Thursday, March 20, 2014

French as in Dijon not Fries

This past week, the boyfriend drew the country France for our culinary pallets to discover.  I do have to admit that French cooking is one of my favorites to explore with since it is so delicate in many ways, but very complicated in others.

Great chefs like Jacques Pépin, use flavors that are unique to the region they are from.  So many flavors and recipes to try it was hard to narrow it down to just one.  I could have bought fresh French bread and Brie and could have called it a day (that's a treat in itself), but decided on a warmer dish since it was still on the slightly chilly side.

I opted to do a fairly quick stew, but had forgotten the French bread that would've gone well with it.  That didn't stop me though.

French Beef Stew



  1. Combine meat and flour in a large plastic food storage bag and toss to coat evenly.
  2. In a 6 quart saucepan brown meat in hot vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, beef broth, carrots, potatoes and thyme. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover; and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is tender.
  4. French Beef Stew
  5. Blend in mustard and serve.
Side note: Since I forgot the French bread, I needed to make a quick bread.  I had just gone to the grocery store that afternoon and didn't feel like going out again to just get bread.  I found a recipe for buttermilk biscuits made from buttermilk pancake mix.  It didn't turn out too badly, just a tad on the dry side.

This upcoming week we'll go back in time.  Also, there will be a new twist to the blog come April, so stay tuned.

In the words of Jacques Pépin: "happy cooking."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back Track

The last few weeks have been kinda crazy on the work front and school front.  However, not too busy to complete the last three challenges, just their associated blog entries.

Just before leaving for a week long business trip, I attempted to do a vintage recipe.  This time, it came from a cookbook that of course escapes my mind at the moment.  This is why I try to do my blog as I have cooked the dish so I remember.

In any event, these were small cakes with frosting.  The batter tasted like a cake batter right out of the box.  Which was nice though it wasn't as sweet (good for my taste buds).  The two pictured here are the only ones that came out "perfect."

Small Cakes with Frosting
 While I was away, the boyfriend drew out of the magic hat, East Timor as our country for the week.  Of course, I didn't really get a chance to research very much since on this business trip, I was required to go out all nights I was away.  Either way, I did find out quite about East Timor.

East Timor is primarily influenced by the other Southeast Asian countries and their other colony holders, such as Portugal.  Unfortunately, not many recipes listed as East Timor proper, so I found a recipe that quickly became a favorite for both the boyfriend and myself: Pastel de nata.

Pastel de Nata
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup white sugar
6 egg yolks
1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff
pastry, thawed
Pastel de Nata
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.) Lightly grease 12 muffin cups and line bottom and sides with puff pastry.
2.In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Gradually add egg yolk mixture back to remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove vanilla bean.
3.Fill pastry-lined muffin cups with mixture and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is lightly browned on top

Immediately after exploring this recipe, we went vintage and tried to go back to our healthier eats.  Unfortunately, the boyfriend had picked the cookbook, A Book of Good Dinners, which encompasses the entire dinner, from appetizer, to main dish to desert options and what each are paired with.  For the sake of our appetite and our waist lines (which by the way are actually shrinking due to our dedications to the gym and kickboxing/kung fu respectively), we only attempted to do a salad.  And since I was back from the East Coast, it was only fitting to do a salad called "California Salad."

California Salad
1 cup crab meat
2/3 cup celery
4 small tomatoes
Remove the meat from crabs and cut in pieces of uniform size, add the celery finely cut and tomatoes cut in quarters.  Marinate with French Dressing, and garnish with Mayonnaise Dressing

Mayonnaise Dressing
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
few grains cayenne
Yolks 2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 tablespoon vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil

California Salad
Mix dry ingredients, add egg yolks and when well mixed, add oil gradually, at first drop by drop stirring constantly.  As mixture thickens, thin with vinegar and lemon juice.  Add oil and vinegar or lemon juice alternately, until all is used, stirring constantly.

French Dressing
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 drops onion juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

Mix ingredients in order given and stir well until well blended.

Now I know that this is a lot of food to digest, but remember, we did span it over the last few weeks.  This week, we'll explore the French culinary delights.  Fortunately for me, French fries aren't on the list.  French fries are actually Belgian so no French fries on the menu, unless I decide to put them as a side dish (most likely not, we'll see though...).