Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuscan Traditions

No matter how well traveled I may be, I still marvel at how much there is to learn and discover about the food ,wine, people and small delights in Tuscany. The next few days I will focus on wines, cooking schools and several of the many wonderful people I met along this journey. I have collected several recipes from the personal repertoire of a contess and hopefully I can read my notes well enough to share a few with my blogger friends.
Tonight I need to catch up on some sleep and read some email, so this will be short. I have missed reading my favorite blogs sights......can't wait to see what all of you have been up do and cooking!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pike Place Market- Seattle, Washington

Pike Place Market ......A Food Lovers Dream
A feast of Scallops and Scampi.

What will I choose?

Fresh Salmon ready to take.

Grilled or Baked

Wonderful selections of vegetables,

But no Spinach yet.......I miss the Spinach!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hearty Lentil Soup

I am thrilled that more people are cooking with lentils. One year I had my French chefs here for a cooking demo and they wanted to do a demonstration with fresh lentils. I choked! "You have got to be kidding?" Lentils were not a common staple in our pantries five years ago. Now I jot down every recipe I can find. My dear friend Carrie and I took a class last week in Washington and these are the lentils we cooked with....look really wonderful, don't they?
Lentils are usually associated with a game meat and even cooked with the game bones, which communicate the flavor of that particular game. I have cooked lentils with sausage, ham and vegetables and enjoyed each dish. Like pasta dishes, lentils taste better the next day .....my taste buds tell me this!
Ina Garten has a lentil soup which I enjoy making. I have added and deleted from this recipe. This is an adapted version.

Lentil Soup
1 cup of lentils, before cooked. Cover lentils with water and cook 20 minutes. Drain.
2 medium sized yellow onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced.
1 cup chopped celery plus 1/2 cup of the celery leaves, chopped.
1 tbls. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbls. fresh chopped thyme
3 cups chopped carrots
1 can of chopped tomates, 8 oz. and all the liquid.
8 to 10 cups vegetable stock
1 package of turkey cooked sausage, Wilshire Farms long links, chopped into 1 inch pieces.

Saute all the vegetables and garlic in 3 tbls oil. Cook until tender and onions are translucent. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes and lentils. Simmer uncovered until all vegetables are tender. Don't let the lentils get too mushy. Add more salt to taste. Add the meat. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil across the top. Serve with a crusty country bread and garden salad. Very good the next few days!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Chocolate Gateau

More than any other culinary activity I engage in, baking brings more compliments and smiles to the people in my home. One of the advantages of my traveling is the ability to pick up ingredients that can enhance my creations and give them that added edge that normally I might not have. Anytime I set a foot on French ground, I am stocking up on my baking essentials and goods. This is all the chocolate remaining in my pantry, so my chocolate gateau is not made too many times during the year. I do come home with a number of bars, but I love passing them out to my friends.....they enjoy that also! How I wish my blogger friends lived closer so I could share with you! I will share this very easy.... moist, and oh so rich chocolate gateau that my good friend and chef in France taught in one of her classes. It is best described as extremely dense and fudgy. This is a very common dessert cake and I know many of you have it filed in your recipe section.

Chocolate Gateau

1 Bar-200 grams chocolate
This was not unsweetened. A bakers bar can be substituted, the 6 0z. 170 gram size.

1 & 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature.

1 2/3 cups of ground almonds. I buy the preground bag from Trader Joes or from you -know- where....You can always grind some in your processor!

2/3 cups of sugar, more if you think it needs to be sweeter. 4 separated egg yolks. Save the whites.
One teaspoon of vanilla.

Oven, 350 degrees. Use a spring form pan, medium size that has the bottom lined with parchment. Melt the chocolate, bain marie method. Turn off heat. Let chocolate remain in pan. It will still be easy to pour into mixture.

Mix the sugar, butter until creamy. Add the almonds, melted choc0late and egg yolks. Add vanilla.

With mixer, beat egg whites until they peak and fold into creamy almond mixture. Pour in pan and bake 40 minutes or until the top has crusted slightly and starts to crack. Let cool before removing from pan. I just slide a small knife along the side to loosen any stubborn cake.

You do not need to add icing. It is your preference. This is really delicious with vanilla icecream. My icing was 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Melt the same way as above.The icing just flows over the cake! This is so easy and you probably have all the ingredients right under your nose! Happy Cooking

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Splash of Fall

Today I am frantically trying to catch my breath and catch up on reading all my favorite blogs sights. I did not carry my computer with me, on purpose, so there would be no distractions from everything that was going on around me. While in Seattle, I savored every moment! In the celebration of my arrival , there were market tours, cooking classes, rides on ferries and a night at the theatre. I also indulged in drinking endless cups of steaming black coffee while chatting and catching up on all the news my friends had to share. This quick trip was a double dose of sensory exposure. There is more to come, more to write about, but not tonight. I am still searching for my breath!