Monthly Archives: May 2011

Artichokes with Brown Butter Hollandaise

Artichokes are in season in France and it’s easy to tell – the vendors at the farmers market have stacks of them, I’m talking every stand piled so high I can’t see over them. I meant to get a picture of them today (since Wednesday is market day), but I got too excited running from stand-to-stand, and I totally forgot.

An aside to this post, I absolutely love the French market beside my apartment.  As you can imagine, I am a kid in a candy store and I look forward to Wednesday and Saturdays. Since we are on week 4 in France, the vendors seem to know us now and welcome us with a warm smile (they did that from the start, but they now realize we are ‘locals’ – hey, I even got an extra avocado and some fresh herbs for free today!).  One vendor convinced me to try their strawberries last week and talked to me for 5 minutes about how much better French strawberries are compared to the Spanish ones.  I am not a huge fan of strawberries by themselves (gasp!) but they were quite delicious in my morning yogurt.  When I went to his stall today, he immediately asked me how I enjoyed his strawberries.  It felt like home and that these people cared about us – not to mention that they are passionate about their produce and their customers – such a nice change from our local supermarket.  Also, since I don’t have an oven, I also jump at the opportunity to buy a freshly roasted whole chicken once a week, that CH and I turn into sandwiches or pasta (and hey, CH bought it today while I was off getting tomatoes at another stand and the vendor gave CH extra “au jus” on the side. CH was so impressed with himself!). We wholeheartedly love this city, the people, the 27 degrees and sunshine, the river, the culture and the food. We’ve already made some great friends (and we are quite sad that one of them leaves tomorrow – not to mention this post was kinda inspired by him because he raved about his wife making artichokes all the time at his home in California, so it was just another reason for me to tackle them!).  I can’t wait for the next two months, but I am sad that it will come to an end.  As I said to one of the produce vendors today, I think my heart is already in France…

I had never made a whole artichoke heart before, yet I was always curious about them as I love spinach and artichoke dip and marinated artichoke hearts.  My idol (who I frequently cite here on my blog), Laura Calder, featured a recipe for artichoke hearts and brown butter sauce on one of her episodes and I have been wanting to try them ever since.  With the abundance of local artichokes, and a little extra courage from the advice of the market vendor and my friend from California, I knew I had to do it. I found a great step-by-step guide from the Cilantropist and their recipe made it so easy!  I highly recommend visiting their blog – it’s full of great recipes and gorgeous photos.

It worked out well because CH and I had a large lunch and wanted something light for dinner.  Two little artichokes were sitting in my produce basket, just waiting to be cooked.  This recipe made a perfect light and casual dinner (not to mention so fun to eat!) and CH and I agreed that it would be a beautiful first course to a formal dinner – they look so elegant.

I know artichoke season is around the corner in Canada/USA, so I hope you give this recipe a try, it’s worth it.  And I hope you follow my lead and make a few sauces to accompany them – it’s so fun to dip with choice.

Artichokes with Brown Butter Hollandaise (and mustard crème fraîche and roasted garlic butter sauce)

Yield:  2 whole artichokes
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes


For the artichokes:

  • 2 medium sized artichokes
  • 1 lemon (cut in halves)
  • salt

For the mustard crème fraîche:

  • 1 tbsp mustard (I used a herbed Dijon)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper

For the roasted garlic butter:

  • 3 – 4 cloves of roasted garlic, removed from skin
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For Laura Calder’s Brown Butter Hollandaise:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


(prepare first as they require time to cool down before handling)

Remove artichoke stalk and trim each leaf to prevent being pricked (photo below).

Slice of top of artichoke and rub all cut edges with lemon to prevent browning (you want to slice about 1/3 of the way down, to expose the inner part of the artichoke – as shown in the photo below).

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil; add 1 tsp of salt, the lemon and the two artichokes.

Lower heat to a simmer (light boil), cover pot and simmer for approximately 45 minutes. You will know they are done when they are tender to touch with tongs, and the bottom leaves pull off easily.

Remove artichokes from water and place in a strainer/colander upside down to remove all excess water. Allow to drain for approximately 5 minutes.

Place the cooled artichokes on a plate lined with paper towel (to absorb any remaining moisture).  Gently loosen the leaves from the core by lightly pulling them, but do not separate them from the core.  Be careful, as a lot of steam will escape. As you work your way from the outside inwards, you’ll notice that the leaves in the core start to get a purplish colour on the tops of them. When you see that, stop gently loosening. Grab a spoon and remove all of the leaves with bits of purple on the tops of them entirely from the artichoke.

Let artichokes sit for 5 minutes to allow the remainder of the steam to escape.   Then, using a spoon, remove the bottom of the center of the artichoke (the fuzzy bit) and discard.

Finally, place the artichokes on a serving dish (I used bowls) right side up and enjoy with sauce of your choice!

HOW TO EAT: Peel off the leaves and dip them in the sauce of your choice.  You should be able to eat the bottom 2/3 of each leaf, using your teeth to get the meat of the artichoke. When you get to the heart, eat it with a knife and fork.


Laura Calder’s Brown Butter Hollandaise:

  • 1.5 cups unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolk
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


Melt the butter slowly, leaving it on the heat until it has turned brown (not black). Skim off any foam that rises to the top, and pour the clear butter into a bowl, leaving behind the milk solids. Wash the saucepan.

Put the yolks, 1/4 cup water, and a pinch of salt into the clean pan. Whisk over medium heat until ribbony, 3 to 5 minutes (if the pan gets too hot, the eggs will scramble, so lift the saucepan on and off the heat occasionally to keep the temperature in check).

Take the pot off the heat and slowly whisk in the clarified butter, adding it in a thin stream. Season with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of lemon (note – it will be thick, but still pour off a spoon and it will be globby, like mayonnaise).

Spoon the sauce into the cavity of the artichoke or on the side.

Mustard Crème Fraiche:

  • 1 tbsp mustard (I used a herbed Dijon)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper


Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to combine.  That’s it!

Roasted Garlic Butter:

  • 3 – 4 cloves of roasted garlic, removed from skin
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • salt


Over low heat, melt the butter.  Once the butter has melted, add the roasted garlic and breakdown (i.e. smush) the garlic with a wooden spoon.  Once the garlic and butter are incorporated, remove from heat and place in a small bowl.  Season with salt to taste.

How to Roast Garlic: Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Take 1 head of garlic, slice of the top of the entire head. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.  Wrap tightly with foil and bake in oven for 45 minutes – 1 hr, until garlic is fragrant and soft. Keeps well in an airtight container.

Recipes Adapted From: Artichokes – Cilantropist / Brown Butter Sauce – Laura Calder 
(Other two sauces are JBean Cuisine Originals)



Filed under Appetizers, French, Healthy, Mains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

How do you know you live in France…

this picture pretty much sums it up for me – the butter aisle at the grocery store (this is about 2/3 of it – I couldn’t fit the whole shot into my phone camera!)….how do you choose which butter?

Happy Monday – hope you had a great weekend!

I have some great recipes lined up this week and I can’t wait to share them with you!



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Zucchini Pasta with Chickpeas, Beets and Basil

With the bounty of vegetables at the market next door, I have been in heaven (both cooking and eating).  We haven’t eaten meat (except a slice of ham in our morning egg mcmuffin today!) for lunch or dinner since last week, and neither of us are complaining. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with all of the local vegetables and coming up with new concotions.

This recipe was born out of just that.  I’ve found that, to no surprise, I am enjoying a baguette almost daily with CH.  While I will never complain about that fact, given I am in France, my dresses/skirts may have something to say about it in a few weeks.  Thus, I am focusing on reducing the amount of grain products (i.e. pasta, bread, rice) in my lunches and dinners.  Lunches are easy, salads with lots of veggies and proteins.  Dinners are a little trickier, especially because I have a 6ft 2in hubby who can eat like a machine and not gain weight (argh, again not fair)! Thus, dinners have to be something adaptable to both of our taste, and this recipe did just that – I had mine with zucchini “noodles” and CH had his with bowtie pasta.  One simple switch, two delicious meals and two happy people.

Just as a disclaimer – I am not going on a carb restrictive diet – I am just focusing more on the local vegetables and fruits available in France and leaving room to enjoy the baguettes, cheese, croissants and pain au chocolates….and of course, more wine.  Diet and healthy living to me are all about everything in moderation, but enjoying things without guilt or hesitation.  Thus, if you make healthy choices most of the day, there is always room for treats here and there.  And, to top off this little blurb, CH and I are still training for our first 10km race, hopefully at the end of summer, so we are running as much as possible, in combination with this healthy eating approach.  Each run = more fun!

This dish was delicious and CH liked his version too.  It had subtle flavours that blended really well together, yet the garlic gave it the little flavour kick it needed.  The colors were beautiful on the plate, and it really satisfied me for the entire day (it was lunch!). Feel free to switch up some of the ingredients – add more cheese (CH did), more garlic, omit the beets and substitute with eggplant or red peppers. Whatever you enjoy and have on hand.


Zucchini Pasta with Chickpeas, Beet and Basil

Servings:  2 large servings
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes


  • 2 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooked beets, drained well and cubed
  • 1 large shallot (or two small), diced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 2 or 3 tbsp grated pecorino or mozzarella cheese (I used some delicious aged goat cheese I can’t remember the name of)
  • S&P


In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, heat olive oil until glistening.  Add onions to the pan and cook until translucent (4 – 5 minutes).

Add chickpeas to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add beets and garlic to the pan, and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, until warmed through.

While beets are cooking, placed julienned zucchini strips into a microwave safe bowl.  Cook in the microwave on medium-high heat for 3 – 4 minutes, ensuring that the zucchini softens but still has a slight bite to them (just like pasta!)

Season the chickpea and beet mixture with S&P and remove from heat.  Stir-in the basil pieces.

Place zucchini ‘pasta’ into two bowls and top with chickpea and beet mixture.  Sprinkle each bowl with grated cheese.


A JBean French Cuisine Creation


Filed under Healthy, Mains, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan