Monthly Archives: October 2010

Market-hopping through Europe

It’s a nice Fall day, let’s wander Europe for a bit.

Let’s go to the market (or in this case le marché) and marvel at Mother Nature’s wonderful creations.

Let’s start in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Believe it or not, this is the same neighborhood where my bubbie (grandmother in yiddish) moved to after being liberated in 1945 from a Polish concentration camp. Why do I know it’s the same neighborhood? Because my cousin lives in the same apartment building as my bubbie did 65 years ago!

Welcome to the 14th arrondissement of Paris and the Marché Parisien de la Création.

Overlooking the 14th arrondissement

As I was wandering through the market, I could envision my bubbie walking these same exact streets and not surprisingly, I felt her by my side which was a wonderful feeling.

Sunday morning in Paris

This was too tempting to pass up based on how I was feeling.

J'aime le fromage - I heart cheese

Le Marché des Enfants Rouge is the oldest covered market in Paris. It was a bonus since it’s located within a part of Paris that I wanted to wander called Le Marais (meaning marsh or swamp).

Marche des Enfants Rouge

I went on a weekday afternoon so it wasn’t bustling, but how could you not feel the vibe of the market with this man polishing the utensils. Old school!

Something out of a movie

So if you’re in France, you would go out of your way and visit Lyon the gastronomical capital of France, wouldn’t you?  Well, I don’t know about you, but I did. My goal in Lyon was to visit the market that bears the name of Paul Bocuse and eat at a traditional Lyonaise Bouchon. Done and done!

Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse is pretty much what you’d expect it to be. A wealth of riches that tempts and teases every turn of the way. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Sablé aux pralines

Meringues

Macarons

In case you were wondering, I bought them all and then some!

Celebrating

As we wander south from France, welcome to Barcelona’s La Boqueria, sort of.  Due to the Easter Weekend, it was closed on the Monday that I had planned to visit. I suppose it’s just another reason to visit Barcelona, because from what I had been and from what I could see, this is definitely one of the can’t miss markets of Europe.

Thanks for the company. Let’s do this again sometime…

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Filed under Europe, La Boqueria, Marche des Enfants Rouge, market

Giving Thanks With Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is awesome, are we in agreement? If you hesitated because I didn’t specify canned or homemade, a bonus point for you! (This point has no real life value).

I admit to enjoying canned cranberry sauce. I like the whole process.

  1. Opening the can.
  2. Turning it upside down.
  3. Hearing the “whooosh” as it slides out of the can in a tall cylinder shape with the imprint of the can for all to see.
  4. Enjoying the tower of cranberry goodness before smushing it down with a fork.
  5. Eating it with turkey and anything else it comes in contact with on your Thanksgiving plate.

Canned cranberry sauce

I appreciate the canned stuff and it’s good, HOWEVER, it doesn’t taste like cranberries, it’s crazy sweet and not tart like a fresh cranberry.

Enter homemade cranberry sauce. I’ve made it a few times with various recipes and each time it’s been a hit. The whole process is fun, listening to the cranberries burst in the pot, to watching it get all jelly-like and tasting an incredible mix of sour and sweet (because you get to control the sweetness factor).

I was in New York over the Canadian Thanksgiving (yes it’s different from the American one) and I was invited to join some friends of mine to their Thanksgiving dinner (a mixed couple – 1 Canadian/1 American). So with my limited access to cooking up something big, I decided to freestyle some homemade cranberry sauce. The true beauty of making homemade cranberry sauce is that you really can’t go wrong. Play around with what you like and I’m confident it’ll turn out great! It’s not overly complicated and it’s always a big hit. Everything homemade always is!

Across the Border Grapefruit Cranberry Sauce

  • 2 cups of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 grapefruit – I did a very rough supreme (segments) of the grapefruit
  • 1/2 of the rind of the grapefruit – cut into small pieces (my thinking was that if I cooked it down enough, it would soften and be mild enough to actually eat. I liked the taste and texture of it, but you could definitely zest it in as well without worrying about biting into a big chunk of rind!)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • few drops of vanilla extract (precise!)
  • few shakes of cinnamon (precise again)

Directions

  • In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, mix the orange juice, honey and brown sugar in a pot until sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the cranberries, grapefruit, rind, vanilla and cinnamon to the mixture and stir until the cranberries begin to pop.
  • Once they start to pop and explode. Take the pan off the heat, cover and let stand for 15-20 minutes.
  • Don’t be concerned if it looks too liquidy (It may not be a word, but it is now). It begins to come together when it’s off the heat.
  • Give it a taste, you definitely can sweeten up at this point if it’s too tart, but enjoy the cranberry goodness.
  • I usually transfer it to a bowl at this point and wait for it to cool down before placing it into the fridge and then it really comes together.
  • Slather on everything and happy Thanksgiving wherever you’re from.

For what it’s worth, having Thanksgiving with new and old friends once again proved my theory right. It always tastes better with friends.

Picture courtesy of one of the new friends from the evening

P.S. There was a crazy good stuffing made with croissants and 6 pounds of butter or something, my goal is to get that recipe for you!

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Filed under Brown Sugar, Grapefruit, Thanksgiving

My (Fried) Chicken & Waffle Journey

I have a simple “yes” or “no” question for you. Have you ever heard of “chicken & waffles”? And for those who haven’t this isn’t just regular chicken, we’re talking fried chicken!

Chicken & Waffles

I can’t recall when I first heard of it, but I’ve been dreaming about it for quite some time. Yes, that’s right, I dream about fried chicken & waffles, don’t you?

So first a history lesson, I thought chicken & waffles were a commonly known thing, but after asking around, I had a bunch of people looking at me all crazy-like! It’s definitely a southern dish, usually characterized in the “Soul Food” category and after a quick look through Wikipedia (where else?), the jury is still out on how these were initially paired together.

“As unusual as it might seem, the marriage of chicken and waffles actually has deep roots. Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France in the 1790s and the combination began appearing in cookbooks shortly thereafter. The pairing was enthusiastically embraced by African-Americans in the South. For a people whose cuisine was based almost entirely on the scraps left behind by landowners and plantation families, poultry was a rare delicacy; in a flapjack culture, waffles were similarly exotic. Chicken and waffles for decades has been a special-occasion meal in African-American families, often supplying a hearty Sunday morning meal before a long day in church.”
Some historians believe the dish goes back to the late 19th century, when Southern African-Americans, recently freed from slavery, began migrating to the Northern United States. According to author John T. Edge: “My guess is that it comes from the days when someone would go out in the morning and wring a chicken’s neck and fry it for breakfast. Preparing a breakfast bread with whatever meat you have on the hoof, so to speak, comes out of the rural tradition.”

Well, I was in New York recently and it was time for chicken & waffles. I was told of a great place in Harlem, but knowing my luck with the Subway system, I would have ended up in New Jersey or some other remote place! Next time, I will tackle Harlem, but this time around, I stayed close to where I was staying and found a place in an awesome part of Brooklyn (Williamsburg) called ‘Pies N Thighs’.

Pies N Thighs Menu

When I sat down and looked at the menu, there it was! However, at the same moment, I realized there was no way this could meet my expectations, because at this point, I had built up the combo in my head to be a culinary experience for the ages and unfortunately, I was right.

The positive

  • The plate looked great and when they say chicken & waffles, that’s exactly what it is.
  • The chicken was moist and cooked really well.
  • There was a great cinnamon butter served on top of the waffles.
  • Enjoyed my Arnold Palmer (1/2 iced tea and 1/2 lemonade)

Arnold Palmer

The negative

  • The chicken lacked seasnoning and that is probably my biggest complaint. Me and my uncle agreed that even KFC was better seasoned. The Colonel Sanders does know his chicken!
  • I’m not a waffle expert (is there such a thing?), but I have a sneaking suspicion that they weren’t fresh. They were a little soggy and soft, like they had been frozen, sort of like an Eggo. Well, this complaint is a very close second.
  • I’m a huge fan of extra crispy fried chicken and this was only bordering crispy.

I loved the combination, it was a total get-your-hands-messy-finger-licking-good-experience. I know it can be better and I plan on eating more chicken & waffles to prove my point! We will meet again!

Fried chicken with a drizzle of honey

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Filed under Brooklyn, Chicken & Waffles, Fried Chicken, New York, Pies N Thighs

Pan-Grilled Scallops on Green Gazpacho

You ever see something on the Food Network and say to yourself, “Wow, that looks amazing, I need to make that”. How often do you actually make it? Well, I’m often guilty of not following through, but this time I actually made something with a little help.

I had watched Chuck Hughes of Chuck’s Day Off on the Food Network a while back and he made this great green gazpacho which served as the base for a perfectly grilled scallop. Chuck made it look amazing so I had told myself I should give it a shot one day, but filed it away for a rainy day activity. Fast forward about a month and I was chatting with my friend Lora, the Cake Duchess (she’s on my blogroll, go click and say hi to her) about needing to find a simple, yet elegant dish. She said she had just the thing and sent me the link to something she had recently seen and it turned out to be the very same scallop and gazpacho. It was fate, so I had to make it, so I did!

 

Pan-Grilled Scallops on Green Gazpacho

 

The best part of this dish, is that it’s one of those things that looks wonderfully chic and it’s not overly complicated. If you’re a fan of seafood, you can never go wrong with a sweet scallop. As for the gazpacho, the tomatillos is a perfect match to the crunchy cucumber.

Pan-Grilled Scallops on Green Gazpacho (Recipe from Chuck’s Day Off)

Ingredients

Gazpacho

  • 4 Lebanese cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and small diced (I used the English cucumber)
  • 3 canned tomatillos, peels removed and, quartered, or 3 fresh tomatillos, peeled and diced (I went the route of using canned, just because the fresh ones were not ripe at all)
  • 3 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Coarse or kosher salt

Scallops

  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pan-Grilled Scallops
  • 5 sea scallops, shells reserved (As you can see, I didn’t find any shells)
  • Canola Oil, for frying
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

To make the gazpacho: Add the diced cucumbers, tomatillos, onions, and garlic to a mixing bowl. Pour in the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt, and black pepper, to taste. Stir to combine and set aside to allow the flavors to blend.To make the scallops: Score the scallops with a small knife in a checkerboard pattern.
Cook’s Note: This will give the scallops a nice ‘browned look’ once they’re seared. 

In a hot pan, add enough canola oil to line the bottom and sear the scallops on both sides until barely cooked through, about 30 seconds per side. Once cooked, they should just lose their translucent color.

Serve the scallops by arranging the scallop shells on a platter. Place a dollop of the gazpacho onto each shell, and then top with a single seared scallop. Add a drizzle of olive oil and, lastly, a dusting of salt, and pepper.

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Filed under Chuck's Day Off, Gazpacho, Scallop, Tomatillos

Eating New York City – Take 1

When I travel, eating is always on the agenda and my time in New York has not disappointed. As an additional bonus, I’ve reconnected with old friends and have even made some great new friends through the power of Twitter.

I was introduced to an arepa during a New York city street fair. It’s a Columbian street food and it’s delicious. It is a cornmeal patty that is either grilled, baked or fried.  Mine was grilled and there was melted cheese in between the two patties. The cornmeal gave it a sweet taste and it tasted very similar to polenta, but in sandwich form.

 

Cornmeal Arepa goodness

 

With Latin America treats on the brain, we decided to tackle a place called Yuca Bar, a funky Latin place that was perfect for a Sunday afternoon. We started with a Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. My description is that it’s like a mojito, but not really. It has three parts to it, sugar, lime and cachaça which is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane. If you like a strong drink and you love lime, this is the drink for you! I enjoyed it, but I definitely had to wait for the ice to melt a bit to tone down the drink a little bit.

 

Caipirinha

 

A great drink usually calls for some great food and that’s precisely why we chose Yuca Bar. My friend sought out this place because he wanted their yuca fries and chimichurri. My friend (who is Canadian) recently married a Columbian girl and luckily for him, she has introduced her culinary world to him.

So the results, forget french fries with regular potatoes, yuca fries are where it’s at! They were delicious and crispy on the outside and very starchy when you bite into them, but in a good way. I’ll be searching out some yuca at the market next visit. As for this thing they call chimichurri, I was told it originates from Uruguay and Argentina. I would be doing it a disservice to say it’s a sauce, because it’s too chunky to be a sauce. It also is apparently very popular for grilling with steaks. I’m not sure how to describe it, so i’ll be quiet now and let the picture do the talking.

 

Yuca fries and chimichurri from Yuca Bar

 

I was told that a chimichurri varies from country to country, but they all tend to have parsley, onion, garlic, oil, vinegar. The one we had definitely had some heat to it in the form of a jalapeno. It was probably one of the best things I’ve had in a while and this will definitely get made soon and written about!

 

Chimichurri close-up

 

Thank you for the tour of the city and the introduction to some great food!

Yuca Bar NYC
111 avenue A @ 7th st.
New York, NY 10009

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Filed under Caipirinha, Chimichurri, New York City, Yuca Bar, Yuca Fries

The Tomato Consommé That Never Was…

If you follow my blog, you know that I had entered a food blogging competition put on by Foodbuzz. My unrealistic goal was to win it, my realistic goal was to make it to the 2nd round. I’m happy to say I realized one of the two goals but unfortunately, I did not win the big enchilada! But I’m thankful for having made it to the 2nd round, because I had the opportunity to make my grandmother’s Curried Chicken. As an added bonus, along the way, I “met” a bunch of wonderful food bloggers passionate about food and story-telling and for that I am grateful.

 

The Perfect Pair - Tomatoes and Magic Bullet

 

Of course, the ironic thing about the competition was that I had to prepare the 3rd challenge in case I had advanced. So like many others, I bought, cooked, photographed and ate but it was not meant to be. But since this is my blog and I can do what I want to (a la Cyndi Lauper), I’ll be sharings parts of the meal with you.

 

Shot of Tomato Consommé

 

The theme of the 3rd challenge was to host a luxury dinner party and I’ll be totally honest, luxury food is not my forte…yet. So with that in mind, my goal was to go simple, yet elegant. I think I managed that with a tomato consommé. I decided to get some help from Jamie Oliver who writes about it in his book Jamie at Home, plus I’d seen him do it on television as well. The only thing that was slightly daunting was having to use cheesecloth since I’d never had to use it before, but as you can see, I figured it out!

 

Luxury Dinner Presentation - First Course

 

Other than having to get really creative in order to make a lot of space in the fridge, the whole process was quite simple and I will definitely be doing it again. The image of blended up vegetables dripping from a cheesecloth overnight was not elegant, but the final result definitely was. If you are a fan of tomatoes, this recipe is absolutely for you. It really is, pure liquid tomato goodness.

Tomato Consommé (Jamie at Home)

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 pounds of tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 slice of beetroot, thick slice (optional for color only)

Directions

  • Put everything except the beetroot into a food processor and run until slushy. You will probably want to split the tomatoes into 2 batches to avoid spillage. (I used my Magic Bullet and did it in 5 batches.)
  • Place 4 layers of clean muslin cheesecloth in a deep bowl. Pour the tomato mixture into the cloth. Tie up the corners of the fabric. Add the slice of beetroot to the bowl to color the liquid. Hang the bag from a shelf in the refrigerator with the bowl underneath for 6-8 hours (or longer). Discard the beetroot.
  • Serve in a pretty clear bowl with an ice cube to keep it very cold, a nice basil leaf, and a few drops of very good extra-virgin olive oil. (I opted to go without the ice cube and found it perfectly chilled by removing it from the fridge just before serving it.)

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