samedi 25 décembre 2010
mercredi 13 octobre 2010
The grape harvest is in full swing along the Moselle. The vineyards are buzzing with machinery and people. I am sure the winemakers too are happy that the weather is cooperating.
Fall also brings Oktoberfest that mostly happens in September in Germany and isn’t celebrated as much in this wine making area. Although, I have seen signs for a few beer tents and celebrations while traveling around the region.
Fall also means pumpkins are in season. In Canada we mostly associate them with pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and Jack o’lanterns at Halloween. But they are much more versatile food and can be used in muffins, cheesecakes, soups, side dishes and Indian inspired curries.
I tried this intriguing and delicious Spinach and Pumpkin Curry for a change from the usual soup or baked goods.
Spinach and Pumpkin Curry
1 kg (2 lb) pumpkin, peeled and chopped
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 mL (1 tsp) grated fresh ginger
1-2 small chiles, thinly sliced
5 mL (1 tsp) ground coriander
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cumin
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) turmeric
300 mL (10 oz) coconut cream
250 g (9 oz) spinach leaves
30 mL (2 Tbsp) fresh coriander, chopped
Heat olive oil in large pan; add onion and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly coloured. Add garlic, ginger, chiles and spices; cook stirring until fragrant. Add pumpkin and coconut cream. Simmer until pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes. Add spinach and fresh coriander. Simmer until spinach is just wilted.
dimanche 19 septembre 2010
dimanche 5 septembre 2010
That was until I tasted a version in Mexico that was a mixture of seafood and spicy sauce served in a taller tulip shaped ice cream sundae glass.
Ever since I tried this Camarone Coctal at Hacienda Xcanatun in the Yucatan, the shrimp and mango variation has become my favourite kind of shrimp cocktail.
Most basic shrimp or seafood cocktail sauce recipes call for either ketchup or chili sauce. I tried out both for this recipe and found to my surprise that the one with good old ketchup tasted better than the one with the chunky chili sauce.
Shrimp and Mango Cocktail
16 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped
1 small mango, chopped
125 mL (1/2 cup) ketchup (or chili sauce)
15 mL (1 Tbsp) finely diced red onion
30 mL (2 Tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice
Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, to taste
30 mL (2 Tbsp) freshly grated horseradish (black radish - radis noir)
15 mL (1 Tbsp) coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
Blend together all cocktail sauce ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour before using.
Stir in shrimp and mango; spoon into serving glasses.
(Or arrange alternating layers of sauce, shrimp and mango in serving glasses.)
mercredi 28 juillet 2010
Don’t worry too much about following the recipe, just throw it together with whichever of the ingredients you have on hand.
1/2 head of iceberg or romaine lettuce, torn
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped or sliced
1/2 red onion; chopped or sliced
1/4 English cucumber, chopped or sliced
125 mL (1/2 cup) feta cheese, crumbled
15 mL (1 Tbsp) red wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
45 mL (3 Tbsp) olive oil
5 mL (1 tsp) dried oregano
30 mL (2 Tbsp) flat leaf parsley, chopped
125 mL (1/2 cup) Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
6 hot yellow peppers (optional)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Line a large platter (or individual serving plates/bowls) with lettuce. Arrange tomato, green pepper, onion, cucumber and hot peppers on top. Sprinkle with the feta cheese. Blend red wine vinegar and olive oil; drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with oregano, parsley and olives. Season with pepper.
dimanche 25 juillet 2010
So instead of the usual hot morning coffee, I tried espresso granita - an iced version of coffee that is granular in texture. Yummy!!! You can always adjust the sugar content to suit your taste. I don’t take sugar in my coffee, but using sugar in the granita helps with the texture and tones down the very strong espresso. If you don’t have a food processor, stir the granita mixture every 20 minutes to keep it granular. When all the liquid has become granular, it is ready.
Makes 4-5 servings
500 mL (2 cups) water
60 mL (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
250 mL (1 cup) very strong espresso coffee, cooled
whipped cream (optional for garnish)
Heat together water and sugar over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and let cool. Combine espresso with sugar syrup, place in a shallow container and freeze until solid. Remove from container by plunging the bottom in very hot water for a few seconds. Turn out frozen mixture and chop into large chunks. Place into a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until it forms small crystals. Spoon into serving glasses and top with whipped cream (if using).
jeudi 1 juillet 2010
dimanche 27 juin 2010
Then there were the sporting dramas. The shameful antics and swift exit of the French team from the World Cup. The start, middle and finish of a 3-day 11 hour 5 minute unbelievable tennis match at Wimbledon, interrupted by darkness not rain) between the Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut and the American John Isner.
Our cool, rainy weather turned into actual warm (hot even) and sunny summer weather. So in honour of the start of summer, I made Ice Cream. My first real ice cream made with eggs and cream. Not just any ice cream but Licorice Ice Cream. Licorice is one of my favourite flavours. This ice cream used licorice root infused in the milk and cream and has a subtle licorice flavour and a creamy colour.
300 mL (10 oz) 35% (whipping) cream
Place cream, milk and licorice root into a saucepan and slowly bring up to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand to infuse for at least an hour, or longer if possible. Return pan to heat and bring back to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Pour the heated cream mixture through a sieve onto the egg yolk mixture and whisk well. Discard the licorice root. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat slowly. Gently simmer, stirring continuously, until thickened (do not allow mixture to boil). Let cool, then pour mixture into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
* Available from health food and gourmet shops
lundi 7 juin 2010
Here are just a few photos from my meals.
A springtime salad from La Terrace near Ecole Militaire
A classic Croque Monsieur with green salad
Pizza Margarita and Macaron de Framboise from Le Jardin de Roland Garros
dimanche 9 mai 2010
This week I found the good non-fibrous tasty mangoes in Auchan. I couldn’t resist trying out my new sorbetièr (ice cream maker) to make mango ice cream with them. Delicious!!!
Mango Ice Cream
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled and pitted
250 mL (1 cup) 2% (partially skimmed) milk
45 mL (3 Tbsp) 35% (heavy or whipping) cream
30 mL (2 Tbsp) light brown sugar
10 mL (2 tsp) fresh lemon juice
Dice 1/2 of one mango and chill in the fridge. Purée remaining mango in a blender or food processor. Add milk, cream, sugar, and lemon juice; blend until sugar dissolves. Freeze the mixture according to ice cream maker recommendations (or use food processor method below*). When the ice cream is partly frozen, stir in chilled mango. Serve immediately once the ice cream is completely frozen or transfer to a container to store in the freezer for up to 1 week.
*Food Processor Method: Chop mango and freeze in a single layer for a minimum of 5 hours until solid. Pulse frozen mango with sugar until coarsely chopped. Add the mixture of milk, cream and lemon juice through the feed tube and process until smooth. Serve immediately or transfer a container to store in the freezer for up to 1 week.
dimanche 18 avril 2010
Tulips are beginning to bloom. Daffodils are almost over. Trees are coming to life. Colour is returning to the world. Birds are sitting in their nests. Spring is really here.
In honour of this, and maybe partly because our local chicken wing ‘fleiten’ restaurant ‘Beim Bär’ will be moving soon to the nearby village of Wellen after about 40 years here in Nittel, I decided to make these sweet and spicy Asian flavoured chicken wings. I served them with a simple coleslaw.
Sweet & Tangy Chicken Wings
1 kg (2 lbs) chicken wings, tips and drumettes separated
10 mL (2 tsp) grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 mL (1 Tbsp) oyster sauce
30 mL (2 Tbsp) mild chile sauce
15 mL (1 Tbsp) honey
7.5 mL (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper
7.5 mL (1/2 tsp) garam masala (or curry powder)
Combine ginger, garlic, sauces, honey and spices. Pour over chicken wings and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Place wings on a paper or foil covered tray and bake, uncovered, in a 180°C (360°F) oven for 25 minutes. Turn wings and continue to bake for another 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.
dimanche 11 avril 2010
Chocolate Walnut Fudge
500 mL (2 cups) sugar
1 mL (1/8 tsp) salt
180 mL (3/4 cup) evaporated milk
5 mL (1 tsp) light corn syrup (or Golden Syrup)
60g (2 oz) chocolate
30 mL (2 Tbsp) butter
5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla
500 mL (2 cups) walnuts, chopped
Butter sides of a large heavy (2 L / 2 qt) saucepan (to prevent crystals from forming when the syrup boils). Combine sugar, salt, evaporated milk, corn syrup and chocolate in pan; cook, stirring over medium heat until chocolate melts and sugar dissolves. Cook to soft-ball* stage without stirring. Remove immediately from heat and add butter without stirring. Cool to lukewarm 43°C (110°F). Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture into a large bowl and beat until fudge thickens and loses its gloss. Mix in walnuts. Spread in a buttered or paper-lined 23x23x5 cm (9”x9”x2”) pan. Let cool completely and cut into squares.
* To test for soft ball stage:
Candy thermometer - Clip thermometer to the side of the pan after the syrup boils. The thermometer bulb should be well covered with the syrup and not touching the bottom of the pan. Thermometer will register 112°C to 114°C (234°F to 238°F) when soft-ball stage is reached.
Cold-water test - Drop a few drops of syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Syrup will form into a soft ball that flattens when removed from water.
dimanche 14 mars 2010
Bretzels are handed on on the Grande Rue in Luxembourg City and celebrated at festivals across the country. There is even a Bretzel Queen crowned each year.
Bretzels are either pastry or soft bread pretzels that come in various sizes. They are sold in roadside cabins and bakeries. This one was made with pastry and covered in chopped nuts and icing.
dimanche 14 février 2010
A couple of weeks ago my Italian colleague was looking for the French names for a couple of ingredients. I soon realized that he was writing down a recipe for radicchio salad. I didn't know the name for radicchio in French so when I got home I looked it up in my handy “Guide des Aliments” and e-mailed him the response “chicoree de Treviso”. The next day, he told me that was not the right name for the small round radicchio but the name for the elongated endive like one. A short discussion on the different types of radicchio and chicory ensued. This prompted me to investigate further.
He was indeed correct that the elongated ones with red leaves and white ribs that are similar in shape to endive are “Radicchio di Treviso”. They actually have IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta – status in Italy. In Belgium and Luxembourg it is known as Rood Witloof. The small red ball-shaped radicchios that resemble small red cabbages are “Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia”. It is sometimes mislabelled in other parts of Europe and the US as radicchio de Treviso.
There are several different varieties of chicory including (Belgian or French) endive, radicchio, and curly endive. The leaves of these distant cousins of dandelion have a bitter peppery taste. They are wonderful in salads but can also be cooked. The red varieties add dramatic colour to salads. The taste of chicory works well with hazelnuts, walnuts, citrus fruit and blue cheese.
I threw together this simple but dramatic salad using radicchio, pine nuts, Roquefort cheese and a simple vinaigrette.
dimanche 7 février 2010
Lentil soup seemed to me to be a good thing to serve during this bridge period between winter to spring.
Lentil Soup with Cilantro and Tomatoes
15 mL (1 Tbsp) olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
180 mL (3/4 cup) red lentils
2 x 400 g (2 x 14 oz) cans chopped tomatoes
2 L (8 cups) water
1 chicken stock cube
80 mL (1/3 cup) chopped cilantro*
10 mL (2 tsp) turmeric
5 mL (1 tsp) paprika
5 mL (1 tsp) black peppercorns, cracked
Pinch ground cumin
Heat oil in a large soup pot; add onion and garlic, cook, stirring, until onions are soft. Stir in lentils, chopped tomatoes, water, stock cube, cilantro, turmeric, paprika and peppercorns; bring to a boil, the simmer uncovered for about 1-1/2 hours (or until lentils are tender).
Remove most** of the solids from the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Blend puréed solids back into the soup and stir until heated through. Sprinkle with cumin and serve.
*Cilantro is also known as fresh coriander.
* *Amount will vary depending on the texture you want for the soup.
dimanche 31 janvier 2010
There is still work to be done in the vineyards even in the snow.
To compensate for the weather, I decided to make something chocolaty. Since I had raw beets (rather hard to come by in the grocery stores here), I cooked them intending to make salad but in the end sacrificed one for these moist and delicious brownies.
Beet and Chocolate Fudge Brownies
250 mL (1 cup) butter
100 g (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate (70% cocoa)
250 mL (1 cup) cassonade (or Muscovado) sugar
5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract
1 large cooked beet, grated
250 mL (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2.5 mL (½ tsp) salt
Melt half of the butter and the chocolate in a double boiler. Let cool.
Cream together the remaining butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape bowl and blend in the cooled chocolate mixture. Beat in grated beet. Stir in flour and salt. Pour into a greased and floured 29 x 23 x 4 cm (11-1/2 x 9 x 1-1/2 “) baking pan; bake in 175°C (350°F) oven for 45 minutes (or until done). Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.
dimanche 24 janvier 2010
Haïti was once known as the "Pearl of the Caribbean" and was France's richest colony (owing to slaves working in the sugar plantations). It is now the poorest of the Caribbean nations. A striking example of that is just a stones throw from the Presidential Palace, Cité Soleil, the worst slum in the Americas. This nation that is the western third of the island of Hispanola has had a long and difficult history. It has suffered from invasions, political unrest, corruption, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. The poverty is overwhelming to the point that it has aggrivated the deforestation which in turn lead to mudslides that choked the ocean and killed the fish causing even more food shortages.
The people are very resilient and the smiles on the faces of the school children beam. My memories of Haïti include:
- the little boy who poked me with a stick (to see if I was real I guess) then laughed and ran off
- a visit to La Belle Epoch restaurant where I first ate conch soup and fried plantain chips
- the view of the very outside of Cité Soleil
- the amazing colourful paintings (which sadly I didn't buy)
- world's best vanilla and coffee
- visit to an orchid nursery
- seeing how snails are packaged for shipping to a US restaurant
- visit to the industrial park outside Port-au-Prince where they made baskets by hand
I feel for the losses of the survivors of the earthquake but live in the hope that they will be able to build a better Haïti out of the ruins.
Unfortunately I don't have any Haitian creole recipes to share but will work on finding some.
dimanche 10 janvier 2010
Snow covered vineyards beside the Mosel in Germany
With all this wintery weather I might be forgiven for thinking about posting a recipe for comfort food instead of something light and healthy to make up for excesses of the holiday season. Spareribs are probably thought of as summer food - parboiled and finished on the barbecue. In this recipe, they are covered in sauce and slow cooked in the oven. The pork will be fall off the bone tender but a bit greasy. You could wait until the ribs are partially cooked to remove some of the grease before adding the sauce. The barbecue sauce and lemon make this dish tangy. I suggest serving it with coleslaw and rice.
Tangy Tender Spareribs
½ cup water
1-1/2 tsp Bisto
½ cup barbecue sauce
500 g (1 lb) pork spareribs cut into individual ribs
1 onion cut in slices
1 lemon, cut in slices
Mix together water, Bisto and barbecue sauce. Place ½ of onion and lemon slices on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Place the ribs in a single layer on top, then the remaining onion and lemon slices. Cover with sauce and bake in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 2-1/4 hours to 3-1/4 hours, until ribs are tender.