Posts from October 2007

Comfort Food a la Francaise via Cuisine Quotidienne, Kate Hill and Banlieue Blog (in English)

Home cooking of the Spanish kind put me in touch with an Olympia (Washington) native now living (not la vida locca) the country life in La France Profonde or to be more precise Aveyron, in the South of France.

On Sunday, she offered a Jardiniere de Legumes as her Dinner Recipe on Cuisine Quotidienne where she offers her take on French Home Cooking.

To continue with English language sites from France, Melissa of Banlieue Blog ('Suburbia' Blog) has a report card on a Macaroon Class she took a week ago at Lenotre.

In Gascony, Kate Hill who planted her tent in Gascony is planning a Camp Cassoulet for coming Saturday.
I could taste one of these with the weather finally getting cooler if not cold.

Kate Hill also penned A Culinary Adventure in Gascony (Ten Speed Press, 2004) and gives cooking classes when not roaming the land.

Bird_2 Here is how she introduces her recipe for Brochettes of Prunes and Merguez Sausage: "Prunes are to Agen  as apples are to  Normandy, olives to Provence, and walnuts to the Périgord.  They are regional fruit and one of the prime agricultural products of the Lot-et-Garonne département of France. Merguez are slim, spicy sausages originally from North Africa and usually made from lamb and flavored and colored with pomegranate juice and peppers. The bite of the spicy-hot sausage complements the sweet jam taste of the prunes as they cook together over the grill. I serve a morsel of each on a toothpick with a pot of strong Dijon mustard for dipping."

Weathervanes such as one above (borrowed  from Kate Hill's cassoulet story) are a fixture of French villages.

Pruneaux d'Agen used to be a main ingredient in my Roast Beef with Carrots and Pruneaux back in the days.

Related stories: Your very own Vintage of Armagnac

Five Bites...No Blood...Halloween is Almost Here

A couple of days to go and Halloween will be upon us.

I went digging in my treasure trove of stories and took 5 of them out of their restful place.

Let's start with Sinister Hand a wine Boris Karloff would like.

While following the cocoa trail I was Bewitched by Venezuelan Chocolate from Chuao!

I caught Witches and Wizards in the sunny hills of Roussillon with Les Sorcieres, a bloody good wine.

As for mystery and legend, pay a Visit to Broceliande, the magic forest.

More recently, you might have read Dining in the Dark for Halloween...An Option in San Francisco, no sharp tools on the table...

I had to add new tricks and treats to this collection of old stories.

What could be better than the Chocolate Ghost by Oliver Kita to illustrate this brief piece.

Oliver Kita is one of the chocolatiers on my Must Meet list at the upcoming 10th Anniversary of  New York's Chocolate Show.

Related: Swimming in Chocolate , Chocolate Week, New York

From Brunch to Lunch...Life then Work (South Koreans discover leisure)

Having considered South Koreans as working even longer hours than us in the US, I was surprised to find out that since 2004 the government of South Korea has encouraged people to cut down their working week to 5 days.

Su Hyun Lee tells us about these changes and the popularity of Brunch in Seoul in South Koreans take to brunching (International Herald Tribune).

As much as I have to confess my poor skills with chopsticks she says "What is somewhat surprising about the brunch fashion is that Koreans tend to be reluctant to try non-Korean foods. Even when traveling abroad, they gravitate toward kimchi (or fermented vegetables) and bibimpap (rice with vegetables and chili paste). Eating steak and potatoes with knives and forks can be considered an act of sophistication."

Not everyone gave up working Sundays as the impatient fellow she mentions at the end of her brunch piece shows.

Does Sunday always has to be The Rest Day or will we learn to mix it up a bit, depending on how much work we have on our plate, the season or sometimes just the need to take time off.

Going skying or visiting the beach midweek could be more enjoyable.

Are we still stuck in a mindset organizing work around face time, having to be at the office or wherever our work is supposed to be performed?

With all the flexibility we are gaining, how will we know when we to call it a day or just take a break for a`walk or lunch?

More questions than answers you might say.

Some of these ideas are explored on Employee Evolution founded in Wisconsin by a couple of Ryan including one from New Jersey and the wiser and older Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist fame.

Penelope suggests in Teaching old tropes new tricks that we change our approach to work by thinking of life built around a community that makes things possible and where we belong.

She mentions Live First, Work Second, a book by Rebecca Ryan as an illustration of these changes in the making.

That's it for From Brunch to Lunch, Monday Work Etiquette #10

Previously: Giving Customers the Runaround, Is it your company practice?

Apple Day has nothing to do with the Release of Leopard

The more you know the less you know, that saying hit me when I became aware of an event now in its 18th year, Apple Day.

It took Apple Day Comes of Age this week-end in the Financial Times (by Philippa Davenport) to get me hooked on the topic
A distinctively British happening, Apple Day was brought to life by Sue Clifford and Angela King of Common Ground  who celebrate what they brand Local Distinctiveness.

This Apple Day has nothing to do with Steve Jobs or the release of Leopard.

For this 18th Edition, the founders with a little help from Philippa Davenport published The Apple Source Book which reminds us of the many uses for the nearly 3000 species of apples that can be grown in the British Isles.
According to England in Particular-What's In Season on Common Ground here are some of the varieties that can be found in October:
Allington Pippin, Arthur Turner, Bloody Ploughman, Bramleys, Catshead, Charles Ross, Cox’s Orange Pippins, Egremont Russett, Gascoynes Scarlet, Hoary Morning, Howgate Wonder, King of the Pippins, Lord Lambourne, Michaelmas Red, Norfolk Beauty, Ribston Pippin, Queen, Sunset, Tom Putt, Worcester Pearmain.

How many of these have you tasted?

I did not know until I read Philippa Davenport's piece that this favorite fruit
originally came from the mountains of Tien Shan on the Kazakhstan-China border.

Some call Tien Shan, the Heaven's Mountains and it is a favorite with trekkers and mountain climbers.

Take a bite, croquez la pomme!

Related stories: Jazz from New Zealand and Honeycrisp Apple, The Farmer's Market

From Beaujolais to Umbria, traveling through wine

I just wanted to share a couple of recent wine picks I made.
From Beaujolais. a Julienas, Clos de Haute Combe (2005), I was growing tired of American Pinot Noirs so I decided to go Gamay.
If you pay a visit to the vineyard (after contacting owners Danielle and Vincent Audras) you will have a chance to enjoy the view from the valley of the Saone to the Alps in the distance (according to Viafrance).

They actually also offer a Gite , Bed and Breakfast at the farm (pictured here) on site if you want to experience life in the slow lane for a few days and/or tour the area in this spartan and very affordable  (around $600 a week) setting. Information is in French only.


Umbria delivered a young Sangiovese (2006) from Falesco. Winemaker Riccardo Cotarella describes it as ripe on the nose and the palate with soft tannins.

This is only the second vintage and the grapes were harvested in September. It is a great value for around $12.

Enjoy both wines and maybe you just got a vacation idea.

C'est tout.

Other wine bits: Wine goes Hybrid, any 'Traminette' in your Cellar

'1080 Recipes' The Spanish Home Cooking Bible according to Jose Manuel Pizarro

Each country has a few home cooking bibles that guide your hand while you are learning the ropes.

For Spanish born chef Jose Manuel Pizarro, the reference book in question on Spanish Home Cooking is 1080 Recipes by Simone and Inés Ortega (Phaidon), a mother-daughter writing team. Simone, the mother, has been a food writer for some 50 years.
1080 Recipes was originally published in 1972 and the first English Edition (US and UK) only this year in 2007.
The book offers over a thousand ideas as the title suggests.

Jose Manuel Pizarro explains why 1080 Recipes is so important to him in Cooking at home and away (on Word of Mouth).

As he states, when you move to another country as he did 5 years ago when coming to London to cook at Tapas Brindisa, you might have to tweak the recipes depending on what ingredients you can and cannot find. With years passing by, you have fond memories of how you discovered various food staples even if at the time it might not have been love at first sight.

I can relate to that. I have a weathered paperback version of French home cooking recipes with me ever since I moved to the US.

As for adapting recipes, when I make a Croque Monsieur, the French ham comes from Canada, the cheese is sometimes provolone or asiago.

Getting back to 1080 Recipes, you can Download A Few Recipes such as Grilled Melon with Sesame and Honey or Galician Stew and get a taste of it.

I guess I will have to get my hands on a copy.

Related stories: The Green Cook...Save Recipes Online with 'Taste Book' and A 'Swede' on my Plate...Tis' the season for...

Chocolate Week...Beyond New York...London and Paris

New York is The Big Apple. Nevertheless Chocolate Week which is 10 days away here already took place in London from October 15 to 21 with maybe 100 Different Events to choose from.

Worth mentioning was On the olive trail - olive oil, balsamic and chocolate ganache presented by  Seventypercent who also shared Cocoa Notes on their Event Blog.

In Piccadilly Gaucho Restaurant offered a tasting of Malamado (a fortified Argentinian wine that they compare to Port) and homemade chocolates.

Keith Hurdman of Melt Chocolate was at Petersham Nurseries to talk about his collaboration with Chefs on new creations.

Going back further in time, Chocolate Week Paris took place in May and pastry chef David Lebovitz shares What was on his plate during that week.

Related: Swimming in Chocolate, Chocolate Week, New York and Be Ready to Ooze during New York's First Ever Chocolate Week

From Brussels with Love...All about Belgian Beers...175 of them and counting

Call it a niche, great focus or whatever else you want, Andreea shares her passion and knowledge and hard work tasting 175 brews so far on the aptly named Belgian Beer from Brussels with love.

No 175 is named Procureur (prosecutor in English).

She also offers a recipe for Sabayon with Premium Kriek Beer which I thought I should share with you:

3 egg yolks
3 half egg shell
(?) sugar
3 half egg shell (?)
Premium Kriek
vanilla ice cream
red berries
Beat the egg yolks, sugar and Kriek together.
Continue beating the egg mixture over low heat, till you get a smooth texture.
Avoid cooking it over high heat as the eggs will scramble.
Fill a glass with vanilla ice cream, fruits and then pour the sabayon over.
Add more fruit on top.

She is a Fan not a Critic in case you wonder.


Her site was listed by the Thirsty on Friday crew at Coudal who also mention All Belgian Beers a new bible on you know what by Madame Hilde Deweer.

The book clocks in at 1568 pages with some 750 illustrations including this chemist like take on Kwak beer which I had to use for this post.

in case you are musically inclined and with eclectic taste you might want to check From Brussels with Love if you can put your hands on it.

Related: Trappist Monks, Beer, Belgium and  Just Baking, from Belgium to Illinois

A 'Swede' on my Plate...Tis' the season for...

Even though here in the New York area, October has been almost summery, I am trying to get ready for chillier days and nights.
I could start to see a change in what produce was offered at the Farmer's Market in the past couple of weeks.

The BBC Food Section suggests that we feel upbeat about the approaching November as "with the arrival of cranberries and chestnuts, you'll rub your hands with glee not cold".

Their November Seasonal Picks also list Goose and Parsnips.

I did learn one thing from their piece about parsnips, it is that "they actually improve with a frost as the effect of freezing the living root converts some of the starch into sugar".

Where does the Swede fits in you might ask?

Well they list it in additional choices of fare. I was puzzled as to what Swede was and after looking it up learned that it is the common word used for Rutabaga in many parts of the British world.

Quincerest_2In the Fruit department, Quince is enjoying a new popularity.

My grandmother used to make preserves with these Coings along many other choices.

Virginie Pean of Absolutely Green (in French with English version of recipe) has an interesting take on them with a Mashed Quince & Potatoes with Ginger, not sure I would like it but worth a try.

Carolyn of 18th Century Cuisine mentions Pate de Coings, one of my favorite sweet treats.

There is even a San Francisco restaurant named Quince. Has anyone been there? The photo of their dining room provides the perfect illustration for this piece.

To complete this Fall flavors roundup, The Fruits of Fall on Chow is worth reading.

Related: Food Memories, 'A Taste of my Life', Nigel Slater

Kiku is already taken...An Animal for your Family Emblem..Kamon for Japanese

If you were to choose an image to represent your family and turn it into an emblem, what would you choose, plant, abstract symbol, creature?

Japan is said to count some 20.000 of these family crests and our friends at PingMag explore those graced with animals in Joyous Kamon: Japanese Animal Crests.

According to Family Crest here is what KA-MON stands for: KA means "family with own genealogical trees" and MON means "crest" or "emblem".

Over time, what were originally pretty formal emblems become more abstract or symbolic tells us Ryoko (PingMag).

One could display their family 'coat of arms' on lampshades for example.

Crab Ryoko outlines the very interesting reasons why she chose the animal designs over the others:
"Why an animal as design in the first place? They have a propitious meaning: For example, a crane and a turtle represent long life since we say cranes live for a thousand years and turtles live for ten thousand years. Similarly, a shrimp is considered a symbol of long life as its long barb and bent over figure look like an aged person. Moreover, a clam is used for the crest design because of the fact that when it’s a bivalve, its both sides stick together, which makes it resemble one harmonious married couple… Next time you have shrimp or clams for dinner, think of that!"

Back in 2005, Watashi to Tokyo wrote about the same topic and reminded us that Kiku is the Japanese Emperor emblem.

The New York Botanical Garden just opened Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum, the show runs until November 18.

Of all the illustrations she offers, I picked the (moody?) Crab Kamon (from the Crest Japan collection) to illustrate this Tokyo Thursday #10...already!

Last Tokyo Thursday: Camembert & Sushi...No Cheesy Music...Paris-Tokyo