Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oeufs Cocotte-Baked Eggs

I'm hoping that "company" rather than" food" is the real reason that my friends come by for dinner. Sometimes the foods that I have planned to serve do not always turn out like the picture in the recipe book or closely resemble it. I have had disasters at my dinner parties..... they all can't be perfect! Once, at the home of a friend , a firey disaster struck. We had to take the fire extinguisher to the oven.............I think that made the wine taste even better! With the great company present, we had several good laughs........food was not an issue.

Getting back to the recipe I am about to post, this is very easy and has never failed me yet! You can prepare it for brunch or serve it as a starter for dinner.

For Six persons.

6 eggs
6 cassolettes
2 Tablespoons of creme fraiche or sour cream for each dish.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Fresh Chives, chopped.

Place one tablespoon of sour cream in the bottom of each cassolette. Add a pinch of salt and pepper . Place one egg in the dish and cover the egg again with one more tablespoon of sour cream. Salt and pepper once again. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Place the cassolettes in a dish(bain Marie)with hot water. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Paris Fleas-Itching to See!

Attracted by people from all over the world, the Paris Flea Markets continue to be a conglomeration of antiguities, entertainment and shops all squeezed into a vibrant bustling area of Paris . Frequently I make the journey just to see what has been gathered up, tucked into narrow alleys and put out for display-it is a wonderful place to take picures and to spend a day. There is no "getting into" this area and "getting out" in a few hours-that's not going to happen! Nor is there a lack of food ...... Any type of food you might be desiring, you will find along the many streets throughout the Paris Flea Markets.........be sure to go on your next visit!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Dabbawalla of Mumbai

Standing near one of the many train station exits around 11:30 a.m. every workday in Mumbai, you may witness a spectacular tradition.... have- lunch-box- will- travel ..... unfold before your very eyes. An estimated 200,000 lunches packed carefully, by mother or wife, in their distinguishable aluminum containers are transported throughout the city to workers eachday. The Dabbawallas some dressed in their traditional white kurtas and topi, pick up the lunches from home, deliver them to the workplace and then return the containers back home for another round the next day. This began when the British were unable to find suitable foods available on the streets in Mumbai. Hence, the Dabbawallas were created. Not a bad system-certainly keeps folks away from the fast food establishments and the foods from home are so much healthier for you!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Breton Gateau

Simply effortless, I present my Breton Gateau........very much a delicious dessert or tea cake that is still assembled today using the classic technique of fusing the ingredients, a la doigt.......actually, all of your fingers will participate patting down this rich, buttery cake batter. There are numerous traditional recipes from Brittany that are availabe. I chose this recipe because it just tastes good....it is so flavorful . Put on the tea pot, slice a warm piece of cake and get ready for a mouth watering , sweet experience.

1 1/2 cups of sugar.
2 cups of flour.
1 teaspoon of vanilla.
6 tablespoons of room temperature butter.
5 egg yolks.
1 tablespoon of milk.
1/4 teaspoon of lemon or orange zest.

Mix all seven ingredients in a bowl and squeeze the mixture gingerly with your fingers until everything is very well mixed and blended. Press the batter evenly into a buttered springform pan. Draw lines across with fork. I turned my fork over for a smoother look. Brush the top of the batter with the milk and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve warm......with a cup of tea or a side of fresh berries!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Treasure From Italy

Prosciutto and Ham Quiche......... This one is a very intense and meaty version of the quiche Lorraine. And, it is quick and easy.
For the crust, try using a flaky pate brisee or unsweetened crust. There are scads of recipes around and I bet you have three or four tucked away somewhere.........well, go get them. We have a quiche to make!


Preheat oven to 425 degrees
One Pate Brisee
1 Cup of diced prosciutto
1 Cup of ham, diced
3/4 Cup of Gruyere cheese, freshly grated
3/4 cup of creme fraiche-which I made just by using buttermilk,whipping cream and lemon juice. It is absolutely delicious made this way.
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the pate brisee in a prepared tart pan. Trim the edges to fit. Prick the dough base with a fork and cover with a plastic wrap. Place in your refrigerator and chill for one hour.

Blind bake the pastry for 20 minutes or until it starts to become a golden brown color. Cool for a few minutes. Now fill with the meats and cheese..

Beat the eggs, creme fraiche, salt and pepper and pour over the meat filling. Bake 40-45 minutes or until the filling is firm and top has a golden crust.

How easy is this? Try using one of the prepared pie crusts from the grocery if you are short on time. I have used this crust before and it works well. Happy Cooking!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Poor Mr. Pumpkin

Mr. Pumpkin is about to meet his maker-baker tomorrow, me. I have had this guy since October and just have not had the heart to slice and dice him up . Actually, I toted this silly guy back from one of my Seattle trips last fall with the intention of making my Thanksgiving pies. That idea went over big, as you can see. All the holidays are gone and he is still here-imagine something this large having difficulty disappearing! I guess it's difficult being a pumpkin now days-here today, soup tomorrow. Farewell big guy............

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Some Spicy Market!

Sometimes I find myself completely off track. Not knowing how this occurs, I forget to post my articles that I intended to write . My camera is my constant companion..... I'm able to collect an abundance of interesting and intriguing subjects to write, but they are on hold and stored in my files for some other time. Need to dig more of those moments out! Long story short, I fail to post what I love doing the most and that is, writing about the inevitable myriad of new sights, wonderful smells, different foods, locations and things I experience firsthand...........
Discovering the foods of a country is very exciting for me. Everything is so tempting. Most regions have their traditions and distinctive foods. I embrace these different foods with an opened mind knowing if I rejected something, and it would really have to be unpleasant, there could be some hurt feelings.That does not happen often. We all enjoy trying new things when we are away from our normal surroundings. Sensory overload....absolutey love it!
Frequently my time is spent visiting any kind of market that is within my reach and only if my husband will stop the car!" I will only be a few minutes darling, honey, whatever."....Just let me walk around and check to see if there is something really incredible here today."
Standing and watching people religously choose their foods or the sellers shouting out prices dazzles my senses.....I love to see this process unfold! There actually is so much that really goes on in community markets, it is difficult to take it all in. How many recipes get exchanged with friends? There is music playing at times and maybe a place to sit and sip a glass of local wine-(need to go find Al now.) He will have to park the car......"oh, look at the spices! "
You are viewing one section of the grand spice market in Istanbul.There were spices that I had never heard of nor knew what to do with. One thing that was passed on to me that I will happily share is that spices usually loose their potency in six months. There are many in my cupboard that need discarded. Guess I better get busy in the kitchen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Gratin Dauphinois-Potatoes Gratin

One of the many wonderful reasons I love this dish is that it reheats and reheats again, very well. Steak was on the menu the other night and I needed something to accompany this manly meal, something hearty, hot and delicious. This potato dish is one of my favorites as it is so wonderfully rich and very creamy. However, as you can tell from the photo, it makes a rather large portion...... not a problem. The next evening we just scooped up a heaping spoonful and reheated it in the microwave. Still delicious!

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of potatoes.
A few pinches of nutmeg
4 tablespoons of butter
2 Cups of heavy cream and 1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup of grated Swiss or Gruyere Cheese
1 crushed garlic,then chopped finely
Shallow baking dish or gratin dish

Heat up your oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes as thin as you can, but not as thin as for chips. Place them in a bowl of ice cold water . This will prevent the potatoes from turning color while you are peeling and also deletes the starch . I threw in a few ice cubes to speed up the process! Drain and spin dry. Wrap the chilled potatoes in a towel until you are ready to use.
Heat the butter ,milk and cream in large pan. Do not let the cream mixture boil. Add the potatoes, salt and pepper and garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the nutmeg.
Pour into a prepared baking dish, spreading the potatoes out evenly. Sprinkle the top with the cheese. Bake until bubbling and the top is a golden brown for 40 minutes.