jeudi 29 avril 2010

Angelo's Stuffed Squid

Guest Blogger!~My friend Angelo from Lisbon, Portugal contributes his favorite Portuguese recipe. You can substitute shrimp or a breadcrumb mixture for the chorizo sausage if you prefer.

I like a few things from Portuguese cuisine. Stuffed squid, for example. Or just a simple steak with rice, fries, egg and sauce.

I can tell you how to make the stuffed squid. I can tell you it's my favorite food!

First you clean the squid and move its legs to the side.

In a pot, you put olive oil, chopped onion, a little chopped garlic, a little parsley and bay leaf. You cook this for a bit and then you add chopped chorizo - not spicy! It's the Portuguese one and I am sure you can find it in France! - and the chopped squid legs.

You also boil an egg on the side, and when the chorizo and legs are ready, you chop the egg and add it to the mix. No need to cook the egg any longer; the stuffing is done.

In a new pot, you make tomato sauce (with olive oil, onion, garlic, bay leaf, adding the tomato, making sure it gets as mashed as possible). You put the stuffed squid in it, tied with a toothpick.

Then you add some white wine.

Let it cook, gently, and mix it once in a while, as it's easy to burn! Believe me, I know!

You serve this with mashed potatoes or plain spaghetti!

PS - I know you know this, but make sure you buy squid and not cuttlefish.

mercredi 28 avril 2010

Fromage blanc au sel et poivre

Les meilleurs desserts sont souvent les plus simples. Un petit bol de fromage blanc, avec du sel et du poivre, rend pour moi le repas complet et me laisse replète mais toujours légère. Le sel et le poivre, bien que la combinaison soit étonnante, est très rafraîchissante.

Pour ceux qui préfèrent toujours un dessert sucré, du fromage blanc avec quelques cuillères de miel et des noix grillé est également superbe.

Etre dehors sur la terrasse en savourant votre bol, c’est encore meilleur.
A simple and refreshing French dessert is a bowl of fromage blanc (literally “white cheese”), which is thicker and creamier than yogurt, but with a similar light, slightly sour taste. It’s a classic French dessert; fromage blanc with honey dates back to the middle ages.

I like my fromage blanc with a liberal pinch of sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Surprising to have a salted dessert, perhaps, but it’s worth a try.

If you prefer to stick to your sweets, try fromage blanc with a drizzle of honey and roasted walnuts. Another classic is fromage blanc with jam and fruit mixed it.

Fromage blanc is generally unavailable in the U.S., but if you’re ever in a specialty shop—or in France—don’t miss it.

dimanche 25 avril 2010

Night Barbeque

We tried to coax summer into full swing with a beginning-of-the-season barbeque, begun at dusk and finished in shadows softened by candlelight, on the warm stone terrace of a friend's apartment.

On the grill the fresh vegetables shone center stage. Vibrant reds, yellows, and greens blistered black on the edges, sweating beads of olive oil.

Tough-skinned vegetables are perfect for grilling. Only a small amount of fat is necessary, and the barbeque gives great flavor. Wash the vegetables, and cut them into large, even pieces. To prevent them drying out over the flame, soak the pieces in water for up to 30 minutes before grilling. Then pat dry and brush with olive oil. Grill 2-3 minutes per side and season with salt and pepper, or any other herbs.

These vegetables are well suited for grilling:

Asparagus, whole
Bell Peppers
Chili Peppers, whole
Portobello or other mushrooms, whole

Garlic: Take whole bulbs and cut off the root end. Brush with olive oil and place cut side down for about 10 minutes or until the skin is brown.

Onions: Remove skin and cut horizontally about 1/2 inch thick. Brush with oil and grill 3-4 minutes.

Tomatoes: Something you don't usually see on the grill but it works well. Cut in half and grill cut side down.

Corn on the cob: Gently pull back the husks but don't remove. Remove the silk and cut off the end. Brush with butter. Fold the husks back down and tie or twist the ends. Place on grill for about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn to avoid burning.

Potatoes: Perfect for grilling but takes a bit longer. For whole potatoes, wrap in aluminum foil to keep the skin from burning and grill 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally. Or cut into wedges, brush with olive oil, and grill until browned.

vendredi 16 avril 2010

Breakfast around the World

American cuisine may not hit every spot on the mark (I’m thinking of KFC’s recent atrocity, the Double Down Sandwich), but we do make a great brunch spread. Much better than the light toast and coffee breakfast served in France, in my opinion—and who can resist a fluffy golden pancake with a pat of butter pooling the middle?

A traditional American breakfast is a hearty, heavy affair, but that’s not the case everywhere in the world. Breakfast favorites in the US typically include: eggs, toast with butter and jam, hash browned potatoes, bacon, sausage links, pancakes, waffles, bagels, doughnuts, muffins, cereal, orange juice, milk, and coffee. Lots of carbohydrates, fat, and protein here, enough to keep you well-energized throughout the day.

A French breakfast is typically much sweeter and less substantial than an American breakfast. The French drink their coffee from a ceramic bowl, and those who don’t like coffee drink hot chocolate. “Grilled bread”, or hard toasts, are dipped in the hot drink or spread with butter or jam, or nutella. Of course croissants, chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat), or other pastries are eaten frequently, although these are not necessarily eaten every day. Jam figures prominently on the breakfast table, as does chocolate. Most French people I know, if in need of a quick bite on the way out the door, grab a few cookies, a slice of cake, or anything I would normally eat for dessert. Unlike Americans, the French do not eat omelettes, quiche, or crepes for breakfast.

In Japan, asa-gohan (meaning “morning rice”) is not a grand affair, and is not restricted to certain “breakfast foods.” As more and more Western products reach supermarket shelves, more young Japanese start the day with toast, eggs, or cereal, but many still eat a traditional breakfast of rice and miso soup. Often pickles or fish accompany the rice, and a bit of natto, fermented soybeans. Leftovers from last night’s meal can be eaten as breakfast as well.

It’s interesting to compare breakfasts in different countries because it reflects, I think, the eating habits of the population. Americans eat a rather fatty, carbohydrate-heavy traditional breakfast, and quick weekday breakfasts are usually sugary and doughy (muffins, doughnuts, toast, cereal). And we overeat in general as well. The French load up on sugar in the morning, but they generally eat light as far as quantity. And a Japanese traditional breakfast is light in both senses—preferring savory tastes to fat and sugar, and keeping the portion small.

Once in a while, once every two months maybe, I like to do a good brunch. Two eggs sunny-side up, with 2 pieces of buttered toast, one to mop up each yolk. I skip the bacon but I happily take some hash browns, and of course the pancakes can’t be missed. Living abroad the last few years, I’ve learned to live without maple syrup (a better thing, anyways, as what passes for maple syrup now in most supermarkets is just coca-cola in a heat-up bottle). A much better substitute: a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey.

Making perfect pancakes at home is probably even easier than buying mix. The principal ingredients are flour, a spoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, a couple eggs, milk and baking powder. The baking powder is essential to get the rise and fluffy texture desired. I add only the yolk of the egg, reserving the egg whites for other sweets, and I swear that this makes the pancakes better. When combining the ingredients to make the batter, stir just enough to wet all the batter; overbeating the batter to try to get out the lumps will make the pancakes rubbery. If using a non-stick pan (this is best), there’s no need to oil the pan.

Perfect American Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, and egg; mix until just combined.
2. Heat a griddle or non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve immediately.

lundi 5 avril 2010

Sultana Blondies

These golden raisin blondies won over the Denoux family I had Easter dinner with yesterday. I passed the recipe on to them, as I will now do to you, in my quest to slowly but steadily infiltrate the French pastry market with the best of American treats.

Blondies are not only the brownie's blonde kid sister, they have a gooey chewiness all of their own and have more possibility than brownies for additions, including nuts, chocolate chips, caramel, peanut butter, dried fruit, or candy pieces.

I like the sexiness of the name "sultana", so I throw in golden raisins, dried apricot pieces, walnuts, and chocolate chips.


16 Tbsp (230 grams) butter, melted
2 cups (400 grams) brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
2 cups (220 grams) flour
add golden raisins, apricot chunks, walnuts, and chocolate chips to taste

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 35 minutes.