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, 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 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 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 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
§ 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.