Sunday, August 28, 2005

very French Rice Salad

Here is a nice and simple idea for lunch.
  • 1 cup (200 grams) long grain rice
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (10 minutes)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 can of tuna in water
  • 1 small can of sweet corn
  • 1 handful of black olives
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette salad dressing
  1. Boil the rice in a lot of salted water until cooked (15-20 minutes). Drain the excess water and let the rice cool down (you can rinse it with cold water to go faster).
  2. Thinly slice the scallions.
  3. Slice the tomatoes and the eggs.
  4. With a fork, cut the tuna in small chunks after draining all the water from the can.
  5. Drain the olives and the corn.
  6. Add all the ingredients and the dressing to the rice and toss.
  7. Eat cold.
There are many variants to this refreshing salad. You could replace the tuna by cocktail shrimps, crab meat or cubed chicken breast or use no meat at all. You could add other veggies, like green and red bell peppers, cucumbers, avocado... You could add fresh herbs, like parsley or tarragon... Be creative!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cumin Lamb Chops

Don't like lamb? Well, this might make you change your mind... The flavors of cumin and lemon blend perfectly with juicy lamb. This is simply indescribable.

Per person, you need:
  • 2 lamb chops
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. Place the cumin seeds in a mortar and crush them a little to release their flavor.
  2. Place the lamb chops in a plate and sprinkle salt and pepper on one side. Then sprinke half of the crushed cumin seeds and press gently to make then stick to the meat.
  3. Flip the chops and do the same on the other side.
  4. Heat up a pan at high temperature. Once it's very hot, pour the olive oil and place the chops in the center of the pan. Be careful, the hot and sizzling oil might splash.
  5. Cover the chops with a lid, turn down the heat to medium-high and cook for about 3-4 minutes without touching anything.
  6. Flip the chops and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes with the lid on. The chops will be medium-rare. Place the chops on the edge and cook for another minute.
  7. Serve immediately with veggies, a salad, couscous... (these are only a few examples).
  8. Squeeze out a few drops of lemon juice over the chops and eat while they are still warm.

A nice side dish would be "ratatouille" (a South of France specialty –from Nice):
Cook bell peppers, eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes, onions and garlic with olive oil, thyme and bay leave (+ salt and pepper). Simply place all the veggies cut in big chunks in a large pan with olive oil, add the spices and herbs and let simmer (with a lid) for about 30 minutes over medium heat.

Or you could try a greek salad:
Slice up ripe tomatoes, green bell pepper, onion and cucumber in a large bowl. Add cubed feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Pour vinegar and olive oil (1 tablespoon of vinegar for 3 tablespoons of oil). Add 1 tablespoon of dry oregano, salt and pepper. Toss delicately and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the veggies to marinate a little. Eat cold.

I'll give more details on these side dishes in future posts. Until then... enjoy the lamb chops!

Alternative: replace the cumin seeds by rosemary and don't use lemon juice.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dream come true Chocolate Cake

I might be slightly biased but I sincerely believe that this chocolate cake is the most delicious one in the world. It's nice and crunchy on top but it's so soft and creamy in the center that it will melt in your mouth. My dad (who's a teacher) got the recipe from one of his students' mom who brought this cake to class one day (perhaps 10 years ago...) for her son's birthday party. Since then no one in my family would even consider trying another chocolate cake recipe :-)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) sugar
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) butter
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet (dark) chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour

  1. Break the chocolate in small pieces and cut the butter in small slivers. Slowly melt them in a double boiler. You could also use a small sauce pan placed in a larger pot in which you pour water. The water should be almost boiling but not quite. Stir gently. The mixture will become shiny and smooth. This technique has the cute name of "Bain Marie".
  2. Break the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks.
  3. Mix together the egg yolks and the sugar in a large bowl. Stir well (with a wooden spoon) until the mixture becomes foamy and almost white. If you lift the mix with the spoon it should run down like a ribbon ("au ruban". French cuisine is always so poetic!).
  4. Add the melted butter and chocolate and stir well.
  5. Then incorporate the flour (sift it to avoid lumps).
  6. Beat the egg whites until you obtain a thick and firm white foam (called "snow" in French...).
  7. Incorporate them delicately to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, with an "under-and-over" motion.
  8. Pour the dough in a round cake pan (about 9" in diameter) lined with buttered aluminum foil or baking paper. The difficult part in this recipe is to unmold the cake...
  9. Bake at 350F until a crust forms on top, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the oven as soon as the curst is formed but let the cake cool down in the oven without opening.
The crust might break into pieces when you unmold the cake... I haven't found a way yet to prevent this from happening. But never mind: the cake is divine!

Pictures added on April 22, 2006

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Pesto sauce

This classic italian sauce is fantastic on fresh pasta. You can also use it in a cake. Simply blend the following ingredients together until you obtain a smooth paste. Use it right away otherwise the basil will turn brown in contact with the air...

For about 150 grams (1/3 pound) of pesto, blend together:
  • 2 or 3 bunches of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves (remove the germ)
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon rock salt
  • 10 centiliters (almost 4 fl. oz.) olive oil
  • 2 handfulls (50 grams) pine nuts

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New recipe lists

You can now browse the recipes thanks to the indexes in the right column:

Also look for the new pictures (I'll add more)!