Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tartine Tuesday: Thanksgiving Leftover Tartines

You knew this was coming... 

Thanksgiving Leftover Tartine

Even after serving the 12-14 person dinner that we had last Thursday we were still left with enough leftovers to last all of us here in the apartment about a week. Thankfully, the turkeys cooked perfectly and the food was delicious, so I'm not complaining about having it a few more times! Thank you again to everyone who helped cook... and for everyone else who came to celebrate! 

No actual recipe for this week's Tartine Tuesday... this one's too easy. Leftover mashed potatoes, turkey and cranberry sauce did the trick... simple and delicious. 

What did you make with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for 14 in a Parisian Kitchen

It can be done. I hope. 

Tomorrow, I will be putting my tiny little oven (and cooking skills) to the test. I originally planned to have a 6-8 person Thanksgiving dinner in our little Parisian apartment. The head count is now at a staggering 14 with a possible 2 more. You can do it Katrina. Just breathe. 

Cooling the Kitchen

Luckily, without the stresses of a full time job, I have been working on my Thanksgiving dinner game plan for the past week or so. Not only am I trying to have an American Thanksgiving in Paris, but I'm trying to work with what France has to offer. Sure, I could just get everything at the American grocery store, actually called Thanksgiving... but I want a challenge. I will admit I cheated a teeeny tiny bit (I bought a bag of fresh cranberries and cornmeal from Thanksgiving, but other than that, everything is via the local grocery stores and markets.

The key to pulling off a successful dinner party of any quantity is to plan your meals smartly. Don't cook all your dishes in the oven. Don't cook everything the day of the dinner. Don't do all of the cooking yourself! These are the three rules I'm sticking to like peanut brittle in your teeth (white on rice was just too obvious... hehe).

Originally, I was planning on baking a small mountain of turkey cutlets (escalopes de dinde) since the whole turkeys at Thanksgiving were going for 13 euros a kilo (with a 3 kilo minimum), and escalopes are fairly cheap. No way I was going to pay 13 euros a kilo to feed 14 people (I love you guys, but I'm not made of money). Amazingly as I was making my 2nd wave of food shopping (I went to certain grocery stores for certain items) I passed the meat counter to find whole turkeys! At only 4.30 euros a kilo! They weren't nearly as large as the American turkeys (which kind of creep me out anyways... I mean, who really wants to cook a 30lb turkey?!!) weighing in at only 5.5lbs each... I bought 2, praying to the turkey gods that they would both fit in my oven at the same time. 

The gods were on my side this year... :)

So here's my Thanksgiving Prep Breakdown:


-Make the huckleberry cinnamon cranberry sauce - DONE


Frenching the Beans

-French cut the green beans - DONE
-Blanch the green beans - DONE

Apple Pie Dough Ingredients

-Make the pie dough - DONE
-Refrigerate pie dough - DONE
-Roll out pie dough and form to pan

Prepped Turkeys 

-Prep the turkeys - DONE


-Prep/bake sour cream apple pie
-Roast turkeys
-Finish prepping/bake green bean casserole
-Prep/bake mini corn muffins

Quentin is in charge of the mashed potatoes. Alice is making the appetizers and Jules is bringing a second dessert.

Since the turkeys are pretty small (2.5 kilos each)... ok really small...  I'm going to attempt to cook them both at the same time (cross your fingers for me!!) This is not the first time I've made the turkey at Thanksgiving... but it is the first time I'll be cooking two at the same time. It's going to be interesting. I'll be watching them like a hawk with my meat thermometer in hand. 

While the turkeys are resting it will give me enough time to pop in the green bean casseroles and the mini corn muffins. Then I will pop in the apple pie. I have most of my list checked off for today, with the only last thing to do being to roll out the apple pie dough and forming it to the pan. Whew.

Wish me luck guys!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Side Trip: Luxembourg - Echternach

I am definitely returning to this place during the summer. 

River View
We had a little luck with the rain on our second day in Luxembourg, and instead of seeing more of Vianden (there wasn't much more to see that we hadn't seen already), we decided to take a day trip to Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg. Good thing we did. This place is gorgeous.

Echternach, Luxembourg 

To get to Echternach from Vianden, you have to take a bus (if you don't have a car). Your best bet is to go to the tourist information office to get the bus routes and schedules. It's a little tricky; you have to take a bus from Vianden going towards Diekirsch/Ettelbruck, get off at the roundabout at Bleesbrück (that's the tricky part... just ask the bus driver to tell you when to get off), cross the street and take the bus going towards Echternach. We didn't have too many problems getting there, and trust me, it's worth it. 

The next time I come to Luxembourg I will make Echternach my base-camp. There is a very highly rated Hostelling International Youth Hostel there (like in Vianden), but there were no availabilities for the dates we wanted. Bummer. There are also plenty of campsites, perfect for the warmer months.

Like I said before, this place is gorgeous. It's a small but vibrant town on the border of Luxembourg and Germany. Just cross the river (like we did), and BAM!! you're in Germany. 

Border of Luxembourg/Germany

There are a lot of adventure-seeking outdoorsy things to do here: hiking, camping, canoeing... etc. Unfortunately, we didn't get to do any of these things since it was so cold, but I put it on my list of things to do when I come back. Since we only had a day, we strolled around the town and visited some of the must-see things in the city via foot. 

The end of the bus line drops you off at the Echternach bus station, which is right in the center of town. From there we began our walk through the city, passing the postcard-filled shops and English-menu restaurants and cafés and making our way to the town square.

Echternach, Luxembourg  

It was pretty quiet in the morning, as the clouds were still hiding the sun, and the ground was still wet and cold. But by lunch the benches were almost dry, and we enjoyed our lunch in the sun with the rest of the town. 

We stumbled upon a small sculpture exhibition in the town square where I almost spent 750 Euros on a really amazing art piece (still wish I did, but luckily I have the artists e-mail address). If you know me and how much I love contrasting colors/textures/materials, you would understand why I almost bought the piece. 

Echternach, Luxembourg

Echternach, Luxembourg

Luckily we got out of there before I could do any damage.

We walked around the gardens of the Abbey of Echternach, founded in 698 by St. Willibrord, who is buried in the Basilica nearby. This to me was the most beautiful part of our day trip. It is set along the river with tree-lined pathways and manicured gardens that would make you think you were in a painting. If you want to experience how beautiful this place can be, come in the fall. I have never seen so many different colors of changing leaves. The pictures don't even do it justice.

Echternach, Luxembourg

Echternach, Luxembourg

Echternach, Luxembourg

Echternach, Luxembourg

We made our way to the Basilica of Echternach, and weaved our way in and out of the little streets until it was time to go back.

Echternach, Luxembourg

Echternach, Luxembourg

It was a quick side trip, but definitely worth the effort. A must-see on all accounts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Side Trip: Luxembourg - Vianden

Like Father Like Daughter

My dad flew back to the States yesterday. It was a teary-eyed goodbye; I truly had a great time with him. We laughed, we cooked, we ate and drank (I drank a little too much a couple of times), but as we all know (and loathe), a vacation is just that... a vacation, and now we have to get back to the daily grind. For me, I'll be spending some well deserved time with my dear little blog which I have neglected so... 

... and I have tons of stuff to write about.

I'm going to diverge from the food themed posts for the moment and go with a few more travel-related posts. Since my dad was staying for a month, we planned to take a few side trips from Paris so that he (and I) could experience more than just the fabulous French life. We wanted to go to Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Belgium, London... places you can easily get to by bus/train/plane. Of course, just as I predicted... halfway through his visit I was summoned to do some freelance work. So, we didn't get to see all of the places on our list, but the few we did see, were memorable nonetheless.

Our first side trip was to Luxembourg. When my dad was about my age (actually a few years younger), he lived in Luxembourg City for a summer working for Coca-Cola. It had been over 40 years since he'd been back, and since I'm currently doing a similar "move across the ocean to a foreign country" thing, I wanted nothing more than to see the country from which I've heard so many stories.

Luxembourg is a peculiar city. With Germany, France, and Belgium bordering Luxembourg, you're left with a country that officially and simultaneously speaks three different languages; French, German, and Luxembourgish. I've never been to a country where you have to ask what language the person speaks before actually speaking to them (you have to ask in about 3 different languages too). Luckily, with my dad's amount of German, and my amount of broken French, we were able to get by without many problems... and most people spoke enough English to help us if we got into a real bind.

If you can brave the cold weather, autumn is a perfect time to go to Luxembourg. For me, growing up in Florida meant you didn't experience seasons. It's just HOT. I didn't even know people had "seasonal wardrobes." You don't see the leaves changing from green to yellow to red. It's different in Luxembourg. It is absolutely breathtaking in the fall... and the best part about it; there aren't as many tourists.

 Fall Colors

In Florida, you also don't experience the uphills and downhills that seem to be the norm in Luxembourg. Florida is pancake-flat. A daily morning stretch and a month long training on a stair climber pre-trip, and you'll be ready to tackle Luxembourg.

We spent the first 2 days in Vianden, a small town in the Our valley of north-eastern Luxembourg. Overlooking the city, Vianden Castle is the main attraction of this fairytale-esque town, and attracts floods of tourists during the warmer seasons. Being that it was mid-November and quite chilly while we were there, the streets and shops were almost completely empty. 

Vianden Castle

Night View

We stayed at the Hostelling International Youth Hostel, which by far has the best view and price for the backpacking traveler. It is located at the top of Vianden near the castle, making it the perfect hub for castle go-ers. The bus into town drops you off at the bottom of Vianden, near the river, so prepare yourself for a 20 minute uphill hike if you don't have a car.

Vianden, Luxembourg

HI Vianden

It is one of the cleanest and safest hostels I have ever stayed in, with the only downside being that they have lock-out/in hours (10am-5pm/10pm-8am). Well, and that it's at the top of a hill. So, if you plan to get to Vianden in the morning, be sure that you pack light, otherwise you will be carrying your luggage or backpacks (like we did) until they open at 5pm.

HI Vianden

HI Vianden

If you have the opportunity to choose your room, ask for room #1.2, which has the most perfect view of the castle. I bet the people staying at the 100+ Euro per night hotels can't even see the castle.

Vianden Castle

If you're staying for more than one night, bring a lock and store everything in the lockers provided before you leave in the morning. I left my towel hanging on the edge of my bunk bed, and when I got back that evening, it was nowhere to be found. The staff was nice enough to look in their lost and found and laundry bins, and when they still couldn't find it, offered me a fresh towel.

We visited the castle and walked around the town, but unfortunately it was rainy and cold during the 2 days we were there, so we didn't get to do any hiking or walking through the forest, which is a big attraction here. 

We did however, eat our hearts out. Breakfast at the hostel (which is included) consisted of football-sized slices of German bread with an array of meats and cheeses. Taking after my dad, I made an extra sandwich to take with me for lunch. We splurged a little for our dinners, and after asking the receptionist at the hostel for a good restaurant, we found ourselves at Café du Pont, a charming restaurant overlooking the Our river. 

Vianden, Luxembourg

*You can't miss it, it's right next to the main bridge that crosses the river and the name of the restaurant is painted on the side of the building.

I had the most tender and juicy varkenshaas a la crème (pork with mushroom cream sauce), and my dad had the truite meunière (trout dredged in flour and sautéed in butter). I didn't get a chance to take a picture, but to give you an idea of how good it was, my plate looked like it just came out of the dishwasher. Full to the brim, we very slowly walked back up the hill to the hostel where we finished the night with some Luxembourg beer.

*If you are staying in Luxembourg City, Vianden is easy to get to by train + bus, and can even be just a day trip. From Luxembourg City, take a train to Ettlebruck and then a bus from Ettlebruck to Vianden.

Being the first leg of our Luxembourg journey, I am going to pause it here. I will be splitting this up into several posts so you don't get too overwhelmed! There's a lot more to come!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Better than Chicken Pot Pie

I've been quite busy running around showing my dad all the wondrous and yummy things I've stumbled across so far in Paris. For the past 3 weeks, my dad has been tagging along in my crazy French-ish lifestyle... jumping the metro turnstiles, holding our breaths as we walk through the "not-so-sanitary" clouds of air underneath the bridges and overpasses, drinking one too many bottles of red wine (whoops), and best of all (and most appealing to him, perhaps)... strolling through the open air food markets.

Marches de Versailles


My dad is the cook in the family. He always tried to teach me and my brother the importance of basic cooking knowledge... from how to make a perfectly cooked sunny-side up egg, to how to stretch your food, to 100 different things to do with beans. I'm finally on the same page with him regarding beans... he's been trying to get me to eat them since I was a kid (I was a very picky eater). I figure that now that my palette has matured and I am up for eating and cooking just about anything, a "cooking day" would be the perfect "father/daughter bonding experience," and in what better place than Paris.

We started out our day at the open air food market. It was a little drizzly that morning, so I'm grateful that the market is merely steps away from my front door and completely sheltered by the metro overpass. We did a once-through to check out what there was available, and on the way back picked up 2 mackerel and 2 trout from the poissonnière to do some fun recipe testing.



For lunch, we made baked trout and mackerel 4 ways. We stuffed one trout with onions and lemon, and topped the outside with chopped parsley and lemon slices. The other trout we painted with a thick coating of mayonnaise and stuffed with lemon and parsley butter. I made a compound butter with some of the jerk spice mix we got from Jamaica (sugar, Jamaican pimento, crushed red pepper, onion chips, garlic, paprika, ginger, celery, mustard, salt) and put that inside one of the mackerel, with a little olive oil and jerk rub on the skin. The other mackerel we stuffed with the rest of the parsley and lemon slices. We baked the fish in the oven until flaky and aromatic, and served that with a side salad of mesclun greens (also bought from the market) and cucumber.

Fish, Prepped for Baking

 Fish - After

It wasn't even 4pm before we were back at the cutting board for round two of cooking. The previous night we roasted some duck legs and thighs over potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic... and had some leftovers I wanted to use. Dad had also done his gravy thing... and made a rich, dark duck jus using all of the roasted bits in that were in the pan and the leftover duck bones.

In an effort to save money and use my food to it's fullest extent, I've started to save the green tops from the celery stalks and carrots that I get at the market. I toss them in a large freezer bag with onion scraps, potato peels, etc... and once the bag is full, I make a hefty pot of vegetable broth. My current bag of scraps had reached it's capacity, so I dumped everything into a pot of boiling water and let it do it's veggie thing.

With two broths in hand, a pile of leftover of veggies, and a whole chicken in the fridge, my dad and I collaborated on an old classic... chicken pot pie.

The Filling

This recipe is a perfect one for re-purposing your leftovers and scraps into an absolutely delicious meal. We shared the pot pie between 7 people, and all were left leaning back in their chairs with a smile on their face. The onset of a food coma was imminent.

Better than Chicken Pot Pie

 Better than Chicken Pot Pie

Better than Chicken Pot Pie

Collaborative Recipe with my Dad

*Before reading this recipe, note that all amounts are approximate (except for the crust). Depending on what you have leftover, what veggie scraps you may have, or how large your onions/celery/carrots are, the best way to make sure the end product tastes delicious is by tasting as you go. You may find you need to add more or less of something, so feel free to adapt this to what you have available!

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
6-8 cups of vegetable broth (recipe below)
1 pie crust (recipe below)
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
any leftover roasted veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic), optional
2 cups of duck broth
6 tablespoons of flour
3/4 cup cold water
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius).

Heat butter and extra virgin olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook until the carrots and celery are soft, about 6-8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Place the vegetables into a 9-10 inch round (or in my case 12.5 inch x 9.5 inch x 2.5 inch deep oval) baking dish.

Bring 6-8 cups of vegetable broth (see recipe below) to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken into the vegetable broth and lower the heat to medium. Stew the chicken in the broth for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the chicken pieces and allow to cool slightly. Remove meat from the bone and chop any large pieces into bite-sized chunks. Place the pieces of chicken into the baking dish with the vegetables.

*Here is where you can add any leftover roasted vegetables (if you have any) such as carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc... Just be sure to cut the vegetables into small, bite-sized chunks.

In a medium pot, heat the duck broth and 2 cups of the remaining vegetable stock over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk the flour into the cold water until a smooth paste is formed. Add the flour paste into the hot broth and whisk until the broth begins to thicken. Pour the gravy over the vegetables and chicken in the baking dish. Sprinkle the Montreal Chicken Seasoning over the chicken and vegetables.

Roll the pie dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick and about 1 inch wider than the baking dish on all sides. Drape the pie crust over the baking dish and with a sharp knife, make a few slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and the filling is bubbly. Serves 6-8.  

Vegetable Stock

green tops of 1 bunch of carrots
green tops of 1 stalk of celery (equal to the amount of carrot tops)
1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
any leftover veggie peels (potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic)

In a large stock pot, place the carrot tops, celery tops, onion, and any leftover veggie peels, and cover with water. Roughly chop any large greens/tops of the celery and carrots that may not easily fit into the pot.

Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the veggies, covered, from anywhere between 1 hour to infinity (hehe), depending on how flavorful you want your stock. Be sure to not over salt the broth initially, as the flavors with intensify as the broth concentrates.

Pâte Brisée

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Place cold cubes of butter into the flour and with two knives cut the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter resemble the size of peas. A tablespoon at a time, add the ice water to the flour and mix gently with a fork just until the dough is able to be formed into a ball. Do not knead the dough! The dough will be crumbly and flaky, which is what you want.

Form the dough into a disc and wrap tightly with cling wrap. Place into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Once the dough has rested, let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to make it easier to roll out.

Gently roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 1/8" thick.