Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Avocado-Olive Salad

So unfortunately, I am currently without access to a kitchen and a working stove. I love eating out, really, especially at all the wonderful restaurants, cafes and patisseries that Paris has to offer. However, of course, I do love cooking for myself, and oftentimes, I just feel like having a nice, homemade meal. My current lack of a stove poses a challenge to me, however, so for the moment, I have taken to preparing a lot of salads whenever I want to prepare my own meal. Accompanied by a fresh baguette or sourdough tourte from a boulangerie and a bit of cheese from a fromagerie, perhaps followed by a dessert from a local patisserie, salads make for a light, refreshing meal. Given the high quality of produce one can find here in Paris, a variety of salads provides the best mainstay for me that I can prepare myself until I find a better housing arrangement with a working kitchen. The other day, I picked up a very ripe, ready to eat avocado from the farmer's market. I absolutely love avocado in any form, and so I decided to concoct a salad using avocado as the main ingredient. Nourishing and filling, a generous hunk of fresh baguette is all one really needs to accompany this salad. Enjoy!

Avocado-Olive Salad (Serves 2 as a starter or 1 as a main dish):
1 ripe haas avocado, flesh removed and cut into chunks
3 tbsp. ripe pitted black or Greek olives
1/4 tsp. dried herbs of your choice(I used herbes de provence)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. good dijon mustard(use less if you don't want it as pungent)
1 tsp. lemon juice
few drops of hot sauce, as per your taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste(with the olives and mustard, you may not need any at all)

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, herbs and black pepper. In a separate bowl, toss avocado chunks and olives together. Toss dressing with the avocado and olives. Taste, and add salt if needed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back to Cooking at Last: Cauliflower-Camembert "Stoup"

After eating out for 2 weeks in the city of lights, I decided I no longer had any excuse to put off cooking for myself. I'd had enough time to settle in and find my way around, so enough was enough. I'm certainly not going to stop eating out-there's way too much delicious food to sample here is Paris, but there are also ample resources available for one to prepare gourmet meals for oneself, if one so has the inclination, which I mot certainly do. So, last Sunday, I dragged myself out of bed and out to Marche Raspail, an all-organic farmer's market in the 6th arrondisement of Paris. I will talk about Marche Raspail in more detail later, but it was certainly worth the effort of waking up early on a Sunday morning to find fresh, organic produce and other goods. Among the products I purchased were a fresh head of cauliflower, some fresh leek, some very ripe, juicy figs and peaches, and a wheel of delicious, creamy camembert cheese.
It's already beginning to get a bit chilly here in Paris, so I decided soup would make a delicious, satisfying evening meal when it came time to prepare dinner. I had plenty of fresh vegetables, but I like my soups thick and creamy. Normally, I would add a bit of cream or sour cream, but today, I had the idea of using cheese instead. Why not? I had an entire wheel of camembert, and while not a traditional use by any means, it certainly did the trick. I just removed the rind, cut it into small wedges and melted it into the soup at the end. However, while it lent the soup exactly the texture I desired, the taste of the cheese did not come through very strongly; therefore, next time I will increase the amount by 1.5 to 2 times. Also, make sure the cheese is cold when you try to cut it; if it at room temperature, it will be too creamy and ooze everywhere when you try to cut it, making a huge mess. Nonetheless, my first homemade meal in Paris turned out extremely successful! My host mom and I relished the soup, along with an avocado-olive salad that I prepared and coffee-eclairs from a local bakery. I am certainly glad to have returned to cooking, and I can't wait to prepare my next meal here :)

Cauliflower-Camembert "Stoup" (Serves 4 as a main dish):
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 leek, trimmed and chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. herbes de provence
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 t dry basil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, powdered
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. hot sauce
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 oz. camembert, chopped into chunks with rind removed( I will increase the amount next time to 6-8 oz. 4 oz. lent it a wonderful creaminess, but the taste could have been more prominent)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the cauliflower florets in it for about 5-7 minutes, until quite tender. Use a spoon the remove the cauliflower from the water, and drain it in a colander(save the water). Let it cool slightly. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sautee chopped onion on medium heat until transluscent and tender. Add the minced garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it is no longer raw but not yet brown. Add the basil, thyme, and herbes de provence along with the chopped leek. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add the tomato sauce along with one cup of the water used to cook the cauliflower. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the water is almost evaporated. In the meantime, puree the cauliflower in a food processor until almost smooth, but slightly chunky, adding the cooking water as needed. Add the puree to the pot along with the powdered walnuts, mix, and let the mixture simmer for about 20-25 minutes on low heat. Add the cheeses, and mix until they completely melt. Add the hot sauce, dijon mustard, salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot with a nice crusty bread.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Creperie au Lys

90 Rue St Louis en l'Ile
75004 Paris
01 46 33 56 13
Metro: Pont Marie

I know I haven't posted in quite a while now, but, as I'm sure you can imagine, my first week here in Paris has kept me incredibly busy! What, with orientation, settling into new housing and finding my way around a huge city, its proven to be such a whirlwind!! Yet, I am already thoroughly enjoying being in this marvelous city, and fortunately, I have already partaken of some of the sumptuous delicacies that she boasts. Of course, everyone who comes to Paris just has to eat crepes, right? Such a tourist thing, no? Well, touristy though it may be, when it comes to good food, nothing can stop me! Yes, I have already consumed numerous crepes since my arrival; in fact, the first thing I ate in Paris was (surprise, surprise!) a nutella crepe!
However, even though people tend to think of the sweet crepes, one would greatly miss out if he or she never sampled any of the savory varieties. Fillings for savory crepes range from vegetables to cheeses to eggs to meat. Yesterday, my friend Noodle Tzar, who is also studying abroad in Paris, and I trotted over to le Marais, a very historic section of Paris, for lunch and settled on a tiny, but charming venue called Au Lys Creperie. Perhaps not very well-known, but certainly worth a visit for those seeking delicious, good quality crepes in a less touristy locale. I savored the Galette Sarrasin Provencale, a buckwheat crepe filled with tomatoes, olives, gruyere cheese and creme fraiche. Now, what's not to like about such a melange of ingredients? Creamy and cheesy coupled with the nuttiness of the buckwheat crepe, I almost (I repeat, almost) prefer this to the sweet counterparts filled with nutella, banana and whipped cream. At any rate, I will be sure to sample as many varieties of savory crepes as possible during my year in Paris. And if you're in Paris and seeking out some delicious savory crepes for a nice lunch, give Creperie au Lys a try. Noodle Tzar really liked their Quiche Lorraine as well(albeit not vegetarian). The dark chocolate cake with creme anglaise unfortunately looked and sounded better than it actually tasted-it was on the dry side. But if you're in the mood for dessert, stroll over to Berthillon, Paris's most famous ice cream parlor and the subject of my next post, located on the same street as Creperie au Lys, and several cafes/retailers on the same street sell Berthillon's ice cream.

The Galette Provencale

Dark Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglaise

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Paris!

So today, finally, after 4 long months of anticipation and excitement, I have finally arrived in the City of Lights, ready to embark upon a challenging, but very fulfilling year-long journey. I have looked forward to this experience since way before college, and in all honesty, it still hasn't quite sunk in that I'm actually here. But in just one more day, my study abroad program shall commence, and the enormity of this undertaking will really begin to hit me. In the meantime, I will most certainly keep my blog up and running. After all, what better place to blog about food than Paris? I may not post as regularly over the next few weeks as I settle in, but rest assured, I will continue to blog not only about all the wonderful food I eat in Paris, but also the various delicacies that I sample in all of the other countries and cities I travel to throughout the year. I certainly plan to continue cooking, but my blog will also begin to incorporate dishes that I sample in various restaurants, cafes, bistros, and the like. If anything, this new spin will enrapture you even further! Stay tuned!

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