Archive for ‘Fruits’

August 10, 2013

wontons with apricot-mustard sauce

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I took a chance. I decided to venture out of my comfort-zone in order to test the waters of a cuisine that is not Italian-American focused. I took a trip to the Asian store (which ironically is called Paris Store?). I asked the people working there to identify certain vegetables that I couldn’t pick out of a vegetable line-up. I perused the sauce aisle for approximately 42 minutes without lifting my head once. And I made homemade green curry paste. And consequently a Thai green curry. That was delicious.

But this post isn’t about the green curry. This post is about the sides we made. Now, I know I am probably mixing up my non-Italian-American fare by serving wontons with a curry, but I am just a beginner, okay?

These wontons were…off…the…chain. Unbelievable. I was astonished by how successful they turned out. The texture. The filling. Tasted like something I would order in a restaurant (and this isn’t something I say very often about the food I turn out.) What I especially liked about this recipe is the minimalism of the ingredient list, and the fact that most of these things can be found in any old supermarket. Having a food processor is a bonus because it really gets the mixture to be homogenous, but I am sure loosely chopped versions of the ingredients would be excellent as well.

This post is for you Tilgerchen.

Wontons with Apricot-Mustard Sauce

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(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, makes 14 dumplings)

What you’ll need:

Apricot-Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wontons

  • 4 tbsps canola oil, divided
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • gyoza or wonton wrappers (used egg-free if making this vegan!)

What now?

Apricot-Mustard Sauce:

  1. Combine jam and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t stick. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Wontons:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbps canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add the cashews, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger and soy sauce and cook them babies all together for another 5 minutes.
  2. Once cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until the cashews are finely ground and mixture is somewhat smooth. I left mine slightly chunky because I thought it would pack more of a punch.
  3. At your origami station, place 2 teaspoons of wonton mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper.  Keep a small bowl of water nearby. You will want to wet the edges of the wonton mixture just enough to seal the wrapper. As you are folding over the wonton, squeeze as much air out as possible to avoid air pockets. As you can see, I was not fancy, I will have to upgrade my folding techniques for next time.  Just make sure it’s sealed.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the wontons in the skillet. Do not smush them, leave some space between them.
  5. Cook a few minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Once browned, fill the skillet with 1/2 inch hot water.
  6. Cover the skillet immediately and let those puppies simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip the wontons to brown the other side lightly.
  8. Serve with apricot-mustard sauce et voilà!

Bon app!

(I am sure the option of steaming could work equally as well, just haven’t tried it yet!)

June 11, 2013

Big Schnooze’s Lite Summer Salad

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Summertime is upon us here in Strasbourg. Or at least I think. The weather has oscillated between scolding hot and blistery cold for the past month. The only solid sign I have that summer is almost here is the giant mosquito that is torturing me each night. Otherwise, the changing of the seasons is a most promising feeling when you get your produce from a market each week. The French rarely eat out of season, which for me meant discovering a ton of new produce (like, what the hell was a leek? and rhubarb? I’m sorry, that just doesn’t grow on Long Island!) and THEN having to learn when to get excited for what. Poor old me who thought strawberries were a year ’round fruit.

Now I know the simple joys of asparagus season — those few, beautiful weeks where you eat so much asparagus that your pee stinks for weeks. Or cantaloupe season — those magnificent round delights that migrate north from the Provence region of France (think Beauty and the Beast) around this time every year. Ah eating seasonally.  Maybe people do it in the United States, I just never had before. Shame on me.

This recipe is simple, easy and reminds me of a good dear Schnooze. Her invention perhaps? Or perhaps she was just the one to introduce me to this medley of flavors. But when summer time roles around, big Schnooze’s lite summer salad comes out and it brings me back to Strasbourg : Summer 2011, 2012.  For a lack of better name, I have named this one after you, Schnooze.

Big Schnooze’s Lite Summer Salad

Serves 4-6

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cantaloupe, cut into cubes
  • 1 cucumber, scraped out and cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into bite sized bits
  • 1.5 cups feta, cut into cubes
  • as much chopped fresh mint as needed to cover the dish — preferably from the Beard’s mom’s garden…

Now what?

Easy. Cut each ingredient into a bite size cube. Mix in a bowl. Eat chilled. (Can be kept in fridge if you haven’t finished yet! But I would eat this quickly since it can get soggy after about 2 days.)

Serve with wine. Gewurztraminer is a good idea.

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What are we listening to in the kitchen in honor of Schnooze? Postcards from Italy – Beirut

Bon app!

February 1, 2013

Veganism Day 1: Chickpea and Apricot Tagine

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Coming back after a two month + hiatus.  A lot has happened in two months.  I took a trip to the United States and indulged in so much pizza that I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  I confirmed the fact that, although the US has foods that quench my hunger in a cultural sense, the quality of the vegetables and the fruits have rien à voir (nothing to do) with the ones in France — (a quick google search translates ‘rien à voir’ to ‘it’s apples and oranges!’ heh.)  I couldn’t believe the choices in the supermarkets, but when push comes to shove, nothing is more odorous than the fresh market produce that I get once a week at the Boulevard de la Marne.  But anyway, passons.  Let’s get back to the topic at hand.  My return.

My return is special.  Because I am coming back with a new flavor of the month – as we should say. Veganism. Hmm.  Veganism? For someone who has eaten not one but TWO fondues this week alone? It doesn’t seem to add up.  Which is exactly why I am doing it.  Cheese and I have a tumultuous relationship.  As in, it ruins me.  After watching two particularly enlightening documentaries on the food industry and the effect of dairy products on our health, I have mulled over the idea for some time.   Let’s add the fact that hereditary can be cruel to us.  And so I’d like to ideally take the best care of my body that I can – that is to say before my genes decide for me!

And if I were to actually be a practicing yogi (oh how I miss my yoga classes these days) I would be taking the nonviolent route.  Essentially, I want to see if kindness to my body and to other sentient beings will affect me, for the better.  Bref.  My thoughts are unclear. In order to help with unclear thoughts, this next month shall be co-blogged by The Beard.  He has decided to follow me in my pursuits. For someone who eats a whole lot of mozzarella, I’m just really impressed by his kindness to join me.

The Beard, everybody.

Cheese is my dope. But there’s nothing you can’t put aside, really. At the origin was vegetarianism –which seems to have accompanied my life forever. There’s no way back, but there is a way forward. Veganism. Veganism? For I believe that the voiceless should talk. Not only animals, but anyone. But this is not it. Anyone who has ever experienced this strange moment when, full of animal protein, you feel like you owe it to someone. And as a Frenchman, let me tell you: we don’t like to owe anything to anyone, especially not on food-related matters. Someone opens your eyes. You agree. If you gotta talk the talk, you also gotta walk the walk. I’ve therefore become a follower. Because my guide to veganism is wise and tempered. Not a radical. Not like me. This move toward veganism –even though I don’t intend on becoming a permanent one today– is therefore an initiating journey into ethical and culinary improvement. Out of curiosity. And out of love.

To celebrate February 1st, one whole day of veganism, I give you the utmost delicious way to start 28 days of a plant based diet thanks to Ms. Kim.  Kim is a British colleague/marvel who knows how to cook with flavour (see what I did there, with the spelling of that word?) I want her to teach me everything she knows.  For those of you who don’t know : a tagine is a typical Moroccan dish that often incorporates a surprising fruit ingredient into a slow cooked dish.  The addition of the cinnamon is surprisingly welcome!

Chickpea & Apricot Tagine

(serves 5-6 people)

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 big sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • a bayleaf
  • 16 fl oz vegetable stock
  • as many dried apricots as you’d like, cut up
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

Now what?

  1. Fry the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the spices and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the remaining ingredients in that order, mixing for about a minute in between each addition.
  2. Let is simmer for around a half an hour. “Cook until scrumptious” to quote Ms. Kim.
  3. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper and mint (or parsley or coriander).
  4. Serve over whole wheat couscous.

Honestly, the choices are endless, you can swap in or out any of the vegetables for other root or non-root veggies.  The vegan sky is the limit.

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July 26, 2012

Vegan Iced Apple Cake Squares

In France, it is normal to eat a lot of cheese and a lot of dairy.  A LOT of dairy.  The only difference between French dairy (le laitage) and American dairy is that in France, it is ACTUALLY dairy.  Sounds redundant. Let me explain.  The first time I poured myself a glass of milk in the US after my first year in Strasbourg, I gasped at the lack of opaqueness.  It looked like milk-water.  It tasted like milk-water.  I was shocked.  I was unfazed however and then proceeded to make a cake with American butter.  But why was it white? In France, the butter is yellow, creamy, and potent.  It all boils down to differences in pasteurization I imagine but the quality and breakdown of these ingredients are fundamentally different here.  In any case, being born and raised with an American belly (but with French taste buds), I have a hard time adjusting to the strength of French cream, milk, butter and cheese.  I eat it, love it, enjoy it, and then regret it almost systematically.   Hence, on a coup de tête (or a whim, as I do most things) I decided to implement some entirely vegan days into my week in order to neither terrorize my stomach nor deprive myself of the delicious wonders that France has to offer.  I was a touch skeptical about the quality of a vegan apple cake, but I must admit that it was very addictive, delicious and absolutely passable as a normal dairy filled cake substitute!  Best to eat it piping hot….

Vegan Iced Apple Cake Squares

(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen)

Makes 1 8-inch cake

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 gala apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond milk (or soy/rice/milk)

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c.  Grease pan and line it with wax paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together oil, vanilla and vinegar.  Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ones and mix well until combined.  Add apples and walnuts and mix well.
  3. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until cake is set and slightly brown on top.  A knife or toothpick should come out clean.
  4. While the cake is baking, combine powdered sugar and almond milk until smooth.
  5. Once cooled, cut the cake into squares and ice as you please!
  6. Try to wait until it is cooled before eating so that you do not burn your tongue (I speak from experience.)

June 25, 2012

Strawberry Tarte with Mascarpone Cream | Tartelette aux fraises

While I was looking for inspiration for my very first blog post, I knew that it had to have something to do with strawberries.  It seemed that it would be most fitting.  Staring around my kitchen, something small and red caught my eye in one of those true light-bulb moments.  But of course!  In October I received 4 small, red tartelette molds for my birthday and have not even used them yet! What better dessert on a hot June afternoon than a cool, light strawberry tartelette?  The ingredient list is feasible and not at all daunting. And in terms of portion control, well, four molds and 3 roommates means that I wouldn’t find myself devouring an entire tarte in one sitting (these are the important questions to ask oneself when baking!) And to top it all off, the 3 aforementioned roommates gave these mini tartelettes a big thumbs up! À l’aise!

Strawberry Tarte with Mascarpone Cream

(Adapted from Homebound the heart of life)

This could either make 4 tartelettes (mini human sized tartes) or 1 large tarte! What you’ll need:

Poppy Seed Pie Crust:

  • 200 g flour
  • 80 g powdered sugar
  • 20 g poppy seeds
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 120 g butter cut into small cubes and very cold
  • 1 whole egg, beaten

Filling:

  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 80 g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 500 g strawberries
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Now what?

  1. Mix the flour, powdered sugar, poppy seeds and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add the butter and crumble it with the tip of your fingers into the flour mixture.  Work into a homogenous mixture (basically until you can no longer see any clumps of butter.)  Be careful not to heat the butter too much with your fingers.
  3. Add the egg to the crumble mixture and press together with the palm of your hand until it is fully mixed.  At this point in time, you must hope that the tip of your nose doesn’t itch because your hands will be covered in dough!
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic foil.  Put in the refrigerator for an hour, minimum.
  5. Roll out your dough on a floured surface and cut out circles that are slightly bigger than your molds.  Press the dough into the molds, trim the edges evenly and prick holes in the base.
  6. Cook in a preheated oven at 180 c / 350 f for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks.
  7. In the meanwhile, combine mascarpone, brown sugar and vanilla and spoon the mixture into the piecrusts, leaving as much space for strawberries as your heart desires.
  8. Place the cut-up strawberries on top and dust with powdered sugar.
  9. Enjoy thoroughly in front of the overpriced bakery beneath your apartment that will no longer be getting your business.

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