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Archive for the ‘French’ Category

This year, I’ve been spoiled by my grandmother – which is not unusual – except that I am now receiving a quarterly magazine with fresh, classic, and inspiring recipes from Normandy. It’s great, coming at a time when I am often at a loss for ideas since cooking for one is simply less fun than for two. It’s amazing how easy it is to get entrenched in routine in the kitchen, and this magazine has done wonders for me this year in getting me back into the exciting realm of cooking.

I love how this salad captures the flavours of summer, while being filling enough for a weekday lunch. I’d recommend making this soon, while the tomatoes are still sweet off the vine.

IMG_20150915_183116

Ingredients – for 4 servings

-1 Boursin cheese, garlic and herb
-1 boston leaf lettuce, washed and dried
-200g cooked Puy or French lentils (I cooked 1/2 cup in 2 cups vegetable broth for 25 minutes)
-1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 chicken breasts
-1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

For the vinaigrette:

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp honey
-3 Tbsp chicken cooking jus
-salt and pepper

Directions

Cook the lentils until tender but still intact, about 25 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Dice the chicken breasts. Heat the butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sear the chicken. Cook 4-5 min per side until cooked through and golden. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add 30mL of water to the pan and scrape the pan with a spatula to make the jus. Simmer until reduced and flavourful.

Coarsely chop the pistachios. Break up the lettuce leaves coarsely, add them to a large bowl with the lentils, the quartered tomatoes, the chicken, small spoonfuls of the Boursin, and sprinkle with the pistachios.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the chicken jus with the mustard, honey, vinegar and salt and pepper. Once it is smooth, add the olive oil one spoonful at a time while mixing. Season to taste and drizzle over salad. Serve immediately!

-Sitelle

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Surprise! Welcome to my Northwest Territories Kitchen. I’ve somehow found a new place to call home, amidst the tail-end of the boreal forest treeline, on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. I think this is going to be a great year for Gourm(eh) on my end – I’ll be exploring Canadian food from the Northern perpective, something I’ve always wanted to do. There are still a few weeks of fishing left (hopefully) before we break until the ice can hold us safely. The rose-hips are lonely without their leaves, just waiting to be picked and turned into jelly. The days are getting shorter at an unbelieveable rate – and although I’ll miss the sun, I’m really excited for the northern lightshow, with a mug of hot chocolate.

I’ve been here for a week now, and while I was hoping to share a traditional dish right away, I’m going to start with this tarte la francaise, in hommage to all the wonderful francophone people I’ve met in the community. Without an internet connection of my own, I’m dependent on the public library, and neighbours around me, who have generously offered me their internet connection. Tired of going up to see them for their internet, I decided to pay them back with a warm little apple pie tonight, like my Grandmother makes in Normandy.

1 shortcrust pastry

1-2 tart apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced

1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 egg

Make the short crust pastry at least 30 minutes in advance, and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 400f. Slice apples finely with a sharp knife. Dip in a dilute lemon juice solution and drain so they don’t brown.

Once oven is ready, roll crust out to 3cm wider diameter than a tart dish (or a pie dish). Place in dish, and press edges down to have a nice thick outer crust. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Freeze for about 10 minutes.

Arrange apples on cooled crust in a thin layer. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until apples begin to soften and crust becomes lightly golden on edges.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream, egg, sugar, and spices together, and refrigerate until apples are softened.

Spoon cream mixture over apples and bake for another 25 minutes or so, or until set and slightly golden.

Enjoy with vanilla-infused whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bon appetit,

-Sitelle

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Scallops – Coquilles St. Jacques in French – are one of the family specials. In proper form, the ingredients are few: scallops, butter, cream, and parsley…

The night I arrived in my family’s village supper was from 8pm till 12:30am, and even so, we had to pry ourselves away before coffee was offered because I was so tired!

We began with soticot (tiny shrimp that were caught by one of my relatives), escargots, fresh crab… then a soup, a roast chicken, some cheese, dessert…  and so this recipe continues on the seafood theme that we live by here.

Ingredients – serves 4 as an appetizer

-16 – 20 scallops, sliced in half if they are large
-8 sprigs parsley, minced
-2 Tbsp butter
-1/2 cup crême fraiche

Directions

Wash and slice the scallops in half if they are large. Heat butter until it bubbles, over medium heat to sear each side for 3 minutes or so until they are golden-brown, and then simmer for a couple more minutes until they are gently cooked through. Add parsley, and cream. Melt cream over low heat over the scllops (avoid making it boil as it curdles). Serve with baguette crisps or other crisp bread, and a glass of dry white wine.

Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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I find myself in transit, faced by a challenging familial loss, between Canada and West Africa. We seem to all come together around food, on our tip of Normandy. I am writing this recipe to share our time together as a family in France with my brother – who had to stay in Canada.

The trick to this recipe is to cook the leg of lamb directly on a rack in the oven, with a roasting pan on a rack underneath it in order to catch all the falling juices.  That’s my grandmother’s rule to keeping the meat tender. Here, in Normandy, meat and potatoes are paramount, so I take her advice seriously!

Ingredients

-1 leg of lamb
-3 sprigs parsley
-3 sprigs thyme
-1 sprig rosemary
-6 cloves garlic
-cracked pepper
-juice from 1 lemon
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1-2 cups water

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and a second one underneath.

Place leg of lamb on a clean surface and rub in pepper. Place the peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, thyme, and rosemary sprigs, and one cup of water in the bottom of a large roasting pan.

Place roasting pan on bottom rack, and place leg of lamb directly on the middle rack. Baste the leg of lamb with the juices from the pan. Cook for 15 minutes at 425F and then reduce heat to 350F. Baste every 15-20 minutes.

Cook approximately 20 minutes per pound, or until done to your liking. Serve with strained cooking juices with fat skimmed off, stewed beans, and crisp potatoes.

Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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From the moment I saw a picture of this dessert, I could simply not resist. In fact, it was so tempting that today, this was all I ate for dinner. I adapted this recipe from a fantastic book my grandparents sent me for my birthday this year. It’s called Les grosses têtes en cuisine (which literally translates to the largest heads in cooking – I’m sure you get the picture). I made this while having a skype discussion, and I’m sorry because those on the other end were unable to give it a taste, although I’m not complaining about having more for myself!

As soon as they were ready, I decided to run upstairs to my roomie and give her a present, because I didn’t want to eat all alone.

The recipe is simple. 5 ingredients – I’m sure you can guess them. Chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and flour (yes, that order probably arranges them by decreasing weight). While did I follow the ingredients, I had to make several changes. Because the recipe is from France, all the quantities are in grams, and in my temporary home I do not have access to a scale or measuring glass, so I approximated the quantities. All I have are cup measures.  I also substituted brown sugar for white since that is all I have. Nevertheless, it was totally delicious – and I encourage you to make these as a special treat!

And if they’re not rich enough for you, feel free to complement them with whipped cream sweetened with honey or maple syrup and garnish with fresh raspberries as I did!

Ingredients – 6 individual chocolate cakes

-200g dark chocolate (I used 7 of the Semisweet Baker’s chocolate squares in the 225 g boxes) + 1 extra square of chocolate, chopped up
– 100g butter (I used just under a quarter-pound)
-3/4 cups unpacked brown sugar
-4 eggs
-1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions

Cut up butter into a few chunks, and place the squares of chocolate (break it up if it is not already broken into squares) in a heat-proof bowl. Place bowl over a pot with a little water in it, and bring the water to a simmer. Carefully warm up chocolate and butter mixture, mixing occasionally. Make sure to use gloves to handle the bowl as it gets hot and sometimes steam comes out. If you have a ‘bain marie’, this is the time to use it.

Preheat oven to 350F.

While you’re waiting for the chocolate and butter to melt, mix the eggs and sugar. Once that is mixed, add the flour, and finally the melted chocolate/butter mixture.

Grease 6 muffin-tin spots with butter (if you’re using a tin with 12, make sure to space them evenly throughout). Spoon the batter into each mould, making sure not to over-fill them beyond 3/4 capacity. If you have extra batter (that you haven’t eaten already), grease up another spot and fill it too. Drop a few extra pieces of chocolate (if you kept them aside this whole time!) into the middle of each.

Cook for 10 minutes, and let cool for 4-5 minutes before serving them. If you over-cook them, they’re still good, but less gooey. While they’re cooking you can whip up some cream with a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup, and wash a few fresh raspberries if that suits your fancy. Try to serve them warm if possible, fresh out of the oven!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. They’re delicious and really simple to make.

-Sitelle

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I first fell in love with tapenade when I was travelling through France years ago. At the time, olives were something I ate if I had to, but not something I especially sought out. But with one bite of tapenade from a French market, I was truly in love.

Since then, I have sought out tapenade in every French market I have visited (the winner is Voltaire, France along the Swiss border). Be it black olive, green olive, or a surprise mix with artichokes – this black gold simply vanishes in my presence. A few years back, I discovered how easy it was to make tapenade. The trick is allowing enough time for the spread to mellow – overnight will suffice.

The recipe below is my go-to fast tapenade recipe. It’s the one I’ve perfected over the last five years through trial and error, and while it may not be as authentic as tapenade found in a French marketplace (it lacks the anchovies!), it certainly never fails to please 🙂

Tapenade

Ingredients:
One can black or green olives
Capers in juice (about 2 tablespoons)
Garlic to taste (1/2 to 1 clove)
Juice from one-third to half a lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil

Directions:
In a food processor, blend the garlic, olives, and capers until coarse. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with the salt and pepper. Continue blending, slowly drizzling the olive oil until your desired texture is reached.

Tapenade becomes tastier the longer it matures, so preferably chill overnight (although it can be served immediately!). Enjoy with a crusty baguette or fancy crackers!

– Catherine

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I’m often asked “what is your favourite food, your favourite dish?”

That’s such a hard question! And my answer always begins by mentioning that it depends on the time of day, the season, and what else I’ve eaten recently. This is likely not very satisfying as an answer.

That said, this is one of my top 10 “simple dishes”. There are only 5 ingredients. And it can be an appetizer or a main course. And best of all, it reminds me of my grandparents in France.

Ever since I was little, I can remember carrying those funny-shaped shrimp fishing nets down to the beach with my water shoes in. I would wade slowly around the rocks, looking for the strange movement of the nearly transparent organisms through the water. I love it!

Over time, the shrimp accumulate in my fishing basket, perhaps accompanied by a few other sea-finds like escargots. I look forward to frying them up in butter, garlic, and parsley with my grandmother when I return. It is such a treat.

Ingredients

-1 lb shrimp (I prefer the ones with shells still on as this really boosts the flavour but some may find this messy)
-2 good-sized cloves garlic, germ removed, very finely minced
-leaves from 5 sprigs parsley, washed and finely chopped
-1 Tbsp butter
-pinch salt to taste

Directions

Wash the shrimp in cold water. Mince the garlic and parsley. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-low, and when butter begins to bubble, add the garlic for 30 minutes. Then add the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until both it is nearly cooked through. Add the parsley 2-3 minutes before turning the heat off, and sprinkle with salt to taste.

-Sitelle

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This morning, we woke up to the sound of high winds and rain lashing at our windows reminiscent of the village my family comes from in Normandy. Perhaps surprisingly, I quite enjoy a good storm. And the cold and wet outdoors will be less appetizing as a distractor from my current challenge of studying for my very last two exams of undergrad.

With the weather reminding me of Normandy (and France, in general), I got out of bed with the idea of making madeleines au citron, one of my grandfather’s very favourite things to dip into his café au lait. They make a great substitute for sunshine on a day like today.

Instead of a café au lait, we ate them with soft-boiled eggs and a lemongrass-hibiscus flower tea.  To complete it all, our forsythia bush has burst into bloom, and so its sunny flowers accompanied our lovely breakfast. It was one of those mornings you wish could never end!

This recipe is another I have very slightly modified from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table (p 409). Just a quick warning – they are best when the batter rests for over 3 hours before being baked. My solution to this problem, being a spur-of-the-moment type of person, is to double the recipe.  I can then have a delicious treat right away (by baking the first dozen) while the remaining batter can sit in the fridge until the following morning when they become even more delicious. It works every time!

Ingredients – 12 madeleines

-2/3 cups all-purpose flour-3/4 tsp baking powder
-pinch salt
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-zest from 1 lemon
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-7 Tbsp cooled melted butter (browned butter
is the best)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F, with a rack one notch below the middle.  If you have a mixer, this is the time to use it – and if not – then this is your time to build a lot of arm muscles!  In a large bowl, mix the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers, working the lemon zest into the sugar to infuse the flavour as much as possible. Then add the 2 eggs, and beat (with a mixer) for 2 minutes (takes more like 5-10 minutes of vigorous beating by hand, and it’s totally do-able), until the mixture is frothy and thickened.

Once the mixture is ready, beat in the 2 tsp vanilla.

In a separate bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly and carefully incorporate the flour into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula, 1/4 at a time. Finally, add in the melted cooled butter while gently mixing with the rubber spatula.

Grease the madeleine mould (or muffin tin if you don’t have one) and sprinkle with flour.  Add enough batter to each to fill it but do not make them overflow. Bake in the oven for 9-13 minutes, until the tops are springy and golden.


Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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When Sitelle spoiled me with around my french table  for my birthday, I immediately fell in love with this gorgeous book.  Written by Dorie Greenspan, it is full of recipes with simple ingredients, packed with flavour.  This recipe immediately caught my eye – I was astounded by the idea that chocolate mousse could be so deceptively simple.  From prep to finish, this mousse takes about 6 minutes to whip up.  Trust me – you will want to savour every bite!

I was in need of a chocolate kick the other night and gravitated towards this recipe.  I doubled it, and within hours it had evaporated (helped out by my roommate and a few lovely ladies).  If you want to be adventurous, add to the melted chocolate 1 tablespoon of strong instant coffee granules or to the egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, a few drops of pure orange oil, or 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (my personal favourite).  As Dorie says, it is truly the “quintessential French dinner-party mousse”!

Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse 

(4 delicate servings, or 2 generous servings)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Whipped cream

Directions:

Gently melt the chocolate over a double boiler.  Remove the chocolate from the stove, and whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with the salt until they start to foam.  Gradually add the sugar, until the egg whites are shiny and hold medium-firm peaks.

Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate, until the mixture is almost smooth.  Spoon the rest of the egg whites over the chocolate, and using a large rubber spatula gently fold them in.  Be as thorough as possible, without overworking the mousse by overmixing (a few streaks are pretty and keep the mousse beautifully light).

Spoon the mousse into individual serving dishes and serve immediately, or chill until ready for dessert.  Delicious served with whipped cream and a few berries! Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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I love the infectious excitement that spring brings to so many people.  Clearly, it’s hit me since that’s what I’ve been blogging about non-stop for the last month.  It’s wonderful when something as simple as seeing my first daffodil flower can completely change my day, as it did today. It’s the fresh start, the fresh air, the fresh greens sprouting from the ground that put me in this mood. I’m planning a little adventure.

Today I made this leek and parsley tart.  I’m sure many will notice that leeks are a very, very common ingredient in the things I make – and it’s simply because I love them and they are toujours in our fridge – a staple. That means they often make an appearance, and I have never been disappointed, except when I open the door to find they have in fact already been used.

It’s funny how in different grocery store settings, people have completely different reactions to my purchases. When I am not able to make it to Kensington or the market, I usually frequent the local No Frills not far from our place. There, my tendency towards filling our cart with leeks and general vegetables and fruit always gets me into conversations with elderly women who are in awe that I like leeks and so many vegetables. I’m a little disappointed by their lack of faith in my generation to cook real food, but also happy to see I’m not the only one that thinks we’ve got a lot of work to do to improve our eating habits.

Ingredients – 8 servings

-2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
-2 Tbsp butter
-4 large eggs
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-pinch salt
-1/2 cup grated cheddar or gruyère
-1 quantity savoury shortcrust pastry

Directions

Prepare the shortcrust pastry at least 1 hours in advance (I like to try to remember to do this the night before, but we all know that’s not always realistic).

Wash and slice the leeks, and then heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Melt the butter, and add the leeks when the butter is bubbly.  Gently sauté the leeks, reducing the heat to low, for 10-15 minutes, until they are nicely softened but try not to brown them too much.

In a bowl, crack the eggs and add the sour cream.  Whisk together until smooth, then add the chopped and washed parsley, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Roll out the dough. I like to do this between two sheets of wax paper as it makes transferring it to a baking dish really easy. Grease the baking dish with butter before putting the crust in, and then pierce the crust with a fork several times before adding the filling in order to relieve air bubbles that form during cooking.

Scatter 1/2 of the cooked leeks onto the crust, and mix the rest into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the leeks, and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.  Then sprinkle the grated cheese over top.

Bake in oven at 375F for 25 (or so) minutes, or until the filling is set and the top is golden.

I love to eat savoury tarts witha simple salad, and it definitely works well here.  Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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