Category Archives: France

Homemade Herbed Mayonnaise

If there is anything that I could say to convince you to make your own mayonnaise it would be: watch this video.  Although my days of learning to make mayo began long ago in culinary school, after watching Michael Ruhlman’s video I was in the kitchen urgently cracking eggs before it was even half way over.  Not only does he demonstrate how it takes less than 2 minutes to make with ingredients you most likely already have on hand, but he reminds us of the smooth luxurious taste that is incomparable to any type of store-bought kind. 

The video could not have come at a more appropriate time as I had just been informed that my husband was bringing company over in less than an hour.  Because I eat salads frequently I had arugula and cherry tomatoes in the fridge and because bacon is, well bacon, I always have bacon.  I took some leftover baguette from the prior nights dinner, (very) lightly toasted it, covered it with a smooth layer of herbed mayo, and although I secretly wanted to stop there, I topped it with arugula, tomatoes and bacon for a nice little BLT appetizer (and I still had time to snap a few pics!).  

You can use whatever type of herbs you’d like, but I used what I had growing on my window sill.  You can also add a little more lemon and garlic for a tasty dip, serve it with roasted veggies, make deviled eggs, eat it with hot crispy french fries or just pack it in your brown bag for your turkey & cheddar on wheat.  Whatever you decide to do with it, I’m fairly certain you’ll be a homemade mayo fan for life.

Homemade Herbed Mayonnaise

(adapted from Michael Ruhlman)

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • freshly chopped tarragon, chives and parsley

The fastest and easiest way to make mayo is by using a handheld blender (as shown in the video), but if you do not have one you can achieve the same results with a whisk.  Just ensure you are whisking vigorously enough to properly emulsify your ingredients.

In a medium bowl combine the yolk, salt, water and lemon juice.  Ensure your bowl will hold steady on the counter while you are whisking by folding a towel or moist paper towel underneath and begin to whisk ingredients together.

Slowly add the oil, in a wire-thin stream, while whisking vigorously.  Once your emulsion starts to become creamy, you can add the oil a little faster. From the beginning the mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape and look luxuriously creamy. Add the oil too quickly and it will break, that is, it will turn soupy.  When all the oil is incorporated add the chopped herbs and adjust the lemon if needed. 

(If the mayonnaise is too thick, it can be thinned by whisking in a little water or

If it breaks, put a teaspoon of water in a clean bowl and start the process over by drizzling in the broken mayonnaise while whisking.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, France, Happy hour anyone?, Recipes, Sandwich Craft, Side Dishes

Eggs Benedict with Ham and Polenta Cakes

  

Brunch.  Ahhhhhhh, brunch!  It’s the little things in life that make my stomach smile and brunch makes that smile stretch just a little bit wider.  Like perfectly poached eggs on a sunny afternoon or a hot, strong cup of coffee…well, anytime of the day.  This is my idea of heaven. Heaven I tell you!

Springtime is filled with lots of celebratory occasions from Easter to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day and I like to take full advantage of these opportunities to break out the fine china and snazzy linens and start cracking open the eggs.

Since eggs benedict is the epitome of all breakfast dishes – and one of my favorites – I thought I’d share with you a slight spin on the classic. Traditionally, the poached egg tops Canadian bacon and an English muffin before getting drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce.  Here I have substituted shaved ham for the bacon and a crispy polenta cake for the muffin.  And, I will have to say — it is nothing short of sunny perfection. 

 Happy Spring y’all!

Eggs Benedict with Ham and Polenta Cakes

(serves 6)

  1. Polenta Cakes
  2. Poached Eggs
  3. Ham
  4. Hollandaise Sauce

Polenta Cakes

(*Make this ahead. It needs at least 2 hours to set, or you can make it the day before and let cool overnight).

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt
  • 2 tbs butter

In medium saucepan combine cornmeal, water and milk.  Whisk together continuously while bringing to a simmer.  Add a generous amount of salt, cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cornmeal becomes thick, the liquid is all absorbed and the cornmeal is tender, whisking occasionally.  Once cooked stir in the butter, check for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and cover with plastic wrap (to avoid a crust from forming on top).   Cool completely and refridgerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.

Once the polenta has set, slice the polenta into six squares (or if you have circle cutters, whatever shape you desire).  Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet and sear the polenta cakes for about 5 minutes on each side, OR until they become nice and brown on each side. Serve warm.

Poached Eggs

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbs vinegar

First begin by heating up a medium-sized pot full of water to a simmer.  You want the water to be hot and bubbles starting to form, but NOT boiling. 

Next crack your eggs into an individual bowl or cup, so you are not cracking the egg directly into the water.

Once your water is hot enough, add the vinegar and with a large wooden or slotted spoon swirl the water in a circle making a circular whirlpool like effect.  Slowly drop your egg into the water and cook for about 3 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon.  Repeat with remaining eggs.

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tbs lemon juice  
  • salt and pepper
  • water

Place a metal bowl over top of a medium sauce pan filled with about an inch of water, creating a double boiler. Bring the water to just a simmer.  Put the egg yolks in the bowl and whisk continuously until the yolks begin to thicken and they double in size (be careful not to get the yolks too hot or else they will curdle).  Once the eggs have thickened, add the lemon juice and combine and then slowly drizzle the melted butter into the eggs while continuing to whisk.  Whisk until the butter is completely incorporated and you have a thick, sauce-like consistancy.  Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.  If the sauce thickens up before you are ready to serve add a little water to thin it out.

When you are ready to serve, place the egg on top of the ham and polenta cake on the bottom.  Top with hollandaise sauce and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

 

10 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Breakfast; the most important meal of the day, France, Holidays - Easter, Recipes, Seasonal - Spring

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

 

 

Valentine’s Day or not, there is nothing more romantic than your honey cooking up a nice meal while you sit back, relax and sip your Chardonnay (or IPA). 

In honor of the upcoming holiday I wanted to share an easy dish to impress (or to splurge on yourself) with a little splash of elegance, a hint of seduction and is overall just wildly delicious.  

This pasta covers all the bases with soft and subtle flavors of the butter sauce (also known as a Beurre Blanc) paired with a hint of citrus, and the sweetness of fresh crab is true perfection. 

Add a little chocolate to the mix and I’m pretty sure this is the way to make any suitor fall head over heals.  If you’re lucky, maybe with you too!

 

(If can’t find meyer lemons, you can substitute regular lemons)

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

Serves 2

  • 8oz thin spaghetti ( half of a box)
  • 1 lb fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shells and pieces
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, chopped fine
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 4 tbs chopped chives
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • salt, pepper
  • parsley

Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.  Drain pasta, and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water.  Set pasta aside.

To make the sauce add the shallots, wine and vinegar in a medium-large saucepan.  Boil until the liquid reduces to just about a tablespoon.  Reduce heat and begin to add the cold butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until all of the butter is incorporated.  Turn the heat off and add chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt (a generous amount of salt) and pepper.  Mix in most of the crab meat, reserving about 1/2 cup to top pasta with. 

Pour the sauce in a large saute pan and add the pasta.  Heat through and add the cooking water from the pasta a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed.  Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Plate the pasta and top with the reserved crab meat, fresh parsley and lemon zest.  Serve immediately.

6 Comments

Filed under All Posts, France, Pasta!, Recipes, Seafood

Nutella-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

 

These are officially the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.  Pretty bold statement, I know.  But it is so true. 

Besides the fact that they are really, really, REALLY good they transport me back to my days of living in Paris.  I was a young, (and poor) college student living off two dollar ham & cheese crepes made from the street-side crepe truck by my flat.   I think “Je voudrais un crepe” was the first thing I learned to say (and may have been one of the only things I learned to say behind je voudrais un baguette and je voudrais que vous coupiez ici, but that’s a whole other story).  Back to the crepes.  That little crepe cart was where I discovered the insane combination of Nutella and coconut.  My daily jambon and fromage was soon replaced with coco and nutella.  And on days I wanted to be more healthy I would eat the crepe with coco, nutella AND banana.

Second, anything that is “filled” (or stuffed) is just better.  There is something about that feeling of sinking your teeth down into a creamy center that oozes out onto your tongue.  Mmmm!

Lastly, it’s chocolate.  Rich, deep, dark… bold chocolate.  Just the way I like it.  (If you are a chocolate lover like myself you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

I’m pretty sure this one is going down in cupcake history, folks!

 

Nutella-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Chocolate Cupcakes
  • One small jar of Nutella
  • Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

(You can use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe or this recipe for chocolate cupcakes derived from Joy of Baking)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16 – 20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. ( These cupcakes are best the day they are made, but can be covered and stored for a few days.)

Once the cupcakes have cooled, with a pairing knife, cut out a hole in the center of the cupcake.  Pour a spoonful of Nutella into the center and then frost with coconut frosting.  Top with toasted coconut.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 32 oz bag powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups shredded coconut

In bowl of electric mixer cream butter and cream cheese.  Slowly add powdered sugar by the cup until incorporated.  Add extract and blend well.  Fold in coconut.  You may have to add a splash of cream to losen the consistancy to spread.

17 Comments

Filed under All Posts, France, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Raspberry Macarons

 

Simply put, a good macaron (not to be confused with macaroon) will completely and totally sweep you off your feet.  The delicately crisp outer shell surrounding a moist airy interior creates a meringue like texture that leaves you in a state of utter smitten-ness.  Oh yes, and you take two of those heavenly meringue cookies and sandwich them together with a dab of filling and it will send you over the sweet-lovin’ edge.

If you’ve been to Paris you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Patisseries everywhere show off colorful variations of this chic French confection with endless flavors ranging from pistachio to espresso to fruit-filled goodness.

But the sad part to all of this is that I don’t live in Paris.   And the thought of taking five minutes to combine four simple ingredients to make my own totally freaks me out.  I’ve heard of so many disheartened macaron stories and failed endings due to their finicky nature that I wasn’t quite ready to take on the task…until I saw this:

Making French Macarons: Instructions & Recipes  

David Lebovitz has complied dozens of blogs, websites and demonstrations on how to make the perfect macaron. With tips like aging your eggs whites for at least 24 hours prior and techniques on handling your batter this article will direct you to places all over the web where French professionals divulge their secrets.  Halle-freaking-lujah!  Let the baking begin!

Raspberry Filled Macarons:

(Recipe derived from Tartelette)

For the macarons:
90 grams of egg whites (about 3 eggs)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
pink food coloring

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue,with the coloring and give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

To assemble:  spread raspberry preserves in the center of two cookies

2 Comments

Filed under All Posts, France, Fruity Flavors, Recipes, Sweet Treats