Category Archives: French

Seafood Cioppino

I don’t know about you, but I over indulged a little during the holidays.  It’s too hard to pass up home baked goodies, drinks with friends, Mom’s cooking and going out to our favourite restaurants while we were back in Vancouver (can you say White Spot?!).  Anyways, after having a few salads to get back on track, I picked-up Cooking Light magazine at the airport as my in-flight read. I was extremely impressed by the quality of the magazine and had quickly bookmarked many of their recipes as “must-make” – this being one of them.

CH and I decided to celebrate NYD by having dinner just the two of us.  It was a great way to kick-off the year, chat about what we want to achieve in 2012 and just start the year with some ‘us’ time, which doesn’t happen all that often these days.  In order to celebrate the New Year, I knew I wanted to cook something special, yet light and satisfying.  Enter seafood. Being from the West Coast, we are picky when it comes to selecting seafood, but with the St. Lawrence Market across the street, we have plenty of amazing fish mongers available, although given the prices of seafood in Toronto, having these items is definitely a treat.

This recipe was flavourful, balanced, soothing, and just downright delicious.  CH raved about how good all of the seafood was, and many “yumms” came from me as well – it was the perfect dish to welcome 2012.  Feel free to switch-up the seafood below for your favourites, or for what’s available near you.  I always try to buy “wild” or “line-caught” items in order to support the fisheries, and I definitely try to buy according to what’s sustainable – check out this website for more information:  Ocean Wise

This was definitely a great recipe and one that will (hopefully!) appear on our table again in the future.

Enjoy!

Seafood Cioppino

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 3/4 cups)
Prep Time: 
15 minutes
Cook Time:
40 minutes

Ingredients

Broth:

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated/minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or other)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth), divided into 1/2 cups, per below
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (35-ounce) can whole tomatoes with basil, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped

Seafood:

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (10-ounce) Pacific Halibut filet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 sea scallops (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 medium peeled and deveined shrimp (about 5 ounces)
  • 12 clams (Manila, littleneck or longneck), cleaned and scrubbed

Garnish:

  • 2 TBSP chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 TBSP  fresh lemon juice
  • S&P
  • Baguette or other bread of choice

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and swirl to coat.

Add onion to the pan and sauté for 1 minute. Stir-in the garlic and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

De-glaze the pan with the wine and stir. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, all of the basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and diced tomatoes to the pot and stir well.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the halibut and scallops generously with black pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat.

Place the halibut and scallops in the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from pan and set-aside.  De-glaze the pan with the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock, scrape up any brown pieces and add the mixture to the pot of simmering broth mixture.

Place the halibut, scallops, shrimp, and clams into the broth mixture, ensuring the clams are entirely covered with broth. Cover and cook for 8 or so minutes or until clams open.  Be sure to discard any unopened clams.

Stir in parsley and lemon juice, taste the broth and add S&P according to your desire.

Serve with a toasted baguette or bread of your choice.

Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted From Cooking Light Magazine, January 2012

And because Cooking Light is amazing, here are the nutritional details:

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving (recipe contains approximately 4 servings)

  • Calories: 319
  • Fat: 8.8g
  • Saturated fat: 1.3g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 5.2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Protein: 33.4g
  • Carbohydrate: 13.9g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Cholesterol: 103mg
  • Iron: 6.5mg
  • Sodium: 596mg
  • Calcium: 109mg
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Filed under Appetizers, French, Healthy, Italian, Mains, Side Dishes, Soups & Stews

Traditional French Crêpes with Lemon & Sugar

Crêpes, one of the quintessential and classic French dishes.  I have no doubt that if you asked 100 people on the street to list a French dish, crêpes would be in the top 5.  And, after my 3 months in France, I can see why.

I do have a confession however.  Until 2011 (and nearly 26 years old), I had never had a crêpe, let alone a crêpe in France.  And, the worst part – I had been to France twice before living here for 3 months, and still, I never had one.  One of my girlfriends in Toronto told me to have a crêpe for her when we said goodbye, and I realized then and there that I would have to do it (again, such a hard life, eh?!)

My town here in France has many crêperies.  These are quaint little restaurants, tucked into small spaces on side streets, that feature crêpe as their main menu items.  They sometimes have salads on the menu too, but for the most part, they have just crêpes.  They do however, feature two types of crêpes – traditional and galettes.  What is the difference you ask?  Traditional crêpes are made using a basic flour and egg mixture (like my recipe below!) and are generally topped with sweet filings/toppings.  Galettes are made with buckwheat flour and are generally topped/filled with savoury fillings. I generally don’t like sweet things, but here in France, I realized that I like crêpes, but they have to be done right (i.e. not too sweet).  Galettes aren’t for me, I am not a fan of the buckwheat flour/texture.

CH and I argue about what the perfect crêpe is.  He likes his slightly thicker with a mountain of Nutella on-top.  I like my crêpes paper thin, slightly crispy edges, sprinkled lightly with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Plain and simple.  However, as the recipe below illustrates, crêpes are so versatile, so you can easily please everyone in your household, with just one batch.  They would even be fun to do for a dinner party dessert and have a toppings bar.

One thing I should also clarify, is that the French do not eat crêpes or galettes for breakfast.  They are generally eaten at lunch time, as a snack or for dessert.  However, as CH and I found out, the make for the perfect Sunday brunch item – just be prepared to spend a little more time in the kitchen as they take a while to cook individually.  CH and I embraced this and spent literally 3 hours making crêpes a few Sundays ago. I was in charge of cooking them, I’d pass them to CH who would top them, and then we would immediately devour it, while the next one cooked.  It was a really fun morning in the kitchen, and quite tasty too!

Do you need a special frying pan to make crêpes?  I’m not sure.  I went out and bought a 6 euro crêpe pan from a local kitchen store and it worked beautifully. When I am back in Canada, I will test out a normal non-stick pan and report back.  I hope for those who don’t have a crepe pan, and those who don’t want to buy one, that you can make them without one.

To conclude, crêpes have the reputation of being hard to make, however I can attest that they are NOT.  All you need is a good basic recipe (below!) and plenty of time and patience (and imitating Julia Child’s accent while preparing them also adds to the ambiance!).  Also, don’t forget to plan ahead a little, the batter needs to rest for a minimum of 1 hour.

Enjoy & Bon Appetite!

Classic French Crêpes with Lemon & Sugar

Yield:  15 crepes
Prep Time: 10 minutes (+ 1 – 2 hours to rest)
Cook Time:  2 – 3 minutes per crepe

Ingredients – Basic Crêpe:

  • 1.5 cups of all purpose flour (185 g)
  • 3 eggs, slightly whisked
  • 1 cup of milk (250 ml)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • warm water, to thin out batter
  • vegetable oil for brushing the pan (unless it is a non-stick pan)

Ingredients – Topping:

  • 1 whole lemon, zested and juiced (separate the zest and the juice)
  • sugar for sprinkling, icing or regular

Directions:

Place the flour in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center with your fingers.  Place the eggs, milk, sugar and salt into the well.  Using a whisk, gradually draw the flour into the center, trying to prevent any lumps from forming.

Continue to gradually draw in the flour, until the mixture is well incorporate and smooth.

Add the melted butter to the batter, and whisk well to combine and smooth-out the batter.  At this point, there should be no lumps and it should be a slightly thick batter (think pancake batter – you will thin it out below).

Cover the mixture with saran wrap and set-aside on your counter for 1 – 2 hours, to allow the mixture to rest.

Meanwhile, zest & juice your lemons and set-aside.

When the batter is ready, prepare your station by placing your bowl of batter, your spatula, icing wand, oil & pastry brush, and clean plate beside your stove.  You want everything handy.

Thin out your crêpe batter by adding warm water, bit by bit.  You want your batter to be the consistency of a light cream, so it should just coat the back of a spoon, but no thicker.

Begin by heating your pan over medium-high heat (around setting 8).  Grease the pan with vegetable oil, if using.

Using a measuring cup, pour about 1/3 cup of batter into your hot pan and immediately tip the pan around in all directions to cover the bottom of the pan.  If you have too much batter, pour it off – you want the crêpes to be paper-thin.  Using your spatula/icing wand, gently skim the surface of the crêpe to even out the batter.

(Do not worry if you ruin your first crêpe or if it doesn’t work, apparently it is the myth that the first one never works out, no mater what you do!)

When the outside edges are brown (~ 2 minutes), flip the crêpe GENTLY and cook on the other side for 1 – 2 minutes.

Remove the crêpe from the pan and immediately top with a sprinkle of sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice (if you want the extra tang).  Fold the crêpe as the picture above shows, or roll it.   Serve and devour immediately.

Repeat with remaining batter.  Don’t forget to grease the pan between each crêpe.

* If you are making these for a group, you can keep them warm under foil while you prepare the others *

Enjoy.

Recipe From Laura Calder – French Food & Home

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Filed under Bread, Desserts, French, Healthy, Mains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Pan Fried White Asparagus

One of the things I love the most about traveling (and now living) in a new country is the exposure to new foods.  While France is fairly similar to Canada, I have had the opportunity to try some new foods such as rillettes (similar to a pâté), Sainte-Maure goat cheese (the regional specialty), escargots (which aren’t uncommon in fine dining restaurants in Canada, but here they are the norm) and of course, I have come to love the artistry breads, pastries and sweets.

As I’ve stated many times before, I love going to the market here.  For the most part, I enjoy learning the French names for some of my favourite vegetables, but from time to time I see something that I don’t immediately recognize.  White asparagus was one of them.

I’m not sure if I just walked by it at our stores in Canada, or if I have simply not seen it before, either way I have been missing out.  White Asparagus is amazingly delicious and well worth the slightly expensive price tag.  As the website, Asparagus Growing, states: “White asparagus is also called the king of darkness because it grows underground and sometimes it is even referred to as white gold. It is special for how it is produced. It is cultivated by depriving the plants light. The plant is covered with dirt while growing to keep it in the dark. That way the plant cannot produce chlorophyll so the stalks don’t get their green color and remain white […] as a result, the white asparagus is slightly bitter, but tender, fibreless, soft and more delicate than the green one.”.

After some recipe research, I found out that white asparagus is usually prepared in a soup or lightly steamed with a lemon garlic sauce.  I wasn’t feeling like a cream of asparagus soup or just simply steamed asparagus, I wanted something different.   Since I always crave french fries, the idea of coating the asparagus in breadcrumbs entered my thoughts and I decided to go with it.

I have to say that this was probably one of the best ideas I’ve had in a while.  It was delicious, the crispy outside compliment the tender yet meaty inside, and in my opinion, you really couldn’t ask for more.  I absolutely inhaled the dish, vowing to make it again soon.

I served this dish with a fresh garlic aioli, but in all honesty it went to waste because this asparagus didn’t need anything alongside it – it was just too perfect by itself.

Hopefully you can purchase white asparagus in your region and can give this recipe a try. All I am hoping is that I can find white asparagus when I get back to Canada, that or I will have to plan a return trip to France next Spring to make it again!

Enjoy!

Pan Fried White Asparagus

Yield:  1 side-dish serving
Prep Time:  35 minutes
Cook Time:  5 – 7 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 stalks of white asparagus, cleaned
  • 1/2 of a whole lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I use either panko or crushed up croutons)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • S&P
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, prepare your asparagus.  Since the outside skin of white asparagus are tough, you will need to remove it by peeling it with a vegetable grater (or with a knife, with a very steady hand).  Trim the bottoms of the asparagus, about 1/2 an inch.

Once the water has reached a boil, add in the lemon half and the asparagus.  Cook the asparagus for approximately 20 – 30 minutes.  White Asparagus is a lot denser than green asparagus, thus it takes a lot longer to cook.  You will know it is ready when a knife inserts easily into the middle of a stalk and you can remove it without resistance.

Remove the asparagus from the water and place on paper towel to drain.  Allow the asparagus to cool to room temperature (about 10 minutes).

Once the asparagus is cool, slice the asparagus in half horizontally, creating two stalks about the same size.  Now, prepare the coating.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder and a generous amount of S&P.

In another small bowl, place your slightly beaten egg.

Finally in a third bowl, place the flour.  Basically you are creating a breading station.

Begin by placing 2 or 3 stalks of asparagus in the flour. Toss to coat and tap gently to remove excess flour.

Then, dip each stalk individually into the egg mixture and then place it into the breadcrumb mixture.  Gently pat the asparagus stalk, to evenly coat it with the breadcrumbs. Remove the asparagus from the breadcrumb mixture and set aside.

Repeat the steps until all of the asparagus’ are coated.

In a medium sized non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until bubbling.   Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for approximately 5 – 7 minutes, checking and rotating frequently to ensure even cooking and a crisp, golden brown on all sides.

Remove from the pan and place again on paper towels to drain off excess oil.

Serve immediately with a dipping sauce of your choice!

An Original JBean French Cuisine Recipe (with asparagus information from Asparagus Growing & Epicurean)

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