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Good morning it’s Saturday brunch!

4 Aug

Today is an amazing day already for two reasons: 1 it’s Saturday so it means lazy weekend with Tummy boy, great brunch and going out; 2 I just made Peach cobbler for the first time and (thanks Paula Dean) it turned great!

There is nothing such as cobbler in French cuisine (and I don’t know the translation). It could be described as a mix between Tarte tatin, Crumble, Gâteau aux fruits. Anyway it is made with fruits and you can usually serve it warm with a scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream.

Since I had no idea before on how to make peach cobbler, I took Paula Dean‘s recipe, a safe bet. It turned out to be extremely easy to make and delicious! We served it with some butterfinger ice-cream Tummy boy made last night. Yummy!!

Below is the recipe:

Peach Cobbler

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Ground cinnamon, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.



Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wrong about ribs

5 Apr

I still remember my first dinner in an American restaurant. That was 2 years ago in Washington D.C. The place was called The Diner. My friend and I, both international students, had landed in D.C. for the weekend just one week after we arrived in the U.S. We knew nothing about the city nor about places to go out. I had a city guide from France saying that Adams Morgan area was great. So we headed to Adams Morgan!

The place was crowded and noisy. People were drinking large beers at the bar and biting into huge burgers, while the waiters were zigzagging through the wood tables bringing orders and water. Some will think nothing exceptional. But for me everything was new. In France, I did not need to show my I.D. to enter a restaurant, waiters would not welcome you with a large smile nor spontaneously bring tap water and above all that I was used to small and gourmet menu restaurants and not to some woody, smoky and smelly American bars and pubs.

I ordered ribs. The Chipotle Baby Back Ribs, drenched with a chipotle barbeque sauce and served with French fries and cole slaw. These were the best I had ever had, at that time. The sauce amazed me and the combination of cole slaw and French fries completely filled my huge appetite. Another time that year I had ribs in NYC. They were the same: a large rack of ribs covered with BBQ sauce and served with cole slaw, corn cake and French fries. I was hooked. Back to France I could never be satisfied with ribs. They were ever too short, too grilled, too dry. Or it was the sauce, too artificial, too red, or too orange. Back to the U.S. this year, I had great expectations about ribs. Going out for ribs was like the ultimate dining experience I was looking for.

The ribs at Hill Country, NYC.

The truth is that it happened randomly and I realized I had been wrong about ribs since that time in D.C.

I was born on St Patrick’s Day. The night of my birthday, we headed to Williamsburg and crawled along some bars. We ended up in the Two Door Tavern serving Irish food. Since the menu did not inspire me, I ordered ribs. I was expecting the same ribs and barbecue sauce, Fries and maybe cole slaw. Sweet memories. But the waiter brought boneless spare ribs, of a grey color, in a red wine demi glace, served with horseradish mashed potatoes. Where was my mouth watering BBQ sauce? The rich brown copper meat? I looked desperately glanced at Tummy Boy, biting my lips. If these ribs were not good, my birthday night would be ruined.

What I discovered enchanted me. The meat was tender, so tender I could slice it without any effort. It was soft and melting in my mouth. The mashed potatoes were light and the sauce reminded me of Boeuf Bourguignon. In fact, it was perfect.

The Mac&Cheese side at Hill Country, NYC.

The ribs experience repeated last week. My parents visiting from France, I wanted to take them out for the best ribs of their life. If they would love the ribs, they would also love NYC, the U.S. and their whole trip. After some research online, I had the list of the best ribs in town. My criteria were not easy: live music, typical American but no cliché setting, good price. And of course, the best ribs. We went to Hill Country smokehouse. It is a market, cafeteria style with live music. First I had a hard time figuring out how much I wanted. I was hungry for sure. I opted for 3 big pork ribs with macaroni and cheese. Simply served on a tray, with no sauce, they were delicious. The meat was juicy, flavorful and tasted like smoke. Only the price kept me from ordering more. The corn pudding was also delightful.

For sure I still have a lot of ribs cooking styles to taste. But now, I’m not wrong anymore.

Boeuf Bourguignon, Julia Child and I

12 Mar

Can you be French and have never cooked Boeuf Bourguignon?

Recently I watched again Julie&Julia, that movie that draws a parallel between the lives of a New Yorker cook and Julia Child, the famous American chef and author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie, the young New Yorker, assigns herself the challenge of cooking the 524 recipes featured in the book within one year. One of the decisive recipe that appears in the movie is Boeuf Bourguignon. It is depicted both as complex to make and succulent to eat. It is also often presented as being the essence of French cooking. It is true, Boeuf Bourguignon seems to be in most of the French restaurants here and my cook friends quote it systematically when talking about French cuisine. Thus, I have been thinking about Boeuf Bourguignon for a while and last weekend I gave myself the challenge to cook Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. My first Boeuf Bourguignon… by an American chef.

Getting ready for the Boeuf Bourguignon cooking night

I read that Boeuf Bourguignon is even better if cook in advanced and re heated. Sunday night was the perfect spot: nobody home, plenty of time, relaxed cook. I got everything I needed and followed the advice of the wine salesman: I took a French wine mixing Pinot Noir and Shiraz, good to cook and good to drink (in fact he was quoting Julia Child who said, “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking. “).

I started at 9pm. By 12am, it was almost finished. I was surprised I did not encounter any major issue. In fact, I did not meet any issue at all. I carefully followed the recipe: cook the bacon, cut it into lardons, sauté the meat until brown, repeat with sliced onion and carrot, simmer wine, beef bouillon with the meat, add flour, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and cover for 2 hours. At the end, when the meat is tender, I added sautéed mushrooms and small onions cooked into the bouillon. I did not have the right pan to simmer it slowly in the oven so I did it on the stove on a big saucepan. I kept the heat very low and it was perfect.

So far, it tastes amazingly good. The meat is tender and the sauce is thick and sweet. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a Julia Child’s recipe, if I am influenced by the movie or just because it is Boeuf Bourguignon but so far, I think it is one of the best meal I have ever cooked.

Tasting and verdict of Tummy Boy tomorrow night though…

The ingredients:

• 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep

• Slotted spoon

• 6 ounces bacon

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil

• 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes

• 1 sliced carrot

• 1 sliced onion

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

• 2 Tbsp. flour

• 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti

• 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon

• 1 Tbsp. tomato paste

• 2 cloves mashed garlic

• 1/2 tsp. thyme

• Crumbled bay leaf

• Blanched bacon rind

• 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock

• 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter

• Parsley sprigs

In the kitchen with Julia child, here

The Green Fairy

16 Feb

Absinthe has always had its allure to Americans, the forbidden alcohol!  Banned in the U.S. and France for its hallucinogenic and demonizing reputation, the Green Fairy only gained a greater longing desire as a result.  This green potent liquor has been made more popular through “pop” movies and those traveling abroad to countries where it’s legal and comeback to tell their tale.  I think most young people including myself until recently would associate this alcohol with Eastern Europe giving it a greater feeling of mysterious and forbiddances as we make a connection in our minds with “The Iron Curtain.”  Well after a little curiosity, research and some absinthe experiences it has been revealed to me that this green absinthe is not real absinthe in fact but grain alcohol with green coloring.  It is a marketing technique by eastern European countries to draw in tourists.  True absinthe is a lot like Pasties and is made with wormwood; it has a murky color, anise taste and clouds when mixed with water (which is the proper way to drink it).

Absinthe has a very rich history.   I will say I am the first to compare Absinthe with SPAM.  What a comparison!   Well if you enjoy history maybe you have already made the link.  Absinthe first became popular in France’s North African wars, being mixed with water for a cheap and easy way to purify the water.  After the war, the returning soldiers had a palate for this new drink.  Thus, just as whenever there is a demand there is someone to quickly supply it.   And it quickly became the drink of drinks in 1920’s France, Hemmingway, Wilde, Picasso, Lautrec, Stein, and every other artist or common folk par took in this beverage.  It was said that it expanded imagination causing the imbiber to reach a higher level of revelation/thought process.  Today we also say goldschlagers tiny gold filaments cuts your throat so your body takes in the alcohol more quickly.  Marketing?  But how did this drink all of the sudden become so evil that it was made illegal for more than half a century?   The answer, lobbying, by wine producers and social activists.  Two major reasons, wine consumption was down and the country needed an escape goat for rising alcoholism rates.  Apparently more people drink when out of work, think the great depression, the U.S. had Prohibition.  It would only take a second World War to boost up the economies again.  Well I’m off topic.

Man with the Absinthe

Getting off work late one night I headed to an absinthe bar.  What an interesting place this was, not New York City at all, like I could have been in some small bar in the Scotland county side, antique furnishings, dust, a little bare, somewhat old fashioned cliental…very appropriate for what I had read about absinthe.   With the streets quiet and me absorbed in the environment I questioned if my subway train had a flex capacitor and traveled at 88 mph.   Two old UK expats owned the place.   Slow moving and talking but very smooth with their movements, they had all the knowledge of Absinthe I needed.  $15.00 a glass and a story like tale as they prepared and sipped the green fairy with us, the night turned out very well.

La purée de Mamie

13 Jan

Personal memories linked to a special cook or a special meal from the past can be a stereotype or a common topos in food writing (this is what Dianne Jacob suggests in her book Will write for food evoking editors’ exasperation with these stories). But I am convinced that they are worth sharing. So let’s get tummy nostalgic for a moment…

One of my favorite meals is smashed potatoes. It comes from the days of my grandmother (the inspirational grandmother is what constitutes the cliché; but we love our grandmothers and they deserve being remembered one way or another). She used to cook the exact same lunch every Saturday: a juicy beef steak cooked in a big piece of margarine and ground pepper, lettuce salad with shallots vinaigrette and smashed potatoes. She would serve me a piece of steak and then creamy potatoes, digging a hole in the middle and pouring in some of the meat sauce. Usually I would go back to the pan and take more sauce as the purée would disappear from my plate.

Smashed potatoes are easy to cook but the result always varies depending on the ingredients used to flavor them. Even if she was not using any specific recipe, I know from memories of watching her preparing the meal while listening to the 1pm news on TV that she would mash the potatoes with milk, then put a large piece of margarine with salt and ground pepper. I am not sure but I think she would also add some whipped cream. At the end, she topped it with an egg yolk to give it this beige color and link the whole preparation into a very creamy one. I use to complain to my mom that her mashed potatoes were not as good as her own mother’s. My grandmother always answered vaguely about what made it so special. Maybe she did not know herself, but I am still very convinced she had a secret. The smell filling up the small apartment, the consistency and the well known taste of it constitute a vivid memory. I was never able to cook the same mashed potatoes or make that sauce by myself, nor was I able to taste it again anywhere.

Years later, I had the chance to taste mashed sweet potatoes during my first Christmas in an American family. Sweet potatoes are not a common ingredient in France and I must admit I was a little bit skeptical about it. I know the tendency of Americans to sweeten everything, from mustard to chicken.  And the idea of mixing it with marshmallow was a total affront to my grandmother’s meat and margarine sauce. But what I discovered enchanted my palate: creamy, with a slight sense of maple syrup, the mashed sweet potatoes were not only savory but good looking with the marshmallows on top, alike a lemon pie topped with small meringues.

I forgot to ask the cook the recipe so it will stay a mysterious tasty memory, alike my grandmother’s mashed potatoes.

Hello tummy!

9 Jan

A collection of hungry tummies stories…

Why write about food, simply put because Tummy boy and Tummy girl love it. They love eating, and they love eating good: rich and creamy dairy, fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, meat or anything they can’t pronounce.

From this blog they just want to document their food experiences in creative way through Reviews (Tummy tips), Food history (Tummy traditions), Recipes (Tummy treats) and Travels (Tummy trips).

If you enjoy this make a comment or just keep reading!