June 24th, 2014
January 29th, 2014
This is familiar territory for me; a cast iron skillet, warm lighting for the shoot (forget that natural light when it is late evening), decadent potatoes with a history from Julia Child and a heady scent in the air. I made this as a side dish for the steak that David was cooking on the grill. Each time that he returned to the house from the deck, he said “Man, it smells good in here”. Sometimes tried and true recipes are all you need. And I was tired of baked potatoes with my steak.
Cooking the potatoes in an iron skillet seemed rustic and smart. Cast iron holds the heat so well. Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois, or scalloped potatoes to us, has stood the test of time and is still one of my favorite scalloped potatoes recipes. I did make some changes to the recipe. I used russet potatoes instead of boiling potatoes and I used Gruyere cheese instead of Swiss. I also added fresh thyme to the casserole. My thyme plant is thriving this year.
Steak, decadent potatoes and a cool crisp salad. What a wonderful dinner.
JULIA CHILD’S SCALLOPED POTATOES (GRATIN DAUPHINOIS)
2 pounds russet potatoes
A fireproof baking dish about
10-inches in diameter and
1/2 clove garlic
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup boiling milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick. Place in a basin of cold water. Drain when ready to use.
Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic. Smear the inside of the dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel. Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish. Divide over them half the salt, pepper, thyme, cheese, and butter. Arrange the remaining potatoes over the first layer, and season them with salt, pepper and thyme. Spread on the rest of the cheese and divide the butter over it. Pour on the boiling milk. Set baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top is nicely browned.
January 25th, 2014
This is actually part 2 of my previous post. On the same evening that I made the Pork Tenderloin with Grapes, I made this Potato Cake with Garlic and Parsley. They are both recipes from Mimi Thorisson on her blog Manger. If I had been in my Lake Lure Kitchen this potato cake would have looked better. It is because I have the perfect mold for it there. View the following video to watch Mimi’s husband Oddur making this dish along with a steak and you will see what I mean. Here is the link. What I really needed to mold the potato cake was my Charlotte Mold. I have had my tin-lined charlotte mold for many years and it comes in handy for many purposes. Here is a link to one of my favorite desserts using it.
But if you don’t have a charlotte mold, you can do as I did here in Florida and use a 2 quart round oven proof casserole. I sprayed mine with olive oil spray.
This potato cake was excellent. I used the duck fat that I bought in France last year in which to fry it. The duck fat has been in my freezer just waiting for the right application. There is nothing better than potatoes cooked in duck fat. Here is a source if you would like to order it. But you could also cook the potatoes in a mixture of butter and olive oil. It was an added bonus to be able to saute the potatoes ahead of time and put them into the mold to be finished in the oven at our convenience. The potato cake is just right for 4 people. Just cut into pie shaped wedges and serve. The cooked garlic and parsley on top are the finishing touch and make for a beautiful presentation. Your friends will love you. And for all of you guys out there, Oddur Thorisson’s video on a perfect date night dinner would be a perfect recipe for a Valentine’s day dinner.
POTATO CAKE WITH GARLIC AND PARSLEY
5 large potatoes
6 garlic cloves (sliced fine)
2 handfuls of chopped parsley
1 tbsp butter
8-10 tbsp duck fat
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Start frying on a medium heat the sliced potatoes with one tbsp butter for 8 minutes. Pour 8 tbps (or more if you wish and according to your taste) of the duck fat onto the potatoes and continue frying till cooked and golden. You’d be surprised at how fast it cooks with duck fat. Flip potatoes constantly. Add salt. By 20-25 minutes they should be cooked. Put potatoes in a small cake mold and press gently with a potato masher or a large spoon so the potatoes take a good shape. You don’t want to mash the potatoes, just press them. Place in the oven for 5-8 minutes. While in the oven, fry the garlic in the potato pan until it is just browned.
Take the potato cake out of the oven, remove from mold and place on a serving plate. Put the chopped parsley and fried garlic on top. Serve immediately.
January 22nd, 2014
There are so many fascinating websites out there in the ether right now. I can remember when blogging was a small fraternity or sorority of likeminded people. Now bloggers are everywhere. I am always discovering new sites. One site that, to me, is very interesting comes from a French woman named Mimi Thorisson. Her blog is called Manger, as in the French word meaning “to eat”.
Mimi is a stunningly beautiful woman of French and Chinese heritage. She lives with her husband (who is a photographer), her children and at least 14 dogs in a charming home in the Medoc region of France. With a background in writing for publications and extensive traveling all over the world, she brings a knowing eye and mind to her food blog. Her husband Oddur Thorisson”s photographs are works of art and her recipes are impeccable. I have enjoyed getting lost in her world.
Mimi made this dish with chasselas grapes. These are wine grapes, although they are suitable as table grapes as well. Since chasselas grapes are native to France, I just substituted regular seedless grapes that are readily available here. The pork tenderloin is sliced into 1″ pieces and cooked with shallots, wine and the grapes. This was a quick and easy dish to pull together. We loved it. Mimi has been featured in Bon Appetit magazine and has a cookbook coming out in September 2014.
PORK TENDERLOIN WITH GRAPES (Adapted from Manger by Mimi Thorisson)
1 Pork Tenderloin, sliced into 10 to 12 1-inch pieces
1 cup each red and green grapes
2/3 cup white wine plus 2 tablespoons for the end
3 shallots, sliced finely
1/8 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Unsalted butter for frying
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Slice shallots finely and fry in 1 tablespoon butter for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Add wine and lower heat – reduce until nearly totally absorbed.
Add the grapes to the pan with a little knob of butter and cook for 2 minutes until glossy. Set aside.
In another pan, heat olive oil, and 1 tablespoon butter and fry the pork pieces for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Remove filets from pan, add chicken stock and scrape to deglaze pan. Add the 2 extra tablespoons of white wine and 1/2 tablespoon butter. Reduce for 2 minutes on high heat. Return meat to pan, lower heat and add the shallot and grape mixture. Cook for a few minutes to reheat and meld the flavors. Serves 2 to 4.
August 13th, 2013
In the throes of winter, in my mind, I am enjoying a nostalgic trip back to our summer in France last year. Our French friends Carole and Laurent (2nd and 3rd from left) graciously welcomed David, me, and our friends Tulin (center)and Dave (on right), into their home in Tours. We had many fine meals with them. Carole is a wonderful cook. Her magret of duck cooked in peaches is sublime, as is her fois gras and ratatouille. But I have been thinking most about her stuffed vegetables.
The stuffed tomatoes and peppers turned out to be a collaboration between Carole and Tulin; a little bit French from Carole and a little bit Turkish from Tulin, who is originally from Istanbul. I wish that I had paid more attention to the ingredients that they used. I was a bit jet-lagged at the time. All I know is that every bite of the casserole was eaten with relish.
When I attempted to duplicate this dish, I used peppers and zucchini because they are readily available this time of year. I avoid tomatoes in winter. My inspiration was a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. Now we have an Italian spin. But I guess the point is that many cultures have recipes for stuffed vegetables. Whatever the cuisine, there is great flavor in stuffed vegetables. And I was able to taste again, the wonderful food that we shared last summer.
I am calling these stuffed vegetables “Provencal” because of the bright colors, the use of olive oil, garlic and herbs, and because visiting sunny Provence was one of the highlights of our trip. Bring a little Provencal sunshine to your table as well.
STUFFED VEGETABLES PROVENCAL
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, grated
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 1/4 cup dried plain bread crumbs
- 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
- 2 zucchini, ends removed, halved lengthwise and crosswise
- 1 orange bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 green bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly drizzle the olive oil into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.Whisk the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the turkey. Cover and refrigerate the turkey mixture.
Using a melon baller or spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh from the zucchini, leaving 1/8-inch-thick shells. Be careful not to pierce through the skin. Fill the zucchini and pepper halves with the turkey mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange the stuffed vegetables in the baking dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.
Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 degrees F, about 45 minutes. Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a platter and serve.Printable recipe
Okay, you all amused me with your guesses as to what I was looking at in the previous post picture. No one got it right. I was staring at the Eiffel Tower. It always grabs my mind and heart with its beauty. We spent the last four days of our June France trip in Paris. Four days were not enough to take in all that we wished to do there. So we tried to concentrate on small pieces of Paris. There is nothing more romantic than walking along the Seine at night with the glowing silhouette of the Eiffel tower to light the way.
One of the things that we had never done before was actually take the elevator to the top of the tower. Somehow on our last trip I wanted to spend more time in the cafes, bistros, market streets and small haunts in the Latin Quarter. This time we played the tourists more. We got up early the morning after our night on the town and took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower stop. Even though it was hard to stand in line for an hour and a half, we persevered. It was well worth it.
The view from the first platform was amazing. Looking East one can see the Seine winding its way toward the Ile de la Cite. In the far distance the white beauty of the Sacre-Coeur is visible on its hilltop.
Looking North one can see the Arc de Triomphe and the grand boulevard, Champs-Elysees.
The bridges of the Seine are unique characteristics of Paris. Each bridge has its own personality. Viewing them from the top of the Eiffel Tower is a stunning sight.
Gustave Eiffel was an architect and a structural engineer. He took over the design of the Statue of Liberty, which France gave to the United States, after the original architect died. Because of this fame he was chosen to build a structure for the World Exposition held in France in 1889. The fair also commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the French Revolution. The iron structure that he designed took over two years to complete and employed over 200 men. There were misgivings about the design from the very beginning and Eiffel ended up financing 80 percent of the cost. As it turned out he recouped his money in 5 months from the sale of tickets and he continued to profit for the next 20 years as per the agreement with Paris officials. It was meant to be a temporary structure which suited many Parisians, as they thought it to be a vulgar sight. But in 1909 when it was to be torn down, it was discovered to be a perfect tower for radio transmissions. The tower would go on to serve an important part in communications during the First World War.
Gustav Eiffel had an office on the top platform of the tower where he entertained guests such as Thomas Edison. The above picture shows wax figures of Eiffel and Edison in conversation.
David took the above picture from the top platform with his zoom lens. Sacre Coeur is eerily beautiful.
On the elevator coming down we marveled at the iron struts and rivets that held the whole structure together. We were glad that we had taken the time to get a close up view of one of my favorite landmarks.
I have just finished reading Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. I highly recommend this historical fiction work that gives the history of Paris from the Middle Ages through the Second World War. It was a fascinating read and the section on the building of the Eiffel Tower was especially interesting.