The one where cooking makes you meet some very nice people.
Some weeks ago, Clotilde, who writes the fantastic blog Chocolate&Zucchini, had the brilliant idea to organise a trip to the “Salon Saveurs” at Porte de Champeret. We spent a very good afternoon tasting and buying a lot of products with Clotilde, Isabelle, Alysa, Ethan, Amy and myself.
Two weeks after, Isabelle and Ethan were kind enough to organise the first potluck party at their place in Paris. We had such a good time that Christophe and Suzanne, both Germans, decided to host the next edition in their very nice apartment in Paris near the Pantheon.
We were 14 people, 7 Americans (Isabelle, Ethan, Malory, Jonathan, Callie, Alysa and Meg from the super blog Too Many Chefs), 1 Australian (Théo), 2 British (Steve and David), 2 Germans (Christophe and Susanne) and 2 French (Jean-Yves and myself).
Unfortunately, Clotilde, Maxence, Amy and Nicolas were not able to make it this time.
We chose English as the evening language and it was really funny to hear all these different accents.
We talked, we laughed, we ate and drunk until the last RER which we managed, David and I, to miss, thanks to a very good bottle of Gigondas that Jean-Yves opened at the end of the evening.
In France, it’s not very common for everyone to bring something to eat or perhaps it is but I was not familiar with it. I found that it’s such a good idea as it is a very good occasion to taste food you had never tasted before. For example, David always thought he did not like fennel but after having tasted it in a very good salad he turned to me saying “but, I love it !.
We had fantastic and very varied food. Unfortunately my pictures are not the best I made as I was not careful enough with the light. Some dishes are even missing. What did you do, Pascale ?
Polenta toast with roasted peppers from Malory : very moist and tasty at the same time (picture’s missing !)
Christophe’s Fennel salad with goats cheese (a revelation for David)
Strawberry Gaspacho from Christophe. I’ve read so many times that strawberries can be used as a vegetable, with this gaspacho I understood why, it was really good and very unusual.
As Christophe was in a Gaspacho mood we had a really nice avocado gaspacho (picture’s missing !)
Beetroot and grapefruit salad from Jonathan : I always thought I didn’t like beetroot and in fact they are very nice. By the way, do you have any idea how they look like when there come from the farm. If not, I made a picture some time ago.
Roasted and marinated red, yellow and orange peppers by myself, one of my favourite dishes in summer (recipe HERE in French)
A vegetable clafoutis from Isabelle from Gourmet magazine recipe, she was disappointed with it but we all found it really good.
Chicken Marbella with cilantro (coriander), olives, almonds and capers from Alysa : Yummy! David’s still asking when I’ll cook it for him.
Very tasty Lamb keftas in curry sauce from Callie.
Cheese cake with peach compote : Meg bought some Philadelphia cream cheese in the UK and decided to make a real cheese cake, very good, very creamy as it should be. The recipe is on her blog “Too Many Chefs”.
A German cake (Bienenstich cake) made by Suzanne : not very well known as it is a local cake. It’s funny as it remains me of cakes I used to eat in my family in Lorraine not far from the German border.
Figs with raspberries and "creme fraiche epaisse" flavoured with vanilla made by Alysa : Yummy, easy to make and very good looking.
Watermelon brought by Ethan as we needed something light.
To drink we had wine and a very good Sangria made by Ethan.
After the potluck everybody sent me the recipe they used for their dish and here there are :
4 cups dry red wine
1 cup porto
1/2 cup triple sec
orange, lime, and peach slices
Roasted polenta with carrot puree
recipe which is made up by Malory except for the carrot puree which comes from a great cookbook called "The Vegetarian Bistro" by Marlena Spieler.
Polenta : From experience, I find it well worth buying pre-made polenta instead of trying to make it yourself. You can find it at most health food stores in pre-made rolls. Slice polenta into 1 cm wide disks, coat with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes, flipping sides half way through. Set aside.
Carrot puree :
Cook 4 carrots, thinly sliced in boiling water until tender, about 8 minutes. Puree in blender or food processor with :
a handful of minced shallots
1/3 cup heavy cream
2-3 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tsp paprika
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
salt & cayenne pepper to taste
add water to thin if consistency is too thick. You will want to spoon a dollop of puree on top of each polenta round so it should be smooth but not too runny.
Sauté red pepper and leeks to add on top of each polenta round as garnish.
Both Gaspacho Recipes are from Alberto Herraez, Restaurant Fogon St. Julien Le pauvre, Paris
100 g fresh onion chopped and soaked in cold water
for 30 minutes
300 g cubes of white bread (pain de mie) without crust
soaked in 15 ml strawberry vinegar
20 ml of olive oil
1 kg of strawberries cut in halves
Mix all ingredients together, add salt and pepper.
lLave for 6 hours in the fridge.
Add another 20 ml of olive oil, mix in a food
Processor (slowest speed possible).
Add one litre of water, pass through a colander.
Adjust with salt and pepper, serve with some mint-leaves.
400 g of peeled Avocado pieces and the stones of the avocado
50 g of bread with onions (for substitute: slowly
roasted onions cubes and white bread) soaked in 10 ml sherry vinegar
50 g cucumber cubes
50 g celery cubes
50 g of peeled green pepper
the juice of 1 lemon
10 ml of olive oil
40 g fresh onion
Mix all ingredients together, add salt and pepper.
Leave in the fridge for 6 hours.
Remove the avocado stones.
Add 20 ml of olive oil.
Mix in a food processor.
add 1 l of water.
Pass through a colander.
Adjust with salt and pepper.
Serve with cubes of cucumber, pepper, roasted bread.
Recipe by Barbara Siebeck (Der Feinschmecker 11.2003)
3 bulbs of fennel in fine strips
10 black and 10 green olives with out stones chopped
in small pieces
the juice of 1 lemon
20 ml of olive oil
salt, pepper, piment d'espelette
1 crumbled small goats cheese (preferably Crottin de
Chavignol very old and dry, substitute : any strong
tasting dry cheese like parmesan, sbrinz or Spanish
Mix all ingredients together.
Add one bunch each of flat parsley and coriander chopped.
Leave in the fridge for 2 hours.
Chicken Marbella from Silver Palate Cookbook
The overnight marinade is essential to the moistness of the dish.
For 10 persons.
10 pounds of chicken (thighs cut in half and breast cut in thirds)
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
¼ cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup of red vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes cut into third
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
roasted flaked almonds
In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper, salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
Sprinkle with cilantro and the roasted flaking almonds.
To serve it cold, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Before serving, allow it to return to room temperature before serving.
Calli’s LAMB KEFTAS IN CURRY SAUCE
serves 8 or more
For Lamb Keftas
1 kilo lamb hachette (minced or ground)
1 or 2 onions-minced
-All spices are to taste-cook small amount of mixture/taste, then adjust to your liking-I added more of all-
minced garlic or garlic powder-approx 1 t (to start)
coriander (I used whole seeds toasted and then ground)-approx 1/2 T
cumin-approx 1/2 T
cinnamon-approx 2 t
nutmeg-approx 1/2 t
red pepper-approx 1 t
tobasco-approx 5 dashes
dash of sugar
several pinches of flour
chopped fresh cilantro
pine nuts-roasted first
lemon or lime zest/chopped finely-from 2 lemons or limes
lemon or lime juice from one lemon
Combine well and let rest a while or refrigerate for an hour or more to meld flavours.
Make small-ish meatballs and brown in small amount of butter. Place browned meatballs in Curry sauce to gently finish cooking.
For Curry Sauce
Sauté minced or thinly sliced onion (approx 1/2 onion) in butter until soft...salt and pepper....Make a roux by adding approx. 2 T's flour to cooked onions-add more butter if necessary for the flour to cook in....
Cook/stir flour for a few minutes then add scant 1/4 cup of chicken broth next cream and/or milk (approx. 1 part chick broth to 6 parts cream or milk)... Add liquids gradually and allow cream sauce to develop-stir sauce as it's cooking....Next add curry powder to taste-start with about 1 T....Let sauce simmer a bit and keep tasting for curry as well as checking consistency of cream sauce....(If it is too thick add water-let simmer a little more if using water)...Turn heat off and add meatballs after they are browned....Return heat to low and gently finish cooking meatballs...
I served it with apricot preserves and chopped/drained cucumber atop the meatballs and sauce.......Chopped cilantro and/or mint would be another nice garnish.......Toasted French bread slices (or rice).........
Ingredients for the yeast dough:
750 g wheat flour
75 ml of lukewarm water or milk
1 ½ packs of dried bakers yeast
1 teaspoon salt
175 g sugar
for the topping of the cake:
150 g butter
150 g flaked almonds
Ingredients for the cream:
4 pots (500 g) of vanilla cream (Danone’s Danette
works fine, German Vanille-Pudding works better but is
not available in France)
250 g butter
1 vanilla pod
Prepare the dough first, since it has to cool down quite a bit. Before baking, remove the butter and vanilla cream from the fridge; they need to be at room temperature.
To make the dough, put the flour mixed with the salt in a big bowl, make a hole and put in, bakers yeast, water and a tablespoon of sugar. Cover with a towel and let stand at a warm place for 15 minutes. Then add the eggs, 100g of the butter and 100g of the sugar and work the dough by hand for a good while. The more you knead, the better the cake will rise. Form a ball and put it back in the bowl, cover again with a
clean towel and let stand for at least 3 hours at a warm place. You may preheat an oven at 50°C, but switch it off when you place your dough in it. (Bakers yeast needs about 30°C to work, not more.)
After three hours, knead the dough again and put it in a round form. Pose the form covered with a towel in the oven and let the dough stand again for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough should rise two to three times in volume. In the meantime, prepare the almond topping.
Melt the rest of the butter; distribute the almonds mixed with butter on the top of the dough and pour lots of sugar on top of it. Bake the dough at 190°C for 20-30 minutes. It should be golden and soft.
Let the cake cool down completely.
To prepare the cream, mix 250g of butter and the interior of the vanilla pod with an egg beater and
then add tablespoon-wise the vanilla cream. It is crucial, that you don’t put too much cream at once,
since the mixture might fall apart and is then difficult to mix it together again. If it happens, you may
recover it by putting the bowl into a water bath for some minutes. Be careful, however not to
exaggerate this treatment and keep mixing the cream constantly.
Cut the cake in the middle, cut the top in 16 pieces, coat the lower part with the cream and put the top
parts together. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
And now, some pictures of the happy eaters ! Let's play a game : who's missing ?