Monthly Archives: August 2009

ff&f arrives in France… Fantastic!

I promise this will be my last (*yawn) post where I take advantage of all the “F”s . Not a lot to update, yet. Just wanted to mention that I moved in with my host family and am obsessively trying to be a good houseguest/not sound pre-verbal. I also started keeping a journal of everything I’m eating, because remembering each dish with correct translations is proving to be a little more difficult than I had anticipated. The food is delicious so far and the town is adorable. 

Thankfully, there is a bus that goes directly from my house to the university  and a tram that goes to the center of town without any line changes, so getting lost seems pretty out of the question (though well within the range of possibilities.)

Is France making ff&f more fastidious? Stay tuned…

The Night Before: ff&f Goes to France

I leave for France tomorrow and I’m sooo excited/nervous.  For those of you who don’t know, I’ll be spending the semester in Grenoble.

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Grenoble is located in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, which, luckily for me and this blog, is considered to be the food center of France. Other than learning French, trying lots and lots of food (I’m looking at you, pig ears and tripe)  is my top goal for my studies abroad. I hope to be able to use ff&f to share recipes, reviews, and fun personal anecdotes/observations from my travels.

Oh yeah, and I’m also bringing an old Canon A-1 to try my hand at taking photos with film, so if anyone has any tips on how to take a full-proof picture (Blaine….) let me know!

Beef Kibbeh and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette and Minted Oil

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As I mentioned earlier, this year I got to try  Kibbeh, the delicious Middle Eastern dish that combines meat (beef or lamb) with bulgar wheat and spices. I decided that this would be a really fun last dish for the summer. I served the Kibbeh with Roasted Vegetables tossed in a Harissa Vinaigrette and topped with a little bit of minted oil. It was a fun, summery dish, perfectly suited to end a fun summer of tinkering around in the kitchen.

Beef Kibbeh– (Recipe inspired by Ron Shepherd and the reader comments on allrecipes.com )

2/3 cup medium coarse bulgar

1 cup Fresh Mint Leaves

1/2 cup of toasted Pine Nuts (with two table spoons reserved for texture) 

1 large onion cut in large chunks

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinammon

1 egg lightly beaten

Salt and Pepper

1 1/2 Pounds of Lean Ground Beef (I used 80 % lean, but 90 % would be fine)

Olive Oil

Cook the bulgar as per the box’s instructions and fluff once cooked. (The original recipe said to microwave it, but I tried the microwave and found that the bulgar got gummy). Allow to cool.

Grind mint leaves, onion, and the majority of the pine nuts in the food processor into a paste. Add the beef, the spices, and the egg until well combined. Form into small patties or into balls (Depending on cooking method)

Method used by ff&f: If Deep frying isn’t your thing or sounds like too much of a mess, pan fry the patties in a pan coated in olive oil on medium heat until cooked through. Don’t mess with the patties so that each side can develop a nice crunchy crust.

Deep Frying Method: Deep fry in vegetable oil for 10-12 minutes until crunchy and browned. This is seems to be the more traditional method for preparation.

Roasted Vegetables

2 Red Peppers

1 Onion

2 Small or 1 large Eggplant

Olive OIl

Salt and Pepper

Cut vegetables into chunks, toss in olive oil, and roast until tender at 350. Set aside to cool.

Harissa “Vinaigrette”- Harissa is the Israeli version of hot sauce. The vinegar and sugar mellow out the heat, but keeps the delicious flavor.

2 Red Bell Peppers, peeled

1 Chili Pepper, peeled (I used a wickedly spicy Jalapeno, like UNCHARACTERISTICALLY so)

1 Teaspoon ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon ground Coriander

Sugar and White Vinegar, taste

Puree the peppers and spices in the food processor/blender. Taste to guage the heat. Add Vinegar and sugar to mellow out the heat and create the dressing. The quantity of both will depend on your desired heat, the initial heat of your peppers, and your taste for vinegar. Add a few tablespoons to the roasted vegetables and allow to marinade. Leave the rest for serving.

***Option*** I added some feta crumbles and fresh chopped parsley to the roasted vegetables, but feel free to leave either or both out. 

 

Minted Oil

1 Cup of Mint

Olive Oil

Coarse salt and Pepper

 

Grind mint with salt and pepper and slowly drizzle in olive oil SLOWLYuntil it turns into a dark green paste. 

 

Assemble salad by spooning marinaded vegetables onto a bed of salad greens and drizzle a little bit of the minted oil on top. Serve salad with the Kibbeh. Enjoy!

 

PS. This recipe is in honor of Ming, since I tried both Kibbehs with her on our various food binges. 

Unexpected Combinations

Mama Cass and Julie Andrews… on the Julie Andrews Hour.

I wish there were more “The [insert celebrity] Hour”  type shows on today.

Here are some possible ideas for any TV Executives who happen upon this blog.

“The Jodie Foster Variety Show”- Watch Jodie Foster’s signature characters (Protective Mother, Pensive Scientist, Provocative Detective, and more!) get in all sorts of hilarious trouble.

“The Brendan Fraser Hour”- Enjoy all your favorite showtunes performed by Brendan Fraser and weekly guests. 

“Robert Pattinson and Friends” Stay informed as Robert Pattinson and a panel of friends (including author/cultural critic Stephanie Meyer) hold hard-hitting, roundtable discussions about politics and current affairs.

Obligatory Mad Men Post

I have a really unhealthy relationship with TV. I don’t get to watch any at school (except for re-watching Arrested Development episodes before bed), so I tend to binge on TV over the summer. I have a high tolerance for marathon viewings, which allow me to watch entire seasons of shows in a matter of days, often at the expense of “sleep” or “personal hygiene.” I decided to make Mad Men this summer’s last show I’d catch up on. I am just starting Season 2, and have really enjoyed the show so far. Aside from the painfully apparent “let’s laugh at how backwards the early 60’s were” moments and poorly done flashbacks, the show offers up interesting characters with beautiful production value. 

I find myself so interested in what everyone is wearing, drinking, and eating, that I  sometimes phase out on plot, but I’m pretty sure that’s kind of the point. Here are the top sartorial, gastronomical, and libational lessons I’ve learned from the show’s protagonist, Don Draper.

1. Grey Suits are really sharp. Mr. Draper looks good flexing his advertising muscle in just about every color suit, but the grey suits on the show are particularly striking. To make them look more modern, wear them with brown shoes. I have read that you wear light browns with light greys, and dark browns with dark greys, which intuitively sounds true. Here is an Italian man from the Sartorialist showing off the combo (though his shoes may have crossed into camel territory). 

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2. A half an avocado makes a perfect bowl for seafood. I actually have Don’s wife to thank for this. After Don can’t “finish the job” on Valentine’s Day, Betty orders Crab Meat in an Avocado from room service for an appetizer. You don’t need to be staying at the Savoy Hotel to make this for yourself.

Crab Meat in an Avocado (serves 2)

1 cup of chunked Crab Meat (Just buy some from your fish monger already cooked)

1 Tablespoon Minced Onion

1 Tablespoon Minced Red Bell Pepper

1 Teaspoon of Chopped Cilantro

A healthy Squeeze of Lime Juice 

Salt and Pepper

1 Avocado Peeled and Halved

Mix crab, onion, red pepper, cilantro, lime juice, s & p in a bowl and then divide evenly into avocado halves. Serve with Tortilla Chips.

3. Old Fashioned’s are perfect at any time of the day. I am still amazed that anyone got any work done in the 60’s, based on the amount they drank. Don loves bourbon and orders it in an “Old Fashioned.”  I have never tried one, but they sound delicious. I think I’ll order one for myself on my 21st birthday.

Old Fashioned Recipe (Courtesy of The Washington Post)

1 teaspoon sugar or 1 sugar cube

1 teaspoon water

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Strip of orange or Lemon Peel

4 Large Ice Cubes

2 Ounces of Bourbon

Combine the sugar, water and bitters in an old-fashioned glass, then add the citrus peel and muddle. Add 2 of the ice cubes, then the bourbon, and stir to combine; make sure all the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ice cubes and serve.

 

Watching the rest of Season 2 and finishing Camus’ The Stranger in French will be the major to-do’s for my last weekend stateside. It’s been a quiet, but pleasant summer. Despite the uneasy feeling I get when I think about French grammar, I finally feel ready to leave.

ff&f Meal Menu: Indian Breakfast

Around the time I started this blog, I was thinking about fun ways to jazz up breakfast. One idea I really liked was Curried eggs and Naan bread. It seemed like a playful twist on traditional eggs and toast. This led me to thinking about other ways to incorporate Indian food into standard breakfast fare, which turned into this breakfast I made for my parents.

Menu

Curried Eggs and Naan Bread

Aloo Gobi Hash Browns

Mango Lassi Parfait

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Curried Eggs

12 Large eggs

3 Tablespoons of Half and Half

2 Teaspoons of Curry Powder 

1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric

1/8 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper (or to taste, depending on how hot you want the eggs)

Sliced Tomatoes and Chopped Scallions for Garnish

Beat the eggs, half and half, and spices together until frothy. Cook on medium low heat, stirring slowly but constantly. This keeps the eggs soft and evenly cooked. I used butter to cook my eggs, but feel free to be health conscious (cough* lame* cough) and use nonstrick spray if you’d like.

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Aloo Gobi Hashbrowns– Aloo Gobi is a delicious Indian dish where chunks of potatoes and cauliflower simmer in a spicy tomato curry. I decided to take the flavors of Aloo Gobi and apply it to hashbrowns. This basically meant omitting the tomato sauce but keeping the spices. Keeping the cauliflower adds an unexpected surprise to the hashbrowns. 

2 Potatoes 

1 Head of Cauliflower cut into florets

1/2 Onion Chopped

2-3 Bell Peppers Chopped

2 Teaspoons of Garam Masala

1 Teaspoon of Cumin

1 Teaspoon of Ground Coriander

1 Teaspoon of Turmeric

1 Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika

1/2 Teaspoon of Chili Powder

1/2 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

A few pads of Butter (preferred) or some drizzles of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter or heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Stir in spices and heat until toasted and fragrant. Add in onion and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Allow veggies to soften, adding more butter/oil if the pan looks too dry.

In a large pot boil the potatoes until fork tender. In the same pot blanch the cauliflower for a few minutes to take off the raw flavor. Drain potatoes and cauliflower. Add another knob of butter or drizzle of oil to the skillet and add potatoes and cauliflower. Leave everything still for a minute or so, to allow the bottom side of the potatoes and cauliflower to brown and get some texture. Then toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper, and a little more cayenne pepper if you want it to be spicy (Note: While this dish is spicy in the sense that there are lots of spices in it, it has relatively little heat. Pepper heads should alter dish accordingly)

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Mango Lassi Parfait–  A Mango Lassi is the delicious and refreshing yogurt beverage served at your local Indian restaurant. They are given a little kick with the addition of cardamom. I decided to incorporate the spice into the parfait by making a simple syrup (which is becoming a habit/addiction.)

2 Cups of Plain Greek Yogurt

2 Mangos chopped finely** Note: In the picture  you might notice the parfaits have blueberries. This was due to the unfortunate mishap of having only one out of three mangos taste edible. This unfortunate mishap was coupled with the even more unfortunate timing issue, seeing as my family’s mango tree stopped bearing fruit about two weeks prior. Long story short, the blueberries were a fine addition if you like the idea of them, but buy extra mangos to avoid the hassle of scrounging for whatever fruit is in your fridge. 

1 Squeeze of Honey/1 Teaspoon of Sugar

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cardamom ( whole cardamom would be preferable, so as to avoid straining)

Give the chopped mango (and blueberries) a healthy squeeze of honey or a teaspoonful of sugar and let sit for about 30 minutes. This is an optional step, but I found that leaving the fruit totally raw made the end product a little too tart.

Heat the sugar and water on a low temperature until sugar dissolves and a clear liquid emerges. Add the cardamom and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain by pouring the syrup over a paper towel. It will strain slowly so be patient, …  or plan ahead and make sure you have whole cardamom. 

Gradually add the syrup to the yogurt in batches, tasting after each addition. Stop once the yogurt has a subtle, but noticeable cardamom flavor. Sorry for the subjective instruction, but I could dump the whole batch of syrup in and be happy… so follow your tastebuds.

Layer the yogurt and fruit in glasses and serve.

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*Final Notes*

1. The Naan bread pictured is store bought whole wheat Naan (which i thought was called Roti but maybe not.) Feel free to use the white variety or take a crack at making your own. If store bought, make sure to warm it up in the oven. If you really want to go to town, brown some garlic or onion in some butter and spread over the top. 

2. As you read you probably were noticed that this meal was riddled with mishaps and miscalculations. The nice part about cooking is that there is plenty of room to improvise. Everything tasted good and looked nice, so no harm no foul.

Food for Thought: Faux Amis extend beyond Language

Note: Faux Amis (literally false friend) is french for false cognate, or a word that appears similar in one language to another, but actually means something different. Maybe I am ready for France!!?

I have recently started following the blog Generation Bubble*. It offers up a healthy dose of articulate and thoughtful social commentary. I was planning on linking you guys to an earlier post on deskilling and the food industry, but this most recent one on Whole Foods seemed equally pertinent to ff&f. 

Generation Bubble author Ylajali Hansen writes about Whole Foods CEO Jack Mackey’s extra conservative notion of Health Care reform and the “quandary” it’s placed liberal Whole Foods shoppers in. It also seems to highlight the peculiar problem of conscientious consumption. We like Whole Foods’ recycled bags and selection of local/organic honey, but the people behind the brand vote against our interests. The same thing happens in a similar, albeit less contradictory, way at Urban Outfitters, whose CEO Richard Haynes is a known GOP supporter. This example is, perhaps, less compelling, since Urban Outfitters doesn’t really profess to be more than a retailer. However, these mixed messages in branding for both companies should certainly highlight the difficulty one is faced with when trying to make a responsible purchase.

*Correction made from earlier claims the blog’s name was Bubble Generation.