Category Archives: French

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

Ingredients:

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

DIRECTIONS:

~ARTICHOKES~
(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.

~ SAUCES ~

Laura Calder’s Brown Butter Hollandaise:

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

Directions:

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

Directions:

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

Directions:

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)

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

Omelette with Sautéed Vegetables

I was going to incorporate this post into my Switzerland recap, but it got too long and…..I need to get back to the food part of this blog (but, just for the record, we did visit the Nestle factory and a cheese factory – that makes me a good food blogger, right?!)

In any event, I made this dish last week, as eggs were the first thing CH requested when we finally got our new stove (which for the record, seems to be working fine, sans fires, so far!). As I may have mentioned in another post, CH and I love eggs and back in Canada we usually eat them every morning in the form of an “egg mcmuffin“.  As CH wanted eggs for dinner and I didn’t have/couldn’t find egg mcmuffins (until yesterday afternoon – another success in itself), I decided to make an omelette and stuff it full of our vegetable bounty from the farmer’s market.  My Grandpa C is an expert omelette maker, so I always feel intimidated making omelets for CH because I know he compares them to my Grandpa’s, but I usually fare pretty well.

I went a ‘little’ French with this recipe, or at least in my books it was a little French because I added Le Vache Qui Rit cheese (hey, Laura Calder uses this cheese in her new cookbook, so it has to be legitimately French, right?). CH loved this dinner, and although it was different from my Grandpa’s, he was satisfied and content (only to eat Nutella on a baguette for dessert an hour later – which btw is his new addiction – I could swear that Nutella isn’t available in Canada at the rate he is eating it here, but as he says “when in Rome…”).

This would make a delicious brunch item, and I liked that the vegetables are cooked first, which made the assembly/final cooking stage a lot easier on me!  Of course, as we did, this makes a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.

Enjoy!

JBean’s Sauteed Vegetable Omelette

Yield:  2 large omelettes
Prep Time:  15-20 minutes
Cooking Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (3 per omelette)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 wedges of “Le Vache Qui Rit” cheese (also known as The Laughing Cow Cheese)*
  • ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ red pepper, julienned
  • ¼ yellow pepper, julienned
  • ¼ green pepper, julienned
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced (only the bottom 4 inches of the stalk)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 cup per omelette
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
  • S&P
  • 2 tsp butter

*If not available, substitute with cream cheese

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and allow to warm for a minute or so.

Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.  You want the peppers softened, but still slightly crisp.

Add the garlic and tomato to the pan and cook for an additional minute.

Remove from heat and set-aside.

In a medium sized bowl, crack 3 eggs.  Add half of the milk (1/8 of cup), 2 wedges of Vache Qui Rit cheese and half of the cheddar cheese (1/8 cup).  Whisk to combine.  Season with S&P.  At this point, the mixture will be clumpy because of the cheese, but don’t worry, it melts as it cooks and forms a smooth and fluffy omelet.

Finally, preheat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat.  Place 1 tsp of butter in the pan and swish it around the pan until melted and evenly coated.

Add the egg mixture to the pan and tilt the pan to ensure even distribution of the mixture.  Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until  the mixture has set and you can easily flip it.

Flip the omelette onto the other side.  I usually use a plate to help me with this.  Simply place the plate over the entire frying pan, and flip the pan (be careful not to burn yourself!), and then, slide the omelette off the plate, back into the frying pan, and away you go.

Cook the omelette on the other side for an additional two minutes.

Spread half of the vegetable mixture onto one side of the omelette in the pan.  Top with 1 cup of fresh spinach (at this point, feel free to add a little more cheddar cheese or goat cheese even!).

Using a spatula, very carefully fold-over the other side of the egg to cover the vegetable mixture.

Press down gently on the top of the omelette, flip it over one more time, and warm for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Remove from pan and serve to whomever is luckiest to get the first one (it is always CH, even at my Grandpa’s house…something seems wrong here)!

Repeat the steps again to make the second omelette.

Enjoy!

An Original JBean French Cuisine Recipe

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Filed under Breakfast, French, Healthy, Mains

A Weekend in Switzerland…

I sorry for the lack of posts….CH and I got back last night from a wonderful weekend getaway to Switzerland. We visited mostly the Swiss-French region and it only fueled my desire to stay in Europe for good, as not only are these weekend destinations at my back door, the people we met were incredible and the food (for the most part!) was delicious.

We love to explore the backcountry, and this weekend was no different.  We added 2hrs to our drive, each way, just to avoid all of the main highways (not to mention that France charges you to use the freeways, and it adds up fast!).  In any event, we enjoyed our drive through all of the very small French towns and farms and the scenery just can’t be beat – it was truly beautiful.  CH did get frustrated on Sunday when no gas stations were open and my bladder may have suffered a little trying to find somewhere in all the small towns, but we survived.  In any event, the drive was worth it and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Switzerland took our breath away and we can realistically see ourselves living there in the not too distant future.  I love the blend of cultures and traditions, and I fell in love with the dairy cows, which wore these gorgeous sounding bells around their necks, so the farmers can find them when it’s time to heard them in.  We stayed at a family run B&B at the base of Gruyere, and they have a heard of 30 cows on their property – I may have purposely kept the window open at night, just to hear the bells in the morning.  I wanted to buy a bell, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it back in Canada….hummm…maybe one more argument to get that dog I am yearning for (only kidding!).

Although we weren’t blessed with the best weather, we took it in stride and still managed to see the Alps and a lot of other beautiful Swiss countryside.  We also met some truly wonderful people, and we hope our paths cross again in the near future!


PS – Here are a few shots from our weekend!  If you squint, you might be able to see me in the picture of the “Du chocolate pour ton bonheur”.  You have to love that they promote “Happiness is…..chocolate!”

PSS – Can you believe that we did NOT eat fondue, the entire weekend?  I was shocked too, but we ate lots of other delicious (and very heavy) foods, including plenty of Gruyere cheese.  CH also ate his fair share of Nestle chocolate at the factory….don’t look at me if there is a shortage of Swiss chocolate in the coming months!!

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Filed under French, Non-Food Related