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!