Gratin d’aubergines

eggplant gratin2It’s been a long rainy spring. We needed a hint of summer. The solution? Eggplant gratin with homemade tomato sauce, topped with bubbly cheese. This is a lighter version of a familiar dish, also known as eggplant parmesan, because the eggplant slices are steamed instead of fried before going into the gratin dish. It’s fun to assemble — the whole family can get into the act. Add a sprig of fresh basil and voilà. Summer has arrived.

Gratin d’aubergines / Eggplant gratin

It’s not just the rain this spring, it’s the general climate in France. They have a word for it over here that translates just fine into English: morose. Strikes plus cold gray weather. I have been waiting for a sunny day to go tend my garden in Burgundy. The sun made a rare appearance this week but I couldn’t make the trip because workers are blockading the country’s oil refineries, leading to a gasoline shortage. I had enough in the tank to get down there, but not enough to come back. Meanwhile, it’s tomato planting time…

If this sounds a bit depressing, it is, so let me move on to other subjects. After I posted the cod with pistachios recipe two weeks ago, I realized I had left out the vermouth-flavored sauce that was served with the original version I’d enjoyed at Gustibus, a neighborhood bistro. If you’d like to try it, make a bechamel and add two tablespoons white vermouth. Spoon around — not over — the fish just before serving.

Meantime, after seeing the cod with pistachios post, a friend sent me a similar recipe — cod with a hazelnut crust. Thank you, Mary Bartlett! It’s apparently a big favorite in Oregon. So here it is:

For 2 servings:
1 (10 ounce/300 grams) cod filet
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or other dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
salt and pepper

Cut the cod filet into four portions and season each with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a shallow dish. Mix the panko crumbs and the nuts together in a small bowl.

Dip the cod in the butter and then in the crumb and nut mixture to coat completely.

Arrange the fish on a small baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425. Bake the fish until the crust is lightly browned and the center is opaque (about 15minutes.)

Serve with lemon wedges.

Happy cooking!

Posted in 8. Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cabillaud aux pistaches

cod pistachios2‘I do not cook, I practice art.’ These words, pronounced by the divine actress Stéphane Audran toward the end of the film Babette’s Feast, give voice to the feelings of many of us when we enter the kitchen. Such were my feelings when I set out to duplicate a dish I had recently tasted at a nearby bistro. The dish? Cod crusted with pistachios, and served alongside a creamy purée of potatoes flavored with horseradish. Simply divine…

Cabillaud aux pistaches / Cod crusted with pistachios
Purée au raifort / Potato purée with horseradish

The bistro was Gustibus, a small place on the Rue St-Sébastien around the corner from me. I had walked past it many times without taking special note. But then a friend visiting from abroad convinced me to try it. The room is warm and intimate, the owner smiling and gregarious. Nadia is also a genius in the kitchen, where she and her husband prepare meals inspired by the cuisine of their native northern Italy.

In this recipe — my interpretation, as Nadia did not reveal her secrets — pistachios are peeled and crushed with a rolling pin, then patted onto the fish. The cod is lightly floured and pan-seared in olive oil. The horseradish purée is a variation on standard mashed potatoes, also very quick and easy to prepare. This versatile purée could accompany many other dishes, from meat or poultry to a vegetarian spread.

artichaut vinaigrette1Over the last couple of weeks, I have been on a cooking spree, revisiting dishes already on the site in order to update their photos. The first is artichauts vinaigrette, or artichokes with mustard vinaigrette. With artichokes appearing in markets now, it seemed a seasonally appropriate choice. It also allowed me to revisit my recipe for the vinaigrette, an attentive reader having noticed a discrepancy between the amount of oil called for in the recipe and a different amount in the accompanying video. This has now been rectified — thank you, reader! — but the bottom line is, for a sharper sauce use less oil. The French standard version would be with more oil for a satiny, flavorful sauce that doesn’t bite.

grillled pork1The second revisited recipe is porc grillé aux herbes de Provence, or grilled pork chops with rosemary and thyme. With summer just around the corner, this is another seasonal dish, as the chops are best when grilled on the barbecue. But lacking a barbecue, you can grill them in a skillet, as I did on a rainy day in Paris. The combination of garlic and fresh herbs produces an aroma that will draw family or guests to the kitchen to see what’s cooking.

smashed potatoes1I have also added a bistro classic that was long overdue — écrasé de pommes de terre, or smashed potatoes. This dish, which has become popular on menus in recent years, is actually a throwback to the time when potatoes were roughly crushed with a fork instead of being puréed with a blender, as is usually done in France. These potatoes marry well with just about everything.

Whether you prefer your potatoes smashed, puréed with horseradish or in any other form is not important. For, as they say in Latin, de gustibus non disputatam — there is no accounting for taste. This is the phrase from which Nadia and her husband plucked the name of their bistro. Another translation: enjoy, enjoy.

Happy cooking.

Posted in 5. Fish and Shellfish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Purée de fèves épicée

Fava spread2Consider this a Mediterranean version of guacamole. Fava beans (aka broad beans) are cooked to tenderness and puréed with olive oil, lemon and garlic, with a little cayenne pepper for bite. A perfect spread as warm spring days edge toward the sumptuous evenings of summer. Right? That’s what I thought when I made this spread for guests a couple of weeks ago. But I was wrong. April in Paris was a bust this year. Truly the cruelest month…

Purée de fèves épicée / Tangy fava spread

But even on cold, gray, rainy days, this spread will brighten up a meal. It may be served during cocktail hour on toast, or at the table as a starter alongside other Mediterranean salads — topped with roasted pumpkin seeds or a bouquet of fresh mint or cilantro. It is definitely a dish for spring, when fava beans are in season. You can find them in outdoor markets in France beside other seasonal produce — artichokes, peas, strawberries.

Fava beansI first encountered this spread maybe 20 years ago at the home of a Lebanese woman who lived around the corner from me in Paris. A superlative cook, she used canned fava beans for the spread, and this is a fine option in other seasons. You can also make the spread with frozen fava beans, a huge convenience as it allows you to dispense with shelling the beans (and they need to be shelled twice…). But in spring, fresh beans are best.

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Petit Larousse des recettes du potager (Larousse, 2008), a compendium of recipes featuring garden veggies. Their original version of the fava spread uses sesame seeds instead of pumpkin seeds, and ground cumin in place of cayenne. Try it that way too.

The Larousse, which calls favas  ‘the princess of peas’, has three more recipes featuring the humble bean: cold blended soup of favas and cottage cheese; a salad of baby favas, green beans, alfalfa sprouts, mint and quinoa; and a warm salad of favas, ginger and green onions. And that is just the fava part of the 37-page bean section, which also covers coco beans, green beans, peas and snow peas. It is a wonderful book for anyone interested in healthy cooking, and may hold special appeal for the vegetarians and vegans among you.

And on that note, I will wish you all warm sunny days in May. Frozen ice was falling from the sky in Paris three nights ago. May it return to the clouds and stay there till next winter.

Happy cooking.

Posted in 1. Starters | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiche aux asperges et pleurotes

asparagus quiche4The other day I wandered into a local lunchtime place and was served the most delectable quiche I’d tasted in a long time. Both light and rich, it veritably hummed with the flavors of spring — in the form of green asparagus and oyster mushrooms. The place was the Rose Bakery. I wrote to them to ask for the recipe, but they didn’t reply. Never mind. I made it anyway.

Quiche aux asperges et pleurotes / Asparagus quiche with oyster mushrooms

Usually I use milk in a quiche filling, often with a sprinkling of grated cheese, but those flavors were absent in the original. To replicate its melt-in-the-mouth richness, I used just cream and eggs, with a little salt and black pepper. The result? Tasty!

The Rose Bakery, which is run by a British-French couple and has been around for more than a decade, won plaudits when it first opened in Paris. It is similar in style to Moosewood, the flagship American gourmet vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York, where I worked as a substitute chef in the 1970s. The foodie site Paris By Mouth has since dropped Rose from its list of its 350 favorite restaurants in Paris. No reason was given, but rudeness would be top of my list.

No restaurant can be expected to share a recipe, although many do so willingly. I was once politely refused a recipe at Merci, the very cool three-café restaurant across the street from me on Boulevard Beaumarchais. But I do believe that a request should at least receive the courtesy of a reply. And speaking of rudeness, my friend Nicole and I had not originally set out for Rose when we met for lunch that day. We first stopped in at Rachel’s, another trendy Anglo-style place in the neighborhood, but left when they refused to seat us at a proper table, instead insisting that we lunch at a tiny square wedged in beside the door that lacked enough space for two plates…

All of this is happening in a neighborhood of Paris that was totally lacking in chic until a few years ago. The trend started with the arrival of some art galleries and Merci — which also has a huge clothing and furniture emporium. Now the boulevard is lined with expensive clothes stores (Sandro, Kitsune, Melinda Gloss) and bobo (bourgeois bohemian) restos (Grazie, Fisch, Blend). The high note came last spring when the gourmet deli Maison Plisson opened its hallowed doors directly across the street from my apartment. On nice days, ladies who usually lunch in Left Bank neighborhoods come slumming over here to sit at Plisson’s outdoor tables.

Only a few blocks away, other Parisians are currently spending their nights protesting at the Place de la République in the movement known as Nuit Debout, the French version of Occupy. Hundreds were at the square last night when President François Hollande went on TV for a so-called dialogue with citizens about the accomplishments (or not) of his term in office. A giant outdoor screen was set up on which the protesters watched the two-hour spectacle of Hollande being hammered over everything from excessive taxation of small businesses to recruitment of terrorists at Islamist schools to the state hand-outs being given to hundreds of migrants in the depressed Calais region who are waiting, mainly in vain, to make their way to Britain. Things turned violent when youths enraged by the broadcast set out to march on the Elysée — the French presidential palace — and began smashing store windows, cars and bus shelters en route, prompting intervention by the CRS riot police.

What does all this have to do with quiche aux asperges? Just as asparagus is a rite of spring, so is protest in the streets of Paris. This spring promises to be particularly hot given the political climate change enveloping France. People are angry across the spectrum. Standards of living have declined significantly for many — not the clients of Plisson, of course, but working people living on 38 euros a day, the current minimum wage, or on even less among the ranks of the un- or under-employed. The Nuit Debout movement lacks the revolutionary humor of the May ’68 student-worker protests (‘It is forbidden to forbid’, ‘Beneath the cobblestones, the beach’). Its spirit is just plain tense at a time when tensions are already high following the terrorist attacks of last year and the anti-Europe, close-the-borders feelings they have elicited.

Living within a stone’s throw of the current protest’s nerve center, I find that retreating into the kitchen is a way of remaining zen. Make a quiche, open a bottle of wine, and hope that the embattled leadership of this country will find a way to meet the present challenge.

Happy cooking.

Posted in 4a. Savory Tarts and Tartines | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Steak au poivre

steak au poivre2A dish that can bring down the house — literally — is steak au poivre, the classic French bistro offering of tender beef crusted with cracked black pepper and topped with a cognac-cream sauce. When I embarked on this recipe, my kitchen nearly went up in flames — twice! The skillet I used to pan sear the steak caught fire when I started the sauce, with bright yellow flames shooting two feet into the air. Oh là là

Steak au poivre / Steak au poivre

Does this explain why steak au poivre, while ubiquitous in restaurants, is rarely served at home? In my 40 years in France, I have never been treated to this dish by a host or hostess. And yet, once you get the knack, it is not only quick and easy to prepare, but results in a magnificently elegant dish. So what went wrong?

Before embarking on my version of steak au poivre, I consulted at least a dozen recipes by chefs from Julia Child to Joël Rebouchon. Almost all said to sear the steak in a combination of oil and butter, remove the steak, cast off the fat and then prepare the sauce in the same skillet. The first time I tried this, I neglected to cast off the fat. There wasn’t much, and I didn’t want to lose the beef juices. So I removed the steak and, with the skillet still over a high flame, added the cognac. Whoosh! Flames shooting into the air. The second time, I did the same but decided to add a little water to deglaze the pan before adding the cognac. Whoosh and double whoosh! The water caught fire as well.

Perplexed, I decided to consult the nearest expert — the chief butcher at Plisson, the gourmet food store across the street from my home. He not only made fun of me for having failed to cast off the fat, but also berated me for my choice of olive oil and butter for searing the meat. Non, non, said he, one must never use olive oil for frying, but rather grape seed oil, which can reach a higher temperature before smoking. And butter? Rebuchon be damned. Une erreur, madame!

Much abashed, I bought another steak from him. But before I could try again, my daughter decided to cook it for her supper. So back I went to Plisson, where this time another butcher proved more helpful. He is Andrew, a young Texan chef who somehow pitched up at this Parisian temple of gastronomy. Andrew and I have developed a friendly joshing relationship over the past year, and I have often asked his advice. For example, what about the grape seed oil? I know it’s trendy, but it’s certainly not an oil that has been a traditional component of French cuisine over the years. I didn’t want to use it for this recipe because it’s not part of the kitchen repertoire of most everyday chefs I know, including myself.

Andrew suggested using any mild vegetable oil, like sunflower oil, and searing the steak on both sides first before adding a little butter to the pan. Like his boss, he warned that the skillet would catch fire if the fat was not cast off before adding the cognac. I bought a couple more steaks, went on home and tried the Andrew method. With spectacular results! The rich, cognac-infused sauce and sharp peppercorns made for unbeatable flavor power.

For the record, this is the most expensive dish I have ever made for this site — not because it’s expensive per se, although buying top-quality beef is essential, but because I had to try so many times to get it right. I hope you’ll try too. The results are well worth the effort.

Happy cooking.

P.S. For those of you who asked about the recipe for the rhubarb-ginger cake mentioned in my last post, it appeared in The Guardian in the recipe column written by Dan Lepard. Here’s the link:

Posted in 7. Meat Dishes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Salade d’hiver aux oranges sanguines

orange salad1One recent Sunday during a visit to England, I was lucky enough to be invited to lunch in the picturesque town of Sevenoaks, in Kent south of London. My friends served me a spectacular meal, beginning with a salad of ruby-streaked blood oranges piled on thinly sliced finocchio and red onion, and scattered with Kalamata olives and watercress. Blood oranges would still be in season when I got home to France. I had to have the recipe.

Salade d’hiver aux oranges sanguines / Winter salad with blood oranges

For most of recent history, it was believed in France that the words ‘British’ and ‘cuisine’ were a contradiction in terms. Not true! At least, not anymore. My friend Penny, a remarkable cook, got the lunch off to a flying start with homemade tarama, light and tangy and bearing no relation to the store-bought variety, served with a crisp white wine.

We repaired to the table for the salad, which was followed by a piquant Georgian beef stew, pumpkin roasted with red pepper flakes and fresh sage, and cabbage steamed to delicate tenderness. The menu reflects Penny’s many travels abroad, including long stays in Russia and various forays to the Middle East. I have made the stew myself — using the same recipe, from Anya von Bremzen’s Please to the Table, a compendium of the cuisine of the former Soviet Union — but never managed the same meltingly rich results.

The main course was followed by an assortment of English cheeses, including tangy Lord of the Hundreds, made of unpasteurized ewe’s milk and a serious rival to France’s brebis Basque. (The cheese apparently got its name from a Saxon lord who held 100 parcels of land.) We took a break to watch Philadelphia Story, but the meal wasn’t over. After the movie we returned to the table for upside-down rhubarb cake with fresh ginger. Fabulous!

With spring just around the corner, I will not try to replicate the pumpkin dish just now — but when autumn comes, watch this space. I may have a go at the rhubarb cake, however. The bottom line is that English cuisine, like French, has lapped up influences from around the world for the palate’s delight. And after all, it’s faster to get from Paris to London now — just over two hours on the Eurostar — than to reach Marseille. So I, for one, plan to integrate the English style into my everyday French repertoire. You too?

Happy cooking!

Posted in 3. Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


tiramisu4Can you imagine that tiramisu, the ubiquitous feather-light confection, did not exist half a century ago? It certainly was nowhere to be found in Paris when I arrived in the 1970s, having only just been invented (apparently), although its origins are in dispute. What cannot be contested is that this wonderful dessert of sweetened cheese layered with ladyfingers dipped in coffee is not only a crowd pleaser, but easy and fun to prepare.

Tiramisu / Tiramisu

Tiramisu is said to hail from the town of Treviso, not far from Venice, and to have been invented somewhere around 1969 — although other stories about its invention date it back to the 17th century. The word tiramisù means ‘pull me up’ or ‘pick me up’ in Italian, but it might as well mean ‘cheer me up’. A great dessert for a rainy winter’s day.

I experimented with various methods before settling on the one in this recipe. Mascarpone — Italian cream cheese — is mixed with egg yolks, sugar and flavoring. The egg whites are beaten and folded in. Ladyfingers are dipped in strong coffee and layered in a deep pan, with the creamy mixture spread over it. Then unsweetened cocoa is sprinkled on top for a delightful mix of flavors. A word of warning: once the tiramisu is ready, it needs to set for several hours, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.

But is it French? Yes, in the sense that it is served in every Italian bistro in Paris, and many French restaurants as well. This recipe originated with a request from my daughter, who was clamoring for me to make it. Over the last few weeks, she and her friends have had regular tasting sessions as I tried one method after another. They preferred the version flavored with vanilla — while adult guests definitely liked the version flavored with grappa. Another flavoring choice is sweet Marsala wine, from the Trapani region of Sicily.

Where did you first taste tiramisu? I would venture to guess that it was not in Italy. For this dessert streaked across the globe so fast that we can now all claim it as our own.

Happy cooking!

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saint-Jacques à la bretonne

saint-jacques bretonne3Sea scallops, Brittany style — dusted with flour, tenderly sauteed in butter and drizzled with a creamy sauce — make a fine winter’s dish. But what does this recipe have to do with the Way of Saint James, the historic pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain? Quite a lot, as it turns out, for the saint known as ‘Santiago’ in Spanish is ‘Saint Jacques’ in French, and along the route he gave his name to the humble scallop.

Saint-Jacques à la bretonne / Sea scallops, Brittany style

The reason — as I learned from the great chef Paul Bocuse, from whose recipe this one is adapted — is that scallops are so plentiful along the route to Santiago de Compostela, which follows the coast of Galicia in northern Spain, that they became the symbol of the pilgrims, hence coquilles Saint-Jacques in French.

saint-jacques bretonne1And why Brittany style? That’s a question I failed to answer, although my best guess is that scallops and butter are popular in the region. Brittany, of course, is surrounded by sea, and shellfish may be found there in abundance. The potato also has an important history in Brittany, where it came into wide use during a famine in the mid-18th century. In this recipe, the scallops may be paired with sliced potatoes, as shown in the photo above, or with potatoes boiled in their jackets. Another nice touch is to serve them in their shells.

And while we’re on the subject of linguistics, since when has French onion soup become a political issue? France is having a collective hissy fit over spelling changes — proposed more than 25 years ago by the Académie Française, the exalted guardian of the French language — that will be enacted this autumn in school books. Among the changes, the word oignon (pronounced oh-NYON) will lose its ‘i’, becoming ognon (pronounced exactly the same way). The idea is to make the spelling conform to pronunciation, although in some parts of France, for example my corner of Burgundy, people may still be heard using the former pronunciation (wa-NYON). Other changes involve making the circumflex accent (^) disappear on words like disparaître (‘disappear’).

The debate has become so heated that, in a column in last night’s Le Monde, the French education minister effectively accused four of her predecessors in the job of treason, declaring that the country’s republican values were at stake and that the former education ministers had betrayed those values by failing to enact the spelling changes over the last quarter century. Her point was that making the language easier to spell, and thus comprehend, was essential to the future of France’s children.

Personally I find the changes regrettable, for historic reasons. Even though they will be confined to textbooks for the moment and no one will be inserting spelling changes in Proust, they are bound to seep into general usage over time. Accents like the circumflex actually take the place of letters that have vanished over the centuries. Disparaître, for example, used to be spelled disparaistre — closer to the same word in English, and to the Latin root (disparescere). But the ‘s’ stopped being pronounced in French and, at some point in the last 1,000 years or so, it … disappeared.

So will this site change its recipes to conform to the new rules? Heck no. Soupe à l’oignon will remain French onion soup for the foreseeable.

Happy cooking.

Posted in 5. Fish and Shellfish | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Céléri rémoulade

celeriac remoulade5It is always a comfort, on a cold, damp Paris day, to walk into a bistro at lunchtime and encounter a plate of céléri rémoulade, the classic French starter of grated celeriac bathed in a tangy mustard mayonnaise. This earthy salad is one of the dishes I longed for when far from France for long periods on journalistic assignments. You won’t find it in Moscow or Manila, nor for that matter in many of the trendy new cafés sprouting up in Paris. But what it may lack in chic it makes up for in flavor. A good reason to make it at home.

Céléri rémoulade / Celeriac remoulade

The key — once you have located one of the knobby, dirt-covered bulbs known variously as celeriac and celery root — is to make the remoulade sauce yourself, beginning with homemade mayonnaise. This is easily done, and the result bears no relation to the store-bought variety. If you’ve never tried it before, you can watch me make it in this video. The mayo is then enhanced with Dijon mustard and mixed with the grated root. It took me less than five minutes to prepare the salad shown in the photo above, and that includes making the mayo. (I was in a rush to watch CNN on the results of the elections in Iowa.)

crudites1Celeriac remoulade can be served on its own as a starter, set on a bed of tender leaves or garnished with fresh herbs. But here in France it is most commonly seen as part of the mixed veggie starter known as assiette de crudités. It makes a magnificent partner to the other salads on the plate — most often of grated carrots, chopped beets, sliced cucumber and/or boiled potatoes, topped with vinaigrette and accompanied by half an egg.

eggsmayo1And speaking of eggs, while preparing this week’s post I took time to revisit another of my favorite classic French starters — oeufs durs mayonnaise. What could be simpler than eggs boiled just long enough to harden, their yolks remaining a bright orange-yellow, and topped with fabulous homemade mayonnaise? In this season where anything can happen politically, but where the weather (at least in Paris) is bound to remain relentlessly gray, we need — in fact, we deserve — a cheery start to a meal.

Happy cooking!

Posted in 1. Starters | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poulet yassa

Yassa4The French colonial empire once stretched across the globe, with the happy result — once independence was restored to the colonized — that the cuisine of many cultures is now available in France. Poulet yassa, or chicken marinated in a sauce of onions, lemon juice and mustard, is one such happy dish. Originally from the Casamance region of southern Senegal, it is now highly popular throughout former French West Africa, and also in Paris.

Poulet yassa / Chicken yassa

The other day my daughter had a hankering for chicken yassa, which France’s huge community of expatriate Malians, Senegalese, Guineans, etc., serves at home and in restaurants. It is also available at the African stand of our local street market on Sundays, but on that particular day it was raining so hard that I decided to skip the market and make it myself. I used a recipe from an African cookbook, Cuisines d’Afrique (Edisud, 1995), and tweaked it with tips from a former Senegalese student, Awa, a brilliant cook.

Chicken yassa is a great party dish. If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, you can either halve the recipe or refrigerate the leftovers for another day. It only gets better with time. Traditionally the chicken is served in a large dish brought to the table, with diners helping themselves. It may be served with rice or couscous, and I like a green salad on the side.

I first encountered chicken yassa in the West African country of Mali, a very special place for me as it is where I adopted my daughter. Although one of the world’s poorest countries, Mali has a very rich culture in music, art and … cuisine. It is a generous culture where sharing is everything. An extra guest will always be welcome at the table. With dishes like yassa, there is always enough for one more.

Yassa may also be made with meat (usually lamb) or fish. You can use the same recipe and simply substitute meat or fish for the chicken. In West Africa, the chicken, meat or fish is traditionally grilled sur la braise — over the embers of a wood fire. Small barbecues for such grilling dot the red-earth roads of cities like Bamako or Dakar at night, with families gathered around as they prepare their dinner. But as that is not always practical for those of us who live in cities in the west, the chicken may be grilled in a skillet as well. Another variation is to substitute lime juice for the lemon juice. Both produce a deeply rich dish.

Potimarron5Back to Paris… Cold  weather has finally set in, prompting me to revisit some of the winter dishes already posted here, with new photos. The first, potimarron farci (stuffed pumpkin), emerged as one of the site’s 30 most popular dishes when I made a tally a couple of weeks ago. A small pumpkin is stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms, onions, cream, wine, thyme and grated cheese. It is then baked and served whole or in slices. Applause guaranteed.

Risotto radicchio1The second is a risotto with radicchio, a specialty of Venice with a unique and surprising flavor. The bitter leaves are shredded and partially cooked before being added to rice simmered in broth, with butter and parmesan added at the end. This is comfort food at its best, and can work as a main dish or a side with grilled meat or fish. Easy to make, this risotto will warm the coldest evening.

Both of these dishes are vegetarian, and they can be adapted for vegans by substituting coconut milk for the cream, olive oil for butter, and omitting the cheese.

Happy cooking!

Posted in 6. Poultry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment