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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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Making life worthwhile... with a bowl of peach buttermilk sherbet

Is getting what we want a measure of success? I have wondered about that lately.
If so, I am widely unsuccessful, as I have wanted to do so many things, including posting here more regularly, in vain.

This idea of “success” seems to miss the mark for me. An outside judgment on our lives, one that matters for a moment, and doesn’t matter in the end.

Every time I think of what a successful life might be, I fast forward to my 99 year old self (should I be so fortunate as to get that far). What will I ask myself, then? “Have I been successful in my life?” Perhaps. But I have a hunch that what will matter most, is whether it was worthwhile.

So what is the difference? A “successful life.”  A “worthwhile life.” A “successful day.” A “worthwhile day.” It doesn’t feel the same, does it? It’s not the same life. Not the same day.

For me, a “successful” day would go something like this:

I’d probably start it with oatmeal instead of brioche. (Need I say more?)
I’d answer agents’ requests for a book deal, before writing a brilliant blog post that’s brilliant and clever at the first draft. Pablo would be in a perfectly good mood all day from all my perfect mothering (ha!). Everything would get done quickly, efficiently. I’d cook a very sophisticated dish perfectly the first time around, and it would come out just like the picture in the recipe book.  

A worthwhile day, on the other hand, would go something like this:

We already know what breakfast would be ;-) Then I rack my brain to make extra time from work and daily duties in the coming week to think about, let alone write the book about food and life that I want to write. Perhaps I do find the time to sit down and write a blog post, but I stare at the blank screen in frustration. Then I write a few random lines, and they help me make a connection, a thought perhaps worth sharing. Pablo has started a new school, has a tantrum when he comes home. I’m hungry, pressed for time, I feel impatient and frustrated, I don’t want to be tested right now. It’s hard not to snap. I do snap a couple of times, and I catch myself. I remember. I take a breath, and sit with him through his big feelings the best I can, letting all his pent up emotions come out. I talk myself through it, because it’s hard to not just want it to be over. It’s hard to be present. I catch up on Skype with my dear friend in France, sharing ordinary bits of our daily lives; time flies, disappears.
I had planned to make corn chowder for dinner, but now I can’t, I have too much work, a deadline to complete. I am grateful for my mother’s help, for her art in making the simplest ingredients shine. I still have work tonight, so many things I didn’t get done today. Yet we sit down on our terrace and eat together. We talk, listen, laugh, share, connect. We notice the days are getting shorter. For dessert, we feel the evening gently descending, over a shared bowl of buttermilk peach sherbet.

Successful speaks of objectives, results, speed, and looks good from the outside.

Worthwhile speaks of process, slow and meandering, of struggles; it feels right, real, from the inside.

In the end, life is not for show. Life is for living, learning, feeling, connecting. Not necessarily in that order. 

Summer is coming to an end, and this sherbet is one way to make it last just a touch longer... If you can grab the last peaches or nectarines of the season, then I highly recommend you try this sherbet, another foolproof recipe by the incredible Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle & Vanille. The flavor is the taste and essence of peach, so refreshing and sweet. Pure delight. A last stronghold of summer before pumpkins and apples take over our kitchens...

Peach buttermilk sherbet

From Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Yields 1 1/2 quarts approx
Time to prep: 30 min prep + overnight refrigeration prior to churning + abt 30 mn churning

Age for babies: 6-8 months 

1 cup cane sugar
4 large peaches or nectarines (I have never tried it with canned peaches, but I suppose it would be okay, as long as they're rinsed, otherwise, the sugar amount needs to be adjusted).
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt

In a small pan, cook the sugar and 1/2 cup of water, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in a bowl and let cool.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a cross on the bottom of the peaches or nectarines. 
Prepare a large bowl with ice water.
Plunge the fruit in the boiling water for a minute or so.  Immediately place them in the ice water. 
Then peel the fruit, the skin should come off easily.  Then cut the fruit and remove the pits.

In a blender, mix peaches and lemon juice. It'll turn into a puree. 

Transfer to a large bowl, whisk in buttermilk and salt.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. (I usually place the freezing element of my ice cream maker in the freezer at the same time the night before churning,)

Churn in your ice cream maker, until solid but creamy. Freeze for a few hours before serving. (I have kept mine in the freezer for 2-3 months with no problem).

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