Paris 2012 – Part 1, Marche Bio

24 February, 2014 § 1 Comment

This post marks continued coverage of our whirlwind trip to Florida, London and Paris in 2012.

Paris is a city known for it’s culinary prowess, however, it is remarkably easy to have a terrible meal there. More and more restaurants in the “center” are starting to take short cuts previously reserved for Applebee’s and TGI Fridays. Now, those of you who know me might be rolling your eyes and calling me a food snob, to that I say, ha, oh and read this article, it proves my point. While they are trying to do something to alert consumers to restaurants that are using these shortcuts, until there is a way to know, the best option is to try and find a place which is well rated/reviewed or at the very least frequented by people who speak french and look like they might live there. Menus in English and cheerful waiters who speak flawless english are, we have found, warning signs that should not be ignored. On the bright side, even these “horrible” meals are fairly decent by our US standards, the vegetables taste amazing, the wine is always decent at worst, and the bread does not taste like cardboard. The posts in this series however, are about a few great places we went, so let us move on.

Part 1 of my three part Paris series highlights the wonders of the Marché Bio on Boulevard Raspail. This is the “fancy” market where the fashionable parisians and expats, including the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, go to buy their expensive produce and food stuffs. We had  been to a couple of other markets the last time we were in Paris but had avoided this one due to it’s reputation of being quite expensive. This time around however, we were taking my husband’s parents on their first ever European vacation and we wanted to go somewhere nice to experience a quintessential, maybe even idealized, Parisian market. The idea was to go to the market on Sunday morning, since most of the city is closed this day anyway, grab some food and wine, and have a leisurely picnic in the Jardins du Luxembourg, enjoying the peaceful rhythm of Sundays in Paris. This market turned out to be the perfect choice! The experience was what you dream of when you are planning your Parisian market trip, the food was delicious, the wine superb, the gardens were lovely and the day was spent quite leisurely.

Gorgeous sausages

Gorgeous sausages were on sale at this stand. I remember being intrigued by the long roll of  sausage that they just cut off with a knife as you ordered it. I desperately wished we had rented a flat this time around so I could make a nice dinner with some of the gorgeous foods we saw here.

Beautiful organic chickens

Beautiful organic chickens

Gorgeous, organic produce

Gorgeous, organic produce

Amazing tomatoes, we bought a few and they were as tasty as they looked!

Amazing tomatoes, we bought a few and they were as tasty as they looked! For those who have never been to Europe, or who have never eaten fresh fruits and vegetables in Europe. They seem to do something different with their produce which makes it taste orders of magnitude better than what we get in the states. The closest I have found here is when I eat vegetables that I grow in my own garden or, more realistically, that come from the garden of a friend who doesn’t kill everything they plant. These tomatoes, were some of the best we have ever had.

More gorgeous produce

Their fantastic array of tomatoes, we actually got a few, one from each basket.

Closeup of beautiful flowers

Closeup of beautiful flowers, I think these are my new favorite kind of flower.

Beautiful flowers

Beautiful flowers and such variety

Scorching the feathers from the poulet bio

Scorching the feathers from the poulet bio, this is the same stall as the one above. Not sure if you can see it, but the chicken still has it’s feet.

Expert butchering of the poulets

Expert butchering of the poulets

Onion and potato tarts/pancakes which smelled heavenly.

Onion and potato galettes which smelled heavenly.

The onion and potato tart stand.

The onion and potato galette stand.

Rotini Con Salsa Fresca

25 September, 2013 § Leave a comment

Image 16Growing up I loved pasta salad. I ate it all the time until I was about 7 or 8 years old. Then, for whatever reason, I stopped eating it. A few years ago I tried it again and was sorely disappointed. The dish I had loved so much as a child tasted horrible. The dressing, with which it was so liberally doused, was processed and gloopy, with an unpleasant saccharine high fructose corn syrup aftertaste, the pasta, soaking in this bath of bile disintegrated to become part of a gelatinous disappointment. My love for pasta salad and the memories of my childhood were ruined.

In an attempt to recapture this fond food memory I have since eaten many more pasta salads ranging from the highly disappointing to the not so bad. None, however, have reached the bar that is my memory of pasta salad, none have made me want to eat them every day straight for weeks on end. None, that is, until I took my childhood memories into my own hands and came up with this dish! This pasta salad recipe, has valiantly redeemed pasta salad and, moreover, has firmly replaced the pasta salad of my youth. In short, it has taught me once more to love the humble pasta salad in all it’s carby, tangy, delicious glory. I make this many different ways, adding vinegar, replacing mozzarella for feta cheese, adding chicken, leaving out the cheese and meat altogether and so on. The possibilities are endless which only makes me love the dish even more. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is the complete omission of store bought salad dressing. That, my friends, has been banned from my kitchen forevermore.

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Ingredients:
1/2 Lb Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta
30 Cherry tomatoes (approximately)
1 English Cucumber
1 Bunch Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Tbs Capers
2 Green Onions
20 Olives (approximately)
1 Tbs Good Quality Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic Minced
1 Ball of Buffalo Mozzarella (Optional)
Salt to taste

Directions:
1. Place Pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add pasta to water and cook per packet instructions.
2. Slice Cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds. Dice into a small dice. Place in large serving bowl.
3. Place tomatoes in the food processor and pulse 9-10 times until coarsely chopped. Add to large serving bowl.
4. Cut green onion into a few large pieces, place in food processor and pulse 15-20 times or until diced but not pulp. Add to large serving bowl.
5. Place Parsley into food processor and process until finely chopped. Add to large serving bowl.
6. Place Olives into food processor and pulse 7-8 times or until the olives are coarsely chopped. Add to large serving bowl.
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7. Add the garlic and olive oil and toss to combine.
8. If you are using the cheese, dice or tear it into small pieces. Add to the large serving bowl and toss to combine.
9. Add the pasta to the large serving bowl, giving it one last toss.
10. Apply to face.
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Kale, Mushrooms, Navy Beans and Chicken over Quinoa

24 September, 2013 § Leave a comment

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5 years ago when I first started working at Microsoft a coworker and I were discussing the dinners we’d had the night before. She told me she had made a stir fry with something called Mustard Greens. I had never heard of it before and found myself, intrigued. Would they taste like mustard? It looked like lettuce, was I really supposed to cook this? Being curious, I tried it, and right then and there I fell in love with leafy greens. The mustard greens were so delicate yet bold in their flavors and they didn’t have that weird aftertaste you get from cooked spinach, which as much as I love, I can’t stand the squeakiness of.

A short time later I found myself at Whole Foods which had implemented a new points system for foods. It measures the nutrient value per calorie, or something like that. So, while I was grabbing mustard greens I saw that Kale ranked at 1000, a perfect score! Well, I had to give that a try. It looked a lot like my new favorite, Mustard Greens, and if Whole Foods said it was good for me, well, it must be amazing! To my great surprise it was even tastier than Mustard Greens and since then I have come to develop what some might call an unhealthy obsession with Kale. I have even been known to salivate while hiking when coming across wild kale. I guess it could be worse, I could be addicted to chocolate or crack.

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There was a time, early in my leafy greens journey, when I thought I had to take the stems off of the kale before cooking them. This is not true, the stems are a delicious and full of fiber. They are not only good for you but add a great contract in texture that is lacking without them. For the love of all things sacred and delicious, don’t waste your time cutting them out.

Ingredients:
3 Bunches Kale
8oz Portobello Mushrooms
1 Can Navy beans
1 Chicken Breast
2 Cups Quinoa (rice cooker cups which are actually 3/4 cups each)
1/4 tsp Cumin
2 Lemons
10 cloves of garlic minced
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Salt to taste
2 tbs Olive Oil (Optional)
1 Spring Onion (Optional)

Directions:
1. Place the Quinoa in a rice cooker and cook per packet instructions
2. Place large skillet or wok over high heat
3. Slice Kale into ribbons and rinse in a collanderImage 7 4. Spray pan with cooking spray and add in kale, reserving 1/4 of it.
5. Once Kale starts to wilt add half the garlic and a pinch of salt
6. Cook until the kale has given up most of it’s water and the stalks are tender

Image 12
7. While the kale is cooking, chop the mushrooms into bite size pieces
8. Remove Kale from pan and set aside
9. Spray pan with cooking spray and add mushrooms

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10. Cook mushrooms until brown on all sides
11. Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 of remaining garlic

Image 14
12. While the mushrooms cook, cut up chicken breast into 1/2 centimeter square pieces and toss with 1/2 the remaining garlic and a pinch of salt
13. Once Mushrooms are brown and the garlic has cooked a bit, but before it burns, remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside
14. Add more cooking spray to the pan and add in the chicken

Image 10
15. In a food processor, add the remaining kale and garlic along with the juice of 1 lemon and about 2 tbs of water, adjusting it until you have a thin paste. If you are opting to use olive oil, use it in place of the water.
16. Don’t forget to keep turning the chicken.

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17. Once chicken is browned on all sides add in the can of Navy beans and cumin with another pinch of salt

Image 4
18. Slice the Lemon into quarters and chop the green onion
19. Once this chicken is cooked all the way through add the Kale and Mushrooms back into the pan and cook together mixing to combine. Turn off the heat.
20. Mix the Kale paste into the Quinoa until it turns a bright green color
21. Place the kale quinoa on the bottom of a large platter and spoon the chicken, mushrooms, beans and kale mixture over top. Garnish with lemons and green onions.
22. Apply to face

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Creamy Pesto Garden Pasta

23 September, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I love pesto pasta, especially the creamy kind. Sadly, it has a ton of fat and calories. What with a half a cup of olive oil in the pesto and at least a 1/4 cup of cream, it’s a miracle I survived as long as I have eating it as much as I did. Now a days I am trying to eat healthier with less saturated fats and more veggies. So I have adapted the original recipe to what you see here. This version is much lighter than the original, with over 10 servings of veggies and only a small fraction of the oil while maintaining the creamy deliciousness of the original. The real trick here is the nonfat yogurt mixed into the pesto and the use of pasta water to bring it all together at the end and create that silky, creamy sauce which makes this dish so delicious.

Ingredients:
1/2 lb of Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta
5 Small Zucchini
2 Bunches of Kale
1 Bunch of Basil
3 Cloves of Garlic diced/pressed
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 6oz Container Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Fage)
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
1 Small  Bag of Frozen Peas
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Salt to taste

Instructions:
1. Place a pot of boiling water over high heat with a liberal pinch of salt
2. Place a large nonstick skillet over high heat
3. Dice zucchini
4. Spray large skillet with olive oil cooking spray
5. Add Zucchini, a sprinkle of salt and cook on high heat tossing until brown
6. Add basil, olive oil and 1 clove or garlic to the food processor and process. Then add 3 tbs of hot water from the pot on the stove, or enough to reach a smooth consistency
7. Slice Kale into thin strips
8. Once the zucchini is browned add the kale and remaining garlic to pan
9. Slice the tomatoes in half and add to a large pasta/serving bowl with a pinch of salt
10. Add the pesto to the bottom of the pasta bowl and mix in the greek yogurt
11. Once the kale is wilted and cooked through add to the bowl
12. Add peas to the pan and cook until warmed through
13. Drain pasta once cooked through reserving a cup or so of the pasta water
14. Stir to combine adding a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water or as much as necessary to get a creamy sauce
15. Apply to face

Delicias De España

2 July, 2013 § Leave a comment

A fabulous bottle of Spanish wine for under $20.

A fabulous bottle of Spanish wine for under $20.

There are few things I enjoy in life as much as a simple Spanish tapas meal. Sadly, here in Seattle the only decent Spanish restaurant is Harvest Vine and they charge ridiculous prices for what they offer. So, I usually leave that for a special ocassion and am denied the joy of a good, reasonably priced tapas dinner out. Therefore, when I go to Miami to visit family, I make it a point to stop by my favorite little tapas joint at least once. Delicias de España is where I grew up going to eat tapas and drink a glass of wine with my family and it is where I still go to this day when I am in Miami. It has grown form the little store on Bird Road we used to go to, into a chain of three restaurants and stores spread throughout Miami with an equally good selection of tapas and wine in all three. This review is for the newest location in Kendal near Dadeland.

Detail on the bottle of wine.

Detail on the bottle of wine. One of the things I love the most about this place is how many wonderful affordable options they have in their bottled wine selection. It’s entirely possible to split a bottle of wine amongst four people and pay less per person than if everyone had a coke.

Traditional tortilla española. Properly cooked and with the right ingredients. One of the things that irks me the most about going out to dinner at Spanish restaurants in Seattle is when they have a tortilla Española with all maner of strange things in it.

Traditional tortilla española. Properly cooked and with the right ingredients. One of the things that irks me the most about going out to dinner at Spanish restaurants in Seattle is when they have a tortilla Española with all maner of strange things in it. Tortilla does not have saffron in it.

A basic and delicious tabla de jamon, chorizo y queso. In Seattle this spread would be $30 but here it's only like $10-$12. Delicious and well priced.

A basic and delicious tabla de jamon, chorizo y queso. In Seattle this spread would be $30 but here it’s only like $10-$12. Delicious and well priced.

These six little disks are slices of happiness sent down from heaven to grace the tongues of mortals. In the Spanish tongue this is called Morcilla also known as blood sausage. The texture here is amazing. It is traditional, creamy, bloody goodness that reminds you why in some countries they call it blood pudding.

These six little disks are slices of happiness sent down from heaven to grace the tongues of mortals. In the Spanish tongue this is called Morcilla also known as blood sausage. The texture here is amazing. It is traditional, creamy, bloody goodness that reminds you why in some countries they call it blood pudding.

Just your basic tomato salad dressed with sherry vinegar. You'd think it was no big thing, but just the other night we went to Harvest Vine and they didn't have a tomato salad. Said they were waiting for the tomatoes to be good. I get that you only want to serve "perfect" tomatoes, but there is something wrong with a tapas menu that doesn't have any tomato in it.

Just your basic tomato salad dressed with sherry vinegar. You’d think it was no big thing, but just the other night we went to Harvest Vine and they didn’t have a tomato salad. Said they were waiting for the tomatoes to be good. I get that you only want to serve “perfect” tomatoes, but there is something wrong with a tapas menu that doesn’t have any tomato in it.

Croquettas deBacalao. This is the place where I learned to love these. They are essentially potato and bechamel sauce whipped together with salt cod. This is then rolled into little finger shaped/sized croquettas, breaded, refrigerated and fried until golden. These are the best in Miami, period.

Croquettas deBacalao. This is the place where I learned to love these. They are essentially potato and bechamel sauce whipped together with salt cod. This is then rolled into little finger shaped/sized croquettas, breaded, refrigerated and fried until golden. These are the best in Miami, period.

Legit churros con chocolate. Man these bring back memories, and when I say back, I mean WAY back. I remember being in Spain one time with my family and for weeks all I did was ask for "churros con chocholate" We were in a restaurant in Madrid and my dad made the waiter go get some for us. They make it right here.

Legit churros con chocolate. Man these bring back memories, and when I say back, I mean WAY back. I remember being in Spain one time with my family and for weeks all I did was ask for “churros con chocholate” We were in a restaurant in Madrid and my dad made the waiter go get some for us. They make it right here.

The amazing churros. You can tell they were just recently extruded and fried. You can see the granulated sugar on them and the crispy edges. These are not your Costco churros ladies and gentlemen, these are your made to order Spanish  churros just like you find at Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid!

The amazing churros. You can tell they were just recently extruded and fried. You can see the granulated sugar on them and the crispy edges. These are not your Costco churros ladies and gentlemen, these are your made to order Spanish churros just like you find at Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid!

The super thick hot chocolate. It's more like a melted chocolate bar mixed with a tablespoon of milk and poured into a cup. It's so thick you need to drink it with a spoon.

The super thick hot chocolate. It’s more like a melted chocolate bar mixed with a tablespoon of milk and poured into a cup. It’s so thick you need to drink it with a spoon.

See, it's so thick a piece of churro just floats on top of it. So delicious!!

See, it’s so thick a piece of churro just floats on top of it. So delicious!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken and Rice For a Crowd

2 July, 2013 § 2 Comments

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You would think that with my history of chicken and rice I can make it in any quantity and for any crowd. That I could make it in a house or make it for a mouse or make it here or there, that I could make it anywhere! Sadly, that is not the case. A few years ago I had a friend’s family over and I tried making 16 servings of it in one pot. It was a disaster!! The pan’s bottom was too thin, the rice stuck to the bottom and burned. It was so bad I had to throw out the pan. Amazingly enough his family still wanted to eat the not burned parts of the dish. It was “ok” but it still had that horrible flavor of having been cooked in a pot where something burned. I was mortified, not least of all because this friend had been going on about my cooking to his family and THIS hideousness is what I served them. It was the first time I ever burned anything for a crowd/group before and it was possibly one of the most embarrassing moments of my culinary life.

Since then, I have oscillated between avoiding and wanting to make this for a crowd again, but I never had the nerve to attempt it. Enter a new job and a team who loves to share food and eat. They flat out asked for me to bring them food!! Well, I am always looking for willing Guinea pigs to feed the recipes I make for this blog and this was my big chance!! I whooped out my big girl panties, screwed my courage to the sticking place, and made chicken and rice for a crowd. I am proud to say that this time I got it right! Not only did it taste as expected, the rice cooked properly and nothing burned to the bottom of the pan. This recipe feeds between 12 and 16 people depending on their appetite.

This recipe differs slightly from my other chicken and rice recipe and is slightly easier to make. I use it because it is a recipe that is very balanced and doubling, halving or quartering it is simple and works well.

Ingredients
2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thigh – Diced into 1 inch pieces
4 cups short grain rice
1 very large yellow onion – diced
10 cloves of garlic – crushed
6 packets of Sazon Goya
3 tbsp of olive oil
8 cups boiling water
Salt to taste

What is Sazon Goya?
sazongoya
Sazon Goya is a seasoning packet used by the Cuban community to flavor mainly chicken and rice. It is comprised of cumin, anatto, food coloring and MSG. If you do not want to use this you can use a pinch of saffron in water along with a tsp of cumin and a tsp of salt for each packet. The flavor will not be identical but it will still be delicious.

Directions:
1. Heat a large dutch oven, the thicker the bottom the better, over high heat
2. Add the olive oil, chicken and onions
3. Sautee for 5 minutes

Chicken and Onion with freshly added Sazon Goya and garlic.

Chicken and Onion with freshly added Sazon Goya and garlic.

4. Add the garlic and Sazon Goya

This is how you want the chicken mixture to look before you add the rice.

This is how you want the chicken mixture to look before you add the rice.

5. Sautee until the chicken is cooked through and there is little to no liquid left in the bottom of the pan
6. Add the rice and boiling water to the pot
7. Stir well, place the cover over the top and reduce heat to low
8. Let cook for 5 minutes
9. Stir to make sure that no rice is sticking. This is the biggest problem you have when making this dish for a crowd, so while it might seem counter intuitive to lift the lid, it beats the hell out of burning the dish
10. Replace the cover and let cook for another 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure that nothing is sticking
11. Once the rice is tender and the water has evaporated the dish is done
12. Transfer to a serving dish and if you would like you may garnish with roasted bell peppers and peas or lime wedges and chopped parsley
13. Apply to face

Harrod’s Food Hall, aka the Forbidden Food Photographs

3 June, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have done a bad thing. I have angered the Twinning’s Tea Man. Not only did I photograph the food halls at Harrod’s department store, I continued to do so after I was told by the Twinnings Tea Man that I must not do so. I am likely to serve time for this, surely I won’t be allowed back in the country after this gets out.

In all seriousness though I adore Harrods, not because I dream of doing my shopping in the poshest of places and paying an arm , a leg, and a kidney for them but because all the food is displayed so beautifully and the diversity of ingredients is astounding. Anyway, enough about why I like it, let’s get to the pretty pictures shall we…

Gorgeous produce displayed like precious gems.

Gorgeous produce displayed like precious gems.

Gorgeous produce displayed like precious gems.

Gorgeous produce displayed like precious gems.

Gorgeous display of mushrooms at a very dear price.

Gorgeous display of mushrooms at a very dear price.

Are these not the prettiest vegetables of all time?!

Are these not the prettiest vegetables of all time?!

OMG look at the gorgeousness of these tomatoes!

OMG look at the gorgeousness of these tomatoes!

Prices to match their looks I guess...

Prices to match their looks I guess…

One of many dessert cases.

One of many dessert cases.

Diabetic coma... worth it

Diabetic coma… worth it

Different Baklavas.

Different Baklavas.

Close up of the Baklava

Close up of the Baklava

Little jewel boxes of baby bananas.

Little jewel boxes of baby bananas.

Pineapple closeup

Pineapple closeup

Fancy pineapple

Fancy pineapple

Pineapple prices

Pineapple prices

Italian Food section

Italian Food section

Beautiful, plump filled pasta

Beautiful, plump filled pasta

Squid ink pasta

Squid ink pasta

Delicious looking display of salumi

Delicious looking display of salumi

A Taste of India

A Taste of India

Dim Sum

Dim Sum

A pile of gorgeous dim sum!

A pile of gorgeous dim sum!

My favorite dim sum of all time the Har Gow. This one is about four times the price of what I usually pay for them... but it's Harrods so I guess that's expected right?

My favorite dim sum of all time the Har Gow. This one is about four times the price of what I usually pay for them… but it’s Harrods so I guess that’s expected right?

Sushi

Sushi

Some really excellent Pies! Almost as good as the pieminister in Borough market.

Some really excellent Pies! Almost as good as the pieminister in Borough market.

Cheese....

Cheese….

In Harrods pizza = salad! I like it!!

In Harrods pizza = salad! I like it!!

How cute is this cake! If I ever have a little baby and we celebrate their birthday in London this is the cake I will get for them!

How cute is this cake! If I ever have a little baby and we celebrate their birthday in London this is the cake I will get for them!

The pizza looks so good!!

The pizza looks so good!!

Fresh baguettes

Fresh baguettes

Fresh bread, look at the lovely basket imprints on the round loaves!

Fresh bread, look at the lovely basket imprints on the round loaves!

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful in the pastry world?

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful in the pastry world?

It's a macaron with baby macarons inside... like an island in a lake in an island!!

It’s a macaron with baby macarons inside… like an island in a lake in an island!!

I don't much care for sweets, but I could eat every pie in here.

I don’t much care for sweets, but I could eat every pie in here.

"Home Cooked" British favorites, love the fancy fish pie.

“Home Cooked” British favorites, love the fancy fish pie.

European Delicacies

European Delicacies

The fois spread

The fois spread

Whole loaves of fois gras!!

Whole loaves of fois gras!!

Fresh and delicious!

Fresh and delicious!

Little tins of cookies all in a row.

And finally… little tins of cookies all in a row.

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