Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pumpkin Cream Soup


If yesterday’s Facebook posts are a good clue, most of my American readers most be as stuffed as mightily as the turkeys they have prepared and eaten yesterday evening. That’s why I propose a somewhat lighter meal, easy to prepare, tasty, and perfectly appropriate for the season: Pumpkin Cream Soup. What is difficult for me as a non-American is to advise you which sort of pumpkin to use. I looked up the “musk pumpkin” (potiron musqué) that I had bought here in Paris and came up with the Latin term “Cucurbita moschata”, which includes Butternut squash, Dickinson and Kentucky field pumpkin, Long Island cheese pumpkin, and many more. But I trust you for knowing your pumpkins and squashes well enough to choose the right one. What will be difficult for you is to find the pumpkin seed oil. This is oil made by pressing roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds from an Austrian variety of pumpkin, the "Styrian oil pumpkin". The viscous oil is light to very dark green to dark red in colour. Its taste is very rich and really fabulous; but I don’t know if you can find it anywhere outside Austria, so I only add it as an optional ingredient (on the other hand, if you do find it, consider it a must!). 

What you need (for 4 persons): 
  • 3 big potatoes 
  • 750 g pumpkin (seedless) 
  • Pepper 
  • Approx. 1,25 l broth (or water and stock cubes) 
  • Caraway fruits 
  • Paprika 
  • 25 ml cream 
  • Pumpkin seed oil (optional) 
How to proceed: 
  • Peel the potatoes and the pumpkin. If you don’t find a nice slice of pumpkin where the seeds have already been removed, remove the seeds. 
  • Dice the potatoes and the pumpkin. 
  • In a big pot, cover the potato and pumpkin pieces with broth (approx. 1,25 l), add pepper and a handful of caraway fruits. You don’t need to add salt as broth and stock cubes tend to be quite salty already. You can add salt at the end, after tasting, if the result is not salty enough for you (be careful, though – too much salt in your food us extremely unhealthy). 
  • Cook until tender. 
  • With an immersion-blender, mix until smooth. 
  • Add a pinch of paprika and the cream; let it simmer for 10 minutes. 
  •  Serve hot, with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and a slice of fresh bread. 
I’m no big a fan of soups, I have to confess. But this one is tremendously yummy!
Bon appétit!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

"Small Portions"

You might ask why, instead of sharing one of my fabulous recipes, I post about a book this time. No, no, it's alright, go ahead, ask!

Well, I want to share this Big Great Day with you. The day of my – gulp – Book Launch! “Small Portions” is out and available, and I'm beside myself with excitement. And there's even something for you in this book of mine, dear fabulous foodies out there!

Want proof? Then, read the following presentation of my latest “baby”:
“Small Portions” is a story that comes in… small portions. In precisely 111 little parts – AND a recipe. To explore the many facets of modern life, I have chosen the literary form of vignettes, those short impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a trenchant impression about a character, idea, setting, object.

I'm telling my own story in what I hope are poignant scenes that vary from a snapshot of my christening in the early 70s to my father’s death in a skiing accident at the beginning of the 2000s. It’s small things I'm talking about, those many small things that compose a life – my life. I recall the painful process of coming out of the closet, relate the first encounters and love stories of my happy-go-lucky twenties, delve into aspects and turning points of two long-time relationships. I take you by the hand and guide you through the streets of Paris, the city I'm living in. I write about food and the internet and my travel experiences in Greece, Morocco, Vienna, Tunisia, London…

In just so many carefully chosen words, sometimes poetic, sometimes blunt, but always with wry and self-deprecating humour, I attempt to create little universes with each story. Each one stands alone, yet when you link them together, another story takes shape. The story of a life, the sketch of a person, the mirror of a time. Our time.

The Book Launch Price is set to 0.99 dollars on amazon.com, 0.99 euros on amazon.de and amazon.fr. You can also purchase the book on any other local amazon platform such as amazon.co.uk or amazon.it. If you want to read my Kindle e-book, by the way, no need to buy the Kindle Reader. You just download the free reader from this amazon-link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311

As much as I love my (hopefully large crowd of) future readers, I love feedback, comments, critique, too. Don't hesitate to stumble-upon this post, to tweet or retweet it, to put a link on your Facebook- or Google+-page, to Pin it and spread the word on whatever social media you can think of. Just go and tell everyone about this new book! Knock on your neighbours' doors, call your friends and family, mail everyone you know, write to your MP or senator, flood the local, national and international media with letters, faxes, telexes, phone calls, mails!

To purchase the book, just click on one of the links below:

And a special thanks to my friends Glynis, Neil, Janet and Joyce for supporting this Book Launch! What would I do without friends such as you?



Monday, 12 November 2012

Roast Beef with Red Pesto and Mushrooms


Today I'm going to share a really fabulous recipe that I've cooked twice already and which is, little by little, becoming one of my standard recipes. It's so tasty that everybody gags for seconds! But you'll need a special type of cream cheese with garlic and herbs for the sauce, otherwise your efforts will have been wasted. I choose the brand Boursin but you can buy any similar cream cheese provided it has the gralic-herb-flavour.

What you need:
  • 1 kg of beef (or more)
  • Uncooked pork belly bacon strips
  • 500 g mushrooms
  • 200 g of cream cheese with garlic and herbs "Boursin" or similar
  • 6-8 spoonfuls of red pesto
  • 40 cl of broth
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper
  • Some pinches of flour
  • Vegetables for the side helping
How to proceed:
  • Bard the beef.
  • Preheat your oven, 200°C.
  • Slice the mushrooms.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan.
  • Saute the beef from all sides, add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • When the outside is nicely coloured, place the beef in an oven-safe dish.
  • Rub 6-8 spoonfuls of red pesto all over the beef.
  • Pour the broth over the beef.
  • Cover with aluminium foil and put in the oven. The beef should roast 30-50 minutes but do check from time to time. If you invite someone even remotely French, do not overcook your roast beef (they have invented the guillotine, after all, and for lesser crimes!).
  • Drizzle some more olive oil into the pan you've used to saute the beef.
  • Stir-fry the mushroom slices until they have let off all their liquid. Do not add salt at this stage, otherwise they'll keep all their liquid!
  • Add the cream cheese, stir and let simmer.
  • When the beef seems to be nicely roasted, empty the broth it has been cooked in into the pan with the mushrooms.
  • Keep the beef warm.
  • Let the mushroom sauce simmer some more. To thicken the sauce, carefully add some flour, spoon after spoon, while stirring to avoid lumps.
  • Serve the sliced roast beef with a side helping of vegetables or pasta and pour the sauce over it.
Pure delight for young and old! Simply a royal meal!  
Bon appétit!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Red Chicken Curry with Lentils



I'm awfully sorry to have interrupted my regular posts over here. I have been so busy at work and preparing my new book (in three languages, mind you - that's a whole lot of work, believe me!). If course, I have been cooking and eating during all these months. I just didn't find the time to take pictures or write recipes.

Now, this is a recipe I prepared only yesterday. Easy to make, tasty, a teensie bit spicy. You can leave out the chicken and surprise your vegetarian or even vegan friends with a perfectly healthy dinner.

By the way, I've taken the picture with my iPad and without flash so the quality might be a bit poorer than usually. Oh, and you'll have to make do with a photo of the pot this time - I love to mix the rice and the curry in my plate so the result is, well, let's say only remotely photogenic ;-))

What you need: 
  • Red curry paste (approx. 70 g)
  • A can of coconut milk
  • 1 glass of dried lentils
  • 2 carrots
  • Some broth (1 stock cube will do)
  • 4 chicken breasts (if you opt for the non-vegetarian version)
  • Salt, pepper, turmeric powder, ginger powder
  • Olive oil
How to proceed: 
  • Slice the carrots.
  • For the non-vegetarian version, dice the chicken breasts.
  • Boil one glass of dried lentils in three glasses of water (25-30 minutes) with the stock cube and the carrot slices.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan.
  • Stir-fry the chicken, add salt, pepper, a pinch of turmeric powder, a pinch of ginger powder.
  • When the chicken is golden, add the red curry paste and stir-fry until the paste's rich scent fills your kitchen. 
  • Add the coconut milk, stir.
  • Add the lentils and carrots (if the broth hasn't disappeared entirely, don't worry - this will lend an even tastier flavour to the dish). 
  • Let it simmer for 15 minutes. If you bring the water for the rice to a boil right now, it'll be perfect.
  • Serve with rice and, why not, a nice mango chutney.
Even if you don't add the chicken, this is a tasty dish full of proteins. Moreover, you'll get a big load of fibers and vitamin B1 and iron, amongst other minerals. And you won't spend hours in the kitchen preparing this one, either!  
Bon appétit!

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