Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet-n-sour sea bream

2 sea bream filets
1 tsp flour
2 tsp butter
2 yellow peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, sliced into 8-12 wedges
1 can pineapple chunks or rings, with juice
oil for frying
hot white rice

Sweet and sour sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice from can
1/4 cup ketchup

First, make the make sweet and sour sauce. In a large frying pan, mix vinegar, sugar, salt, orange juice, pineapple juice and ketchup. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until it has evaporated to the consistency of maple syrup. Add pineapple chunks to the sauce and set aside.

Heat a dash oil in a large frying pan. Stir fry peppers and onions for three minutes. Add to sweet and sour sauce and keep warm.

Pat fish dry. Sprinkle with 1 tsp flour. Melt 2 tsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fish to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn fish over. Cook 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Serve the fish over hot white rice, with sweet and sour sauce pour over the top.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lakh - millet & soured milk

My husband used to make lahk every night in Senegal. I like to think of it as the Senegalese answer to Swiss muesli (oats, dried fruit and yogurt). Swap out the oats for millet and the yogurt for soured milk.

1 liter lait caillé (soured milk)
fresh coconut, chopped
handful golden raisins
1 apple, peach or mango chopped
2 bananas, chopped
1 packet vanilla flavored sugar
a few drops of fleur d'oranger flavoring (called orange blossom water in English)
2-3 cups cooked millet, warm or cooled
sugar to taste

Mix. Eat. Simple enough, right?

Lait caillé, available in French and Middle Eastern grocery stores

Yum, yum!

Authentic Senegalese millet!

Cooked millet, ready to be stirred in

Fresh coconut

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grandpa Masson's pickled green tomatoes

Grandpa Masson is not my grandfather, but my husband's. I never had the chance to meet him, but this weekend I decided to tackle pickling green tomatoes in the way I'd been told that he used to. Based on the description, he would pickle green tomatoes with dill, garlic, hot peppers and some sort of pickling brine. So that's what I set out to do (minus the hot peppers). Having never tasted his pickles, I don't know if these are an accurate reproduction - but we sure liked them!

10 very green tomatoes (enough to fill a large jar)
5-10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp pickling salt (I used kosher I had on hand)
10 sprigs fresh dill

Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters. Cram them into a sterilized jar, along with the garlic cloves and dill sprigs.

In a saucepan, heat the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Pour slowly into the jar, leaving 1/2 inch at the top. Screw the sterilized lid on tightly. (Watch out - glass will be HOT.) Carefully flip the jar upside down until cooled. Flip back over and store in fridge.

Taste after a week. If not 'dill-ed' enough, wait another week or two. (We tried ours after four days. They were delicious! But we both agreed they'd be even better in a week or so.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lavash tostadas

This was the result of an attempt to clean out the fridge. I used lavash Armenian flatbread instead of tortillas - and we actually liked it better! (You can buy lavash at Bahadourian in Lyon.)

lavash bread, heated in a cast iron skillet until soft and browned
chicken breasts, sautéed and cut into bite-sized pieces
yellow squash, sautéed and cut into bite-sized pieces
refried beans (kidney beans, puréed and mixed with taco seasoning and a bit of lemon)
shredded Gouda or Colby Cheese
avocado, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
onions, chopped
crème fraîche or sour cream
cilantro, snipped
lime wedges

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chex mix, à la française

As the holidays approach, my cravings for American treats grows. I really wanted to make Chex snack mix the other day, but we can't buy Chex here. So I called my parents, experienced in these matters, compiled a modified shopping list from a recipe online, and went to Monoprix (corner grocery store).

If you live in France, these are the items you might buy at Monoprix for this recipe

While I wouldn't say that it came out just like Chex Mix back home, it was pretty darn good.

So here's the recipe!

Chex Mix à la francaise

1 small bag pretzel sticks, broken in half
1 bag frites croustillantes (fried potato sticks)
1 bag soufflés tomates et ail (puffs flavored with tomato and garlic)
1 sleeve biscottes (melba toast) broken into bite-sized pieces
2-3 cups salted peanuts
4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder (opt)
1/2 tsp Creole seasoning (opt)

Heat oven to 250°F. Pour Melt butter over low heat. Stir in all seasonings. Pour the contents of the bags and the peanuts into a (new!) garbage bag. Pour the butter mixture into the garbage bag. Shake gently until well mixed and coated. Pour into ungreased 13x9-inch pan.

Bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pizza bianca with spinach

1 batch favorite pizza crust
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese or fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup crumbled mozzarella
3/4 cups frozen spinach, drained
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
3-4 Paris or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Roll the dough out onto a baking sheet or pizza stone. Mix together the garlic and ricotta, then spread over the crust, going almost to the edges. (If the ricotta is too thick, stir in a little milk to thin it.) Top with veggies and then crumbled cheese.

Bake in preheated oven at 400° for 25 minutes or unitil crust is just browned. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baked HOT wings

I am so, so, so happy. That's happy three times over: 1) hot wings for the first time in 7 years, 2) baked, not fried, 3) they are HOT. I miss spicy food, and I had really missed wings. These are quick and easy, and they go great with Cheryl's blue cheese dressing

3 Tbsp butter, melted
5 Tbsp hot sauce (I found some at Bahadourian in Lyon)
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or more!)

Clean chicken wings to make sure there are no stray feathers. Cut wings into portions through the joints, discarding wingtips.

Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, then pour into a large ziploc bag. Add wings and coat in mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.

Cover a baking dish with aluminium foil. Spread wings over the foil, brush liberally with marinade. Roast for 30-35 minutes in 400° oven until golden brown. Turn the wings half way through the baking, basting again with marinade.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple tarte tatin

This is a traditional French recipe for an upside-down apple tarte that I've adapted. It's great for fall!

1 prepared pie crust (pâte feuilletée)
3-5 large apples (I love Melrose - state apple of Ohio)
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Slice each apples into 16 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 the apple 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 apples. 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.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eggplant and zucchini lasagne

This could have been called 'cleaning out the fridge', but I thought 'Eggplant and zucchini lasagne' sounded better. Instead of lasagne noodles, it uses thinly sliced vegetables. It was very rich and delicious - definitely worth a remake!

1 eggplant
1 zucchini
3 Tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup crème fraîche (sour cream)
1 round fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil

Cut the ends off the eggplant and zucchini. Slice them thinly into 1/4 inch slices. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat. Cook the eggplant for 2 minutes on each side, then the zucchini. Set cooked slices aside on a plate.

In a bowl, mix together crème fraîche, goat cheese, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt.

In another bowl, mix pesto and tomato paste. Thin with 3 Tbsp water.

In a baking dish, place a layer off eggplant on the bottom. Spread a spoonful of cheese mixture on top. Next layer the zucchini. Spread a thin layer of pesto mixture on top. Repeat layers, ending with cheese mixture.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buttermilk waffles

Reminder to me: The first waffle will always be a mess. Don't give up!

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 cups buttermilk
Pam spray

Preheat waffle iron.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl beat together eggs and melted butter, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve while warm.

Personal topping preference: powdered sugar and fresh fruit!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dark chocolate cookies with walnuts

These cookies are going to be amazing for watching my weight. Seriously. They're not low-fat or low-sugar, but they are HIGH in chocolate flavor. Perfect for quenching chocolate cravings because they are deep, deep chocolate. Not in a rich, cloying way, but in a very satisfying way. Normally I can eat (insert high number here) cookies in a sitting, but I ate two of these and my craving was perfectly satisfied.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

Cream the butter. Add the sugar, then cream for two minutes. Mix in the egg. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture, then stir in the walnuts.

Spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet. Space the cookies abour 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until golden and browned on the edges.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baked aloco with spicy fish sauce

Aloco is a traditional recipe from Côte d'Ivoire, where I grew up. It's traditionally deep-fried, but we wanted a baked version... so we can justify eating piles of it! For a lunch or snack, you can make it with the spicy fish sauce.

several very ripe plantain bananas (mostly black, and don't be afraid of a few moldy spots)
one onion, chopped
three tomatoes, chopped
one chile pepper, cleaned and chopped, OR Scotch Bonnet hot sauce
1/2 tsp bouillon
3-4 canned sardines, bones 'n all

Cut the ends off the plantains. Make a cut down the length of the plantain and pull off the peel. (This is much easier than if you peeled it like a banana.) Cut the plantains in half lengthwise. Cut again into 1/4 spears.

Place plaintain slices on a large plate and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp water. Cover with another plate. Microwave on high for 10 minutes,adding water as needed so they don't fry out. When they are soft and bright yellow, place them in an oil baking dish. Brush lightly with oil.

Bake in preheated oven at 425° for 15 minutes, then broil until browned.

Don't worry about getting each one evenly browned. The best aloco (in my opinion) is a piece that's dark brown and caramelized on one side and soft and deep yellow on the other.

The sauce

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a frying pan. Cook the onions until soft and beginning to brown. Add tomatoes, bouillon, fish and hot pepper - lots of it! Cook on high, stirring often, until 1/3 of liquid evaporates. Serve alongside the aloco.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Roasted beet & yogurt salad

This recipe actually came off the packaging of some roasted beets I bought recently. Unbelievably tasty - and fast!

1 roasted beet, chopped
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp cumin
freshly ground black pepper

The recipe suggested mixing it all together and marinating for an hour before serving with pita bread. I didn't follow any of those suggestions.

I chopped the beets, added the yogurt, then sprinkled on the pepper and cumin. The idea of gloppy pink mess in a bowl didn't appeal to me at all. And I didn't see the need for pita bread - just a spoon!

All gone!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Pumpkin tart

This is not pumpkin pie, the traditional dessert. It's better: pumpkin tart with lots of warm spices and just enough sugar to sweeten it lightly. We eat it for breakfast or as a snack.

3-4 cups pumpkin purée (I use courge muscade)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup light cream (15%)
prepared unbaked pie crust

Stir the sugar and spices into the purée. Mix in the eggs and cream. Roll pie crust out into a pan. Pour in the pumpkin mix. Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until crust browns and the center of the tart doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan.

Cool before serving.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Marinated honey wings

We are now huge fans of this tasty recipe that can be prepared the day before.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp lemon juice

Clean chicken wings to make sure there are no stray feathers. Cut wings into portions through the joints, discarding wingtips.

Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, then pour into a large ziploc bag. Add wings and coat in mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.

Cover a baking dish with aluminium foil. Spread wings over the foil, brush liberally with marinade. Roast for 30-35 minutes in 400° oven until golden brown. Turn the wings half way through the baking, basting again with marinade.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Spinach, goat cheese and walnut quiche

1 pie crust (pâte feuilletée)
5-6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced, cooked and cooled
1 round fresh goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
toasted walnuts

Roll the crust out in a pie pan. Sprinkle the goat cheese evenly on the bottom, then top with spinach.

Beat the eggs, then stir in milk, salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach. Pour into the pie pan over the cheese and squash. Sprinkle walnuts on top.

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

Friday, October 02, 2009

Yellow squash

4-5 slender yellow squash with firm ends, halved and sliced
1/4 small onion, thinly sliced into rings
1/2 tsp butter
freshly grated pepper
salt to taste

Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and squash, stirring to coat lightly. Cover and cook until bright yellow and just barely soft. You may need to add a little water (1-2 tsps) if it starts to stick. Stir every few minutes to cook evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.