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Puréed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Concord Grapes

This recipe was inspired by a photo on Instagram. It’s a bed of puréed corn that is warmed and topped with colorful cherry tomatoes and seedless Concord grapes. The original picture idea had melon balls but I could not pass up these seedless Concord grapes! Serves 8

Ingredients

6 ears fresh sweet corn

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

1 pint colorful cherry tomatoes

1/2 pint seedless Concord grapes or other fruit or vegetable of your choice

Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Aged thick balsamic vinegar

Flaked sea salt

Procedure:

  • Bring a large cooking pot of water to a boil
  • Add the corn and cover
  • Bring to a boil
  • Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes
  • Drain and cool
  • Using a sharp knife cut the corn off the cob
  • Place corn in a food processor
  • Purée
  • Add melted butter and pepper flakes
  • Purée until completely smooth
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Serve warm. Reheat if you make this ahead and refrigerate before serving

Assemble the salads:

  • Arrange about 1/2 cup of corn on the plate. Make a shape or smear it around. Think of it as painting on a plate
  • Top with an arrangement of sliced or halved tomatoes and whole grapes
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle with flaked sea salt

Voila!

Corn is cut off the cob and placed in a food processor

Melted butter and hot red pepper flakes are added

Purée again and season with salt and pepper if desired. I don’t think it needs salt

The corn mix is puréed to a very smooth consistency and arranged on serving plates with colorful tomatoes and grapes.

When I find the pineapple tomatillo I will add that for a sweet taste. It should be ripening in September in Michigan.

I really want to grow them in my garden. The paper like husk is beautiful and a nice addition to food presentation

The dressing is not really needed but just a few drops finishes it off. You can apply the oil and vinegar artfully to look like abstract strokes or drops of a modern painting

Below is the original photo which inspired me. TheJamLab was out to dinner here

Enjoy!

Beautiful Burgundy

Our week in Burgundy was mesmerizing! The deep rich terra-cotta and green colors of the rolling hills were continual. The views never stopped. Every where we looked were colorful easy to enjoy pastoral scenes.

The temperatures continued to be cool enough to use the wood stove every day in the late afternoon through the evening. We enjoyed every minute of it!

Our first day was Sunday and we headed to the Market in Chalon. The darling town was busy and full of people shopping and relaxing outdoors at the cafes surrounding the square. The rotisserie chickens are popular as are the fresh produce, cheese, olives and fresh meats. These markets are like going to Meijers. The vendors often have trucks and displays outfitted for refrigerated meat and cheese, but fresh produce is the queen of the market or marché!

Our hosts invited us for an aperitif which turned out to be dinner. AperitifDinatoire!They are so kind and talented! We were treated to puff pastry filled with cheese, or olive or ham. Next they brought out tiny ramekins of escargot baked with a little garlic and parsley. Then we had prunes wrapped in prosciutto and baked. The last were pretty radishes peeled to a striped pattern!

Monday we drove to the next town which was Chapaize. There is a gorgeous little medieval church there where they have concerts through the year. There’s also a charming coffee shop, a high end used furniture boutique and a fantastic restaurant I’ll share with you later.

Next we explored Brancion which is a fortress, a medieval village and a church. Very picturesque.

We had quiche with watercress salad and an omelet for lunch at this cute cafe in Branson.

Next we drove through some vineyards of Saint-Gengoux and Macconaise where I would love to return someday.

For dinner we heated up our market rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes. I steamed the leeks I bought there too.

Tuesday we explored the medieval town of Cluny and its Abby. This town developed around the Abby of Cluny which began in 910 by 12 monks. It grew to become the ruling center of the international chain of monasteries in Europe and housed 10,000 monks. It’s a huge place but most of it was destroyed in the Revolution.

We found a great place for lunch called Hostelleria d’ l’Heloise. It’s a hotel and restaurant. As many restaurants and cafes they offer a lunch of the day. The price was 21 Euros. It was very formal but comfortable. They gave us little portions of extra courses beyond the 3 we expected.

First on a platter we received a skewer of smoked fresh salmon and a cheese cracker

2nd was a small glass of a foamed mix of tomato, cream and celery salt with olive oil.

3rd was a whitefish called faro, seared and served with 1 white asparagus and a timbale of eggplant. A remarkable sauce of white foam was the base of this dish! I watched the chef use an aerator to foam up a container of white sauce in the kitchen! Reminds me of a famous chef Fernando Adriá from Barcelona who made foaming food a phenomenon at his restaurant El Bulli.

4th was a perfectly round sphere of chocolate served on a bowl at the table. Hot chocolate sauce was poured over it which melted the ball and revealed vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries! Very unexpected!

Our formal lunch ended with some bites of handmade marshmallow, fruit gelatin and tiny Madeleine cakes. A true French dining experience in Cluny!

Wednesday we started the day at the goat farm nearby. The farm raises about 160 goats and sells products they make from the goats milk. It was fun to see the goats as they were all in the barn relaxing and eating hay or licking their salt blocks. They also had trays of white clay they eat for their digestion as desired. Branches of holly hung from the rafters of the barn to keep insects away.

We took a peek in the cheese making rooms

Cheese drying

Cheese aging

Goats milk yogurt

Thimble size pieces of goat cheese to snack on!

Next we visited Berzé le Chatel. There were a few children running around because it was spring break. They get 2 weeks off. There are families living in this fortress. They’re not living like royalty! It’s a ruin that’s patched into some living space.i

On to Berzé de Ville where the church had beautiful murals that have been cared for with money from large donations.

We drove through many vineyards.

Stopped for lunch in a tiny town called Davoye Le Milles. This was a surprise lunch. We expected pizza. The place was packed with men. They looked like workmen from the vineyards or construction plants nearby. After we were seated we learned that they were only serving the lunch of the day which was 3 courses for 13Euros

First was a tasty salad made of red and green Bibb lettuce, cubed ham, grated cheese and a dressing of olive oil, mustard, Aromé seasoning by Maggi. It has a lot of MSG in it!

Next we thought we were getting the chicken, but we were given smoked pork. Not so good

Then came the cheese course. Either a platter of cheeses or fromage blanc with cream. We took the fromage blanc. Yum. With a little sugar added

Then came dessert. Citron tart and apple tart.

After lunch we drove through the towns and vineyards of Vergisson, Pouilly, and Solutré

The day ended with a bit of wine tasting at a distributors center in Collongette. Nothing expensive. We bought a Bourgogne pinot and a gamay.

Thursday was spent in the larger city of Beaune. This is the wine capital of France and a very sophisticated little city. It was cold and rainy this morning but cleared up. We warmed up and enjoyed great internet at a cafe called Le Parisienne.

Our main touring was of Hotel Dieudes Hospices de Beaune. This was a medieval charity hospital built in 1443 by the chancellor of Burgundy. It’s funding continued through the years and it served as a hospital till 1971. Seeing the set ups of the beds and furnishings was interesting.

Visited the lovely cathedral

We wanted to find a nice place for lunch since Burgundy is the gourmet food capital of France. We chose a Rick Steves recommendation. La Table de Guigone, named for the wife of the man who built the Hospices de Beaune, Nickilas Rolin

Beef Bourgogne is the classic dish of this region, so that’s what we ordered. It’s a type of beef stew that’s marinated in red wine overnight and is cooked for a long time. The cattle breed of Burgundy is used which is called Charolais.

We ordered a glass of wine with lunch. The wine was a 1cr or premier cru. These red wines are rated in this order

Grand Cru

1cr/Premier Cru

Village

Bourgogne

Most wines of this are are the Bourgogne. The premier and grand cru are from selective sections of special qualified vineyards.

After Beaune we took the wine tour loop south and stopped in Pommard. We found another Rick Steves recommendation: Domaine Lejeune. A woman gave us the basic tour and wine tasting in the ancient facility. Bought a couple bottles of a Village wine.

Drove through Meursault which is a mini Beaune. Very sophisticated and well to do. Then on through Montrachet, Poligny, Chagny, Giurg, Buxy.

Stopped at the side of the road in Sercy where we found a pretty castle on a pond where the kids were fishing with their grandmother.

For dinner I steamed the vegetables from the market. Pumpkin, white asparagus and green beans. Also had some olives which are from Provence, but are sold at all the markets, nice cheese from the local goat farm and market.

Friday we drove to Cormatin which is just two towns over from the town we’re staying. It’s larger and has a Chateau which we toured. The tour guide was super, it it was all in French. He gave us a guide book to help interpret! The furnishings, tapestries and wood paneling were original to the Chateau!

The gardens were fantastic! A gazebo with a spiral staircase overlooking the property, topiaries, herb garden, kitchen garden and formal gardens.

For dinner we went to the next town over, Chapaize and enjoyed Cafe Saint Martin. Super service and food! This is a small village but a lot of arts going on. The cafe is across the street from the beautifully lit church

The chefs from Leon and made delicious food for us at their Cafe Le Saint Martin

A great bottle of 1cr wine from the area

My 1st was seared scallops over spinach and pomegranate seeds with vinaigrette

Dave’s was a phyllo triangle filled with beef tail and foie gras over salad

My main course was local veal with chanterelle mushroom sauce

Dave’s was the local charolais beef with pepper sauce

For dessert I had 4 layers of chocolate that looked like. Napoleon or mille-fleurs

Dave’s was a deconstructed lemon tart

This was a grand end to our stay in beautiful Burgundy!

Brittany Borders Normandy

We drove from the west coast of Brittany to the northeast where Brittany borders Normandy. This was a farm stay booked through Homeaway. Our lovely farm country home was once a shed and dated to the 18th century. It had 2 levels, modern conveniences and a wood burning stove! It was a lot of fun keeping the fire going. The French love their wood stoves and fires! There are immaculately stacked piles of wood all over the countryside of France!

Here is our farmhouse. It is part of a neighborhood of homes, some rented as vacation homes, others inhabited by long term residents. Their 10 sheep and 4 ducks were enchanting.

The owners lived next door in a loft style home built in a barn. In their spacious kitchen they taught us how to separate fresh milk from cream and how to make English style sausages! They also offered soap making classes which we didn’t have time for.

Here is the farm where we picked up the fresh cows milk

Our Homeaway owner Stuart carrying the fresh milk in plastic jugs

In Gabrielle and Stuart’s kitchen separating the cream from the milk.

Gabrielle makes ice cream out of most of the cream! We enjoyed lemon curd flavor!

Gabrielle and Stuart also taught us to make English style sausages. They’re made with pork shoulder that is ground once. Cooked rice and seasonings are added. The meat is carefully stuffed into the casings to a specific size. The sausages are twisted into links. The sausages are then refrigerated several hours to dry out. Then they are ready to grill or fry!

Ground pork and rice in a bowl

Stuffing the casings

Making the links by twisting the sausage at specific lengths

Voila! Sausages!

Our hosts were from Britain so we made British sausages with many seasonings. They said the French use only salt and pepper.

Mont St-Michel is the second most visited site in France next to the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful. This is Normandy, but close to the border of Brittany.

We had lunch at this Christian pilgrimage site over 1000 years old. Lamb is raised on the salty marshes that surround this island. So I ordered the salty lamb stew served with a light tender bean mixture and French fries!

Dave had mussels, a specialty of the sea!

St Malo is an ancient city with ramparts and medieval fortifications that date to the 1100s which is enchanting to walk around

We discovered the market and met a friendly woman selling cheese and farm butter! The salted butter was super salty!

She recommended this very creamy rich cheese that had to be spread on bread or fruit! Like butter!

St Malo had a delish pastry called Kouign Amann. It was strips of bread dough rolled in a spiral and brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Yummy right out of the oven!

The weather was cold and rainy again the next day, but we persevered and drove along the north coast of the English Channel west of St Malo. The views were magnificent at Cap Fréhel!

We continued driving and stopped for a quick lunch in St-Jacut-de-la-Mer. What we thought was a little bar was a fine dining restaurant. We stayed for a 2 course lunch

Raw sardines with capers and a marinade. Very beautiful but not my taste

Since I didn’t like this they gave me a substitute, raw oysters, a tiny improvement

Our entree was a filet of beef on a sauce with cauliflower au gratin.Very pretty

After lunch we drove on to Dinard. The sun came out and we walked around this resort town that has a strong British influence. We bought some Coquille St-Jacques, which we call scallops.

The fish monger removed the scallops from the shells for us

I sautéed the scallops in salty French farm butter and made a vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice and “Dijon” mustard, all served with lettuce and endive salad

The next day we explored Dinan, the most medieval town of all Brittany! The town has preserved their old city filled with more half timbered buildings that you can see in most any one city. The cobblestone walkways and ancient buildings are well preserved and charming.

After taking the Rick Steves walk around town we found a bar where they were grilling sausages outside. We sat inside and ate sausages wrapped in galettes with a bit of mustard. Hard cider too which is a Breton specialty, usually served in a big ceramic cup. Yum!

The farm was a cool experience. The sheep out back were endearing. Their ducks were laying green yolk eggs because of the green pond plants they were eating. Green eggs are a real thing! And the huge farms were a powerhouse of wheat, pigs, sheep and cattle!

These are huge grain elevators for the pig farm near our farm rental.

Some of their farm ducks were laying green eggs, Dr Seuss style!

The rolling landscape of Brittany flowed on and on and the ancient buildings gave a reminder of time past.

Brittany……the Wild West of France

After several days in Paris we took the fast TGV train to Brest, a city near the far west coast of France. It was a 3 hour luxurious ride in a smooth running train that sped up to 120 mph!

In Brest we took a cab to the airport and picked up our rental car, a Renault Kadjar. We rented through the Renault Euro Drive program which is much less expensive than your typical rentals and they provide a brand new reliable car! This was our vehicle for the next 7 weeks.

We spent 5 days in Lanildut, a coastal town where fishing and seaweed harvesting are prolific. The walks along the rugged coastline and drives to other coastal towns were thrilling.

Here’s a photo of our Homeaway rental in Lanildut. The style and size is typical Breton, but it’s new, built in the 1970s.

It had a charming artistic decor

Here’s a view of the sea

Notice the seaweed and the low tide. The seaweed is harvested in this area and used in food products and in the health and beauty products.

La Pointe Saint-Mathieu is an eerie open air abbey ruin on the coast

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Beautiful stone homes like these

The prehistoric menhirs and dolmen are found throughout the area

Lanildut has beautiful walking paths

Coastal views at low tide

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I’ll start with crepes. They are popular in Brittany and Normandy. You’ll find people making crepes at the markets and in cafes. They stack them up and the locals buy them by the bunch at the markets. You’ll even see them factory made wrapped in plastic in the grocery stores.

The light brown colored buckwheat crepe is served with savory foods and the light flour crepes are for dessert fillings. People buy a crepe at the market with a bit of filling in it, wrapped in paper, and walk around the market. Even in the cold and blowing rain, they walk and eat their crepes, usually filled with a little butter and sugar or Nutella. Or plain, as you like!

At a cafe this buckwheat crepe filled with a little cheese is folded into a square and placed over plain lettuce. Voila!

Boulangeries and patisseries are in every little town in Brittany. This is France though it has a British feel. A favorite Breton pastry is called Far Breton. It is similar to flan, but does not have a pastry crust. It’s also very similar to a Scandinavian breakfast food called Aggkaka. Far is made of a batter of eggs, milk, flour and a little bit of sugar, as is Aggkaka. The difference is Far batter is refrigerated a few hours. Then it is poured into a baking pan, baked, cooled and cut in squares. Sometimes prunes, raisins or apples are added to the batter.

Here is the traditional Far Breton with prunes. This one is very thick and high

Here’s other Fars that aren’t as thick, which we saw more often. Notice the different sizes of the whole Fars which are baked in different sizes of baking pans.

This Far Breton has apples

Another pastry popular in Brittany is Gateau Breton. It’s very rich and made with lots of butter. Breizh means Breton or Brittany or Bretagne. This region has Celtic roots and uses the Celtic language.

The cake above and below is the Breton cake that is made with butter and lots of sugar. It’s very rich and crispy.

Other pastries in Brittany you also find all over France. Such as the almond croissant and the raisin swirled pastry below

Here is a view of some of the other fancy pastries in the shops

One of our favorite lunches was the pizza like squares at the patisserie

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The farm market in St-Renen offered many food options including takeaway prepared foods. Here we bought escargot that were farm raised and prepared with a butter garlic mixture, placed back in each shell ready to heat in our oven at home

This vendor roasted potatoes over a wood fire and then added a variety of different toppings all layered over cream, ready to heat up at home

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Big trays of potato gratin were popular. You could buy any amount. All had cheese and cream. Some also added ham

Fish and shell fish of course. Crabs and oysters too!

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The fresh produce was colorful! The French most all have leeks in their baskets. Turnips and celery root are common purchases too!

We had some surprises when dining out on the west coast of Brittany. An Irish pub recommended for it’s delish fish and chips also served wonderful scallops with squid ink risotto! Another restaurant added seaweed to its bread and creme brûlée! That was shocking!

Fried fish and French fries

Scallops and squid ink risotto in a cream sauce

We were introduced to goats milk and yogurt! They are delicious! A bit more of a tang than cows milk and yogurt

The landscape of the farmland is dramatic. The roads are lined with plant material covered fences. The old stone fences are not even seen through the thick plants, shrubs and trees.

On March 16, 1978 The Amoco Cadiz ran aground on Portsall Rocks 5 km from the coast of Brittany. The Lanildut community was remembering this 40 year anniversary by watching a documentary. The ship split in 3 and spilled 68 million gallons of oil along 240 miles of Brittany’s coast. The coastline is beautiful today and it has been a pleasure spending time here in Lanildut.

Dining Out in Paris

Dining out in Paris for lunch or dinner does not have to be expensive. You can eat a long leisurely lunch or make it quick on the run. Let the waiter know your time frame if you need to get somewhere. We spent 5 nights in Paris and I’ll share photos here of our dining experiences.

At Le Petit Cler located on Rue Cler, the famous food market neighborhood, we enjoyed a seared piece of mild fish served with beurre blanc sauce and potatoes. This is a classic French butter sauce

Another day for lunch we enjoyed Bistrot Richelieu located near The Louvre. Here is the French Onion Soup which was made with small croutons, not a large piece of bread as often seen. Also the cheese was not stringy and excessive. It was flavorful but not overwhelming. We also shared escargot! It was not a strong flavor of garlic as is often served and the parsley was light and fresh. Special utensils were provided to eat the escargot!

Utensils

Escargot in a butter and parsley sauce with a tiny hint of garlic

With the escargot tongs hold one escargot shell with one hand. Use the tiny fork with the other hand to dig the escargot out of the shell. It is tricky! I sent one shell flying across the table!

Cafe au lait Cafe Crema is a beautiful thing

One night we splurged on some fine dining at the restaurant located at the ground level of our apartment building

L’Hydrophobe. Delicious food and special service from the staff

Entrées or First Course

Jerusalem Artichoke Cream Soup made with Jerusalem artichoke, leek and onion. This was served with a slightly baked or poached egg and sliced foil gras. Amazing! I have never seen a Jerusalem artichoke. It’s a root vegetable.

Here’s a Jerusalem artichoke I found at the market. It’s like a light potato with more flavor. Definitely a tubor, not at all like an artichoke. It’s French name is topinambour.

This is the Jerusalem artichoke soup with egg and sliced foie gras. It’s garnished with paprika and chives.

Dave ordered the endive and watercress salad with sliced foie gras de canard and a light vinaigrette

Les Plats or The Dishes or 2nd course or Main Course

A whitefish with a leek paté and a red wine sauce served with parsnip, turnip a potato

Duck breast with orange sauce served with roast cauliflower, carrot, potato and parsnip

Les Desserts

Fillo leaf cup filled with apples and caramel sauce

Chocolate Fondant with grapefruit sorbet

The waitress tells us to make this dessert is very simple. It’s a mixture of melted chocolate, sugar and egg. This is poured in a shallow pan and placed in a water bath. This is all baked at a low temperature. I’ll make this one day!

Another restaurant we visited for lunch was Chez Paul Bastille

Les Entrees

Fish in curry sauce

Cold Pork Terrine and Salad with a Spicy Sauce

Mushrooms over Toast with Salad and Fried Jerusalem Artichokes

Complimentary Goat Cheese

Another day we stopped for lunch at a creperie before visiting the Catacombs. The savory crepes are always buckwheat and the sweet crepes are wheat flour. Our buckwheat crepes were filled with 3 strong flavored cheeses and walnuts and served over plain lettuce salad.

Well this is it for now! Until our next visit to Paris!

Paris Apartment Eating

The apartment we rented through Airbnb was a tiny studio, but it had everything we needed, including a kitchen! We didn’t cook anything there but we brought food in to make light breakfasts and dinners. There are boulangeries and patisseries every where, as well as boucheries which sell cooked and prepared meats as well as your typical butcher meats.

I will share with you first a video of our apartment including the kitchen. Then I’ll show you some pictures of the food we bought in our neighborhood to eat in our apartment. Our typical breakfasts were baguette or pastry with coffee and milk or fresh fruit and goats milk yogurt. Dinners were combinations of baguettes, sliced prosciutto type meats, terrines of meat and pâtés, mini quiche Lorraine, cheese, fresh vegetables and wine.

A delicious medium strong blue cheese

Fresh goat cheese coated is charcoal or ash. The purpose of the ash is to neutralize the pH and prevent mold formation. It also makes the little rounds of cheese look pretty!

Here’s a typical cheese shop.

Sandwiches made with baguettes are popular in the bakeries

These chickens and other small birds roasting over potatoes are popular in Paris and Provence

A popular pastry made of a baked croissant that has been sliced open and layered with cream, almond paste and sometimes also chocolate. It is shaped and sprinkled with powdered sugar and almonds

Of course there’s the baguette

And these eclairs!

Such a pretty package too!

Coffee and chocolate glaze and filling!

We stopped at one of the Amorino shops known for their gelato. I bought this macaroon filled with gelato and decorated with a fancy chocolate!

I’ll add more pics of mini quiche Lorraine and terrines of cold meats when we return to Paris mid May.

And of course wine is available in the grocery stores, wine shops and butcher shops!

Paris Bakery Tour

In the Montmartre area of Paris, March of 2018, we had lessons and a tour of the Le Grenier bakery and pastry shop. We signed up online through Viator. Olga was our superb tour guide!

It was a very cozy space with friendly bakers. We learned the bakers day began at 3 am and ended at 1 pm. The dough is made the day before and includes sourdough, yeast, flour, salt and water. There are over 3000 bakeries/boulangeries in Paris, but only 300 make their own bread and pastry from scratch on site! To check if your bakery makes their own, look for mixing machines in the back of the shop and workers baking!

A baguette should have many different sizes of holes inside and also a very crispy crust like you see here:

I will show you some of the steps involved. Most bakers keep their recipes a secret, so I do not have that to share.

Here is a video of the dough made the morning before. It is full of bubbles and is being poured into a square machine that cuts the dough into baguette size portions:

The next step is spreading this dough with flour and closing the lid. This cuts the dough into baguette size pieces:

Now the pieces of dough are placed in the Panimatic which rolls the dough into the long thin shape:

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The baguettes are placed by hand into rolled cradles of heavy cloth for resting:

The baguettes are placed on baking sheets which roll in and out of the ovens:

The baguettes are rolled into the ovens, baked and then rolled out to cool:

Baguettes are placed in the tall basket for customers to purchase at the counter:

Here are some quick pics of the pastry kitchen!

Using a scale to add ingredients for French custard:

Only the best pure butter is used:

Candied fruit is drying on racks waiting to be used to decorate the pastries:

Voila!

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