Category Archives: Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Kohlrabi Me!

I haven’t done a Weekend Cooking post is a long time, but I had a new food experience this week and wanted to share. Since we moved to our village, we’ve been shareholders in a CSA box. Every week we pick up produce from our friendly local organic farmer. It’s nice to feel like we’re supporting the community, especially as we live in a rural area.

The thing about CSA boxes is that 1. you end up eating a lot more veggies, or at least we do; and 2. you end up eating unusual veggies that you might never have picked up at the store. Almost every week I have to ask the farmer, “What’s this?” when he puts something in my basket. This week the “what’s this?” moment came when he gave me this interesting looking thing:

Now all you foodies out there are probably already familiar with kohlrabi, but I had to come home and look it up, first translating it from the French word–chou rave. As my farmer told me, kohlrabi can be eaten in lots of different ways, but the important thing is to first cut off the thick green outer part to get to the good stuff inside. It has a mild, cabbagey flavor and is really good raw but can also be roasted or mashed.

We brought home two kohlrabi this week and have so far eaten one in a delicious recipe from my favorite French food blogger, Chocolate and Zucchini, I have plans to either roast the second one or eat it raw in a salad with apple and walnut.

Have you ever eaten or cooked with kohlrabi? Feel free to share any tips or recipes!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

 

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Weekend Cooking: Party in My Mouth Meal

Yes, this is all there was left the next day. And my husband ate all the almonds out of the mashed cauliflower.

Yes, this is all that was left over. Plus my husband ate all the almonds out of the mashed cauliflower, so you’ll have to imagine them being there, looking (and tasting) so fine.

OMG. I made a meal this week that started out as just a regular weekday meal and became something so unexpectedly good that I’m still smacking my lips. I don’t even have a proper photo to show you here because we ate it so fast that all you get is my plate of leftovers. This is all that was left after the four of us finished chowing down, and I had to make some extra kale salad because we polished the first batch off completely.

If you read this blog regularly (hello, regular readers! I love you!!) then you’ll know I’m big on fresh, real food. I don’t count calories and the words “low-fat” are rarely uttered around here (we prefer the words “heavy cream”). So while this may not be on anyone’s diet, it’s a healthy, seasonal, and delicious meal that would even be fancy enough to serve for the holidays. Although I found all three recipes at different times and places, the flavors go together really well–so well that we were oohing and ahhing at the dinner table. A total party in your mouth.

The winning combination is…

Man-Pleasing Chicken + Mashed Cauliflower with Hazelnut Brown Butter + The Ultimate Kale Salad

Recipe 1: Man-Pleasing Chicken

I kind of hate the title of this recipe because it reminds me of my mother-in-law, who once infamously told me after a meal that I didn’t “make enough food to feed a man”. Let’s call it ‘Humankind-Pleasing Chicken” instead, shall we? Although that kind of sounds like a bad Chinese translation of something. Anyway. I did everything exactly as called for in this recipe with the exception of the mustard, which I cut way back on as we use extra spicy Dijon mustard. I added about 3 tablespoons worth.

Recipe 2: Mashed Cauliflower with Hazelnut Brown Butter

This was so completely delicious that I never want to eat mashed potatoes again. I’m all about the mashed cauliflower. Even if you don’t normally like cauliflower, I can pretty much guarantee that you will like this. I didn’t have any hazelnuts so I used sliced almonds instead, and it was perfect.

Recipe 3: The Ultimate Kale Salad

This is pretty much our go-to kale salad these days, but the flavors worked especially great with this meal. I usually only make enough for us to eat at one meal as the greens don’t keep once they’re dressed, so I would cut her recipe down based on how much kale you eat at one sitting. (Which may be a whole head, for all I know. For us, we eat about a quarter of a head.) This is important because I’ve made this salad with a heavy dressing-to-kale ratio and it wasn’t as good. Go easy on the dressing, and be sure to slice the kale very finely. Also, kale likes you to give it a little massage once it’s dressed. Don’t we all? You haven’t lived until you’ve found yourself watching a ‘How to Massage Kale’ video in the middle of the afternoon.

I hope you will enjoy this meal as much as we did!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

Weekend Cooking: 100 Days of Real Food

100-days-of-real-foodI’ve talked about my recent cooking slump, which I think is partly a result of our move and partly my adjusting to a new schedule. Before, I always waited until I came home from work to cook, so my repertoire during the week consisted of simple to make meals, leftovers, and a regular Friday night date with our local pizza parlor.

Now that I’m home, though, I have lots more time to cook and tend to get a bit ambitious. I’m also more concerned with what I make because my girls are not longer getting a five-course lunch at school everyday, so I need to pack all that nourishment and nutrition into our evening meal. Combine that with new ingredients and products in a new country, and I think I’ve just become overwhelmed.

Luckily, I think I may have found some help. I’ve been a regular reader of the 100 Days of Real Food blog for a while now, and when I saw that its author, Lisa Leake, had put out a cookbook, I decided to check it out from the library. And it has kind of saved me. Lisa’s emphasis is on making real (not processed) food, something I feel strongly about, too. Although technically a cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food is also a kind of “lifestyle” book. She has a whole section in the beginning that explains how to make the shift to eating real food, as well as food budget tips and meal plans. She addresses all the kinds of issues and questions that people may have and presents her plan in a way that makes it seem do-able. There are so many helpful tips and concrete examples that I came away from reading the book feeling completely inspired–just what my lackluster cooking mojo needed.

But does it really work? Well, I’ve only been following her plan for a week, but I haven’t felt so good about my cooking in a long time. I took her advice and did my grocery shopping at a local farmer’s market-type store instead of my usual supermarket, and I spend HALF of what I normally spend for a week’s worth of groceries. I also have my meals planned out until next weekend thanks to her Winter Meal Plan, and I have a ton of ideas for the girls’ school lunches.

I realize that I’m gushing here, which is very unusual for me, but honestly this book helped me so much. It remains to be seen if I can sustain it in the long run, but so far it has made my life simpler rather than more complicated. If you read her blog you’ll see that Lisa is pretty hardcore when it comes to cutting out processed foods, but I think you can take her ideas and adapt them to your own lifestyle and house rules about food. And if you’re still not sure, I highly recommend reading the cookbook, which lays everything out in an easy-to-follow format.

Highly recommended!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

Weekend Cooking: Sablés de Noël

sablés-de-noëlI have to admit that I’ve been a bit lazy about the whole Christmas thing this year. I haven’t had a lot of free time lately, and as a result the house has not been decorated–we don’t even have a tree. I did manage to jot off a few Christmas cards  and buy a couple of gifts, but it felt like a bare minimum of effort on my part. I’m seriously lacking in Christmas spirit.

Yesterday at work I put on some Michel Bublé in the hopes of giving myself a little holiday boost, but I’m not there yet. However, I’m hoping to get motivated enough by tomorrow to make up a batch of these traditional French butter cookies with the girls. This is a classic recipe that’s easy and fun to make with the kids, too, as they can use different cookie cutters and decorate to their little hearts’ content.

Les Petits Sablés de Noël

Makes approx. 20 cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour

1 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of cinnamon

125 g of butter

1 egg

1/2 a packet of dry yeast

1/2 cup of powdered almonds

candy decorations (sprinkles, m&m’s, or whatever you wish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Cut the butter in pieces and soften in the microwave.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle your workspace with flour. Form a large ball of dough and roll it out.
  4. Cut shapes out of the dough and decorate them.
  5. Place the cookies on a buttered baking tray and cook for 15 minutes. Wait for a few minutes before tasting–and bon appetit!

Do you have a favorite holiday cookie or candy recipe?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

 

Weekend Cooking: An Expat Thanksgiving

For those of you in the U.S. who celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday, I hope you had a great holiday. Because here in France it’s not an official holiday, we had to wait until today to celebrate with some fellow expat friends, and I’m still in something of a turkey coma. We ate ALL DAY LONG. But it was good, and I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting a couple of other women who have roots in the Southern U.S., so we had fun chatting about common experiences and laying on our thick Southern accents for the amusement of the rest of the guests. Good times.

I have several recipes that I traditionally make for Thanksgiving, generally sides as that’s what I always get assigned to bring (I’m not sure why, but over the years we’ve fallen into certain roles in the group, and mine is veggie girl). This year I was very short on cooking time because we had another event to attend this morning, so I basically had to prepare everything either last night or at the last minute. One of the dishes I made was a new recipe that didn’t require much cooking, and the result seemed to be a hit, so I’ve decided to share it with you. It’s really easy and has a very mild flavor, with just enough crunchiness.

brussel-sproutsCrunchy Sweet Brussels Sprouts Salad
Recipe originally from The Food Network

Ingredients
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions
Shred the Brussels sprouts by removing the core and thinly slicing (I basically just chopped off the bottom part of each sprout, as “removing the core” is easier said than done). Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring, until the Brussels sprouts are bright and slightly wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the walnuts and the cranberries and toss to combine. Turn out into a serving bowl and serve warm.

I’d never had Brussels sprouts like this before, but they were delicious. I have a few sprouts leftover that I didn’t cook, and I think I’m going to do the same thing with them tomorrow except I’m going to throw in a little bacon.

Did you celebrate Thanksgiving this past week? Try any new recipes that are worth sharing?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

Weekend Cooking: Tarte Tatin à la Tomate

tarte-tatin-tomateI haven’t done a weekend cooking post in ages, but I was inspired after making a really good recipe this past week. It’s from a cookbook that I was given last Christmas but had never actually used, and it’s definitely made me want to use it more because the recipe turned out beautifully. This is a good one to try if you are lucky enough to still have some summer tomatoes hanging around.

Note: The photo on the left is not my tart. Mine was much more rustic looking than that, and it was so good that we ate it all before I thought to take a picture. But it gives you an idea of the finished result.

Tarte Tatin à la Tomate
(adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier)
Serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main course

Ingredients:

  • Frozen pie crust (the recipe actually has you make your own, but I don’t have that much energy)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 kg Roma or plum tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbes de provence (or a good mix of dried rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme)
  • Olive tapenade
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves (I omitted this, as I didn’t have any)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Grease a quiche pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
  2. Have the tomatoes lengthwise and core them. Run your thumb in the hollows of the tomatoes to remove the juice and seeds. Arrange in the pan, skin side down, in a circular pattern. They can overlap a bit, as they will shrink as they bake. Season with salt, pepper, herbs, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until soft.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge about 10 minutes before the end of the tomatoes’ cooking time, so that it has time to loosen up. Roll out the dough and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the tapenade, leaving a 3 cm margin all around.
  4. Cut the cheese in thin slices and arrange over the tomatoes in the pan. Lay the dough, tapenade side down, on the cheese and tuck in the overhanging flaps of dough. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes, then run a knife around the crust to loosen. Cover the pan with an overturned serving plate and flip the whole thing carefully. If some of the tomatoes stick to the bottom of the pan, just put them back in the tart where they belong. Serve warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, snip or tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the tart.

VARIATIONS

One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can vary it to suit your tastes. For example, instead of spreading the dough with tapenade, you could use pesto, a sun-dried tomato spread, or spicy mustard (I have a friend who swears by this combo). If you prefer, you can use goat cheese instead of mozzarella.

Enjoy!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

Weekend Cooking: Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

2244188763_e888640ff6I’ve had a doozy of a week, so I was looking for something easy that I could just throw in the slow cooker for my Saturday dinner. This morning I went to yoga class (sigh of contentment), had a quick lunch, then put this together in about 10 minutes. Now I have the rest of the afternoon free to spend as I please and we should be able to eat this for at least two meals.

Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

(recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe), serves 6-8

Ingredients

Pork:

2 pound boneless pork loin roast, fat trimmed

1 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

Glaze:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

1. In a small bowl, combine the sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub the spices all over the roast. Place the pork in the slow cooker and pour in the 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Near the end of the cooking time for the roast, combine the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.

2. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, shred and place on a platter or plate. Drizzle the glaze over the pork and serve.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…