Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Twice-Baked Stuffed Eggplant

Eggplants, or aubergines in French, can sometimes taste bitter but they do develop a rich flavor as they slowly cook. They are especially good when stewed, in ratatouille for instance, or broiled over an open flame to make baba ghanoush. In this recipe, I first roast them, then mix their pulp with tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, herbs and cheese. Top with breadcrumbs and pop them back in the oven to brown. Using the eggplant shells makes for a nice presentation.

Feta adds tang and body to the stuffing. However, if you are not a big fan, you can substitute any milder cheese such as shredded Parmesan or mozzarella, or skip it altogether for a vegan alternative.

For a true vegetarian dinner, serve with rice pilaf or a green salad tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. Or, if you must have meat, serve the stuffed eggplants as a side dish to grilled chicken breasts or pork tenderloin.

Serves 2-4
  • 2 medium eggplants = 2 aubergines
  • Olive oil = huile d'olive
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups) = 1 oignon, émincé (environ 150-175 g)
  • 1 large bell pepper, any color, finely chopped (about 1 ¼ cups) = 1 gros poivron, coupé en morceaux
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced (about 1 ¼ cups) = 2 tomates, coupé en dés
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano = ¼ cuillère à café d'origan séché
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced = 2 gousses d'ail, émincées
  • ¾ cup (3 oz.) crumbled feta cheese =85 g de feta émiettée
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley = quelques feuilles de persil plat, ciselées
  • Salt (optional) & freshly ground black pepper = sel (facultatif) et poivre noir moulu
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (regular or panko) = 4 cuillère à soupe de chapelure

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Score cut sides by making 4 crosswise cuts. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet sprayed with a little olive oil. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove pulp and reserve eggplant shells.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F/180°C.

Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant pulp, bell pepper, tomato (and their juice), oregano, and garlic; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until all liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, salt (if using), and black pepper. Divide veggie mixture into four equal portions and stuff each eggplant shell, sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet or dish and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Asian Meatballs with Sesame-Ginger Sauce and Cucumber Salad

These meatballs are pretty simple but the topping (or dipping) sauce is bursting with flavor. The cucumber salad adds a nice fresh element to the whole dish. For a complete meal, add a serving of jasmine rice as well.

Serves 4

For the meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground lean turkey = 450 g de viande de dinde hâchée
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated = 4 gousses d'ail, émincées
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce = 3 cuillères à soupe de sauce soja
  • 3 tablespoons panko crumbs = 3 cuillères à soupe de chapelure (si possible japonaise)
  • Salt & pepper = sel et poivre
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil = 2 cuillères à soupe d'huile de colza
For the sauce:
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth = 235 ml de bouillon de légumes ou poulet
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger = 1 cuillère à soupe de gingembre frais râpé
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup = 2 cuillères à soupe de ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce = 2 cuillères à soupe de sauce soja
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar = 1 cuillère à soupe de vinaigre de riz
  • 1 tablespoon honey = 1 cuillère à soupe de miel
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile de sésame
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch = 1 ½ cuillère à soupe de maïzena
For the cucumber salad:
  • 1 large cucumber or 4 small Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced = 1 concombre ou 4 concombres perses ou libanais (mini-concombres), finement tranchés
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar = 2 cuillères à soupe de vinaigre de riz

Preheat oven to 400°.

Start with the cucumber salad: combine cucumber and rice vinegar in a bowl. Stir and place in the fridge.
Then make the sauce: in a small saucepan, combine the broth, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water until thoroughly combined. Add to the sauce and stir well. Cook for about 3 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
Finally, work on the meatballs: in a large bowl, combine turkey, garlic, soy sauce, panko crumbs, salt, pepper. Shape into 20 meatballs.
Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs to pan; sauté 4 minutes, turning to brown meatballs on all sides, working in batches if needed. Arrange browned meatballs on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes.
Top meatballs with sesame-ginger sauce and serve immediately with the cucumber salad on the side. Enjoy!
Note: you will end up with extra sauce, keep it in the fridge. Reheat it and serve with grilled shrimp or chicken.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lemon-Blueberry Bread

You can't go wrong with lemon and blueberry together. The two flavors really complement each other. A loaf of this yummy sweet bread never lasts too long at my house!

Makes 1 loaf
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour = 175 g de farine
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 1 cuillère à café de sel
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1 cuillère à café de levure chimique
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries = 125 g de myrtilles
  • ⅔ cup sugar = 145 g de sucre
  • ½ cup milk = 120 ml de lait
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened = 80 g de beurre, ramolli
  • 2 large eggs = 2 oeufs
  • 1 lemon (1 teaspoon grated zest + 2-3 tablespoons juice) = 1 citron (prélever 1 cuillère à café de zeste à l'aide d'un zesteur-râpe + presser pour obtenir 2-3 cuillères à soupe de jus)

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl; gently fold in blueberries.

Whisk together sugar, milk,butter, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice in another medium bowl until thoroughly blended. Add flour mixture, a little bit at a time, stirring just until combined. Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake for about 1 hour. Take out of the oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, place on wire rack, and cool completely. Enjoy!

Note: Blueberry crumb bars with lemon cream filling are another delicious lemon-blueberry treat that I highly recommend trying!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Slow-Cooked Salsa Chicken Tacos

If there is a rule that says that a slow-cooker is only to be used in the fall and winter, well, I happily break it  (the rule, not the slow-cooker!).

In the summer, when it's too hot to turn the oven on, a slow-cooker is a great alternative. And how about putting your ingredients in there, turning it on, going to the pool for the afternoon and coming home to a homemade cooked dinner? Nice, huh?

This is the easiest, healthiest Mexican dinner you can make at home. All you need is a couple of chicken breasts, a jar of your favorite salsa (I love Trader Joe's fire-roasted tomato salsa), hard shells or soft tortillas and your typical taco toppings. Once the meat is cooked, bring everything to the table and let everyone build their own tacos.

Serves 4-6
  • 3 boneless and skinless chicken breast (organic if possible) = 3 escalopes de poulet
  • 1 16 oz. jar salsa = 1 bocal de 450 g de salsa
  • Hard taco shells and/or soft whole-wheat tortillas = tacos rigides ou tortillas souples
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced onion, roasted corn, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole, chopped cilantro...
  • Toppings: laitue, tomates coupées en dés, onion émincé, maïs, cheddar râpé, crème fraîche, guacamole, coriandre...

Pour half the salsa in the slow-cooker, place the chicken in there and top with remaining salsa. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours. Remove chicken, put on a cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Place the meat back in the slow-cooker, cover and keep on low for another 30 minutes. Turn to the “keep warm” feature until ready to serve.

Fill the taco shells or tortillas with the salsa chicken and garnish with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Note: you can also make this on the stove-top. In a large sauce pan, bring the salsa and 1 cup of chicken broth to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken breast, turn to low heat and cook, covered, for about 2 hours.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Seafood Stew

This reminds me of a conch soup I had in Turks & Caicos years ago. It was sweet and spicy, with a hint of lime and cilantro. This version is just as flavorful and truly captures the Caribbean spirit. Now if only it could transport me to a sandy beach and turquoise waters... *sigh*

Serves 4-6 (based on a recipe by Joy Bauer in Slim & Scrumptious)
  • 2 lbs combination seafood (shrimp, peeled; bay scallops; firm white fish, cut up in small chunks) = 900 g de produits de la mer (crevettes, petites noix de St Jacques, poisson blanc, coupés en morceaux)
  • juice of 2 or 3 limes = jus de 2 ou 3 citrons verts
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided = ½ cuillère à café de sel de mer, divisé
  • ½ teaspoon back pepper = ½ cuillère à café de poivre noir
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced = 2 gousses d'ail, émincées
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped = 1 oignon, émincé
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped = 1 poivron vert, émincé
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped = 1 poivron rouge, émincé
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped = 2 oignons verts, émincés
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped = 3 tomates, coupées en dés
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes = ½ à 1 cuillère à café de flocons de piment rouge séché
  • 2 cups fish or vegetable stock = 470 ml de bouillon de poisson ou de légumes
  • 2 cups water = 470 ml d'eau
  • Small bunch cilantro, finely chopped = une petite botte de coriandre fraiche, finement hâchée
  • 1 dry bay leaf = 1 feuille de laurier séchée
  • 1 cup light coconut milk = 235 ml de lait de coco allégé

Combine the seafood, lime juice, half the salt, black pepper and garlic in a ziplock bag. Marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, spray a large pot or Dutch oven with olive oil and preheat it over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers and scallions and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (and their juice) and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and water, cilantro and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce to low-heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, the seafood and its marinade, and remaining salt to the pot. Cook for 3 minutes until the seafood is cooked through. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Ladle into shallow serving bowls and sprinkle with extra cilantro if you wish. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lemonade Iced Tea

When it's hot outside (100ºF/38ºC on my deck right now and it's only 11:00am! Yikes!), nothing beats a cold, refreshing lemonade... Oh wait! How about some iced tea! Well, if you're like me and you love those two summer favorites equally, you will certainly enjoy this fantastic combo.

Mint is an easy herb to grow in your garden or in a container on your deck or balcony. I have a ton in my backyard, so I am always looking for recipes/ways to incorporate it in my cooking. It tastes so fresh, I had to add it to this drink.

Try to buy lemonade without HFCS, artificial flavors or additives. I recommend Newman's Own or Simply Lemonade.  Or of course, you can make your own!

As for the tea, I use decaffeinated English tea, but any tea, even flavored, will work. I do not need extra sugar (the lemonade part has plenty for my taste) but if you are not a big fan of unsweetened iced tea, by all means, go ahead and add some.

Note to my French readers: la “lemonade” américaine n'est pas la limonade pétillante française. Il s'agit en fait d'une citronnade ou citron pressé sucré. Aux US, on en trouve dans tous les supermarchés. Si cela n'a pas (encore!) traversé l'Atlantique, vous pouvez tout simplement faire une citronnade maison.

Makes 8 cups
  • 3 cups water = 700 ml d'eau
  • 2 tea bags = 2 sachets de thé
  • About ½ cup packed fresh mint leaves = environ 15g de feuilles de menthe fraiche
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar (optional) = 20 à 40 g de sucre (facultatif)
  • 5 cups regular or pink lemonade = 1.2 l de citronnade
  • Fresh lemon, lime, orange and/or grapefuit slices = quelques tranches de citron, citron vert, orange et/ou pamplemousse

Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and stir in fresh mint. Cover and steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar, if using, until dissolved.
Pour tea into a large container and stir in lemonade. Serve over ice and garnish with citrus slices. Enjoy! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Greek Turkey Burgers

This is not your typical turkey burger! The added greek-inspired ingredients keep the burger moist and give it great flavors. Plus, bonus, you get some veggies in there!

Tzatziki is a refreshing cucumber yogurt dip. I often buy a little container from my local Greek restaurant  because theirs is insanely good (as is their fresh pita bread!). But it is quite easy to make your own. My favorite recipe is here: to be honest, I don't even bother to drain the yogurt overnight and it's still perfectly creamy and yummy.

Makes 4 burgers
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey = 450 g de viande de dinde hachée
  • ½ cup chopped baby spinach = une poignée de jeunes pousses d'épinards, coupées
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese = 45 g de feta émiettée
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped = 1 poivron rouge roti, coupé en morceaux
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves = ½ cuillère à café d'origan séché
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil = 1 cuillère à café d'huile d'olive
  • Salt & pepper = sel et poivre
  • 4 tablespoons tzatziki sauce = 4 cuillère à soupe de tzaziki
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced = un petit concombre, coupé en tranches
  • 4 whole wheat burger buns = 4 pains à hamburger, au blé complet

Combine ground turkey, spinach, feta, red pepper, oregano, salt & pepper, and olive oil in a bowl. Divide into fourths and form 4 patties.

Grill burgers and transfer to clean platter.

Top each burger with 1 tablespoon of tzatziki and a few slices of cucumber. Serve on whole wheat buns. Enjoy!