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Frenchie and the Mint-Infused Quinoa Tabbouleh

7 Jun

The move to Charlotte still fresh in my mind and France was already calling me.

A quick trip for a milestone birthday, a family visit and to recharge my French batteries.

And despite the gray, rainy, drab spring weather covering Europe throughout the month of May, we found the time to cook, visit, laugh, eat and use our umbrellas.

Many photos, memories and the story of a tabbouleh.

Magically, the sun came out at two distinct times during the trip.

As we were about to sit down for the birthday lunch – shinning brightly in the garden, calling us to delay lunch time and play in the garden.

And during a Parisian weekend as I explored new places and discovered new bites.

The feeling of being stuck inside when it’s cold and rainy outside.

The joy in everyone’s eyes when the call of the first sun rays hit the windows.

Tous dehors !

And with the amount of bouton-d’ors – buttercups – sprinkled in the fields showing us yellow dots all around, it was a celebration of all things yellow, happy and bright.

Despite all this, I still managed to enjoy the changing seasonal menu of L’Alchimie.

The quaint and quirky setting of Colorova Pâtisserie along with their tempting pastries.

The elegant design and honey-roasted pigeon at Le Quinze.

A very green matcha (green tea) financier in a newly opened 1950-1960s vibe Café Loustic for a quick goûter with my twin from another life – the lovely Lost in Cheeseland.

And an unusual mango éclair sprinkled with pansies at L’Éclair de Génie. When art meets food.

And then came the tabbouleh.

A secret but not-so-secret recipe.

Inspired by a recipe from “T.”.

A spring dish, a green plate, a yearly tabbouleh to prepare around that time of year.

A tabbouleh inspired by many springs. By a lifetime of many springs.

Rain, cold and gray – et si on faisait un taboulé ?

Yes, let’s make a tabbouleh! Un taboulé de couscous.

I knew I had to make something similar when I got home. A quinoa version.

And a southern maple cider vinaigrette with mustard was truly a good pairing as a way to celebrate new influences.

Mint-Infused Quinoa Tabbouleh with Peas and Maple Cider Vinaigrette

for 4-6

2 cups + 1/3 cup (553 ml) of water

50-60 mint leaves (whole) + 30 extra leaves (chopped)

3/4 cup (110 g) of peas, fresh or frozen

1 cup (200 g) quinoa, uncooked (white, red, or mixed)

1 Tbsp of summer savory, chopped

1 Tbsp of lemon thyme, chopped

1.5 Tbsp of flat-leaf parsley (or chervil), chopped

7 Tbsp of olive oil

1 teaspoon of strong French mustard

2 Tbsp of maple syrup, medium amber

4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar

sea salt and pepper

4 Tbsp of unsalted, dry toasted slivered almonds

zest of 1 organic lemon (optional: add the juice of the lemon for an extra lemony flavor)

Prepare a mint herbal tea-like water as a base for cooking the peas and quinoa later.

Bring the water to a boil with 50-60 mint leaves in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes. Cover with a lid, remove from the heat and infuse for 15-20 min.

Squeeze out the excess water from the leaves with a spatula or a spoon and discard the leaves.

Bring the mint herbal water back to a boil. Cook the peas for 2 min, if frozen, or 3-4 min if fresh.

Strain the peas in a colander and over a bowl – do not discard the mint water and keep it aside in the bowl.

Run cold water over the peas in the colander to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Put the mint water back in the saucepan. Rinse the quinoa throughly in cold water. Place the rinsed quinoa in the mint water and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed – about 10-13 min.

When done, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool in a bowl.

Prepare the vinaigrette in a small bowl by whisking the summer savory, lemon thyme, parsley and oil together. Whisk until well mixed.

Add the mustard, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar, sea salt and pepper while continuing to whisk.

Pour the vinaigrette over the cooked quinoa and mix well.

Add the peas, almonds, remaining chopped mint leaves and the lemon zest. Mix delicately so the peas don’t get mashed.

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve cold.

Frenchie and the Queen City

15 May

Finding new habits and new bearings.

Different light, weather and atmosphere.

I have made it to Charlotte and have started a new life.

This is a quick post to share some favorite photos of my new surroundings and discoveries.

Living in a corporate condo with my kitchen still packed away in storage is proving to be a challenge for cooking and being creative.

Colorful bowls, spices, utensils no more.

I will have to wait a little while longer before I am able to be inventive in the kitchen and cook away.

In the meantime, walking in the Queen City has proven quite fruitful to explore markets, cheese shops, spice shops and talking to farmers.

I did not expect the city to have such a big Farm-to-Table movement, which is very refreshing.

And with so much more to explore, I unfortunately have to take a quick break from Charlotte and set my sights on France for the next 10 days.

Frenchie and the Yankee is now on Instagram where you can follow the adventures.

I hope to be back with more tales to tell and new bites to share.

Note: the picture of the tarts, bowl of raspberries and Swiss chard were taken with an iPhone.

Frenchie and Leaving Boston

16 Apr

This is it!

The time has come to leave Boston.

So many people met, places visited, dishes made.

Experiences and inspirations.

After all, Frenchie and the Yankee was born in Boston – in September 2010!

And it is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this post thinking about the Boston Marathon tragedy from yesterday, which took place just 1 mile (1.5 km) away from my house.

Thinking of all those families affected by these events.

Feeling sad to leave the city, friends, neighborhoods still under shock.

The city I have called home for the past 4.5 years.

“But life here will go on. We won’t be paralyzed by fear.

We’ll take reasonable precautions, yes.

But we won’t take cover.

And we won’t cower.

This, after all, is Boston.”

“Mais ici, la vie va continuer. Nous ne nous laisserons pas paralyser par la peur.

Certes, nous prendrons toutes les précautions qui s’imposent.

Mais nous ne nous cacherons pas.

Nous ne tremblerons pas.

Après tout, ici, c’est Boston.”

Scot Lehigh – The Boston Globe

As I look outside my window, wondering what Charlotte, NC is going to bring into my life, I think about the city of Boston, the region of New England, and a few of my favorite things

Here’s a potpourri of favorite photos, places, experiences and food.

20- Looking down to see my feet treading upon the beautiful red brick sidewalks.

19- Sitting down to rest on a hot summer afternoon and hear the Spanish guitar player inside the Boston Library courtyard with fountain noises echoing throughout.

18- Union Park in the South End and turning the corner on Shawmut Ave to go to Formaggio’s buy local New England cheeses.

17- Spending the day in Charlestown, taking a water shuttle back to the Boston Wharfs as the city shines over the water.

16- A day trip to Gloucester and Cape Ann with a dinner at The Market.

15- Exploring the many small Italian food stores in the North End – a cheese sample here, a prosciutto tasting there.

14- Imagining the inside of the beautiful townhouses of Beacon Hill from Mount Vernon Street to W. Cedar Street.

13- Buying local and seasonal groceries at the SoWa Market.

12- Admiring the colorful spring tulips on a bench in the Boston Garden.

11- Spending an afternoon in Marblehead, MA browsing for antiques or in Provincetown, MA walking up and down Commercial Street.

10- Hearing the excitedly anxious sounds and voices of students on Harvard Yard as a new school year starts.

9- Strolling on the Longfellow Bridge, along the Charles River, and back through the Mass Ave Bridge with stunning views of the city.

8- The seasons – fall and spring in particular. Apple picking at the Russell Orchards Farm. Photographing trees at the Mount Auburn Cemetery.

7- Restaurants, eateries and food places discovered along the way. La Voile, Grotto, Toro, Metropolis Café, Craigie on Main, Maurizio’s, Coppa, Erbaluce, Oishii, Lala Rokh, B&G Oysters.

6- Sitting down on a wooden bench inside Trinity Church – sealed from the outside world and taking in the unique atmosphere of this particular church.

5- Taking a quick special drive to Tatte Bakery in Cambridge – a delicious experience!

4- Buying the most unusual fruits and veggies at the Chinatown supermarkets after eating dim sum at the Empire Garden or Myers + Chang.

3- Looking up at the beautiful ceiling inside Faneuil Hall.

2- Walking through Bay Village as the old gas lamp posts magically light up the small streets at dusk like a movie set.

1- Meeting Bostonians along the years, proud of their city and its History.

So long Boston.

Until the next weekend visit.

Ready for Charlotte, NC and how it will influence this blog.

Merci Boston !

Frenchie and Puerto Vallarta

2 Apr

For a first time in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta proved to be everything I had expected.

Warm, colorful, charming and artistic.

From sunrise to sunset, the city exuded a calm and peaceful grace.

Oh and those sunsets! How could I forget them?

Alternating between old town and new town, oceanside and mountain terrain, Puerto Vallarta was everything I had pictured and imagined.

And for a first time in Mexico, it was perfect.

My Mexican friends always told me they couldn’t believe I had never gone south of the border.

My French friends just shoulder-shrugged along with a big eye roll – Quoi ? You’ve never been to Mexico?

The proximity of the country gave me no excuse.

And as I was leaving Puerto Vallarta driving to the remote mountain town of San Sebastián del Oeste, cruising on the winding roads of the Sierra Madre, climbing up and reaching new heights at 4,800 feet (1,460 m) – I thought to myself… why did I wait so long to come here?

Smells of mountainous dusty roads and green leafy trees slowing moving with the crisp air moving through.

Corsican memories coming back with wild herbs and pine-oak scents floating around and rushing through the rolled down car windows.

Hawks circling under the bright sun.

The greenish and blueish tint of the agave plants in the sun easily attract the eye.

The coffee roasting in the sun with its strong aroma released for all to enjoy while touring a coffee plantation.

Lemon and grapefruit trees with heavy branches, ready to be harvested.

Cows running through the cobblestone streets followed by what seemed to be the smallest shepherd dog with the loudest bark.

And they all obeyed the tiny dog while passing older gentlemen with straw cowboy hats resting in the shade of the church.

It is always interesting to find and eat lunch in what appears to be someone’s house.

A tiny restaurant with 2 tables. Staircase going up to the bedrooms. Some local products in display to purchase.

And la señora making food in her kitchen while her husband takes orders.

The flipping noises of the soft tortilla dough balls exchanged from one hand to the other in a slapping sound.

The clinging metal press used over and over to flatten fresh thin tortillas.

Listening attentively to the sounds of food being prepared away from customers’ eyes – I almost didn’t hear the host dropping a bowl of fresh salsa on the table with a cuidado that could only mean one thing: spicy!

The streets of old Puerto Vallarta offered the best adventures and discoveries.

Watching women make quesadillas and juices.

Tasting tequila from the small shack shop next to the bus stop and around the corner from the abandoned rusty truck.

Dipping my finger in honey samples made locally.

And stopping for a bite at the tortilleria.

IMG_0400

Eating lunch at the Ocean Grill restaurant is an experience of its own.

A bus ride to Boca de Tomatlán, a water taxi to the restaurant, cliffs and oceanside views, a pristine cove and delicious food.

The octopus dish was by itself a good enough reason to travel to Ocean Grill.

The secluded cove accessible only by boat looked like a movie set or something created by computer technology.

You can find it all in Puerto Vallarta.

The modern and the old.

The tourists and isolated neighborhoods.

The beach restaurants targeting foreigners.

As well as the small food places barely lit at night attracting local residents for a fun meal amongst friends.

The city allowed for my many food guilty pleasures.

Sampling fresh fruit and seafood at the food stalls.

Coconuts, melons, mangoes, oranges.

Ordering a taco to go and a freshly pressed fruit juice.

Picking out chocolate truffles made locally at Xocodiva.

Picking out samples of chorizo to try on the spot.

Smelling the bubbling pots and pans with meats and stews at street corners.

The experience at El Mole de Jovita where the black bean dip is slowly mixed with mole poured from a hot dish meticulously stirred and guarded outside for all to see was exquisite.

I could also tell you about the outdoor dinning experience at the Vista Grill with stunning views of the city and a seared tuna paired with eggplant cakes that I cannot forget.

Oh and a passion fruit crème brûlée – exoticism paired with a French classic.

It wasn’t surprising that I wanted to make inspired food from this Mexico trip after landing back in Boston.

Colors from the trip.

Flavors and fragrances.

Ingredients noted along the way.

And a celebration of spring.

I wanted something easy to make and even easier to eat.

Something I could picture myself eat on the terrace of beautiful and secluded Villa Savana overlooking the city, reminiscing about a successful vacation.

A unique place worth a stay!

Fresh with cucumbers, green with avocados, creamy with Mexican cheese and colorful with hints of pink and purple.

A small verrine – not too much.

Reenergized, inspired and ready to tackle the Big Move.

Happy to finally come back with Mexican memories and delicious thoughts about a week spent in Puerto Vallarta.

Happy Spring and happy gazpacho!

Creamy Avocado Gazpacho Verrines with Smoked Salmon

4 seedless Persian cucumbers – sliced

3 ripe avocados – pitted, peeled and cubed

4 scallions – green and white parts – sliced

1 celery talk – sliced

0.5 Granny Smith apple – chopped

0.5 green pepper – sliced

2 garlic cloves – minced

2-3 Tbsp of chopped flat-leaf parsley

2-3 Tbsp of chopped cilantro

1.5 cup (355 ml) of water

1.5 Tbsp of sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp of olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

1.5 teaspoon of sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

3 oz (85 g) of queso fresco – Mexican cheese – crumbled (plus more for assembling the verrines)

juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lime

2 oz (55 g) of smoked salmon – sliced

red amaranth microgreens

In a blender, mix and purée all ingredients together except the salmon and microgreens.

Taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed.

Variations: omit the cheese if you are lactose intolerant. Remove the lime if you don’t enjoy sour. Add more water if too creamy/thick. Remove the salmon as a vegetarian option.

Set aside in a big container in the fridge to cool.

When ready to serve, prepare small glasses or verrines with smoked salmon at the bottom. Pour the gazpacho over it and top with a drizzle of olive oil, crumbles of queso fresco and a handful of red amaranth microgreens.

If you really like salmon, top the verrines with more salmon.

Frenchie and the Blizzard

11 Feb

The blizzard that everyone was waiting for.

A more than honorable snow coat reminding me of past Wisconsin winters.

And when it’s cold outside as the freshly dropped snowflakes sting your face like tiny bees carried out by the blizzard winds, home is where warmth makes everything better.

A honey roasted chicken.

A lemon sauce.

A home-made cumin butter to spread on a crusty bread.

And frozen lingonberries to use for a dessert.

Envious of those kids dragged by mum and dad in a shiny blue and green sledge.

My black boots now completely buried in a white mountain of icing sugar.

My knees cold from being encased.

But smiling and blinded by the white sharp light emanating from the reflection of the sun.

Memories of ending up knee-deep in the sand at the beach during the summer months.

Different season. Different scenery. Same feeling.

This post and recipe are dedicated to my friends “F. & O.” who got engaged in the snow amid this blizzard in the Boston park. 

Félicitations !

A snow storm to remember.

Lemon Zest and Almond Financiers with Lingonberries and Chia Seeds

makes about 22 small financiers

6 Tbsp (85 g) of butter – melted

4 Tbsp of teff flour

2 Tbsp of quinoa flour

1/2 cup (100 g) of blonde cane sugar

1.5 teaspoon of chia seeds

a dash of ground nutmeg

a pinch of sea salt

3/4 cup (93 g) of ground sliced almonds

3 organic lemons – finely zested

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4 Tbsp of lingonberries

Preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C).

Prepare a mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift and mix the flours, the sugar , the chia seeds, the nutmeg and sea salt. Combine.

In a food processor, finely ground the almonds. Fold with the flour mixture.

Add  the lemon zest. Mix delicately and make sure the zest does not clump.

Beat the egg whites and the vanilla extract with a fork until combined and lightly foamy.

Pour the egg whites over the flour mixture and stir.

Pour the melted butter and stir delicately until it is all absorbed.

Divide the batter in the mini-muffin pan. Top each financier with lingonberries. With the back of a spoon, press on the berries gently.

Bake in the oven for 14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

Remove the financiers from the pan right away and let them cool on a rack or a cutting board.

Frenchie and Los Angeles

4 Feb

Los Angeles as it has been described to me so many times before is a love-it-or-hate-it city.

Most comments and descriptive remarks I hear about L.A. tend to be negative overall – at least in my experience.

I happen to fall in the other category of people – I love it!

This time I got to stay in and experience the Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Little Armenia areas.

A radical shift from the most popular and touristy neighborhoods.

There is something about the city that makes me happy and smile.

It’s not the sun nor the weather.

It’s not the eclectic mood that resonates through the city either.

Its diversity.

Its liveliness.

The picturesque aspect of its undeniable allure.

Scenic it is!

And this is what makes me want to come back every single time.

The artsy and bohemian-like Los Feliz was a perfect new stop for me to discover.

A walkable area – I know, hard to believe in L.A.! – with hints of a moody Brooklyn, NY meets Italian tile roofs and Art Deco meets Adobe style homes.

Alluring yet still a bit scrappy.

Wonderfully luxurious yet very much bobo.

A sense of community in a city that sprawls across 469 square miles (1,215 km2).

And to fight the Boston winter blues, a fresh salad to remember coastal L.A.

Bursts of flavors with Balti seasoning, currants and a drizzled citrusy vinaigrette.

A salad to keep sunny memories alive until the next visit.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Currants

serves 4

for the vinaigrette

1 Tbsp of olive oil

2 Tbsp of grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon of Champagne vinegar

zest and juice of half an organic lime

1 teaspoon of honey

half to 1 teaspoon of mustard

sea salt / pepper

a sprinkle of ground coriander

for the salad

4 Tbsp of pumpkin seeds

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 Tbsp of Balti spice or seasoning

2 green zucchini – thinly sliced like ribbons

2 yellow zucchini – thinly sliced like ribbons

4.5 oz (127 g) of Gruyère – thinly sliced

2-3 Tbsp of Zante currants

2 Tbsp of flat-leaf parsley – chopped

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Whisk until the emulsion thickens.

In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and the Balti spice until well coated.

In a small hot pan over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until “noisy” – 2-3 minutes. When you hear them pop, put them back in the bowl and let cool.

Arrange the zucchini slices on a plate with the Gruyère slices.

Sprinkle the currants, parsley and the cold toasted pumpkin seeds.

Drizzle the vinaigrette on top and serve.

Frenchie and 2012

1 Jan

A new year, a new calendar.

January 1st is my day to browse through the year that just ended.

Looking back and flipping the pages of a busy schedule that went by too quickly.

Finding forgotten pictures.

Remembering events marked down on the calendar.

Oh oui, I did this back in April!

Oh and I forgot about this dinner party… complètement oublié !

A look-back at 2012 with some of the pictures readers seemed to like most.

2012 started in Paris for me. New Year’s Eve with family.

Discovering Cobéa and its wonderful creations.

Exploring new bakeries. Falling in love with Au Petit Versailles du Marais.

Spring in Boston is always an event.

Marblehead, Wellesley, Cape Cod.

The changing of the trees, the new light.

A nomination for a BostInno Insider Award.

Coconut, chocolate, and dried cherry teacakes with tarragon.

Or Asian basil béchamel Mac and Cheese with truffle oil flavors and blackened chicken.

Food imparted by experiences, landscapes and cultural experiments.

A spring trip to Napa Valley and San Francisco, CA for a wedding.

Celebrating at Garibaldi’s, wishing a dear friend a happy married life and eating Le Frenchie Burger – specially created by Chef John Beardsley.

The wine, tapas and view at Ram’s Gate. A delight for the mouth and eyes.

The drive up to Pride Mountain Vineyards around the valley, through the trees, winding up and down.

A lunch at Bar Bocce across the bay from San Francisco, on the beach, with friends and a fire pit.

Spain came right after California. A second wedding.

Driving through the Costa Blanca, little towns and villages along a shiny coastline.

Loosing yourself in Barcelona in search for the best tapas bars.

And a Spain-inspired recipe featured on www.NoshOn.It for its gluten-free Sunday specials.

I remember the colors as I write this.

And I can smell the oregano from Ca La Nati.

Summer came very quickly.

A birthday in Newport, RI, weekends in Gloucester and Provincetown, MA.

Salads, summer tarts, a fun interview, and participating in the Julia Child’s 100th anniversary campaign.

A summer to remember. Financiers to savor. Quiet sunny times to appreciate.

And thank you to BostInno for calling Frenchie and the Yankee one of Boston’s must-read food blogs.

The trip to Montreal was a nice end-of-summer break.

Going back to Olive & Gourmando, eating at Les 400 Coups and taking long walks in the city.

Montreal and this unequivocal blend of European and North American cultures.

Unique and colorful.

Fall came right around the corner and with a new season, new trips to plan.

But the joy of spending the change of seasons in New England remain the best feeling in the world.

Eating pieces of a chestnut flour savory cake with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes, while contemplating the idea of traveling through the region to observe the changing of seasons.

A time filled with colorful apples and squash varieties, baked apple scents and cinnamon.

Un vrai plaisir !

As 2012 started with France, it ended with France as well in November.

But not without spicing up the trip with an Istanbul stop.

Beautiful Turkey.

Memories of bright pomegranates, smiling people and red flags everywhere to celebrate their National Holiday.

A spiced pumpkin cake with rose water and cloves to remember the trip forever.

Fabrics and colorful dishes to bring a new life to my home.

I don’t know what 2013 will bring – well, I have an idea.

There will be new trips and new recipes of course.

Experiences to look forward to.

People to meet.

And food to eat!

Happy New Year to all! Bonne Année !

May 2013 be the best yet.

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