Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Menu plan monday and a recipe.


Boy am I late on this one or what!!! Sorry about that, but my computer is going crazy being attacked by viruses!!! So it took me a while to finish my post.

After a georgous week-end, filled with sunshine, kids rinding their bikes, snow-free ground I tought I was done with making soups, hearty stews and my crock pot, and was already dreaming of BBQ's, dinners on the patio, and also get my new short sleeves tops out, my dresses...alas, I woke up this morning to more snow and was ready to go back to bed until I know for sure spring was here!!!!
Monday : Corned beef with oll the fixings (OK I;m know I'm late for a St Patrick's day meal, but I try it for the first time last thursday and LOVED IT, so I had to make it)

Tuesday : Lentils and pasta soup

Wednesday : Tuscan halibut with rosemary and tomatoes

Thursday : Homemade pizza

Friday : Roasted chicken with zucchini gratin
Saturday : Leftovers

Sunday : Eating out (I need a rest!!!)

Now I have to tell you that sometimes the plan doesn't go as...well...planned, and I change the menu around dependin on how the day is going or gonna go. So it helps to have everything you need for the week in your pantry and fridge.

Now for the recipe, like I said this week end was an amazing, refreshing week end, so I wanted to treat the family to a nice dessert. I wanted to make something easy, light and fresh. I had a big bag of apples staring at me in the fridge, so I tought an apple pie would be nice.

While making the dough I was having a conversation with my hubby on how nice it would be to move to the south of France, in a nice old rustic renovated farm, filled with rustic charm and big bright rooms, and a huge garden filled with flowers and fruit trees, aaahhhh what a nice dream it was!!!

Anyway back to the pie, in all that talking the word rustic stuck out, so I decided to make a rustic apple galette. No need of a pan for it, it's a free form pie, and so easy to make even a baby can do it.

First slice the apples into 16 slices each (more or less), and toss them with some lemon juice so they will not get brown

Roll out the pie dough onto your floured surface into a large circle, I would say around 12 inches...

It doesn't need to be perfectly round

Pour in the apples leaving at least 3 inches all around

Sprinkle the apples with 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 tbsp of cold butter

Now fold the dough on top of the apples, and brush it with some egg wash

Bake at 385F for 45 minutes, until the edges are golden brown

Warm up some apricot jam and brush it on top to make it nice and shiny, and your galette is ready to be enjoyed!!

Rustic apple pie

1/2 recipe of pate brisee
6 to 7 apples cored and sliced
2 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of cold butter

For the pate brisee:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yogurt cake.

As long as I remember I've always seen my mom made this cake for our after school snack. We would home back from school and know by the smell in the house what we will have with our cafe au lait or chocolate...Mmmmm. It's very easy to make and even easier to love, it is often the first cake that French kids learn how to bake.

It is a fluffy, cloud-like and moist cake, not too sweet, and just perfect for any time of day...breakfast, dessert, afternoon snack, any time at all really. I like to dunk mine in my morning cafe au lait, for me it's the best way to eat it.

It is particularly tasty fresh out of the oven when it is warm and crusty (do let it cool for about half an hour), but it will keep delightfully well wrapped in foil for a few days. It even gets better when the top becomes soft and melts in your mouth!!

You can make a lot of varations of this cake, you can add lemon juice and lemon zest (one of my all time favorite!!) you can flavour it with rum, make a marble cake with chocolate...your own taste is the limit. Today I made mine plain, my kids prefer it this way...

Preheat the oven to 350° F, line the bottom of a round 10-inch (25cm) cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.

In a large mixing-bowl, combine the yogurt, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. I know the order can seem bizzare  and also lumpy but in my opinion it makes the cake taste better....call me weird!!!

Then add the eggs 1 at the time, until each is fully incorporated, see how lumpy it is, so don't be scared!

Add the vanilla paste or liquid, sorry couldn't resist baking is an art...and now the batter is all smooth

And lastly the oil, I put melted butter because I run out of oil...mix it in gently

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.

Like I said it's better to eat it when it's a little bit warm, with a nice cup of tea..mmmmm

Gâteau au Yaourt
- 2 eggs
- 250ml (1 cup) plain unsweetened yogurt (I often  use vanilla yogurt) if you use 8oz tub, you can use it to measure out the rest of the ingredients
- 1 cup sugar (1 yogurt tub)
- 80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil (or a bit less than 1 yogurt tub)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 yogurt tubs)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- a good pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste/extract

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's crazy monday!!!!


Good morning everybody, it's monday!!!! And what monday morning I had already.....We woke up this morning just as the school bus drove past our driveway without the kids in it because they were still sleeping!!! I stumble downstairs screaming (gently) at the kids to hurry up and get dressed and ready for school cause we were really really reaaaally late. I made breakfast and lunch boxes at the same time while dressing my little one, who apparently had a problem with the shirt I choose for her, because it didn't match her pants!!! they were jeans for Heaven's sake anything go with jeans...but no try to argue with a hard headed 5 year old..craaaazyyyy. Finally in 15 minutes everybody was in the car and ready to roll, and thank goodness we made it on time to the drop off, otherwise everybody would have seen me in my flannel pj's and furry boots at he principal office to sign in the kids, what a sight it would have been!!!

Now for the menu, this week hubby is away for some training for his work, so it's going to be a breeze for me to plan a menu for the kids and me. No fancy schmancy meals until friday when the big guy comes back from his training. This is what a came up with.

Monday : Quiche lorraine and green beans

Tuesday : the kids asked for the croque monsieur

Wednesday : I invited a friend over who's hubby is also away, so I was planning on a big roasted chicken, with I don't know what yet...

Thursday : Chicken noodle soup with the leftover chicken from the night before

Friday : The man is back so I'm planning Short ribs in tomato sauce

Saturday/Sunday : My husband wants to cook so it's probably going to be BBQ or maybe a pasta dish from his invention!!!

I hope you all enjoy your week, it looks like it's going to snow again over here!!! for a change...TA TA.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu plan and a recipe


Wow it was hard to find inspiration for this week's menu, I had a dry spell you wouldn't believe!!! I even thought of just no doing it, but the idea of asking myself everyday  "what should I make tonight" stopped me in my tracks. So I got all my cooking books out, even borrowed some at the library, and here's what I came with.

Monday : Penne with sausage, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes

Tuesday : The boys ask for a ThanksGiving dinner, so I'll make 2 stuffed turkey breasts, mashed potatoes and green beans, and cranberry sauce of course!!

Wednesday : Orzo with roasted vegetables to finish the turkey.

Thursay : Chicken chili with white beans

Friday : Leftovers...I'm going out

Saturday : Pizza

Sunday : Dinner at friends house

There you have it, I hope I helped some of you with my plan, if you have any good dishes you want to share, please let me know and I'll give you a spot on the Nest for you to post.

Now for the goodies. For long weeks now each time I open my fridge I can see a bag of fresh cranberries bought in december, so I guess it is more than a few weeks!! And finally yesterday after cleaning the fridge I decided it was time to make an honest cake out of those cranberries...So behold the most delicious cranberry crumb bars EVER!!!

Don't they look pretty!! Now if you are looking for a low fat recipe move over cause these aren't, au contraire butter is the star of the recipe..

First preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and butter a 9×13 inch pan

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, almond flour, salt and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be crumbly.

yes, that's 2 sticks of butter!

You can also pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor with the butter until pebbly, and then mix in the egg until it all comes together

Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch

The juice of 1/2 an orange and zest of 1 orange

And vanilla

Mix in the cranberries. Sprinkle the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.

Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon to the remaining dough, then crumble dough over the berries. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown. Cool completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I tried one this morning, and I had to restrain myself from getting another one, because you know...it's not reasonable. Hope you'll like them.

Ingredients :

•1 cup white sugar
•1 tsp baking powder
•1/4 tsp salt
•2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
•1/2 cup almond meal
•1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
•1 egg
•1/4 tsp cinnamon
•juice of 1/2 of an orange
•zest of one orange
•4 cups fresh cranberries
•2/3 cup white sugar
•1 tsp vanilla
•1 Tbs cornstarch

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trip to Algeria, couscous recipe.

There have been numerous culinary influences in Algeria: native Berbers, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Spanish Moors, Turks and finally French. Berbers lived on grains, dried fruit and lamb. From Andalusia came stews or tagines and the use of fruit and nuts in cooking.
The French had a very big influence on Algerian cuisine and this is most obvious in the use of tomato puree and sweets and starters that have a touch of Metropolitan France. Algerians use little spice and the cooking is simpler and milder than that of neighboring Morocco. Cumin, coriander, caraway, fennel, saffron and marjoram are used in abundance and so are tomatoes, peppers and garlic. Lamb and chicken are the most used meats and Mediterranean fish makes up the remainder of this rich and varied cuisine.

Today I made a couscous, one of the most known dishes in North Africa. Every regions in North Africa has its own couscous recipes, it can be made with meat (lamb, beef, chicken...) fish or with just vegetables. I usually make mine with beef, and 1 or 2 pieces of lamb. Never tried it with fish, although I doubt I like it...

To start cut you meat in equal size, you can cut it either in small or bigger pieces

Heat up some olive oil and brown beef on all sides

While the meat browns, dice 2 onions, and 3 carrots in big chunks

Add them in with the meat and a big pinch of salt and pepper (Gosh I really need a manicure!!)

Blanche 1lbs of green beans for a few minutes

Drain and let them meet the onions and the carrots, with a heaping tbsp of paprika,

half a tbsp of raz-el-hanout, now don't panic if you can not find the spice, I myself had it send by my mom!!! you can also make your own  or buy it online, but for the longest time I made my couscous without it, and somehow it was just as good.
and 1/2 tbsp of tomato paste

Stir everything togheter and let the spices meat and veggies mingle and know each other.

Rince a can of chick peas to remove all the gritty yucky stuff

and throw them in the pot

Cover with water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the meat is tender, or...

If you have a pressure cooker 20 minutes and it's done, I love my pressure cooker

After 20 minutes, or when the meat is cooked add 2 zucchinis cut in big pieces

and let them cook for 10 minutes, taste the sauce for seasoning and voila your done with the sauce.

Prepare you couscous according to the package's instructions. Lucky me I have my mom who makes my couscous from scratch with fine coarse semolima, and have it send or if I visit bring back a big 10lbs back in my suitcase.

To serve the couscous, put the couscous in a plate pour over a few laddles of sauce and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bon Appetit.