Monthly Archives: March 2013

France Part 2!!


France part 2

So here is part two of my France blog!!

Fashion and French food are not the only thing happening in Paris. We had a couple great dinners that are not classically French, but just as delicious!


Turkish food in Paris is fresh and a great late night dine, especially since most restaurants close around 10:30pm for food and turn into more of the bar/café scene. We were in Paris for a convention and by the time we got out of the convention, most of the places to eat around our hotel were long-closed for food. We happened to come across this Turkish spot on one of the main streets near where we were staying. Granted we were staying out in the 16th district, far from the center of Paris, but that is where the convention was. So this Turkish place looked like your average kebob eatery, the vertical spit with the gyro meat temptingly spinning around, showing off its lovely meat for all to order. The guys working there were so nice. They seemed pleased to have such late night patrons, not put out as could be expected. I ordered the chicken shwarma plate. It was chicken gyro meat with rice, salad and French fries. Now it does not sound super exciting, but let me tell you, at 12:30 on a weeknight with nothing else around and starving- it hit the spot! Everything was super fresh, not oily or overcooked. It was the perfect way to end a hectic day.


The other non-French eatery that we made it to was a place owned and operated by a Japanese female chef. The concept is Japanese-Northern European fusion, and it works! We had a foie gras tataki that was what you would expect, delicate and rich. I ate for a main course marinated salmon sashimi over sushi rice. The food was great; atmosphere was simple yet trendy and service was friendly especially considering our poor French!

So in honor of fusion cooking and French cuisine, I will post for you a recipe for foie gras nigiri. It is the perfect marriage of Japanese and French ingredients and techniques.

Foie gras is fattened duck liver, either sautéed in slices or can be made into a terrine or pate. Historians say that ancient Egyptians were the first to practice overfeeding geese to enlarge the liver for eating. It has been a delicacy ever since, mainly used in French cuisine. It is now illegal in California as animal rights activists lobby against the practice of making foie gras, but I am not going to get political or dive into morals in this blog. This blog is simply about good food. It is not as difficult as you might think to prepare this meat product. Read on to find out how! This is a lengthy blog, so please stay with me and it will be worth it!


Foie Gras Nigiri with Yuzu and Blackberry Compote and Julienne Shiso Leaf

makes about 15-20 nigiri

 Yuzu and Blackberry Compote and Julienne Shiso Leaf

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 Yuzu juice, Japanese lemon-like citrus you can find at some Asian markets

4 Whole yuzu peels, cut into small slices- about 1/8 inch thick

2 cups blackberries, rinsed

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup blackberry or raspberry liqueur

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

10 Shiso leaves, Julienne or thinly sliced

If you cannot find yuzu fresh, you can use yuzu marmalade or if you cannot find that, use 2 lemons

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat until melted and bubbly. Add the berries and yuzu peels and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, yuzu juice and liqueur and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. (Be careful: The liqueur may ignite. If it does, cool the berry mixture until the flames die down.) Add the ginger and cinnamon, mix well, and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Spoon a little over the foie gras nigiri and garnish with shiso leaf.


 Foie Gras

1 piece Foie gras; the whole liver, deveined and sliced ½ inch thick and about the length of the middle finger on your hand or as desired


First, find a high-quality foie gras at a gourmet market or food purveyor. It should look slightly shiny with NO bruising or discoloration. The color should be pale beige with pinkish tones. There should be no cyrstals on the package. That could mean it had gone frozen poorly or defrosted and refrozen without cooking which is a no-no. The texture should be firm, leaving no imprint or marks where it has been touched or handled. You can kkep foie gras in your freezer for usually 18-24 months in a vacuum-sealed freezer package, but keep note of the expiration date on the package. Defrost the foie gras in the refrigerator for as long as 24 hours before preparing it to cook.

Foie gras must be deveined before cooking. Let the piece sit out for about 5-7 minutes in room temperature to soften the texture. The veins are normally about 2 centimeters below the surface. Cut along the middle of the piece careful not to cut the veins. Dig with your fingers to find the vein, gently remove the layer above them and very gently pull the veins out.

Slice the piece into ½ inch thick pieces and slice those into desired nigiri length pieces, foie gras will shrink when cooking so keep that in mind! Dip the knife in hot water before you slice, you will end up with much prettier slices. You will need to cook and eat the foie gras within 2-3 days after defrosting, very important!

To cook, heat up the sautee pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes and carefully sear each slice of foie gras for about 30-35 seconds on each side. This will produce the cooking temperature of rare, which is optimum for enjoying. Cook each piece and place on top of rice ball. Top with compote and shiso leaf.

Sushi rice

1c Japanese rice

1/8c rice vinegar

4Tbls sugar

2Tbls salt

1 small piece konbu; about 3inch by 3 inch, wiped with a damp cloth

Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Strain and add rice and 1c water to rice cooker. Place the konbu on top of the rice and turn on the rice cooker. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook the rice COVERED on high until it comes to a boil for 10 minutes and lower the heat to low for another 12. Leave covered the whole time, that is very important. After the 12 minutes, take off the heat and let the rice sit covered for another 10-12 minutes. While the rice is cooking, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt together and mix thoroughly. Immediately after the rice is finished cooking, pour the rice vinegar mixture over the rice via a rice paddle or wooden spoon, using the rice paddle or wooden spoon as a spout to spread the rice vinegar more evenly. Mix rice using a back and forth slicing action, do not turn the rice over too much as the rice will get mushy. Let cool and cover with a damp towel so the rice does not dry out.

Once cool, form small (about the size of a large marble) rice balls in the shape of a football. Make the balls firm but not like a rock, the rice should stay in the shape but fall apart in the mouth. Place each piece of cooked foie gras on top of the rice ball, place gently on a platter and garnish with a little of the compote.


P.s. if you want to put a nori band (toasted seaweed for sushi cut into strips) around the nigiri, feel free. Just take a sheet of nori, cut in half and cut them into strips the short way. Put around the it in the center of the nigiri.



photos compliments of Getty images


France Part 1: Steak Au Proivre with Pomme Frites


France Part 1


Steak Au Proivre


I just came back from a week in France and so I had to write a blog about French cuisine and my experience this last week.

First of all I love France, viva la France! I love the fashion, the pulse of the city, and I love the French people- especially the new friends we met on our stay.

We ate at some pretty amazing places. The first night out we ate at a little spot across from our hotel. It was a bunch of us, so our ordering was eclectic. I had caprese salad and steak and frites. I loved the way they cut the potatoes at this spot, they looked like they had been scooped out of a potato in thick shavings.

Another highlight of my culinary experience was this restaurant we went to called Chez Julien. The bunch of us had a private room upstairs. I had for a starter, a foie gras terrine with black truffles and fig compote. For main course I had steak au proivre, its filet mignon with a peppercorn sauce usually served with pomme frites, or shoestring fried potatoes…. Amazing! Dessert was an incredible crème brule with sautéed apples on the bottom. The dinner was relaxing and everyone had a great time, leaving with their cheeks flushed from French champagne and good food.


Today I will give you a recipe for steak au proivre, a staple of French eating. Steak au proivre is a classic French dish using usually filet mignon cuts of beef. The beef is crusted with roughly cracked black peppercorns and seared on a pan and finished in the oven for desired temperature. The sauce served with the steak is made using cognac reduced in the pan used to sear the steaks, and cream as a base. Shallots or djon mustard can be added to the sauce. An easy and delicious dinner for any occasion!


Steak Au Proivre with Pomme Frites


Steak Au Proivre

4 boneless beef filet steaks, about 3-4 inches thick

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy

3/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 200°F.

Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt.

Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks.

Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks as cooked to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven while making sauce.

Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (2 tablespoons) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated. Serve sauce with steaks.


Pomme Frites

 4-6 Baking potatoes cut into thin matchstick strips (About 1/4 wide and 1.5 inches long.)

1-2Tbls Potato starch

Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

Sea salt, to taste

 Soak the potatoes for 10 minutes in cold water. Drain.

Dry potatoes in a salad spinner or with paper towels.

Toss potatoes with potato starch. (Available at most large markets and Asian groceries.) The potato starch changes the dynamics of frying in peanut oil as it provides a dry starch surface rather than a wet, potato starch surface. 

Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees and fry using tongs to separate the potato strips.

When well browned, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. (If your frying temperature was correct, there should be virtually no oil on the paper towels.)

Toss gently in a bowl with sea salt and serve warm.


Bon appetite!!!!

There will be more good eating stories in part two of my France blog….

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops With Banana Curry and Mango Salsa

Back when I worked in Dubai, another chef friend of mine made a banana curry with grilled scallops. The dish was phenomenal and I want to share this recipe with you. I will take it a bit further though and wrap the scallops in bacon and finish the dish with a little mango salsa, just to change it up a bit. It would also be a nice compliment to serve this dish over jasmine rice. This is a great spring/summer dish that I picture myself enjoying on my patio on a balmy evening with my husband and my dog. This dish would go great with a dry, crisp white wine.

Bacon-wrapped scallops with Banana-coconut curry and mango salsa over jasmine rice

Makes 4 servings


Banana Coconut Curry

2 Banans, smashed

3Tbls Curry powder

3 tps Dried coriander

2tsp Dry mustard

3Tbls Unsalted butter

Zest of 2 limes

8tsp Lime juice

1 Can coconut milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all and lightly simmer for 30-40 minutes, reducing the curry by 10%. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the rice and under the scallops and mango salsa.


Mango Salsa

2 Ripe but firm mangos, small dice

1/2 Red onion, very small dice (brunoise)

2 Jalepeno,  leave the seeds of one and brunoise (leave the seeds of both if you want a spicier salsa)

1/2 Bunch of cilantro, stemmed and lightly chopped

1/2 Red bell pepper, brunoise

Lime juice of 3 limes

Lemon juice of 1 lemon

1/8c Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients together and mix. Adjust the lime and lemon and olive oil ratio to taste if needed.

Jasmine rice

2c Jasmine rice

2c Water

Rinse and drain rice. Put rice in a pot with a lid or the rice cooker and add measured water. If cooking on the stove, cook covered on high and bring to a boil. Lower heat to low and simmer rice covered for 20-25 minutes or until rice is light and fluffy. Serve under curry, bacon-wrapped scallops and mango salsa.


Bacon-wrapped scallops

12 fresh scallops

12 pieces of smoked bacon

salt and pepper, to taste

3Tbls butter (if pan-searing)

12 plain, wood toothpicks

You can grill or pan-sear and finish in the oven. Grilling will add a great smokey flavor, but pan-searing will give it a rich, buttery finish. Both ways are amazing, try them both!

Pan-searing: Preheat oven to 450F. Heat up a sauté pan on high and melt the butter. Wrap each scallop with one piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick.  Dust both sides of bacon-wrapped scallop with salt and pepper and place on the pan in batches unless the pan is large enough for all twelve. Sear each side of bacon-wrapped scallop so that each side is nicely browned, about 1-2 minutes each side. Transfer to a baking sheet and heat in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the scallop begins to feel firm to the touch. Take them out just before you think they are done, they will continue to cook a bit after you take them out of the oven. Place over the rice and curry, top with the mango salsa. Enjoy!


Photos courtesy of Getty images

Chicken Stroganoff


Chicken Stroganoff

Chicken Stroganoff is a “healthier” alternative to the famed beef stroganoff dish. The name stroganoff supposedly comes from the powerful and wealthy Stroganov family of Russia. It was first seen in a cookbook in a Russian cookbook for young wives in the mid 1800s. It consisted of cubed beef lightly dusted with flour, sautéed and served with a buillon and mustard sauce finished with sour cream. In the beginning of the 20th century tomato paste was added to the recipe and was served with fried potato straws, a common side dish in Russia. The recipe has changed over the years and after the Russian revolution, it became popularized and was served in hotels and spread into China. Military men overseas in pre-Communist China and Chinese immigrants brought the dish and many variations over to The United States and became popular and “upscale” in the 1950’s. Today it is served with mushrooms, onions, and either rice or egg noodles. 

Today I will give a recipe for chicken stroganoff, it is a lighter version of the beef version. I will be serving it with brown rice, which I recommend as a whole grain alternative. 


Chicken Stroganoff Recipe

4 servings


3Tbls unsalted butter

1 medium onion, medium dice

2-3c white mushrooms, sliced

1 1/4pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cubed or cut into chunks

2Tbls flour

2-3tsp paprika

Salt and black pepper to taste

1c chicken or veg stock

1Tbls Worcestershire   sauce or mustard

1/2c sour cream

Parsley for garnish

Melt half of the butter in a large skillet or saucepan on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until they start to turn transparent and add the mushrooms, cook until they start to brown, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken, flour, other half of the butter and 3/4 of the paprika to the pan and brown the chicken, 3-4 minutes. Add the mustard or Worcestershire and the chicken or veg stock and bring to a light simmer. Let it simmer until the dish thickens and chicken cook all they way through, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve over the rice and garnish with the parsley, a dash of paprika and a dollop of sour cream. 


Brown Rice

2c brown rice

3 1/4c water

Rinse and strain rice.

Stovetop directions: Soak rice in a medium sized pot with a lid with the measured water for about 45 minutes. Then put the pot on the stove covered and bring to a boil on high, keeping it on high about 12-15 minutes. Promptly turn the heat down to low and cook for another 15-17 minutes. Take the rice off the heat and let it sit for another 12-15 minutes, keeping it covered the whole time. Keeping the steam in through the whole cooking process is very important to rice. Remove lid and fluff up the rice and serve under the stroganoff. 



photos by me






Easy Tomato Sauce


Easy Tomato Sauce

 Tomato sauce is a really easy and delicious sauce to make and it goes with so many different things. It is another great food to make in bulk and freeze in portions for later meals. I usually make enough for at least a few meals or a couple lasagnas.


There are a few different tomato sauces; the French Mother Sauce, the Italian (of course), Mexican tomato sauce, Indian tomato sauce, Louisiana/Cajun, and of course even tomato ketchup could count. I will talk about a basic but flavorful Italian-style tomato sauce today. You can use it plain; leave it un-pureed and add capers or olives and basil to make it a marinara; or even add ground beef and make it a bolognaise.


Tomatoes were not originally from Italy; they came over from the Americas via the Spanish. The first record of the tomato in Italy was in a Neapolitan cookbook in 1692 and the first time paired with pasta in 1790.   


Tomato Sauce

 2, 28oz cans of crushed tomato

5 Roma tomatoes, large dice

2 Large yellow onions, large dice

10cl garlic, rough dice

3 large dried bay leaves

1/4c-dried oregano

1TBLS crushed, dried red chili flakes

1/2c dry red wine (chianti is great)

1 ½ olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large saucepot, heat up half of the olive oil on med-high and add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, and crushed red chilies. Let the onions sweat until they turn translucent (the sweated onions will release sugars that will take the tartness of the crushed tomatoes away). When the onions are translucent, add the wine and cook off the alcohol, about 3 minutes. After that, add the canned tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil (the fat in olive oil brings out the flavors, use it generously!) and bring to a light simmer. Turn down the heat to low and let the sauce simmer lightly for about 45 minutes to an hour. If you want a smooth sauce, puree and then season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want to leave it chunky, season after the 45-1 hour is up.  You can freeze in freezer baggies or Tupperware, but be sure to portion them out so you do not defrost extra sauce and waste it!! Enjoy!!


Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Food Trend: Farm to Table


Along with the organics movement and the sustainable living shift in American thinking, another trend vastly becoming more popular every year is farm to table. What is farm to table? Is this a trend that is here to stay in this environmentally friendly age or is it another flash in the pan like molecular gastronomy or Japanese- Peruvian fusion cuisine was? I want to write about this food trend today and explore the topic of eating locally and seasonally.

Farm to table simply means foods that are served commercially were grown and/or butchered locally, with little or no middleman (food suppliers and larger, chain grocery stores). The products are organic and tend to be seasonal because of the local environment they were grown in. The famed food writer Alice Waters is a huge supporter and pioneer in this movement. She talks about keeping traditional and ancient food-production/preparation methods alive; eating whole, natural (genetically UNmodified foods!) foods in their natural season and environment; and linking education to farming, local farms and farming communities.


Farm to table is by far not a new concept (but as of late, the general public is starting to catch on and gave it its name), and anyone who has read any of Alice Waters books or eaten at French Laundry in Northern California, knows that they have been talking about this concept for years. I recently went to NYC to be with my mother-in-law for the birth of my newest nephew. My brother-in-law told me that farm to table is a big trend lately, which surprised me and didn’t surprise me at the same time. It surprised me in that I just did not think of farm to table in a metropolis like NYC and did not ever think about where local farms are in the area. But it didn’t surprise me at the same time because, well, it is NYC after all and you can find anything in NYC if you really want to. It got me thinking about how many other cities have caught on. I honestly thought farm to table was more of a Midwest thing. It’s where I grew up and had my first experience with farm to table dining while on a visit a few years ago. It just seems natural in the Midwest where there are so many farms, ranches and farmer’s markets.  If you want to eat farm to table, I recommend visiting your local farmer’s market and looking up any local ranches or animal farms and see if they sell to individuals. But besides eating locally and seasonally, try to eat organic when possible. Hope this blog was informative today and gets you thinking local and seasonal when cooking!

Great Food Documentaries On Netflix

There are a lot of food documentaries out there with tons of information on everything from getting the inside scoop on some of your favorite chefs around the world to how the food industry works for the good and for the bad. I recently got Netflix and have been watching some of the food related documentaries they offer. The ones I’ve seen have been inspiring and informative. So today I will give you a brief over-view and an opinion or two on the three I have watch thus far. Have a great day and happy watching/eating!



Jiro Dreams of Sushi

The first thing I want to say about Jiro is that he is one of my heroes. His work ethic is amazing and transferable to any occupation. And he has the age, success and wisdom to back it all up. Even a tattoo artist friend of mine got inspired for his own artistry by listening to what Jiro had to say about basically putting your head down and just working hard at something you love. Not only is this documentary inspirational on a professional level, but you should watch it just before dinner so you can rush out immediately after to your nearest sushi bar. Your stomach will be aching for sushi after watching Jiro and his sons make the most delectable nigiri for 82 minutes! This is a MUST SEE!!



Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

This Documentary is another great one. This guy Joe Cross embarks on a quest to better his failing health and inspire others to do the same. He starts out over-weight with many health issues. He is taking a lot of meds for various problems like skin issues and high blood-pressure. When he starts juicing, his quest for a juicing revolution begins. He looses massive amounts of weight, gets off his meds and looks amazing! After his success, he gets a few people to go on a juicing fast of their own to better their health. When you see the difference juicing makes on everyone in the film, you immediately go out and buy a juicer and truck loads of kale the next day. This movie is so great that it almost brought me to tears the first time I saw it. Another MUST SEE!



Hungry for Change

Hungry for Change is a good eye-opener on the commercial food industry and how it is really geared to making people fatter and capitalizing on that. All the processed foods and fad diets are making people addicted to foods that are actually detrimental to one’s health instead of being what food should traditionally be, something to give you nutrients to live. This documentary really puts into perspective the scams being done by the food industry and the ignorance of most consumers. It will make you angry and disgusted but will change the way you think about the food you buy for the better. One more MUST SEE!

If you have any other great food documentaries, please share!!

Happy watching and enjoy!!