Month: April 2011


Menu: Gabon

Ava’s getting her molars in, which means she is in an extra special mood. These teeth must be massive. Ginormous. For weeks now they’ve been on the move – she’ll go a few days in pain, then a few days off. Patience is at a premium, but I’ve learned to fill entire afternoons with long walks in the stroller. Instantly Ava chills out and spends the walk pointing out the birds, squirrels, and flowers. It’s really rather sweet. With all this teething, I wasn’t sure what food Ava was going to enjoy for Gabon, but I figured eggs were a sure bet. The rest was up in the air. The colonial influence on Gabon means we haven’t totally left France behind. What sounds good to you? French Omelet with Cheese [Recipe] Omelets are all over Gabon. This is a classic French omelet, as was taught to me at the Culinary Institute of America. Hickory Smoked Flank Steak Sandwiches (Coupé coupé) [Recipe] Hickory smoked flank steak, thinly shaved and loaded onto a toasted baguette. Our version …

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About the food of Gabon

Ever have a dusty, bumpy bad kind of day? A day where you want to toss your cares into someone else’s hands? In a remote corner of Gabon, “Full service” takes on a whole new meaning: first they fill up your tank, then they wash your windshield, and finally, while you wait, women hand scrub your delicates. That’ll improve any bumpy bad day! Just be sure you have time to wait for the clothes to line-dry.  In the midst of this simple life reigns a cuisine that is as much French as it is African, particularly in the city. As a former French colony it is no surprise that the omelet is everywhere [Recipe]. Eggs are plentiful, healthy, and affordable. Served with French fries or bitter greens makes for a filling meal. Staples like batons de manioc [Recipe] and fu fu also abound. What might be more surprising are the number of boulangeries, or bakeries selling baguettes and other French goodies (Want your stomach to growl? Look at the Gabonese swan pastries on “Hello, we …

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Monday Meal Review: France

THE SCENE I didn’t tell Ava on purpose. I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face. When I opened the front door she squealed and jerked her body to the side. She pitter-pattered her feet up and down in a “wobble-wiggle-squat” move, her bulky diaper-butt leading the way. This was her happy dance, like I’d never seen it before. She got so excited she actually fell over. She popped right back up, her tiny body shaking in a hysterical giggle-fit, and toddled out onto our front stoop in her stocking feet. Her arms were open and raised up in the frosty air. “Anya, Anya!” she shouted. There, getting out of the car, was her old friend Sanya (they’ve known each other since they were just a few months old), coming for our French Global Table Adventure. Ava spent the next ten minutes running around the house, shouting in high-pitched, giddy baby-babble, grabbing toys and presenting them to Sanya. She even grabbed the cat, grunting as she tried to lift it across the slippery …

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Grapefruit and Ginger Tart

Celebrate late winter with this French-inspired, bright citrus tart, featuring grapefruit and ginger flavored pastry cream on top of a spicy gingersnap crust. The candied ginger garnish is the exclamation point to this perky citrus dessert. I created this dessert for a contest on Food52. The flavor was so good – tart and sweet and gingery – I thought I’d share it with you here, during French week. I came up with this happy combination while playing around with a classic French citrus tart recipe in “The Cordon Bleu at Home.” The result is a far cry from tradition. While the flavor combination is unusual, the ginger and grapefruit really complement each other. Even Mr. Picky gave it rave reviews, exclaiming “I could eat the whole thing.” As you know, that’s a pretty good review, coming from him. SERVES 6-8 For the Grapefruit & Ginger Pastry Cream: 1 cup strained, fresh grapefruit juice 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger 3 egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon flour 1 tablespoon corn starch 1 teaspoon brandy (optional) butter, as needed For the garnish: 1 teaspoon finely …

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Serves 4 When I was little, mom made ratatouille all the time. We ate it hot in the winter and cold in the summer, but always with loads of garlic. She’s half Italian, half Hungarian so – naturally – I figured ratatouille was a dish from our own, personal heritage.Later, when I moved to France, ratatouille turned up everywhere. Who knew? Ratatouille is French, French, French. Most popular in the south of France, around Nice (one of the hotspots for rich and famous folk, on the French Riviera), ratatouille means “to toss food together.” They key to great flavor is browning the veggies. With summer on the horizon, I dream about grilling each ingredient and tossing together into a ratatouille inspired salad. Ingredients: 1/3-1/4 cup olive oil (as desired) 1 large onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, cut in 1″ pieces 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in 1″pieces 6 cloves garlic, sliced 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, sliced into rounds 1 small eggplant – about 1 1/2 pounds – cubed 4 roma tomatoes, chopped 1/4 tsp chopped fresh …

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Chocolate, Espresso & Vanilla Pots de Crème

Makes 8 individual desserts Some days are so good – so deliriously happy, happy, happy – that I cannot limit myself to just one dessert to celebrate, even if it is a fabulously good French one… Today is such a day because, when I told Ava “I love you,” she smiled big and lovingly, and gave me…. two… thumbs… up. She only just learned how to give a thumbs up yesterday, so I’m feeling pretty special right about now. In honor of her cuteness, we’re going with a sampler style celebration – 3 different flavors – perfect for parties, potlucks, or elegant dinners. The key to a good pot de creme isn’t a thick, creamy interior. In fact, despite the name, the dessert doesn’t even have to contain cream. It can be as delicate as a custard, which this is most definitely. Our version is an adaptation from Le Cordon Bleu at Home. Ingredients: 3 cups milk 1/4 cup heavy cream 3/4 cup sugar 1 vanilla bean, scraped 3 eggs 3 egg yolks 1 tsp vanilla …

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French Onion Soup | Teardrop Onion Soup

Serves 4 Do you need a good cry? Today is the day. Paris can handle your tears. Trust me, I know. All you have to do is make a pot of French Onion Soup. By the time you slurp your last sip, and crunch on the last of the cheesy crouton, you will be renewed. After my brother died everything hurt. The thing was, as bad as it felt, I didn’t really know how bad I was hurting. I tried to ignore it. To keep going. I didn’t want to look my grief in the face. It was an ugly, unwieldy monster. If I allowed myself feel the pain and actually let the tears out, I felt weak. On my brother’s birthday, the first one that came up after he died, I decided to wear all black. I was going to face the pain. I hadn’t even made it half way down the stairs when my foster mom called up to me. “Little girls don’t wear all black. Go change your clothes.” She had the thankless job …

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To like or to love, that is the question.

Do you want to tell someone you love them in French? “Je t’aime.” Do you want to tell someone you like them in French? “Je t’aime.” It gets confusing when you’re a geeked out adolescent, trying not to sound too eager when talking about the cute guy in your class. It matters less when talking about food. Or family. In fact, the French language has an important message for all of us. We shouldn’t just love our loved ones. We should like them, too. Makes sense to me.

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