Craving mum’s food…

December 3rd, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

When I’m on the phone with my mum, we can’t help talking about food at one moment or another. Did I tell you what a wonderful cook she is? I’m sure I did. But it’s ok, I can’t say it enough, anyway.
She’s the first one I call for cooking tips and I’m not the only one… I love how she tells me about food. Her recipes are like her: original and very a bit crazy sometimes, full of love and passion, always elegant, always inspiring. Not always easy to follow though… she never measures anything, or writes down anything, always cook following her instincts, it’s a pinch of this and a drop of that, abracadabra et Voila! and I like it like that. She’s taking me on a culinary journey where I’m free to add my own touch of gourmandise.

Osso Bucco

Until I get to enjoy her cooking again at Christmas… just for her and you, I’ve cooked an old family favourite in the cold season, osso bucco a la milanese. I know she’ll love it. I hope you will too.

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Summer on the table

July 20th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

It’s raining again… Instead of biking in the dunes as I had planned, I’m squatting the couch under a thick plaid, enjoying my 4th cup of fuming mint tea while dreaming of the sun of my provence. 

No way I’m going to let this rotten weather get on my mood today! So here’s a simple fish dish full of sun and fragrant like a summer night in provence. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, there you are! Do you hear the song of the cigales, the friends playing jeu de boule while you’re sipping a pastis or a chilled rose, enjoying the sunset… That’s the spirit. Now hurry and serve everybody before it gets cold

 

Daurades royales en croute de sel
Summer on the table: Dorades royales en croute de sel anisee…

 

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Mandoline melody

September 18th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

Luckily for you, I am not in the mood to sing or exert any musical talent that I don’t have! Not that it would really matter for you anyway as I have not yet become acquainted with podcasts and other blog fancy tricks…

No, today, I would like to introduce you to one of my best friends in the kitchen: my mandoline…
[nb – can’t put my hands on my camera cable and the card transfer doesn’t work properly, so no paparazzi picture of my mandoline today, you’ll have to wait a bit…]

I love vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchinis, oignons, paprikas… well, to sum up: I love vegetables and I mostly like them cooked in thin slices, al dente or in salads. I also love to cook my fish on the grill or “en papillote” with a few extra thin slices of lemon that will caramelise impregneted with the fish juices, mmmm! Unfortunately, I do not yet fully master the art of handling a knife in the japanese style and there’s not a square centimeter left in my kitchen for a fancy food processor. Yet, I am blessed, I have my mandoline! I don’t really know what the exact term is in english or in dutch, if you know, feel free to let me know!

Now, if you’ve got one, wether it’s old and sentimental, inherited from your grandma or cheap, once bought on a small french market in the south of france during your holidays, or fancy, in shiny inox from your favourite cookshop, or asian style in a cheesy colour with a lot of chinese or japanese characters on the box (that’s mine)… here’s one great vegetable for you to try and play the mandoline….

zucchiniTagliatelles

Zucchini Tagliatelles
Tagiatelles de courgettes

serves 2. prep: 5 min cook: 5 min

Ingredients:
2 zucchinis (or if you live like me in the netherlands where they worship huge monster size vegetables… the smallest ‘monster courgette’ you can find… )
1 small clove of garlic

a handfull fresh basil
1 Tsp freshly grated parmeggiano
1 Tsp roasted pinenuts
2 Tsp fragrant virgin olive oil
sea salt, pepper

Wash the zucchinis and chop the ends. Take your magic mandoline, tune the spacing in order to obtain slices of ~2mm and use it to slice the zucchinis in the length (not your fingers!)… 30s later, rince the mandoline with fresh water, put it to dry, smile! you’re almost done. Now, if you have a little a bit of time before the dinner (this dish should be finalized just before serving), season the zucchini tagliatelles with sea salt and leave to drain in a clean cloth or some kitchen paper. If not, just go ahead with the recipe… In a large pan on high fire, add a Tsp of olive oil, add the zucchinis, season with salt (if not done already) and pepper, shake your pan a little, let’s say 2 to 3 minutes not more. Take out of the fire, add the basil pressed garlic clove, pinenuts, parmeggiano and one last tablespoon of olive oil, mix a bit. You’re done! Now hurry to the table, take a deep breath to enjoy the fragrances and … eat while it’s hot!

Bon appétit!

Nb. No need to mention that you can of course do this dish without a mandoline… Use a sharp knife, beware of your fingers.

I love squids… but would you clean them for me?

April 29th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Last saturday, 2. p.m, at the crowded local market: I am standing exhausted among the fish stalls, my shoulders hurt from all the bags I’m carrying. I have everything I need for a whole week of fresh season vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, the asperges have not appeared on the stalls yet… but I got fragrant deep red strawberries and a juicy mango instead. The fish looked amazing that day: after a lot of hesitation, I decided for a beutifully fresh sea bar, some mackerels. There is also that fish: “Wijting” in dutch. I don’t know what it is, but there has been a massive arrival. Next time maybe. Time to go! And then, I almost bumped into the stall: squids! I love these animals… But cleaning them is always such a hastle. Ok, I’ll have some of these too. I tried my most charming smile and asked if they could clean them for me… But, that doesn’t work in Holland! Anyway, I gave it a try. Off with my kilo of calamars to clean…

Back in my kitchen, it took me a good half hour to clean these damn animals! First carefully removing the inside, then the skin. Water, lemon… All bright  and clean,  packed in plastic bags and off to the freezer. a complete spa treatment. I was definitely out of energy after that and almost regretted buying them.

Few days later, in my kitchen again, you could have heard me singing, like Edith Piaf, “Non, rien de rien… Non, je ne regrettes rien”! It was worth every effort: searching for an idea for my lunch box I remembered! I unpacked my first little bag of squids, and got started. With squid, I always remember the cleaning part, and forget the recipe. It’s everytime different eventhough there’s always a mediterranean touch to it. One thing is sure, there were a lot of jealous the next day at the cantine!

squid

Improvised sauteed squid. 
(Calamars sautes: impro du jour)

1 pers. prep: 10 min(excl. cleaning), cooking: 15/20 min

Ingredients:
300g small or mid-size squids cleaned
3 small tomatoes (or more if you want more sauce)
1 new carrot
1 red oignon
2 cloves of fresh garlic
a small handful flat parsley
5 cl. of red wine
cayenne pepper to taste (or fresh red chili pepper)
a pinch of cumin powder
sea salt, pepper
olive oil

Roughly chop your tomatoes and oignon. Chop your carrot in very small pieces. If your calamars are big enough, you can cut them in slices or the Jamie Oliver’s way (cf. Jamie’s Dinners) as featured in the photo: To do so, insert a wide cook’s knife in the squid and with another cook’s knife, slice the squid along it’s length at small intervals.
Oil your skillet slightly so that it doesn’t stick. Let it warm up on high fire. Add the cleaned calamars. After 5 to 10 min, they will have released most of their water. Keep these juices aside for later and add the chopped vegetables, the fresh garlic cloves, a bit of olive oil, season with salt peper and cayenne pepper. Once the vegetables start to colour, add half of the calamar juices, the wine and leave to cook for 10 min on mi. If it dries out, add the rest of the juices. Add the end, add a pinch of cumin, the flat parsley. Serve promptly with some white rice for example. 
Bon appétit!

This will also be delicious warmed up the next day. In my lunch box, I replaced the rice with grilled new carrots.

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