Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

So sorry I went AWOL this month: between the gift shopping and wrapping, the Holiday parties, my volunteer work at my son's preschool and the fact that I was sick (I asked Santa for new sinuses!), I have been so busy and exhausted that blogging had to take a back seat. But fear not, I was cooking and baking -- trying new recipes, and making old favorites too, and I will be back in the new year. In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, November 25, 2011

No-Knead Harvest Bread

One of the things I miss the most from France is bread. Good bread. Real bread. Artisan-style bread. Freshly-baked bread.

I never thought of baking my own until my expat friends started raving about the New York Times no-kneadbread recipe. What a revelation! Who knew you could get crusty, chewy, homemade bread with minimal efforts or skills! All you need is a little time and the right vessel to bake it in, it must have a lid and be heavy-duty, such as a Dutch oven or a clay crock.

I have made no-knead bread numerous times and have tweaked the recipe and technique over time. In this version, I added dried cranberries, golden raisins and walnuts for a fall loaf that works perfectly with leftover turkey, goat cheese, cranberry sauce and a few greens. It's also excellent in a brie-pear grilled panini... or by itself with a pat of butter or a schmear of cream cheese.

Makes one large loaf
  • 2 cups bread flour + more for dusting = 260 g de farine à pain + un peu plus pour saupoudrer
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour = 140 g de farine complète
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast = ¼ cuillère à café (1.5 g) de levure de boulanger déshydratée
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt = 1 ¼ cuillère à café de sel
  • 1 5/8 cups (13 fl. oz.) water = 385 ml d'eau
  • Olive oil = huile d'olive
  • ½ cup dried cranberries = 75 g de cranberries
  • ½ cup golden raisins = 75 g de raisins secs
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts = 50 à 75 g de noix concassées

In a large bowl combine flours, yeast and salt. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon until blended. Dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Incorporate dried fruits and nuts into the dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest at least 12 hours, preferably 16 to 18 hours, at room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is beautifully dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it, sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface and to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a large bowl with olive oil or baking spray, put dough seam side down in the bowl and dust with a little more flour. Cover with a cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. Don't necessarily expect the dough to double in size (especially if using whole-wheat flour) but it should definitely expand.

About 20 minutes before dough is ready, put an empty 4 to 6 quart covered pot (enameled cast-iron cookware, such as Le Creuset, work best) in oven. Preheat to 450ºF/230ºC.

When dough is ready, carefully remove hot pot from oven. Dump dough into pot, seam side up. Shake once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed but don't worry, it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake for 30-35 minutes, remove lid and bake another 10-20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Alternative method:
Some pots may crack as they sit empty in the hot oven. To prevent any issue, you can place the dough directly into the baking pot, before its last rise. Make sure you grease the pot with olive oil or cooking spray first. Let rise for 2 hours. When ready to bake, place in the cold oven and preheat to 450ºF, reduce total baking time by about 5 minutes.

I, personally, get a better crust and bread texture with the original method but I encourage you to experiment as every oven is different. You will also notice that bread containing whole-wheat flour will not rise as much and may require an additional 5 to 10 minutes to fully bake. Internal temperature in the center of a loaf should register between 190ºF (for white bread) to 205ºF (for denser bread such as whole-wheat or rye).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ginger Pear Sauce

I always make big batches of applesauce in the fall but this pear sauce is a nice alternative. Just as much as I love apple and cinnamon together, I think pear and ginger complement each other perfectly.

You can serve this as a side dish with pork or chicken. You can also use it in place of applesauce in any recipe you have. My son and I enjoy eating it by itself or swirled into Greek yogurt for a healthy dessert or snack.

Serves 4
  • 8 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced = 6-8 poires, épluchées, épépinées et coupées en morceaux
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger = 1 cuillère à soupe de gingembre frais râpé
  • ½ cup water or juice (pear or white grape) = 120 ml d'eau ou de jus de poire ou de raisin blanc

Place pear chunks in a large pot. Add ginger and water or juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer covered until fruit is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly and purée with an immersion blender. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cranberry-Orange Sweet Bread

I will admit this yeast bread is somewhat time-consuming to make and the assembly is a little tricky. But it is well worth the efforts! If you don't have a ring pan, you can use a regular baking sheet and shape the bread into a circle, or even easier, keep the loaf in a rectangle shape. But make sure you cut the log horizontally and “braid” the two strands together.

There are a couple of “unusual” ingredients in this recipe and I highly encourage you to use them because they do make a big difference. Potato flour helps get a moist, tender loaf that holds together when you slice into it. It also adds shelf life to the finished product – not that you will have any issue eating this loaf up! Dry milk powder also works wonders on your bread's texture and makes the dough rise beautifully.

I usually only make this bread once a year and serve it to special company. It is always a big hit! Try it for a holiday breakfast or brunch, you will not be disappointed.

Makes one large circular loaf (12 to 16 slices)

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water = 175 ml d'eau tiède
  • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast = 2 cuillères à café de levure (de boulanger) déshydratée
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour = 300 g de farine
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour = 3 cuillères à soupe (30 g) de farine de pomme de terre
  • ¼ cup non-fat dry milk powder = 30 g lait en poudre écrémé (type Régilait)
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 1 cuillère à café de sel
  • 2 tablespoons sugar = 2 cuillères à soupe (25 g) de sucre
  • Zest of 1 orange = zeste d'une orange
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened = 55 g de beurre, ramolli
  • 1 large egg = 1 oeuf
Filling 1
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted = 40 g de beurre, fondu
  • 2 tablespoons sugar = 2 cuillères à soupe (25 g) de sucre
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1 cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille
Filling 2
  • ½ cup dried cranberries = 75 g de cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots = 75 g d'abricots secs, coupés en petits morceaux
  • 1 tablespoon water = 1 cuillères à soupe d'eau
  • ½ cup sliced almonds = 75 g d'amandes effilées
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour = 2 cuillères à soupe de farine
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted = 15 g de beurre, fondu
  • 2 tablespoons milk = 2 cuillères à soupe de lait
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from ½ an orange) = 3 ou 4 cuillères à soupe de jus d'orange pressée (environ ½ orange)
  • ¾ to 1 cup confectioners' sugar = 100 à 130 g de sucre glace

To make the dough:
Dissolve yeast into lukewarm water.
Combine all-purpose flour, milk powder, potato flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add orange zest, butter, egg and water/yeast mixture.
Mix and knead (by hand or with dough hook if using Kitchen Aid) to make a soft, smooth dough. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise for about 1 ½ hours, until it's almost double in bulk.

To make Filling 1:
Mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

To make Filling 2:
Soak the dried cranberries and apricots in the water. Set aside.

To assemble and bake:
On a floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle (at least 12" x 25").
Brush all over with Filling 1, then sprinkle with Filling 2 (soaked fruits, almonds and flour).
Roll into a log, starting with a long end.
Slice the log horizontally. Gently twist one piece around the other, keeping the layers facing upward.

Grease a 10" ring pan, or a baking sheet.
Fit the dough into the ring mold or shape into a circle on the baking sheet. Pinch the ends together.
Cover with a cloth and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.

Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes glazing.

To make the glaze:
Combine butter and milk. Add orange juice and sugar and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled loaf.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Croutons

This is another soup that I make almost weekly in the fall. It is a little sweet and fantastic topped with maple croutons.

Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • 2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and chopped = 2 poireau, néttoyés et coupé en morceaux
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed = une courge butternut, épluchée et coupée en cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced = 2 carottes, épluchées et coupées en rondelles
  • Dash of cinnamon = une pincée de canelle en poudre
  • Dash of freshly grated nutmeg = une pincée de noix de muscade râpée ou en poudre
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth = 700 à 950 ml de bouillon de légumes
  • Salt & pepper = sel & poivre
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread = 4 tranches de pain complet
  • Maple syrup = sirop d'érable

Heat oil in a large pot. Add leeks and sauté for about 6-7 minutes. Add butternut squash and carrots. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for a couple more minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Use immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender in several batches. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the croutons: simply brush maple syrup on the slices of bread, pop in the toaster or broil in the oven for 2 minutes. Cut up into pieces.

Top each soup bowl with croutons and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

Be safe while trick-or-treating tonight! Have fun and enjoy all the treats!

Click here for chocolate cupcake and frosting recipes!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a show-stopper! Easy, healthy, visually appealing and absolutely delicious!

Acorn squash, a small winter squash with dark green skin and bright orange flesh, is a great source of fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. And no need for meat here, you get your complete protein from the quinoa.

You can really use any cheese (or omit for a vegan version), dried fruit and nut combination you'd like. How about feta, dried apricot chunks and almonds? But for me, you can't beat blue cheese, dried cranberries and pistachios together. Yum!

Serves 2
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded = 1 courgeron (ou courge poivrée), coupé en deux et graines enlevées
  • Olive oil = huile d'olive
  • Sea salt & pepper = Sel et poivre
  • 1/3 cup quinoa = 60 g de quinoa
  • 2/3 cup water = 160 ml d'eau
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese = 2 cuillères à soupe de roquefort émietté
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries = 2 cuillères à soupe de cranberries séchées
  • 2 tablespoons shelled roasted pistachios = 2 cuillères à soupe de pistaches grillées

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Spray or brush each half of acorn squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place, cut side down on baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook quinoa: bring quinoa and water to a soft boil in a small pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Fluff with a work.

In a bowl, combine cooked quinoa, blue cheese, cranberries and pistachios. Add a few drops of olive oil and toss well. Divide evenly and stuff each acorn squash half. Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

For a long time, I thought I didn't like apple pie. Then I married my husband who is a (apple) pie fanatic. So I had to learn to 1. make it 2. love it! And I did. But it took a lot of trials and errors: burnt top crust, soggy bottom crust, mushy apples, too much spices... I just couldn't understand how the expression “as easy as apple pie” came about (according to my husband, it's because it's easy to eat, not make!) and I almost gave up. But then, a miracle happened: I achieved the perfect balance of crispy, flaky crust and soft, flavorful filling.

For the pie crust, I use my shortcrust pastry (“pâte brisée”) recipe but I cut back a little on butter to keep the bottom and top crusts light and thin. You can keep it simple by cutting slits into the top crust, or make a lattice or even use a topper cutter for a real fancy design.

For the filling, I recommend using a combination of tart and sweet apples such as Gala, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith and Pink Lady. This year, I got apples at the fall farmer's market but it's even better (and more fun) if you are able to go apple-picking with family and friends!

One important tip: make sure you let the pie cool almost completely before cutting into it to allow the filling to thicken and settle. You can always reheat each slice in the microwave if you like your apple pie warm (who doesn't?). Oh and why not top it with a scoop of ice cream (vanilla is always a good choice but try something new like pecan, maple or cinnamon ice cream) and/or a drizzle of caramel. Y-U-M-M-Y!

For the double pie crust:
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour = 375 g de farine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar = 1 cuillère à soupe de sucre
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 1 cuillère à café de sel
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ stick) butter, diced = 185 g de beurre, coupés en petits dés
  • ½ cup cold water = 120 ml d'eau froide

For the filling:
  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 8 apples) = 8 pommes, épluchées et coupées en tranches fines
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice = 1 cuillère à soupe de jus de citron
  • ½ cup granulated sugar = 90 g de sucre
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour = 30 g de farine
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar = 50 g de cassonade
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon = ½ cuillère à café de cannelle en poudre
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg = ¼ cuillère à café de noix de muscade râpée ou en poudre
  • Dash ground cloves = une pincée de clou de girofle en poudre
  • 1 tablespoon butter = 15 g de beurre
  • Milk (optional) = Lait (facultatif)

First, make the crust. You get to skip that part if you bought pie crust at the grocery store!
Put the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times. Add water through the chute and continue pulsing until crumbly dough begins to stick together. Stop pulsing as soon as a ball begins to form. Divide dough in half and turn it onto a countertop. Flatten each portion into a round. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for about two hours, or overnight. When ready to use, remove the dough from fridge and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften.

Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. Combine granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to apples and combine well until apples are coated. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 ball of dough into a circle. Ease pastry into a deep dish pie plate.
Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Trim pastry even with pie plate. For top crust, roll out remaining dough. Cut slits in top crust. Place top crust on the filling. Seal the edge and brush with milk, if desired.

Cover the edges of the pie with foil (or a pie crust shield) and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, turn oven temperature down to 350°F/180°C and bake for another 25-30 minutes. The top should golden brown and the apples tender. Cool completely before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Green Lentils with Bacon

Whenever I go to visit my family in France, I bring lots of goodies back. Namely chocolates and coffee. And green Puy lentils. You can find regular green lentils here in the United States but I like the authentic Puy ones better. They are darker with a slight peppery flavor, due in part to the volcanic soils where they grow in southwestern France. Both regular and French green lentils retain their shape and remain somewhat firm after cooking so don't expect soft, mushy lentils here.

Low in fat and high in protein and fiber, lentils will warm you up and keep you full. Now off to a long walk in the woods to admire the beautiful fall colors!

Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • 4 strips bacon, roughly chopped = 4 tranches de bacon, coupées en morceaux
  • 1 onion, finely diced = 1 oignon, émincé
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped = 2 branches de céleri, émincées
  • 2 medium carrot, finely chopped = 2 carottes, émincées
  • 3 cups vegetable broth = 700 ml de bouillon de légumes
  • 2 bay leaves = 2 feuilles de laurier (séchées)
  • 1 teaspon thyme = 1 cuillère à café de thym (séché)
  • 8 oz dry green lentils = 225 g de lentilles vertes
  • Salt and pepper = sel et poivre

Heat olive oil in pan on medium. Add bacon and cook 5 minutes. Add mirepoix (onion, celery, carrots) and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Add stock and herbs, bring to simmer and stir in lentils. Mix well and continue simmering for about 35-40 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and lentils are tender. Remove bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lea's Pumpkin Soup

Fall = Pumpkins. It's that easy!

Every year, we can't wait to go to the pumpkin patch and fall market. We, of course, select a big 'ol pumpkin to carve into a jack-o-lantern, but I also get the smaller varieties (like the Sugar Pie pumpkins) to cook. Making your own pumpkin puree is easy and tastes so fresh and wonderful. However, I'll confess that I also keep some canned pumpkin in my pantry for emergency situations. My favorite brand is Farmer's Market, you can find it at Whole Foods.

I got this recipe, a few years back, from my good friend Lea. The only change I made was to increase the pumpkin amount to intensify the flavor. If you like a thicker soup, use the smaller quantity of broth.

To me, it is the ultimate fall soup. I could literally eat it everyday this month and not get sick of it!

Serves 4-6
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil = 30 g de beurre
  • 1 onion, finely diced = 1 oignon, coupé en morceaux
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped = 2 branches de céleri, coupé en morceaux
  • 1 carrot, chopped = 1 carotte, coupée en morceaux
  • 2 tablespoons flour = 2 cuillères à soupe de farine
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups pureed pumpkin (or 1 15 oz. can) = environ 425 g de purée de citrouille
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth = 700 à 950 ml de bouillon de légumes
  • ½ teaspoon salt = ½ cuillère à café de sel
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper = ¼ cuillère à café de poivre blanc
  • Pinch sugar or cinnamon (optional) = une pincée de sucre ou de canelle en poudre (facultatif)

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onion and sauté until golden. Add celery and carrot. Cook for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle flour, stir and cook for one more minute. Add pumpkin, broth and seasonings. Stir and bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 30 minutes covered. Use immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender in several batches. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Veggies

This is a great, flavorful, healthy side to any fall meal. You can swap any veggies that you have on hand. Just make sure you chop everything to about the same size for even roasting.

Serves 4-8
  • Combination of any of the following: = Mélange de plusieurs légumes suivants:
  • Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced = Patates douces, épluchées et coupées en morceaux
  • Baby potatoes, cleaned and halves or quartered = Petites pommes de terre, nettoyées et coupées en deux ou quatre
  • Pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and diced = citrouille, potimarron ou butternut, épluchés et coupés en morceaux
  • Red or sweet onions, peeled and quartered = oignons doux ou rouges, épluchés et coupés en quatre
  • Brussels sprouts, halved = choux de Bruxelles, coupés en deux
  • Turnips, peeled and diced = navets,épluchés et coupés en morceaux
  • Rutabaga, peeled and diced = rutabaga, épluchés et coupés en morceaux
  • Parsnips, peeled, and chopped into chunks = panais, épluchés et coupés en morceaux
  • Carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks = carottes, épluchées et coupées en morceaux
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil = 2 cuillères à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar = 1 cuillère à soupe de vinaigre balsamique
  • 1 tablespoon honey = 1 cuillère à soupe de miel
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary = 1 cuillère à café de romarin (séché)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme = 1 cuillère à café de thym (séché)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano = 1 cuillère à café d'origan (séché)
  • Coarse sea salt = sel

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Grease the bottom of a shallow roasting pan or line it with parchment paper. Arrange the potatoes and vegetables in a single layer in the roasting pan.

Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl and pour evenly over the potatoes/veggies. Sprinkle with dried herbs and sea salt. Toss with your hands to make sure all the chunks get coated.

Cook for 40 to 55 minutes until potatoes and veggies are nicely roasted and caramelized. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Double Apple Muffins

Fall isn't official until tomorrow but it's definitely been in the air lately and I love it!

It has always been my favorite season. When I think of fall, I envision beautiful foliage, long walks in the forest, pumpkin patch and Halloween. As far as food, I hope you like apples and pumpkins because you will see a lot of recipes featuring them in the next few weeks. We'll start with these double apple muffins. Double because I use both applesauce and chopped apples in the batter. The spices are subtle and highlight the apple taste perfectly. Eat one with a spiced pumpkin latte and you are in fall heaven!

Makes 12-15 muffins

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour = 270 g de farine
1 cup sugar = 180 g de sucre
1 teaspoon baking soda = 1 cuillère à café de bicarbonate de soude
1 teaspoon baking powder = 1 cuillère à café de levure
1 teaspoon salt = 1 cuillère à café de sel
2 teaspoons cinnamon = 2 cuillères à café de cannelle en poudre
Dash ground nutmeg = une pincée de noix de muscade râpée ou en poudre
Dash ground cloves = une pincée de clou de girofle en poudre
1 ½ cups applesauce (no sugar added) = 330 g de compote de pommes (sans sucre ajouté)
2 tablespoons canola oil = 2 cuillères à soupe d'huile végétale
2 eggs, lightly beaten = 2 oeufs, légèrement battus
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped = 1 grosse ou 2 petites pommes, épluchées et coupées en morceaux

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease muffin tins and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

Mix in the applesauce, oil and eggs. Blend very well and beat with a hand-mixer at high speed for about 2 minutes. Fold in chopped apples.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from tins and cool sightly on wire rack before serving.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Orzo with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Sometimes, I get tired of jasmine rice and brown rice (both staples on our dinner table) and I like serving orzo pasta instead. Those rice-shaped pasta cook fast and feel lighter than a big bowl of spaghetti. Here, I jazz them up with sun-dried tomatoes and feta. I find that cooking the orzo in a small amount of liquid without the need for draining makes the whole dish smooth, almost creamy. While it's a great side dish, I don't mind it as a main dish, alongside a big plate of mixed greens.

Serves 4
  • 2 cups vegetable broth = 470 ml de bouillon de légumes
  • 1 cup water = 235 ml d'eau
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta = 225 g d'orzo ou risoni (à cuire)
  • ¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced = 80 g de tomates séchées (en bocal avec de l'huile d'olive), émincées
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese = 60 g de feta émiettée
  • Black pepper = poivre

Bring broth and water to a boil, stir in orzo. Return to a soft boil and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat.

Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and feta. Season with pepper. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Salmon & Spinach Quiche

Quiche is super easy. No, really, I promise. Need proof? Well... I usually make it whenever I feel lazy and un-inspired.

Homemade pie crust is a cinch to make in the food processor, or feel free to buy a pre-made one (Trader Joe's sells a very decent one in their frozen foods section). The recipe I am sharing below is for shortcrust pastry (“pâte brisée”) which is a versatile crust you can use for savory quiches or sweet pies and tarts (in that case, you can add an optional teaspoon or two of superfine sugar).

As for the filling, in addition to the eggs (2 or 3 depending on how thick you want the filling to be), heavy cream and shredded cheese, you have many options: braised leeks, sautéed mushrooms and pancetta, roasted zucchini and eggplant, etc... You can add herbs (chives, dill or thyme see to work very well) too. It's up to you! I often make this version, with salmon and spinach, serve it with a big salad and call it a day. Bonus: any leftover is perfect for my little one's lunch box!

Makes one 9" or 10” quiche, 6-8 servings

For the pie crust:
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour = 150 g de farine
  • ½ teaspoon salt = ½ cuillère à café de sel
  • 8 tablespoons butter, diced = 125 g de beurre, coupés en petits dés
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold water = 50 à 60 ml d'eau très froide
For the filling:
  • 2 or 3 eggs, lightly beaten = 2 ou 3 oeufs, légèrement battus
  • ½ cup heavy cream = 120 ml de crème fleurette
  • salt & pepper = sel et poivre
  • ½ to ⅔ cup shredded cheese (parmesan, gruyère, asiago...) = 50 à 75 g de fromage râpé
  • ½ cup cooked, chopped and drained spinach = 120 g d'épinards hachés et égouttés
  • 1 salmon fillet, steamed or poached, chopped or a few slices of smoked salmon, chopped = 1 pavé de saumon cuit (à la vapeur ou poché) ou 2-3 tranches de saumon fumé, coupées en morceaux

To make the crust: put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times. Add water through the chute and continue pulsing until crumbly dough begins to stick together. Stop pulsing as soon as a ball begins to form. Turn dough onto a countertop and flatten into a round. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for about two hours, or overnight.

When ready to use, remove the dough from fridge and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8” thick. Transfer to a pie pan. Prick the base with a fork and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375ºF / 190ºC.

Beat together the eggs and cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese, and fold in the spinach and salmon. Pour onto the prepared crust. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately. Enjoy! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce

I have always loved crab cakes but the good ones in fancy restaurants are usually way overpriced. And the cheap ones are mostly fillers and no crab meat. So now, I make my own and we enjoy them at home.

Being so close to the Chesapeake Bay, I can't imagine eating a crab dish without Old Bay seasoning and those crab cakes are no exception. Serve them on a bun, or on a bed of lettuce, and don't forget the tartar sauce!

Makes 4 medium crab cakes

For the tartar sauce:
  • ½ cup light mayo or veganaise = 100 g de mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced sweet pickles = 2 cuillères à soupe de cornichons doux émincés
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion = 1 cuillère à soupe d'oignon émincé
  • 1 teaspoon minced capers = 1 cuillère à café de câpres émincés
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar = 1 cuillère à soupe de vinaigre (blanc)
  • Dash black pepper = une pincée de poivre noir
For the crab cakes:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten = 1 oeuf, légèrement battu
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs = 30 g de chapelure japonaise Panko
  • 3 tablespoons light mayo or veganaise = 3 cuillères à soupe (40 g) de mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning = 1 cuillère à café d'épices Old Bay (ou remplacer par un mélange de paprika, sel, poivre, noix de muscade et piment de cayenne ou moutarde en poudre) 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice = 1 cuillère à café de jus de citron
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce = ¼ cuillère à café de sauce Worcestershire
  • Pinch white pepper = une pincée de poivre blanc
  • ½ pound fresh lump crabmeat = 225 g de chair de crabe en morceaux
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile de colza
  • A few lemon slices = quelques tranches de citron

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the tartar sauce, stir, cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

In a large bowl, combine the egg, bread crumbs, mayo, Old Bay, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Gently fold in crab and shape into four patties. Refrigerate the crab cakes for about 30 minutes to one hour so they will hold their shape better during frying.

Heat oil in a large skillet, cook crab cakes for 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping them carefully.

Serve with lemon slices and tartar sauce. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beef Stroganoff in the Slow-Cooker

It definitely feels like fall this week. But unfortunately, the gray and wet kind of fall so out came my crock-pot (not that it was ever really put away). The slow-cooker is always a great option for cooking beef. It will make any cut tender and flavorful.

This version of Beef Stroganoff is a little bit healthier than most with only a third of a cup of sour cream and absolutely no butter or oil. I even use reduced-fat sour cream and no one can tell the difference. Yet it's creamy, tasty and perfectly comforting on a rainy, gloomy day.

Serves 4
  • 1 to 1 ¼ lb beef round or sirloin steak, trimmed and sliced into ¼” strips = environ 500 g de steak, coupé en lamelles
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced = 1 petit oignon, épluché et coupé en morceaux
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced = 2 gousses d'ail, émincées
  • ¾ to 1 cup (low sodium) beef broth = 180 à 230 ml de bouillon de boeuf
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce = 1 cuillère à soupe de sauce Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup = 1 cuillère à soupe de ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine = 1 cuillère à soupe de vin rouge
  • ½ teaspoon paprika = ½ cuillère à café de paprika
  • Salt & pepper = sel & poivre
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch = 3 cuillères à soupe de maïzena
  • ¼ cup water = 60 ml d'eau
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and halved = 225 g de champignons, nettoyés et coupés en deux
  • ⅓ cup (reduced-fat) sour cream = 40 g de crême fraiche
  • A few parsley leaves, chopped or some fresh dill = quelques feuilles de persil, ciselées ou de l'aneth fraiche
  • Cooked egg noodles = des pâtes (type pappardelles) cuites

Combine steak, onion, garlic, broth, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, wine, paprika, salt and pepper, in the slow-cooker. Stir, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Add to slow cooker, along with the mushrooms. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes. Turn slow-cooker off and stir in the sour cream.

Serve over noodles, sprinkle with chopped parsley or dill. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Oatmeal Pancakes

Those pancakes were a great way to start the long holiday week-end!

I “stole” the recipe from my friend Estelle's fantastic blog a while back and have tweaked it to remove most of the butter and oil, replacing them with applesauce. It works! The texture is still perfectly moist and soft (allowing the oats to soak overnight is key) and the taste is just sweet enough but also hearty.

Trust me, all you need on top of those pancakes is pure maple syrup (not the fake kind!). Simple and delicious! Happy Labor Day week-end, everyone!

Makes 10-12 pancakes
  • 2 cups old fashioned or rolled oats = 160 g de flocons d'avoine
  • 2 cups buttermilk = 475 ml de lait fermenté (ribot, babeurre ou kéfir) (à défaut, ajouter 4 cuillères à café de jus de citron ou de vinaigre blanc à 420 ml de lait, remuer puis laisser reposer 5 minutes avant d'utiliser)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour = 60g de farine
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (packed) = 1 cuillère à soupe de sucre roux ou cassonade (tassé)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1 cuillère à café de levure chimique
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1 cuillère à café de bicarbonate de soude
  • ½ teaspoon salt = ½ cuillère à café de sel
  • 2 eggs = 2 oeufs
  • 4 tablespoons applesauce (no sugar added) = 4 cuillères à soupe de compote de pomme (sans sucre ajouté)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted = 30 g de beurre, fondu
  • Extra melted butter or vegetable oil for cooking = beurre fondu ou huile végétale pour la cuisson

The night before, combine the oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Stir gently, cover and refrigerate overnight.
The following morning, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Remove the oatmeal mixture from the fridge, add the eggs, applesauce and melted butter and stir well. Add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. The batter should be quite thick.
Warm a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and brush with melted butter or vegetable oil. Scoop ¼ cup of batter onto the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes until set and golden, then flip the pancake. Cook until the second side is nicely browned. Re-grease the pan, and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve hot with maple syrup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Berry Muffins with Oats & Flaxseed

Flaxseed is my new healthy obsession. I have been trying to incorporate it in my baking and cooking whenever I can.

These muffins come together quickly, especially if you make mini ones. They are fantastic for breakfast on the go or a little mid-morning snack. They do taste best right after coming out of the oven as they are moist inside and crunchy on top, so I like to make a small batch (half the recipe) in the morning while everyone is still asleep. Otherwise, you can keep them in a sealed container in the fridge and microwave them for a few seconds.

Makes 30 mini-muffins or 12 to 15 regular muffins (based on a recipe in Cooking with Joy by Joy Bauer)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour = 120 g de farine type T55
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats = 80 g de flocons d'avoine
  • ⅓ brown sugar (packed) = 65 g de cassonade
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal = 50 g de graines de lin moulues (en magasins bio)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1 cuillère à café de levure chimique
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1 cuillère à café de bicarbonate de soude
  • ¼ teaspoon salt = une pincée de sel
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon = ½ cuillère à café de cannelle
  • 8 oz. plain low-fat yogurt = 225 g de yaourt nature
  • 1 egg = 1 oeuf
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile de colza (ou autre huile neutre)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1 cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille
  • 1 cup small blueberries or finely chopped strawberries = 140 g de myrtilles ou de fraises coupées en petits morceaux
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar + ½ teaspoon cinnamon = 1 cuillère à soupe de cassonade + 1 cuillère à café de cannelle
Preheat oven to 400°F / 200° C.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, flaxseeds, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg, canola oil and vanilla.
Stir into the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Gently fold in the berries.
Spoon into greased or silicone muffin cups.
Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Bake for about 10 minutes for mini muffins or 18 to 20 minutes for regular muffins.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Creamy Fresh Corn Salad

So glad I got back to VA just in time for an earthquake (on Tuesday) and a hurricane (for this week-end)! Yesterday was gorgeous though and I made this quick corn salad after returning from the pool.

Sweet summer corn does not require any cooking and therefore makes a great hot-weather side dish. Just shuck the ears, rinse with water and carefully run a knife through to cut the kernels off. Of course, in a pinch, frozen (and thawed) sweet corn will work too.

You can spice it up by adding some diced jalapeños or a dash of Tabasco sauce.

Serves 6-8
  • ½ cup light sour cream = 60 g de crême fraiche (allégée)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce = 1 ½ cuillère à café de sauce Worcestershire
  • Salt & pepper to taste = Sel et poivre
  • About 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 6 ears) = 350 g de maïs frais (environ 6 épis)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped = 1 petit poivron rouge, émincé
  • About 6 green onions, finely chopped = 6 oignons verts, émincés

Combine sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and salt/pepper in a large bowl. Add corn, bell pepper and green onion and stir. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back... almost!

We just got back from two amazing weeks in the French Alps! I can't wait to start cooking again but this week is going to be spent catching up on a million things. So in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a few pictures from my trip.

The local weekly market, where you can find traditional cheese
and charcuterie from Haute-Savoie, as well as honey and jams.

Some gorgeous views of my favorite spots.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cantaloupe Prosciutto and Mozzarella Brochettes

One of the things I love about food is that it can take you on a virtual trip. This appetizer will transport you to a summer day in Italy. Need I say more?

Serves 6
  • 1 small Tuscan-style cantaloupe, rind removed, cubed = un petit melon, coupé en cubes
  • 18 ciliegine* (mini mozzarella balls), drained = 18 ciliegine* (mini-boules de mozzarella fraiche)
  • 6 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma (about 3 oz.), trimmed and cut in 2 or 3 strips and gathered into ruffles = 6 tranches de jambon de Parme (environ 85 g), coupées en 2 ou 3 dans le sens de la longueur
  • 6 8-inch skewers = 6 brochettes en bois de 20 cm
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil = 2 cuillères à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • A few fresh basil leaves, minced or shredded = quelques feuilles de basilic, ciselées
  • Black pepper = Poivre noir

Alternate one cantaloupe cube, one mini mozzarella ball and one prosciutto ruffle and repeat until all skewers are done. This can be prepared a couple of hours ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Stir olive oil and basil. Arrange brochettes on a platter. Drizzle with basil oil and sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

Note: If you can't find ciliegine, just buy a large ball of fresh mozzarella and cube it. In that case, use a melon baller to scoop melon balls so you still get different shapes on the skewers, which makes for a nice presentation.