Thursday, February 27, 2014

Traditional French Leek and Potato Soup for Two

ROOTS & RACINES

Bouillabaisse is only good because cooked by the French, who, if they cared to try, could produce an excellent and nutritious substitute out of cigar stumps and empty matchboxes. 
- Norman Douglas, British novelist (1868-1952) 


I have always considered my mother-in-law a typical French ménagère, housewife, mother, woman of the house. She worked fulltime alongside her husband in their corner mom-and-pop shop, she raised four children, seeing to their needs daily, and had a hot meal on the table every day at noon and a light repast on the table at the end of each very long working day. I have always considered my mother-in-law's cooking typical and illustrative of French cooking, her dishes emblematic of French cuisine. And my husband picked up where she left off, her traditions continued and sustained in our own kitchen.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fish Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Olives, Grapefruit and Saffron

Rainy Winter Weather, Rubber Boots and Tagine

Like the rain I have fallen for you and I know just why you liked the rain. 
Always calling for you I'm falling for you now, just like the rain. 
- Clint Black


The week has been spent searching for boots. Not just any boots; no, that would be too easy. We have been looking high and low for two pairs of rubber boots, our own rubber boots that have mysteriously disappeared from our home.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

So You Really Think You Know French Cuisine?

HANGING OUT AND TALKING FOOD

Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men. 
Marcel Rouff (1887-1936), French journalist and writer 


My first taste – so to speak – of French food was in a Florida high school Home Ec room watching Miss Moore make pains au chocolat from ready-made pop n' fresh dough and Hershey's bars and I thought it was the most elegant, exciting and exotic thing I had ever had. Over the next several years, I experienced French cuisine on the periphery, through the eyes of an American who saw something that was too fancy, too expensive to be within my reach. French cuisine was synonymous with Haute Cuisine and well out of either my price range or my cooking abilities.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rgaïf – A Flatbread for Bread Baking Babes

STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. 
Cecil Beaton 


Curiosity often goes hand in hand with fear. Curiosity, inquisitiveness has driven me my whole life, yet fear has more often than not held me back, kept me from exploring, discovering, trying. I would love to be daring, jumping into things with both feet, hair flying, eyes wide open (or eyes shut tight, throwing my fate to the gods, having complete faith that I will land squarely on both feet), yet fear gets the better of me once too often. Some people, brave souls, grab fear by the horns, turning it into some kind of adventure or a personal challenge. Others, such as I, avoid it, sidestep around it, keep it at bay no matter how strong its twin, curiousity, gnaws and titillates.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cognac Panna Cotta with Salted Butter Caramel

VALENTINE’S DAY

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day 
so I never have to live without you. 
- A. A. Milne 


I never had a Valentine before JP. I was one of the hopelessly, heartbreakingly, perpetually Valentine-less. No surprise, really, considering I was an ugly duckling. No golden tresses dancing in the ocean breeze, no long, slender legs that seem to go on forever, no Florida bronzed beauty was I. Like the others. Alas, life was cruel. Even as I got older and moved away from home, all grown up, I was forever the plain Jane, spunky, practical and domestic, merely a foil to the popular, the gorgeous, the desired.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

French Pudding au Chocolat

CHOCOLATE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

My Funny Valentine 
Sweet Comic Valentine 
You Make Me Smile With My Heart 
You're Looks Are Laughable, 
Unphotographable 
Yet You're My Favorite Work Of Art 
Is Your Figure Less Than Greek 
Is Your Mouth A Little Weak 
When You Open It To Speak 
Are You Smart 
Don't Change A Hair For 
Me Not If You Care For Me 
Stay Little Valentine Stay 
Each Day Is Valentine's Day 
- Chet Baker 


“One thing you should know about me,” he declared as I watched him dress, crumpled sheets pulled up to my chin, drunk on love, “you will never receive chocolates from me. I will shower you with gifts, buy you jewelry, fill your arms with flowers, but I will not buy you candy. Chocolate is a vice like cigarettes and alcohol and I will not feed any vice.” And as Valentine’s Day approached he stoutly proclaimed his disdain for this “American holiday, this commercial invention by some ad man or company created for the sake of making a few bucks. And I certainly don’t need someone else to designate one particular day, tell me when and how I should tell you that I love you! I can do that when and how I please!”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chocolate Prune Bread Redux

BREAD BAKING BUDDIES ROUNDUP

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; 
and good bread with (chocolate*), greatest of feasts. 
- James Beard (1903 – 1985) (*change is mine) 


The only thing better than a good loaf of bread is sharing that loaf with friends. Now throw chocolate into the mix and just imagine how phenomenal! The greatest feast, indeed. Who hasn’t smeared a slice of white bread with Nutella or split open a hunk of baguette and tucked a few squares of chocolate deep into the soft, dense center? Who wouldn’t choose a pain au chocolat over a simple croissant? And isn’t chocolate bread pudding so much more… comforting than the regular stuff? Go on… admit it.

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