28 May 2009

Focaccia à l'oignon rouge et au thym frais

In English here.
Si on m'avait demandé il y a un an quand j'allais commencé à cuisiner avec de la levure boulanger, j'aurais dit the 12th of never (le 12 jamais), expression anglaise pour "le 36 du mois", ou bien when pigs fly (quand les cochons voleront), expression anglaise pour "quand les poules auront des dents". Vous aurez compris, la levure me fait peur. C'est vivant, ça pousse, on peut la tuer si on ne garde pas tout à la bonne température, etc.

Pourtant, dans la blogosphère, je vois passer des pains magnifiques, comme ce focaccia de chez Antics of a Cycling Cook, et la semaine passée je me suis dis qu'il était temps de me lancer. Après tout, si c'était un désastre, je pouvais simplement continuer à acheter mon pain à la bonne boulangerie en bas de chez moi ! Finalement, c'était beaucoup plus facile que ce que je ne pensais. La recette est simple, versatile et délicieuse. Je ne peux que vous encourager à essayer !

pâte :
350g de farine pour pain

1/2 c.c de sel
1 sachet (7g) de levure boulanger
200ml d'eau tiède
50ml d'huile d'olive extra vierge

garniture :
huile d'olive

gros sel
1/2 oignon rouge, coupé en lamelles
3 gousses d'ail, coupées en dès
5-6 tiges de thym frais, émincées

Mélanger farine, levure et sel dans un grand bol. Creuser un trou au milieu et verser l'eau tiède et l'huile dedans. Mélanger jusqu'à obtenir une pâte homogène. Pétrir sur un plan de travail saudpoudrer de farine. La pâte risque de coller, donc c'est mieux de mettre de la farine sur vos mains aussi.

Remettre la pâte dans le bol et couvrir de papier cuisson. Laisser dans un endroit chaud (mais pas trop, environ 40°C, si possible) pendant 3-4 heures.

Une fois levée, pétrir à nouveau quelques secondes pour la faire retomber (je suis sûre qu'il doit y avoir un mot précis pour cette étape, mais je ne le connais pas en français...). Puis aplatir sur une plaque avec les doigts. Les empreintes de vos doigts vont aider à attraper l'huile d'olive pour que cela ne coule pas trop sur le pain.

Arroser généreusement d'huile d'olive et saler avec le gros sel. Ajouter l'oignon rouge, l'ail et le thym frais (ou les garniture que vous voulez). Laisser lever encore 1 heure ou 1 heure 1/2 jusqu'à ce que la taille de la pâte double.

Cuire 25-30 minutes à 200
°C et servir chaud ou froid.

Red Onion and Thyme Focaccia

En français ici.Besides bank holidays in the spring, another thing the French do well is expressions. If someone asked me when I was going to start baking with yeast, in English I might say "the 12th of never" or "when pigs fly". The French would say le 36 du mois (on the 36th of the month) or else quand les poules auront des dents (when hens grow teeth).

Did I mention I'm afraid of yeast? I mean, it's alive. You have to take care of it, treat it right, not too hot, not too cold, etc. I see all these great bread recipes circulating and I think, "maybe someday..." Last week, I decided enough is enough. I've been meaning to try this fantastic focaccia recipe that I found on Antics of a Cycling Cook. If you've been cooking with yeast forever, you can go ahead at laugh at my anxiety faced with such a basic recipe. If you're afraid of yeast like me, let me encourage you: this bread is easy to make, a good recipe to overcome your fears!

I used Sam's instructions for the dough (thanks Sam!) and then played around with the toppings, which I highly encourage. It could be a good way to use up whatever you might have in the fridge/pantry.

350g/12oz white bread flour (2 US cups)
One sachet of yeast
1/2 tsp salt
200ml warm water (slightly less than 1 cup)
50ml Extra virgin olive oil (slightly less than 1/4 cup)

olive oil
sea salt
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water. Bring together to form a dough and knead for a few minutes on a well floured surface (don't worry if the dough is sticky - that's normal. You'll want to flour your hands too).

Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with wax paper (Sam uses plastic wrap but I didn't have any), and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 1 1/2 hours or overnight. I let it rise about 3-4 hours in my oven which apparently has a setting for rising dough - amazing!

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and press out onto a large baking tray. Don't worry about leaving your finger prints in the dough, they'll stop the olive oil running off.

Drizzle the dough generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Add your toppings (go ahead and be liberal with them). Leave to rise again for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. It's delicious served warm!

I'm submitting this recipe to Bookmarked Recipes, which is being hosted this week by Joelen from Joelen's Culinary Adventures.

The rules to participate are here. Don't forget to check out the roundup next Monday!

26 May 2009

Bloggeraid Press Release

I've been away for a few days, taking advantage of one of the many long weekends spring in France has to offer. I mean whoever thought of putting all their national holidays in May was a genius. Just when it's getting warm and sunny and you don't want to go to work, bam, national holiday! Well done, France.

Je suis partie quelques jours profiter d'un des long week-ends du mois de mai en France. Je pense que les Français ont vraiment compris quelque chose en mettant tous ces jours fériés au printemps. Il commence à faire beau, on n'a plus envie d'être dedans à travailler et, bam ! Voilà que l'on a 3 jours fériés dans le mois ! Bien joué. Vous aurez une nouvelle recette très bientôt, mais aujourd'hui je voulais partager le communiqué de presse qui vient de sortir pour annoncer le projet d'un livre de cuisine pour bloggeraid. C'est en anglais, mais vous devriez reconnaître un des bloggeurs cité dans le texte ;-)

A new recipe is on its way very shortly, but in the meantime, I wanted to share the Bloggeraid Press Release announcing our cookbook project (among other activities) that Giz has been working so tirelessly on. You might recognize one of the participating bloggers cited :-)

Food Bloggers Unite to Raise Money for School Meals – World Food Programme

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – May 25, 2009 Toronto, Ontario, Canada – May 25, 2009

Worldwide, nearly 400 million children suffer from hunger every single day. The WFP School Meals program represents a sustainable answer to ending child hunger and promoting education in 70 countries. International food bloggers kick off their efforts with a member-driven cookbook of original recipes as one of many planned fundraising events to benefit School Meals with the World Food Programme. When school meals programs are implemented, student enrollment increases by almost 25 percent, attendance increases and performance improves.

The BloggerAid..Changing the Face of Famine cookbook is scheduled for release in November/December, 2009 on Amazon.com. A dedicated team of first- time publishers, who communicate through a central network called BloggerAid…Changing the Face of Famine, has created teams internationally from South Africa to the U.K, India, Australia, Europe, Canada and the U.S.A.
But a cookbook alone doesn’t generate the money that’s needed to feed the growing number of hungry children. Bloggers are creating fundraising efforts that are catching on globally, both individually as well, and in cooperation with other bloggers. All the information may be found on the central network site. As the community of concerned members grows, so too gains the momentum.

Val, co-administrator of Bloggeraid…Changing the Face of Famine says, “It’s such a great opportunity to not only share our love of food but to also appreciate that it’s only by circumstance that we have enough when others don’t. It’s our responsibility to humanity to do the right thing”. It only takes $0.25/day to feed a hungry child.”

Hope of the blog Hopie’s Kitchen , an expat actress living in Paris connected to giving back from the age of 7 when she worked in soup kitchens. “I've become more and more aware that in this age of airplanes and internet, our community is not just local, but global. Luckily through our blogs, we have tools that are global as well." Fellow blogger Sam from the UK food blog Antics of a Cycling Cook combines his love of cycling and food. “I love recording my recipes and sharing them with others” Lynda is from the San Francisco Bay area and and writes the blog TasteFood. She has been living, cooking, teaching and writing about food in 5 countries, including Switzerland, England and Denmark, where she was food editor for Sphere Magazine, an international magazine directed to the diplomatic communities throughout Scandinavia.

The common element for these bloggers and the many others who are part of BloggerAid …Changing the Face of Famine is their concern for a better world; one in which no one goes hungry, at home or abroad.

Auctions are planned, events are ongoing and donations are invited, whether it be with an auction item or a monetary donation to the World Food Programme

16 May 2009

Ragoût de quinoa aux saucisses

In English here.
Un des meilleurs avantages quand on tient un blog de cuisine, c'est de faire partie d'une communauté de bloggeurs experimentés, de lire leurs idées et de piquer leurs recettes ! (Euh, je veux dire emprunter, gentiment.)

Quand j'ai vu ce Peruvian Quinoa Stew chez Equal Opportunity Kitchen, cela avait l'air tellement délicieux, et réconfortant que j'ai tout de suite mis les ingrédients sur ma liste de courses. Cela fait un moment que je cuisine avec du quinoa, surtout le mélange de quinoa rouge et blanc qui figure dans ma salade de quinoa au baslic frais et le taboulé de la semaine dernière. Mais, si vous n'êtes pas encore convaincu par cette plante délicieuse, saine et facile à préparer, laissez ce ragoût vous convaincre !

Mon intuition (euh, mon ventre) m'a bien conseillée sur ce plat. C'était tout aussi bon et réconfortant que ce que j'imaginais. J'avais des saucisses qui attendaient dans le frigo et je les ai ajouté à la recette originale avec de très bons résultats.

100g de quinoa
250 ml d'eau

2 saucisses (facultatif -- j'ai utilisé des saucisses aux oignons et vin blanc)
1 c.s. d'huile d'olive

2 oignons, émincés
2 gousses d'ail, hachées
2 petites carottes, coupées en ronds

1 poivron rouge, coupé en dès
1 courgette, coupée en dès
2 c.c. cumin moulu
1/2 c.c. curry en poudre
1 c.c. coriandre moulu
4-5 tiges de thym frais
une pincée de piment de cayenne

Une boîte (425ml) de tomates pelées
25oml d'eau

Mettre le quinoa dans une petite casserole avec 250ml d'eau. Couvrir et cuire à feu moyen environ 15 minutes.

Entre temps, faire chauffer l'huile d'olive et dorer les saucisses (si vous les utilisez) dans une grande casserole. Enlever les saucisses et ajouter les oignons et l'ail. Faire sauter 5 minutes, puis ajouter les carottes et cuire encore 5 minutes.

Ajouter poivron, courgette, cumin, curry, coriandre, thym et piment de cayenne et mélanger une minute. Rajouter les saucisses et les tomates (dans leur jus). Couvrir d'eau (environ 250ml) et laisser mijoter 15-20 minutes, jusqu'à ce que les légumes soient cuits.

Mélanger avec le quinoa et servir chaud, garni de parmesan. Ce plat est encore meilleur le lendemain, donc faites-en un peu plus pour avoir des restes !

Hearty Quinoa Stew

En français ici.
One of my favorite things about having a cooking blog is being part of a community of other wonderful accomplished and learning cooks -- and stealing their recipes! (Er, I mean, borrowing.)

When I saw this recipe for Peruvian Quinoa Stew on Equal Opportunity Kitchen, it looked so delicious and comforting that I immediately put the ingredients on my shopping list. I'm already a quinoa convert, but if you've never tried it, this would be a great place to start. It's easy to cook with (no more difficult than rice or pasta), yummy and apparently very good for you. I've been using a delicious mix of red and white quinoa for the past year in dishes like this Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil and last week's Tabouli.

This stew did not dissapoint. (Thanks Giz!) It was just as hearty and comforting as I imagined. I had some sausages in the fridge so I added those, and they went very well.

(serves 4)

1/2 cup quinoa (red, black, yellow or a mix)
1 cup water

2 large sausages (I used onion and white wine sausages and they were wonderful. You could also use turkey sausages, soy sausages or leave them out entirely.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small carrots, peeled and sliced

1 red pepper, chopped
1 large zucchini (courgette), cubed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
a pinch of cayenne (about 1/4 tsp)

1 can (13oz - 383g) peeled tomatoes with juice
1 cup water

Rinse quinoa and place in a small pot with 1 cup water. Cover and cook until soft (about 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and brown the sausages (if using) in the soup pot. Remove the sausages and add the onions and garlic. (I cooked them directly in the sausage fat, but you could drain the fat if you prefer.) Sauté about 5 minutes, and then add the carrots and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the red pepper, zucchini, cumin, curry powder, coriander, thyme and cayenne pepper. Stir one minute until well combined and then add the sausage, tomatoes and water (about 1 cup, or enough to just cover the vegetables). Cover and let simmer until vegetables are tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Stir in quinoa, bring back to a boil and serve hot topped with cheese (I used Parmesan). This stew is even better the next day after the flavors have had some time to sit, so make enough for leftovers!

I'm submitting this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted this week by Divya at Dil Se... The rules to participate are here. Look for the roundup on Monday!

10 May 2009

Sesame-Free Hummus and Tabouli

There are two important events that coincide today: Mother's Day and my friend Ren's birthday. As a result, you're getting TWO (yes, aren't you excited) recipes.

The first one is for Ren (although I bet my Mom would like it -- you can have some too Mom!) Ren is allergic to sesame. Wait, you're thinking, doesn't hummus have sesame in it? Are you sure this is for a friend? Yes store bought hummus does have sesame - Tahini actually, a paste made out of sesame seeds - but that's not the only thing that gives it its taste, texture or even heartiness. Most of that comes from the good old garbanzo beans aka chickpeas. When I first got to France, I couldn't find tahini in the supermarket (turns out it was hiding under my nose, in a random fridge case and it's called tehina, but that's another story), so I started making my own hummus without it. I liked it just as much, if not better!

Sesame-free Hummus

1 large can (2 small) chickpeas
1/2 cup olive oil
1 roasted pepper, cut into slices (optional)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 pinch cumin
1 lemon

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and pour into a food processor. Blend and pour the olive oil in little by little with motor running. Add the roasted red pepper (if using), the garlic and cumin and blend. Add the lemon juice (tasting as you go to see how you like it). Adjust the season to get your desired texture.

Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and paprika.

My mom and I have been talking tabouli all week. In my last post, I talked about how I needed simple, fortifying dishes to feed my theater troupe and this week's was tabouli. I made it with a mix of red and white quinoa and bulghur because that's what I had and it sounded like it would be interesting. Here's the thing, it came out pretty (for sure) and decent, but not amazing, like maybe it was missing some spice or seasoning to make it more interesting, even though it was chock full of yummy stuff! My mom suggested adding sun-dried tomatoes for some tang, but I haven't tried it yet. I might try a vinaigrette next time instead of just olive oil and lemon. What do you guys think?


1 1/2 cups quinoa/bulghur mix
1 cup (about 1 bunch) flat parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 tomatoesm chopped (plus 1 for garnish)
1 sm yellow pepper, chopped (you can set a couple slices aside for garnish)
1-2 large scallions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
salt, pepper

Cook the quinoa/bulghur, drain and let cool. Mix together with the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve cold with sliced tomato and pepper garnish. And why not some homemade hummus on the side?

Happy Birthday Ren!
Happy Mother's Day Mom!

07 May 2009

Feta and Caramelized Onion Pasta Salad

En français ici.
As an actor, not only does one become familiar with jobs to make ends meet, but one also gets used to the idea of not having regular hours, weekends, lunch breaks or any of the other amenities the French 35 hour work week is supposed to give you. Or more often, you DO have regular work hours (or part time ones) to make money between projects and then you use your free time to read plays, go to auditions/rehearsals, make contacts, do publicity for your shows, go to workshops and everything else. One has to be extremely passionate about theater to be an actor -- or else totally crazy -- often both.

Currently in the beginning stages of a project, I've been meeting with the cast and director once a week in the evening, after the usual workday. Of course given the timing, you can only discuss copyrights, and budget and artistic vision for so long before yelling over the grumbling stomachs becomes difficult. In that case, it's much more effective to feed the troupe something fortifying and then they're all set -- at least until the métro stops running. Last week, I made this pasta salad, which was a big hit and proved very effective for decision-making :-)

400g pasta (or about 100g per person) -- I use weight here because depending on the kind of pasta you use, it will fit differently into a cup measure
3 medium-sized onions
2 Tbsp butter
1 container of lardons (or 4-5 slices of bacon)
3/4 cup feta, cut into cubes
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
your favorite vinaigrette to taste

Cook the pasta in boiling water to desired texture. Drain and let cool.

Peel and slice the onions; caramelize on medium-low heat in the butter for about 20 minutes. Then add the lardons (or bacon, cut into bits) and cook until they start to brown. Add to the pasta.

When all the ingredients are cool (because you don't want the cheese to melt), add the feta, walnuts and vinaigrette and toss until well-mixed.

I'm submitting this recipe to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted this week by Tigerfish of Teczcape. You can check out the rules to participate.

Salade de pâtes au féta

In English here.
En tant que comédien, on n'a pas d'horaires de travail classiques : pas de semaine de 35h, pas de pause déjeuner, pas de week-end ou de jours féries. Quelqu'un m'a dit l'autre jour, "en fait, vous ne travaillez que quand les autres ne travaillent pas." Mais plus souvent, on travaille à temps plein ou partiel pour gagner un peu d'argent entre deux projets et puis on exerce notre métier dans notre temps libre, le soir, le week-end, etc. On dit toujours qu'il faut être passionné pour faire ce métier -- ou complètement fou.

En ce moment, je suis au tout début d'un projet théâtral et nos réunions de travaille se font une fois par semaine en soirée. Vous imaginez bien que parler de droits d'auteur, de budget et de visions artistiques, ça donne faim ! Au lieu de crier pour se faire entendre par dessus les gargouillements des ventres, je me suis dit que ce serait mieux de trouver un plat simple qui donne de l'énergie à la troupe pour prendre les bonnes decisions. La semaine dernière j'ai testé cette salade de pâtes et cela a fait très bien l'affaire.

400g de pâtes (à peu près 100g par personne)
3 oignons
30g de beurre
1 barquette de lardons
150g de féta, coupé en dès
1 grosse poignée de noix, grillées un peu à la poêle
de la vinaigrette au choix

Faire cuire les pâtes, égoutter et laisser refroidir.

Peler et couper les oignons en lamelles. Faire fondre le beurre et cuire les oignons dedans à feu doux pendant environ 20 minutes. Ajouter les lardons (en montant un peu le feu), et cuire encore jusqu'à ce que les lardons soient dorés.

Laisser refroidir, puis mélanger avec les pâtes et le reste des ingrédients. Garder au frigo ou servir tout de suite !

03 May 2009

Brunch at Le Pain Quotidien

As an actor, one becomes adept at the sort of job that makes ends meets because an acting career doesn't often do that (or at least not right away). One such job for me last year was mystery shopping. I would go into shops, museums, make phone calls, receive flowers, etc. incognito and then fill out an evaluation based on the criteria a company wanted to control for. One of my favorite missions was getting breakfast at an international chain of French restaurants called Le Pain Quotidien. (I don't do it anymore, so don't worry, I'm not compromising my secret 007 identity ;-)) The Pain Quotidien's philosophy involves using as many organic ingredients as possible, making the bread and pastries on site and seating everyone at communal tables (made from reclaimed wood) -- the kind of stuff I can really get behind.

En tant que comédien, on devient très vite adepte des petits boulots pour arrondir les fins de mois, car être artiste n'est pas souvent facile pour le budget. L'année dernière, j'ai travaillé en tant que cliente mystère. J'allais dans des boutiques, des musées, etc., posais des questions, faisais des achats, et puis à la fin je remplissais un questionnaire selon les critères que la compagnie cherchait à contrôler. Une de mes missions préférées était d'aller manger au Pain Quotidien, une chaine internationale avec plusieurs restaurants à Paris. Leur philosophie est d'utiliser uniquement des ingrédients bio, de faire leur pain eux-même et de tout servir autour de tables communes où vieilles connaissances et étrangers se retrouvent pour rompre le pain ensemble.

This Sunday D. and I went back there, just for fun this time and because their food is good. Waiting in line, we were greeted by an overwhelmed server who luckily had a good sense of humor because he was trying to please everyone, even the woman who said "I'll be at the laundromat. Will you come get me when my table is ready?" Yes. He would.

I ordered the full brunch, which consists of a soft boiled egg, yogurt and granola, a salad with assorted hams and cheeses, a basket of breads and pastries, fresh fruit juice and a hot drink. Quite a feast! D. got a breakfast called "Le Pain Quotidien," which was similar to the brunch but without the salad or granola -- much more reasonable! We had never been there on a weekend and I have to say, it was a bit crazy with a hap-hazard combination of rather uppity people who live in the area, tourists, and families with small children (who ran circles around the crowded tables). That said, if you arrive before 1pm, you'll probably do alright and the food is worth a little waiting. There are Pain Quotidien in 15 different countries, so even if you're not in Paris, you can still check it out.

Ce dimanche, je suis retournée pour le fun cette fois avec D. En faisant la queue, on a été accueilli par un serveur débordé, mais très gentil. Il essayait d'arranger tout le monde, même la femme qui lui a dit : "Je serais au lavomatique. Vous pouvez venir me chercher quand ma table est prête ?" Oui. Pourquoi pas ?

J'ai pris le brunch complet : oeuf à la coque, yaourt et granola, assiette de fromages et charcuteries, croissant, panier de pain, jus de fruits frais et une boisson chaude -- un vrai festin ! D. a pris le petit-déjeuner "Pain Quotidien" : la même chos
e sans l'assiette et sans le granola -- beaucoup plus raisonnable. C'était la première fois que je venais le week-end et c'était un joyeux bazarre, un mélange de bourgeois du quartier, touristes et familles avec enfants. Je conseillerai d'arriver avant 13h les samedi et dimanche parce que c'est assez populaire (et pour de bonnes raisons).