Archive for November, 2012

November 28, 2012

FrenchGiving : The Third Edition (Chocolate Croissant French Toast | Pain au chocolat pain perdu)

This past Thanksgiving marked my very third Thanksgiving spent in France.  The first Thanksgiving was spent in intimate company where I attempted to recreate my mom’s recipes with plastic cups as estimated cup measurements.  The second Thanksgiving was a bit larger: 12 guests, innovative recipes, classic recipes, a wild goose chase for fresh cranberries, the whole kit and caboodle.  The tradition of cooking for this holiday was something that fulfilled me and made me less sad about being so far away.  This is why I have not called this year’s day Thanksgiving.  Because it was not.  This year was a new idea.  Seeing that I knew I couldn’t give this holiday my whole heart (5 days of cooking, days spent biking back and forth to supermarkets across town, hours to do the dishes afterwards), I decided not to do it.  I hesitated.  I thought about making one infamous dish.  But then I decided that you can’t have Thanksgiving with just one dish. It doesn’t work like that.

So I put a moratorium on Thanksgiving for this year and this year alone.  I couldn’t bear to go at it half-heartedly.  But my roommates, now with a taste of Thanksgiving in their hearts after 2 years gone by, were desperate to celebrate somehow.  I did what any American parent knows will thrill their children and I said….”how about breakfast for dinner!?”  Worked like a charm.  They were happy to do something,  I was happy that it wasn’t a shoddy version of Thanksgiving, and everyone cooked a frenchicized version of an American breakfast dish, sending all of us into food induced Frenchgiving comas after our 10 pm dinner.

My contribution was thanks to my darling Schnooze : croissant “french toast” / pain perdu.  In French, french toast is translated by “lost bread” because it was initially made out of stale brioche in order to salvage the hardened treat.  I bought some pain au chocolat (chocolate ‘croissants’ for a lack of a better translation) and turned them into a French toast worth making over and over again.

Chocolate Croissant French Toast | Pain au chocolat perdu

What you’ll need:

  • 4 croissants | pain au chocolat
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla as desired

Now what?

  1. Cut the croissants in two length-wise
  2. Dip them, but not for too long, into the milk/egg/sugar/spices mixture.
  3. Cook them in a heated frying pan with a little bit of salted butter until they are crispy, crunchy and melty.

Et voilà.  Bon appétit.  It is as easy as that.

November 21, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies | cookies au chocolat

My oh my.  This week is Thanksgiving week.  Normally, I would have been planning for this occasion since December of last year.  But given my hectic schedule and an inability to pee on certain days due to time constraints (true story), I decided to forgo my cooking madness this year.  I am feeling a little blue about it, since Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time.  There is no greater feeling than waking up to a home that smells like cooking, rushing down the stairs at 7 am to help my mom, especially for the stuffing, sneaking bits and pieces of the stuffing into my little mouth when no one was looking, being with family, eating so much that you cannot breathe, falling asleep on the couch with a pillow over your stomach.  Ah. My kind of holiday.  I am slightly soulagée, however, because this year my mom will be cooking for Christmas Eve and I will be home to celebrate and help.  It compensates, I suppose.
This week totally does not feel like Thanksgiving.  Since I will be sitting in class all day on Thursday (mentally protesting the fact that I am not at home doing all of the aforementioned Thanksgiving festivities), I promised my classmates that I would bring them a little taste of America (they don’t know it yet, but I will be implementing a mandatory ENGLISH LANGUAGE LUNCH ! mwahahaha) I just needed to melt some chocolate, stay in the kitchen until 11pm, and blast the Carpenters’ Christmas album for it to feel like it was actually Thanksgiving week.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pound (450 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ stick (115 g) butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups (200 g) chocolate chips

Now what?

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl in the microwave in intervals of 30 seconds as to not set fire to the mixture (been there, done that.) Mix fully until melted.
  2. With an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed until they form a well-defined ribbon when you lift the whisk.  Remove the whisk and attach the paddle to the mixer.  Turn the speed to low, and mix in the melted chocolate mixture.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder, then add them to the batter.  Add the chocolate chips.  Place the dough in the refrigerator until it is firm, at least 30 minutes.  I left mine in there overnight.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with your hands into three 10-inch logs, 2 inches in diameter.  If the dough is too cold and firm, wait until it becomes easy to handle.
  5. To bake the cookies, position the oven racks in the center and upper part of the oven and preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Cut the logs into ½”-thick cookies, and place them on the baking sheet, evenly spaced.  Bake for about 7 minutes.  Rotate the baking sheets and switch racks midway through baking. Bake for a few more minutes or until they start to firm up around the edges.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool fully, otherwise they will fall apart when you move them.  Once they have cooled completely, store the cookies in an airtight container, or a beautiful box that was given to you on your birthday!

November 16, 2012

Stuffed Shells | pâtes farcies à la ricotta

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Lately, I’ve been feeling like I just don’t have enough time to breathe.  Even if I do find a spare moment, I spend it agonizing about the trillions of other things that I ought to be doing.  Consequentially, I get nothing done, for I’ve spent all of that time agonizing.  Vicious circle.  In an attempt to save myself from a lack of cooking nervous breakdown, I decided that I would cook a little dinner for two.  Uninspired, I biked to the supermarket in the pouring rain to get some materials anyway.  Sometimes I go to French supermarkets to oogle the 3 aisles strictly devoted to butter, yogurt and cream.  As I was strolling through those glorious aisles, I stumbled upon the “discount” section (the French have a hilarious way of pronouncing it -discooont.)  A medium sized shell shaped cheese vessel caught my eye, and I was suddenly inspired.  I would do what my Mamoon does best and shove 4 types of cheese combined (heeaaaven) into the inside of my favorite food of all time (carbohydrates = pasta) and cover it with even more cheese.  Only after having made a garlicky and onion-y sauce to dump all over that pasta mixture like a warm blanket in winter.  Done deal. I was sold.  I bought all of the remaining large shell pasta bags on the shelf because goodness me, who knows the next time I will be able to find those here.

This recipe comes from the book that was and still remains king in my household, “Eat This, It’ll Make You Feel Better” by Dom Deluise.  That jolly faced and pleasantly plump man posing with eggplants on the inside of the book (no joke) taught me how to do the cooking that was usually improvised on Sundays.  Stuffed shells are usually made for a special event in my family, but I decided that just having the time to stuff shells full of cheese was special enough of an event.  And en plus, the odor of garlic and onions wafting through the kitchen is enough to make me weak in the knees, imaging myself back in New York, even though my feet may be standing in Strasboug, France.

Je vous présente….

Ma Ziti’s Stuffed Shells

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(adapted from Dom Deluise)

serves 6 hungry, hungry hippos people.

What You’ll Need:

Filling:

  •  2 eggs
  • 1 lb (500 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 (200 g) pound mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp parsley
  • few leaves of basil, chopped
  • dash of pepper
  • grated cheese for topping

Sauce:

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • Italian seasoning
  • 24 giant ziti shells

What now?

  1. Fry garlic and onions in a pot until fragrant.  Add diced tomatoes, pinch of sugar and Italian seasonings, heat thoroughly and then set aside.  That’s your quick sauce.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses, parsley, basil and pepper.
  3. Cook giant shells in lots of boiling water until al dente.  Don’t overcook it though! They are easier to fill when they are a little stiff.  Drain, rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.
  4. Stuff each shell with a few tablespoons of the cheese mixture.
  5. Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with about 1/2 inch of sauce.  Arrange stuffed shells side by side in the sauce.  Cover with remaining sauce and a light dusting of cheese.
  6. Bake covered in a 350 f / 180 c oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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