Saturday, January 31, 2009

CONFESSIONS FROM THE OLD COUNTRY : LAMB AND PRUNE TAGINE

ESS ESS MEIN KINDT! (EAT! EAT! MY CHILD!)

Food and culture go together like love & marriage (well, not always these days), like a horse & buggy, like, um, okay, let’s start over :

Food and culture go together like bread & butter, like peanut butter & jelly, like tea & scones, like brownies & milk. (Oh, that’s better.) We express and share our culture through what we eat, we learn about other cultures through their cuisine. We strengthen our bonds to our own culture as well as to family and friends who surround us each time we cook and serve a traditional food or meal. What ingredients we use, what dishes we prepare, how it is served. All of this and more tie us to a culture whether or not we still feel an emotional link to a particular country, religion or community.

Great-great grandparents Sarah and Shapsa, photo taken in Lida, Russia before their immigration to the United States

Thursday, January 29, 2009

INCREDIBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE with COFFEE WHIPPED CREAM & CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

BLOW OUT THE CANDLES AND MAKE A WISH

Yes, yes, truth be told, yesterday was indeed my birthday. But older? Naw! Who you kidding? What’s that old, creepy and very dated saying? “She’s not getting older, she’s getting better!” * sigh * as he looks at her adoringly…..

Who me? Older? I think not!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

LEMON MERINGUE TORTE

EYE CANDY

This one is a little personal, though any of you who love either lemons or Alan Rickman and Jason Isaacs can certainly take advantage of and enjoy this post.


Why the eye candy? Well, although this LEMON TORTE fits all of asiangrrl’s requirements : it is luscious and decadent as well as being flourless and dairy-free (almost, I’ll explain later), it came out looking as ugly as sin! So while you savor the tartness of the lemons, enjoy the sweetness of the dessert, you may just need something a bit more attractive to look at, something hunkier to distract you while you eat.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

PERFECT CHEESE SOUFFLÉ

"Isn't it a lovely day (to be caught in the rain)?....

Winter cold has turned into winter rain and chill. To the bones. The anxiety of a possible mishap in our apartment sale aggravated by the basement flooding has added to the frosty atmosphere. It is time to find a little solace in the kitchen.

Why do this ...


... when you can be doing this?

What can be more soothing than a soufflé? Warm, light as air, delicate with the rich, full flavor of gruyère and Parmesan cheeses. Add a green salad dressed with a tart vinaigrette, a loaf of fresh bread, a glass of wine, and settle in for the evening.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

IT'S BEEN ONE OF THOSE WEEKS

What a week! In between juggling a translation for hubby, filling out college applications with Clem and an Americorps application with Simon, and working on this blog with all that entails, our building's basement flooded.

Friday, January 23, 2009

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

THE BEST CHICKEN YET


I was sitting at my computer yesterday surfing food blogs and, as usual, the thought of dinner hour looming ever closer was haunting my thoughts. I easily and often find something to bake, but when it comes to cooking, a great meal is usually the result of a deep-seeded craving for a particular food. But when I don't feel a yen for anything in particular, my mind is a total blank.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD

YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS


Postcard idea and art by Joey Waldon

Well actually we usually have way too many. It is always a dilemma chez moi : bananas are the one fruit I buy all year round, the one fruit that everyone loves, but you never know when they will swallow one after the other in rapid succession in a matter of hours, or when you will find yourself scraping rotting, oozing bananas from the fruit bowl, swatting away the flies. So what to do with the brown, mushy bananas that everyone refuses to eat? LET THEM EAT CAKE!

Monday, January 19, 2009

FRENCH CRÊPES

FLIPPING OUT

While Fridays are Homemade Pizza Day at our house, Sunday is JP Makes Crêpes Day, especially on those Sundays when the refrigerator is bare, except for some milk, eggs, maybe some cheese and a package of bresaola. It means a casual, fun, “you get to eat dessert for dinner” dinner. And when JP makes crêpes, these are not those light-as-air, thin-as-paper sissy crêpes that just call out to be flambéed, but thicker, more rustic home-style crêpes just like his Maman always made.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

TRADITIONAL FRENCH POTÉE

CAPTAIN QUIRK TO THE RESCUE!

Or – How to make a traditional French Potée (with a quirk)

10 a.m. Sunday morning, JP walks in on me as I am sitting at my desk in my gym clothes (having had the good intention of doing my aerobics workout about an hour previously, but having gotten sidetracked), my nose pressed to my computer screen, and says :

“In about an hour your stomach is going to start growling and you are going to want to rush to the market and it’ll be too late. The market will be packed!”

I love cooking with JP

Sunday morning is traditionally market morning for us, but lately he hasn’t wanted to go out in the freezing cold or battle the crowds just to find something to eat. He loves cooking as much as I do and loves having a hot meal on the table, but not at the expense of his nerves. So this invitation to go shopping for lunch should neither be taken lightly nor menaced in any shape or form. Time is of the essence. So up I hop, I throw on my clothes and off we go. Luckily it is a bit milder today, so the walk there isn’t that unpleasant.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DECADENT CHOCOLATE PECAN TORTE

FORBIDDEN FRUIT

Life isn't always what we wish it to be: we find obstacles in our paths, come to forks in the road with no one there to tell us which way will be the best, get a ripe tomato tossed at our back or cream pies thrown in our faces. We can’t even always count on life’s little pleasures.

Stuff happens

Take my good friend in that cold, snowy city up north, the chocolate freak for whom I made the delicate chocolate tartlets. She let me in on the terrible news that, although she loves everything chocolate, the more sinful the better, she is allergic to both flour and dairy products. Poor her! So I promised that I would come up with a couple of recipes that offered her both the rich, creamy, dense, satisfying decadence of a fabulous chocolate dessert, but without the flour and the dairy. How can she eat what she craves when it is forbidden?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

SAFFRON RISOTTO-STYLE PASTA

Come il cacio sui maccheroni! : Like cheese on the maccheroni! as the Italians say, Just about perfect! And this simple but luscious pasta dish is!


I am known rather fondly chez moi (or maybe I should say da me) as the Risotto Queen. I Risotti by Anna Del Conte firmly in hand, I have mastered the art of making a terrific Italian risotto. From the basic Risotto in Bianco, white with Parmesan, to a luscious summery Lemon Risotto, to Risi e Bisi (“Rice and Kisses”, Risotto with Peas), Mushroom Risotto which I serve in the winter with a platter of Bresaola and Prosciutto, or even an elegant Seafood Risotto. I need to mention here our dear friend Nonna Anna, my friend Lucia’s mother and our neighbor when we moved to the house in the country outside of Milan. She was the true Italian Mamma, the quiet, loving yet firm Matriarch, overseeing her own brood of children and grandchildren, as well as those of her numerous brothers and sisters. How many times have I watched her putting together a delicious, healthy meal for 8, 10 or more people with an insouciance that never betrayed her talent and experience in the kitchen.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES

ONE SMART COOKIE!

Rachel always seems to be baking cookies; almond crescents, almond or gingerbread frosted cut outs, jam thumbprints, English toffee bars, magic bars, lemon curd sandwich cookies. And that was only for Christmas.

Rachel is a very special friend of mine who lives in a very cold, snowbound state in the northern US. Perfect for hanging out in the kitchen, basking in the warmth of an oven and surrounded by the scent of baking cookies. All winter long.

I have been dreaming of making Chocolate Crinkle Cookies for ages. Don’t ask me why, it is just one of those things. Every time I see a photo of Chocolate Crinkles in a cookbook or magazine, usually around holiday time, I get the yen. So when Rachel mentioned her attempt to make them – though she didn’t thanks to the lack of the right ingredients and a snowed-in car, I jumped at the chance!


I asked and she sent me her recipe – but credit where credit is due, she originally got the recipe from her mom. I was so excited. I imagined these to be like bites of rich, gooey, chocolaty brownies with the added plus of being wrapped in a blanket of powdered sugar – two of Simon’s favorite things, in fact. And Clem will eat anything chocolate, so I couldn’t do better.

Monday, January 5, 2009

FAVORITE CRANBERRY MUFFINS

CONFESSIONS: In the beginning...

SWEET AND TART



My mother was, and still is, an unusual amalgamation of homemaker and workingwoman - like the strange lovechild of June Cleaver and Maude, but without the propensity to butt in. She did get married, rather late for her time, I imagine, being a working girl (and party animal) and all, but homemaker and mother she soon became. But I really don’t think that she ever embraced her new role fully. As soon as she could possibly manage, she went back to work, and more. Once we had moved to Florida, she threw herself into what she loved the best - running the Hebrew school at the synagogue, Sisterhood, the temple bowling team, Association for the Blind, eventually going into real estate. And then there was my parents’ oh-so-cool 1960’s social life - weekend Bahamian cruises, block parties (when she wore satiny, shiny party pajamas and huge mod earrings, hair piled high in a chic frosted do).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

MOROCCAN COUSCOUS

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE! How about a trip to Morocco?

The holidays are over, the huge feasts fit for a Who have dwindled to leftovers, the tree is out on the sidewalk (or it is supposed to be, as we yell at Clem to get rid of it as we madly continue to sweep up the needles), the ornaments or the Menorah wrapped up in tissue paper, safely tucked away until next year. We sit contentedly on the living room sofa, our tummies full, our feet up, our esprit in a satisfied, Zen-like state. The family has left (which may have contributed to our mindset!) and the gifts received put away (or packed up ready to return or exchange).

Friday, January 2, 2009

TRADITIONAL CRANBERRY RELISH & PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January 2, 2009. A new year, new possibilities. We are not holiday people in the traditional sense; no big family gatherings, no feasts surrounded by neighbors and friends, no tables groaning under the weight of delicacies whipped up year after year from heirloom recipes. Now that the boys are old enough to go their own way, all-night parties with friends, we are like 2 old people, snug at home, cuddling up together in front of a good film on tv with a platter of whatever catches our fancy at the local market in the morning. And lways a good bottle of wine.

New Year’s Day! I finally succeeded in watching my favorite holiday movie, Christmas in Connecticut, starring Barbara Stanwyck. I convinced my brother to order and send me the video several years ago but sadly I am forced to watch it alone since none of my men appreciate this classic holiday romantic comedy.

New Year’s Eve! A plate of oysters – we live in oyster territory after all – accras (spicy, deep-fried Portuguese cod balls), a salty Italian cheese wrapped in salty Italian speck, smoked fish blinis, Indian-style shrimp with nan breads, squid salad, accompanied by a wonderful Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Followed by tangerines and handmade chocolates from Débotté, my favorite local chocolatier. Curled up watching Alan Partridge on dvd. Perfect!


Christmas dinner, if it can be called that since we don’t really celebrate Christmas, came on the 27th, late as JP had decided to take a few days off, go to an island off the west coast of France to Zen out, empty his head, walk and take photos. Clément had decided, oddly enough, to make his amazing Tiramisu the day after Christmas on, what is called here, a “coup de tête” – an impulse, a whim. So I thought that it would be nice to offer a delicious, home-cooked, Christmas-y type meal for JP’s homecoming. Clem was not happy with the enforced wait on cutting into the Tiramisu, but holiday spirit won out over gluttony in the end.

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