Fast & Fabulous French Food at Home

Have you seen this cookbook yet?

A recipe from this book came up on my daily looky-look at foodgawker.com. After perusing a few of her pages, I fell in love with her style and recipes! Ooh la la!  (sorry, but that’s all the french I can come up with on the fly… pretty sad, right?)

– from her website

“Wini Moranville draws on years of traveling to and living in France and serves up a hip, user-friendly volume that brings a wealth of up-to-date French recipes and time-saving techniques seamlessly into the American kitchen. In a voice at once wise and lighthearted, Moranville offers 250 recipes that focus on simple, fresh ingredients prepared well.”

I gotta tell you, there is seriously nothing quite as exciting as finding a new food blog to follow. And I think that makes me a foodie… um, maybe we should make that an obsessed foodie… a.k.a. a  person that might be spending all her time looking at food websites and her salary on food & food related items.  But you know what? I don’t mind being labeled obsessed, because that means I have a hobby and hobbies create contentment. And I am as happy-go-lucky as it gets when I’m doing something “food” related!

So, back to the book…and her easy-peesy French recipes for the modern working woman. (A far cry from some of Dame Julia Child’s difficult recipes)

This is what I’m making tonight with some freshly caught Steelhead (Salmon’s cousin). I just cannot get enough fresh fish these days – some people say they crave a good hunk o’ steak, a BLT, or hamburger.. but me? I crave fish like a mad women who reached in her drawer for a piece of Dark Chocolate and realized there was none left. I need it NOW! Gimme, gimme!

Roasted Salmon with Pernod Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit here.

I’ll keep you in the loop for the final results 🙂

 

 

Cioppino – A Fish-lover’s paradise!

This was the featured dish after a one week labor strike I had with the kitchen.

I had heard that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and after a marathon of cooking & baking since November, I knew the only way I could stay so in love with my kitchen and cooking was to step away. I needed a vacation. A stay-away-from-the-kitchen vacation. A we-are-only-eating-out-or-I-refuse-to-ever-open-a-cupboard-again vacation.

And boy did it work. After a week of instant breakfast (cereal, toast), cheese & crackers (where I don’t even have to slice the cheese), eating take-out or at restaurants, I longed for the taste of something homemade. Something that wasn’t sitting under a heat-lamp to keep warm; something that was made just for my meal, something that wasn’t doused with calories & fat. I craved a meal made from love, with love, and for love. 

Then Christmas morning rolled around and I found that my HoneyBee (Blake, that was my nickname for him waaaaay before your song)  had honored me, our relationship, and our love by giving me a KitchenAid mixer (eeek!!!!!).  Maybe he saw how big of a mess I became when I had to use 3 different electric tools to mix dough; maybe he was scared that my labor strike would be the end of his high-end meals;  or maybe he noticed that this cooking adventure wasn’t just a phase & that I’ve grown from a novice to an experienced cook in a mere 6 months. Whatever the reason, he loves me & my cooking, and wants them both to stay 🙂

With my new toy in the kitchen, the labor strike ended in a flash and my first dish was inspired from a wonderful broth & stew we had for our anniversary dinner in August – Cioppino. After our Dungeness Crab feast on Christmas Eve, I had a few crabs left that needed to be eaten pronto. After searching for an authentic San Francisco version with Dungeness Crab, I ended up combing two recipes that formed into one spectacular dish.

Why do I call it spectacular, you ask? Because Mr. Honeybee told me so! He was so excited that he told me it was the best dish I ever made! EVER!! I was blushing at the table, let me tell ya!   The broth turned out to be the most amazing broth I’ve ever had, most likely due to letting it develop for 3 hours before adding in the fish and serving. I highly recommend making this dish if you are a fish lover, love a good soup for a couple of nights, and don’t mind starting the broth ahead of time.

Cioppino

  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1  onions, chopped
  • 2  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1  (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1  (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 cooked Dungeness crabs, about 2 pounds each
  • 3/4 lb. Manila clams, scrubbed (or 1 dozen Littleneck clams)
  • 1 lb. firm, white-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut, (I used Steelhead; you can use salmon too), skinned and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used frozen shrimp)
  • 1 lb. mussels, scrubbed
  • 3/4 pound sea scallops, halved vertically if large

Directions

Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large stockpot, add onions, garlic, peppers and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderately high heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute longer. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juices and cook over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the clam broth, chicken broth, water and spices; season lightly with salt and generously with pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower temp and simmer over low-moderate heat until the broth is reduced and developed, about 40 minutes to 3 hours. The more time it has the better the broth will taste.

Meanwhile, shell the crab if whole and remove the meat. Add the crabs and clams to the pot. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the clams begin to open, about 5 minutes.  Add the fish, shrimp, mussels and scallops to the pot, pushing them into the broth.

Stir occasionally until the clams and mussels are fully open and the fish, shrimp and scallops are cooked through, about 8 minutes longer.

Ladle the cioppino into deep bowls and serve with some crusty French bread for dipping in the broth. If you have leftovers, be sure to remove the clam & mussel shells from the stew prior to storing in the refrigerator.

Be prepared to be amazed!

Braised Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and German Potatoes

It’s time to celebrate my German heritage!

(This is the best photo I could find)

Braised Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and German Potatoes

  • 4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds bockwurst or bratwurst (veal or veal and pork)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, about 1 pound
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 to 3 ribs celery
  • 1 medium-large red onion
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and quartered lengthwise, core trimmed away
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick) or, coarse salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 4 slices center cut bacon
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup white wine or white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 rounded teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 generous handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Hard cider, or white Belgian ale with orange wedge, for serving with the dinner

Directions

Halve larger potatoes and leave small potatoes as is, cover with water, bring to a boil, season with salt and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place sausages in a cast iron skillet, add 1/2-inch of water and a drizzle of oil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let the sausages heat through as the water evaporates. Shake pan and let the casings crisp up until they burst, 3 to 4 minutes, and are golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

While sausages and potatoes cook, cut cabbage half into half again and trim away the core with an angled cut. Shred the cabbage very thinly with your knife and reserve. Place the shredder blade in your food processor. Peel the carrots and trim the root end. Trim the celery, and peel and quarter the red onion lengthwise. Peel the apple and quarter lengthwise then cut away the core as you did the cabbage. Using the processor, shred the carrots, celery, onion and apple, through the feed tube, removing from bowl as necessary.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Season the mixture with bay leaf, grill seasoning or coarse salt and pepper, and caraway seeds. Saute 7 to 8 minutes, tossing frequently.

While cabbage cooks, put a medium skillet on the stove with a drizzle of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon and render 2 to 3 minutes then stir in the yellow onion and cook for 5 minutes with the bacon to soften.

Add apple cider vinegar to cabbage mixture and reduce for 30 seconds. Stir in the mustard and turn off the heat. Discard the bay leaf.

When potatoes are cooked, drain and add to bacon and onion. Douse the pan with vinegar and sprinkle with sugar. Pour stock evenly over pan, add the parsley and some pepper and turn off the heat. Stir the potatoes 1 minute to form a starchy sauce and combine flavors.

Halve crispy sausages and serve on generous bed of cabbage, with the potatoes alongside.

Serve with hard cider or white Belgian ale with orange wedge.

Recipe from here.

Goodbye 2011……and Hello 2012!!!

Every year I always strive to do more than I think I could ever accomplish. I may not check off all that I would like to on my list, but that means my life has some spontaneous adventures occurring!

During the past 363 days I had a handful of standout moments: I received a second college degree, started going to the gym 2x/week (kicking & screaming at times), endured a 6 week Pilates boot-camp (where I got home and collapsed on the couch until morning), ran my first 10k race (listening to country music!), started riding horses again (by far the best part of my week), patiently worked for a job offer (what a time to be looking for a job!), taught myself how to cook (hence all the working out…), and started this food blog (thanks to Mom for the idea!).

With the end of the year fast approaching, I’m doing my best to finish out an amazing year strong. In May I was in Boston graduating, I ran the 10k 4 minutes under my goal of 1 hour 20 minutes in June, November saw me doing a posting trot without much soreness, I found my ab muscles right before Thanksgiving (I don’t know where they’ve gone since then), December brought me a job offer, and this week I brought my cooking to the next level.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be walking away from 2011 and into the future of 2012 with all of these personal and professional accomplishments…. I am just oozing with excitement for what I can build upon this sturdy foundation here in Oregon.

How about you?

French Macarons with a Strawberry, Balsamic and White Chocolate filling

I’ve been mentally preparing to make these classic treats for a couple of months. Between finding a recipe that doesn’t require a digital scale, directions translated into English, and of course, a yummy collection of flavors – I finally found one I believed in.

Before I dove into making a batch of 20 sandwiches from Heaven, I did a trial run. Let’s just say those 10 were eaten and enjoyed! I even recieved a handwritten Thank You card from the recipient!

Last week I ran through the recipe one more time, got all the special ingredients, and said a silent prayer to the Kitchen Gods.

An hour goes by….

two batches are done……

the creme filling is made and applied…..and……

Weeeee! They turned out great! (As compared to a high-end bakery version, I would say the cookie on mine was slightly chewier than the bakery’s).

French Macarons with a Strawberry, Balsamic and White Chocolate filling

Gingerbread House

This is a healthier version that doesn’t leave us with leftover bags of candy and junk cereal to eat!

I used dried fruity, crackers, chopped pecans, pretzel sticks, animal crackers, and chocolate covered sunflower seeds. The house we made from scratch and unsweetened coconut is our “snow”!

A Baker’s Dozen of Holiday Treats

Do you get inspired during the holiday’s to make cookies and treats? If so, then you came to the right place!

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been a busy-bee buzzing between the baking aisle & bakery at the local grocery store, getting inspiration for my annual holiday baking. If only I had a Kitchen Aid Mixer and an endless amount of time to make them all!  Here’s just a tease of all that I’m dying to make this year:

Peppermint Patties

Cinnamon Sticks 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

Lemon Almond Biscotti

Peppermint Bark

Chocolate Expresso Snowcaps

Gingerbread Snowflakes

Snickerdoodles

Scrumptious Chocolate Mint Layer Bars

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Italian Pignoli Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Molasses Drops

I’ve made my choice of recipes and am off to the kitchen. I’ll be sure to post the final winners! Happy Baking!