dimanche 25 novembre 2007

Spaghetti alla Vongole

Spaghetti alla Vongole (Spaghetti with clams)
Serves 4

1 kg (2 lbs) pounds small fresh clams, scrubbed
60 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
2 - 4 small cloves garlic, thinly sliced
60 mL (1/4 cup) Italian (flat) parsley, minced (reserve 30 mL /2 Tbsp for garnish)
7.5 mL (1/2 tsp) dried red pepper, crumbled
500 g (1 lb) of spaghetti
125 mL (1/2 cup) dry white wine
60 mL (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and sauté until light brown, about 1 minute. Add clams and parsley; stir 2 minutes. Add wine; simmer 2 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice. Cover and simmer until clams open; about 6 minutes (discard any that do not open).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Add pasta to clam mixture and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

dimanche 11 novembre 2007

Canard à l'orange

When I think of duck, the classic French dish ‘canard à l’orange’ comes to mind first or more its anglicized name ‘duck à l’orange’. In Canada, I made roast duck with one of the ‘President’s Choice Memories of’ sauces – a tangy blend of red fruit if I remember correctly. Shortly after they changed the marketing names and flavours and I couldn’t find it again. The tiny recipe card that came with it explained the secret of crispy skin – pour boiling water over the duck before roasting.

In France, duck is rarely roasted whole but is prepared as either ‘magret de canard’ or ‘confit de canard’. ‘Magret de canard’ is the lean duck breast and ‘confit de canard’ is cooked then preserved in fat. Duck is one of the favourite Bistro dishes and is generally served with potatoes – fries for the confit and purée with the magret. Duck breast is also sliced and served in a variety of salads. A version of Sheppard’s pie replaces beef with ‘confit de canard’. Many restaurants in Paris specialize in cuisine from the south-western region of France, especially duck and fois gras dishes.

Duck marries perfectly with all kinds of fruit - apples, peaches, cherries, grapes, mangoes, oranges, limes, grapefruit, and pineapple. It can be seasoned with many different spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, curry, cumin and ginger. It is also complemented with almonds, walnuts, red wine, honey and mustard.

The version in the photo, used duck wings and replaced the orange with lime.

Cuisses de canard à l'orange
Serves 4-6

6 duck legs
1 carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 oranges
1 lemon
200 mL (3/4 cup) chicken stock
75 mL (1/3 cup) oil
30 mL (2 Tbsp) white wine or sherry vinegar
30mL (2 Tbsp) Cointreau or Grande Marnier
15 mL (1 Tbsp) cornstarch or arrowroot
15 mL (1 Tbsp) orange marmalade
35 g (1 oz) sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Cut the rind and pith off one orange; cut between the membranes to remove the orange segments. From the other orange, cut off the zest (removing as little of the white pith as possible) and cut into fine strips. Juice the orange and lemon and set aside.

Score the duck skin with a sharp knife. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat; season the duck with salt and pepper, and place in pan skin side down to brown for 15 minutes. Add carrot and onion and continue to sauté for 10 minutes. Place in the oven and roast the duck for 15 minutes on each side. Pour off fat from pan. Add chicken stock and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the sugar in a small pot over low heat until golden in colour. Add orange and lemon zests and juice. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Turn off the oven; remove duck to a heated serving platter and return to oven for 10 minutes.
Add vinegar to the sugar sauce; remove from heat and stir for 1 minute then add the Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of cold water and add to sauce. Reheat the sauce and add the orange marmalade to melt. Set aside.
Garnish the duck with the orange segments and serve with the sauce.

Wine suggestions: a red Bandol or Côte de Brouilly

dimanche 28 octobre 2007

Spicy Pear Loaf

The brilliantly funny comedian, Eddie Izzard http://www.eddieizzard.com/, says something like "Pears are gorgeous little beasts but they are ripe for half an hour and you're never there to see it. They are either rocks or they're mush."

I have found this to be true but in fall we stand a good chance of actually having edible pears.

Pears come in a variety of shapes, tastes, colours and textures. The most commonly found varieties at my marché in Paris were: Williams, Comice, Conférence, Anjou and Bosc.

I don't have a preference and tend to choose by what looks best and seems most suited to what I plan to make. This delicious recipe is adapted from “Cake aux poires très épicé”, Saveurs N° 156 Sept. – Oct. 2007.

Spicy Pear Loaf
Makes 1 loaf (23x13 cm/9x5-in)

150 g (125 mL/1 cup) all-purpose flour
50 g (2oz) ground almonds
130 g (125 mL/1 cup) Demerara or light brown sugar
5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder
7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) cinnamon
7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) ground ginger
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cardamom
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) ground cloves
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) freshly ground nutmeg
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
115 g (4 oz) butter, melted
5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla
3 eggs
2 pears, peeled, core and stem removed, diced

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

In large bowl, blend flour, almonds, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir in melted butter and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in diced pears. Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until loaf springs back when lightly touched in center. Let cool for 10 minutes, loosen sides with knife and remove from pan.

dimanche 21 octobre 2007

Cream of Fennel Soup

Fennel is not a common vegetable in Canadian cooking. It is very versatile and used a lot in Mediterranean cooking - in salads, soups, pasta dishes or on its own as a side dish.
Today was very grey and rainy day so my thoughts have turned to making soup and what better than a cream of fennel soup to combine the idea of sunny southern European countries with the need for a warm meal.

Cream of Fennel Soup

Serves 4-6

60 mL (4 Tbsp) olive oil
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 L (4 cups) chicken stock
125 mL (½ cup) dry white wine
125 mL (½ cup) cream or crème fraîche
10 mL (2 tsp) fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fennel fronds for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Sauté onions and fennel in a frying pan over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a soup pot; add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until fennel is very tender, about 15 minutes.
Purée the soup using a hand blender in the pot or transfer the solids to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (alternatively into a blender or through a food mill fitted with a medium disk). Add 1 cup of cooking stock and process until smooth. Return purée to pot and add cream or crème fraîche and tarragon; season with pepper. Simmer until heated through. Add shaved Parmesan to the soup, if using, and stir until melted. Sprinkle with fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

dimanche 7 octobre 2007

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Happy Thanksgiving!

This recipe is for my friend Anne. We spent many wonderful Thanksgivings together in Ottawa. We had turkey with all the timmings and made Christmas fruitcakes. One year I made this cheesecake as a change from Pumpkin Pie and it was a bit hit.

In Europe we do not celebrate Thanksgiving but there are many festivals this time of year. The local wineries are in full swing with their harvest. Octoberfest festivities have started.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Makes 10-12 servings

500 mL (2 cups) graham wafer crumbs
150 mL (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
45 mL (3 Tbsp) granulated sugar
Pinch of each cinnamon and nutmeg

500 g (1 lb) cream cheese*, at room temperature
125 mL (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
50 mL (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
6 eggs
500 mL (2 cups) canned or fresh pumpkin purée
5 mL (1 tsp) cinnamon
4 mL (3/4 tsp) nutmeg
1 mL (1/4 tsp) allspice

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)

Mix together wafer crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Press onto bottom and side of 3 L (10”) spring-form pan. Refrigerate while making filling.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in flour. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until barely firm to the touch. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen the cake. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. Open oven door and leave for 30 minutes longer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Garnish with whipped cream and chopped nuts if desired.

*In France, St Morêt can be used in place of the cream cheese.

dimanche 2 septembre 2007

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

Chicken wings bring back memories of the many shopping trips from Toronto, Ontario to Buffalo, New York. My girlfriends and I used to head to Buffalo for the weekend to pick up “off-price” bargains at Syms and TJ Maxx and to check out the selection of housewares at Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma. They were always fun trips – lots of adventure and laughter! We ended our shopping Saturday’s with a happy hour margarita at Chi Chi’s then chicken wings at Duff’s.

Buffalo has been famous for chicken wings since they were first served at the Anchor Bar in the 60’s. Buffalo wings are deep fried and served in red sauce (different degrees of hotness are available from mild to hot). I like the hot ones. The traditional sides are carrot and celery sticks with blue cheese dip. I have tried the wings at the Anchor bar as well but prefer the ambiance at Duff’s.

I do not deep fry chicken wings but rather barbecue, grill or oven roast them. Wings are quite greasy and care must be taken when grilling them on the barbecue to avoid flare ups and charring them.

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
Serves 4

1 kg (2 lb) chicken wings

Honey Marinade:
30 mL (2 tbsp) vegetable or peanut oil
30 mL (2 tbsp) liquid honey
15 mL (1 tbsp) red wine vinegar or lemon juice
75 mL (1/3 cup) soy sauce
5 mL (1 tsp) fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
15 mL (1 tbsp) green onion, chopped
Combine ingredients and mix well.

Wipe chicken wings with paper towels. Chop off wing tips and discard. Cut wings into 2 pieces at the joint. Marinate for several hours.

Remove from marinade and grill over hot coals. Turn frequently until the wings are evenly browned and cooked through. Brush with remaining marinade.

Alternatively roast wings in a 180°C (350°F) oven for about 45 minutes.

dimanche 26 août 2007

Rotini with Brie and Tomatoes

It has been a beautiful summer weekend here in Nittel. The local diving club held their annual swim party last evening. Several of the divers and friends swam a section of the Moselle stopping for refreshments at conveniently located rafts along the way. It was lovely to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather and meeting the friendly people from the village.

Summer also brings tomatoes that are really tomatoes and not just the red globes that try to pass for them the rest of the year. This is a pasta dish that I dream of until this time of year. Every time it comes out a little different depending on the ripeness of the brie, the flavour of the tomatoes and the aroma of the basil

Rotini with Brie and Tomatoes

500 g (1 lb) rotini
75 mL (5 Tbsp) olive oil
375 g (12 oz) Brie, rind removed
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
125 mL (1/2 cup) Basil leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut brie into cubes. Pour olive oil into a large bowl; add brie and toss to mix. Let sit at room temperature for up to 3 hours.
Cook rotini until al dente. Drain and immediately add to brie. Add tomatoes, basil and pepper. Mix well and serve.

dimanche 19 août 2007

Ratatouille - barbecue style

Ratatouille is a French Provençal dish that originated in Nice. Mediterranean vegetables eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes are traditionally cooked individually to ensure the proper cooking times for each, then assembled to let the flavours blend. It is similar to the Italian caponata and can be served as a meal with bread or rice or as a side dish to accompany fish or meat.
This quick and easy version cooks all the vegetables together in foil over the barbecue. It takes ½ hour to make, tastes delicious and there are no messy pans to clean up!

Ratatouille – barbecue style
Serves 6

1 eggplant, cut into 1 cm (1/2 in) cubes
2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced
1 red pepper, cut in squares
1 green pepper, cut in squares
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped*
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
60 mL (2 Tbsp) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
5 mL (1 tsp) herbes de Provence
Freshly ground black pepper

Place eggplant cubes into a bowl; sprinkle with salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant under cold water, pat dry with paper towel.
Place eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and onion on a large square of heavy foil. Combine other ingredients and pour over vegetables. Seal the foil with a double fold. Place on grill (approx. 10 cm / 4 in. above coals) and cook for 30 min. or until vegetables are tender.

*Add 15 mL (1 Tbsp) of tomato paste if the tomatoes lack flavour.

dimanche 5 août 2007

Grilled Marinated Lamb Chops

I have moved out of my fabulous Paris apartment and have traded the view of La Tour Eiffel for veiws of the Moselle River. We are having a beautiful summer weekend in Nittel on the German side of the border from Luxembourg so a barbecue is on the menu for tonight!

Grilled Marinated Lamb Chops

Serves 6

12 lamb loin chops

250 mL (1 cup) dry red wine
125 mL (½ cup) olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
15 mL (1 Tbsp) fresh rosemary, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Place lamb in a shallow pan.
Mix all marinade ingredients together and pour over lamb. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for several hours, turning the meat occasionally.
Remove lamb from marinade and grill over medium-hot coals until desired doneness, basting frequently with the marinade.

Serve with grilled new potatoes and salad.

dimanche 1 juillet 2007

Feta Cheese Burgers

HAPPY CANADA DAY to all my Canadian friends. Thinking about Canada Day reminds me of all the wonderful barbeques that we have enjoyed together. Cooking over hot coals is something that I have missed while living in Paris.

A few years ago in Normandy I found little disposable barbecues that cost about 4€. They were foil baking trays equiped with coals and a starter paper. I thought what a great idea for picnics on the beach. The coals were ready in about 15 minutes and stayed hot enough to cook burgers, steaks or fish with potatoes and other veggies. Perfect! The next year I went back to Normandy for my summer vacation and I could not find them anywhere. I wonder what happened to them?

This week's recipe is a burger with a surprise center.

Feta Cheese Burgers Serves 4

750 g (1-1/2 lbs) lean ground lamb
1 mL (1/4 tsp) pepper
1 mL (1/4 tsp) ground cumin
50 g (2 oz) feta cheese
25 mL (2 tbsp) chopped fresh mint

Combine lamb, pepper and cumin. Divide into 4 portions. Cut feta into 4 cubes; flatten and sprinkle with mint. Form 4 meat patties with cheese and mint buried in the centre of each.
Cook over hot coals or broil on a preheated grill, turning once, or until no longer pink inside.

dimanche 17 juin 2007

Moules marinières

‘Moules frites’ is a traditional Belgian dish. It does not refer to fried mussels but to mussels served with fries. The restaurant chain Léon de Bruxelles (www.leon-de-bruxelles.fr) does a brisk business in Paris serving mussels in ‘cocottes individuelles’. This is my idea of fast food – something that is quick to prepare and tastes good not the products served at the ubiquitous American chains which are becoming all too present in Paris.

Mussels take a little time to clean but only a few minutes to cook. To clean them – scrub the shells with a brush to remove and sand and adherences. Immediately before using, remove the beard (byssus threads that protrude from the side of the shell) by pulling with your fingers or cutting with a knife. Throw out any broken shells and any mussels that do not close when sharply tapped.
Also discard any that do not open after cooking.

Moules marinières
Serves 4

60g (4 Tbsp) butter
2 onions, chopped
2kg (4 lbs) mussels, cleaned
400mL (1-1/2 cups) dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 branch fresh thyme
200mL (3/4 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
60g (4 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook to soften, stirring frequently to prevent colouring. Add the mussels, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover the pot and increase the heat to high for 5-8 minutes, shaking the pot from time to time, just until the mussels open. Throw out any mussels that did not open.

Remove the mussels from the pot, place in a bowl and filter the liquid through a sieve. Reheat the sauce in a pot. Add the crème fraîche or sour cream, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the mussels between 4 bowls and pour over the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley.

Provide a finger bowl and bowl for the shells.
Serve with slices of baguette.

mercredi 6 juin 2007

Date and Orange Loaf

This week’s blog posting is a little late as I was distracted by watching the tennis at Roland Garros and taking a trip to Luxembourg to accept a new job. I will be writing about Luxembourg in future blogs.

Date and Orange Loaf is an easy to make and transport quick bread . It was inspired when a friend brought me a box of dates from Algeria. I don’t eat a lot of dates and didn’t want them to go bad. It is a perfect breakfast treat to prepare in advance when you have guests too.

Date and Orange Loaf
Makes 1 - 23 x 13 cm (9x5-inch ) loaf
250 mL (1 cup) chopped pitted dates
185 mL (3/4 cup) boiling water
5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
1 small orange, cut in 6 pieces, seeded
375 mL (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
250 mL (1 cup) nuts (optional)
185 mL (3/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs
30 mL (2 tbsp) butter, cut in 4 pieces
5 mL (1 tsp) salt

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)

Combine dates, water and baking soda in small bowl; set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Place orange pieces in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; process about 15 seconds. Add flour, nuts, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and half the date mixture; process 5 seconds to mix. Add remaining date mixture; process about 15-20 seconds until well mixed. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 55 -65 minutes until loaf springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool for 10 minutes. Loosen sides with knife and remove from pan.

dimanche 27 mai 2007

Greek Pasta Salad

The end of May is my favourite time of the year. The marchés become more vibrant in colour as fruits and vegetables start to come into season. Cherries make an appearance. It stays light until about 9:30 at night. It is when the tennis Grand Slam ‘Roland Garros’ (French Open) is played in Paris. I usually have a house full of tennis mad guests. We spend hours watching, talking and playing tennis, touring the city and enjoying late evening dinners.

This is my favourite pasta salad. I make it to take to Roland Garros, on picnics, for the cottage and on road trips. It can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Greek Pasta Salad
Serves 4 - 6

1 L (4 cups) farfalle*
125 mL (½ cup) cucumber, seeded and diced
250 mL (1 cup) cherry tomatoes
½ small red onion, chopped
125 mL (½ cup) Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
60 mL (¼ cup) fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
125 mL (½ cup) feta cheese, crumbled

60 mL (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
45 mL (3 Tbsp) lemon juice
5 mL (1 tsp) anchovy paste
1 clove garlic, minced
2.5 mL (½ tsp) dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar with tightly fitting lid. Shake well to blend.

Cook farfalle (following directions on pasta package) until al dente); drain well. Place in a serving bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Let cool to room temperature.

Add cucumber, tomatoes, onion; olives, parsley and feta to the pasta and toss well with dressing.

*bowtie or butterfly shaped pasta

dimanche 20 mai 2007

Bœuf Bourguignon

April was a beautiful warm and sunny month in Paris but in May we have returned to the more typical grey, cool and rainy weather. Thoughts of barbecues and picnics have disappeared as we are bundling up and thoughts of comfort food have come to mind. This prompted me to make a Bœuf Bourguignon (a robust beef stew made with onions, carrots and red Burgundy wine).

This is one of the two most famous dishes of the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region in eastern-central France. The other is Escargots de Bourgogne (snails with garlic parsley butter). I love them both.

Traditional recipes for Bœuf Bourguignon call for the meat to be marinated for at least 12 hours before cooking. The following recipe does not require the meat to be marinated and takes about 30 minutes to prepare and 3 hours of simmering on the stovetop.

Bœuf Bourguignon
Serves 6

30 g (2 Tbsp) butter
30 mL (2 Tbsp) oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
200 g (7 oz) smoked bacon, chopped
1.5 kg (3 lb) stewing beef, cut into 5 cm (2”) cubes
30 mL (2 Tbsp) flour (optional)
40 cL (1-3/4 cups) hot water
2 chicken stock cubes
75 cL (25 oz) red burgundy wine
45 mL (3 Tbsp) tomato coulis or 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
2 bay leaves
2 thyme branches
12 small white onions, whole, peeled
200 g (7 oz) white mushrooms, sliced (optional)
6 branches of flat parsley, chopped
Pepper and salt, freshly ground

In a large casserole, heat the butter and oil, add the chopped onions, garlic, bacon and carrots. Cook for 10 min. until onions are tender and golden. Remove and set aside.
Add beef cubes to the casserole; brown on all sides. Shake the flour over and mix well. Return carrots, bacon, onions and garlic to the pan. Add hot water, bay leaves, stock cubes, thyme, tomatoes, salt, pepper and wine; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 3 hours. Approx. 30 min. before the end of cooking time, add the small onions and mushrooms, if using.
Remove the beef and vegetables to a serving bowl. Reduce the sauce and add to the serving dish. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve with a Bourgogne rouge (red wine from the Burgundy).

lundi 14 mai 2007

L'heure d'apéritif

L’heure d’apéritif is the favourite time of day chez Jan. A little something to nosh on served with a glass of wine or a kir while waiting for dinner. The kir of choice is a ‘violette’ – made with Chateau Beauferan’s Crèmeux du Vigneron aromatise à la violette and white wine this produces a lovely pale purple coloured drink. On special occasions, champagne is served.

Typical pre-dinner snacks include:
Slices of horseradish (radis noirs) topped with tarama, caviar and a sprinkling of dill
Tarama served as a dip for radishes
Vietnamese ravioli (ravioli vietnamienne) from DZ Trateur Asiatique on rue Cler or La Grande Epicerie served with a homemade dip of soy sauce, freshly grated ginger and sesame oil
Smoked salmon served with slices of shallots and capers
A selection of olives and sunblushed tomatoes (tomates confits)
Olive tapanade served on tomato or cucumber slices
Homemade tzatziki (refer to Blog posting 18Feb07) served with toasted pita wedges

Visit the friendly vendors on Thursday and Saturday mornings at:
Marché de Saxe / Breteuil
Av. de Saxe, 75007 Paris

Chateau Beauferan is one of the Vignerons Indépendents and are present at the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants de Paris in the spring and fall.

Chateau Beauferan
870 Chemin de la Degaye
13880 VELAUX
Tél : 04 42 74 73 94
E-mail : château.beauferan@wanadoo.fr
A small selection of Chateau Beauferan's wines are now available in Ontario at LCBO stores and from Arthur Sellers http://www.arthursellers.com/Wineries.asp

lundi 7 mai 2007

Mediterranean Salad

Tomatoes and basil – was there ever a more perfect match? Nothing says summer more than this combination. It is still too early for tomatoes that really taste like tomatoes but basil is becoming more plentiful and flavourful.

The dressing for this salad can be replaced with pesto by adding parmesan cheese and omitting the lemon juice and sun-blushed tomatoes.

Mediterranean Tomato Salad
Serves 4-5

4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
50 mL (1/4 cup) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
50 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
20 mL (4 tsp) pine nuts, lightly toasted
10 mL (2 tsp) sun-blushed tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic
30 mL (2 Tbsp) lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Basil leaves
Pine nuts, chopped

Arrange tomatoes on serving plates.
Process the basil, garlic, pine nuts, sun-blushed tomato and oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and pepper, process for 10 seconds or until well blended.
Pour over the tomatoes. Garnish with basil leaves and pine nuts.

lundi 30 avril 2007

Raspberry Chicken

Paris is more about style than function. The French concentrate their efforts on presentation and they excel at this. Walking around Paris, you see beautiful buildings, colourful public space gardens that change with every season, trees that are planted in straight lines to create vistas and glimpses of hidden courtyards. Even the simplest shops present their wares in the most creative and beautiful window displays that are changed frequently. Don’t look too closely at the state of the sidewalks or the never ending infrastructure projects or the illusion will be gone!

The inside of classic Paris apartments reflects this presentation attitude as well – ornate mouldings on the walls and ceilings, French windows and doors, hardwood floors, ornate fireplaces – until you get to the functional rooms like the kitchen and bathroom. These rooms seem to be an afterthought - tiny spaces tucked into corners barely big enough to allow you to walk into the room. In stark contrast to the Canadian and American attitude of taking visitors on a tour of your home, the French understand that their hosts have concentrated their efforts on the salon (living room) and will not venture into other rooms. It is said that French dinner guests will not even use the toilet in your home (unless they are very close friends) in respect of this.

When I was apartment hunting in Paris, a functional kitchen was one of my main requirements but the real estate agent was surprised when I kept turning down apartments that did not have a suitable kitchen. To me this seems to be another contradiction of Paris – a city world renowned for its marchés but many of its apartments are not equipped for cooking. For those who do not have the luxury of a fully equipped kitchen, here is a recipe for a simple and elegant dish to prepare for your guests that can be made using only burners. The meal can be completed with a green salad and rice.

This week’s recipe is adapted from ‘The Silver Palate Cookbook’ by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
http://www.silverpalate.com/, one of the essential cookbooks in my collection.

Raspberry Chicken
Serves 2 - 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
30 mL (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter
60 mL (¼ cup) yellow onions, finely chopped
60 mL (4 Tbsp) raspberry vinegar
60 mL (¼ cup) chicken stock
60 mL (¼ cup) heavy cream (35%) or crème fraîche
15 mL (1 Tbsp) crushed tomatoes
16 fresh raspberries

Cut chicken breasts in half. Flatten each piece by pressing gently with the palm of your hand.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Raise the heat and add the chicken breasts; cook for about 3 minutes per side or until lightly coloured. Remove from the skillet and reserve.
Add the onion to the the pan; cook, covered over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes.
Add vinegar, raise the heat and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vinegar is reduced to a syrupy spoonful. Whisk in chicken stock, cream or crème fraîche and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 1 minute.
Return the chicken to the pan and simmer gently in the sauce, basting often, until they are just done and the sauce has been reduced and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook..
Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and arrange on a heated serving platter. Add the raspberries to the sauce and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Swirl the berries in the sauce by shaking the pan. Pour over the chicken and serve immediately.

lundi 23 avril 2007

Ossobuco alla Milanese

Ossobuco alla Milanese is a dish from Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy. The name ossobuco originates from ‘hollow bone’ because the bone marrow is considered to be a tasty treat. Eating bone marrow can strike terror in the hearts of the uninitiated. After I tried this tender and flavourful veal dish I was converted but still not a fan of the marrow.

There are different variations of the dish that call for onion, carrots, celery and tomatoes. The one I make is a simple version without the vegetables and served with gremolada, a mix of anchovies, garlic, lemon peel and parsley.

The veal shank (en Français ‘jarret de veau’) is slowly stewed in the oven for two hours rendering the meat very tender. The veal bone adds to the flavour. In Italy, it is traditionally it is served with a saffron risotto. I find that broccoli makes a perfect complement to the dish.

Ossobuco alla milanese
Serves 4

50 g (2 oz. / ¼ cup) butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
4 pieces of ossobuco (veal shank), each about 5 cm (2”) thick
Flour for dredging (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
250 mL (8 fl. oz. / 1 cup) dry white wine
300 mL (1-1/4 cups) chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried thyme)

1 small clove garlic
30 mL (2 Tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
5 mL (1 tsp) chopped lemon rind
½ anchovy fillet (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F).

Heat the butter with the crushed garlic clove in a heavy casserole large enough to accommodate all the meat in one layer. Dredge the veal lightly in flour (optional). Add to the pan and brown on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the garlic.

Add the wine, and cook over moderate to high heat for 3-4 minutes, turning the veal over several times. Pour in the broth, and add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover the casserole and place in the centre of the oven. Bake for 2 hours.
In the meantime, prepare the gremolada - combine the garlic, parsley, lemon rind and anchovy on a board and chop them together very finely.
After 2 hours, remove from the oven. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Sprinkle in the gremolada, and mix well into the sauce. Return the casserole to the oven for 10 minutes more, and serve.

lundi 16 avril 2007

Warm Chèvre and Pear Salad

‘Salade aux crottins de chèvre’ is a popular salad choice in Paris. The warm goat’s cheese is normally placed on top of toasted baguette rounds and sits on a bed of mixed salad greens. Sometimes it is served with toasted walnuts. I have had it served over chopped endive instead of mesclun. It can also be served with strips of roasted red pepper.
My ‘Warm Chèvre and Pear Salad’ is a simple and elegant variation to serve your guests.

Warm Chèvre and Pear Salad
Serves 4

4 crottins de chèvre (rounds of goat’s cheese)
500 mL (2 cups) mesclun (young mixed salad leaves)
2 ripe pears
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wash, rinse and dry the mesclun; arrange on 4 salad plates and set aside. Half the pears, remove cores and slice thinly (keeping the top end intact). Fan the pear halves on a pan, top with rounds of goat’s cheese and grill until cheese begins to soften. Carefully arrange on top of mesclun and season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper.


The Epicerie-Anglaise is a little jewel of a shop located near République. I heard about it at the Expatica Fair last fall but only just got around to making a visit. The shop is well stocked with British, Canadian and American products that are hard to find in Paris. It carries Helmann’s Real Mayonnaise (at a price much lower than either La Grande Epicerie or Lafayette Gourmet), my favourite Twinings infusions, cheddar cheese, baking powder (in 226g tins) and Carr’s Table Water crackers just to name a few.

Visit their web site at http://www.epicerie-anglaise.com/ to view the catalogue or stop by the shop in person to experience their friendly service.

5, cité du Wauxhall 75010 Paris
Tel : 01 42 00 36 20 Fax : 01 42 00 33 12

dimanche 8 avril 2007


This weekend I took advantage of the beautiful, warm and sunny spring weather and headed to the Normandy coast. I visited the stunning Mont Saint Michel (for photos please visit my website at www.janmcintyre.ca). I then headed to the seaside town of Ouistreham for a dinner of “plateau de fruits de mer” at Le Metropolitan, a restaurant with the décor of an antique Paris Metro car. In the morning I headed to the local Marché de poisssons to buy fresh seafood – huîtres de Normandie, palourds, crevettes roses, pétoncles et moules (oysters, clams, shrimp, bay scallops and mussels). I made a quick trip to the Normadie Wine Warehouse http://www.normandiewine.com to pick up a few bottles at bargain prices to restock my cave. The fresh seafood safely tucked away in the cooler (with bags of frozen peas to keep everything chilled), I headed to Deauville for a stroll along the famous boardwalk followed by lunch at the Bar du Soleil. It was another perfect weather day as I sat outside with all the beautiful people eating oysters and a delicious Salmon Caesar Salad.


Oysters are a healthy product. They are low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals: Vitamins A, B, C, D calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine
Oysters are graded by size: The lower the number, the larger the oyster. N° 00 is the largest and n°5 is the smallest.

Chez Jan oysters are served raw on the half shell on ice accompanied with bread and butter, lemon, vinaigre à l’échalote, Tabasco and other hot pepper sauces.
Suggested wines: Champagne, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie, Chablis, Petit Chablis

dimanche 1 avril 2007

Carrot & Pineapple Muffins

I was lucky when I moved to Paris eight years ago that I was able to move all my possessions and had enough moving budget left over to buy new appliances. I arrived with my cookbook collection, full sets of metric and imperial measuring spoons and cups and cooking utensils.

The challenge that faced me as a foreign chef was to find the ingredients that I needed or their French substitutes. The pictures and descriptions in a book called “Le Guide des Aliments” Könemann published in 1999 by Les Editions Québec Amérique Inc.helped me to identify the French names of ingredients.

Most of the hard to find ingredients were available at Lafayette Gourmet and La Grand Epicerie.

La Grande Epicerie de Paris
38, rue de Sèvres - 75007 Paris
Téléphone : 01 44 39 81 00
Fax : 01 44 39 81 17
Lafayette Gourmet
48 bd Haussmann
75009 Paris
Tel: 01 40 23 52 25

Some of the trickier items to find were:
§ Baking chocolate – forget the Baker’s chocolate squares (available at the Real McCoy for a small fortune) and opt instead for bars or a large block of Varlhona chocolate http://www.valrhona.com/.
§ Mayonnaise without mustard - I don’t use enough mayonnaise to warrant making my own so when I need plain mayonnaise the only local option seems to be Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise which is available in small jars at Lafayette Gourmet and La Grande Epicerie for around 3.50- 4€.
§ Baking soda and baking powder - I arrived with a full box of baking soda and a tin of baking powder so I didn’t need to hunt for these until well after I found out where to find them. Baking soda (bicarbonate de soude) was sold in the pharmacy. It is now available in boxes at Monoprix. Baking powder (levure chimique) is sold in a bundle of 5 small packets (each one with enough for 500 g of flour). It is available in the baking section of Monoprix.
Grocery stores have expanded their foreign product lines significantly since I arrived.

Carrot & Pineapple Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 eggs
160 mL (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
160 mL (2/3 cup) vegetable oil
375 mL (1-1/2 cups) all purpose flour
5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder
5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
1 mL (1/4 tsp) salt
5 mL (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract
250 mL (1 cup) carrots, grated
250 mL (1/2 cup) drained crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and sugar. Blend in oil. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Filled greased or paper-lined muffin tins ¾ full and bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

lundi 26 mars 2007

Cheesy Fennel Lasagne

France is a country renowned for its cheeses. The variety is astounding – it has been said to have more than 500 different ones available. There are cheeses to suit every different taste:
– cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk
– fresh, soft-white, natural-rind, washed-rind, semi-soft, soft, firm and blue

Comté is a firm cow’s milk cheese from the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, close to the Swiss border. Comté was the first cheese to obtain the coveted “Appellation d’Origine Contrôllée” (AOC) status, certifying that the cheese is produced in accordance with the strict regulations governing the consistency and traditional methods of the area. The cheese is a close relative of Swiss Gruyère. Comté is usually described as salty, mild and fruity. This cheese can be served as part of a cheese platter, in tarts or fondue.

I use Comte in Cheesy Fennel Lasagne. This dish makes great convenience food – prepare it ahead of time and freeze it to use when your schedule is too busy to cook. Just pop it into the oven to heat through and serve it with a tossed green salad.

Cheesy Fennel Lasagne
Serves 6

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 small zucchinis, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
60mL (¼ cup) tomato paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
5mL (1 tsp.) dried oregano leaves
200g (7 oz.) package instant lasagne noodles
80mL (1/3 cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese

30g (2 Tbsp.) butter
60mL (¼ cup) plain flour
375mL (1½ cups) milk
375mL (1½ cups) Comté or Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 180°C (375°F).

Combine fennel, tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, onion, tomato paste, garlic and oregano in large saucepan, cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes; alternatively microwave on HIGH for about 10 min.).

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan, add flour, cook, stirring for 1 min. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Layer lasagne noodles with cheese sauce and vegetable mixture in an oven-proof dish, finishing with cheese sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, cover and bake for about 30 min. (alternatively microwave on HIGH for about 20 min.) or until lasagne is tender. Remove lid and bake for a further 10 min. or until browned.

dimanche 18 mars 2007

Fennel and Orange Salad

Fennel, with its distinct anise flavour, has become one of my favourite vegetables. These versatile Mediterranean white bulbs originated in Italy and are now also cultivated in Provence and Spain.

Fennel bulbs can be eaten raw in a salad, or cooked - braised, au gratin, puréed, in lasagne – just to name a few ways of preparing this vegetable. Fennel is a superb complement to fish and is a key ingredient in the Provençal fish soup, Bouillabaisse.

Fennel and Orange Salad is a refreshing Sicilian specialty. It is traditionally served at the end of a meal.

Fennel and Orange Salad
Serves 4

2 large fennel bulbs
2 sweet oranges
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
60 mL (4 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
30 mL (2 Tbsp) fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the fennel bulbs and remove any brown or stringy outer leaves. Thinly slice the bulbs and stems. Place in a shallow serving bowl.
Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, cutting away the white pith; slice thinly. Cut each slice into thirds. Arrange over fennel, adding any juice from the oranges.
Mix the oil and lemon juice together. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the salad and mix well. Garnish with spring onions.

lundi 12 mars 2007

Strawberries Marinated in Balsamic Vinegar

Strawberries from Spain

Strolling through the Marché de Breteuil on Saturday, I noticed the large, lush looking, deep red strawberries from Spain. A sure sign of spring! These pajaro strawberries are not as tasty as the tiny, wild French fraise de bois but those won’t come into season until June. The other varieties of strawberries grown in France will start showing up in May.

Strawberries make a fabulous and versatile dessert. They can be served plain, sugared, peppered or with crème fraîche, whipped cream or ice cream, macerated in wine, champagne or kirsch, or mixed with other fruit in a fruit salad… just to name a few ways.

Here’s one unexpected combination that really does work.

Strawberries Marinated in Balsamic Vinegar
Serves: 4

500 g strawberries, sliced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) sugar
60 mL (4 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar
3 mL (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract
125 mL (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese
Sugar, to taste
Fresh mint or basil, finely sliced for garnish

Place strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Pour over balsamic vinegar, stir to mix and marinate for about 2 hours.
Mix the vanilla and mascarpone; sweeten to taste with sugar.
Place a dollop of mascarpone on a plate or in a bowl and heap over strawberries with the juice. Garnish with mint or basil.

dimanche 4 mars 2007

Sopa de Lima

On my last trip to Mexico, I discovered several new recipes to add to my collection. While staying in the colonial city of Mérida in the Yucatan region, I was introduced to local specialites like Sopa de Lima (lime and tortilla soup), Tacos de Cochinita Pibil (shredded pork tacos), Huachinango al Mojo de Ajo (red snapper with garlic), Chilies Rellenos de Queso (cheese stuffed chillies), Horchata de Arroz (rice drink), among others. Here is my adaptation of Sopa de Lima.

Sopa de Lima (Lime & Tortilla Soup)
Serves 4

15 mL (1 Tbsp) vegetable oil
80 mL (1/3 cup) onion, chopped
250 mL (1 cup) shredded cooked chicken
1 L (4 cups) chicken stock
1 fresh green chilli, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 limes (1-1/2 for juice; ½ for slices)
Coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnish

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan; add onion and chilli. Sauté until onion is tender but not browned. Add chicken and stock; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add tomato; simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in the juice of 1-1/2 limes.
To serve, ladle into individual bowls, add some tortilla strips and sprinkle with coriander. Float a lime slice in the centre of each serving.

dimanche 25 février 2007

Dutch Meatloaf

This week’s recipe is a nostalgic one as it one that my mother used to make for us. She served it with boiled potatoes and cabbage. This is comfort food at its best – easy to make, tasty and filling.

Leftover meatloaf makes a great sandwich filling for a baguette or Kaiser bun.

Dutch Meatloaf
Serves 4

680g (1-1/2 lbs) ground beef
225 mL (8 oz) can tomato sauce
225 mL (1 cup) breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
5 mL (1 tsp) dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste

30 mL (2 Tbsp) tomato paste
30 mL (2 Tbsp) brown sugar
30 mL (2 Tbsp) vinegar
30 mL (2 Tbsp) mustard
225 mL (1 cup) water

Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF).

Mix half of the tomato sauce with the tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and water.

Mix together meat, breadcrumbs, onion, egg, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining tomato sauce. Form into a loaf in a 21cm x 32 cm (8” x 12”) baking dish and bake for 30 min. Degrease, add sauce and continue baking for another hour.

dimanche 18 février 2007


Around this time of year my friends in Canada and northern US are suffering from ‘February Blues’. A syndrome caused by too much winter already and no end in sight. The lucky ones escape to the sunny Caribbean or for a week or two.

We were fortunate in Paris this year that winter was milder and much sunnier than usual. It is sunny and 16°C as I am writing this. No February Blues here! It is the Parisian school holiday and families have left Paris for the Alps or Pyrenees to ski or for a sunny break in Spain or North Africa.

As a compromise, I suggest planning a Greek menu to take you virtually to an exotic location. Think of the white buildings, blue skies and Mediterranean Sea. Make a large Greek Salad of iceberg lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion and crumbled Feta cheese to serve with souvlakia (lamb or chicken brochettes) or lamb burgers. Serve Tzatziki and pita bread as the accompaniments.

Makes 625 mL (2-1/2 cups)

500 mL (2 cups) plain yogurt
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Spoon yogurt into a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel; let drain for 2 hours. Place cucumber in large colander and let drain for 10 minutes; gently squeeze out the excess moisture.
Combine yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil and add pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow flavours to blend.

lundi 12 février 2007

Créme Caramel

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we think about flowers and sweet treats. This year why not make your sweetheart a popular French dessert, Crème renversée au caramel, more commonly known as Crème Caramel.

Crème Caramel is a simple to make egg custard baked in a ramekin with caramel in the bottom. The caramel melts during baking turns into syrup over the custard when turned out onto a plate.

Crème Caramel is not be confused with Crème Brûlée which is a richer custard made with cream and is covered with a hard caramel graze.

Crème Caramel
Makes 8 servings

200 mL (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
50 mL (1/4 cup) water

5 large eggs
125 mL (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
750 mL (3 cups) milk (whole or 2%)
3 mL (3/4 tsp) vanilla

Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF).

Place sugar in small heavy saucepan and drizzle water evenly over the top. Place the pan on medium heat; gently swirl the liquid to form a clear syrup (remove the pan from heat as necessary to avoid boiling before syrup is formed). Increase the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for two minutes. Remove the lid and cook the syrup until it begins to darken. Gently swirling the pan, cook until the syrup until it turns a deep amber colour. Quickly (but very carefully to avoid burning your skin with the hot syrup) pour the caramel into eight ramekins. Using a potholder, immediately tilt the ramekins to spread the caramel over the bottom and halfway up the sides.

Whisk eggs, sugar and salt until just blended. Heat milk until just steaming. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture and stir gently until the sugar dissolves. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl with a pouring lip. Stir in vanilla. Pour into the caramel-lined ramekins.

Bake in a bain-marie (pan filled with water to half way up the sides of the ramekins) until firmly set in the centre about 40 to 60 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Unmold by briefly dipping the ramekins into hot water then running a knife around the edges, and inverting onto individual plates deep enough to catch all the caramel syrup.

dimanche 4 février 2007

Fettuccine with Scallops & Mushrooms

I grew up in Nova Scotia and was introduced to seafood at any early age. My favourites are lobster, shrimp, scallops, oysters and mussels. We were fortunate enough to be able to get fresh shrimp direct from the boats and live lobster dropped off at our home. I love going to Normandy and Brittany to eat fresh plateau de fruits de mer (large platter of mixed seafood) and pick up some fish and seafood at the waterside marchés to bring back to Paris with me (safely tucked inside a cooler in the trunk of my car for the +/-3 hour drive).

My local marchés (Avenue de Saxe and Boulevard de Grenelle) have several poissonnières where I can indulge my cravings a little closer to home when things are in season and not too expensive. Noix de Saint Jacques (large sea scallops) are usually sold in the shell and the fishmongers will shuck them for you but they leave the corail (red roe) on. The roe is edible but I do not particularly care for it and remove it when I do the final cleaning at home. In Paris, the smaller bay scallops tend to be sold already cleaned. In Normandy, they are sold in the shells and you will have to shuck them yourself but this is easy enough to do.

Seafood and pasta dishes make for simple and elegant meals to impress your friends. Fettuccine with Scallops and Mushrooms has been a favourite since I discovered it in the early 1980’s. In this dish I use small bay scallops and champignons de Paris (white mushrooms). I prefer to use larger sea scallops where they can be used whole. To add a colourful twist, use squid ink fettuccine and add a shot of Pernod to give the dish an anise flavour.

Fettuccine with Scallops & Mushrooms
Serves 4

45 mL (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
250g (1/2 lb) mushrooms, sliced (if mushrooms are large, cut in half before slicing)
375 g (3/4 lb) bay scallops (or sea scallops, quartered)
5 mL (1 tsp) lemon zest, finely grated
250 mL (1 cup) whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 mL (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
500 g (1 lb) fettuccine noodles
45 mL (3 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, melt butter, stir in garlic and cook over medium heat until fragrant but not coloured. Add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes or until soft and any liquid in pan has evaporated. Add scallops and cook for 1 minute. Stir in lemon zest and cream and bring to a boil. Season with pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.

Cook fettuccini in large pot of boiling water until al dente. Just before pasta is ready, reheat sauce. Drain fettuccine well and place in large pasta bowl or platter. Toss well. Sprinkle with parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings.

lundi 29 janvier 2007

Onion Soup Gratinée

Onion Soup Gratinée or French Onion Soup is a tasty and inexpensive winter treat. It is popular in Canada but I rarely see it on menus where I have dined out in Paris. Actually, other than Bouillabaisse and Vichyssoise, I have rarely seen soup at all on menus here.
The trick to this soup is to well caramelize the onions in order to give the soup its rich colour. Using home made beef stock is best.

Onion Soup Gratinée
Serves 6

45 mL (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter
3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
200 mL (3/4 cup) dry white wine
1.5 L (3 cups) beef stock
1 branch fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
15 mL (1 Tbsp) dry sherry or cognac (optional)

12 slices of baguette
190 g (6 oz) gruyere, grated

Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over low heat until tender and golden brown (this caramelization gives the soup its colour), about 25 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and season to taste with pepper. Add the beef stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sherry or cognac and adjust the seasoning.

Toast the baguette slices under the grille until golden on both sides.

Spoon the soup into heated bowls and place the croutons on top. Sprinkle with the grated gruyere and place the bowls under a preheated grille until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

dimanche 21 janvier 2007

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad is a North American classic. The origin can be traced to an Italian restaurateur, Caesar Cardini, in Tijuana, Mexico. One holiday weekend in 1924, his restaurant ran short of supplies. He experimented with the available ingredients and created this salad. He instructed the servers to treat it as a house specialty and to make a ceremony of the preparation at the table.

Caesar Salad can be served as a side salad or as a meal. Nowadays there are several variations and it is usually served pre-prepared in a bowl or salad plate. The Chicken Caesar version is one of my favourite lunch meals but Paris is not the best place to order it. From time to time I try it at some of the Tex-Mex restaurants around town. I had it this weekend while I was out shopping and was pleasantly surprised – the chicken was real, the romaine crisp, the parmesan shaved not grated and the dressing served on the side. This Tex-Mex version also included tomatoes and avocado.

This week’s recipe is the classic version. I would make it more often but it is difficult to find romaine in Paris.

Caesar Salad
Serves 2-4

1 large head of romaine, washed, torn into bite-sized pieces, thick cores removed, and dried on paper towels

250 mL (1 cup) of 1.5 cm (1/2”) cubes of Italian bread or French baguette
1 clove garlic, minced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Combine garlic, olive oil and bread cubes in a bowl; mix to coat evenly. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

2 anchovy filets, cut in small pieces (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5 mL (½ tsp) hot English mustard
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 egg yolks*
45 mL (3Tbsp) grated Parmesan cheese
125 mL (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the anchovy, garlic, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in the bottom of a large wooden salad bowl and add a few croutons to aid in the crushing process. Using a large spoon crush and mash the ingredients into a thick, very smooth paste.
Add the lemon juice and two egg yolks and beat the dressing. Add 1 Tbsp of Parmesan and pour in the oil in a thin stream, beating very fast until the dressing is thick and creamy.

To assemble the salad, toss the romaine and croutons with the dressing and mix thoroughly.

* Raw egg yolks can be replaced by a 1 minute boiled egg or a coddled egg (lower the eggs gently into boiling water and immediately turn off the heat. Remove the eggs after 1 minute.) Crack eggs and separate whites from yolks, using only the yolks for the salad dressing.

Copyright 2007 Jan McIntyre

dimanche 14 janvier 2007

Gratin Dauphinois

Cooking is my passion. As a Scottish-Canadian living in Paris over the last seven years, I have gained a new perspective on cooking. Food is paramount here. Everything about food is important in France – the method of preparation, the order of the courses, the presentation, the way to eat and what wines to accompany the different plates. The marches are dynamic – cheeses, mushrooms, vegetables, fruit, game and seafood change with the seasons. The selection is breathtaking. I still have a lot to learn.

My cuisine is international. I will try any recipe that looks interesting to me. I am not an inventive cook but Paris has given me the opportunity to be more creative. Out of necessity, I have made subtle changes and substitutions to my old favourites to accommodate ingredients that are not readily available. I have tweaked recipes to adapt to changing tastes.

This week’s recipe is a classic French side dish. It is a perfect winter accompaniment to grilled meat.

Gratin Dauphinois
(Serves 6 – 8)

1.5 kg (3 lbs) potatoes of uniform size, thinly sliced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1 clove garlic, crushed
375 mL - 500mL (1-1/2 cups - 2 cups) milk or half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
60 mL (4 Tbsp) crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)
80 mL - 125 mL (1/3 cup - 1/2 cup) whipping cream
60 mL (¼ cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Generously butter a 23 cm x 30 cm (9” x 12”) heavy shallow baking dish or oval gratin dish of comparable size. Rub the dish with half of the crushed garlic.
In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer with the remaining garlic and season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Arrange 1/3 of potato slices in one overlapping layer on the bottom of the dish. Season the layer with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Repeat for two more layers. Press to compact the layers. Pour in milk to just below the top layer of potatoes. Set the baking dish on a larger baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake until the potatoes about 1 hour until tender when pierced with a knife.
Raise the temperature to 210°C (425°F), remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Pour just enough cream to cover the top, dab with crème fraîche and sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until top is brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes to absorb the cream.

dimanche 7 janvier 2007

Carrot Orange Soup

60 mL (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, chopped
12 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 L (4 cups) chicken stock
250 mL (1 cup) orange juice, freshly squeezed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated fresh orange zest, to taste

Melt butter in a pot. Add the onions, cover and cook over low heat until tender and lightly coloured, about 25 minutes. Add carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.
Pour the soup through a strainer and transfer the solids to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (alternatively a blender or a food mill fitted with a medium disk). Add 1 cup of cooking stock and process until smooth. Return purée to pot and add the orange juice and 2-3 cups of the remaining stock, until the soup is the desired consistency.
Season to taste with salt and pepper; add orange zest. Simmer until heated through. Serve immediately.
(Serves 4-6)