Diet Food, My Way

25 08 2011

This week has not gone as planned on the blogging front.  I have a bunch of posts just dying to have their chance in the spotlight, one I even had to stop working to jot down this morning.  But of course I left that notebook at work.  Fortunately, I’ve got one of these “One Meal, One Photo, One Sentence” pictures up my sleeve.

Roasty-roasty

Roasted salmon, risotto made with shrimp stock and roasted zucchini.  This is what I make when I’m trying to eat lighter.  Really.

On this day in 2009: The Land of Chocolate (includes my recipe for premium chocolate ice cream)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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Remembrance Risotto

2 01 2010

The Christmas goose may be gone, but its memory lives on in the two quarts of stock I made from the carcass.  Périgord month may have gone the way of 2009, and porcini (aka cèpe, another gourmet classic grown in Périgord) season may have wound down for another year – as evidenced by my fruitless search of Paris’ biggest outdoor market a couple of weeks ago – but at least they can be a year-round treat if they’re dried.  The season for fresh peas was so long ago that it’s once again in the near future, but their spirits lie dormant in the freezer, awaiting only a little warmth to bring them back for a meal.

Pea and Porcini Risotto

Throw some short-grained Italian rice into the mix, and these memories become very much a part of the present, as a warming dinner for a cold winter night.

I find the more often I make risotto, the less it seems like a big deal.  In my kitchen repertoire, risotto is edging its way into the “weeknight quickie” category, because really all you need is some stock, rice, and something fresh (or frozen, or dried) to give it personality.  It can serve as a hearty first course, but I like to scoop up a heaping bowl and make it the main event.

One-dish meal.

Happy 2010 to all.  May it bring joy, luck, new discoveries, and delicious memories.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Talking (Leftover) Turkey

28 11 2009

When Nick went to the butcher on Thursday to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey, he was met with an unpleasant surprise.  The 4-kilo turkey I had ordered was actually 5.4 kilos!  After some debate and bargaining with the butcher, it came out that that was the smallest bird they had received that day, and they had indeed reserved it for me.  A three-pound difference might not sound like a big deal, but when the bird costs 6 euros 50 a kilo, and we were already unsure if a whole turkey would fit into our tiny oven, and it was already 3pm on Thanksgiving Day, it felt disastrous.

After some oven reconfiguration, we managed to get the turkey in without it touching the heating element, and it roasted up beautifully – since turkey isn’t the commodity in France that it is in the US, the ones you get here are never frozen or wrapped in plastic.  The air-dried skin browns and crisps like no other turkey I’ve made, and the flavor, like that of French chickens, is somehow just more.  The menu went off just as planned, except in lieu of the brittle I served the potimarron pie with bourbon-maple whipped cream.

We were joined by five friends, and actually have very few leftovers (one scoop of mashed potatoes, one spoonful of Brussels sprouts, one sliver of pie…) except for the turkey, of which about two and a half pounds remain.  Having spent 35 euros – that’s right, upwards of 50 bucks – we don’t want to let a single scrap go to waste.  Yesterday afternoon I made stock from the carcass, after Nick had cleaned it of meat.  Meanwhile, he simmered a piece of kombu in a pot of water in preparation for a very welcome light lunch: turkey miso soup.

Post-Thanksgiving lunch, photo by Nick

If you’ve never made miso soup before, you’re missing out on one of the simplest, fastest, and tastiest soups around.  It’s as easy as whisking a couple of spoonfuls of miso into a pot of hot dashi (the Japanese staple broth made with water, kombu seaweed, and bonito tuna flakes – which we have as yet been unable to find in Paris, so we did without – steeped for about five minutes) and garnishing with a few little pieces of whatever.  It should be brothy.  In this case, we used a bit of shredded turkey and some snipped chives, leftover from the mashed potatoes.  It made a fantastic day-after-Thanksgiving lunch.

But there’s plenty more turkey to be eaten.  As soon as I’m done writing, I plan on heading down to the kitchen and mixing up a big batch of herbed turkey salad: mayo, sage, chives, parsley, maybe a bit of crème fraîche and shallot.  I’ll eat it for lunch on top of some lettuce with a dollop of cranberry sauce, and hopefully there will be enough left to make a couple of weekday sandwiches.

Tonight or tomorrow I’ll put that fresh turkey stock to use in a turkey risotto.  Garnishes will include the rest of the fresh sage, chopped turkey (duh) and grated aged provolone.

So what are you doing with your turkey leftovers?

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Spring is Here!

3 04 2009

Not that you’d know it from the weather today, but trust me, there have been more sunny days than not this week in Paris.  And last Sunday at the market I bought asparagus, peas, and sweet strawberries!

To celebrate the arrival of spring, I made this risotto with the asparagus and peas.

Early Spring Vegetable Risotto

It tasted as good as it looks.  I also made a fresh fruit tart with the strawberries and the kiwis that I got in my CSA panier (who knew kiwis grew in the Loire valley?).  The meal was a lovely first taste of spring, and made me hungry for more.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Fish Stock Use #1: Seafood Risotto

28 04 2008

Almost as soon as I asked the question, “what should I do with leftover fish stock?” I had an answer for myself.  Shrimp risotto!  With some of those fresh spring mushrooms from the market, and maybe some peas… this is sounding good already!

Since I already had the stock, and arborio rice, I just needed to pick up my fresh ingredients at the market.  I got leeks and parsley with no problem.  I was tempted by the fresh morel mushrooms, but chose the more economical (yet still exquisitely tasty) girolles.  Then I hit the fishmonger.  Only cooked shrimp.  Ok, I’ll just go to the next one.  Only cooked shrimp.  Next?  Same.  Well, I’m headed to Montmartre later, and I know of a market street there, I’ll check the fishmonger up there.  Guess what?  Only cooked shrimp.  Fine, I’ll get langoustines instead.  Life is hard sometimes.

My delicious shrimp stand-ins

I boiled them alive, like the mini-lobsters they are, in some fish stock.  Now I had langoustine-fortified stock for the risotto (skip this step if you’re afraid of flavor).

Contrary to popular belief, risotto is not difficult to make, nor does it require hours of hovering over the stove, stirring constantly.  There are five basic steps in risotto making.  I learned them in Italian, so that is how I will share them with you.

All my risotto secrets revealed, after the jump.

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Where am I?

14 04 2008

I had a very frustrating afternoon today.  My plan was to pick up some chicken bones/necks/whatever at the butcher to make stock for the risotto I have planned for tonight.  Don’t get me started on the lack of liquid broth available here.  You can’t tell me that an entire nation of supposed cuisinophiles is content with bouillon cubes!  Anyway.  Monday is the day that all the butchers close, of course.  I don’t know why.  But only about 1 in 10 butchers is open on Mondays, seriously.  I noticed that the closest butcher to me was, in fact, open today, and thought it was a good sign.  However, when I went in and asked for chicken bones or turkey necks for stock-making purposes, the butcher looked at me like I had three heads.  He offered me feet, and then wings.  Not what I was looking for.

Oh well, I said to myself, surely there is another butcher nearby who has something like that.  I must have walked past two dozen butcher shops, all of them closed.  Realizing I was fully two Métro stops from home, and getting thirsty, I headed back on another street.  I stopped in one butcher shop where I was ignored for a full 10 minutes before leaving in disgust.  Next I found a Jewish butcher, who I figured would be long on chickens, at least.  Nope.  I overheard the guy on the phone telling someone that he was completely out of chickens.  I left in disbelief.  The next open place I found returned pretty much the same reaction as the first guy.

Now am I wrong, or is this really weird?  It can’t be that strange to request stock-making bones, can it?  You would think that if there was anything I could do in France that wasn’t a hassle, it would be making a simple chicken stock.  And you would be wrong.

I ended up in Franprix, a depressing little discount grocery store.  I picked up a whole chicken to butcher myself (and that I did) and a bottle of wine, because hey, I need it now.  Waiting in the checkout line, the stooped old man in front of me was trying to buy a large plastic bottle of red wine.  The cashier told him it was 3 euros, and he kept handing her the few coins he had, insisting that it was only 1.40.  I considered just buying it for him, but then I didn’t want to be an enabler.

So here I am, at 8:00, still simmering my chicken stock and hoping that it’s had enough time to cook because I should really be getting started on dinner.

Update after the jump…

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