Friday, November 25, 2016

Lentils, celeriac and a cooking practice

Every so often, I find myself having a conversation about our family dinners or Pablo’s lunchboxes, and I notice that look in the other person's eyes that says: “Wow I should really be doing that but I just could never pull it off, wouldn’t know where to start or make it a priority.”

I can relate. 

I feel or have felt that exact same way about a good number of things in my life, most notably meditation, yoga, working out, and writing.   Those are things I feel are important, improve my quality of life, they are things I feel a need to do. And yet, they are always a challenge to do regularly. Thinking about it feels daunting and exhausting, it makes me want to run the other way. And a lot of very busy families, understandably, feel that same way about every day real food cooking.

As I have recently been grappling with this in regards to writing (including for this blog), something dawned on me. Sometimes if we look at something from a different angle, something clicks. For me, it was looking at it as a practice.

This term has come to make more sense to me in regards to meditation and mindfulness, establishing a meditation or mindfulness practice. It’s not something you do to an end, it’s a moment of presence. A practice has nothing to do with proving anything to ourselves or others, with comparing ourselves or measuring results. It is an end in itself.

Since becoming a mother, it has been a recurrent theme for me to learn to apply what I want to teach my son, to myself. Things like self-acceptance, self-compassion, patience, perseverance. So it’s not surprising, though it’s taken it this long to finally dawn on me, that I should apply this piece advice I was given when he was still toddler, this secret to any new habit we want our children to have: regularity. Keep doing it, over and over. And it'll come. Like a ritual in the rhythm of life. Like a practice.

There are many ways to describe that same approach: to be process-oriented. To be present. To do something for its own sake. The journey matters more than the destination. Once we can, from deep within ourselves, look at something in this way, as a worthwhile practice in its own right that is enriching without any goals or comparisons, we are more easily compelled to do it regularly, to make it a part of our lives. (In my experience, for example, considering working out as a practice that I enjoy and makes me feel good, has been much more sustainable than when I looked at it as a means to an end, like weight loss).

In our modern accomplishment-centric lives, these practices of presence are our saving grace, and the catalyst to every day joys. We need to seek them out.

It is so hard for me to get back to writing when I haven’t done it in a while. The longer it’s been, the more I dread it and lose my confidence. And the harder it is. So if I give myself a goal of one post a week, or even one a month, it just doesn't work. I won’t have 3 free straight hours very often any time soon (ever?)  So what if I started thinking about writing the same way I think about meditation or yoga? Where even just a few minutes a day is better than 1 hr a week ? Would it help me integrate it into my routine, my every day?

If we look at writing, or cooking, in a goal oriented way, it becomes a test of our inadequacies, our motivation, our skills. We do it to be able to say we did it. We set some sort of bar, usually not based on our own needs but on others, on society.  “I should be cooking a big fancy 4 course meal every night.” “I should be able to dedicate 3 hours to writing this week.” “I should finish a post a week”. We compare ourselves to people we admire, and when it doesn’t happen, we beat ourselves up, we feel like s(/&**, not good enough, discouraged and it’s even harder to get back to it.

If we look at it like a practice, there is no measurement or judgment. Even a little bit becomes enough.  Perhaps we can even shift our focus to the enjoyment of that little bit, and trust it will get easier.  Or have compassion for ourselves when we miss a day, accept life is full of twists and turns, school events, moving friends, sick parents, headaches, unexpected deadlines. This is the stuff of life. All we can do is get back to it as soon as we can.  And when we do do it a bit more regularly, it gives us confidence, fulfillment. At least, we are doing it.

Let us take smaller steps. Maybe write a few minutes a day. Cook or prepare something very simple. And see what happens. Maybe having a “cooking practice” means cooking small easy things as often as possible.

How many of you reading this, feel this way about cooking? Do you feel like finding the time and confidence to cook real foods is daunting? Do you find it difficult to do on a regular basis?
Do you find yourself thinking it’s either a big fancy meal or nothing?

If you do, be kind to yourself. And when you’re ready, think of it as a practice. A cooking practice. Take it one simple dish at a time. Maybe it’s French style radishes with butter and salt. Or some cucumber tossed in crème fraîche and a splash vinegar. Maybe it’s getting a vegetable you haven’t cooked with in a long time (celeriac, anyone?), maybe it’s spotting a recipe and planning to make it this week (see below, hint, hint). 

Something small. And let go of the rest. You are good. You are enough. 

Now, speaking of simplicity, let me share this very simple lentil salad which is not only delicious, original, but can be made ahead for the week's lunchboxes or dinners.  

Celeriac Lentil Salad with hazelnut and mint

From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Yields 6-8

Prep time: 20-25 min total
Cook time: 20 min

Age: Avoid the hazelnuts for young children, but this is otherwise a good finger food / self-feeding dish from 8-10 months old.

2/3 cup hazelnuts (skin on)
2 cups lentils (green or brown)
4 bay leaves
8 thyme sprigs
1 large celeriac
1/2 cup olive oil
6 tbsp hazelnut oil
6 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch of mint

Preheat oven at 275°F. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet or dish, and roast for about 15 min. Let cool and chop roughly.

Put some salted water to boil in a medium saucepan. Peel the celeriac and cut into bite-size strips or cubes. Place in boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, until just tender. 

Place lentils in a medium size saucepan and cover with water so the water is about 1 to 2 inches above the lentils. Add the bay leaves and thyme (you could even tie them together so they can easily be removed after). Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, until al dente.

Drain the lentils and remove the herbs. In a large bowl, combine the hot lentils with olive oil, 4 tbsp of hazelnut oil, vinegar, about 1 tsp of salt and pepper to taste.  Add the celeriac and gently stir. Taste to adjust seasoning to your liking. 

Let it cool down, taste again, and add a splash of vinegar if needed. Drizzle the last 2 tbsp of hazelnut oil and stir in chopped mint and hazelnuts. 

Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Keep some chopped mint and hazelnut in separate containers to add upon serving. 

Enjoy :-)

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Back with a Ham & Olive Bread

Hello lovely readers, it’s been a while, hasn’t it ? Where the heck have I been, you may ask ? There is no short answer to that…

First, quite simply, it’s hard for me to get back into it when I stop for a while. I  start doubting writing this blog is of any use or value. Daily life fills up quickly and somehow time is short. And six months go by in a poof... 

Then, my posts take time : to write (hopefully) meaningful words, to make the food and photograph it well but quickly enough so we can eat it before it gets cold, has been challenging.

Bottom line is, I am a single working mom - with precious help from my mother and flexibility since I work from home - but there are definitely days where I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and just want to shrug it off – typically not a good frame of mind to write ;-)

I have been working on being present in the moment, and sometimes that means just living and doing, and not necessarily writing about it.  In the past year, I have had much fun with making some new foods, such as homemade cheese, crème fraîche, butter and yogurt. I have experimented with wild yeast and sourdough fermented bread, with fermentation and preserves.
Pablo and I have also been traveling, connecting with our international family and friends, discovering new places, new foods, been on many adventures. 

Lastly, I have recently felt a desire to talk about other things than food, as strange as it sounds to myself as I’m writing this, because I do really love to talk about food!! Although a lot of our life, our family life, our community life, our connected life, revolves around the table and the kitchen, 
I have been very interested in mindfulness and mindful parenting, in oral storytelling, in child development, in writing poetry, in cognitive theory and pedagogy...
Certainly food and parenting have been the two main catalysts and areas of practice of all these interests. But I have struggled to find a way to write about these things here, always looking for some sort of link with food or a recipe, thinking what I felt I wanted to say was just hors-sujet. Irrelevant to this particular blog theme.  I am thus working on another blog, perhaps even more personal, a sort of diary, so that those coming here for a recipe don’t have to be subjected (as much!) to my ramblings about life (more on that other blog very soon for those who might be interested.) 

That said, here I am. Pablo is five, he just started Kindergarten, and I feel a renewed inspiration and desire to share our life around food with you in this space. 

I’ll try to post our menus as that seems to have been useful in sparking some ideas for readers. I am also posting Pablo’s lunchboxes on Instagram (@frenchfoodie) if you want to check those out.

I may write shorter posts, have fewer pictures, but my goal is to be back here regularly. I am so grateful for your continued support.

So now, this ham and olive bread (which the French call a ‘cake salé’) has been a staple of our gatherings and picnics for many years, and it happens to be perfect for the lunchbox too.  Nearly impossible to miss, delicious, keeps well, quick to make… I have never tried to modify it, though now I’m thinking I could try it in muffin form, or with a better flour like einkorn.  If you feel adventurous and play with it, let me know how it turns out!



Ham & Olive Bread

From Les Cakes de Sophie by Sophie Dudemaine

Makes 1 loaf, approximately 12 slices. 

Prep time: 15 mn
Cook time: 45-50 mn

3 eggs
1 cup + 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
100 ml* (a little under 1/2 cup) canola or sunflower oil
125 ml* (a little over 1/2 cup) milk
3.5 oz (a handful) grated gruyere or Swiss (can be replaced with mozzarella, though less flavorful)
6-7 oz ham
2.5 oz green pitted olives
1 pinch of salt
2 pinches of pepper

*Tip: I use my old baby bottles as measuring cups, they have both ounces and ml. 

Preheat your oven at 350° F. 

Dice the ham and olives coarsely. 

In a large bowl (or you can use your stand mixer with the whisk on medium speed, which makes it even easier), combine the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper (The mixture will be thick and somewhat uncooperative). 

Add the oil gradually as you whisk it in. Since I use an old baby bottle as measuring cup (see tip above), I pour the milk in and warm it for 20s in the microwave while I whisk in the oil. 

Then add the warm milk gradually and whisk to combine as you go. 

(If you used a stand mixer, remove the bowl and finish by hand from here). 

Add the grated cheese and stir. Add the ham and olives and stir.

Line a 8 x 4 loaf pan with parchment paper (this makes it easy to remove the loaf from the pan unscathed, but you could also just butter the dish), and pour the batter in. 

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the blade of a knife or a skewer stick comes out clean. 

Keeps about 3 days wrapped in plastic. 

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Readiness, life & quinoa muffins

One of the most crucial gifts parenting has given me, is a profound respect for the process. My son’s process. Other people’s process. My own. How did I miss it all the years before?

Before and still too often now, I would get caught up with milestones to be reached, things that needed to happen at a certain time. Things that weren't where or how they were supposed to be. Whether it was for my child or for my own life. Then I read this:

“Readiness is when it happens.”

So simple it might trigger a “duh” chuckle inside.
Yet, this brought a shift in my whole outlook in life.

To suddenly be completely open. To what is here. With no judgement or specific expectation. With curiosity and kindness.

Often it’s hard, uncomfortable. Yet it always feels right. It has led me to more (self-)understanding, (self-)compassion, (self-)acceptance, connection... Anyway, that’s the path I’m on, and it feels like a good path.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have struggled with the fact that I haven’t posted here in five months and 12 days. Not what it was supposed to be.

But I guess this is the time I needed to be ready to be back.

Like my garden carrots I was so proud of, there's been growing underneath the surface. And today's harvest day.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  Charles Dickens
How did I never see that this was the shortest most accurate description of life, plain and simple?

These past months, I have been blessed with opportunities to travel, to share time with loved ones, with celebrations and birthdays, and small moments of every day joy. 

There’s also been broken bones, transitions and turmoil, torturous decisions. 

This is the stuff of life. Sometimes I get so busy being in it, I can’t also record it, photograph it, write about it. Then, inexorably, I feel the quiet urge to do so.

Today, I want to share a lovely recipe from Aran Goyoaga’s SmallPlates and Sweet Treats. These gluten-free muffins (we often make it as a loaf too) are so delicious, plain, or with good butter. For dessert or teatime, or along with a few crunchy radishes. They’re always a big favorite at parties, potlucks and picnics. They never fail to start a food conversation, my favorite kind! "What is in those muffins, they're so delicious?" "Oh really? Can you send me the recipe?"

Connection and bonding over food. Now that is my happy place. 

Banana, carrot & quinoa muffins

From Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Yields about 18 muffins

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min (50 for the loaf)

Age for babies: 12 months +, being careful about the pieces of pecan. 

3 ripe bananas
3 eggs from happy chickens
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3 tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup grated carrots (about 2 or 3 carrots)

Preheat the oven at 350F.

Puree the bananas in a bowl (the potato masher works well for me). Add the eggs, sugar, olive oil and vanilla extract.

In a larger bowl, whisk together quinoa flour, brown rice flour, almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Stir in the pecans and grated carrots. 

Grease your muffin pan if need be unless you're using muffin liners. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. (If you're making a loaf, cook about 50 minutes, make sure middle is cooked through. I usually line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour the batter in. That way it's easy to remove from pan with the paper and bring to a party or picnic). 

Let cool, and enjoy!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A different green salad, & our weekly menu

Yes, I know, it is a season for warm soups, and this one, or this one, sound very appetizing on this cold rainy day in Southern California.

Yet I come to you with the easiest and loveliest of salads, another wonderful recipe from The Forest Feast cookbook (where last week's Gorgonzola Grapes were from). It contains numerous salads that are so original, flavorful and festive. This one is fresh, crunchy and mostly seasonal. A crisp way to start a meal!

Scroll down to check out our weekly menu too, below the recipe :-)

Another kind of green salad

Adapted from The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson

Serves 3-4 (appetizer portion)

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Age for babies: 12 months up depending on baby's teeth and familiarity with the ingredients. This is a crunchy salad (watch out for the nuts). but certainly pieces of cucumber and avocado can be given from a younger age.

2 scallions
1 small cucumber
1 green apple (the book uses pear)
2 stalks of celery
1/2 avocado (ripe but firm)
1/4 cup pistachios
7-8 leaves of fresh basil
1 cup shelled edamame (I use shelled frozen edamame. Frozen peas could be used also, place in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and rinse in cold water)
1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil

Wash and chop bite-size the scallions, cucumber, apple, celery and avocado, pistachios and basil (keep a few smaller leaves whole for esthetics :-))

Toss together in a bowl with the edamame. Squeeze the juice of the lime over it and drizzle with olive oil. Salt to taste.

Onto the week's menu!

A few changes to the menu format.

First, as our schedule is always shifting, Pablo eats lunch at school most days now, his preschool prepares a hot organic lunch as well as a seasonal fruit and nuts snack mid-afternoon (no processed foods :-)), which all the children sit down and take their time to eat together. Needless to say I love that!

So we now eat breakfast and dinner together as a family, and lunches on off days, which I'll post here.

However, I have been making a regular habit of cooking Monday nights once Pablo is sleeping, and I will share here what I'm making, in case it sparks some ideas for your meal-planning and cooking plans.

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Truffle Brie, Petit Basque (sheep's milk), Gorgonzola.

FruitAt dinner, I offer a piece of seasonal fresh fruit (sometimes with yogurt). For younger children or those especially sensitive to sugar, at night, I recommend sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat's milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime. (Otherwise, Pablo usually eats berries at breakfast, and has a fruit snack at school in the afternoon.)

Fruits we're choosing from this weekApples, pears, kiwis, tangerines, grapes

Sweet treats: Since Pablo turned 3, I do offer sweet treats here and there (cake, chocolate, cookie, ice cream) in small quantity (homemade or artisan made whenever possible) at snack time (mid-afternoon) only, rarely as part of a main meal unless it's a special occasion.


Goûter (4pm snack) – Apple (from our tree!)

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Endive, Gorgonzola, blue cheese salad
Main course: Chicken mushroom and potato bake*

LATE NIGHT COOKING ahead (about 2/2.5 hours)
- Steaming green beans, potatoes and a whole cauliflower for easy salads
- Preparing these braised collard greens for next day dinner
- I have leftover pumpkin puree, trying this pumpkin bread (good for breakfast and snack).


Goûter - Pumpkin chocolate chip bread

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cauliflower, green beans, potato, parsley salad
Main course:  Pork tenderloin with mustard sauce, braised collard greens


Goûter – Pick of Farmer's Market (Seasonal fruit samples, or a lovely brittle cookie from Morning Glory Confections! Pablo approved!)

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Crab, vegetable, corn salad
Main course:  Scrambled farm eggs with sheep's cheese


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cucumber in creamy tarragon dressing
Main course:  Pan-fried Dover sole fillets with coconut rice


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Salami, leftover crab vegetable salad
Main course: Sardine avocado tartines

Goûter - Tangerine

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Baby bok choy, avocado, cashew salad from Café Sucré Farine
Main course: Braised coconut milk oxtails in slow cooker, quinoa


Goûter - Kiwi

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Apple, celery, cucumber salad
Main course: Pan-fried lambchops with these cumin and honey roasted carrots over ricotta from Bojon Gourmet


Goûter - A treat of Pablo's choice :-)

Appetizer / Finger Foods:  Creamy romaine salad with lots of herbs
Main course: Skirt steak and sweet potatoes

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Presence, gratitude and Gorgonzola grapes

I started a gratitude jar with Pablo recently. A few minutes here and there, where we both think about the things we're grateful for that day. (I know, gratitude isn't exactly an original topic this week, with Thanksgiving upon us.) The thought of that jar and my contribution to it, has made me pay attention to small things throughout the day. The color of that tree. Two people in a coffee shop, connecting. Pablo's green eyes, his dimpled smile, an intonation, a question, a memory. A right here. A right now.

This has been yet another way for me to be more present. I have been on a ruthless mission to fight and eliminate multitasking and divided attention, and to give my full presence to each thing I do.

This is hard. I struggle with it daily. But it has become a continual awareness.

I am always grateful for moments of true presence (whether it is a pleasant or not so pleasant moment). And thinking of gratitude helps me be more present.

With the holidays coming up, amidst the rushing, planning, obligations, engagements, and multitudes of busy, I wish for all of us many moments of full presence with our loved ones, gems of life, instants of complete acceptance of who we are exactly as we are in the present moment.

Now, how about a present moment dipping fingers in cheese?

I wanted to come to you with a quick and easy, last minute appetizer we just love. Perhaps an added fun touch to your holiday celebration.

I discovered it in the lovely book by Erin Gleeson called The Forest Feast, a wonderful resource of easy to complete, vegetarian recipes that are so festive!

I made these Gorgonzola pecan grapes when I cooked for the wedding of dear friends in July, and they were a big hit.  They are also PERFECT for making with a child or toddler. Smearing cheese, rolling grapes in nuts, and lots of finger licking = much fun in the kitchen for all ages :-)

Wishing you and yours a lovely, joyful, and flavorful Thanksgiving.

Gorgonzola Pecan Grapes

From The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson

Prep time: 20 minutes

For 12 grapes

Age for babies: 12 months and up, cut up, supervised to see how the pecans are handled.

1/2 cup of creamy gorgonzola (make sure it's not too aged, nice and soft)
12 grapes (seedless probably better)
1/2 cup of pecan nuts

12 toothpicks

First place the pecan nuts in a food processor, and grind into tiny pieces. Place in a deep plate (makes it easier to roll the grapes in, and to keep the pecans in the plate too). Wash the grapes.

Take a tablespoon or so of gorgonzola, and smear it on a each grape so it's more or less covered.
Fingers are handy to complete this messy (yet so fun) task (Expect lots of finger licking here!!!).

Then roll the grape in the plate of pecan nuts until it's covered, and place on a plate.

Repeat with as many grapes as you need.

Once fingers are properly licked and washed :-) stick toothpicks in each grape, and serve!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A day of presence, connection & French madeleines

I have known Chloe for eleven years, since the day she was born. She is someone for whom I feel such love and affection, a lovely bond that brightens my thoughts, and my days when she’s in them.
Such a fun and lovely day we had a few months ago, when we had a long overdue cooking day together.

We had a definite plan to make homemade butter (super easy by the way, see here how. I make mine with raw cream, but you can use regular heavy cream too. Something children can make to contribute to a Thanksgiving dinner, for example!), a perfect opportunity for her to show me her dance moves.

For Chloe has a bold, dancing spirit.

When deciding what else we would make that would be delicious and new, we put our minds together. Being French-American, Chloe loves Madeleines, those puffy, spongy little French cakes so scrumptious when dipped in milk or tea. And since it was the season, we made them strawberry Madeleines.

So we mixed, and shook, and baked. We watched cream turn solid. We scraped and smelled vanilla beans. We watched dough puff up, turn golden, and even a little too dark.  We drained, and rinsed, and squeezed the butter. And then we styled and photographed the Madeleines. Chloe was inspired, she observed, rearranged, and made beautiful images (the styling of the top picture is her creation!) For Chloe has a creative, studious spirit.

And then of course, Madeleines were eaten, savored in fact. Shared.

A "Madeleine de Proust" moment in the making...

I wanted to share this day here, because I got to work in the kitchen with someone I really admire. I am inspired by Chloe’s courage, willingness and trust in the face of fear, and her motivation and her joyous spark in the face of life.  She is someone beautiful inside and out, whom I profoundly believe in; someone I look forward to watching grow and flourish, as I have already for the past eleven years.

In those busy, 21st century lives we lead, of divided attention and too much rushing, I realize more than ever the need to be more present, to model a mindful life for my son, and to always take the time to nurture connection (I loved this video on the topic, by the way)

There are many things we can do together with those we love, our children, our parents, our friends, as a way of experiencing that bond, of being engaged and present together. Whether it’s gardening, traveling, eating, walking, painting, foraging, or in this case, cooking together. If you have a chance to seek and find ways to connect and be present with your children in this way, no matter how young, you will not regret it. It is infinitely worthwhile.

Also always worthwhile is to express what we love about those we love. I am thankful to have done just that here. Thank you, Chloe :-)

French Madeleines

Makes 20-24 little individual cakes

Prep time: 15 minutes (+ 30 min resting time)
Cook time: 6-8 minutes per batch

Age for babies: 10-12 months, in small quantity

You do need a special Madeleine pan for this. This one is good and affordable.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter
Pinch of salt
Seeds from one vanilla bean
Zest of one lemon
8-10 strawberries (cut up), or a handful of chocolate chips

First, place the empty madeleine pan in the freezer (The key to that lovely puff of the madeleine is thermic shock, so don't skip this step!)

Melt the butter in a small pan (or in microwave).

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Make a well in the middle of the flour, and place the eggs, then mix.

Add the melted butter, the zest and scrape the vanilla bean seeds. Mix, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven at 450° F.

Grease the madeleine pan. Stir the strawberry pieces or chocolate chips into the dough. (Since this is two batches, place the remaining dough back in the fridge).

Fill each shell about 3/4 of the way, and place in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Watch them carefully, as they're quick to burn (as you see in my pictures, an extra minute chatting with Chloe, and the edges got a little darker than we would have wanted!) As soon as they're golden and they've puffed up, take them out and remove from the pan, let them rest on a kitchen towel or a baking sheet.

These quantities will make about two batches, so if you have one pan, don't forget to stick it back in the freezer before making the second batch.

(Note you can make the dough 1 or 2 days ahead if need be, bake them the day you want to enjoy them! Once made, they'll stay fresh 1-2 days).

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Monday, September 22, 2014

A salad of peach, shiso and mozzarella... & our week's menu

I come to you today with a simple salad and our week's menu in hope it can spark some ideas for your family.
If you have grabbed some of the last peaches of the season this weekend, perhaps to try your hand at this peach buttermilk sherbet, or perhaps this peach lavender custard I posted a couple of years ago, this salad is perfect for those few ripe peaches left over.

I was kindly sent a copy of the cookbook Frenchie, New Bistro Cooking, by Greg Marchand, full of mouth-watering French-inspired recipes for each season. I couldn't resist this salad. Marchand uses smoked mozzarella for it, which would be lovely, but I couldn't resist burrata, that super creamy cloud of heaven of a mozzarella that makes your whole body relax in one bite :-) The combination of flavors is simply wonderful. And Pablo has been particularly fond of peaches in salads this summer. (We've also made this chards salad from The Vanilla Bean Blog with peaches instead of oranges, for a lovely outcome.) He's also been eating the shiso leaves right off the plant.

Our week's menu is right after the recipe, I have been inspired by many recipes from some gorgeous food blogs...   Have a lovely, flavorful week :-)

Peach burrata shiso salad

Adapted from Frenchie, New Bistro Cooking by Greg Marchand

Serves 3-4 as appetizer

Prep time: 10 minutes

Age for babies: 8-10 months

4 fresh peaches (or nectarines)
1 pack of burrata mozzarella
8-10 leaves of shiso (or basil, or both)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
A pinch of fleur de sel

Halve the peaches, remove the pit, tear them by hand (for that rustic look!) and place the pieces in a bowl. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, the shiso or basil leaves (keep a few for garnish), and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Cut the burrata in four pieces, place in four serving bowls or small plates. Add a pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the peaches, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Garnish with fresh shiso leaves. Voilà :-)

I received a free copy of the cookbook from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Onto the menu...

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Truffle gouda, Petit Basque (sheep's milk), Goat brie.

Desserts: At lunch and dinner, I offer a piece of seasonal fresh fruit (sometimes with yogurt). For younger children or those especially sensitive to sugar, at night, I recommend sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat's milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime. (Offering fruit for the first three meals of the day is plenty.)

Our schedule has changed a bit and Pablo has started a new preschool where a wonderful hot organic lunch is provided, which the children help prepare (love :-)), and eat together.  So some lunches are at school and on the go for the grown-ups. Lunchboxes are only needed once or twice a week now. 


Lunch at school / on the go

Goûter (4pm snack) – Chocolate pudding

Appetizer / Finger Foods: This watermelon almond gazpacho from Cannelle & Vanille
Main course: Curried roasted eggplant with smoked cardamom & coconut milk from Bojon Gourmet


Lunch at school / on the go

Goûter - Peach

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green beans, potato, tomato, cauliflower salad
Main course: Espresso braised short ribs*

In this busy life we lead, Wednesday has become a no cooking day for us, with a picnic lunch from Whole Foods salad and sushi bar with Grandma, and dinner at the Farmer's Market, where we also grab fresh produce for the next few days.
This week, we have a field trip with school, so we'll pack a lunchbox.

Picnic Lunch: Grated carrots, Spanish tortilla with spinach, ham & olive bread, grapes.

Goûter – Chocolate French Macaron (Pablo's favorite!)

Dinner at the Farmer's Market 
(Some of Pablo's favorites: Oysters, musubi rice balls, Basil cilantro quesadillas, cherry tomatoes, grape leaves, almond gelato)


Lunch at school / on the go

Goûter - Apple

Appetizer / Finger FoodsBaby bok choy cashew avocado salad from the blog Café Sucré Farine.
Main course: Whole chicken (roasted in Dutch oven with onions)


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Authentic Greek Salad
Main course: Leftover cold chicken

Goûter - Pear

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pear, celery, cucumber salad*
Main course: Vegetable blue corn bread inspired by Bojon Gourmet


Lunchbox for Spanish class: Quinoa crudites salad, smoked salmon, Petit Basque cheese, apple. 

Goûter - Mango

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Honeydew feta mint salad
Main course: Lamb chops with coconut rosemary carrots


Lunch out

Goûter - Nectarine

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Persimmon, pomegranate, cilantro salad*
Main course: Sausages, leek sweet potato gratin*

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