Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clafoutis avec Mémé

When my parents flew back to the US for the summer, they stopped off in Paris to visit my French grandmother Suzanne. We call her Mémé and she is known- above all else- for her cooking. She is the only woman who could get my 12 year old self to eat fish. How? By whipping up one of those famously French, sinfully delicious white butter-laden sauces .

But I'm here to talk about her clafoutis which is a sort of cake made with black cherries. If you haven't already tried one, you should. As I've mentioned before, I don't really even like cherries, but this takes the cake. (ha!)

It's not even that difficult to make- Mémé doesn't even have a set recipe. So if cherries are still in season near you, I'd suggest giving this a try before it's too late.

My mom had the ingenious idea of taking pictures of the process while she was visiting and so whitout her permission, I have posted them here for our mutual enjoyment. See how much I care?

Et voila ma Mémé Suzanne:

Step one- Butter a baking dish. All good French recipe require butter. fact of life.

Now here we have some pitted cherries. Some say that you MUST keep the pits in as they infuse the cake with their nutty almost almond like flavour- but others are more practical. My Mémé falls into the later category.

Mixing up the batter. Do I spot some yogurt or creme fraiche on the lip of the bowl?

Adding the obligatory milk.

And a bit of flour tooNext are the cherries. And try not to lose any, ok?

Mix it all up
And pour into your buttered pan

Into the oven for 34-40 minutes.

Et voila! Un delicieux clafoutis aux cerises!

From the Larousse Gastronomique
A desert from the Limousin region of France , clafoutis consists of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish, covered with fairly thick batter and baked. It is served lukewarm, dusted with sugar. As a rule, the cherries are not stoned (pitted) but simply washed and stalked (stemmed), since the kernel add their flavor to the batter during cooking.

  • 500g black cherries
  • 100g caster sugar, seperated
  • butter for greasing
  • 125g flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Remove the stalks from 500g (18 oz) washed black cherries, dust them with 50g (2oz) caster sugar and leave for at least 30 minutes. Butter a baking tin and fill it with cherries. Put 125g (4 1/2 oz) plain flour in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt, 50g (2oz) caster sugar and 3 well-beaten eggs; mix well; then add 300ml (1/2 pint) milk and mix thoroughly again. Pour the mixture over the cherries and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) for 35-40 minutes. When it is lukewarm dust with icing sugar.


Friday, August 14, 2009

The Roadhouse

A couple weeks ago my brother and my boyfriend became a little obsessed with a website called Cheese & Burger which seems to have been set up by the Wisconsin Cheese Company. It's a very flashy website which proudly promotes 30 different cheeseburgers, most of which one person cannot eat alone. A very manly-man's voice announces each burger as you click through the pages and drool over the completely over-the-top creations.

Boyfriend and brother spent most of a work day deciding which one they wanted and would ultimately make that very night. I did manage to get a word in and we ended up going for Number 13: The Roadhouse.

Featuring Gruyere, garlic mayonnaise, bacon, caramelized onions AND onion rings, this is a monster burger you better be eating alone or with friends who won't soon smell your breath.

I think we did a pretty god job re-creating it. Kris could barely wait for me to take a picture of the darn thing, practically shouting: "OHMYGOD ITS GETTING COLD!" Yes. Kris takes his burgers very seriously- as would anyone who would attempt to make such an overloaded but tasty burger.

The Roadhouse
The Toppings & Fixings
  • Gruyere cheese
  • Beef patty
  • Caramelized onions
  • Bacon
  • Onion rings
  • Garlic mayonnaise
  • Toasted onion roll
Preheat oven to 375

Start out making your onion rings. Just dredge your slices onions into some flour which you've seasoned with powdered mustard, salt and pepper. Fry in oil until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Meanwhile you can caramelize your sliced onions in another pan by slowly sauteing them with some butter.

Throw your buns in the oven to toast them for a bit

Cook up your beef patty in the same pan you used to saute the onions.

Assemble from bottom to top: onion roll bottom, caramalized onions, onion rings, beef patty, Gruyere, bacon, garlic mayonnaise, onion roll top

Try not to devour it in one bite. It's no joke.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Breakfast Burritos or Not

Again inspired by the Pioneer Woman, last weekend we actually made an effort for breakfast. As much as I love the super-easy Egg in the Hole from last week, this is a great breakfast when you're starving and need your stomach to be appeased for the next several hours. Plus, the effort involved is indirectly proportional to the tastiness yielded. I hope we're all on the same page because we're getting started now!

Start by washing and scrubbing a few potatoes- we went with some red potatoes.

Once they are soft when poked with a fork, drain them, let them cool and then chop them up.

Meanwhile start sauteing some chopped onions and peppers. You could even throw in a jalapeno if you felt like it (or have some leftover).

Then add in your chopped potatoes.

Let it all cook together for a while until the potatoes develop a nice golden crunch.

Next we add some shopped spicy sausage which was already cooked (if starting with raw sausage, I would probably throw them into your pan first.)

Next add in your egg mixture. Here we have 4 eggs mixed with about 1 cup of pepperjack cheese and chopped chives.

Slowly fold the mixture over so that you don't end with scrambled eggs or an omelet but something in between. Once the egg has settled, we're reading to plate it!

Just plop some of the mixture into a burrito and fold! OR if you're like us and got "brown rice tortilla" which tasted funky, just put it in a bowl and top it with sour cream and salsa


Breakfast Burritos or Not
Adapted from this recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 2 tbls butter (or if you're a fatty like me, bacon fat)
  • 1 bell pepper or a couple sweet peppers chopped
  • 1 half onion chopped
  • 2 pre-cooked spicy sausages
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup pepperjack cheese
  • 2 tbls chopped chives
  • salt and pepper
  • Tortillas and/or sour cream and salsa
Put your potatoes in a saucepan of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Drain and when cool coarsely chop.

A large skillet melt butter and saute onions and peppers until soft. Add chopped potatoes and let cook together for a couple minutes, letting the potatoes develop a nice crust.

Add in chopped sausage and let cook for another few minutes. Let the ingredients get to know each other.

In a small bowl whisk up your eggs and add shredded cheese, chopped chives and salt & vinegar. Add mixture to skillet and gently fold everything together. When eggs are settled, you are ready for deliciousness! Either plop some into a tortilla for a burrito or eat out of bowl topped with sour cream and salsa. Can't really go wrong here, folks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And How to Stay Hot

I've seen the Pioneer Woman make these jalapeno poppers for just about every big even she's hosted- Christmas, people visiting the ranch, maybe even Easter but most importantly 4th of July. I can see how these would become a 4th of July tradition. You can cook them up on the grill, they're easy to make, don't fall apart once they're cooked and are nice on a burger. I wasn't head over heals for them, but the boyfriend and brother looooooved them.

So if you wanna impress a bunch of 20 something guys with a taste for spicy foods, this is your recipe.

To start, why don't we just wash those peppers. Next, I would advise putting on some gloves- no seriously. I did not listen to this advice and for the rest of the evening my fingers were... tingly? felt like they had ants running through them maybe? or even a slight burning sensation- particularly around the cuticles and any scratches I already had. but all of this to say- it's no joke! These peppers will burn you- so be warned.

Next, cut each pepper in half (look at my glove-less poor hands not realizing what they will be going through soon!)

And scoop out the membranes- see? Peppers on one side- membranes on the other

Then you wanna fill each half with cream cheese.

Wrap a slice of bacon around each pepper and secure with a toothpick.

See? Lots of peppers, filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and ready for the GRILL!

And voila! A couple minutes on the grill under the watchful eye of my father yielded some rather burnt looking but apparently delicious poppers. Which I would say means the recipe is pretty forgiving.

Not bad at all

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

From the

  • Fresh Jalapenos 2-3 inches in size
  • Cream cheese, softened
  • Thin, regular bacon, sliced into thirds

Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things HOT). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon piece (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle (at this point you can freeze them, uncooked in a ziploc bag for later use.)

Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don't want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes the bacon doesn't look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it.

Serve immediately if you want 'em hot, or they're great at room temperature.

How to Keep Cool

Yes, I know it hasn't been oppressively hot lately, at least not in New York- but it's hot enough that I sure don't want to turn on the stove. Mark Bittman wrote this article for the New York Times a couple weeks ago and I because I couldn't stop thinking about it, I just printed off a copy to hang on my fridge until the weather cools. Who knew there were this many easy salads to make? Hope you find something you like!

The Minimalist- Recipes for 101 Simple Salads for the Season
Some highlights from the article that I will be sure to try:

10. Cook whole grape tomatoes in olive oil over high heat until they brown lightly, sprinkling with curry powder. Cool a bit, then toss with chopped arugula, loads of chopped mint and lime juice.

15. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. I love this — the tomato juice-soy thing is incredible.

30. Fast, grown-up potato salad: Boil bite-size red potatoes. While still warm, dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, capers and parsley. Chopped shallots, bell peppers, etc., all welcome, too.

44. Make a crisp grilled cheese sandwich, with good bread and not too much good cheese. Let it cool, then cut into croutons. Put them on anything, but especially tomato and basil salad. This you will do forever.

49. Toss greens with walnuts, blue cheese and raspberries; drizzle with a simple vinaigrette. Sell for $14 a serving.

75. The Little Italy salad: Chop or julienne salami and prosciutto, then toss with cubed mozzarella, chopped tomato, pepperoncini, oil and wine vinegar.

87. Cold not-sesame noodles: Combine about a half-cup peanut butter with a tablespoon soy sauce and enough coconut milk to make the mixture creamy (about a half cup), along with garlic and chili flakes in a blender or food processor. Toss sauce with cooked and cooled noodles, a load of mint, Thai basil, and/or cilantro, and lime juice. Shredded cucumber and carrots optional.

95. Mix cooked couscous or quinoa with orange zest and juice, olive oil, maybe honey, sliced oranges, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped red onion and chopped almonds. Serve over greens, or not.