Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving with a French Twist

Last July a free local newspaper magazine called "Neighbors" liked my idea about editing healthy and natural recipes and it started to edit my recipes.
Every month I am very pleased when seeing my own editorial and recipes edited in this nice and informative paper.
It was a big surprise when Diane Simone the owner and Chef Editor of this paper decided to use my pictures and column to illustrate the paper front page of her magazine.

A Touch of French
By: Celine

Our first Thanksgiving feast was 15 years ago, in Murrieta at our best friends? house: Jocelyne and Fabrice. We flied from Newark to California on Thanksgiving day.
It was really a cold and chilly day in New York and once we arrived in South California the weather was so wonderful and warm!
We arrived just on time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Our friends? inviting house was full of American/ French families and friends and everybody helped already for the preparation of this sumptuous meal .
First of all, I loved all the food served (but never tasted before): Turkey with cranberry sauce, corn bread, yams, Pumpkin pie?etc and I loved the idea about this very special time to reconnect with family and friends.
I loved also the decoration all the pumpkins, the colorful Autumn leaves displayed on the table, the dishes used for the meal, everything was beautiful!
Of course we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in France so it was a complete discovery.
I love this wonderful American tradition.
Every year now I try to do a mix of French and traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
Here is 2 Thanksgiving dishes with a French Twist.
These recipes have been kids tested. The cauliflower/ potato gratin was devoured in 5 minutes. Kids love Béchamel sauce. In fact I am using it a lot. Served on top of vegetables this is always delicious. So if your kids do not like vegetables you can try to serve with béchamel.
As for the dessert my son who likes only chocolate desserts asked 3 times for the Crème Caramel, this creamy, smooth and silky is lighter that the traditional Pumpkin pie even after a huge Thanksgiving meal!
For further information about my Cooking Classes, Catering and Personal Chef services send an e-mail to or contact Neighbors newspaper.

Cauliflower and potatoes Gratin
Serves 6

2 1/2 cups milk
3 potatoes peeled and cut in small pieces
1 small bay leaf
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets (about 7 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 generous cup finely grated Gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
4 gratings of fresh nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter a 1 1/2 quart gratin dish and set it aside.
Make the béchamel sauce. In medium sauce pan, heat the milk and bay leaf to just below the boiling point. Set aside. In another medium pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, and then sift in the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, until it lightens in color, about 2 minutes ( until you can smell almost sweet cookies).Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. While the sauce simmers, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add the Potatoes. Cook until tender add cauliflowers florets and cook additional 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Arrange the cauliflower, florets-side up and potatoes, in the buttered gratin dish.
Strain the sauce and season it with a teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and to taste. Whisk in the cheese, 1 tablespoon of the butter, until smooth, taking care not to over mix. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower.
Bake until the top of the cauliflower gratin is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Pumpkin Crème Caramel
Serves 8

For the caramel base:
3/4 cup super fine sugar
3 tablespoons water
For the flan:
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spices
1 1/2 cups Organic pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
7 oz Sweetened Condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the caramel base:
1. Melt sugar ( ½ cup) with water in your cake pan and place it on the stove top over medium ?low heat,( 5 minutes) until the sugar has melted and become a golden brown liquid, remove the pan from the stove. Coat the pan entirely with the syrup and set aside.
For the flan:
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and cream until lightly boiling. Meanwhile , in a large bowl, beat the eggs, add remaining sugar ( ½ cup), the salt, and the vanilla and beat until blended. Mix the Pumpkin puree with condensed milk and add it to the eggs mixture. Blend well. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into egg/ pumpkin mixture while stirring continuously.
Then place the caramel-lined cake pan in a deep baking pan that can receive your cake pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan up to the rim. Pour water into the deep baking pan halfway up the sides of the cake pan
Bake for 1 hour or until the flan is set.
Cool until room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day before serving.
Before serving run a sharp knife around the edge of the flan and invert onto a platter making sure that the caramel runs down the top and sides.
Bon Appetit!

Since these recipes have been "Public" some of my friends and clients asked me to duplicate the Pumpkin Creme Caramel, this is always a hit!
I invite you to try this delicious and healthy recipe for the Holidays Season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Olive Oil cake with honey and pine nuts

Those who have tasted my cooking creations know that all my cooking and baking are from scratch.
This is the way we do it in France. We do not use "mixture" from a box adding only water. No, we use real Free Range eggs, real organic flour, whole creamy milk...we cook from A to Z.
At almost 3, my kids know how to bake a cake, they know how to mix eggs with flour.
Most of French food is GMO free. Because items are well labeled, and actually this is the law. You know if you food contains GMO or not. In the U.S.A, this is not mandatory. Only Organic food is GMO free.

My endless search for healthy, natural cooking leaded me to Organic Olive Oil Cooking.

Here is one of my favorite sweet recipe:

Olive Oil, Honey and Pine Nuts Cake
Serves 8
3 eggs 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar 1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil 1-1/2 cups milk 1 cup pine nuts
1 cup honey 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1/2-tsp. baking powder 1/2-tsp. baking soda pinch of salt confectioners' sugar for dusting

1 cup honey
1 cup olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Butter and flour 12-inch cake pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until blended.
4. Add the olive oil, milk , pine nuts, and honey and mix well.
5. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
6. Add to the egg mixture, stirring until just blended. Do not overmix.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.
9. Pour on the still yet cake olive oil and honey
10. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. Loosen the sides with a knife and invert onto a serving plate.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A true anti-diet recipe: The Britanny Kouign Amann cake

Some butter, some sugar and flour, plus a little more butter and sugar...
Ingredients: 150 g of flour, 300 g of butter, 200 g of sugar, a pinch of salt, 20 g of baker yeast, a yellow of an egg to give some colour (not mandatory).
Mix the baker yeast with three lukewarm water spoon then mix with the flour. Add the sugar, then the butter. Turn and roll the pastry 4 times. Let rest 15 minutes between each turn. Put in a dish covered with butter. Scratch the surface of the cake with a fork and put in the oven during 25 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar as soon as removed from the oven and served lukewarm with a glass of cider.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Laduree Paris, Chocolate Macaroons

First time I ate Chocolate Macaroons was in Paris in the famous Laduree Patisserie Salon de The. It was a real chock for my palate. I love chocolate, all my friends, my family know it. I need to eat chocolate everyday this is my drug.
California is a formidable Orchard and I bought last week Californian Almonds. Since I always have chocolate ( pure one 70%) in my Kitchen pantry,I decided to make some Chocolate Macaroons. The same as Laduree, Paris.
Actually, I was surprised to see how quickly and easily you can make those wonderful macaroons

Macaroons:1/2 cup blanched whole almonds 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 3 Large egg whites Pinch of salt 2 teaspoons granulated sugar Filling1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 Large baking sheets with parchment paper. To make the macaroons: Pulse the almonds with 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and pulse until well blended. Beat the egg whites with the salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl just until the whites form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add the granulated sugar and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. With a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond mixture. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe out 1-inch-diameter mounds about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the tops are cracked and appear dry but the macaroons are still slightly soft to the touch. Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment paper, to barely dampened kitchen towels and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully peel the paper off the macaroons and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.To make the filling: Bring the cream lust to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Let coot to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when spread. If desired, transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the filling, or spread it with a table knife, generously on the flat side of half of the macaroons. Top with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing together gently to form sandwiches.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Temecula Farmer's Market

Every Saturday morning 70-80 farmers and vendors gather in historic Old Town Temecula to offer a wide variety of farm fresh, organic fruits and vegetables plus bakeries ( the croissants and chocolate croissants are delicious), olives, olive oils, cheeses, tamales, hand made soaps and lotions.
The produce are grown locally, sold by the grower and they meet all state quality standards.The Farmer's Market is where "REAL" farmers sell only agricultural products they grow themselves.
Last Saturday, I went early in order to do my little weekly visit. This market is crowded but there is no real problem to park your car.
First I did a quick round all around to see all different vendors. Then I knew exactly what I wanted to buy that day.
I started with my plain croissant ($1 each) those are realyy good almost French taste. Then I stopped to buy Fresh eggs. I saw also Cactus Figs. The first time I had one of these it was during my trip to Morocco with my parents. I remember this taste so particular and unique, fresh and sweet. 1 piece was today ($1), the woman said that each fig was ready to eat... and Gods know how long you need to take off every little cactus splinter. But I got 2 small for $1. Then I bought fresh purple figs, 4 huge tomatoes, fresh prunes, yellow plums....and I got a huge bag of Grapefruits for only $ 3. I also had small but exquisite crispy very sweet apples, perfect for my kids' snacks. Then when you live in Temecula you are surrounded bu vineyards, I bought some grapes too.
Everything I bought was certified organic!
Do you want to know what we are going to eat this week end and next week:
- prunes tart with almond filling served with Vanilla ice cream
- plain yellow plums tart with Puff pastry
- Ricotta topped with pistachios served with Figs cooked in honey
- Roasted Stuffed tomatoes served with rice
- soft boiled eggs served with crispy brad and butter
- grapes preserve for this winter

I urge you to visit this great Farmer's Market, you find great little treasures. Some fruits, vegetables you do not see anywhere else. And this is good for your health.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Olive oil tasting party the perfect summer rendez vous !

Which olive oil do you use? Do you have more than one in the pantry? All olive oils are different and each one, like good wine, has a unique flavor profile.
As you may know, Olives are grown all over the world : France, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt and, of course, Italy. Our own growers in California produce wonderful olive oils, too.
As a Personal Cook and Cooking Instructor, I am always curious about new ingredients, new flavors. Last, Saturday I drove into Old Town Temecula to some Olive Oil tasting at the Temecula Olive Oil Company where they grow and crush their own olives for a variety of products.
So-Cal towns : Murrieta, Riverside, Ontario, Corona are known for their Malls, superstores and Fast –food chains so this is not the ideal spot to find unique, quaint shops and boutiques. Temecula Olive Oil Company (TOOC ) is one of them. The boutique is located on the main street of Old Town ( Temecula) hidden behind plants and leaves. Then once you enter, you love this place, the scents, the wood floor,the decoration, so European. I went straight to the “ Tasting Room” since I told Nancy one of the owner last week that I would stop by for some tasting. In fact I am going to use TOOC products for my cooking classes.

Jennifer was the one who conducted the tasting. She liked the idea that I was French since she went to study in Paris last summer and loved it . I was doing the tasting with another couple. It was the perfect size for tasting. You actually drink little shots of olive oil, straight in plastic tiny cups. We started with the “Mission” Olive oil a nice, warm with a buttery taste oil, than you can use in all of your favorite recipes. Then we had the “Rotture di Oro” that offers a strong “ grassy/oily” taste great . It was nice and sweet.
Then the “ roasted garlic” was a great surprise not too strong, with great flavor. Just perfect.I loved it . So many recipes can use this oil.
The “ citrus” was a pure gem, so light and delicious… perfect for all your baking and salads. It brings some sunshine in your cuisine and your Kitchen! I tried also the “just dip it” oil but was not very thrilled about it. And while tasting it I had hard time imagining how to use it in my cuisine. It supposed to be one of the top selling at the shop…
Then we tasted also two Balsamic vinegars. The “Vanilla & Fig” Balsamic vinegar. First I love the name, very sensuous. It was good but I really could not taste the fig flavor and the Vanilla was too light in my opinion. Then we had the “ White Balsamico” and it hit me. It was really delicious, very fruity and cooling I loved it.
This tasting was really great. Even friends from Temecula did not know about this place and about Olive Oil tastings.
I will host soon an olive oil tasting party, in my own kitchen.
I already know the buffet I will prepare to pair the different oils and vinegars :

- Panzanella Salad
-Roasted chicken with lemon and garlic.
-pasta with fresh tomatoes,roasted garlic and a drizzle of olive oil , and of course Basil from my organic garden.
- A colorful platter of grilled or roasted onions, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers, drizzled with olive oil.
- My famous Bake Olive Citrus Cake. See recipes below

CONVERSION OF BUTTER TO OLIVE OILBUTTER = OLIVE OIL1 teaspoon = ¾ teaspoon1 Tablespoon = 2-1/4 teaspoons¼ cup = 3 Tablespoons1/3 cup = ¼ cup½ cup = ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons2/3 cup = ½ cup¾ cup = ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon1 cup = ¾ cup

Panzanella Salad (Tuscan Tomato & Bread Salad)
4-5 large vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into large cubes or wedges½ pound stale country-style Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed (about 8 cups)
1 ¼ cups thinly sliced red onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup TOOC white Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup TOOC Extra Virgin Mission Olive Oil
1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed, washed and spun dry, torn into pieces

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepperIn a large bowl, combine tomatoes, bread, and onions.In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Pour the dressing over the bread salad and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Add the basil and salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to combine. Then refrigerate. Serves 4-6.

The Olive Citrus Cake
grated zest and juice of one lemon
grated zest and juice of one orange
¾ cup The TOOC Citrus Olive Oil
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups semolina
1 cup ground almonds
tightly packed1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon orange flower water
1/4 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier

One round springform cake pan, 9-inch diameter, lightly oiled and lined with parchment.Preheat oven to 325°Reserve a little of the grated lemon and orange zest and put the remainder in a bowl with the oil, sugar, salt, orange and lemon juice, and eggs. Beat together with a whisk until light and fluffy and doubled in volume.Sieve the semolina and baking powder into a second bowl and add the ground almonds. Fold the almond essence and orange flower water into the egg mixture. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, fold together, but do not overmix. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the reserved lemon and orange zest over the top.Bake near the top of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until pale gold at the edges and firm in the middle. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Drizzle the liqueur over the top. Push the cake out, still on the loose metal base, and let cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes. Remove the base and paper. Serve in 8 to 12 wedges, warm or cooled. Do not refrigerate.Serves 8-12. The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Monday, July 9, 2007

July 14th Bastille Day!

It has been a while since we have celebrated correctly Bastille Day ( French Bank Holliday) on the July 14th!
So when I heard that Muriel and her family was coming to San Diego to give Cooking classes to her best American clients during 3 evenings, I knew I would have to meet her.
But my schedule could not match hers while staying in SD. Then, she mentionned that she will visit the Temecula Wine Country on July 14th.I decided to have a party with her family and our closest French/ American friends.

Because it is very hot and warm right now in So-Cal we will have a BBQ, salad, pizza potluck. It will be an Homemade Potluck. This is what I request fresh not processed food. Actually it will be a potluck with a French Twist since half of the people are French.
Muriel proposed to bring some artichokes… I guess she will do something delicious and very French.
When I was in the Travel Industry organizing customized trip to France for Americans who wanted to discover the real France. I was able to propose to my clients some cooking classes with Marguerite. It is Muriel's Chef name!
Actually you can visit her website While working with different providers in France, Muriel was always the one I loved to work with. Always available for me at any time, very well organized, precise and professional. In a few years, she had been one of the Top 10 Cooking classes instructor in Paris her classes are sold out most of the time.
She is amongst few instructors who also conduct a Farmers Market's visit before the cooking class and I think this is wonderful. This is one essential step in the French Cooking. You need to meet, discuss and chat with your butcher, your vegetable/ fruits supplier and cheese maker, this is the best way to get the perfectly ripped tomatoes, soft cheese and some time best deals too!

On July 14th, we will welcome Muriel and her family around 7 pm in our garden. Joel will make his delicious Sangria... wonderful during Summer time.
Since we have delicious Zuchinis in the organic vegetable garden, I will make chilled soup. Soup and summer do go together when you serve this chilled vegetable soup, made creamy with the addition of Vache qui rit cheese / the laughing cow wedge cheese a French favorite since 1921

Chilled Zucchini Soup
3 1/2 cups chicken broth 8 cups peeled sliced zucchini 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon crushed dried basil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper5 Vache qui rit wedges
1. Combine chicken broth, zucchini, onion, garlic, basil, salt and hot pepper sauce in a large stockpot and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender add Cheese. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Pour soup into a blender or food processor process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 8 servings.

Our dearest and best friends: Fabrice, Jocelyne and their daughters will join us. Caroline and Mark will be there with their 2 sons and I guess 2 or 3 couples and few single persons will join us too!
It will be a party for about 20 people. Since this is a potluck I need to review who will bring what…..this is my next task... I will let you know what is a French Potluck.
We do not have Potluck in France. The hosts provide averything guests do not bring anything sometimes, flowers, wine and dessert.... In my opinion Potluck is really a great American idea...because you can taste other favorite casseroles, salads.... people like to show off their culinary talents!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Nutella et moi

This morning my kids and myself were craving for something sweet and chocolaty...I was late on my schedule and I had no time, running around as usual.

Nutella came to the rescue...this Nutella Santwich is the ultimate one but I have more than 10 Nutella recipes in my Cookbook!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Creme Caramel de Maman

My mother has always been an excellent cook. She always says that when she got married she even did not know how to cook an egg! Hard to believe!
She is still using her first Cook book recipes she bought after her marriage. I love this Cookbook, pages are yellow, with some stains ( only few because my mother is very neat), between some sheets she keeps hand-written recipes from her own mother, some aunts...some other recipes are from a French magazine.
This book contains all Classic French Recipes from Pate feuilletee to Coq au vin similar to Julia Child books I guess. I love also the pictures everything look good and healthy.
When I go back home in France visiting my parents and when my mother is cooking I look at her book: I go by the picture first, if the photo looked yummy I am looking for the recipe in the book... but this is tricky sometimes the Coq au vin recipe is located 4 pages prior the picture in a dessert section, so you are turning pages after pages in order to find THE recipe! I do not know how many glasses of wine the editor drank before publishing it!!!
Her cookbook in front of her, I love watching my mother mixing some eggs, flour, milk, sugar, each gesture is perfect and the way she is using her wooden is still magical to me.
My mother's baking were always simple and delicious: fruit tarts ( apple, tart Tatin, Strawberries with chantilly), Crème renversee ( an upside-down caramel custard), oeufs a la neige ( floating islands), crepes au sucre, French Cake , crème caramel.
Now that I have a family to feed I can go on and explore my mother's desserts, I am lucky they have sweet-tooth.
For tonight dessert I made Crème Caramel de maman.

Look in your fridge and pantry for sure you have everything you need to make it right away!

1 c. Sugar
5 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Butter 8 (6 ounce) custard cups. In small skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar, stirring until it is a light brown syrup. Pour syrup into buttered cups. Place cups in shallow baking pan for easy handling. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat eggs, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar until lemon-colored. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla extract. Pour mixture in cups; put hot water in pan to within 1 inch of top of cups; bake 1 hour until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks; refrigerate; with knife, loosen custard from cups and invert onto dessert dishes, letting syrup run down side onto dish

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Trader Joe's Style Cooking classes

I love Trader Joe's . I love it. I love it. Five years ago when we moved from NYC to San Diego we did not know anything about TJ's. Trader what? One of my co-worker told me about it. He was German so I guess it was one of his favorite spot in town for cheap and good German beers and food ( TJ's owner is German). The first time I went I was not thrilled about it. I went to the one in la Jolla. Then we moved to Pacific Beach and our apartment was only 1 block away from it. It became our " grocery store".
From the European style daily products, the delicious pre-baked bread, the French Brioche, the frozen foods, the Madrange French ham, the Pizza dough, the black or white truffle oil, the candies, and now their organic frest fruits and vegetable...I do not go shopping elsewhere now . OK now that our Kitchen/ vegetable garden is blooming I buy less at TJ's.
Each time I am going there I try or buy something new. And you know what in 6 years I never been disapointed, never. So when I started my Cooking Class in my kitchen I was using a lot fo TJ's items. During my classes, a lot of people were asking questions about TJ's Products. Even the TJ's cashier asked me once how I was using Brioche or cooking my artichokes.
It was obvious: I will organise a Trader Joe's style cooking class, including TJ's visit, then information about the best pantry items you need in case you have one suprised guests, and yummy easy recipes.
Now I receive more and more requests for this special Cooking Classe and I am glad about it. I am glad to see how people are looking for fresh ideas for healthy and easy meals.

Next Trader Joe's Style Cooking class is scheduled on July 28 and August 25.
And for 4 people or more coming for a Private class the date/ time can be anytime!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cooking at the Kasbah

Few years, ago I bought my first Moroccan Cuisine book called : Cooking at the Kasbah ( Kitty Morse). I never thought that later I will use this book for my Cooking Workshop classes in my home.
I love this little book: beautiful Morocco photographies, mouthwatering portraits of the local food, so colorful, so unique.
Morocco has always been in my heart. Before I was born, my grandparents used to live in a Villa in Rabat surrounded by Oranges Groves. My mother told me so many stories about her life over there with her parents and three sisters. It sounds like paradise to me: the warm climate, the cuisine and food, the oranges scents, the hamman tradition...
As a teenager I went to Morocco twice and every time and I was falling in love with its souks, Medina, gardens, rituals of the Moroccan way of life and table.
Casablanca, El Jadida, Fes, Rabat.... I loved every villages, every mint teas offered.
And then, with my husband we moved from New York City to Southern California. The climate, the dry landscape, the oranges, lemon, almonds groves, Palm trees with dates, remind me of Morocco.
When I was working on my menus and schedules for my Cooking classes, it was obvious that Moroccan Cuisine will have a large part of it because evenings in So-Cal (Southern California) can be similar to the ones in Morocco.
This is why I named one of my class: a Moroccan feast! Tagine, Chicken couscous with raisins, almonds and pine nuts, sweet cinnamon couscous,dates with almond- pastes will be on the menu. Served with Mint tea!
Already 4 people enrolled this class on July 14, I can't wait to smell in my kitchen all the spices and unique cents... a fragrant haven.

Celine'sTagine of Chicken, Apricots, almonds

- 6 lbs of chicken pieces
-2 large yellow onions
-2 sticks of butter
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1 tsp black pepper
-2 cinnamon sticks
-1 lb dried apricots or prunes
-8 tbsp honey
-2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1cup peeled almonds
-1 tbsp sesame seeds

In a large pot, melt the butter. Fry the chopped onions until soft, andadd the chicken, salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon sticks. Add enoughwater to cover the chicken, about two cups. Bring to boil, reduce heat,and simmer until the chicken is done, adding water if necessary. Removethe chicken pieces.Add the prunes or apricots and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add theground cinnamon and the honey, stir and cook until the sauce has ahoney-like consistency. Add more honey if necessary.When the sauce is almost ready, toast the almonds.Return the chicken to the pot and re-heat. Place chicken in a servingsheet, pour sauce on top of it and top with almonds and sesame seeds.
on top of it and top with almonds and sesame seeds.
I serve it with buttered and fluffy plain couscous.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A squirrel in my Kitchen!

Yesterday I found a cute gray little squirrel in my Kitchen. I never leave my Kitchen door open but I guess yesterday I did. In the morning I left some delicious local strawberries on the kitchen counter because my son said that the ones from the fridge were too cold!
I guess the little squirrel loved the smell. But he tried to hide under my cabinets I could not catch him and I did not want to harm him neither. So I cut some small pieces of strawberries along the path to the kitchen door and I hide behind my Club chair. It worked! He followed and ate every single piece of the strawberry . He was all pink and cute! Then finally he decided to go outside and I closed the door behind him.
The day before I saw also a little bunny in front of the house. I guess our Kitchen garden is very popular amound the little animals.
With the rest of the strawberries I made a: Strawberries with meringue, mascarpone and honey. It was delicious and sweet but very light too. When I have time I will post the recipe.