samedi 10 novembre 2007

Ateliers des Chefs - Grey Goose Cocktail Night

I think I've found my calling.  I want to START something like Ateliers des Chefs.  Maybe in 20 years or something.  Basically, l'Atelier des Chefs offers short cooking courses (1-1.5 hours), where you learn how to make a a certain dish (or in this case, cocktails) for quite a reasonable price.  It's an alternative to going to a restaurant that makes your eating experience more interactive.. and fun!  And it's different from other cooking classes which are longer and more expensive.  Great business model.  

They're going to send us the recipes but here's a description of the drinks and tapas (as best as I can remember).


"Tarte tatin" - Grey goose vodka, caramel syrup, APPLE SAUCE (oh la la!), ice cubes, shake it shake it shake it.  (i think i'm missing some ingredients)

"Pear cucumber" (said in a french accent, so more like "peer coocomberrrhhh") - mash up some kiwi and cucumber, add some pear syrup, add some grey goose, put in the ice cubes and shake shake shake shake.  and then filter out the kiwi/cucumber mashup, and drink.  this one was GOOOOOD!  
poor gael smashed his glass trying to separate it from the shaker so he was left with nothing.  hehehe.  

and then they always do a ....

MOJITO! - put some lime slices and mint leaves in a cup, mash up with a pestle (dude, this place had some very specific cooking equipment).  make sure to just grind up and down, not turn the pestle (it will ruin the mint leaves?).  add sugar.  bacardi rum.  and soda water.  mmmm....!! 


Egg/foie gras thang - making this tapas was very elaborate.  first, you take an egg and make sure the more rounded part of the egg is facing up.  then take your handy "egg shell cracker that is effective by the impact of a metal ball hitting another metal ball" (what?? you don't have one !!?? who are you??) and make a nice rounded crack on the top of the egg.  slice it off with a knife.  pour the eggwhite/eggyolk into a small bowl momentarily.  put two small pieces of foie gras into the egg shell (not more or else your egg shell will drown!!).  pour the egg insides back into the egg shell.  dip the egg shell (verrrrry slowly) into a vat of hot hot seasoned oil.  let it sit for about 7-8 minutes until the egg white touches the egg yolk.  season with salt and pepper.  sip the insides directly out of the egg shell, or dip small pieces of bread. MMMMMM!!!

Samosa thingy- this was good but a bit boring and it wasn't really a samosa, just some meat wrapped up into a thin piece of dough.

Shrimp thingy - again, not TOO exciting but shrimp is always delicious.  basically wrap an uncooked shrimp in this shredded doughy thing (dough + water), and then dip it in boiling oil for 1 minute.  then season with balsamic vinegar. YUM.

i went to l'atelier des chefs with about 15 people from TN International (where i work).  not only do i like my work, but the people are pretty rad too.  :-)

until next time.  i need to write about our epic impromptu spanish dinner that we had on tuesday, but i think that deserves a post of its own.  rocio's croquettas were ... incredible.  MMMMM...

jeudi 1 novembre 2007

Madamoiselle Heather Knight's Specialties

These two recipes from Heather Knight "never fail to impress".  The carrot cakes looks wicked- I can't wait to make it.  Carrot cake is somewhat off-beat but delicious.  And the greek dish- hold up, why is Heather providing recipes for greek dishes?? I approve however-- if the recipe calls for feta cheese, kalamata olives, and olive oil, you can't go wrong. mmm....


Black Forest Carrot Cake Heather
Greek Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives (Kotopoula me tomates kai elies) Heather's dad

Black Forest Carrot Cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

2 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
1 cup chopped pineapple, fresh or canned
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the carrots, walnuts, pineapple, raisins, and coconut with 1/2 cup of the flour to coat them and keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake batter. 

Sift together the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. 

In  a mixer with a whip attachment, mix the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (the "ribbon" stage), then drizzle in teh vegetable oil.  Fold in the dry ingredients and pour over the carrot mixture.  Fold carefully to blend, then pour the batter into a buttered, floured 10-inch cake pan containing a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.  Bake until firm to the touch in the center, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Let cool on a rack and then turn out.  Dust the top with powdered sugar and cut into wedges to serve.

Greek chicken with tomatoes and olives
Yield: 6 servings

Flour for dredging
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium frying chicken (approx. 3 pounds) cut into 6-8 servings
1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
2 large red onions, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon oregano (dried or fresh)

1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and lightly dredge (i.e. roll around and coat) the chicken.  ( I prefer removing the skin first, but that wasn't called for).  Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large, deep skillet and brown the chicken pieces on all sides, over high heat.  Remove with a slotted spoon (I sued a fork with care.  The main point is allowing oil drainage). 
2. Add remaining olive oil to skillet, and saute onions until wilted and lightly browned (that involves a bit of stirring) add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.  Place the chicken pieces back in the pan.  Pour in the tomatoes and wine, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. 
3. Ten minutes before removing from heat, add crumbled Feat and stir until melted.  Five minutes before removing from heat, add oregano and kalamata olives.  

lundi 22 octobre 2007

the magic of *crème fraiche*

The secret to French cuisine is (I've mentioned it in my previous entry but I've now decided it's important enough for a dedicated post) ...... CREME FRAICHE!!  It's out!! Crème fraiche is easy, cheap, and delicious!!  I've done it!  I've killed the Michelin 3 star restaurants and the fine French dining industry as a whole... forever. 


Pasta with pepper mushroom cream sauce Alki
30 Rock Carbonara Pizza Max + Alki

so i'm slightly obsessed with the pepper sauce at "au pere louis".  in fact, i order the steak ONLY to have that small cup of heaven on the side of my plate.  i could eat it by the spoonfuls. 

saturday afternoon, i was at monoprix, and i thought to myself, "hey, can I make a scrumptious pepper sauce?"  hell of course i can!

so with my amazing culinary intuition, i found the necessary ingredients (recipe to follow), called pablo over for lunch, and embarked on my mission.  

crème fraiche (i opted for 15% fat to be healthy.  ha).  onions.  pepper.  and mushrooms.  === TOUR D'ARGENT menu material.  ok, i might have dropped a bit too much pepper as the weakling spaniard was coughing the whole time.  nonetheless, it was GOOD.

and then tonight, max came over and we had a night of EFFICIENCY.  we went for a 20-minute run.  bought some veggies at monoprix.  and then made a CARBONARA pizza.  again, with the 15% crème fraiche.  max was mostly in charge of the pizza (after which we made duncan hines brownies which mary brought from market basket lexington wassap!  ... to which we added 3 huge tablespoons of peanut butter to make possibly the best brownies ever.  EVER).  
so max gets most of the credit for the pizza.  again, a bit of creme fraiche, minced meat, half a tomato, and some fresh mozzarella... DELICIEUX (i'm running out of adjectives in english).  maybe not tour d'argent, but definitely emma's (cambridge wassap!).  

and then we watched five episodes of 30 rock.  max is in love with tina fey.  and i want to be her.  

Pete: "We own K-Mart now?"

Jack: "No, so why do you dress like we do?"

Pasta with Pepper Mushroom Cream Sauce (man, i need a better name for that... any suggestions?)

Lots of onions
15% crème fraiche
pepper (freshly ground plus non-freshly ground)
olive oil

sauté the onions (use more onions than you think you need) until they are a nice, golden brown (they always say that in recipes!).  add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.  then add the crème fraiche and stir slowly over medium heat.  start adding pepper.  but BEWARE with the pepper.  add a bit of salt.  then continue adding pepper, all the while tasting it and TESTING it, until you find the perfect blend. 

trust me, this is good.  and easy!

30 Rock Carbonara Pizza
Serves 2 people

1 Pate Brisé (Pizza crust)
15% Crème Fraiche
2 patties of minced meat
1/2 tomato
1 ball of fresh mozzarella (125 grams)
salt and pepper to season
1/4 of an orange bell pepper (that was just for kicks!)

okay, i wasn't paying complete attention while max was preparing the sauce but i'll do my best.  cook the minced patties in a frying pan.  add the tomato and orange bell pepper.  stir in the crème fraiche (again not soo good with proportions but use your intuition).  season with salt and pepper (and maybe basil which we didn't do but i'm sure would be delicious).  and voila, the sauce is ready!!

spread the sauce on the pizza crust, add slices of fresh mozzarella and stick it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  

again, so easy and SO delicious.  i surprise myself sometimes.  

there you have it.  let's give it up for ... crème fraiche.  

dimanche 21 octobre 2007

diner entre filles chez pilar

What started as a simple "girls night" (in vengeful response to Julien, Pablo, etc. boys' poker night) turned into a spanish-style FEAST, with pants coming unbuttoned (due to expanded stomachs) and not walking, but rolling down the four flights of stairs of Pilar's apartment.  

Soupe à l'aile - a Spanish soup made with whole cloves of garlic, Spanish ham, and whole eggs.  Incredible.  Pilar
Poulet à la Moutarde - a dish composed of three ingredients: Strips of white chicken breast, creme fraiche, and mustard (the kind with the seeds in it).  Utter simplicity but delicious.  Pilar
Sweet Salad à la Goat Cheese - Pilar's secret recipe that I've appropriated into my regular diet because it's a) delicious, b) good for you, c) so easy to make, and d) cheap.  Alki

Fried sugar-coated apples, covered with a cider cream sauce - Orgasmic.  Ingrid
Marzipan cake - A girl's weakness.  Beth
Mint chocolate chip ice cream - Again, a girl's night essential. Alki

Pinot Grigiot from Alsace (2005) Ingrid

so i arrived at pilar's house at 9pm and pilar was frantically frying up chicken while ingrid was stirring a vat of questionable white liquid which she said was a new dessert recipe she had seen in the daily metro newspaper. 

nothing was ready, no one was there .. but i was just happy to be with las chicas. 

i prepared pilar's famous salad which i've made so many times now (slightly varied) that i almost want to appropriate the name.  alki's THAI BOWL SALD because i always prepare it in my bamboo bowl that i bought in thailand.  except when i make it at pilar's house.  okay, maybe that name is misleading.  how about... salade sucre au chevre (translate: "sweet salad a la goat cheese".  sounds funnier in english... )??

anyway, by 10pm, the others - beth, diane, and the two spanish girls from pilar's work- had arrived and the food was all ready.  i was still unaware of the buttloads (shoutout to alice) of food to come, because when pilar served her INCREDIBLE spanish garlic, ham, and egg soup, i thought it was THE meal, and so i took a bit more than needed.  

after the epic soup, pilar comes out with the chicken à la moutarde.  say jigga what?  mustard chicken-- deeeeelicious.  and only 3 ingredients necessary.  creme fraiche, mustard with the little seeds in it, and chicken.  you put 'em all in a frying pan and voila, a french delicacy.  the french pride themselves on their fine cuisine, but that shit's easy!

by now, half the girls' pants are unbuttoned and we can't shut up about how full we are.  of course, there's the sweet salad a la goat cheese, a tomato-mozzarella salad (which we decided to abandon), and a quiche brought by beth, to finish... that is, before DESSERT.

of course you could just say, "oh it's just a salad", but when you pour melted goat cheese on it, it becomes more of a meal than a side-dish. 

like champions however, we bulldozed through the salad and the quiche, leaving practically nothing left on the table.

throughout our gorgefest, ingrid was doing her best to inebriate us with her fancy wines.  she brought a pinot grigiot from alsace (2005) that was... DIVINE.  we were all making moaning sounds as we sipped the wine...

and then it was time for dessert.

ingrid whips out her mysterious white liquid to which she adds some fried apple slices.. and WOW, it turned out to be IN-CRE-DI-BLE.

again.  the moaning sounds.

despite the fact that we were almost rolling off our chairs, we managed to continue with the marzipan cake that beth brought along with the mint chocolate chip ice cream i found at my new favorite store (PICARD: a sort of gourmet frozen foods store.  i don't think that concept exists in the US but picard ROCKS.  +1 for france).  

after ten minutes... the cake was gone.  

WE WERE SUPER HEROS.  or gluttonous chubbos. 

happy days. 

Sweet Salad à la Goat Cheese 
serves 6-8 people


1 head of leafy greenish/purple lettuce
1 green apple
1 pear
3-4 tomatoes
1/2 purple onion
1/2 cup of raisins
200 grams of CHEVRE (goat cheese)

olive oil
balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

I think it's pretty self-explanatory, no?  Wash and chop the lettuce.  Chop the apple, pear, onion, and tomatoes.  Mix them all together and add the raisins.  I'm not really sure about proportions for the dressing but just play around with the ingredients until you find a blend you like.  honey is key.  slice up the chevre and microwave it for about 20-30 seconds until it's slightly melted.  served each person the salad and dress it with the dressing and the melted chevre.  HEAVEN........

***** Recipes for Pilar's soup and Ingrid's apple in cider cream dessert are soon to come.  

bon ap'!

samedi 20 octobre 2007

la gastronomie amateur

while in greece, heather and i found ourselves talking an awful lot about FOOD and RECIPES and interesting dishes we've tried on our traveling adventures.  we decided it'd be a good idea to record our findings.. and what better way to do that than through a BLOG! 

i realized that i started this particular blog a year ago, and though i dedicated a whole evening to selecting a name and writing one post, i never wrote again... until now!  

voila, le fromage qui pue is now converted to a platform/haven/exchange for people who enjoy cooking and sharing different secrets and tips.  pilar, one of my cooking inspirations, had the same idea to start a blog so we decided to combine our efforts (warning: this blog might turn into a mashup of languages).  

unbotton your pants...