Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lapin à la Moutarde. Yes, Rabbit.

Ouh la la! Classic French cooking from a classy Ukranian friend in Paris and her brilliant, fabulous, absolutely wonderful french husband THOMAS who is such a good cook... he kind of amazes me. and by "kind of" i mean in a big way. Really, wow. Thomas is just great. Masha is lucky to have him... not to mention he served us cookies after lunch! such a gentleman! I owe Owen a big kiss for introducing me to Masha, and therefore her breathtaking husband.

All jokes aside, this is one of the elite of Classic French Cooking. Thanks to Thomas's sister for the recipe, by way of the lovely couple!

1 (or 2) onions
*2 (or 3) carrots, chopped into thick pieces (you will not be sad to have a lot of carrots in the final product)
*1 (+) cup of white wine
- don't bother with expensive wine for cooking. Use the cheap stuff
*1 big, good rabbit, cut up by your friendly butcher, who you can ask to throw in a few more of your favorite pieces for a final count closer to one and a half rabbits. yum.
*mustard! try some varieties, tell me how they go!
*1/2 cup or so crème fraiche (I'd suggest sour cream or heavy whipping cream in the US)
*Fresh Herbs
-we used a bushel of Parsley
*salt and pepper

**As fancy a cast iron pot as you can find - or stainless steel soup pot - but if at all possible.... LE CREUSET DOUFEU!!!!****

1. Rub down the rabbit generously with mustard, let marinate
-do this a bit in advance, everything else will go quickly so there is no lag time

2. chop onion, sauté in olive oil (maybe some garlic? this may not be French... but I will definitely be trying it)

3. Brown all the pieces of the rabbit in the onion - a VERY important step for meats anytime you add to soups, stews, etc.

4. Add chopped carrots and white wine

5. cut the leaves off your fresh herbs, leaving the stems tied together; chop the leaves for flavor, and throw the bushel of stems in the pot for aroma (you will take this out when it is done cooking, so don't take off the tie!)

6. Cover for about 35 mintues on medium heat. Perhaps a lower heat for longer time would be good, but this worked perfectly!

T'inquiet pas! Don't worry, liquid will miraculously appear in the pot and not let it burn. or you can add a bit if you are scared.

Well, then again, this is assuming you have the crazy awesome secret of French cooking: Le Creuset.

This cast iron pot has a fancy shaped lid so that you can put ice on top and some circulation of liquids or something happens...

7. When it is about ready stir together a few more tablespoons of mustard and the fresh cream. Stir this in gently. Salt and Pepper to taste

8. Recover for a few more minutes (probably another 30 mintues - or dare I even say an hour? - on a super low heat MIGHT lead to a deeper flavor... but don't let me ruin your hard earned Lapin with my crazy ideas. I might be wrong).

9. Eat with rice, homemade pasta, or the classic French accompaniment: boiled potatoes

Thank you, Masha, for the wonderful afternoon of friends and food!

Ukranian Beet Salad

When I arrived at Masha's place with my notebook ready and camera posed (actually, i forgot my camera and she let me use hers... I am ridiculous, she is generous), she cloaked me in an apron (yes!) and we set to work. I was expecting a grueling afternoon that would all be worth it with rabbit as the reward. Then Thomas walked in with bread. it was great to see him.

About 15 minutes later the Rabbit was cooking away amidst the carrots, no longer in need of my incessant questions. I think Masha was enjoying herself, though. Lucky me! She whipped out more ingredients and taught me this Ukranian holiday dish! I am so NOT complaining... So thomas made some awesome cocktails that I will never be able to repeat, but were so good! Thanks Thomas!

She said when she was little she complained when her mom cut up the hazelnuts, but you too will understand the subtle difference with the ingredients all chopped. Listen well, little ones, momma knows best.

This is normally a holiday dish, which makes sense as dried fruits and nuts would be a treat in the cold of a Ukranian winter... I have NO qualms, however, eating it in the spring in Paris... with Thomas and Masha.

3 pickled beets, shredded (betteraves épluchées)
-if you have one of those four sided shredders, use the one that makes the smallest pieces
a handful of cut nuts (we used hazelnuts, but walnuts would be great, too!)
a handful of dried prunes, cut up
a generous dollop or two of sour cream, or fresh cream, or heavy cream... this is one subtlety I am yet to understand in French...


okay, to be fair, apparently I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. This is pre-stirring. The final product is a pink, sweet, casserole-like substance. Think "church picnic pink, fluffy, fruit salad." And if you're not from the south, ignore this completely.

shame. Ill post a final product picture next time I make it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


so simple. so crisp. so light. a perfect starter for a light spring lunch.

peel and thinly slice cucumbers
sprinkle with course seasalt
shake in a tupperwear container
leave in fridge for about 30 mintues

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


1. move to Paris
2. find a really happy sheikh
3. accept invitation to zikr and afterward fall in love with his amazing cake
4. memorize recipe
5. confuse couscous and semole, resulting in a massive first failure with fellow-cake-enthusiest
6. try, try again

The pictures are of a half recipe, but I am putting here the full recipe so as to be more true to the original. But oh my, it is a large cake.

5 eggs
1/2 kilo sugar (yes, 500g)
1/2 kilo fine semole (FINE. not couscous, and not regular sized semole. FINE)
250g melted butter
250g yogurt, cream, or similar ingredient
- someone in the US PLEASE try this with cream cheese and let me know how it is)
1 tsp fleur d'orange (an extract I've never seen at home... but is everywhere here!)
sprinkling of cinnamon
white raisins

Mix, butter and flour pan (this means smoother the pan with butter, covering ever inch, pour in a few tbsp of flour and shake the pan until it is lined in butter), pour in batter, bake at 220c for about 25 minutes, eat. He told me lower heat for longer is better, but this one went for 35 minutes at 200, but was a little dry, so apparently I overdid it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Les Briques: a completely imprecise recipe

It is good to have French friends. Especially pretty ones named Karen who teach you to cook!

Im not sure I kept clear/detailed enough notes on this recipe for it to be recreated, but it was really fun to watch her work and hopefully you'll enjoy the pictures, maybe even get some good cooking tips out of it... like brushing with oil and baking instead of frying, or (oh my), the salmon filling was good enough to eat with a spoon!

For 20 Bricks (10 of each stuffing):

10 round sheets of wrapping dough/pastry sheets cut in half (into 20 half circles...) I am unclear on the name of the sheets, but it seems there are indian versions (its basically a semosa), chinese versions (think "spring roll"), filo dough might even work, but we used an arab variety. They come in packages with round sheets, separated by wax paper, which we cut in half into semi-circles.

Salmon Filling:
1 filet of salmon, sauteed and broken up
2-3 stalks leeks, diced and sauteed with butter
some sort of binding ingredient, like cream, some soft cheese, cream cheese, etc
curry, salt and pepper

Tuna Filling: 1 filet of Tuna, sauteed
a handful of sliced black olives
3 small potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped
Same thing for the binding ingredient, cream, cream cheese, maybe an egg?
fresh coriander, salt and pepper

Fold into the wrappings: (You can probably make just about any shape you want, but Karen made these so well!) Fold:

Tuck-in the final flap, if you can, if not, just
place it how you can on your parchment lined baking sheet and use a egg yolk brush if you need to to stick the final edge to the side. (just a beaten egg yolk with a dash of salt)

Brush with oil - this is the real secret - this way you don't have to fry it and it is a reasonably healthy dish!

Bake at about 220 C (i dont know... 400 or 350 F?) I am going with imprecise on this entry, so lets just say until browning... maybe 20 minutes?

In the french meal there is l'entrée and le plat, the former being "the entrance" and therefore like an american appetizer, and the second the main dish or "the plate". At our dinner party we had soup and bread for the starter and these with a salad for le plat. twas the perfect combination!