Tag Archives: French

Strawberry and Rhubarb Galette

6 Mar

Nothing says spring to me like strawberries and rhubarb. And, now that I’m living in Florida, I have the pleasure of getting local strawberries. I’m sure I’ve bored you all before with my rants on fresh local ingredients, but the simple truth is… the shorter the distance between you and your food, the better.

I was in the grocery store this afternoon and the sale was 3 pounds of local strawberries for $5. I wasn’t really shopping for fruit. In fact, I was there getting a toothbrush, but I couldn’t resist this deal. The rhubarb was cleaned and broken down and conveniently merchandised right next to the strawberries. It was kismet. Dessert was a must for tonight.

I love making galettes. They are rustic free form pies that are less stuffy and finicky than traditional pies. The technique is simple enough. Just make a simple pie dough and roll it out on a cookie sheet. Place your fruit in the center of the rolled out dough and then fold the edges in toward the center. Brush the outside with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. In this case I used pearl sugar. (The pearl sugar doesn’t melt so it gives the effect of salt on a soft pretzel.)

Here’s the full recipe. Make this soon, as rhubarb season is short and the frozen stuff just isn’t the same.

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

For filling:1 pound strawberries, hulled
1/2 pound rhubard, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar

For crust:
1 1/2 cup AP flour
6 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
2 T water

Start by making the crust. Combine the dry ingredients together and then cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the the wet to the dry and kneed to combine. Once everything is incorporated, chill the dough for approx. 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Combine the fruit with the sugar and allow to macerate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. When the dough is chilled, roll it out into a 14-16 inch circle. place all of the filling in the center of the dough leaving a 3 inch border around the sides. Then fold the edges in toward the center leaving a 2 inch hole. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the dough is GBD (golden brown and delicious.) Serve at room temp with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Always thinking of the next meal


Homemade croissant dough

15 Feb

I love croissants. I mean what’s not to like about buttery, flakey, warm pasteries? Nothing. That’s the answer. Nothing. The only thing that I don’t like is the price. Croissants are typically very pricey. If you want the best, and life is too short not too, you’ll order them via Williams-Sonoma. You’ll pay a pretty penny for them too. I say why go through the cost when you can make them at home for less than 2 will cost you at the bakery.
Croissant dough is actually very easy to make, it just takes patience. While the steps are simple, there is a lot of down time while you wait for rising and chilling and baking.
Here’s the recipe:
14oz AP flour
.5oz sugar
8oz milk
.5oz yeast (approx. 1 packet)
.25oz salt
1.5oz butter + 8oz for later
heat the milk and add in the sugar and yeast. let the yeast dissolve and then add it to the other ingredients. let the dough rise for 1 hour and punch down.

Spread the dough out on a flat sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Then take the remaining butter and spead it on 2/3 of the dough. fold the unbuttered side 1/2 way into the buttered area. Fold the remaining dough over the top. roll to about 1/4 inch thick and repeat the process. Chill for 30 minutes and repeat the process. Do this 3 times total chilling for 30 minutes in between each fold. Chill over night.

The next day, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick after letting it come to room temperature. cut into trianges and roll into cresent shape. brush with egg wash and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

For the chocolate croissants just add approximately 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips in the middle of the dough before baking. For the danish, cut the dough into strips and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Twist the the strips into spirals and then form them into a circle. Press the middle down and fill with preserves or jam. Finish with a drizzle of light glaze.

This recipe is worth the effort. The pastry comes out irrisitably flaky and golden. Try not to eat them all at one sitting.
always thinking of the next meal

Dinner Party

16 Nov

Last night I played chef for 2 of my favorite clients. They asked me to go with them to a friend’s house to make dinner. I didn’t have much time to plan, so I kept the menu simple. A classic combination of French and my own personal flare. I love making things that are fresh and flavorful, but not overcomplicated. Here’s the menu:

Cheese Course
Le Coutances and Foi Epi with apples and French bread

French Onion Soup

Honey Mustard Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Ratatouille and Creamy Polenta

Classic lemon crepes with ginger cream

I wanted to start with French Onion simply because it’s classic, and easily turned vegetarian. With one client being vegetarian, I wanted to make something that wouldn’t make her feel like she was having a different meal than everyone else. French Onion Soup is typically made with beef stock and is not veggie friendly, but my version is. I substitute mushroom and vegetable stock to maintain the intensity of flavor that French onion usually has. By adding dijon mustard instead of worchestershire sauce you get a delightful bright flavor without the extra saltiness that worchestershire sauce can sometimes bring to the party. Top the whole thing with buttery nutty guyere cheese and this is one flavorful vegetarian version of French Onion soup.

Dinner needed to have the same intensity of flavor that also had a fulfilling flavor in a vegetarian version. The polenta and ratatouille made a satisfying main course for my vegetarian client, and adding pork tenderloin medallions to the other dishes, made for a well rounded meal. I served the pork with a honey mustard sauce that was equal parts whole grain dijon mustard and clover honey. I cooked the pork to a perfect medium and then added the sauce sparingly. The pork was so perfectly cooked, I didn’t want to mask the flavor or the color of the meat.

The flavor that tied all the dishes together was thyme. Thyme in the soup and thyme in the ratatouille pulled both courses together. Someone once told me that repeated an ingredient in 2 courses was repetitive, and repeating them in 3 was a theme. But, I think that the thyme was so subtle that it didn’t come off as the same thing.

Dessert was very simple. Hand whipped cream with a 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, 1 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, and 2/3 cup of powdered sugar. The cream was rich, but still light and refreshing. It was served on top of the lemon crepes. The crepes were made with a basic sweet crepe recipe and filled with a combination of lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. The combination of lemon and ginger was a refreshing way to finish a meal of hearty flavors.

It was a great night. I had a lot of fun cooking and chatting with my clients. I hope to do it again soon.

Always thinking of the next meal.


Velvety Garlic Soup, Duxelles, and Monte Cristos

14 Sep

So today was another fantastic day recipe testing. I’m making Velvety Garlic Soup, Duxelles, and Monte Cristo Sandwiches. I have to say it is a strange combination, but I have the ingredients, so that’s the menu. First, the garlic soup. Yes, garlic is a very potent herb/vegetable but handled correctly, it is beautiful.

Ok so here’s the deal. When garlic is roasted it become something better, something magical. When garlic is roasted it transforms into this beautifully sweet and slightly bitter. The soup is gentle. Don’t get me wrong it tastes like garlic, but unlike an Italian dinner the garlic is mild and understated. Here’s the recipe:

Velvety Garlic Soup

Garlic Soup ready to be frozen

Garlic Soup ready to be frozen

2 cups garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup of yellow onion, medium dice
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream

Make a small pouch out of aluminum foil and put the garlic and olive oil. Roast in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, sweat the onion and thyme together in a saucepan. When the garlic is finished roasting, add it to the the sautéing onions. Add the stock and season. Purée the soup and finish with cream. Re-season and serve hot. Garnish with shaved parmesan and fresh minced parsley.

The garlic soup is a wonderful dish for this time of the year. It’s easy to find garlic and the warmth makes you thankful that the seasons are finally turning.

Duxelles before puréeing

Duxelles before puréeing

Next, duxelles. Now this a a classic french recipe that is typically used in dishes like beef Wellington. But, it can also be used as a spread, dip, or appetizer. In perfect English, this is a mushroom purée. It’s very simple. Start with a 1/2 cup minced yellow onion. Melt 2 tablespoons over medium heat and add the onions. While the onions are sweating, mince 8-10 large button mushrooms. You can use any type of mushroom you like but the more wild the mushroom, the more intense the mushroom flavor will be. When the onions are soft add in the mushrooms. Cook on low for 20-25 minutes. When the mushrooms are soft purée the whole mixture together, adding water as needed. Season and serve. I’ll be serving mine as an appetizer in crostini with manchego cheese and parsley.

The monte cristos are one of my favorites. This classic dish is very simple to make. First, assemble the sandwich. You need two slices of bread (I like an egg bread like challah, or white bread). In between the bread put 2 slices of american cheese and 2 slices of honey ham. Here’s the best part. Make a custard. Yes, you read correctly, custard. In the simplest terms, a monte cristo is grilled ham and cheese that is dipped in a sweet custard and cooked like French toast! The custard I like is 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Assemble the sandwiches and the dip in the custard. On a greased griddle, fry the sandwiches. Garnish with powdered sugar and strawberry jam or mustard on the side.

Always thinking of the next meal


Oh Crepe!

9 Sep

IMG_0793Today’s recipe testing involved crepes. When I was in Paris, crepe vendors were as common as hot dog carts in New York. They were used as envelope for fabulous fillings like, ham and gruyére, nutella and bananas, sugar, strawberries, and anything else you can imagine. I think each vendor had at least 20 combinations of fillings. The crepe itself, was wonderful. It was light and crispy, but still chewy and satisfying.

I made my attempt at these French favorites this afternoon. I wanted my version to be smaller, more of an appetizer size. Since I wasn’t sure what kind of filling I wanted to use I choose to make my crepes a neutral flavor. So I stuck to the basic recipe. Here it is:

Basic Crepe Recipe:IMG_0794

1 cup AP flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoons canola oil
1/4-1/3 cup water

mix all ingredients in a blender and allow to rest for at least 1 hour before using. When rested, pour 2 oz portions onto a hot griddle, swirling the batter with your ladle to create an even circle. flip when the top of the crepe looks dry. Cook on opposite side for 30 seconds. Remove from griddle and set aside while the other crepes are cooking.

*NOTE: if your first crepe looks too thick add a little water until the batter is the correct consistency

IMG_0795If I had decided the filling ahead of time, I could have tweaked the basic recipe to further compliment the filling. For example, if I knew that I would be making a sweet crepe filling, I could have added 1 tablespoon of sugar to the batter. Or if I knew I was going to use bananas and cinnamon as a filling, I could have used 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and topped the finished crepes with a brown butter bourbon sauce. Bananas Foster anyone?

If I had decided to fill the crepes with lox, cream cheese, and red onion, I could have added fresh dill and salt to the batter for a fun twist on bagels and lox. (Yes this is fusion food 🙂 )

Since I did stick with the basic recipe, I was able to experiment with different fillings. I made 6 different fillings; nutella and banana, PB&J, lemon and sugar, cream cheese and dill, cream cheese and pork roll, and provolone and olive tapenade. Ryan helped me with the tasting and here’s the verdict. The top 2 flavors were the nutella and banana and the lemon sugar. I liked the cream cheese and dill, but Ryan wasn’t convinced.

Next time you’re thinking about trying something new, try crepes. They are versatile, tasty, and full of your favorite flavors

Always thinking of the next meal


Dinner, Provençal style

20 Aug

Tonight’s dinner was a turkey cutlet grilled with summer vegetables and herbed lentils. My friend Megan came over for dinner and I wanted to wow her. Megan and I used to live together in college. Our former idea of gourmet was ramen noodles and, sadly, macaroni and cheese from the box.

Now that we are a little older (just a little older) and a bit more worldly, our palettes crave more sophisticated things. I started by marinating the turkey in red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, and herbs de Provence. I let the turkey marinate for 4 hours. The food from Provence is simple, and emphasizes the quality of the food. The region is in the Southern part of the country and is highly influenced by the Mediterranean lifestyle. There is a lot of use of lemons, olives, and fish.

The dish I made for dinner tonight highlights the treasures of Provence. The turkey came out juicy and flavorful. The vegetables were soft, but still had texture. But the key was the lentils. The only time I’ve made lentils in the past was in soup. But I’ve been missing out.

Recipe for Lentils

1 cup lentils to 4 cups water, 1 cup red vinegar, 1/2 cup minced onions, 2 tablespoons garlic, and 1 tablespoon herbs de provence. bring to a simmer and stir occasionally. You’ll know when they are done when they are just al dente.

IMG_0756The greenery that you seen in the picture is watercress. The peppery bite that you get from the watercress helps to balance the sweetness of the grilled vegetables. I tossed it in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Give this recipe a try. Something new to wake up your taste buds 🙂

Always thinking of the next meal