Tag Archives: Chorizo

Frenchie and la Belle France

11 Dec

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La belle France !

I’ve been back for a month now and I’m finally sitting down to post some pictures and a new recipe directly inspired by this recent trip.

A journey in France under a soothing and warm fall sun.

Where red and green intertwine and the light coming from the sky is pale and white.

A color combination to remember in the kitchen when preparing a special seafood dish to impart this experience.

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The greatest of adventures in Paris is to discover new things, new places and new sceneries.

My latest kick? Walk through as many cours intérieures as possible.

Ever wanted to see those lovely small inside courtyards behind those big Parisian locked doors?

And despite the digicodes – those entry control systems with numeric pads outside every main doors in Paris – one might be sneaky enough to press the entry/exit button during the day when most systems are not turned on yet.

Between rue de Charonne and rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

Or as you stroll rue Pigalle and around rue des Martyrs.

I discovered gems.

Even behind 17 rue Bleue where the Cantine de la maison de la culture arménienne – a small restaurant at the Armenian Cultural Center – hides at the back of the courtyard.

And if you surprisingly run into la gardienne, just say Bonjour Madame !

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So many treasures to uncover.

And in these enclosed courtyards, protected from the outside world and noises, it’s the discreet and muffled sound of Parisian life that is distinctly heard through the few open windows.

A certain mood floating around as I stand in the center, looking up and around.

Demure. Calm. Unassuming. Yet full of life.

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The pastoral French countryside.

A bucolic side trip where the same colorful reds and greens kept revealing themselves in a scenic patchwork.

A wealth of trees and grass.

Farmers’ markets filled with distorted red orangish gourds and bright squash varieties.

The whispers of the market – a light hubbub of friends and neighbors babbling under a pale and transparent morning light.

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This new recipe was not only inspired by the color scheme following me throughout the trip but also by L’Agrume, a restaurant in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.

A bowl full of white pale clams.

Sprinkled with green onions.

A touch of red chorizo.

And a simple after taste of lemon.

It made for a perfect dish to enjoy throughout November.

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Clams, Chorizo and Green Onions with Creamy Lemon Broth

serves 4

3.5 cups (80 cl) of water

1 cube of vegetable bouillon (I use vegan vegetable bouillon cubes with sea salt)

the zest and juice of one organic lemon

2 Tbsp of chopped thyme

1 Tbsp of fennel seeds

2 green onions thinly sliced (green and white parts) + 2 more for sprinkling

sea salt and pepper

2 lbs (1 kg) of littleneck clams

1 Tbsp (15 g) of butter

2 heaping Tbsp of crème fraîche

about 3 oz (75 g) of chorizo – thinly sliced

slices of bread

In a big heavy pot, combine the water, bouillon cube, lemon zest and juice, thyme, fennel seeds, green onions, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil.

Place the clams directly in the boiling water, reduce the heat, and cook until the clams open.

In the meantime, remove the casing around the chorizo and slice it thinly.

When the clams open, remove them from the pot and place them in a separate bowl covered with foil or a towel to keep warm.

Drop the butter and crème fraîche in the clam broth and stir until melted and well-combined.

Add the chorizo slices to the pot, stir and remove them as soon as they start to release a brightly red tint.

Serve the clams in bowls, top with the warm chorizo slices and scoop out the creamy lemon broth with a spoon. Drizzle all over the bowl and clams.

Sprinkle the last green onion slices on top with an extra dash of freshly ground pepper and some more thyme if needed.

Do not forget the slices of bread to soak up the broth.

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Frenchie and The Fourth

5 Jul

The 4th of July is a birthday celebration where everyone is invited and no one has to give out any gifts. Sounds like fun? It is! No formal invitation needed either. To celebrate America’s birthday – this year 235 years-old – just show up with some food sprinkled with an infectious festive mood – this winning recipe will magically enliven all of your festivities while surrounded by friends and family. This year marks my twelfth 4th of July and after years of various observations, when it comes to the rituals of celebrating Independence Day I think I’ve learned my lesson well.

Ritual 1: As one of my friend says “It would be a crime not to grill out on the 4th of July.” Yes, you heard right… un crime!  The 4th wouldn’t be the 4th if it weren’t for outdoor cookouts or summer picnics at home, at the park or by the water. While I never experienced a rainy 4th, I am pretty sure that even with bad weather Americans would still be outside working the grill and holding a backyard party. Because that’s how it goes – no matter what happens on the 4th, you cannot rain on America’s birthday parade.

Ritual 2: This is the day where only 3 colors matter: red, white and blue. Decorations, props, star-shaped patterns, stripes – it’s a gigantic assortment of good and bad taste. Streets are filled with American flags and red-white-blue-banners. Homes get the Christmas treatment for a day and are decorated to proudly display the key colors. Sometimes it can be over-the-top-tacky your eyes will hurt and demand to see another color to rest for a bit. And sometimes it’s done very well. For the French, the display of flags and all-things-American on that day is an eye-popping surreal experience. Red and white flowers in a blue vase. Blue tablecloth, white plates and red napkins. Be as creative as you want.

Ritual 3: Food, food and more food. The more food the better. The bigger the party, the more variety of food you will find and get to taste. Burgers, ribs, steaks, grilled fish and shrimp, kebabs & skewers, salads, potato salads, pasta salads, side dishes – corn on the cob! – desserts and let’s not forget drinks and cocktails. When words such as grilled, meat, corn and pies are put together in the same sentence, I can only blurt out “fantastique“! I always say that the 4th of July is the one and only day when you will put on 5 lbs in a matter of hours without really knowing how it happened. Unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, July 4th is not stretched out over a week/weekend. It’s one intense food day.

If lucky, slow-cooked messy and saucy ribs will be on the menu glazed in a sweet and spicy smoked BBQ sauce. Skewers will be full of colors with juicy veggies and marinated chicken. Corn cobs will be grilled and slathered in butter. The potato salad will be classic yet original with slightly undercooked potatoes. And pies and cobblers will end the meal with sweet and indulging pleasures. J’ai faim!

Ritual 4: Parades, concerts and fairs – the 4th is meant to be spent outside. Before eating dinner, social and festive activities are meant to bring people together in a joyous celebration of the country’s historical past mixing entertaining shows for kids with cultural events. So grab your colonial costume and your tiny American flags to go watch the parade and enjoy the momentum.

Ritual 5: Dear fellow French citizens, you have not experienced fireworks until you’ve seen one in the U.S. Vraiment. I am lucky to live in a city labeled #2 for the most extravagant fireworks displays on July 4th. Americans taught me that there’s no lazy way to watch a fireworks show. You don’t watch it from 2 miles away. You don’t watch it on TV either. It’s a once-a-year extravaganza and you want to be right in the middle of it – or in this case, right under it. And there’s no other feeling than walking to the fireworks launch with thousands of other cheering people, owning the streets that are now pedestrian and waiting for the start of the magical event with a pounding heart and the eyes of a 6-year-old discovering it for the first time. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the 4th of July is a birthday celebration. And what better way to end an evening than watching America blow its candles in the sky?

Our sunny rooftop-deck celebration amongst friends included some spicy smoked grilled ribs with Bobby Flay’s Carolina-style BBQ sauce, chicken kebabs, a blue cheese potato salad with a Sriracha sauce, corn on the cob and a chorizo-fig salad with a quince paste vinaigrette (recipe below).

Since I was in charge of dessert, I thought a French flair wouldn’t be bad and I opted for a tart instead of a pie. Béa from La Tartine Gourmande inspired me with her gluten-free strawberry mascarpone tartlet post and I adapted her recipe to make a strawberry-blueberry tart with a white mascarpone-lemon curd filling. Bleu, blanc, rouge… this tart could also work for Bastille Day. But yesterday, it was only red, white and blue.

I am sure there are many other rituals out there – family ones, regional ones. For some, July 4 is very important – it’s a historical date celebrating U.S. history. For others, it’s the symbol of a 3-day party weekend filled with noise, friends and family. What does July 4 mean to you?

Chorizo-Fig Salad with Quince Paste Vinaigrette

serves 4

lettuce

half of a big sweet red onion – if too bitter, use a quarter

8 Calimyrna dried figs

4.5 oz (125 g) of Manchego

4 oz (110 g) of chorizo

olive oil + balsamic vinegar

salt + pepper

1 to 2 Tbsps of quince paste – aka membrillo

Wash and slice the lettuce. I used lettuce from the garden and only needed 6-8 big leaves.

Peel and chop the red onion finely.

Cut the figs in 4 – if you have big figs, cut them in 6.

Cut the Manchego in small cubes

Slice the chorizo in small cubes as well.

In a bowl, all of the ingredients together.

In a smaller bowl, prepare your vinaigrette with the following ratio: 1/3 cup (80 ml) of olive oil for 1/2 teaspoon (up to a 1 teaspoon) of vinegar. Salt and pepper. Use 1 Tbsp of quince paste at first and whisk well. The paste will dissolve in the vinaigrette with the help of the vinegar. Taste and add vinegar if the paste is not yet mixed. If you prefer it on the sweeter side, add some more paste and vinegar.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad. Mix well and serve.

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