I got home from work last night and found…4 hungry people. And nothing cooking. It was 7 pm. Here’s what I did: I tossed: can of stewed tomatoes, can of corn, can of kidney beans, 1 tbs olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tbs dried basil, 2 tbs cumin, 1 tbs chili powder, 1 tbs garlic powder, pinch salt, dash of pepper, in a pan and started to cook it. In a frying pan, I fried 2 frozen hamburgers and when they thawed I chopped and browned them with an onion. Stirred everything in the pot and set to bubble, and made some quick rice. Called it “Express Chili”, and served it to the hungry hordes. Continue reading
Or rabbit with mustard sauce, if you prefer.
Hunting season, and rabbits are on the menu. I love rabbit, actually – it’s meat is lean and delicate. Farm raised rabbit is usually very tender, and wild rabbit can vary – an older rabbit might be better in a paté, but this recipe is good for young rabbits or farm-raised.
1 large farm-raised rabbit or 2 wild rabbits
French style Dijon mustard
Small, firm potatoes cut into 2 inch pieces
Thyme & Rosemary
Cut the rabbits into 5 pieces (2 haunches, 2 shoulders, 1 saddle) – In a baking dish, cut up about 2 TB butter and put the potatoes on the bottom. Coat the rabbit both sides with mustard – use at least a TB per piece. Lay the rabbit on the potatoes and pour a cup of white wine over. Scatter the herbs over the meat. Bake in a medium oven (140 C°) for forty minutes. Take the pan out of the oven. Now, take the rabbit and potatoes out and set aside. Put the rabbit back in, turning the pieces over so the browned side is in the sauce. Put the potatoes on top of the rabbit, add more butter. Put back in the over for a half an hour.
Note: If you are using wild rabbit, a good idea is to wrap the meat in bacon. That will keep it from getting dry, as rabbit is so lean that is the biggest challenge when cooking.
When the rabbit is done, put it on a serving dish surrounded by the potatoes. You can add cream to the baking dish and stir it up to make a creamy sauce, and you can add more white wine and some mustard to it as well.
As the French say, bon appetite!
Julia made dinner tonight – she wanted to try a new recipe, so without further ado, I present “Meany Zucchini Casserole!”
Ingredients: Three zucchini sliced and diced, bacon, tomato sauce, cheese, pasta, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the pasta and drain well. Fry the bacon, remove and chop into bits. Fry the zucchini in the bacon grease. Heat the tomato sauce (I used fresh tomatoes and olive oil to make my sauce, but you can use canned sauce) Toss it all together in a deep casserole dish with the herbs and spices, cover with grated cheese and pop in the oven. Cook until cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve with fresh bread, red wine (natch) and a green salad.
And – drumroll – book II of Horse Passages is out – Lost Storm Rider!
Pot au feu is the quintessential winter stew – and so easy to make. Today, I woke up early and washed and cut the leeks, onions and carrots. In the slow-cooker, I put a layer of leeks and carrots, then two large pieces of stew meat. I added two onions, quartered, and finished by packing the remainder of space with small potatoes. Then I scattered a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme over it, added water until barely covered, and set my slow cooker for 9 hours. When I came home from work, dinner was ready! All I had to do was warm the baguette in the oven, and voila! Continue reading
After Christmas there was the January rush, where all the work we’d put off at the end of December came back and bit us in the ass – well, not really, but orthodontie and teeth you know… Continue reading
Well, another holiday season is whooshing by…you don’t realize how little vacation you have until you’re in the middle of it and suddenly you realize in two days you’re going to be back on your office chair, staring at the computer screen, with the telephone ringing off the hook and a pile of mail on your desk.
Let’s hit rewind, and go back to the beginning. Thursday night was our traditional Christmas dinner with my in-laws. My sister-in-law hosted the party at her apartment as it’s in Paris, and easy access for the elderly & very young relatives. Then on Christmas day we went to see the new Star Wars film. Mixed reactions. I was entertained – and as long as I’m not bored, I figure the movie was a hit. I’m easily distracted, and if I don’t care for the characters I’ll just stop watching. The last three Star Wars films were so utterly bad that I was wary of seeing this one – but frankly, I was impressed. The storyline was fragile, but at least it was there, and the characters were likeable, and although the girl is a bit too too perfect in every way, and the ex-Storm Trooper should have been a bit more jaded, the little robot was cute and the ace pilot hot, so I was happy to sit there til the end. Less forgiving were my daughter and husband, who have decided the girl is Luke’s daughter, and the movie had nothing original in it – and it reminded them too much of Harry Potter (the evil dude was Snapes, that is for sure). I do want to know something – when will movie villains just look and dress like normal people? (Seriously – we know you’re evil Dude, you’re wearing a long black robe and you have a mask on.)
For dinner, we had leftover turkey and stuffing, and foie gras.
Foie gras is like paté that has won the lottery. It is rich, and smooth, and totally delicious. I make mine every year with my boss, Jean Pierre, so here is the recipe:
JEAN PIERRE’S MARVELOUS MICROWAVE FOIE GRAS
- 1 foie gras (duck preferably), uncooked. Lay it on a large plate that will fit in your microwave oven and devein it. This is not easy – you have to first divide the liver in two, then, with the back of a butter knife, gently tease out the veins from both sides. Some livers have very few and some are just full – you never know what you’ll get. Make sure you get them out though, they are stringy and tough. Try to leave the liver intact as possible, but it’s not a problem if you end up destroying it searching for veins – it goes into a terrine in the end anyhow.
- Salt – and this is important – the measure is 12 grams for each kilo of liver. So a regular half-pound liver will take 6 grams of salt. (One teaspoon is 5 grams) Mix the salt with some pepper to taste, and a teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle he salt mixture all over the liver. Then pour about a half a cup of sweet white wine, (or red or white Port wine) over the liver, cover with cling film and leave to marinate for a couple hours (or overnight).
- Remove the cling film and put in the microwave oven set on “defrost” or the lowest setting for 3 minutes. Remove and carefully tip the plate to drain off the excess liquid (there may be a lot). Put back in the oven and cook again for 3 minutes. Drain again if there is a lot of liquid.
- This is where you turn the liver over and cook once more for 3 minutes. This time, do not drain. Carefully tip the liver (by now it is practically liquified) into a terrine. Cover with cling film and put a weight on it. This will press the liver into a nice form and make the fat rise to the top. Refrigerate for at least 3 days.
- Take out of the fridge, slice and spread on toast – sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea-salt and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy! You can use farmhouse loaf, white bread, whole grain bread, baguette, walnut bread, or my personal favorite – fig bread!
Note: if you cannot get a foie gras, don’t try this with regular goose or duck livers. Instead, check out my liver paté recipe.
My husband went hunting not long ago, and came home with a shoulder and haunch from a small wild boar. The haunch I froze for Christmas day, but I kept the the shoulder out to make a stew. I didn’t marinate it, as it was from a very young boar. I simply put olive oil, thyme and rosemary on it and put it in a hot (400° F, 220° C) oven to brown. When it was browned, but still uncooked in the middle, I put it in my slow cooker with 2 cups red wine (bordeaux, nothing too fancy!) some dried cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving (this is completely optional, I just had a handful leftover!), 3 bouillon cubes, 8 potatoes cut in half, and then I added water to nearly cover it all. I set my slow-cooker for 5 hours and took a nap (I got home from work at 3 pm; so all this is after I got home from work). At 7:30 I took two cups broth from the cooker and added 3 tablespoons of corn flour, and when that didn’t thicken enough, 2 more tablespoons of regular flour (I’m not the most patient person in the world – the cornflour would have worked eventually). Stirred everything. Left it another half an hour, and at 8 pm took the shoulder out of the cooker to de-bone it (the meat was so tender it just fell off the bone) put it all back (minus the bone – d’oh) and had it with fresh buttered baguette. Tomorrow, I’m adding a can of mushrooms to the leftover stew and having it for lunch – it was tremendous. Continue reading
Last minute Thanksgiving rush: Alex told me last night that Tony was coming, and Julia mentioned that Nicolas was going to be here, so could we do Thanksgiving dinner please mom? This morning Alex and I went shopping and bought 1 bag of cranberries, 2 fat hens, 3 sweet potatoes, 4 loaves of bread, 5 sticks of celery, 6 white potatoes, 7 green apples, 8 oz of heavy cream, (skip , 9, 10 and 11 – I don’t remember) – but there are 12 clementines. I came home and put the potatoes in the oven to bake and made the stuffing
(Here is the fastest stuffing in the world recipe: fry celery, onions and apples in butter, add sausage meat, when cooked add a huge dollop of Calvados brandy, then add breadcrumbs to absorb the juice – let cool and stuff chickens).
When the potatoes were cooked I cooked the chickens. When the chickens were done, I made gravy with the drippings and the cream – mashed the potatoes, served it all with the stuffing & gravy on the side. Total time prep & cooking, 3 hours. Now to sit back with a hot tea, a clementine, & watch Independence Day!
I love to make fish chowder as soon as the weather turns cold. I usually get two firm-fleshed fillets plus a smoked fish (kipper, smoked haddock, etc. – skinned & boned). I use what I have in the house – because we can’t find clam juice here in France, I usually add a half a bullion cube just to give the broth some extra flavor, but you can leave it out. You can also use evaporated milk and broth instead of milk. What counts is having good quality fish!
Onion, new potatoes, milk, 1/2 cube chicken bullion or 1 cup clam juice (optional), bay leaves, salmon, cod, smoked haddock, sweetcorn (canned, frozen, or fresh cut off the cob), spring onions, parsley or dill.
Peel and roughly chop an onion, put it into a large deep pan with a little butter and fry till golden. Scrub 400g potatoes, then halve or quarter them depending on their size. Add them to the onion then pour in 500ml of water and 500ml of milk. Bring to the boil, with a coarse grinding of pepper and a couple of bay leaves.
Lower the heat so the liquid simmers and, when the potato is soft, introduce 400g of mixed fish, such as salmon, cod and smoked haddock, cut into large cubes, and continue to cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.
Add the corn to the pan. Roughly chop 2 spring onions and a small bunch of parsley (or dill) and stir them into the soup carefully, without breaking up the fish. Serve as soon as the corn is tender. It is important not to stir the chowder too much as it cooks, which would result in the fish breaking up.
The flavors will improve if the soup rests 30 minutes before serving.
Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers, a green salad, and a crisp white wine or cider.
Sunday, run day – run day for Julia, who jogs for nearly an hour as we head to the market place via the river walk. I follow on my bike. I have a new bike basket – for shopping. I’m absurdly happy. So off we go. Julia trotting, me pedaling, chatting (she keeps waving her hands to show me she wants me to talk to her – what about? I’m busy playing music in my head.) So I talk about this and that – and we find ourselves at the Val Fouré market, a huge, open air market where I buy grilled chicken, fruit and veggies, fresh baguette – then we head back home. We’ve gone 6 kilometers – not bad for a morning. But we have to go back now. Julia is tired, so she takes the bike, and I take a hike. Continue reading