Saturday, February 6, 2016

Omelette with Fennel and Brebis

One of the things that I love about France is that eggs can be an anytime meal. I have taken a lot of advantage of that this year.

For brunch today, I made an omelette with fennel and a hard sheep's milk cheese (Pecorino Toscana would be the Italian version, Brebis is the French). I was so pleased with how it tasted that I decided to share. The salty cheese complemented the sweetness of the sauteed fennel perfectly. The fennel was so sweet, and it almost tasted as though I had put sweet balsamic vinegar in the dish though I hadn't. The fennel came from the local market and the cheese from the Fromagerie Riondet, at the base of the hill in my neighborhood.
Brebis from the Fromagerie Riondet

Omelette with Fennel and Brebis

Serves 1.

2 medium eggs
1/2 small fennel bulb (or about a half of cup cut from a large bulb), chopped coarsely
2 pinches of truffle salt
1/2 tsp herbs de provence
1/4 cup tap water
2 tsp butter
4 oz. hard sheep's milk cheese, sliced finely or grated.

1. Heat one teaspoon of butter in a small frying pan and sprinkle with truffle salt. Begin to saute the fennel.
sauteed fennel
2. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of truffle salt and add 1/4 cup of tap water. I find this makes the eggs light and fluffy.

3. Heat a large frying pan and melt 1 tsp butter. Draw melted butter around the pan to avoid sticking.

4. Add whisked eggs into frying pan and sprinkle with herbs de provence.

5. Use a spatula to even out the eggs as they cook and run it often along the edge of the circle of egg.

6. When the eggs have almost fully cooked, add the cheese and lightly browned fennel to one half of the circle. Fold the other egg half over the cheese and fennel and cook on low flame for 1-2 minutes to set and to melt the cheese.

7. Garnish with fresh fennel fronds.
folded omelette

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pimento Cheese Bacon Biscuit Sandwiches

It was wonderful to go back to Alabama for a week over the holidays and catch up with friends, but there were a few surprises in store resulting from changes in the restaurant scene. One morning, I went to the Overall Company to get my favorite pimento cheese and bacon biscuits, and found that they have moved (and will apparently reopen soon), and another coffee shop was serving in the meantime, but had a new menu. I had a perfectly passable quiche, but then became obsessed with making my own replacement pimento cheese and bacon biscuits.

Begged a pimento cheese recipe from a friend's dear mom, and dug around the internet for biscuit ideas. One day, I hope to be one of those people who makes biscuits so often, they have no need of recipes, and even leave the dry ingredients already mixed to be ready to go in the morning! In the meantime, I used this recipe (without the sugar on top - I prefer savory biscuits):

I read many pimento cheese recipes too, and was amazed at the diversity I saw. Yet, I went with my friend's suggestion - a simple blend of 3 ingredients: one 2 oz. jar of pimentos, 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (added a bit of shredded Red Fox red Leicester cheese that I had on hand for a bit more strength), and just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together. Instead of the pre-shredded cheese, I grated my own. While I appreciate the convenience of pre-shredded cheese, I find the quality and flavor often is not the same.

After making the biscuits, spread, and some fancy bourbon flavored bacon, I put them all together in sandwiches and shared with friends. Yum, and I even returned to Paris with a little jar of pimentos so I can repeat the recipe for friends here some point soon!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Moroccan Delights at the Marche des Enfants Rouges

mountain of couscous

I didn't cook today, but on the way to one of my favorite old Parisian libraries (Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris in the Marais), I stopped off at the Marche des Enfants Rouges, which is best known for being the oldest market in Paris, and its Moroccan stall. I have to confess that the food was not the best Moroccan food I have ever tasted, but I enjoyed the wait along the window exposing all the gorgeous dishes and desserts, the mosaic tile tables nearby under a translucent tarp, and the tasty pastry I had for dessert (kadaifi with nuts and honey inside).

The dish I tasted was the couscous Berbere, super fine couscous (my favorite) with a Moroccan spiced chicken dish with green olives. I intended to go for couscous merguez (which was, incidentally what I was eating in the Palais Royal Moroccan restaurant when the possibility of this current Paris opportunity was raised), but when I saw the berbere in the window, I had to try it. Photos from this culinary adventure:

my favorite kind of Moroccan pastry
mountain of tagine du poulet

a view of some delectable desserts

couscous Berbere

kadaifi... hoping to find some of this shredded
pastry in a Paris grocery
the view looking up into the tarp

another stall in the Marche des Enfants Rouges

the line waiting for couscous!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Balsamic Duck Breast over zucchini and potatoes

my fridge
Every time I have ever rented an apartment in Paris, it has felt like destiny.

<------ Look at this note on the fridge in my new place. Could have been written by me... but it wasn't.

The six-burner gas stove. With spotlight.

In honor of my new place and its luxurious six burner gas stove (yes, you read that right - check out the photo ---->)
... I made a one pot meal. In about 25 minutes. :-) But I will expand over the burners and length of projects over time to be sure. I have big plans this year for learning to make an array of terrines in the amazing full-size oven that also comes with this apartment.

But for now, here's what I made, with amazing balsamic vinegar that a friend picked up for me in Italy (if you can find it and afford it... twenty-year balsamic is the way to go! It tastes a bit like balsamic candy):

Balsamic Duck Breast over zucchini and potatoes
with the vegetables alone

Serves 2 people (or 1 with a leftover meal to come!)

2 shallots, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced thick
a handful of fingerling potatoes, sliced thin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 duck breast
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
a few leaves of fresh basil, chopped

1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes.

4. Add zucchini and herbs de Provence to the potato mixture and sauté for 3 minutes. 

After flipping the duck breast
5. Create a space over the middle of the flame in the highest heat, and place the duck breast on it. Drizzle half of the balsamic vinegar over the duck and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil.
6. For medium rare (as it should be!) cook duck for about 7 minutes each side until browned. Keep stirring the vegetables around the duck

7. Lay the vegetables on a plate, and place the duck breast over it (either in slices, or keep the breast as a whole steak).

8. Enjoy, with salad on the side or after... Bon Ap!

Bon Appetit!

the view from my kitchen window! bring on the breeze!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Jet Lag Breakfast

Just back from a quick 5 day trip to Paris for a wonderful conference on transnational art formation. It's been about a year since I've updated my blog, but the breakfast I just made is so delicious that I had to share immediately.

When I woke up, I saw that a friend in Seattle had posted her gorgeous brunch from "orphan leftovers": grit cake topped with bacon, sauteed spinach, and poached egg.

I felt immediately inspired, and took my hungry, jetlagged self to the kitchen to make this:

Poached Egg with Sumac-Garlic Sautéed Chard

Ingredients (for one)

1 egg
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, smushed and diced
3-4 large leaves of swiss chard (made into chiffonade - stack and roll the leaves together and then cut the roll into 1/4" or 1/2" pieces. Include the stems too - they make the gorgeous color and great texture)
1/2 large tomato
1 tbl sumac
salt and pepper to taste

Order of Events

1. Boil water in a saucepan.

2. Heat pan and add 1 tsp olive oil and garlic.

3. Once the garlic begins to cook, add the chard stem bits and tomatoes and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then add leaves, sumac, and salt and pepper. Sauté together.

4. Once water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat, drop in the egg, and leave the egg in the water for 4-6 minutes, depending on how cooked you like it.

5. Stack your greens on top of bread or English muffin, and top with poached egg.

The sumac and tomatoes give the leaves a rich, lemony flavor that is delicious with the egg. YUM.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Clean-the-Fridge Salad

my apartment building
in Nottingham
Hello from Nottingham! I'm here on a three-month research and writing fellowship at the University here, and am having a super productive time, though my cooking experiences have been generally lackluster in my pretty basic kitchen of just 2 pots, 1 pan, 1 glass, 1 plate, 1 fork, 1 knife, and 2 spoons. I have supplemented a bit with a nice big mug (debated a long time in the "Poundland"-like a dollar store-whether to buy the one that said "Relax" or "Chill" on it before picking the latter), a proper paring knife, and my favorite find - a beautiful little olive wood cutting board. Yes, these little odds and ends will come home with me! In the meantime, there's been some really great restaurants and many types of ethnic cuisines to try out here, so don't worry - I'm not going hungry!
my new cutting board

I'm leaving for a week in France and Germany on Tuesday, and so haven't been grocery shopping recently, but this evening, while working on an essay, I pulled together a remarkable little salad with the odds and ends I still had in to bring for lunch tomorrow. I was going for a hard boiled egg, but accidentally dropped the egg a bit when I went to put it in the pan and it cracked. So I went with poached instead!

Here's what I ended up with (and yes, I did need to stop in the middle to wash and re-use one of my pots - such is life!):

Green Salad with Poached Egg, Lentils, and Caramelized Leeks

1 leek, sliced thin, and bathed in a bowl of water to remove dirt
1 tbl butter
1/2 cup green lentils
1 cup water
1 cup salad greens
1 egg
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sumac (found at an amazing international grocer down the road)

Leeks and poached egg
1. Melt butter in a saucepan or frying pan, and add leek bits. Stir frequently, but these will take about 20  minutes to caramelize over medium heat.
2. Mix lentils and 1 cup of water water in a saucepan. Cover and heat to a boil, then uncover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water evaporates. Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir.
3. Bring 2 cups of water to just beneath a boil in a saucepan. Crack the egg and drop the whites and yolk together gently into the water. Take off the heat and cover for 4 minutes. Voila!
4. Place leeks, lentils, and egg over a bed of greens, top with a bit of olive oil and sumac (if you happen to have it around). Bon Ap!

Looking forward to lunch!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Turmeric-Honey Smoothie

fresh tumeric
I picked up some fresh tumeric at the farmer's market in Opelika this weekend. I've used the powdered yellow turmeric in many curries, couscous, and Middle Eastern dishes (and noted the ways in which the yellow dyes my wooden spoons and countertops), but have never seen the fresh plant, which looks a lot like ginger. The farmer mentioned that it's delicious blended with honey, yogurt, and granola, so I decided to experiment with my morning smoothie. Yum!

Tumeric-Honey Smoothie

1 1" piece of turmeric, peeled and chopped into a few large chunks
1 cup Greek yogurt (I believe in full fat yogurt)
Honey I picked up at my CSA
1 tsp of local honey (really great around here, and good for allergy season, I'm told)
1 banana, broken into small chunks
3/4 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp flaxseed or powdered flax
2 tbl milk (I also use whole)
3-4 small pieces of kale (if you have some around!)

Put all ingredients in a blender, or into a cup and use an immersion blender to mix together, and enjoy! Quick, delicious, and filling as a morning treat!

my back porch in morning sun
But, I did discover that fresh turmeric does stain hands and countertops! Nothing a few rounds of soap and water can't cure, though.