Friday, November 30, 2007

Soup season: cream split peas and bacon soup

Note: For the French version it's here on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth.

God it's cold outside! Ok I must admit I might be a little chilly and I turn into an ice-cube very easily. Let face it: even here in Antibes under the palm trees I think it's freezing outside ... and I'm going to New-York and Quebec for the Holidays ... crazy me!
If you're like me: freezing, a little home made cream soup will warm you up, I promise and with not a lot of work!
After the cream Hakkaido squash soup featured here, let me introduce: the cream split peas and bacon soup ("velouté de pois-cassés et lardons" ). I had the idea to add bacon to the split peas after having a frozen chickpeas soup from "Mister Picard" (if you live in France you know who is Mister Picard: the king of frozen food, it's a store chain, expensive but meal saver).

- 2 cups and a half of split peas (around 250g)
- 4 carrots
- 4 slices of bacon (150g of "lardons")
- 1 cup (around 20cl) of dairy cream
- 30 seeds of coriander
- ginger

1- Cook the split peas according to the instructions.
2- Peel and cut the carrots.
3- Cook the bacon.
4- Scoop out the mix carrots and slip peas then add the cream, the ginger and the seeds and coriander to the food processor.

You can add to your bowl a drop of chestnut oil and croutons.

Other soups recipes:
- Jerusalem artichoke soup
- soup at Tiffany
- cream hokkaido squash soup

Note: For the French version it's here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

[Daring bakers] Tender potato bread

I'm so happy to post today! I'm now a "Daring bakers" member, I'm so proud!
Today all the Daring Bakers members are posting the same recipe, we all prepared, baked in secret. So today on the menu we have: Tender Potato Bread! Let's celebrate because: it's my first home-made bread ever and it looks like a bread from the bakery (I'm even more proud: I did not use any help: human or machine).

Here my Bread (and Oh my God it's soooooooo yummmy!):

The recipe (is from Tana):
4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
4 cups water (keep the potato's cooking water) (950ml)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (16g )
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (1kg)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (25g)
1 cup whole wheat flour (150g)

1-Mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes.
Then mix in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix. Allow to rest several minutes.

2-Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.

3-Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.
Note: At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.

4-Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft.

5-Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

6-Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

You can shape your bread into a large loaf, rolls or focaccia!

Oven: preheat to 450°F/230°C
Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes.
Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes.
Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes.

Note: For the French version it's here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Restaurant review "La taille de guêpe", Antibes

NOTE: the French version is here on my other food blog

Let's eat flowers!
For all of you who wants to have a tasty lunch while keeping control of calories, here's a good spot here in Antibes, on the French Riviera.

I went on a mission with my 2 lunch-girlfriends (as you may know, I am working from home and my husband lives in New-York, as a matter of fact I don't see a lot of real people during the day and I'm really in need to go out for lunch/coffee/diner) : we tested this restaurant for you!

Food is tasty, plates are colorful and it's not your typical lunch place. You'll find the famous flower salad and a lot of sprouts or quinoa on its menu.

The retaurant is located in the old village of Antibes in a very cute and quite boho street (walking distance from my place :-) ).
Restaurant La taille de guêpe, 24 rue de Fersen, 06600 Antibes (more details below)

For lunch expect to pay around 15 euros (pretty decent price for Cote d'Azur standards).
For such a long time I wanted to test and taste flowers, I've been seen a lot of flowers on farmers markets in California or some food blogs. Now I can say that I did it, Yes!

With Isa and Sandrine (my lunch buddies) we had:

- flower salad (salade de fleurs): a mix of mesclun , sprouts and flowers with walnut oil. It's like still-dead art on a plate: colorful and well presented (sorry guys but I took those pictures with my cell phone and the quality -is it allowed to say quality in this matter?- is crappy)

-then 2 of us had white fish (poisson) and the other one chicken breast. They were served with brown rice, sprouts, veggies and flowers.

-and for dessert: a lovely lavender chocolate cream (DELICIOUSLY CHOCOLATE).

If you're visiting Antibes you have to try this spot!

NOTE: the French version is here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Controversy in the cookbook aisle!

I am reading and watching, as much as I can, American newspapers and TV shows. And around a great idea: having American kids eat healthier and fighting against children obesity, a great controversy arose. Two women, who didn’t know each other existence before all that controversial media attention:
- on one side Jessica Seinfeld, well connected, the wife of you-know-who
- and the other side Missy Chase Lapine a former publisher and founder of BabySpa
There is a lot of similarity in their books and recipes and one can easily questioned why those 2 books got on bookstores shelves at the same time ... Honestly I don't have the answer on who copied on whom or if it's only one of those celestial coincidence!
I did talked about Jessica Seinfeld book: Deceptively delicious in a previous post, so I though it would be fair to talk as well about Missy Chase Lapine book: The Sneaky Chef.

If you want to make your own idea about the controversy you can read this article in the New-York times or watch here the Today Show.

After all for years mums were pretty inventive to get their little monsters -euh picture-perfect kids :-)- to eat veggies. Those 2 women are not the Einstein inventors of the purée method, but we can give them the credit for talking about really simple easy to apply at home methods to have healthier meals.
I just have to say: You go girls!

Here one recipe from The Sneaky Chef book (I gave one from Deceptively Delicious in my previous post)

Sneaky Chef masterful mac 'n' cheese

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

Make-Ahead Recipe No. 4: White Puree

2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and rough-chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary

Make-Ahead Recipe No. 2: Orange Puree

1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and rough-chopped
3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
2-3 tablespoons water


1/2 pound macaroni (preferably whole-wheat blend)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup White Puree (See Make-Ahead Recipe No. 4)
1/4 cup Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe No. 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated Colby or Cheddar cheese
Optional extra boost: 2 large eggs


Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe No. 2 — Orange Puree: In a medium pot, cover carrots and potatoes with cold water and boil for about 20 minutes until yams, and especially carrots, are very tender. If the carrots aren’t thoroughly cooked, they’ll leave telltale little nuggets of vegetable, which will reveal their presence (a gigantic no-no for the sneaky chef).

Drain the potatoes and carrots and put them in the food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth; no pieces of carrots or potatoes should remain. Stop occasionally to push the contents from the top to the bottom. If necessary, use the third tablespoon of water to make a smooth puree, but the less water the better.

This makes about 2 cups of puree. Double the recipe if you want to store another cup of puree. Store in refrigerator up to three days, or freeze 1/4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe No. 4 — White Puree: Steam cauliflower in a vegetable steamer over 2 inches of water, using a tightly covered pot, for about 10 to 12 minutes until very tender. Alternatively, place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes until very tender.

While waiting for the cauliflower to finish steaming, start to pulse the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice only (no water at this point). Drain the cooked cauliflower. Working in batches if necessary, add it to the pulsed zucchini in the bowl of the food processor with one tablespoon of water. Puree on high until smooth. Stop occasionally and push contents from the top to the bottom. If necessary, use the second tablespoon of water to make a smooth (but not wet) puree.

Makes about 2 cups of puree. Double recipe if you want to store even more, which can be done in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze 1/4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

For macaroni: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-square baking pan.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, until firm and slightly undercooked. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the milk with the White Puree and salt. (If using eggs, whisk them in with the milk mixture.) Put half of the macaroni into the baking pan and top with half the Cheddar (or Colby) cheese. Next, layer with the rest of the macaroni, and then pour the milk mixture over the top, finishing with the last of the cheese on top.

Friday, November 9, 2007

New discovery at the farmers market: chayote

Note: for the French version it's here!

On Saturday I was strolling down the farmers market, market installed just down my building. I must say that it' s pretty convenient, but really noisy and not good for sleeping late. I was daydreaming when a weird flashy-green thing came across. I immediately came back from my dream and ask the old farmer what that green stuff was. He simply and nicely replied to me "It's a chayote and it’s very yummy sautéed". I wouldn’t have lost my savings buying the greeny stuff - for one the old guy was asking for 75 cents (of euros but still not expensive).
So I tried my luck and bought one. The old farmer gave on more advice (just like in a movie) " to peel it effortlessly cut it into quarters and then peel it".

So I was back at home with my usual basket loaded with organic tomatoes, rucola, zucchini and one chayote. In front of the chayote with a knife in one hand I was thinking "à quelle sauce" (just meaning: how) I would eat it. I prepared it with eggplants, bell peppers and extra virgin oil (e.v.o.o as on TV star would say) and Provence herbs.
Review: When I cut it it was firm and crunchy and watery, and for the taste: well not really pronounced.

Apparently in La Réunion they prepare chayote it in cakes. I would try again for sure but into a cake preparation.

Note: for the French version it's here!
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