Tomato Salad French Style

There’s not a whole lot to this tomato salad from At Home with the French Classics. As I often say, sometimes simplicity is best with cooking so don’t snub your nose at this one.

All you need to make this is juicy plump tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and chives.

The first step is to slice your tomatoes. If you are serving more than one person, you’ll want to slice a whole tomato per person.

For the vinaigrette, use equal amounts of lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. I eye balled mine, but if I had to make a measurement guess, I’d say one tablespoon of lemon juice, oil, and chives should do the trick.

Whisk that mixture up and then drizzle it on your tomatoes and you are good to go!

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Ignore my poor slicing skills, this tomato was on it’s way to not being so fresh so it got a little mushy in the slicing process. It still tasted juicy and scrumptious and that’s what really matters.

What are my other opinions? Well, I’ve drizzled olive oil and basil on my tomatoes before, but I’ve never added lemon juice and chives to the mix.

I think my Italian heritage prefers basil, but the lemon juice is a nice touch and the chives aren’t bad either. It’s just my Italian blood’s preference of basil really.

What I like about the lemon juice add is that it gives the tomatoes a slight citrus taste that balances out the acidity which is odd cause lemons are acidic. I guess it’s like when you multiply two negatives and get a positive number or something.

Side note, that always baffled me as a kid. What kind of mysticism is this that two negatives make a positive? That’s not what we are taught growing up!

Anyway, I recommend you try this out on a hot summer day when you just need a healthy refreshing snack or as a side dish to a light summer meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

Smoke on the Sausage Salad

I was surprised when I opened up The French Farmhouse Cookbook for my next recipe to find that putting sausage on your salad is a thing.

I’m an omnivore who enjoys the fine cuisine of sausage, but never have I ever had a sausage salad.

Then I thought about it more. Why is that such a surprise? I mean why not put sausage on your salad? We put steak, chicken, and even seafood on top of beds of lettuce and call it salad. Yet, this was a shocker to me.

What was not a shocker, spoiler alert, is that it’s quite good.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 smoked sausages, such as kielbasa
  • 2 cups of white wine, such as Sancerre Blanc
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 7 ounces of escarole or curly endive leaves (8 cups loosely packed), rinsed patted dry, and torn into bite-size pieces

Our first step is to cook the sausage in that fine white wine you bought and are hopefully drinking as you cook because why not? Crazier things have been done.

The cookbook says to add water until the sausages are covered with liquid. It also says you can use all of the wine. I took this as for yourself, but it might have been about the sausage.

Oops…

Anyway, bring the sausages to a boil, then reduce the heat to allow it to simmer partially covered for 20-30 minutes.

As the sausage is simmering, go ahead and make the salad dressing which consists of whisking the vinaigrette, salt, pepper, shallot, and olive oil together. Next, add this dressing to the escarole and toss.

When time is up for the sausages, remove them from the pan and slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. It is also suggested that you create a rosette pattern with the sausage bits.

I have to say that I appreciate this authors dedication to beauty and creativity.

Serve your sausage piece of art alongside bread and that wine that you may or may not have drunk while cooking.

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My final result turned out to be another simplistic dish that satisfied the pleasure centers of my tastebuds. The combination of juicy plump sausages soaked in white wine and bitter vinegar soaked escarole left me wondering why I never tried it before.

So, yes I do recommend sausage on a salad and look forward to others making this discovery as well. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Shrimp and Scallop Salad

Well folks, I have another easy recipe to write about.

If you’re looking for a challenge I suggest renting a boat and fishing for your own scallops and shrimp, otherwise there’s not a whole lot of challenge to this salad from At Home with the French Classics.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just miss the days when something would go wrong and I could write something funny and entertaining. Talk about challenges. I am challenged in the being entertaining department these days.

What you’ll need

  • 3/4 pound of large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound of sea scallops, rinsed, tendon removed
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs, dill, chives, or basil
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves

The first step is boil 3 quarts of water. Place your seafood in the water and cook until the water reaches a boil again. Once it boils again, drain the water and rinse the seafood under cold water.

Grab the shrimp and slice in half vertically. Do the same with the scallops only horizontally. You can slice the scallops 2-3 times as well to make the slices smaller.

Once the seafood is sliced, set aside and grab a bowl that will be able to hold all ingredients.

We are not going to add everything just yet, because we need to make the vinaigrette. Do so by mixing the lemon juice and mustard and then the oil. Whisk this away and then season with salt and pepper.

Finally add the herbs and set aside.

We are now ready to serve.

To serve, grab a plate and add a handful of lettuce to it. Then whisk your vinaigrette mixture so it is smooth again and add the seafood. Toss the seafood and vinaigrette together until everything is coated well and then add this mixture to our plates.

By the way, you can get creative with your serving and make a circular design with your salad by overlapping the shrimp and scallops or just place the seafood in the middle with the lettuce surrounding the outer edges.

I opted for just mixing everything together. It didn’t occur to me that I could be creative until after I had already dumped everything together.

Feel free to do what you wish. I would advise no triangles though.

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This is a simple recipe with a simple taste and there’s not much to say. I recommend enjoying this on a hot summer day when you just want to be whisked away to a beachfront locale where everything is perfect and airy.

It’s how I imagine The Hamptons would be if you didn’t look beyond surface appearances.

Little Cheese Puffs aka Gougère

Gougère is basically a Gruyère cheese biscuit reminiscent of the cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster.  Red Lobster better be careful because the French Farmhouse Cookbook gave me a fun little history tidbit that could possibly lead to a lawsuit.

You see it is believed that the French bought the copyright for these little cheese puffs from the Flemish back in the 14th century. According to the cookbook these two cultures were more interested in dealing with recipes for food than money.

No wonder the French were always having issues with the Brits. Can you imagine?

French King: Knock knock…

British King: Yes?

French King: Hey, so we’ve got this cheese puff recipe, would you like to make a trade for….I don’t know, bangers and mash?

British King: (looks at the recipe, looks at the King, looks back at the recipe) Do you think I’m a fool? Last time foreigners tried to invade us they offered us spaghetti! Get out of here!

French King: Oh! No, we just want to experience the delicacies of…(door is slammed in French king’s face) Well, that was rude! I guess we’ll just have to fight for our recipes!

A couple of weeks later, this happened.

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Thankfully in present time, sharing recipes hasn’t resulted in violence and we can safely spread the cheer of the French cheese puffs.

What you’ll need

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, chilled, cut into chunks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup of grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup of minced chives

The first step is to pre-heat the oven to 400 and get your baking sheets out.

Then get some wax paper and sift the flour and nutmeg together on top of the paper.

You are now ready to mix water, salt, and butter in a pan. Heat the pan to medium high heat until the combo starts to boil. Allow that process to go on for 30 seconds and then remove. Add the flour and butter mixture into a bowl you can whisk the mixture in. Whisk away until the dough is no longer sticky. This will take some time and you’ll know when it’s ready when it doesn’t stick to the side as you whisk.

Make sure the dough isn’t warm from the heated butter and then add the eggs, one at a time. Whisk each egg add-in until everything is combined evenly and then add the cheese and finally the chives.

We are finally ready to bake!

Do so, by scooping around a tablespoon of the dough for each puff. Be sure to leave room for the puff to grow so it does not slide into the other. Once you’ve used up the dough, bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes.

You’ll know they are ready when they are slightly browned and puffy. When this occurs take them out of the oven and the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Side note, I need to get a wire rack and if you don’t have one, the best option is to remove them from the pan and place on a cool surface. It’s still better to use a rack if you’ve got it though.

I was pleased with the final result. As I implied earlier these are like Red Lobster cheese biscuits only French style. You can’t go wrong with cheese biscuits so really there isn’t much to say.

The only thing I can say is that the Gruyère gives it a slight bitter taste in comparison to cheddar biscuits. The chives balance out the bitter taste and give it a pop of flavor that will add a twist in taste for all you chedder biscuits lovers out there.

So go ahead and give this a go. If not, the French might fart in your general direction.

Cheese Puffs from France

A Fair Lady’s Plum Sorbet

How do I enlighten all of you of the majesty that is sorbet?

Sorbet is similar to froyo only it’s made with crème fraîche which is a classy type of sour cream. Crème fraîche is like Eliza Doolittle transformed into a fair lady and sorbet is the dessert she would consume.

Don’t let all this fancy talk scare you away, though, because this dessert from Cooking Light is actually incredibly easy to make. I do declare that ice cream is more difficult.

What you’ll need

  • 4 1/2 cups chopped ripe plums (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of crème fraîche

Before we begin on how to make this delectable dessert, I have a note for you about purchasing crème fraîche. It’s one of those items that can be a 50/50 chance of whether or not it’s carried in major chain grocery stores. You know who does have it though? Trader Joe’s. I suggest you buy it there, but I would not suggest buying plums there.

Now that we’ve got that covered, the first step is to combine the plums and sugar in a bowl. Let the plums saturate themselves in the sweet nectar of sugar for about an hour.

Once saturated, place the mixture in a blender of your choice and process until smooth.

Cooking Light suggests you then press the mixture into a sieve, most likely to weed out the seeds. I bypassed this. I liked the slight crunchy texture, but feel free to go through this process.

The next step is to add the crème fraîche into the mix by whisking it in.

Here’s another detour that I took, but will mention. If you have an ice cream maker of some sort, you would place the mixture into the freezer can and follow that maker’s instructions.

I do not own an ice cream maker, so I just mixed up the mixture as well as I could and skipped to the final step which is placing the sorbet in a freezer safe container and freezing for an hour.

The ice cream maker would most likely make the sorbet smoother and creamier, but it’ll turn out fine without it. At least mine did.

Whatever the texture you ended up with, the taste should be the same which will be this tangy tart flavor that will make you murmur ms with every bite.

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Plum Sorbet 

Croûte de Fromage for the Distinguished Individual

This recipe is from French Farmhouse and it’s basically fancy grilled cheese.

The author of this cookbook describes this dish like a dating app profile,

Hearty yet sophisticated, it fits with the craggy mountains where hikers crowd the slopes in summer and winter brings cross-country and downhill skiers.

Don’t you get the feeling this dish is an outdoor adventure loving seeker who also enjoys long walks on the beach? I mean, I’d go out with it.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of light fruity wine or Riesling
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 long slices of Sourdough Bread cut in half crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of mild vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of grated Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley leaves

The first step is to whisk the eggs, wine, a fair amount of salt, and a touch of pepper together. Once whisked, transfer this mixture to a shallow bowl for dipping purposes.

Place the bread slices in this dish until it is thoroughly soaked. Flip sides if necessary for even soaking.

Next, heat butter and oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Place the soaked bread into this pan and add a generous amount of the grated cheese on top.

Cook the slices for a little over three minutes or until the cheese is half way melted. Then make these slices into full on sandwiches and flip sides until cheese is fully melted.

Once this is complete, remove from the skillet, cut crosswise and sprinkle with parsley.

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The final result is quite good, not that I’m surprised. Grilled cheese has always been a simple, yet effective comfort food. When you combine that simplicity with the best of cheeses it can only get better.

Soaking the bread in the Riesling also gives it a tangy taste which is toned down nicely with the parsley.

If you feel like stepping up your grilled cheese game or starting your own food truck, than this is a sandwich you should try.

Warm Oysters or How My Theory that I Prefer Hot Food was Validated

Warm Oysters with Balsamic Vinegar or as the French say, Les Huitres Tiedes au Vinaigre Balsamique is my final oyster recipe in French Farmhouse Cookbook.

Susan, the author, took a tour on the Breton shore and wined and dined with many an oyster farmer. One in particular suggested Susan try this method which has warmed me up to oysters and I think will be enjoyed by others as well.

There’s something about warm butter and seafood that is extremely comforting for me. The addition of balsamic adds to the warmth in taste without overshadowing the oysters.

I’m actually excited about eating oysters more and look forward to trying out different methods. I admittedly probably won’t make my own anymore. Making your own tends to require some forethought and a special shucking knife that I do not own.

This is a recipe that relies on your own good judgement as far as portions go. I have a feeling some of you might panic when you read that, but rest assured that even I didn’t screw it up.

The cookbook does have the following measurements for those who can’t handle that. I only got 6 oysters and eyed the rest myself.

  • 2 dozen small to medium oysters, scrubbed in the shell
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup best-quality balsamic vinegar

The first step is to pre-heat your oven. Yes you read that right. These oyster pups are gonna get baked.

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Don’t get excited, it’s not the kind of baked

Susan suggests that the best way to get the oysters baked is to arranged them on a baking sheet with the cup side down. Spreading salt on the sheet will help stabilize them if you have trouble keeping them balanced.

Once you place the oysters in the oven, you will bake for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven and then pry them open as carefully as possible. Once you’ve pried them open, you can remove the outer shell.

The proper consumption method is as follows, drizzle a touch of butter. (When I say touch, I truly mean a miniscule amount. It won’t take much.) The final step is to add 2 to 3 drops of vinegar. You are now prepared for slurping! Enjoy!

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The butter can’t compete with the oyster’s sexiness