and perhaps other deep fried dishes, I serve this baked panko crusted salmon dish with a side of shredded white cabbage using the Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce for myself.   Otherwise it's a versatile dish.  It can be a starter, snack, hors d'ouevre or main dish and you can serve it with a tartar sauce dip.

Baked Salmon Panko Crusted Nuggets

INGREDIENTS//yields 18 pieces

• 1 cup (50 grams) panko
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 salmon fillets, deboned (180-200 grams, approx. 6-7 ounces)

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat up a medium size pan over medium heat. 

Pour the panko crumbs into the pan and stir often until it turns golden brown.  Once golden brown, take it off the heat and let it cool.  Mix in your black and white pepper, and salt.

Pre-heat your oven to 200° C (between 390°-400° F)

Take your salmon fillets and cut them into little square pieces about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick (about 1 1/2 cm).

Place the salmon into the panko crumbs and press down with your palms with enough pressure so that the crumbs stick.  No egg and flour involved here!  The piece of fish will flatten out a bit. 

Place each piece onto a baking tray.  Then place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

INGREDIENTS//yields 1/2 cup

• 1 tablespoon cornichon, finely chopped (about 10 pieces)
• 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped (about 10)
• 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 lemon wedge
•  Salt and pepper (adjust to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

Finely chop your first three ingredients: cornichon, caper, shallot. 

In a bowl, add the finely chopped ingredients with the mustard. 

Then fold in the mayonnaise. 

Squeeze some lemon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE

I bought two salmon fillets that were 180 grams and 200 grams each.  I got 18 nugget pieces out of it.  Depending on how thin or thick you cut your pieces of salmon,  oven time may be shorter or longer.  Just be careful not to overcook your fish—nothing is worse than dried out fish. 

*My Japanese friend Yoshi pointed out to me that "ko" in panko is this Japanese character (粉 ) which means powder.  The "ko" I was referencing is this character (子) which means child.   It all sounds the same but has different meanings.   You think this is considered a homonym in Japanese?!

 

 

 

White Asparagus and Fennel Butter

White asparagus with compound fennel butter.

I must be missing NYC these days.  There are loads of recipes on how to cook white asparagus but the one that caught my eye was the one from Prune restaurant in the East Village.  My first thought was "Oh my gosh, it's still there".  Bits of NYC establishments are slowly being erased from when I knew it due to rent increase.  I get a pang in my heart when I read about any old haunts of mine closed down to be replaced by global retail or supermarket chains.  So happy to see that Prune is alive and kicking. 

Watch Martha Stewart and chef Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune restaurant making this delicious asparagus starter.

White Asparagus and Fennel Butter

INGREDIENTS//serves 2-3

• 1 bunch fresh white asparagus
• 1 lemon, divided (zest in compound butter and juice for asparagus)

COMPOUND BUTTER

• 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
• 1 whole fennel, finely sliced (including fronds, chopped)
• Lemon zest
• Pinch of salt
• Dash of pastis liquor

INSTRUCTIONS

To prepare your asparagus, snap off the stems where it naturally breaks and peel off the tough skin.

Prepare the lemon zest using a microplane or a flat or box grater with fine holes.  Then use the remainder of the lemon for juice you'll add into the pot of boiling water to cook the asparagus.  Save some juice to be squeezed just before serving the dish.

I don't have an asparagus cooker/steamer so I bundle the asparagus together with parcel string and I cook it in a pot.  Tie the parcel string around the bottom of the bunch of asparagus and tie further up to hold the asparagus in place so that it tries to stand.  To keep the asparagus in place and standing in the pot, brace it with two long skewers through the bundle of asparagus (cross through the bundle with a skewer forming an "X"). 

In a pot, add about 4 inches of water or enough so that the base of the asparagus will be covered.   Squeeze lemon juice and add salt to the water.  Bring it to a boil.

Add the asparagus and cover with a lid for about 30 minutes.  Make sure the asparagus is nice and soft and that the tips are steamed. 

Strain the asparagus, let it cool and serve on a plate with shavings of the fennel butter.  Drizzle some olive oil for extra delicious fat and salt to taste with a squeeze of lemon.

COMPOUND BUTTER

Finely slice your fennel and chop up the fronds. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and caramelize your fennel for about 30 minutes on medium heat letting the natural sugars come out on its own.  During this time add whole of lemon zest to the fennel and add the fronds. Then add some salt and pepper.

When caramelized, splash a dash of pastis liquor and ignite it.  When the flame burns out let the fennel cool down. 

After cooling, in a food processor add your fennel and chop it down until fine.  Then take the rest of your softened butter and add in chunks at a time. 

Remove butter compound mixture from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll into a log.  Put it in the freezer until ready to use in a plastic ziplock bag to keep it airtight.  Use a mandoline or the large hole-side of a box grater for butter shavings.