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.