My crazy back problem allows me only 20 minute bursts in front of the computer. Regular postings will resume shortly.
Meanwhile, I thought that you all may enjoy an autumnal walk through Paris.
And having a a pile of sweet superfruit each day certainly can not help but aid in my road back to strength and health.
I will post additional images of the entire chambre as soon as my Chanel screen that a dear friend is sending has arrived from Paris. (Any day now, I am hoping…)
What I imagined is that it will anchor the room and impart it with character. All my design cues and inspiration I took from my tour last year through Coco Chanel’s appartement on rue Cambonm Her appartement was eclectic, oriental, opulent and trés, trés elegant…
I wanted my design to mirror that feel, the feel of Chanel.
Just distilled to be a simplified version, but keeping the essential ingredients of romance and elegance intact.
We will see how this plays out and comes together soon…
Please stay tuned… merci...
I had two posts of warming autumnal comfort food recipes written and photographed until my computer lost the posts and the images. Merde...
I was able get the images restored, but the posts may take a bit longer to recapture or rewrite.
Until that time, I want to share with you a food memory of what was once my favorite tiny resto in Paris. It was an unobtrusive and little known resto called Le Grillardin, that was just a few steps from my Paris appartement.
Unfortunately this treasure of a resto is no longer in existence.
But I remember.
The little things.
The tiny, infinitesimal, intimate details about a very simple and delicious meals I ate at Le Grillardin.
The succulent fresh fish was cooked so that it melted in my mouth, and it was accompanied by perfectly turned and parsley strewn potatoes. (Trust me these are difficult to get perfect..)
A fresh green salad with a just-right-balanced vinaigrette dressing was a fresh green exclamation, and a complimentary jug of house wine completed the meal. This déjeuner was presented in a manner that was not haute couture, just with the utmost respect to the food and to the diner. And all for a price that I could afford and afford to return here often...and I did.
Until I recover my words from my lost posts, I wanted to share these little memories, of a little meal, in a little place near Palais Royal with all of you.
But these memories seem not so very little, they seem immense and utterly perfect…
That is the great thing about memories, they can be what ever you want them to be…however, I have photographic proof of these memories.
Merci beaucoup for you patience…
Early in 2003 I discovered the Julie/Julie project’s blog after it was in progress for several months. In case you are not familiar with this blog/book, this is the project where Julie Powell undertakes cooking the 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the space of one year.
This blog alone inspired me to flex my culinary muscles again and using Julia as a guide, discover more about what I could do in the kitchen.
Believe me I will not be undertaking all of Julia’s recipes, as Julie did. I am much to “culinary challenged” for that monumental task. But both ladies inspired me to pursue my food and photography passions, no matter what else was going on in my life.
For more on the Julie/Julie project click on the link to the left, under MY BLOG LIST.
I didn’t have to many pages to peruse in my well-worn 1961 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as my fluorescent post-it tag stopped me on page 37, Chapter One - Potages and Soups. The first recipe, Potage Parmentier was double-flagged and I had a bag of potatoes from Rexburg farm that need to be used. This simple (says Julia) and hearty soup seems to be in order for this cool pre-autumnal night.
Here is Julia Child's Potage Parmentier ~ Potato and Leek Soup
1 lb potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
1 lb leeks thoroughly washed and thinly diced.
(you can substitue yellow onions)
2 quarts water
1 tbsp salt ( I used kosher salt)
3 - 4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 - 6 tbsp heavy cream
2 - 4 tbsp minced chives and parsely for garnish
(I added fresh ground white pepper for a bit of spice.)
Simmer the potatoes and leeks in the salted water for 40-50 minutes.
Puree the soup using a food mill or an immersion blender.
I started with my grans mere’s ancient potato masher and then used a few hits of my stick blender as I wanted my potage to have small bits of potato.
Add the butter in small bits and whisk in.
Taste and correct for salt and pepper.
Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to a simmer.
Off heat, stir in cream slowly in spoonfuls.
Pour in tureen or soup bowls and sprinkle on chives and parsley.
My friends enjoyed this soup for a late lunch and to prove their potage-love had seconds and thirds.
They said it was their favorite soup I made for them, ever. (lol)
I think that they were cold and ravenous, but even the cook enjoyed this warm creamy, buttery, faintly onion potage. Sometimes, getting to great simple food, takes a long and convoluted journey before you arrive back at the simplicity. And this simplicity was delicious.
Because my blog does not as yet have "cyber-aroma", at least I hope that you will enjoy the images that I took as I worked on this dish.
I also hope that you will try this recipe for yourself some cool, rainy afternoon.
(Insert Julia’s voice here)…Bon appetit…!
It dawned a dark day...a very dark day.
And the dark became rain.
And it rained...
All day...incessantly…in earnest....and with a vengance.
The usually tame creek outside my door became a roaring lion and bounded down to join the turbulent lake in the forest across the road.
My vegetable garden was a soggy marsh filled with deep puddles of mush.
But it was a perfect day to finish the detail painting in my bedroom so it would be dry when the new furniture arrived later that afternoon.
I groggily began work at 5 am. But the work took my mind off the small deluge outdoors.
Inspite of the damp weather, the paint was dry and some of my photography was framed and hung in time for the delivery of the long awaited japonaise-wright-esque bedroom set that I had ordered months ago.
And the furniture came and on time.
And it is lovely and simple and looks perfect in my softly-colored buttery room.
(Images in a few days...)
But my passions for photography and food were calling me.
So out I went to the garden in pouring rain to get peppers to photograph and to eat.
Many coincidences came together to compel me to cook this dish...
One is that when I shop the local farmers market, I shop with my eyes and nose…what looks great to photograph and what smells wonderful to inspire a meal (or eat out of hand). What ever I wind up purchasing, I try to find a recipe or dish I can cook wIIth that ingredient as soon as possible. Either I experiment and craft a new recipe or use the fresh ingredients in a long-standing favorite. This week after the arrival of my aubergine colored Christmas gifts, the shiny purple eggplants at the Farmers Market were more than I could resist. I just had that plumy color on my mind that extended to my cooking.
The second occurrence happened when I found three mismatched copper gratin dishes in my favorite local second-hand store ”Second Hand Rose”. I often go to this quaint little shop to browse for plates, kitchenware and utensils as props to use for my still-life’s with food.
I don’t always find a treasure, but when I saw that these lovely copper dishes were so reasonably priced, I just could not pass them up.
The third reason is that a dear friend in Rhode Island sent me an eggplant gratin recipe that she loves that was inspired by a recipe by Ina Garten, but it contained too much fat as it stood.
I promised her that I would adapt it to a version that was lower in fat than the original that she had been making with cream and eggs. I do always like a food challenge.
The fourth reason is that I had made a delicious batch of chunky tomato sauce from the Purple Calabash and my own terrace tomatoes. The recipe for the eggplant gratin calls for a marinara sauce. So, I set aside a portion of the marinara for this dish before I froze the remainder for the long winter ahead. I have to admit that these Calabash tomatoes, as promised by my farm market vendor, makes the richest and most flavorful sauce I had ever tasted.
But the final reason that sealed the deal to try this dish was that the temperatures here went from a sizzling 96 degrees to 56 degree today.
It was time to fire-up the oven and cook something to take the chill out of my tummy and the kitchen.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Heat about 1/8” of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot (nearly smoking) add slices of eggplant.
The eggplant slices will pop and spit when dropped in the hot oil, so be careful…!
Cook the eggplant, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.When slices look golden brown and delicious, transfer the slices to a cooling rack set on a sheet pan lined with newspaper under it to wick the oil.
In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, buttermilk, ½ cup of the mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg (to taste).
Stir to combine.
In the gratin dish, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with half the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan and spoon on the marinara sauce. Add a second layer of eggplant, pour on the ricotta mixture, and finally sprinkle on the remaining the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
Place the gratin on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.
Lower the heat to 375 and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the custard sets
and the top is browned.
Let cool for 10 minutes until the cheese can be sliced for plating or eating from the individual gratins.
I serve this with a crisp green salad and a crusty baguette.