Monday, December 28, 2009

Butternut & pumpkin gratin

Mmm... perfect for lunch in winter. Warm, filling but not heavy, and delicious!

sliced, peeled butternut squash, about 1/2 inch thick
equal amount sliced, peeled winter squash or pumpkin, about 1/2 inch thick
crumbled country sausage or sliced cooked chipolatas (about 1/4 cup sausage for one butternut)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated Trappista cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook sliced squash 3-4 minutes. Place in a baking dish.

Combine milk, broth, flour, rosemary, salt and pepper in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk until thick. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Pour white sauce over top. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake in preheated oven at 400° for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spinach and chipolata quiche

We at this at least once a week in winter. It's simple and hot, and also great leftover for breakfast!

1 pie crust (pâte feuilletée)
1/2 cup grated mild cheese (I used Gouda or Trappista)
1 chipolata sausage, cooked and sliced
6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Roll the crust out in a pie pan. Sprinkle the cheese and chipolata evenly on the bottom.

Beat the eggs, then stir in milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach. Pour into the pie pan over the cheese and squash.

Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 30-20 minutes or until firm and golden.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cauliflower gratin

I made this for lunch the other day and we nearly finished it off in one sitting!

1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1-2 cups milk
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated cheese (I used Emmental, which is similar to Swiss)
2 Tbsp bread crumbs

Heat water in a large pot to boiling. Add cauliflower and cook five minutes - tender, but firm.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and place in a baking dish.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly for two minutes. Pour the milk into the butter-flour mixture and keep stirring until thickened, about two minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, salt and pepper.

Spread the sauce evenly on top of cauliflower. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top. Bake in preheated oven at 375° for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Warm fennel and orange salad

I'd never had fennel before moving to France. And the description of 'celery and licorice' did not entice me at all. But it really is delicious!

2 bulbs fennel, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
4 Tbsp Dijon vinagrette
chopped fresh mint leaves

Heat oven broiler. Brush the fennel with olive oil, then place in cast iron skillet or baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until tips are just blackened and fennel is soft.

Place fennel in a bowl. Place orange pieces on top.

Whisk together the orange juice, zest and vinaigrette in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad. Sprinkle with mint and serve.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Spicy fish stew with greens

Oh wow. If you like fish - this is incredible. If you don't like fish, skip this one. Very quick to make. A perfect lunch on a cold day.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup of fresh chopped tomato
1/4 cup frozen spinach or other greens (thawed)
2 tsp of tomato paste
2 tsp fish bouillon
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 lb of fish filets (I used salmon, halibut, mackerel and cod), cut into 2-inch pieces
Tabasco to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot or over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté four minutes. Add parsley, tomato, tomato paste and cook two minutes.

Add fish bouillon, red wine, spinach and fish and simmer until fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add Tabasco, pepper and salt to taste.

Serve hot with good French bread.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Vin chaud (hot mulled wine)

Vin chaud is the definitive drink of French Christmas markets and festivals. This recipe was served at an event at our church last weekend and it's the best I've ever had. So I snagged the recipe from the pastor's wife :)

one bottle of good red wine
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon, sliced
zest of 1 orange
2-4 cinnamon sticks
1-2 cloves (optional)

Heat the wine, sugar and spices in a pot over low heat. Stir occasionally until it simmers (not boiling) and a foam forms. Add the zest. Pour the wine into glasses while hot. Serve with a slice of lemon in each glass or a stick of cinnamon.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Salmon baked with leeks and fennel

I was given this recipe this weekend and could not wait to try it. It was even better than I imagined when she told me about it! I had to make a few adjustments based on what we had on hand, so this really is a very flexible recipe - and so quick to make! The leeks and fennel worked together really well.

2 salmon filets
2 leeks
1 bulb fennel
1/3 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
1/2-1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp butter
freshly ground pepper

Trim the leek of the thick green stalks and the root end, then slice into thin rounds. Slice the fennel. Rinse both well. In a sauté pan or skillet on moderately high heat, melt the butter. When the butter foams, add leeks and fennel. Cover over a moderate heat until the pieces sweat and soften.

Prepare the fish by rinsing it and patting dry with a paper towel. Place in a ceramic, glass or cast iron baking dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a small bowl, stir together crème fraîche and Dijon mustard. Remove leeks and fennel from heat and stir in cream mixture. Pour over top of salmon.

Bake in preheated oven at 375° for 15-20 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mother-in-law's Swiss steak

I was introduced to Swiss Steak by my mother-in-law. It's a great cool-weather dish, served over rice, noodles or mashed potatoes (our favorite).

1 lb top round steak, sliced to about an inch thick
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 cup flour
salt & pepper
4-6 slices of Gouda, Trappista or Colby cheese

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Season the steak with salt and pepper, then dredge through flour. Brown the steak in the pan, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the steak from the pan and set aside.

Add another Tbsp of oil to pan. Cook onions, peppers and garlic for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.

Add Italian seasonings and stir. Place steak on top of onions and peppers. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover. Reduce heat to simmer gently for at least an hour, preferably two. At the end of cooking, place cheese on top until melted.

Mmm... yum. Serve over hot mashed potatoes, or rice or noodles.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mom's fish creole

This is a recipe based off a memory from a dish my mom used to make and called 'fish creole'. Internet searches yielded no such recipe that resembled my memory's, so improv it was.

3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 lg can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp creole seasoning
1 tsp hot sauce
4-6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 lg white fish filet, cut into 1 inch pieces
3-4 sardines (opt, but good!)
cooked white rice

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook until onion is soft, about five minutes. Add tomatoes, creole seasoning, hot sauce, Worcestershire, sugar and black pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in sardines. Add fish pieces. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Taste and season as needed.

Serve ove hot rice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mashed sweet potatoes

2-3 sweet potatoes
1 tsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
orange slices

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes. Wrap well in foil and bake at 350-400° until soft, about 35-45 minutes. (I cook them with other stuff, like a batch of muffins, to save time.) Let cool 10 mins, then peel.

Mash potatoes with a fork, then stir in butter and brown sugar. Serve with an orange slice to squeeze over top.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Caramelized pear Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is a famous French dessert that is traditionally made with apples. This variation with pears is my favorite.

3 ripe pears, peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
pinch dried ginger
1 sheet refrigerated puff pastry

Slice the pears very thinly using either a sharp knife or mandolin. Cut out any pieces of the core then set slices aside.

Over medium heat, heat sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a non-stick skillet. Cook, swirling occasionally, until it reaches a golden caramel color, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the butter to skillet, swirling it into the mixture. Pour the caramelized sugar into a round baking dish. Sprinkle with a pinch of ginger.

Add pear slices, working your way from the outside in, overlapping slices to create a circular pattern until you reach the middle. Continue until all slices are used. (Since the tarte will be inverted, use the prettiest pieces first!)

Lay the puff pastry over the top of pear slices. Fold under the loose edges and fit pastry to the skillet. Make a couple small slits in the puff pastry to allow steam to escape. Cook in preheated oven at 375° for 10 minutes until pastry is golden, about 25-35 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and let the tarte set for about 15 minutes. Gently loosen pastry edges from skillet. Place a cookie sheet or larger round baking dish carefully over the tarte. In one quick motion, flip the skillet and invert the tarte.

Pour any pear syrup back over the pears and pastry crust. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until the edges darken and caramelize.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Apple and sausage dressing

1 loaf French baguette bread
2 cornbread muffins
1/2 pound Country sausage OR chipolatas
1/2 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 apple, chopped
1/6 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chicken broth
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sage seasoning mixture
dash pepper

Cut the bread into small cubes and place in baking dish. Crumble the muffins on top.

Cook sausage over medium-high heat, then set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat, then add onions and celery. Cook until just softened. Add mushrooms and apple. Cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in cranberries and sausage. Combine this mixture with bread in baking dish. Mix until evenly distributed.

Mix broth, egg, and seasonings. Pour over bread mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brussels sprouts with bacon

3-4 big handfuls of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1-2 slices bacon
3 Tbsp raisins
1/3 cup chicken broth
salt & pepper

Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once fully cooked, set bacon aside on a plate covered by a paper towel.

Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and toss to coat with bacon 'glistener'. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes. The Brussels sprouts will start turning bright green.

Add the broth and raisins. Cover and let cook 10-15 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are just getting soft. Crumble bacon on top and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Carrot soufflé

This tastes just like sweet potato soufflé, but uses carrots which are cheaper in France. Surprisingly, sweet potatoes were considered an “exotic” food here up until recently. This recipe serves 6-8.

2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped (opt)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts (opt)
1/3 cup coconut (opt)

Boil the carrots and potato until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain well. You can either use a hand mixer and large bowl or a food processor from here on out. Purée the carrots and potato. Add eggs, 3-4 Tbsp butter butter, 3 Tbsp sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon then mix very well on high. Pour this mixture into a greased baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. In a bowl, mix the nuts, coconut, and remaining sugar and butter. Sprinkle over carrot mixture and cook until topping is crunchy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rosemary roasted butternut squash

1 large butternut squash
1/2 tsp fresh snipped rosemary
olive oil
lemon wedge

Rinse squash. Cut into large chunks, removing seeds and stringy centers. Brush squash with olive oil and place in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with rosemary. Roast at 425° for about 30 minutes or until soft. Brush lightly with more olive oil if it begins to dry out. Before serving, sprinkle lemon juice and salt over the squash.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Deviled eggs

6 hardboiled eggs (directions here)
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp mustard
2-3 sweet pickles, chopped
1 Tbsp sweet pickle juice

Cut eggs in half. Put the yolks in a bowl. Mash well with a fork. Add mayo, mustard, and pickle juice, mixing until smooth. Stir in chopped pickles.

Spoon the mixture back into the yolks. Sprinkle with paprika, and voila!

Tip: For transporting deviled eggs, try mini-muffin tins!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cornbread dressing

2 cups Southern Girl's cornbread, crumbled
1 cup day-old bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp parsley
3/4 tsp sage
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients until consistency is soft and moist. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until browned on top.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin pie filling from scratch!

It doesn't take long to figure out that bringing cans of Libby's over in your suitcase isn't a light-weight option. There's really no need to as we have great pumpkin and winter squash options in France. (And for those outside of France, consider using carrots. Just don't tell your guests and they'll never know!)

1 large wedge of pumpkin (or winter squash), about 1 kilo
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup cream (15% or more)

Cut peel off pumpkin then cut into 1 inch pieces. Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes or until soft. Check often to be sure it's not drying out. Sprinkle with water if needed. Drain off liquid. Puree with stick blender or food processor.

Add seasonings.

If you're making this ahead of time, pour mixture into a Ziploc bag and freeze until needed.

Beat eggs, then add to pumpkin mixture. Stir in cream. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until set. Test by sliding a knife into the center. If it comes out clean, your pie is ready.

Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sweet potato casserole with coconut topping

A little note about finding sweet potatoes in Lyon, France: In the old days, you had to go the African or Asian markets at the Guillotière or the 'exotique' section of Carrefour to find them. But as of 2008 you can find them easily in most grocery stores (Monoprix, Ed, Casino, Intermarché...) in the produce section. Thay are called 'patates douces' and often come from Israel.

4 cups sweet potatoes (cooked, peeled, and mashed)
2 Tbsp butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
3 tablespoon butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, margarine, eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar. Mix well. Spread into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole.

Prepare the topping by mixing the coconut, brown sugar and butter. Sprinkle over the potatoes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until potatoes are set and toppings browned and crispy.

Green bean casserole in France

All these ingredients are available at local grocery stores in France:

- fried onions (look for oignons frits near apéro foods)
- canned mushrooms
- instant mushroom soup mix OR boxed mushroom soup
- French-cut green beans

Happy Thanksgiving prep!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The 10 days of Thanksgiving!

Starting tomorrow I'll be posting a recipe each day until Thanksgiving. But these aren't just any recipes - they're tried and tested American recipes using ingredients you can get in France! Green bean casserole, sweet potatoes two different ways, deviled eggs, buttery yeast rolls, two kinds of dressing, pumpkin pie filling from scratch...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gâteau aux noix (walnut cake)

I topped this traditional French walnut cake (recipe from a friend in Lyon) with a very American cream cheese frosting - well, Franco-American to be accurate. The idea of sweetened cream cheese in incredibly American, but I made it by mixing fresh French cheese (Petit Suisse) with powdered sugar.

1 1/4 cup very finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
pinch of salt

In a bowl, mix together chopped and nuts with half of the sugar. In a second, larger bowl, beat together the butter and other half of the sugar. Mix in the nuts and sugar, then the eggs one by one, followed by the salt and flour.

Pour into a 9-inch round pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350° for about 30 minutes. Cake is done when browned and knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve cooled, with cream cheese frosting if you'd like. (I like.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Warm beet & carrot salad

Leave your preconceived notions about beets at the door (enough with the fake gagging already) and just try this recipe. It's delicious. I promise. And very, very nutritious. But more importantly, it's delicious. (I found the original recipe on this site, which I love.) The recipe says to serve warm, but I enjoyed a couple chilled helpings later in the day too.

2 roasted beets, grated
3 carrots, grated
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup apple juice
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Melt the butter in a large sautee pan on low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is soft, but not yet brown. Add the beets, carrots and cider and cook for about five more minutes, stirring occasionally. Finish with salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper and the lemon juice.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Honeyed pear tarte tatin

Tarte tatin is one of my absolute favorites, and as far as desserts go - pretty healthy! Traditionally it's made with apples, but we like it with pears too.

1 prepared pie crust (pâte feuilletée)
4-5 large pears (I use Williams)
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
sprig of rosemary (opt)

Slice each pear into wedges and cut out the core.

In a bowl, melt the honey and butter on lowest microwave setting or in a skillet. Stir in cinnamon. Pour into a ceramic or glass pie pan, spreading evenly to coat bottom. Place rosemary sprig in center.

Place the pear slices on top of the butter and honey mixture. Start in the center and work around in a circular shape.

Roll out pie crust and place gently over the pears. If there is any extra crust, just fold it back so that it just reaches the edge of the pan.

Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Run a knife around pastry to loosen it from pan, and flip tart out onto a serving platter.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Guatamalan baked sweet plantains

I grew up eating plantains as a savory starch, but many cultures like them sweet. This recipe is from Guatamala.

4 very ripe plantains, black and even a little moldy is good!
1 tsp oil
4 Tbsp brown sugar
cinnamon (opt)

Preheat your oven to 450° F. Oil a baking dish.

Cut the ends off of your plantains and peel them. Cut each on the diagnonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer in baking dish and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until the plantains are golden brown and very tender. Careful - they'll be very hot!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Green beans and carrots

3 handfuls fresh (or frozen) green beans, broken into bite-sized pieces
1 handful sliced carrots
1/2 tsp beef bouillon
1/8 tsp rosemary
2 dashes garlic powder
salt and pepper
sprinkle of water

Put all ingredients in a skillet. Cook over medium heat. If needed, add water one spoonful at a time to prevent sticking. We like ours crunchy and brightly colored.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Eggplant parmesan, direct from the Italian sister-in-law

This recipe came from my sister-in-law's grandmother. It's so rich and... wonderful. The marinara sauce is fantastic with fresh chopped tomatoes rather than canned. And fresh basil is a must. Buon appetito!


Peel 2 eggplants and slice thinly.

Beat eggs and milk (quantity depending on how much you are making – but about 2 eggs and 1 cup milk for 2 eggplants). Add a little salt, pepper and garlic powder to egg mixture.

Put a few cups of flour in a bowl. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture and then in flour.

Fry eggplant in hot oil. Brown eggplant on each side and let eggplant sit on paper towels.
Tip: The fried eggplant freezes well. If you are not ready to make parmesan, place eggplant on cookie sheet to freeze (so they don’t stick) and then store in container or plastic bag.
Cover bottom of large pot with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 6 cloves garlic. Brown garlic in oil and add 2 large cans crushed tomato and almost one can of water. Be careful – oil spits! Add a large handful of fresh basil, 1 Tbsp oregano and a little bit of salt and black pepper. Simmer one hour.

Putting it together in a casserole dish:
Layer of sauce on bottom
Layer of eggplant
Thin layer of sauce
Sprinkle oregano
Layer of fresh basil
Thin layer of mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese
Layer of eggplant
Thin layer of sauce and a little bit of oregano and grated parmesan cheese

Bake for approximately 30 minutes in preheated oven at 350°. It's ready when the eggplant browns and some of sauce gets absorbed (but don’t let it to get too dry).

Serve with pasta or, as we did, garlic bread.