March 31, 2006

Tina's Vegetable Crêpes

I cooked these!!!

As I've already told you, I'm a recovering salad-hater. Well, unfortunately, the avoidance of all things healthy has infiltrated my vegetable consumption, so much so that between my saladaphobia and my husband's broccospinachaphobia, the only veggies cooked on a regular basis chez nous were potatoes, carrots, onions and bell peppers. That ain't good. Sadly, I can't even remember the last time I cooked cauliflower, and I'd never in my life cooked brussel sprouts, so this recipe really pushed my veggie limits. These crepes filled with a creamy mixture of veggies comes from Tina, a lovely Swiss exchange student who is currently living with the in-laws aux Etats-Unis. She keeps the tastiest vegetable preparations up her sleeve and I was quite inspired during my recent visit back home to dig in and conquer some good veggie dishes after sampling some of her creations.

This is a highly adaptable recipe (after all, what doesn't taste good stuffed in a crepe?) but there is something special about this combination of veggies. It's very savory, almost like a pot pie filling. Unfortunately, I couldn't find kohlrabi here (called chou rave) as I think it may be out of season, but my substitution of potatoes was acceptable, though I prefer the kohlrabi. The crepe recipe is very simple, with a few more eggs than most recipes, I think. I also enjoyed learning that you can still make crepes when you're out of milk, which has stopped me in the past! Since I was making this for some friends, I was more concerned than usual about the appearance of the food. The filling isn't all that beautiful, but the taste more than makes up for it. I would put this dish in a category with fondue and other "serve yourself" type meals that are really fun to share with good friends.

(measurements converted from metric, so bear with me!)

2 cups flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
.8 cup water (I measure 2 scant 1/2 cups)
1 tsp. oil + .4 cup water

Whisk eggs together and stir in .8 cup water. Whisk in flour in small amounts until batter is smooth. Combine oil with the .4 cup water in a measuring cup and stir to break up oil. Add this to the batter and whisk until smooth. Let rest on counter 1/2 hour.

Heat 1/2 tsp butter in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. You want to get the pan very hot. Once the pan is hot, ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan as you hold it off the heat and tilt the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter into a circle. Place pan back on heat and use a spatula to gently spread out any unsettled batter to make a larger crêpe. When crêpe looks dry on top, flip it over and cook on the other side for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove to plate and repeat with remaining batter. It might take one or two until you get the system down; don't worry if they aren't that pretty, they'll taste good!
Makes 10-12 large crêpes, but I made about 13-15.
Vegetable filling

1 Tbsp butter
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (not in original recipe)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
about 15-20 brussel sprouts, cleaned, trimmed of tough root end, sliced in half
2/3 - 1 medium cauliflower, cut into 2 in. pieces
1 large kohlrabi, or 3 small, chopped to similar size as cauliflower
(I substituted 5 small potatoes, peeled and chopped)
1.5-2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp flour
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
grated cheese for passing: parmesan and cantal were our choices
(*cantal was the favorite)

Melt butter in a large pot and sauté the onions 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and mix well. Pour 1.5 cups of broth over veggies, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until veggies are cooked but not completely falling apart. Mix together the flour and cream to make a slurry. (Tina sprinkles the flour directly into the broth and adds the cream at the end, but I felt safer making a slurry since there's less chance that the flour would clump.) Pour 2/3 of this mixture into the simmering broth and stir, watching to see how thick it becomes. Add more flour and/or cream until you have the desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning. Tina has been seen to add dried Italian seasoning, garlic powder, seasoning salt, etc. Honestly, as you can tell, getting this recipe was like begging it off a reluctant grandmother, but I gathered that you can really go at it with whatever spices sound good!

To serve, pass cr
êpes and have guests fill their own!


Though I think this recipe is fabulous as is, I do think it would be fantastic with buckwheat
crêpes, or galettes au sarrasin, as is traditional for French savory crêpes. They are simply heartier crêpes with a bit more flavor. Plus, never having made them, I'm intrigued at the pairing. Plus, I'm naturally biased. Most things are now plundered by my pseudo-French sensibility and it's just not a crêpe unless you're drinking cidre brut and having an apple tart for dessert.

March 27, 2006

Meatball Sandwiches

Meatball sandwiches, damn it! Does it get any better? I think not. Just look at it. Now look at it again. Now try not to look. Can't do it, can you? You looked. I know it.

Meatball sandwiches are the sort of thing you make when you have leftover meatballs, right? Frankly, I usually make the meatballs with the soul purpose of creating this sandwich, as I'm continually underwhelmed by my pairings of spaghetti and meatballs. In general, sandwiches have become something of an art form for me. Walking home with a warm baguette under my arm naturally gets me thinking about what I can do with it when I get home. Not that simply breaking off a chunk, dipping it in a dish of olive oil that's been sprinkled with aged parmesan doesn't do the trick just fine most of the time!

This sandwich is definitely a fork and knife affair. You might notice from the picture that I have a hard time making sandwiches that realistically feed less than 3 people, so really the fork and knife are just necessary. I mean, good luck fitting that in your mouth! It's a problem; I'm dealing with it.

Meatball Sandwiches

3/4 - 1 lb ground beef (the pkg. here = 3/4 lb. so that's what I use)
1 egg
1/2 cup dry oatmeal; or 2 sliced soft bread torn into chunks; or bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. tomato paste (or ketchup)

1 tsp. salt pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil (or a handful of fresh)

1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 jar (or maybe 3 cups) of your favorite marinara sauce, or make your own
a baguette, ciabatta, or other crusty rolls
thinly sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella (could also use provolone)

grated parmesan

Lightly beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oatmeal or bread to soften. Add all the ingredients
except the meat and mix well. Add ground beef and mix until thoroughly combined. Now a neat little trick from Rachael Ray: divide the mixture into 4 parts (roughly, just mark it in the bowl) and divide each part in roughly 4 again, making 16 meatballs. Roll meatballs and place on a baking sheet. (This worked well for me using 3/4 pound of meat, but I think you'd end up with really big meatballs if you did this in her recipe that calls for 1-1/2 pounds of meat. yikes.)

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet (important!) and saute meatballs in batches until nicely browned on all sides. Pour marinara sauce (or prepare your own) into pan and add meatballs. Bring sauce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cut a meatball in half to see if it's done. (I've also heard of baking the meatballs, but don't have experience with that...if you do, please share your thoughts!)
I cut a reasonable (some would argue with that) length of baguette and cut a slit along the top, spreading it open slightly to make room for the meatballs. You're making a boat, in fact. Add 3-4 meatballs with plenty of sauce, top with mozzarella slices and grated parmesan. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and melted and the bread is slightly toasted. Serve extra sauce on the side. This would pair nicely with this salad. Serves 4. Enjoy!

March 24, 2006

Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée

French Onion Soup just makes me smile. Spending a night slowly caramelizing onions lets me drift into a zen-like state of foodie happiness. How can a recipe this simple and pleasing to prepare taste so freaking good, too?!? To me, making French Onion Soup is cooking in its essence. Take a kilo of onions, cook them down until they melt, add delicious broth, a beautiful French baguette, and stinky cheese. I’m naked and trembling, and you have just offered me the cup of life and that cup is filled with onion soup gratinéed. I am reborn.

Seriously, though, this is quite possibly my favorite recipe to make. I do enjoy cooking, but the majority of what I do in the kitchen could still be filed under “chopping and combining.” To truly cook; to transform bare ingredients into something sublime is not a day-to-day occurrence for me. Caramelizing the onions takes patience, slowing you down for a minute to simply spy on a pot of butter and onions.

How are you doing in there, guys? I’m not worrying about anything else in my life right now because we have a goal. But,
we’re not in a hurry to get there, are we? Nope, we’re gonna take our sweet time. When you do get caramelized, I’ve got a surprise for you! A white wine bath, that’s what, and I saved a good bottle for you!

In addition to talking with onions, this recipe is actually geared towards lazy people like me. Once you get the onions where you want them, add in the liquid and simmer for another hour and a half. Et voila! Top with bread and cheese and you can be damn happy with yourself for the next week.

Better yet, delay your satisfaction and serve it the next day after the flavor develops a bit more. Serve it to your friends. Invite strangers in for a bowl. Serve it to republicans for all I care. Everyone in the world is entitled to the bare necessities and I think this qualifies. I’m all out of hyperbolae, so I’ll give you the recipe now.

Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée
(adapted from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook)

3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ - 3 lbs white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
8 cups beef broth, preferably homemade or quality store-bought stock
1 cup dry white wine, such as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc
¼ cup Cognac or good brandy
Thick slices of baguette, toasted
1 – 1 ½ cups grated gruyère cheese

In a heavy dutch oven, melt butter and oil over medium low heat. Add onions and stir to coat with the butter. Cover and cook over low heat until translucent and wilted, around 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and
turn heat up to medium high. Add the salt and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally while onions begin to brown. Once onions start to brown, they will go fast, so stir more frequently to keep them from burning. Cook until onions are caramelized, a deep brown color, about 30-40 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Pour in 2-3 cups of beef broth, stirring constantly to incorporate the flour. Add the rest of the broth, cognac and white wine. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 1 ½ hours with a loose lid, adding a little water if liquid is evaporating too quickly. Stir occasionally.

Pour soup into oven-safe bowls. Place toasted bread slices on the soup and top with a large handful of cheese to completely cover the bread. The broth itself is quite rich and it's the contrast with the cheese that makes this meal interesting, so use a stongly flavored cheese. Place bowls on a baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, with some good, cheap red wine and maybe another entrée like half an avocado stuffed with crab or chicken salad, or an endive, walnut and roquefort salad. Serves 4-6.

March 21, 2006

Chicken Curry with Cashews

One of the great things about Bloomington, Indiana (I never thought I'd start a post like that...) is its great ethnic restaurants. It's also one of the most surprising things about Bloomington! I have no idea how or why this happened, but you can find excellent Thai, Indian, Moroccan, even Ethiopian restaurants there. I really miss Indian food here in Paris, and I have fond memories of eating at Shanti and Bombay House in the land of the Hoosiers. Chicken Tikka Masala, tender basmati rice with chewy garlic naan to soak up all that sauce! My mouth is watering.

Sure, there are tons of Indian restaurants here, but I haven't found a great one. I guess my real excuse is that I'd rather eat authentic French or other European cuisine while I'm here than eat Indian food that's been watered down for French palates. Most Mexican or Tex-Mex food here is also pathetically bland. (Except for my beloved Anahuacalli!) The salsa you find here is like sweet tomato pulp mixed with a few onions and peppers. Yuck!

But back to the recipe at hand. To say that the following curry is in any way authentic would be completely irresponsible of me since I have no idea, but given my horrible luck at recreating restaurant style curries, this one is amazing. So, it shouldn't come to you as a surprise that my husband made it, not me! Unfortunately, there isn't a picture, except that we used the leftovers to make the most delicious Curried Chicken Sandwiches the next day!

Seriously, this curry is worth making and skipping the take-out from Shanti. I'm definitely making this again soon. You can also check out this post for more on Indian food in Paris and a great Butter Chicken recipe, which I have yet to try, but it sounds great!

Chicken Curry with Cashews
(an Epicurious recipe)

3 Tbsp. butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup (or more) fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 large chicken breasts, cut into 2 in. pieces (about 1-1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

Heat butter in a large pan. Saute onions, garlic and ginger until softened. Add curry powder, cumin, salt and cayenne. (We used 1/2 tsp cayenne and thought it could've been hotter.) Cook 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add chicken and stir to coat with the spices. Add tomatoes with their juice and half the cilantro. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. When chicken is cooked through, this dish can be refrigerated several days. Reheat on the stove before the next step.

Just before serving: using a food processor, finely grind the cashews and add them to the chicken. (We don't have one of those here in our small Parisian kitchen, so we put the nuts in a ziploc bag and smashed the hell out of them with a heavy skillet. It won't get them very finely ground, but it works.) Stir in the yogurt and remaining cilantro. Stir over low heat until slightly thickened. Serve over basmati rice. Serves 4.

I know that many of you out there are thinking that this looks way too simple to be any good. A good curry has to be complex and call for all sorts of ingredients we'd never have in our pantry. Well, like I said, I'm sure there are more authentic recipes out there, but this one delivers as far as flavor is concerned. I was skeptical, too, but try it and you too shall be enlightened...

March 20, 2006

A Quick Dinner: Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

I've been sick with a cold this past week, so apologies for the lack of posts. We've all been there...what do we cook when we don't have much energy to do anything? Well, besides having the husband do most of the work (wink), I managed to throw together this incredibly yummy pasta sauce. I'm not sure how reliable a recipe this will be as I was sort of throwing things together in a dizzy state, but I'm sure you can play around with the idea. Obviously, using homemade pesto would be better, but this was a very comforting, easy dinner!

Sorry for the incredibly unappetizing photo. You'll just have to trust me when I say it's delicious.
Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Artichokes

1/2 box spaghetti
1 cup leftover cooked chicken, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained, cut into quarters
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup prepared pesto (add more or less to taste)
1/2 cup cream
about 4 oz cream cheese
about 1/2 to 3/4 cup pasta cooking water
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Sauté the red onion in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes until tender, add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese, cream and pesto sauce. Stir until cream cheese has melted. If sauce is too thick, dilute with some milk. Add artichoke hearts, chicken, parmesan and pine nuts.

Boil pasta according to package directions, salting the water well. Drain pasta when done, reserving cooking liquid. Add some pasta water to the cream sauce to achieve desired consistency. Combine pasta with cream sauce and serve. To serve this in a more presentable fashion, I would not add the chicken to the sauce, but rather top the pasta with some sliced chicken, additional pine nuts and fresh basil leaves. Serves 3-4.

March 18, 2006

Paris: so fresh and so clean

Come to Paris, one and all! As of February 1st, you will now be able to use the bathroom for free! In this sweeping gesture of good will, the French have finally added the right to urinate in private to the myriad of other health care benefits provided to all. You will no longer have to pay to use the public restrooms! Turns out that letting tourists, not to mention homeless people, urinate somewhere other than the street is cost effective as well as hygienically preferable. But, I know I'd be getting my hopes up if I thought I could walk about Paris without smelling urine at some point every day. Rest assured, some things will never change. There's still the dogs...

March 14, 2006

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is the kind of dish that I approach with a bit of trepidation. Images of really good Stroganoff float through my head…a silky sauce, not too thick, perfectly cooked mushrooms, tender beef, and the flavor of dill in a well balanced sauce. Then there are the ugly images that creep in of a too-thick sort of slop that clings to the meat in a disturbing way and overcooked mushrooms. So, it can be really good or really bad. Fearing I’ve now left you repulsed by the thought, let’s concentrate on the good images. Tender beef is simmered in a sauce combining sour cream, Dijon mustard, cognac, and fresh dill over a bed of egg noodles. Yum!

There are various accounts, but it seems this dish was created in St. Petersburg around 1890 for a cooking competition by a chef who worked for Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov. Americans today tend to think of it as a retro dish since it was so popular in the 1950s. Evidently, it appeared earlier than that, in a 1934 cookbook, but there weren’t many Americans cooking expensive beef dishes during the war, so it didn’t catch on until later.

When you search for Stroganoff recipes you are likely to find a variety; some made with ground beef and cream of mushroom soup, as well as more gourmet versions made with beef tenderloin, shitake mushrooms and crème fraiche. My version is in between, I guess, but definitely leaning toward the latter. Way toward it. Almost touching it.

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb. beef tenderloin, or another lean cut like sirloin, sliced into 2 in. strips about ½ in. thick.
1 lb. button mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped or 2 shallots, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. cognac
1 c. beef broth
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ c. crème fraiche or sour cream
¼ c. heavy cream or half & half
2 tsp. flour
¼ c. chopped fresh dill (don’t skimp on this!)
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a wide skillet over high heat and sear the beef on both sides, being careful not to overcook it. Do this in several batches to avoid crowding the pan so that the beef can truly brown. Remove meat from the pan and set aside. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onions to the skillet. Sauté until almost tender. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Combine the mustard, crème fraiche, heavy cream and flour in a small bowl.

Deglaze the pan with the cognac. Once almost evaporated, add the beef broth. When that has reduced just a bit, whisk in the mustard/crème fraiche sauce. Season with pepper and salt if need be. Add the beef and any juices back to the pan, along with the dill, and stir to combine. Heat gently for 3-5 minutes until hot. If mixture is too thick, you can add a bit more broth. Serve over egg noodles or rice. Serves 4-6.

Mix yourself a dirty martini, put on some Sinatra and eat some sort of jello salad or flambéed dessert and you've got yourself a nice little retro Tuesday.

March 13, 2006

Cat Blogging

So I'm convinced that most food bloggers out there must also be cat lovers because lately I've been noticing pictures of kitties creeping up between posts on spaghetti and homemade yogurt. It's only natural to want some company in the kitchen, I guess. Evidently there's "weekend cat blogging" posts over at or according to some, Friday is designated as cat blogging day. I followed a link the other day to a quiz entitled, "what kind of cat are you?" which cracked me up. I'm a Sweety Cat, by the way. As if you couldn't have guessed.

Let me tell you, I love cats and I have a crazy one of my own, but with all the enthusiasm I've seen in the food blogging world, I can only imagine the zest with which people must blog about their pets. Maybe the people who write their christmas letters from the perspective of their pets are having Spike and M. Reginald Fuzzy Paws, esq. III write novels out there in the blogosphere. I'm sure that Miss Paws is having a hard time at work what with the new boss, who's young enough to be your offspring, spreading rumors that you're not pulling your weight around the office and who does he think he is anyway?...but do we really need to go there?

Who knows, maybe if I had a little Mister Whiskers prancing so delicately around my pie crust I would snap a picture of it, too. For now, consider yourselves lucky. I'm getting my kitty fix over at

March 9, 2006

The Armchair Cook

I found this hilarious blog called the Armchair Cook that's all about the Food Network chefs. Check it out if you want a good laugh or a little gossipy indulgence. Some sample posts are titled: Breaking Bobby Flay (where one can find a link to my favorite article title ever: The Staggering Dicketry of Bobby Flay), Paula Deen Hates Your Arteries, Giadada de Laurentiiiiis big head watch, various musings about Sandra Lee's alcoholism, and keeping a constant check on how wacky Rachael Ray is at any given moment. On a personal note, Oprah's on notice. One, for promoting RayRay into the ground and producing her talk show and Two, for all those times Kenny G has performed. Anyway, check out the blog, it's the funniest stuff I've read in awhile.

My favorite post was the Twelve Days of Christmas complete with pictures. "12 Giadas Grinning, 11 Saras Sniping, 10 sticks of butter...5 Rach-ael Rays! Ends with 1 hungover Sandra Lee..."

I also found a link to this quiz: Which food network chef are you? I'm Tyler...not bad, I guess.

Reading this blog was so refreshing because I am one (of many, apparently) that has seen the downward spiral of the Food Network and are saddened by it. They are lacking new, fresh ideas and hosts and it has been too long since anyone inspiring has come on. I would love to see more authentic ethnic cooking shows among other things. I hope they can come up with some good ideas fast because I don't know how many more episodes of Unwrapped (I always wondered how they made Ruffles! First, they sort the barely edible potatoes from the completely inedible ones...) or the obnoxious $40 a day (wow, looking at a local tourism guide IS a good place to find restaurants!) I can take.

March 7, 2006

More Than Jello...

Reason #167,233,012 that I love France:

It feels so good to be bad. The number of puddings, mousses, other desserts, and yogurts at the grocery store is simply astonishing, not to mention the even better quality desserts you can find at boulangeries, of course. So when you want something sinful immediately, it's nice to have a little stockpile of these in your fridge. I must give my compliments to a certain pistachio flavor pot de creme, as well as this newly discovered Mousse au Chocolat Noir. It's a beautiful thing.

March 6, 2006

Crostini with Olives, Basil and Mozzarella

Olives are my new best friend. If you want to know anything about me it is this: I never liked olives and proclaimed them unfit to eat and disgusting until one simple tomato pasta sauce that contained olives came into my life. I was hooked. That one meal started this passion and now I can sit for hours just thinking about how to sneak olives into this or that recipe. This is me in a nutshell. Je suis vachement folle.

I've amended my favorite things from "bread and cheese" to "bread, cheese and olives," so this is really the perfect recipe! I first saw this recipe for Olive Crostini on Elise's recipe site. I tweaked it a bit, but the recipe is basically hers. Before my friends showed up the other day, I made a few "testers" and thought it needed something more. I really loved this combination with basil and fresh mozzarella. This is my new favorite appetizer!

Olive Crostini with Basil and Mozzarella

1/2 cup black olives
1/2 cup green olives
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup mozzerella cheese (fresh is better), grated (or finely diced if using fresh)
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 big beautiful baguette, sliced on the diagonal to create larger pieces

I feel I should preface my recipes by saying that I don't measure very much. Especially things like olive oil, butter or cream. It's probably better not to think about it. So, I try and give approximations in Tbsp, but for a recipe like this you can eyeball it. In a small bowl, mix the butter, oil, garlic and parmesan into a paste. Coarsely chop the olives and put in the bowl with the garlic and parmesan mixture. Fold in the mozzarella and basil. Add more oil if the mixture is way too crumbly. (Not really necessary, it just makes it easier to spread onto the bread)

Spread olive mixture on the bread slices and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Makes about 16 crostini. Unfortunately, this picture was taken before the crostini were broiled in order to facilitate immediate eating by my guests once they were ready. You will just have to imagine how much better they look heated up!

March 4, 2006

The Power of 4

There seems to be a 4 thing going around. You never have to twist my arm to get me in on these things.

4 Jobs I've had:
1. Donutland.
It was my first job when I was 15. I mostly put donuts in boxes for customers or vacuumed, but my favorite part was filling the "eclairs" and jelly donuts with filling. We'd have to fill up a gallon sized container with red squiggly "jelly", impale the donut onto this prong coming out of it, push a button and the donut would fill with jelly. It was oddly satisfying in a grisly sort of way. I believe I worked for like 3 hours at a time. I'm happy to report that this work ethic has carried over into most of my other jobs.
2. Secretary's assistant.
The only thing worse than actually being a secretary. Apparently secretaries don't have time for filing anymore what with all their cigarette breaks. Again, thankfully part-time.
3. The Bread Co. bakery and sandwich shop turned bistro at night.
Actually, looking back, this place inspired me to get cooking. I still use their recipe for egg salad and I learned a lot about food prep. I had a hand in making croissants there, too.
4. English Teacher in France for kids ages 7-11.
This is the most difficult job I've had but also the best. I never thought I'd be able to do it and it turns out I'm pretty damn good at it. Who needs experience or training?

4 Movies I can watch over and over:
1. Best in Show
2. The Big Lebowski
3. Say Anything
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

4 Places I've lived:
1. Iowa City, IA
2. Champaign-Urbana, IL
3. Bloomington, IN
4. Paris, France (It got a lot cooler after that)

4 Places I've vacationed:
1. Faenza, Italy
2. Barcelona
3. Provence
4. Santa Barbara, CA

4 highly-regarded and recommended t.v. shows that I've never watched:
1. The Simpsons. Ok, so I've seen it of course, but I never really watched it.
2. Arrested Development
3. Twin Peaks
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

4 t.v. shows I love:
1. The West Wing
2. Lost
3. Grey's Anatomy
4. The Daily Show

4 of my favorite dishes:
1. Chicken Tikka Masala and Garlic Naan
2. Fondue (I'm lumping all types there.)
3. Spinach Artichoke Dip
4. Butternut Squash Soup

4 sites I visit daily:
1. NY Times
2. Google
3. (ok, maybe not daily...)
4. BBC weather

4 Places I'd rather be right now:
1. somewhere warm with plenty of sand, an ocean and a bartender.
2. fast forward to Paris in May and June, eating lunch at an outdoor cafe in the sunshine.
3. getting a massage
4. in bed

4 Fantasy Karaoke Songs to bring down the house:
1. Wind of Change, by the Scorpions
2. Time after Time, by Cyndi Lauper
3. Take a Chance on Me, by ABBA (this is atleast a duet since one person would have to do the "take a chance, take a chance, take a chic-ka-chan-chance" chant throughout)
4. Livin' on a Prayer, by Bon Jovi

C'mon people, give me your own 4 things...

March 2, 2006

Phyllo Triangles

I’ve been kicking around a recipe for savory phyllo triangles and I thought salmon would make a unique filling. I think these appetizers were in vogue some time ago and are still found on many catering menus. I can’t remember if I’ve actually made them before or just thought about it so many times that it seems like I have. Anyway, I couldn’t find a recipe for exactly what I wanted, but I think they turned out well despite sort of being my own invention. The standard recipe seems to be for a sort of mini spanakopita, made with spinach and feta. That sounded good, but a little predictable. I had leftover salmon (from my last post, attentive readers!) so I thought I’d build the recipe around that. Working with phyllo dough isn't really that hard, but it does require working quickly because it easily dries out. I urge you to read the recipe in its entirety and have everything ready before you take out the phyllo dough. Bon Chance!

Try the recipe and see what you think. The best part is you can do these ahead of time and freeze them. For a recent cocktail party, I also made simple ham and gruyere ones, which were nice, too. You could also try placing a small square of dark chocolate in the triangles for dessert!

Phyllo Triangles stuffed with Salmon, Dill and Mascarpone

1 salmon fillet, cooked and shredded into large chunks
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
3 Tbsp. minced red onion
3 Tbsp. minced red or yellow bell pepper
3 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese, softened
4 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if using frozen
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Combine the mascarpone, dill, onion and bell pepper in a small bowl. Fold in the salmon pieces gently, taking care not to break up the salmon too much. Unfold the phyllo dough and position it with the shorter end near you. Cut in half lengthwise with kitchen shears, and then cut each half in half (lengthwise) again. You should have 4 long sections, each about 3 in. wide.

Put 4 single layer strips of phyllo in front of you and cover the rest of the strips with a damp kitchen towel. Working quickly, brush each strip lightly with melted butter. Place 1 tsp. of the salmon filling at the bottom of each strip and fold one corner over to form a triangle. Continue folding over and over (like a flag) until the end of the strip. Brush with butter to seal the edge of the triangle.

Bake at 400 degrees F/200 degrees C for 15 minutes until golden brown and puffed. This recipe makes about 16 triangles, so double or triple the recipe if you're having a crowd. You can freeze these before baking and bake straight from the freezer when you want them.

*Note that this recipe is based on the size of phyllo available in France. It may come in different dimensions in the States. You are looking for strips about 2 ½ to 3 inches wide (or small enough to eat in 2-3 bites!).