Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First Bites.... Cauliflower and Carrots Puree - Build Up Recipe

Cauliflower... for some reasons it seems that people have a hard time with it. I know that my husband does not like it in gratin much...and because my children will notice his hesitation when it comes to eating it, I have tried to come up with other ways to prepare it. You know, it's all about my "Eating-By-Example" Theory....
One of the best way to maximize the chances that your children will grow up eating (liking?) cauliflower is to introduce it early to them. And like turnips in my previous post, you hide it in other well-liked vegetables. In this recipe, the orange color of carrots attracts the little one attention who, then are more willing to swallow the mix. I tested it with my two children when they were younger and it worked. It worked again with them when I cooked it recently. My daughter did ask me what the little white pieces were... but when I told her it was cauliflower, she did not care.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Seafood Salad with Avocado, Tomato and Grapefruit

We have this tradition in my family where the one whose birthday we celebrate has to choose his/her lunch menu (you would have to ask my siblings and my parents to tell you whether there was one specific dish I always requested because I can't just think of one right now). This is my older brother's favorite salad. He would inevitably choose it for his birthday lunch menu and we would tease him about it because he was SO PREDICTABLE with his lunch appetizer! Since we started  living away from each other (and now literally around the world), we started to pool birthdays. For instance, if we only see each other in July, then we'll pool the June/July/August birthdays together, making it a little bit trickier for the menu selection but never impossible! The advantage of pooling birthdays is that we get to celebrate someone's birthday a few times (let's say my brother and his wife would celebrate my brother's birthday with their children at their home and then with us/my parents/relatives on another day). The other advantage is that we have learned not to care so much about THE actual birthday day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lighter Fares for After The Holidays ;)

There won't be any recipe today, at least not a new one. I have two good reasons why not. The first one is that most of you will be spending tomorrow, Christmas Day and days after with friends and/or families... and that with a schedule full of cooking, gifts wrapping, gifts unwrapping, game playing and maybe a little walk outside, most of you will be dying to get on Facebook to escape and upload your pictures away from your screens (Really? How long can you be away from a screen these days (computer, cell phone?) Honestly?)...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yesterday with My Children We Made..... Coconut Macaroons (gluten-free)

It seems that everybody is baking cookies these days. I know it's the Holiday Season but I feel that Americans are baking more cookies during this time of year than during the rest of the year. It's a tradition to offer home-made cookies as a gift for friends here... and I remember that my friend M-A from San Francisco offered me a great box of her home made cookies once. They were delicious. I love shortbread cookies but I am no big fan of sugar cookies, especially if they are coated with icing. Too much fake sugar for me. The other day, because I was in a hurry and wanted to bake with the children as a late-afternoon activity (like just before bath so that they can go straight from the kitchen to the bathtub!), I purchased a ready-to-make dough from the supermarket. I generally don't purchase them but I thought that for once, I was going to give it a try.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Carrots, Bacon and Fresh Rosemary

I have always wondered why Brussels Sprouts enjoyed such a bad reputation among some people. I think that they look cute and have the perfect size for adults and children. With the new fashion of miniature vegetables like mini-squash, mini-zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, and baby artichokes, Brussels Sprouts should be highly praised. Besides, they are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and fiber! All right, they have a strong peculiar taste... but I bet that most people don't like Brussels Sprouts because they only had them over-boiled, over-steamed at home or at the school cafeteria, just when too much cooking make them release chemicals that have a sulfur odor.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Buckwheat Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions

As I recently said, I like to purchase new things at the supermarket... and since the agro-business manages to bring new products every other day to feed a new demand (gluten-free for instance) or fad (remember all the Atkins-diet products? Seen any on the shelves lately?), I am always in luck to bring home something new. The latest thing I bought is Kasha. I was in the bulk section of the supermarket and next to my Blue Indigo lentils, Kasha there was. I had never heard of it before...I read the tiny-print (really tiny) label to discover that it was 100% buckwheat. I love buckwheat in galettes (buckwheat-flour crepes) or in Soba Noodles, so I was very happy to find a new way to eat buckwheat... and a new thing to cook for my family in less than 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First Bites... Turnips and Potatoes Purée

Turnips (navets in French)? Pff... some of you might not even try to read this post because of them. And yet, I do think that turnips need to be granted more attention. I personally love turnips in every forms and just in case you had not noticed, I already used some raw (in Coleslaw) or steamed (in Potée Lorraine). I have yet to roast some... but for the time being let's just puree them. My grand-mother grew turnips in her garden and if she managed to trick the wild rabbits, she would get a small production that she would inevitably share with all of us. So, I grew up eating turnips!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Panna Cotta with Fresh Raspberries and Raspberry Coulis

The other day, we were having friends over for dinner and I was looking for an easy-to-make-not-too-heavy dessert to make. Chocolate was out (I had made Petits Pots de Crème not too long before)... and I wanted something with fruits. All right, serving fresh raspberries in late Fall in Philadelphia is not really eating local... but I was lucky enough to find Chilean raspberries (Chilean??? That's REALLY not local!!) on sale at the supermarket; it made me feel somehow better. You see, I have this special relationship with Chilean raspberries (and not just because they were on sale).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Apples and Quinces Compote (Apple Sauce)

My grand-mother used to say that “you don’t have to be hungry to eat apple sauce”. She had a lot of apple trees in her fields, some, les pommes à cidre, dedicated to her home-made apple cider and Calvados, and others, les pommes à couteau, just for us to eat. When the apples were not good-looking enough for us, she would just cook them in her pressure cooker (with skin, seeds, and occasionally worms (hey,  hey were local and really organic!!)). Then it was my job to make la compote (the apple sauce) using her old vegetable hand mill. I don’t know how many kilos of apple sauce I made with her over the years… but except for the worms, I never got tired of eating it afterward (preferably tedious). Nowadays, I cook apple sauce a lot for us. I find that home-made apple sauce tastes better than the one you can find in jars. Besides, as always when you cook from scratch, you control the ingredients (no salt, no preservatives or other undefined “natural flavors”) and you can also play with the fruits (rhubarb,  quince, banana, strawberries) and spices (cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom) to achieve different tastes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Salmon with Buckwheat Pasta, Edamame, Carrots and Sesame Seeds

In France, we call an open kitchen a cuisine américaine (an American kitchen). It is, for some reasons, very fashionable to have one in France but having gone through 3 different types while living in San Francisco, Upstate New York, and now in Philadelphia, I can say that it's great for people..... who don't cook!  While I enjoy being able to be in my kitchen while keeping an eye on my kids or talking to guests, there is something I really don't like about open kitchens:  that it's, well, open on to the living room. There is nothing more annoying to me than having the feeling that I am cooking "in my living room".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Swiss Cheese Soufflé

If you think that soufflés are too complicated to make, please don’t close this page yet. Read further! I mean it.
I am a big fan of soufflés and it is indeed part of our French cuisine. We used to serve it as an appetizer (and I know that some families still do). However, in my family, we eat it as an entrée with a green salad on the side. Soufflés come for all tastes: the salty lovers and the sugar lovers. The most common ones in France are the Swiss cheese soufflés and the chocolate soufflés. So far, I have only made salty soufflés. Not that I don’t like sweet soufflés but I have had such a memorable experience of eating a Peach soufflé at Café Jacqueline in San Francisco that I’m just afraid of baking sweet ones. That said, my friend D. makes a great chocolate soufflé and I am still hoping to get his recipe to make some one day (chocolate and peaches don’t compete in the same category!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vanilla and Chocolate Petits Pots de Crème

Petits Pots de Crème are a very common dessert in French families. My grand-mother would make some for us with fresh milk from the farm. I don't know why but she would always put a leaf of Cherry Laurel in the cream to flavor it... but please don't do it because I just found out that Cherry Laurel is poisonous! Fortunately, she did not make us her cremes too often!
Crèmes are so common that you can find it in ready-pack (you just add warm milk) or in thousands of little jars in the large dairy sections of French supermarkets (we, French, take our dairy products VERY seriously, just in case you had not noticed before). I had not made crèmes in ages but I thought that it would be a great dessert to make for my children.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yesterday With My Children We Made.... Fall Vegetables Casserole with Cranberry Beans

I become sometimes frustrated in the Fall and Winter time because I feel limited with the offer of vegetables. No matter how many recipes I have for cauliflower, squash, and cabbage, there are days when I'd love to find something different. In France, we would eat a lot of fresh beans such as Coco de Paimpol. I have never found them in Philadelphia but the other day, I found fresh Cranberry beans! I purchased some and realized that I had the fresh beans I was looking for. Cranberry beans (a.k.a shell beans) have the great advantage of not requiring soaking before cooking! A big plus for me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cabbage Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Raisins and Cheese

How do you eat your cabbage? Do you actually eat any? If not, you should give it a try. Really. I mean it. First, cabbage is really good for you; it's also very affordable and if you are lucky to find fresh whole cabbages near where you live, you could have enough to serve it over several meals. I personally don't like cabbage in a soup (bad memories of camp food). I love it when it's cured and made in Choucroute (with meat or with fish). I also love in Coleslaw, which, as you may recall, is now one of my favorite recipe for raw cabbage. I also cook it in stews like the Potée Lorraine but I won't cook that dish often. The following recipe is a traditional way I grew up eating raw cabbage in France.