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Toum! (an interpretation)

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So this is a variation of a variation of a variation…but geeze ‘o man is it good. What, you may wonder, am I talking about. Garlic mayonnaise and it’s many variation. The south of France (and Italy and Spain) have Aioli (the French word for garlic is ail), in the Middle East there is the potent Toum (which simply translates as garlic), and in Greece there is Skordalia (not sure of the etymology of this one). And then there’s my most recent version I’ll call beaonnaise [sic]. But I’m jumping ahead. I love to eat a sandwich at lunch, and I also love the flavor of garlic. And in my continued effort to eat healthier (minus the eggs and low grade oil in most mayonnaise) I made this and it is really easy (and super delicious). I just recently found out that beans–and especially chickpeas–contain lecithin, which of course is the same emulsifying agent that is in egg yolks. And we all know that beans in general are really good for you, and so is olive oil, so I replaced the egg yolk with chic peas. Delicious. You can cut down on or increase the amount of garlic as you like, and with the aid of a blender this will take about 2 minutes to make. And because there are no raw egg yolks this will last a while in the fridge…but it likely will not because it is so delicious.

Beaonnaise

Makes about 1½ cups


1 (15 ounce can) chick peas, drained and rinsed

2-4 cloves garlic

¼ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup virgin olive oil


Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and puree. While the blender is running add the olive oil in a thin stream. Continue to blend for 30 seconds, or until the beaonnaise is light and fluffy.

Five (or Seven) Quotes from Julia Child

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Julia Child (née McWilliams)
August 15, 1912 — August 13, 2004
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
“Everything in moderation… including moderation.”
“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”
“To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.”
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”
More Five Quotes

Ratatouille!

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Ratatouille is the perfect summer vegetable dish. The ingredients are at peak season, and are easily grown in a home victory garden…I in fact grew these. The main ingredients–zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and basil–need very little tending, they almost grow like weeds.


With its tongue-twisting title it may come off as a somewhat intimidating recipe, but on the contrary; it’s a simple and versatile country dish that is based on using seasonal vegetables. Its name is said to come from the archaic French word, touiller, meaning to stir or toss.


It’s a versatile recipe that can be served hot, at room temperature, or even chilled; it will taste better the second day after its flavors are allowed to “marry.” Ratatouille is excellent as a side dish, an entrée, or tossed with pasta. With the addition of a little wine or broth, it also makes a flavorful braising base for chicken or seafood (I ate it for dinner this evening tossed with penne pasta and plenty of Parmesan). It’s really simple to make, very flavorful and healthy, and it keep well also.
Ratatouille

Yield: about 4 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 medium bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

8 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the zucchini and eggplant; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed. If it becomes too dry add more broth. Stir in the basil a few minutes before serving.

Moules Marinière!

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I’ve posted this recipe before but not in a while. It is really delicious and so easy to make…quite literally put everything in a pot and place it over a fire. Anyhow, I made a large pot of these at work this evening (a scoop of them is pictured straight from the pot) and thought I’d post this recipe again. Here it is…

Moules Marinière

Makes 4 servings.

3 pounds mussels, washed, rinsed, and de-bearded

1/2 cup white wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 plum tomatoes, diced

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1 handful flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped


Place all of the ingredients except the parsley in a low-sided pot or a very large skillet. Cover the pan and place it over a fast flame. Cook the mussels, shaking the pan occasionally, until they open, then cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the parsley across the mussels.

Confit d’ail

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The French name for this two-ingredient but flavor-packed recipe translates simply as preserved garlic, but what it is in the literal sense is garlic that has been slowly simmered in olive oil. And this has many great outcomes. The most obvious is that it removes the garlic’s sharpness (but I like that, too). It also makes the cloves as soft as butter (literally). Once cooked in this fashion the garlic can simply be spread on toast points (if you’re not planning any close tête-à-têtes). But where this really shines is an ingredient in other recipes. Mash it into the pan when making pasta recipes, puree it with sauces or dips, and use it in soups or stews (I use this garlic method when making Lebanese lentil and lamb soup/stew). And while I keep mentioning on what to do with the garlic, a bi-product of this recipe is the oil. Initially this recipe was likely meant as a confit (a way of preserving the garlic) by packing it in oil. Today, of course–with modern refrigeration–this is no longer necessary. But the oil itself is delicious. Use this garlic-infused oil to saute vegetables, chicken, or fish for added flavor, or simply dip bread in it. I could go on about this simple recipe but I’ll stop here with just one more simple comment…this is good stuff; try this, you won’t be sorry.

Confit d’ail
peeled garlic cloves
olive oil
Lay fresh peeled garlic cloves in a single layer in a small skillet. Add enough olive oil to the pan that the garlic cloves are sufficiently covered. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and cook it until the garlic begins to simmer in the oil. Lower the heat so the garlic is very slowly simmering. Cook the garlic for about 10 minutes, or until it is golden brown and very soft. Allow the garlic to cool in the oil. It is ready to use as is or it can be stored in the oil in refrigeration. 

Urban Simplicity.

Tapenade!

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Tapenade. Mmmm. Delicious. I haven’t made this in a while but it once was a staple on multiple restaurant tables where I was chef. And I made this for a dinner I served this evening. It is basically an olive puree seasoned with anchovies, capers, and lots of garlic. It’s of Southern French origin and takes its name from the Provencal word for capers, tapeno. Mainly it is used as a dip or spread on bread the same way one would use any other spread, but it can also be used as an ingredient for a recipe. I try to make most of the recipes on this blog relatively simple to make (so people actually make them) and this could not be simpler…place everything in a food processor and puree. If you’ve never had this I hope you make it. You’ll be glad you did.

Tapénade
(Provençal Olive Spread)
Yield: 1 cup
2 cups pitted black olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Use as a dip, spread on toast, a small dollop of poached shrimp, or a garnish to a canapé.

 
Urban Simplicity.

La Quiche…

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 Mmm…Quiche Lorraine. Incredibly decadent and delicious; simple to make, too. The beauty of this is that you can have all of the ingredients ready (including the pre-baked shell) and put it together and bake it a half hour before serving. Heck, you can pre-bake and slice the entire thing–if you think you’ll be pressed for time later–and re-heat it when needed. The cheeses and other ingredients are, of course, interchangeable to your liking as well. And contrary to what some may think…real men do eat quiche. I’m jus’ sayin’…

Quiche Lorraine

Serves 8

1 par-baked tart shell

4 ounces lean ham or cooked bacon, diced

4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded

1 cup cream

7 large eggs

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat an oven to 325F. Layer the ham (or bacon) and cheese into the par-baked tart shell. Mix the cream, eggs and salt together in a bowl and pour it over the ham and cheese. Bake the quiche for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set. If it begins to brown too quickly, cover the quiche with foil or parchment as it bakes


Pâte Brisée

(Tart Dough)

Yield: 1 (10-inch) tart dough

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup cold water


Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor and pulse for about 15-20 seconds, or until it resembles coarse cornmeal. With the motor running, add the water. Remove the dough from the machine and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. 

Broth, Bouillon, Brodo (y Caldo)

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Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”
LouisP. De Gouy

A couple things…

Firstly, I have relatively little trouble eating (and ultimatley sustaining on) meatless or near-meatless meals. Actually, I prefer it. But I have to admit the one thing that would keep me from being a full-blown vegetarian is meat-based stock or broth…or what a vegan friend of mine refers to as “meat juice.” Rice cooked in water is bland, but cook it in a rich broth and it is a meal unto itself. If you have a rich broth and want a soup the flavor is already accomplished…whatever else you add is simply a bonus. I add chicken stock to most things I cook aglio e olio. The famed chef, Auguste Escoffier–whom which chef De Gouy worked under–has said that (and I’m paraphrasing) with a good stock anything can be accomplished. Stock/broth, to me, is a form of alchemy. And I love how the kitchen smells with a broth slowly simmering away (home kitchen or work kitchen). Today at work was slow and I made seven pots of the golden stuff (about 40 gallons) and the kitchen smelled amazing. Anyhow, for recipes and lore about soup and stock read this article I wrote for Artvoice a couple years ago. In the meantime…simmer. 

Four Photos of Food

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OK, so I’m not sure what these have to do with the subject of Urban Simplicity other than the fact that they are photos of some of the things I do at work, which of course is a big part of my life (whether I like it or not). I took these over the last two days and thought they were interesting enough to share. Anyhow, from top-to-bottom, they are: semi-crudite sans sauce; jellied beet and goat cheese terrine; petite sandwich comprised of roast garlic and fig sausage (pork), topped with red onion marmalade and mango chutney, on a whole wheat roll; and lastly, chicken and duck mousseline flavored with curry and smoked paprika, and studded with ham, green peppercorns, and dried black currents.

Urban Simplicity.

Salade Niçoise

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Mmm…I love this salad; delicious; one of my favorites. I’ve also been fortunate enough to visit the beautiful city of Nice on a couple occasions, which of course is the namesake of this particular recipe. Anyhow, we served this salad for a luncheon today and thought it appropriate to post the recipe…it is also the 100 birthday of Julia Child, the person who not only influenced much of how America cooks today but also introduced this salad to us as well. While it is an easy salad to assemble–tuna, cooked egg, potato (the potato in the foreground were boiled with a bit of turmeric for added color), green beans, olives, etc–it is also a really delicious and healthy meal. The original recipe also includes anchovies, which I love, but for some reason the average American recoils at their mere mention. This is usually served with a simple vinaigrette sauce, but I prefer if with a light but garlicky aioli or spicy rouille; recipes are below.


Aïoli
(Garlic Mayonnaise)
Makes about 2 cups
6-10 peeled garlic cloves
1 tablespoon cold water
The juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups olive oil

Combine the garlic, water, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the egg yolks and continue to process until the yolks become frothy and much lighter in color. With the machine running, begin to pour the olive oil through the feeder tube in a thin steady stream until all of the oil is incorporated into the aïoli. Store the aïoli in a refrigerated and covered container for up to 3 days.

Rouille
(Spicy Red Pepper Mayonnaise)
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemonjuice
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 leaves fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Combine the eggs, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, basil, cayenne, and roasted peppers in a food processor. Puree until smooth and aerated, and with the motor running drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse the food processor until they are combined. Transfer the rouille to a clean container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Le Nouveau Tarte Tatin

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This recipe is a play on the classic Tarte Tatin, which of course is normally made with apples. I’m currently researching and testing recipes for an article I’m writing about Tarte Tatin for Buffalo Spree Magazine and thought I’d try a couple savory recipes (the poor Tatin sisters must be rolling in their graves); this one is made with portabello mushrooms, figs, and brie cheese. It’s sort of a savory rustic pie that is baked upside-down then turned right side-up to serve (and isn’t that what the original is only made with apples and caramel). Anyhow, it’s really delicious and easy to make…and you’ll likely impress your friends with it as well. When the article is published–with history, lore, and more recipes–I’ll post the link.

Savory Fig, Portabello, and Brie Tarte Tatin
Makes one 10” tart
3 ounces unsalted butter
2 medium portabello mushroom caps, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
½ pound dried figs (about 8), sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces brie cheese, sliced
1 sheet puff pastry
Preheat an oven to 350F. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a 10” oven-proof skillet. When the butter begins to bubble add the mushrooms, then the onion. Stir and cook the onion and mushroom for about five minutes, or until most of their juices are released and evaporate from the pan and the mushrooms just begin to brown. Stir in the sliced figs, the salt, then the cheese. Remove the pan from the heat and gently lay the puff pastry across the pan, trimming and folding it as necessary to fit. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake it for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden-brown. Rem0ove the pan from the oven and allow it to rest for a couple minutes, then loosen the edges of the pastry with a knife and gently but carefully invert the tart onto a plate. Lift the inverted pan from the plate slowly, guiding any pieces of tart onto the plate that may have stuck to the pan. Allow the tart to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. It is delicious warm or at room temperature.



Urban Simplicity.

Quiche Lorraine

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I made this today at my job (for 120 people actually) and it looked so beautiful and was so delicious I thought I’d post a few pictures and share a very simple recipe for it. The classic recipe calls for bacon, but in this version I use ham (both are equally delicious). I also included a simple recipe for tart dough below, it’s the one I used today and if you have a food processor it literally takes 30 seconds to make. You can, of course, also use a store-purchased shell (but it’s not quite as satisfying). When you par-bake the shell remember that it is baked-blind so you will have to weight it down while it bakes. And yes, Bruce Feirstein, contrary to what you may have written, real men do eat quiche.


QuicheLorraine
Serves 8
1 par-baked tart shell, store bought or use the recipe below
4 ounces lean ham or cooked bacon, diced
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 cup cream
7 large eggs
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat an oven to 325F. Layer the ham (or bacon) and cheese into the par-baked tart shell. Mix the cream, eggs and salt together in a bowl and pour it over the ham and cheese. Bake the quiche for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set. If it begins to brown too quickly, cover the quiche with foil or parchment as it bakes

Pâte Brisée
(Tart Dough)
Yield: 1 (10-inch) tart dough
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold water

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor and pulse for approximately 15-20 seconds, or until it resembles coarse cornmeal. With the motor running, add the water. Remove the dough from the machine and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Hearty and Meaty Spring Ragout

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I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that while I am far from being vegetarian I have been making efforts to eat less meat for a variety of reasons…but sometimes I crave it. Today was one such instance. Maybe it was that I swam 1/2 mile and hauled concrete blocks about 5 miles (one way) on my Mundo–what, do I think I’m Jack Lalanne or something–but I really had a hankering for lamb, which is my favorite meat, by the way. Anyhow, I made the pictured recipe for Lamb Ragout and ate it tossed with whole wheat penne. Like most of what I post here…it is really easy to make, nutritious, and really delicious. It would also be great over rice or as a pizza topping.

Tomato, Carrot, andLamb Ragout
Makes about 4 cups
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lamb, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1 teaspoon basil leaves
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
2 cups tomato puree
½ cup red wine
2 cups chick broth
Heat the olive oil over medium-highheat in a heavy sauce pot. Add the lamb, onion, and carrot; cookuntil the lamb and vegetables just start to brown, then add thegarlic, sugar, salt, fennel, pepper, basil, and oregano; cook anotherminute. Stir in first the red wine, then the tomato and chickenbroth. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook the ragout forabout 30 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened, and the lambis tender. Toss with pasta, serve over rice, or use as a pizzatopping.

Ma recette préférée de moules

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This is by far my favorite mussel recipe. It is so delicious and so easy to make…simply put everything in a pan and cook it for a few minutes. I made this for staff lunch today at work. They can be eaten alone or served over pasta or rice (the recipe yields a delicious broth). Or if you want to be a Francophile you can eat them with French fries (moules frites). The only diversion I did from the recipe below was that I added a sliced lemon simply because I had it at hand.

Moules Marinière
Makes 4 servings.
3 pounds mussels, washed, rinsed,and de-bearded
1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
Sea salt and cracked blackpepper to taste
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, washedand chopped
Place all of the ingredients except theparsley in a low-sided pot or a very large skillet. Cover the pan andplace it over a fast flame. Cook the mussels, shaking the panoccasionally, until they open, then cook for an additional minute.Remove from the heat and sprinkle the parsley across the mussels.