Sunday, April 28, 2013

A creamy mushroom tartine & an ode to eating outside (+ Pablo's menu too)

The warmer weather is upon us in Southern California, and this has revived one of the fondest summer traditions of my childhood: being able to eat outside. Raised in Normandy with many, many days of grey and rain (admittedly accountable for the amazing grass and thus, very healthy cows producing amazing cream and cheeses), I grew up valuing and savoring every second of sunny and warmer days. Meals savored outside felt like a joyous celebration of the end of the dreary tunnel that winter in Northern France can be. It felt like a rebirth, like one could finally fill one's lungs with a deep breath of fresh air. To sit down, feeling the sun on my back, listening to the sounds of the world out there, and eat a simple crudités salad, dipping bread in its vinaigrette... what a way to commune and connect with loved ones, with oneself, to slow down, take time. 

To take our  time. The very opposite of losing or wasting time. For being in the moment is the best possible use of our time. Cooking, eating are golden opportunities for us, to reclaim time.

The other night, after a long day of cooking and preparations for Pablo's birthday picnic, a day of people in a small kitchen, ovens going and stifling heat in the house, I suddenly felt the walls around me. I peered out the window to the garden, and just the thought of eating in the quiet dusk outside made me feel relieved, calm, like a sigh, an exhale. When we eat indoors, our meals are lovely, we take our time, we bond, we laugh and savor together, but everyday life is still there, around us, lurking. The cleaning, organizing that has yet to be done. The objects around us remind us of the past, sad or happy. Photos of lost ones. Gifts from the estranged. Images of past voyages. (Though this is the burden of adulthood, as young children do not (and cannot) project in this way. They are wired to be fully in the moment. There's too much fascination in the present to bother about the rest. Yet.) 

In contrast, when we eat outside, I glance at my herbs and strawberries in becoming, and I feel surrounded by the present and the future, by inner and outer growth and ripening. The descending light makes our other senses more attentive to the world around us: the smell of sundown, of the neighbors barbecuing; the song of the tireless mockingbird, of a firetruck in the distance, of an airplane going to a faraway land; the sensation of a passing evening breeze on the skin; the flavors on our plates.

I don't know much about what the future holds, but I do know we shall be savoring most of our meals outside for the next few months (and cooking them outside too whenever possible).

So should the weather show some clemency wherever you live, I wish you many meaningful, mindful, delightful meals outside, precious celebrations of the timeless here and now. 

I have become a big fan of "tartines" in the past few months, simple open-faced sandwiches. They are as scrumptious as easy to make, and ever so versatile. It is such fun to experiment with the ingredients and different combinations. It allows us to think with our palate. They make a lovely lunch, along with a salad. Children and grown-ups can eat with their fingers. And indeed with this one tartine I'm sharing today, all our fingers were thoroughly licked. Hope you enjoy!

And scroll down for our upcoming week's menu... :-)

Mushroom comté prosciutto tartine

Adapted from Petit Larousse des Recettes aux Légumes du Potager by Valérie Lhomme

Makes 4 tartines

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Age for babies: 12 months and up, they will most likely eat the components of the tartine with their fingers, which is fine.

1 lb mushrooms
1 sprig of thyme
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
3.5 oz grated comté cheese (or pecorino, manchego, gruyere, any flavorful hard cheese or your liking)
4 thick slice of good country bread
4 slices of prosciutto (San Daniele is very good and not too salty)
4 pinches of nutmeg
Salt & pepper

Clean the mushrooms, cut off the tip of the foot, and slice. Wash the thyme and remove the leaves from the stem.

In a pan over high heat, melt the butter and coconut oil, and toss in the mushrooms. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, then add the thyme leaves, a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue cooking over medium heat for another five minutes. 

Drain the mushrooms. In a bowl, whisk the crème fraîche and add in the mushrooms, gently stir to combine and set aside.

Preheat the oven at 450°F

Toast the bread slices lightly. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of each slice. Add some creamy mushrooms, some grated cheese, a pinch of nutmeg, and place in the oven for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Onto our and Pablo's menu this week...

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: Pont L'Eveque (a classic French cheese Trader Joe's just started to carry, give it a try!) Goat brie, Stilton.

DessertsAt lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer 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.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cooked cold zucchini with mint vinaigrette
Main course: Sardines, creamed spinach

Goûter (4pm snack) – Banana

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Butter lettuce hearts of palm + lots of herbs salad, radishes
Main course: Pan-fried skirt steak with celeriac puree


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Authentic Greek salad
Main course: Ham, simple ratatouille

Goûter - Apple-strawberry compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pan-fried baby artichokes
Main course: Pan-fried Dover sole fillets with coconut milk rice


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green bean blue potato parsley salad
Main course: Hard boiled egg, peas

Goûter – Strawberry rhubarb compote*

Appetizer / Finger Foods: White asparagus in tarragon yogurt sauce
Main course: Pan-fried veal liver, chards with sesame dressing inspired from this recipe


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Grated carrots French-style
Main course: Smoked salmon, baby bok choy puree

Goûter - Pear-blueberry compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pea, edamame, mint soup from Gourmande in the Kitchen
Main course: Braised ham & endive au gratin (quinoa bechamel)


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Avocado & cherry tomatoes
Main course: Shrimp & lime with quinoa

Goûter - Passion fruit

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cauliflower, peas, chives salad
Main course: Roasted squabs with raisins & new potatoes


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Warm leeks with vinaigrette
Main course: Dutch oven chicken, pan-fried thyme eggplant

Goûter - Apple

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Quinoa, corn, bell pepper, garbanzo bean salad
Main course: Lamb chops, rosemary creamy carrots in a parcel


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Spring pea salad
Main course: Leftover cold chicken with mustard, broccoli florets

Goûter - Kiwi

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Leek & chive flan
Main course: Mozzarella stuffed radicchio leaves, baked in a parcel*

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Monday, April 22, 2013

A birthday picnic menu, a lentil salad, & a short journey in the future

This Moment, by Eaven Boland
A neighbourhood.
At dusk.
Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.
Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.
But not yet.
One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.
A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.
Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.

It is April 2055. I have just celebrated my 80th birthday. I am sitting on a bench at dusk, reading this poem. And like Alice in Wonderland, I plunge into the rabbit hole that is memory lane.  I think of you, my son, love of my life, and that night 42 years ago, that night before we celebrated your 2nd birthday. It was the night before the storm, the whirlwind of party preparations, cooking and more cooking side by side with my mother, planning and organizing, listing and anticipating. The night before the cheers, the laughter, the hugs and songs, I remember a moment of calm, before the festivities, everyone asleep; I took in that moment, with all its thoughts, and tucked it away in a hidden treasure box, close to my heart. Tonight, I can open that box and treasure it once again. This moment of gratitude, of love, of acknowledgement of my life transformed for the better, of the many lessons already learned thanks to you, this moment of realization there really was so much to celebrate. Life is full of these treasure boxes. This one, I shall leave out, open, as it radiates the tranquil warmth that is the meaning of my life.

Menu for Pablo's birthday party/picnic/bbq at the park

Four savory cakes (they could also be called "breads" or loaves): mixed herbs; ham & green olives; goat cheese, walnut, raisins; asparagus mushrooms.

Chicken gouda muffins

Ratatouille feta muffins

Tray of crudités (carrots, cucumber, tomatoes), with hummus and creamy feta dip with mint parsley pesto

This leeks, feta, lemon quiche with homemade spelt cream cheese crust

French-style grated carrot & parsley salad

Mixed quinoa salad (with beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives...)

Lentil shallot salad (recipe below)

Potato salad

Cheese platter with homemade bread

And some hamburgers too :-)

Chocolate cake made by my good friend Elleni at Deer Eats Wolf

Fresh fruit platter

Lentil shallot salad

This very simple recipe is a staple in our family, we have it almost every week. It can be made ahead and keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. It's an easy first course, and so delicious.

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Age for babies: 10-12 months (avoiding the raw crunchy shallots)

12 oz Du Puy Lentils (or green lentils)
1 onion
4 cloves (optional)
4 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large shallot
Dill for garnish (optional, substitute any herb you like or have on hand)

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp walnut oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper

Rinse the lentils in a colander. In a large pot, place the lentils, the whole onion (pricked with cloves if using), whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, the thyme leaves and enough water so the onion is immersed.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. (Taste for consistency, should be soft but not mushy).

Meanwhile, prepare your dressing by combining all the ingredients and reserve in a bowl.
Dice the shallot.

Drain the lentils, discard the onion and bay leaves. Let cool to room temperature.

Then add the shallots and dressing, and combine. Add dill for garnish if desired.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A savory cake... & "exuding trust"

I recently fell in love with an expression I read in this insightful parenting article : "exuding trust". 

It is the perfect way to express something very intangible. A way to be within oneself that can be sensed by others. All between the lines. Just a feeling, an impression of someone. I have found this to be one of life's best kept secrets. Sometimes we get so anxious, scared, threatened, insecure, competitive. We project too much into the future, our expectations are unrealistic, projections of our neurosis. Too many nervous "what ifs". And when we feel all those things, I am pretty sure what we "exude" to those around us is a far cry from trust.

In the past, I have often felt that I needed to have things "figured out", and have felt uneasy and anxious about life's uncontrollable variables.  Pablo is turning two in a few days, and interestingly, my recent birthday had me thinking about my shortcomings, whereas his birthday is reminding me of how much he has taught me.

And he has most certainly taught me the importance of exuding trust. An inner trust in the process of  things, in trial and error. A trust in the beautiful struggle that life is. A trust that things will happen naturally, when and how they need to happen, even if I have no idea when and how just yet.

It's being optimistically open-minded, in a serene, peaceful way. I'm pretty amazed I'm even able to achieve that state. Not 100 % of the time of course, but getting better at it.

The thing about this open-minded-optimism-trust-exuding business, is that it is self-fulfilling. Just like the anxious-insecure-stress-inducing-doubt-exuding is. And the serenity that comes out of that trust, is contagious (just like the antsiness that comes out doubt and fear.) When someone we trust exudes trust, it is so reassuring, isn't it?

With Pablo, it's been about exuding trust that he will learn what he needs to learn when he is ready to do so, that his strong emotions (i.e. tantrums, he is 2 after all) are normal and come and go, that he can listen to his body... This inner trust makes me feel grounded, gentle, clear and calm, and I can be the gentle leader he needs in order to thrive.

I have also found this to be very true at the table. Having this inner trust that my child will enjoy good food, if not the first time, then the next time or the 10th time, that he may like something I dislike, that he will eat what his body needs. I am always optimistically open-minded about food, and as a result, so is Pablo.

When it came to food and Pablo's education of taste, maybe because of my culture or upbringing in France, I never had doubts, I trusted that if I exposed him to good foods, he would enjoy them. Or at least some of them. I had this inner (somewhat unconscious at first) certainty that the enjoyment of good food, of a pleasant meal, would not be a problem. That it would be a natural thing. And so it is.

Applying that trust in other areas of my life has been the real lesson for me. In parenting, writing, marriage, work... Letting go of doubt, of those uncontrollable variables, and trust that life will take its course as it must, and that I will learn, survive, grow from what it brings.

Perhaps exuding trust is simply being able to tell oneself (and believing it), "It's going to be okay, even if I don't know how (or when)."

I am facing a considerable trust-exuding challenge this coming weekend as we are preparing for Pablo's birthday party. Much much cooking,  and logistics, will be involved. In the past, I have faced such events with a lot of stress and have spoiled the mood a bit for those around me.

This time, I am exuding trust that things will be great even if they are not perfect, that Pablo will have fun and feel loved and celebrated, that our friends will have a nice time and enjoy good food. I shall report back on this and let you know how I did :-)

In the meantime, I would love to share the recipe for one of my favorite "party foods": the savory cake. There are countless versions of it, it is fairly easy to make, and most definitely a crowd pleaser. Kids usually love them, it is similar to a savory "bread", a fun finger food. I make them on a regular basis for barbecues, picnics or potlucks. They also make an easy and delicious cold lunch (very convenient for a lunchbox as well, I would think).

Spinach, watercress, fennel cake

Adapted from Les Cakes de Sophie by Sophie Dudemaine

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 45 min

Age for babies: 10-12 months.

3 eggs
1 heaping cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup (4.5 oz) whole milk
3.5 oz grated Swiss cheese (mozzarella could work too, though less flavorful)
1 bunch of watercress
2 bunches of spinach
1 medium fennel bulb
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 pinch nutmeg
2 pinches salt
2 pinches pepper

Preheat the oven at 400°F.

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cut the stems of the fennel off and discard, wash the bulb. When the water is boiling, place the bulb in and blanch (cook) it for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the watercress and spinach leaves thoroughly, cutting off the thicker parts of the stems.

Remove the fennel bulb with a slotted spoon (keep the water). Run the fennel under cold water, then place in a kitchen (or paper) towel to absorb moisture.

In a pan or Dutch oven, melt 1 tbsp butter and § tbsp coconut oil over medium-low heat. Cut up the fennel into small pieces, and add it in with a pinch of salt & pepper, the sesame and 1 tbsp of water. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often (don't let the fennel brown), until soft.

While that cooks, put the watercress and spinach in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
Drain the watercress/spinach well (pressing with a spoon to squeeze the water out) and put in a kitchen (or paper) towel to absorb moisture.

In a pan over medium low heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Add in the watercress/spinach, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the nutmeg. Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring often (at that point, you're stirring both pans simultaneously, the fennel and the greens).

Warm up the milk (I like to use baby bottles for measurement, you can stick it for 1 min in the microwave).

In a bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together, add the eggs in and whisk with a fork (I find the fork easier than the whisk in this case, as the mixture is quite thick).

Little by little, whisk in the oil, then the warm milk. The mixture will become thinner and easier to whisk. Stir in the grated cheese. Then add the watercress/spinach and the fennel.

Butter a rectangular cake mold and pour the batter in. Bake for about 45 minutes (it is done when a knife or toothpick comes out clean.)

Let cool. Eat at room temperature.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring's bounty & Pablo's weekly menu

I am posting our week's menu a bit late because of Monday's post for a good cause. And given its content, I have been especially grateful recently, for all the beauty and bounty Spring has brought us.

Today Pablo shelled fresh peas with his grandmother, eating five and putting one pea in the bowl for every pod. He tried to peel an onion. He tasted a radish and found it spicy. He kept munching on it anyway. He said, "Happy radis". I guess Pablo thinks radishes are a happy food. And he's become quite the radish connoisseur, from French radishes to watermelon radish to black radish.

His table vocabulary has expanded lately, and we hear a whole lot of "Mm, bon" (Yum, good) at the table. He's starting to know his foods, to have his idiosyncrasies. He likes to drink soup from the bowl, to dip his bread in vinaigrette, to drizzle that vinaigrette over his asparagus, to sprinkle the sugar over his plain yogurt. He's creating his rituals.

Is there anything warmer to a mother's heart? Not just that he appreciates what we cook for him, but also that these positive associations will hopefully remain an integral part of his childhood. There's such a tight bond between food, family and childhood.

Life is full of messiness. Well, mine is anyway. Things undone, piled up. Unresolved and pending. There's tiredness and juggling, sadness and worry. But then, there's joy. Tonight, I was able to put all those things aside for the time of a meal, a spring meal in the growing evening light, of young peas and onions and carrots and herbs, all to the tune of "Happy holidays", because Pablo is obsessed with that song and asks to listen to it every night at dinnertime. I just realized, writing this, how appropriate it is: mealtimes are happy holidays for us, from the drearier parts of life.

Tonight, there was laughter and joy at the table. Youth, felt by all generations.

Immensely blessed and grateful for that.

Turkey eggs, we tried for the first time this week. 

On to the week's 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: Roquefort, Port Salut (cow cheese), Goat brie, truffle Italian cheese.

DessertsAt lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer 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.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


Lunch - OUT at Le Pain Quotidien (great kids menu with ham cheese tartine, cucumber and carrots with dill aioli, cup of fruit, along with gazpacho and avocado shared with mom.)

Goûter (4pm snack) – Chocolate pudding, kiwi

Appetizer / Finger FoodsGrated carrots French-style, watermelon radish
Main courseChicken basquaise


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Sauteed red chards, orange, goat cheese salad inspired by Vanilla Bean
Main course: Leftover Chicken basquaise over buttermilk quinoa

Goûter - Apple-strawberry compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Oysters on the half shell
Main course: Turkey eggs sunny side up, sauteed brown beech mushrooms with garlic & rosemary, flageolets beans French-style


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green asparagus with vinaigrette, saucisson
Main course: Smoked salmon, avocado, quinoa

Goûter – Banana-peach compote

Appetizer / Finger FoodsSpring pea salad, French radishes
Main course: Pan fried lamb chops with vegetable jardinière (using green garlic, baby turnips and fresh peas!)


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green beans, potato, spring onion (from my friend's garden) & feta salad
Main course: Steak tartare (you know, the raw meat stuff) with butter lettuce in tarragon pesto dressing from Food Loves Writing

Goûter - Pear-blueberry compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pea, edamame, mint soup from Gourmande in the kitchen
Main course: Dover sole fillets with micro-radish potato puree



Appetizer / Finger Foods: Sauteed French radishes and fava beans, another recipe from Gourmande in the kitchen !
Main course: Shrimp with lime over coconut rice

Goûter - Muscat grapes

Dinner - OUT (I'm afraid I'm getting a year older hopefully wiser...)


Lunch - OUT

Goûter - Apple

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Watercress sorrel soup
Main course: Mustard pork tenderloin with blue potatoes


Lunch - OUT

Goûter - Mango compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Endive, almond, blue cheese salad
Main course: Ham, vegetable noodles

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Monday, April 8, 2013

A Post, and a recipe in the fight against Hunger...

"50 millions Americans exist without enough to eat in a nation with more than enough food."
This is what I learned thanks to the eye-opening documentary about hunger in America, called A Place At the Table.

When Pablo was three weeks old, we realized he wasn't gaining weight. I was breastfeeding exclusively at that point, and wasn't producing enough milk to feed him sufficiently. When I found this out, I had this feeling of panic, guilt and overwhelming sorrow. If Pablo had been crying so often, it's because he was hungry.  I thought, "I am a mother, and I have been starving my child."

This terrible feeling I had, resolved in a matter of hours by supplemental formula and a reassuring pediatrician, this unbearable feeling is felt by millions of mothers and fathers on a daily basis as they face the unfathomable burden of food insecurity. They do not know where their or their kids' next meal will come from. 1 out of 5 children, 16 million kids, struggle with hunger in America

Levels of food insecurity match high rates of obesity. Some children are obese and hungry because they eat nothing but chips, cookies and sodas, as those are the only "foods" their family can afford. Meanwhile, our government is massively subsidizing the huge agro-businesses producing these non-foods.

So the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest.

How can this be possible? 

I am not an activist at heart. I often feel helpless in larger causes, and feel my only way to make a difference is to try to focus on nurturing the Good around me, one person at a time.

And I suppose this post is one very small way to do that.

The challenge set by The Giving Table for Food Bloggers Against Hunger, was to present a "budget-friendly" recipe, and reflect on what I would do if I was hungry. At first, I had planned on posting a soup recipe, before realizing families on food stamps most likely do not have blenders or mixers. So I tried to come up with a nutritious meal with minimal means.

If the food stamp program gives about $4 per day per person, that meant I had 16 dollars for a family of 4, a little over $5 per meal. I went to the supermarket with my $5 budget in mind. I walked in, passed the $4.99 box of cookies, and $5.99 cheeses, and started looking for my ingredients, counting pennies. Organic was out of the question, of course. I splurged with the sardines in olive oil (vs. the less expensive ones in soybean oil). Buying dill was a downright luxury. The lemon, I got from my neighbor's tree to stay within budget.

Bottom line is, I'm humbled and I take a lot for granted. I can't really imagine what it would be like to live like this, day in and day out. I can't imagine not feeding Pablo any fruits and vegetables.

I have been sharing with you here my journey nurturing my son. I am always in awe of potential. Of how much is possible, if we can nurture our children and help them grow a healthy body and mind. Like a gardener feeling a profound need to nourish his seedling, to create all the right conditions for it to grow, to protect it.

This potential is being destroyed, malnourished, starved, for millions of children, with devastating mental and physical consequences. Today. Right here. Millions of futures are stunted.

If you feel strongly about it, here are some things you can do:

- Get informed, starting with the Share Our Strength website.
- Go to this link and take 30 seconds to send a letter to Congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation.
- See this documentary either in theaters in your city, or on demand through iTunes or Amazon.

And on a personal level, let us continue to promote the family meal and the use of real food by supporting local organizations focusing on education about real food, by talking about it around us in the community, by finding out where our food comes from and boycotting processed junk foods if possible, and by cooking at home and appreciating the immense value of real food. Let us revive the lost of art of homemade family cooking, of gardening one's own foods, within our family, our circles.

And let us be grateful for the access to those real foods and the ability to have a place at the table.

Sardines two ways

Inspired by "Sardines en boîte, les 30 recettes cultes" by Garlone Bardel

Note: This is two separate meals, feeding 3-4 people each.

Age for babies: 8-12 months

Grilled sardines with onion, garlic and lemon

1 can of sardines in olive oil
1/4 small onion
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 potatoes
1/2 cup peas
2 slices of wheat bread

Quarter the potatoes, place them in cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Open the can of sardines, and pour 1/2 of the oil into a frying pan.

Dice the onion, slice the garlic. Slide the slices of garlic between the sardine fillets in the can. Add the onion on top. Drizzle the juice over it, and place the can in the broiler for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the peas and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Remove the peas, reserve the oil. Place bread slices in the frying pan and toast/fry with the little bit of leftover oil.

In a plate, mash the peas with a fork. Spread on the fried bread.

Serve the grilled sardines with half a mashed peas toast and a couple of pieces of potato.

Sardine, cottage cheese & pea tartine

1 can of sardines in olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup cottage cheese
4 slices wheat bread
1 tbsp diced onion
1/4 cucumber, diced
2 sprigs of dill

Open the can of sardines, drain and reserve the oil.

In a frying pan, heat a bit of the oil over medium heat, add the peas and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Place the peas on a plate. With the remaining oil, fry the bread slices over medium-high heat until just brown on one side (one at a time, adding a bit of oil every time, if frying pan is small).

In a bowl, mash the sardines, peas and cottage cheese together with a fork. Stir in the onion.

Spread the mixture over the bread, add a few pieces of cucumber and a bit of dill for garnish on top.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Celeriac sunchoke soup (+ list of good soups) & Pablo's menu

There's something magical about soup. Something about finding a perfect osmosis of ingredients. About creating such an interesting dish, in color, in texture, in flavor, such a delicate dish from the rough fruits of the earth. The French word "velouté" for soups says it all (basically a soup that's blended and smooth). It means "velvety". How inviting. Sensual even. 

In more practical considerations, it is such a great way to start a meal, it makes the perfect vegetable first course, so easy to make, and convenient (you can make ahead, freeze). Yet you can get really creative with the combinations, with the accompaniments, from crème fraïche or heavy cream, to coconut cream to pesto. Infinite possibilities. It has been quite the fun food for Pablo as he has learned to drink from his bowl. And a perfect way to introduce new flavors, new vegetables. (With the warm season, I'll be making more and more cold soups as well.) 

So sometimes I share poetry, sometimes inner ramblings, sometimes parenting thoughts. And sometimes, I like to share lists. Because they're kind of useful, right? So I'd love to share 10 soups we've really enjoyed recently. Nine + 1 recipe here. In no particular order.

1. Cold pea soup from Tastefood
3. Apple celery root with smoked trout from Cannelle & Vanille
4. Beet soup from Mowielicious
5. Watermelon tomato almond gazpacho from Cannelle & Vanille
6. Lentil leek soup from Vanilla Bean
7. Pumpkin coconut soup from Lovely Pantry
8. Carrot ginger soup from Deer Eats Wolf
9. Cream of fava beans with goat cheese from My Little Fabric

... and this celeriac sunchoke soup recipe I'm sharing today.

Do you have any great soup recipes or links to share? Please do so in the comments! Let's form a soup exchange! :-)

Hope you have a lovely week, scroll down further for Pablo's menu this week...

Celeriac sunchoke soup with cilantro hazelnut pesto

Inspired by a celeriac soup we recently had at The Black Cat Bistro in Cambria, California

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Age for babies: 6 months and up (skipping the pesto at first).

1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 celery root, peeled, cut up
1 pound of sunchokes, peeled, cut up
6 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Handful of fresh cilantro
3 tbsp of hazelnut oil

In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat until translucent (don't let them brown).

Add the water, celery root, sunchokes, salt and pepper, bring to a simmer, cover and cook over medium low for about 20-25 mn, until the vegetables are tender. 

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender until very smooth.

Put the cilantro and hazelnut oil in a small food processor and pulse until cilantro is finely chopped. 

Pour the soup in bowls, and with a small spoon, stir in some of the cilantro pesto. Add additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

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: Brie de Meaux, Goat brie, Petit Basque (sheep).

DessertsAt lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer 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.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cucumber in creamy tarragon yogurt sauce
Main course: Ham & hard boiled egg (one of the pink ones from Easter :-)),  flageolets beans French-style (leftover from Easter lunch!)

Goûter (4pm snack) – Chocolate pudding

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Butternut leek fennel soup
Main course: Buttermilk-brined chicken thighs, fingerling potatoes


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Boiled leeks with vinaigrette
Main course: Mushroom prosciutto Comté cheese tartine*

Goûter - Pear-blueberry compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green bean, cauliflower, tomato salad
Main course: Bison patty and creamy rosemary carrots baked in parcel*


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Grated carrots French-style
Main course: Trying this harvest (sweet potato, chards, onion) tart recipe found on Food Loves Writing

Goûter – Apple-mint compote

Appetizer / Finger FoodsSpring pea salad
Main course: Albacore with avocado and cilantro, baked in a parcel*


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Leftover grated carrots French-style
Main course: Sardines, baby bok choy puree

Goûter - Mango compote

Appetizer / Finger FoodsArtichokes with vinaigrette
Main course: Oven roasted mustard pork tenderloin, peas & carrots jardinière


We'll see what good things we find to eat! Perhaps urchin and oysters at the San Diego Farmer's Market?

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