mardi 30 juin 2009


Fantastic weather today. When They covered (the portuguese painters) all the dining room with plastic, the only decent room in this house, that was still looking like a room before this morning, I decided it would be better to eat somewhere else tonight. Why not a picnic on the banks of the Seine river! Good idea, summer is here, and the time is right....

I always dreamed to prepare one of Mrs Beeton's simple recipe for a picnic. Here are the ingredents you will need for an impromptu picnic:

A joint of cold roast beef
a joint of cold boiled beef
2 ribs of lamb
two shoulers of lamb
4 roast fowls
2 roast ducks
one ham
one tongue
2 veal and ham pies
2 pigeons pies
6 medium sized lobsters
1 piece of collared calf's head
18 lettuces
6 baskets of salads
6 cucumbers
stewed fruit
4 dozens of pastry biscuits
2 dozen of fruit turnover
4 dozen cheesecakes
2 cold cabinet pudding in moulds
2 blancmanges in moulds
a few jam puffs
1 large cold plum-pudding
a few baskets of fresh fruits
3 dozen of plain biscuits
a piece of cheese
6 lbs. of butter
4 quartern loaves of household bread
3 dozen rolls
6 loaves of tin bread (for tea)
2 plain plum cakes
2 pound cakes
2 sponge cakes
a tin of mixed biscuits
1/2 lb. of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.
A stick of horseradish
a bottle of mint sauce
a bottle of salad dressing
made mustard
pepper and salt
good oil
pounded sugar

3 dozen quart bottles of ale
2 dozen bottles of ginger-beer
2 dozen bottles of soda-water
Two dozen bottles of lemonade
6 bottles of sherry
6 bottles of claret
champagne à la discrétion
other light wine that may be preferd
 2 bottles of brandy
Water can usually be obtained; so it is useless to take it.

mercredi 24 juin 2009

French lamb chops with basil and young spinach leaves

I know it may not sound like a low fat diet meal, but I think it is. There is not a lot to eat in theses tasty french cut lamb chops, so it can't be very calorific, I guess...

For two persons:
8 lamb chops ( 400g)
One bunch of basil
Olive oil
100g of young spinach leaves
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven at 250°c. Wash and cut the basil with scissors in a small bowl or a cup. Pour on olive oil to cover, salt and pepper, mix with a fork and let it rest. Put the rack of lamb in a pot ( glass or cast iron) fat on the top, pour on a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes on a high fire until the fat is crispy and colored, but the interior rosé and juicy. Wash the spanich , toss with half the basil/olive oil. Cut the lamb's rack in eight and serve hot with basil and olive oil on it and spanich on the side. My favorite cut of the lamb, very helpful when you improvise a dinner party with friends at the last minute.

mardi 23 juin 2009

Salmon with green lentils and basmati rice.

We are moving soon and my kitchen looks more like a battlefield than a place to cook. Summer is here now so I am going to cook low fat food for a couple of weeks in order to go to the beach....

For two persons

Two salmon fillets with the skin ( approx 450g) from the fish market
200g of green lentils
2 cloves of garlic
1 oignon
a branch of rosemary
a bunch of coriander
Olive oil
The juice of one lemon
One cup of basmati rice
Salt and pepper

Wash the lentils and cook for 30 minutes in five times their volume of water with the grossly cut oignon, the garlic and the branch of rosemary. When done throw away the rosemary and put the lentils in a bowl, season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and coriander; let it rest. Wash the rice and boil in plenty of water for 11 minutes. Cook the salmon in a pan. I use a little oil because I like to eat the skin crispy ( I take off the shells), but no need, salmon have enough fat to be cooked without oil. On a high fire I cook it two and a half minutes on each side, so the middle is still raw, if you don't like cook it on a medium fire longer.

lundi 22 juin 2009

Avocado topped with crayfish tails

A very good entrée. We are trying to loose some weight so I am making it a little bigger and will serve with fresh bread as a meal.

3 Avocado
1 Lemon
One bunch of fresh coriander
a small oignon
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Crawfish tails

In a bowl crush the avocados with the oignon cut in small pieces and the clove of garlic. Add the lemon juice. cut the coriander and add to the mix with olive oil,  salt and pepper. Let it rest in the refrigerator. Berfore serving, take the plates, put on a metal ring ( or a yoghurt plastic pot, cut the bottom), press in it the avocado mixture. Place on the top the crayfish tails. Take off the ring and use on the next plate. I feel so healthy eating this delicious meal

jeudi 18 juin 2009

à Chantal, Greek Moussaka Patrick style

Voici une recette que j'adore à base d'aubergines

3 eggplants
5 tomatoes
tomato paste
Two oignons
Many cloves of garlic,
 3 cups Milk
125g of Butter
2 cups of flour
100g of Parmesan cheese
olive oil
Salt and pepper
one teaspoon of cinnamon
750g of ground beef

Slice the egplants and put in a colander with plenty of unrefined salt for more than an hour, let it soak. Cut the oignons and cook with olive oil in a pot. When colored add garlic. When garlic is smelling, add in the pot the meat. Let it cook slowly. While it's cooking cut the tomatoes in small pieces and put in the pot with the tomato paste, salt and pepper and cinnamon. Leave it on a very low fire for an hour or two.

Make a bechamel. Put the butter in a casserole, when melt, put the flour. Keep on stirring and when the flour gets a light brown color, pour on the milk. Add the parmesan or pecorino.

Wash the eggplants very well ( your dish will be very salty if ou don't). Dry it and fry in a pan with a little olive oil.

Take a dish that can resist the oven. Put a level of eggplants, one of meat, alternate and finish by a level of eggplants. Top with the bechamel/parmesan mix. Bake in the oven for an hour and a half at 150°c.

Leg of lamb, north african style

Lamb is one of my favorite meat, I love it in everyway. Today I am proposing a very simple meal I love very much, a leg of lamb cooked in the oven for hours.

A leg of lamb
Many cloves of garlic
250g of butter
Salt and pepper

Use a cast iron pot. With a knife, insert some garlic inside the lamb's leg. Melt the butter in another pot with crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Put the lamb in the cast iron pot, put on the rosemary and pour on a little garlic butter. Cook for at least 3 hours at 150°c, pouring butter on the leg once in a while. About an hour before eating, put the potatoes beside the lamb and roast slowly for about and hour. Fantastic

mardi 16 juin 2009

Pork roast with brown potatoes, a tribute to my grandmother's cooking. A ma chère Mamie

I owe very much to my grandmother, who let me cook and bake cakes when I was a little child. I learned a lot that way. She herself learned to cook during the great depression and second world war. The times were hard and they needed a lot of imagination to make a good meal out of nothing. All her cooking is based on a few key ingredients, like oignons, and garlic. She makes wonderful traditionnal meals from Quebec, with no written recipe, passed from generation to generation by oral tradition. This recipe is very typical of New France, and may have been created as far as 1634 when a living reproductive pork was first introduced in the french colony. The cooking method is also due to  the climate. During the long, long winter of Canada, people had to keep themselves hot with a low fire all day long. In the coutry , they were making craft, like knitting or carving, for themselves or to  earn a little money in order to buy a piece of pork. Of this context, the cold and the low fire burning all day long, the lack of fresh vegetables, result a very intersting cooking, developing different tastes while using always the same ingredients, like the italian kitchen.

The pork roast with potatoes and carrots cooked in its juice of my grandmother

A pork roast
One big spanish oignon
A few potatoes
A couple of carrots
A few garlic cloves
Salt an pepper
A little oil

Slice the oignon grossly and put in a cast iron pot ( you can not make the recipe without a cast iron pot!) with oil, cook on a low fire until dark colored. Put some garlic inside the pork roast and add to the pot on a low fire until colored on all its faces. When the oignons are practically burnt pour water to cover the pork roast and scrath the bottom of the pot in order to make a nice juice. Let the roast cook in the oven for at least three hours, on a low fire,  or as my grandmother do, all the night for the next day lunch. An hour or so before eating, add the potatoes to the pot. Half an hour after add the carrots. When dark brown serve with salt and pepper.

Recipe for Ana, Briouattes bel kefta

Pictures are to  come....
Morrocan Briouattes are triangles of brick with meat or cheese inside, close to the samoussa. It is very easy and fun to make, you only need geometric skills to fold them.

That makes 40 briouattes, you can divide to make less.

500g of ground steak
Two oignons
A big bunch of coriander
A little cinnamon
Salt, pepper
3 eggs
2 cloves of garlic
20 sheets of brick
Oil ( to fry)

Cut the oignons, the coriander and the garlic small, mix with the meat, salt and pepper, and the eggs. 

Now cut the bricks sheets in two so you have half of a circle. Fold the long side and the small side of your half circle to the middle, like you would do for a letter to put in an envelope. Take a little meat and put on one side of the brick strip. Fold the end of the strip on the meat to make a triangle. Fold the rest of the strip at right angles to the end. Put the extremity of the brick strip inside the last fold, like an enveloppe. Fry the briouattes in a frying pan with a little oil. Everybody liked it very much.


Preparing my birthday... Angel food cake

I prepared a beautiful (and good) cake for my 27th anniversary and gave it a victorian look, one of my favorite period of history. I don't have any cake mold so I decided to use a tart mold,  a cooking pot and a coffee cup to make a beautiful three tier cake.


2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups of flour
2 cups of white eggs ( it was 15 eggs for me)
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar or a little lemon juice

Sift 1/2 cup of sugar and flour togheter 4 times. Beat egg whites, cream of tartare until firm. I had to do it by hand, that was some sport! Add the remaining sugar a little at the time beating it in. Add the vanilla. Add the flour sifting a little at the time to the eggs and sugar mixing. Put it on a large ungreased mold in a moderate oven (350°f) 45 to 60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and invert the mold, wait an hour before  taking the cake out of the mold.

As a topping, I made a salty caramel.

Appox. 125g of salted butter
Approx. 50 cl of cream
Approx three cups of brown sugar ( vergeoise)

Heat the butter, add the sugar and stir until completely melt,then add the cream and keep on stiring until you get a nice caramel, not too thick or you won't be able to spread on the cake. If it is too thick you can add water. The caramel is easy to keep, store it in a box and reheat it when you need.

mercredi 10 juin 2009

Chicken and pork satay skewers

I don't have time to cook this week: what a shame! 
Before I went to my exams I shamelessely put chicken breast and pork in satay spices and oil, with lemon, garlic, coriander seeds ( roast them in a pan without oil to get all the flavour before using, thanks to my good friend Naomi who told me).  I left the meat rest all day long, put it on skewers, grilled it and served with rice, coriander and lemon. Wonderful for a fast meal!

mardi 9 juin 2009

Lunch ready in five minutes

I have really no time for cooking today: an exam tomorrow that I can not afford to miss.  No time for cooking does not mean eating bad stuff. I was amazed yesterday at the super market to see what people were buying for dinner, and I saw young people with frozen pizzas, canned vegetables, dried soup, already prepared salmon and cooked chicken breasts.  Not only it is more expensive than fresh food, but I don't think it is so good for health. Well...This is one of my five minutes to prepare lunch recipe: Smoked duck breast salad.

One lemon
 one spoon of Dijon mustard ( in France we just call it mustard
Salt an pepper
 olive oil 
 worcestershire  sauce
 one egg
 smoked duck slices

Boil an egg. Put salt and pepper in a bowl, press the lemeon, add a drop of tabasco, a splash of worcestershire, the mustard. Mix it and add olive oil while mixing, until the salad dressing is consistent. pour on the salad and toss, add cilantro or basil to your taste, serve with the smoked duck and the egg. I like to put a little tabasco on the egg with lemon juice, like they do in mexico. Simple and tasteful.

lundi 8 juin 2009

Duck ravioli with cepes and ricotta

I love making fresh pasta at home, but be sure you are not in a rush when you prepare this meal, it requires a little time.

For two peoples

 1 1/2 cup of flour, two or three eggs, a little salt.

Filling and sauce:
 One duck breast with the fat
 a bunch of fresh basil and herbs you may have in your kitchen or garden
 a glass of red wine or porto if you have
 some spanich
20 g of dried cepes (if you have fresh it's of course better) 
plenty of garlic
 5 tomatoes
7 mushrooms
 olive oil
parmesan cheese
 20cl of fresh cream.

First put the mushrooms in a small casserole of hot water. Next prepare the pastas. Put the flour and salt in a bowl, dig a hole in the center and add the eggs. Mix it with your hands. if the mixture is too dry, add another egg. Knead for several minutes until you obtain a beautiful pasta. I usually leave the pasta wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for more than an hour, it is easier to work it after.

Now we will prepare the filling. Take the duck and put it in a pot, cover with the glass of wine, add the water from the cepes, but strain before, it might contain sand. Put on the top of the duck leftover herbs you have on your counter or refrigerator, like rosmary, a branch of celery, whynot use a carrot. Put some garlic also. Leave it there for around  35 minutes at 200° celsius, until cooked but not overcooked. Now that the duck is perfect, take away its fat, you will use it later. Throw away the herbs and keep the cooking juice. Cut the duck in small pieces and put in a bowl. Add the ricotta, cut garlic, cut basil, cut cepes, cut cooked spanish, parmesan cheese. Let it rest a little

Now we can cook the sauce. Cut some garlic, Peel and cut the tomatoes, wash and cut the mushrooms. In a pan cook the mushrooms with olive oil. When done, put them on the side, and add the garlic. When the garlic  begins to smell add the tomatoes. When tomatoes are caramelized add the strained perfumed juice you kept from the duck. Let it reduce slowly. You may add another glass of wine. 20 minutes after add the cream and lower the fire. 

It is time to prepare the ravioli. If you have a pasta machine use it and make a thin pasta, if you don't, roll it with the bottle of wine you used for the sauce. When done, cut it in circles with a glass or a bowl around 8 centimeters in diameter. Put some filling on each circles,  put a little water on the edges with your fingers or a brush, fold them in two, pressing with you fingers.

Before eating, put the plates you are going to use in the oven to keep ravioli and sauce warm while you eat them, fry the ravioli in a little olive oil, on both sides, finish the cooking in the pan full of sauce a few minutes, you'll get a nice, crispy/soft texture. Top with sauce, serve in hot plates with parmesan cheese and a nice fresh bread. Hou la la!  It is Fabulous!

dimanche 7 juin 2009

Caponata di melanzane

Still raining on Paris and I am eating alone tonight, I needed to eat something full of joy and sun, and easy to prepare. One year ago I worked a couple of nights in an italian restaurant in Saint-germain-des-prés called "Le Monteverdi". I ate there for the first time a caponata, a simple entrée composed with eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, basil, pepper, hot pepper , oignons lemon and of course, olive oil.

For two persons:
Two eggplants
one branch of celery
half of a small hot pepper
a red pepper
two oignons
garlic to taste
five tomatoes
oilve oil
a bunch of fresh basil leaves
I decided to add some anchovy and capers. If I found some green olives at the store I would have put a little in the recipe too, make it to your taste.

First cut the eggplants in squares about 3 centimeters, put it in a colander with plenty of unrefined salt, and let it soak about one or two hours, then wash with plenty of water and dry with a clean towel. Put olive oil in a frying pan or a casserole ( I use a french Staub "cocotte" and parfumed olive oil I make myself) heat it until you get good olive smell, fry the eggplants on a high fire. While the eggplant are cooking cut the pepper and the celery, and cook them with the eggplants (if you do so the eggplants will be very soft and the celery and pepper will add a crunchy taste to the caponata). When nicely cooked take the vegetables out of the pan and put them in a bowl, leaving olive oil as much as you can in the casserole.

Grossly cut garlic, oignons and peeled tomatos. We want to make a good caramelized tomato sauce to mix with the egglants/pepper/celery preparation. Heat the oil, add oignons until caramelized, add garlic until colored and crunchy, then add the peeled tomatoes. On a high fire keep stiring until tomatoes completely melt with the oignons, and are a beautiful dark red. Add to the eggplants.

Cut the fresh basil ( if it is out of season or you can not find fresh basil close to your home, I do not see why you can not use dry basil. Before using I suggest you put dry basil in a part of the olive oil you are going to use, oil have such a great power to catch flavors.) . Cut anchovies, capers and green olives (only if you like). Add everything in the bowl with lemon juice. Now let it rest as long as you can before eating.  If you will eat it only one or two hours after preparing, leave it on the counter. If more, I would suggest to put the caponata in the fridge, then on the counter an hour or two before eating.

For the presentation  I like to use a ring. If you do not have an iron ring,  you can use like me an old yoghurt or cream plastic pot, cut the bottom and you now own a beautiful profesionnal chef ring that will serve you well. I served caponata with sardines I grilled in oil, marinated pepper, capers, bread, and a small salad. Hummm!

samedi 6 juin 2009

Nostalgic 1950's breakfast

It is raining on Paris today, a bit chilly. A perfect time to watch "I love lucy", light candles, put on the table  a 1940 tablecloth, 40's and 50's dinnerware, and prepare a big pot of coffee. I felt a little nostalgic and needed a good saturday breakfast like I used to have when I was a little child but didn't want to go out to buy bacon and eggs, too cold outside. I rememberd we ate crêpes with maple sirup sometimes on the weekend.  There was no milk in the refrigerator so I replaced it by plain yoghurt and water. No maple sirup either, I made a caramel with butter, brown sugar and a little flour. I had this breakfast while watching Lucy Ricardo serving her husband pancakes...

Ricky Ricardo: [sees pancakes on his plate] Hey! Tortillas! 
Lucy Ricardo[sarcastically] Yeah. I made them out of Aunt Jemina Tortilla Mix. 
Ricky Ricardo: Oh, I keep forgetting here in America you call them Flap Cakes. 
Lucy RicardoCome again? 
Ricky Ricardo: Hot Jacks? 
Lucy RicardoYou were closer with tortillas. They are Hot Cakes! 
Ricky Ricardo: Oh! 
[tastes some] 
Ricky Ricardo: No, these are Cold Cakes. 

vendredi 5 juin 2009

teriyaki style skewers

So this is what I did whith the other half of yesterday's beef. Today is friday, THE BIG night, the night when I go out to meet all my friends. We don't come back home before midnight, so this  is not the perfect time for an extensive and long cooking session.  I usually prepare  something that can be ready to eat in a few minutes, fish for example. I had this beef  marinating in teryaki sauce in the refrigerator,  I put it on skewers and prepared rice. When we will come home tonight I will grill the skewers on a fantastic vintage 1970's grill while pouring  sauce on the meat so it will not get too dry.

The marinade:  I mixed togheter soy sauce,  garlic, mirin, red wine, sugar, ginger and a little hot pepper (my taste). I just put the beef in it, quite simple.

  Grill and ready to eat! 

jeudi 4 juin 2009

Boeuf Robespierre

Today I was trying to study the french revolution for my next week exams, when I read the name of Robespierre, whos head was chopped off on the guillotine in 1794. I then strangely rememberd the night I had dinner with friends in a beautiful italian 1900 Brussel art nouveau restaurant on Boulevard Anspach, "the Rugantino". That night we all ate "boeuf Rossini", wich is in that restaurant a beef carpaccio, lightly cooked in the oven with rosemary, olive oil, then served with parmesan cheese and bread. "Boeuf Rossini", in France, is a steak cooked with a slice of fois gras on the top. My good friend Patrick, who knows everything, really, told me that the carpaccio we were eating was called in Milano "Robespierre", obviously because of what happened to that poor Robespierre.  I know I'm making a short story long, but I love to explain where I get my inspiration from....

So here is my version of the "Boeuf Robespierre"...

I asked my butcher to cut me some nice tender fillet. I took half of the meat and grilled it very, very lightly, the other half is going to rest in a marinade until tommorow, or the day after. I sliced very thinly the fillets, put it in plenty of extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and garlic for a couple of hours. Just before serving I put the slices of beef in plates that can resist the oven on a high temperature, topped it with  rosmary, olive oil  and cooked it for five minutes. I served the beef with bread and roasted potatoes. Great! Even a lot better than the Rossini or Robespierre, call it what you like, we had in Brussel. But no food, as good as it is, can top the souvenirs I have of that special night. I only tried to recreate the memory of that fabulous dinner, like the madeleine of Proust brings back memories, a whole world...

mercredi 3 juin 2009

Sping rolls, or Nems

I wanted to make nems (fried spring rolls) for a long time. I was in the thirteenth arrondissement today, so it was the occasion.I made them with pork coocked in water, a little soy sauce, garlic and rice vinegar (red cooking style). When perfectly cooked and choped I added to prepare the filling choped shrimps, cilantro, fresh mint,  nuoc mam (fish sauce), cut rice noodles and sesame oil. The last step was to fry the rolls in a wok  until crunchy and golden brown. I served them wrapped with lettuce and mint leaves, accompanied with a nem sauce I made with nuoc mam, sugar, rice vinegar, hot pepper, a little lemon juice and grated carrots. Very good!

mardi 2 juin 2009

my first recipe

I am not a big fan of soups, though I like cooking it in winter, or for my grandmother. However, I had a wonderful chicken stock from the two birds I cooked yesterday for a dinner party, and wanted to use it.  At this time of the year we have beautiful rosemary, eggplants and zucchini, so I decided to make a grilled chicken and vegetable soup. First, I sliced the carrots, mushrooms, pepper, oignons, leeks, zucchinis, and cooked them in the fat that was on the top of my stock on very high fire, until caramelized but not quite al dente. Then I added the stock, peeled tomatoes, and reduced the fire to very low. Meanwhile, I grilled some chicken breasts, sliced them and add to the soup.  I let it cold and put it in the fridge so all the flavors would mix perfectly. I reheathed the soup on a very high fire, to keep all the vegetables flavor and not overcook them, served it hot with lemon juice, salt and pepper. It was fantastic

Welcome to my new blog!

As I live in a flat in the sixteenth arrondissement of Paris I don't have a garden but a lot of plants, trees and flowers in pots. What a nice surprise when I found theses  irises in full bloom yesterday. It is so beautiful  that I will try to grow them inside next winter.