Archive for the french Category

Garlic-studded Pork Neck

Posted in american, condiments, corn, crossover, discount, french, mediterranean, pork, roast, yogurt with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2013 by oskila

Went to the store to catch up on vegetables a bit. Not a lot of those at home lately. Stumbled upon an almost suspiciously good offer on pork neck for members of the cooperative.  Took one home, studded it with garlic.

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I didn’t bother with tying it this time. There’s a limit to how fancy one manages to be on a Monday afternoon. Apart from (fresh) garlic it’s been brushed with dark soy sauce and sprinkled with crushed black pepper and thyme. If you have the time, do brine your pork neck before roasting. It just gets so much better.

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Here’s the pork neck after perhaps an hour in the oven. I relied solely on the meat thermometer’s alarm (which was a bit off this time. Had to microwave the sliced meat a bit since I don’t trust even slightly pink pork.)

While the roast was roasting, some corn on the cob got prepared, along with a simple but effective tzatziki.

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Those three elements are seldom seen on the same plate, but they were all good!

 

Non-opulent Green Pea Soup

Posted in french, soup, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2013 by oskila

The classic green pea soup, or Crème Nignon, is an exercise in slightly restrained luxury with its whipped cream and champagne garnish.

But what if one simply wants a green pea soup, without bells and whistles? That’s fine too.  (we only decided to have soup for dinner since it’s quick and cheap and Star Wars was going to be on in ten minutes)

Mine contains onions, green peas, vegetable cube stock, milk and a dash of lemon. Put the hand blender to it for as long as you can be bothered to and then add some more whole peas.

Soup made from about 2 lb of frozen peas and two pints of fluids is enough for two large helpings or four small.

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Croûtons and/or a dollop of some reasonably thick dairy product is nice garnish. Omit dairy products altogether for a vegan dish.

Moules au Safran

Posted in bread, condiments, french, mediterranean, sauce, shellfish with tags , , , on August 5, 2012 by oskila

Hey hey hey! French title! That’s because I spent ten days in France and picked up a word or two. It says ‘mussels with saffron’. A fairly French (or Provençal)  dish. Originally, I had planned on trying razor clams since the grocery store happened to have them, but a combination of economic sense an a failure on the clams’ part to look attractive upon close inspection, steered us towards the trusty old blue mussels instead.

Ingredients for the main component of tonight’s dinner: Blue mussels, white wine, lemon, garlic, saffron, shallots.

Sweat shallot and garlic in a large pot, then add mussels, then saffron, lemon juice and wine.

Remove mussels and start reducing the broth. I strained the solids from the broth and then reduced the broth with the sieve partially submerged in it, to get more flavor from the shallots and garlic. Thicken the broth to sauce using a dairy product or two. I used crème frâiche and Greek yogurt to avoid the worst greasiness that can happen if one’s too generous with for example double cream.

Plate the mussels and drizzle some nice saffron sauce over. We had fries on the side, as in a classic moules frites, but the fries are prefab and therefore not shown.

I will, however, gladly show off the bread I baked. It’s pretty nice to have something to slosh around in the sauce after you’re out of mussels.

And it’s of course not a proper French dish if there’s no aïoli to add more fat to your fried stuff. It’s the first aïoli I’ve made (in excellent teamwork with my fiancée) and also probably the best I’ve eaten. The trick is apparently to skip the vinegar and add small amounts of lemon juice and slightly too much salt – which will turn out to be the perfect amount of salt if the fries are underseasoned.

To sum up, it was very good eating, but I think I still prefer my mussels cooked by someone else, to save me the trouble of scrubbing and checking for bad ones and so on. I’d happily provide the aïoli though.

 

Using harvested stuff – Pistou

Posted in cheese, condiments, french, herbs, italian, mediterranean, vegetarian with tags , on July 31, 2012 by oskila

Today it’s not about pak choi again, but about basil. Claiming that I’d be using freshly harvested homegrown basil would, however, be a slight lie. The basil wasn’t really harvested – more a matter of thinning out the leaves that looked a bit sad. And I didn’t really grow it; I bought a pot at the grocery store, split the root clump in four and repotted it. I did get it to grow quite a bit though, so it’s not all smoke and mirrors.

Pistou is what it sounds like – a French pesto (or, more correctly, a pesto from Provence) differing from its Italian counterpart by not containing nuts or seeds and that the cheese is optional. I opted cheese in, since one of the reasons I had for making this was to use up the Grana Padano in the fridge so we can start on the Parmigiano reggiano. Basil, cheese, garlic, salt, oil. All you need, but more salt and less oil than you will actually need.

Just as the names pistou and pesto indicate, it’s traditionally made using a mortar and pestle. Sometimes ‘traditional’ only means ‘the hand blender wasn’t yet invented’. If I was making a larger batch and in possession of a better mortar and pestle, I’d probably think differently.

Three minutes or so later, a small bowl of pistou. The bowl holds about three tablespoons.

In Provence pistou is often served with bread or with vegetable soup. We used it to liven up an otherwise potentially boring dish of pasta and bratwurst.

The French Adventure

Posted in cheese, french, fruit, shellfish with tags , on July 25, 2012 by oskila

Some may have noticed that NerdCuisine hasn’t updated in about two weeks. The main reason for this is that I’ve spent ten days in France, where I’ve spent more time pointing at stuff in menus than cooking, and gone online almost only for important stuff and only with an iPad. I don’t fancy writing and photographing whole blog posts with an iPad.

And now I’m back home, feeling a need to post something, anything, and thinking that the popular type of food blogs other than those with recipes is the kind of blogs where people simply tell their readers what they’ve been eating lately. That’s what I’m going to do now.

First of all I must say that I’m impressed with the French food stores that I visited. The sheer difference in selection is humbling. Needless to say, I had a ball every time there was food shopping that needed doing. Even the gas station supermarkets had more stuff than many medium sized grocery stores here in Sweden. I certainly don’t know about any gas stations here that offer foie gras or fresh mushrooms.

We spent large parts of the trip in the small village of Blauzac, about 10 miles north of Nîmes, in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. One of the more obvious features of the house was the fig tree in the courtyard.

I didn’t encounter a fresh fig until I was 23, and most figs I’ve ever seen in Sweden have seemed to be hours away from rotting and sold at 7-15 SEK each (about 1-2 USD), not to mention the dried ones, which I’ve never liked. Will look into the possibilities of pot-growing a fig tree on the balcony (might be too windy).

On the second day in France, I fell in love with Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes. I think they’re much more interesting than the more ordinary looking beef tomatoes we usually get in Sweden.

They turned out to be very good for grilling.

The next day was Saturday, which seems to mean market day in rural french towns, in our case Uzès, a short distance from Blauzac. The importance of the market is even more apparent when you consider that it was held as usual even though it was also Bastille day and the day when the Tour de France was going to zip through town.

Garlic is obviously important. This wasn’t even the largest pile.

Bought a piece of Gruyère-like cheese at the market to have something to snack on while waiting for the bikes. We had laid siege to a couple of café tables and ordered a steady stream of coffee in order to keep our seats without complaint.

After the spectacle had died down (see, the competing bike riders were harbingered by a continuous flow of more or less fanciful sponsor trucks, making noise and handing out free samples for several hours) I was glad to go home to Blauzac and finish off the cheese along with a fig.

This is probably the closest this post will get to a recipe. I was charged with the task of dessert. Figs with Brie, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. The vinegar came in a spray bottle. Very convenient.

Now I’m skipping a couple of days, not because the food wasn’t interesting, but because I didn’t take any pictures. We headed for the Mediterranean coast to have lunch in Bouzigues, a small town, but very big in the seafood business.

Huîtres gratinées – Gratinated oysters

Moules à l’aïoli – Mussels with aïoli

Moules farcies – Stuffed mussels

Not only did the restaurant we visited know very well how to make sure lots of molluscs hadn’t died in vain. They also were quite good at desserts.

Crème Catalane (which is quite similar to brûlée, only with milk instead of cream)

Fromage blanc au coulis de fruits rouges et yaourt – Quark with red fruit sauce and yoghurt

After the lunch in Bouzigues, we spent a few days in nearby Balaruc-les-Bains. Apart from an accidentally ordered starter of whelks, the food was good considering that we didn’t pay very much, but it wasn’t mindblowing either. Either way, I didn’t take any pictures since dinner often happens late in the day in France, and I didn’t want to use flash.

Having spent four nights in Balaruc, we headed back to Blauzac to settle down a bit before heading home again via Marseille. Cooking dinner at the house there is a collective effort since there’s often a lot of people to feed. We had previously provided a potato salad, grilled tomatoes and a brie and fig dessert but were completely in charge this time. We decided to grill some lovely merguez sausages and serve them with ratatouille and hand cut pommes frites/french fries/chips since the kitchen equipment included a deep fryer. I’ve eaten ratatouille on several occasions, but never made it myself before. It turned out rather nice, partly, I’d like to think, because of coeur de boeuf tomatoes.

The camera battery died before I could get a proper photo (which also happened a couple of minutes before the Tour bikes raced past us) so we’ll have to make do with a phone photo. The ratatouille pan and frites bowl looks a bit small in the picture, but they contain food for 12 people.

It’s only good and proper to also mention that while at the beach in Sète, near Balaruc-les-Bains, I asked my girlfriend to marry me, which she graciously agreed to do. Now you know, in case this and future posts are unusually silly or chipper.

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