Party Time Healthy Delicacies —part 1 (Fr-Eng)

IMG_7281Série: Recettes pour Jean & Renée Peyrafitte —English below—

Un délicieux menu pour votre prochaine cocktail party —sans sucre, pauvre en glucides, un bon équilibre de protéines, de verdure, de cru et de cuit — Essayez pour les Oscars peut être! Aujourd’hui les deux premières recettes:

Cocktail de Crevettes avec Salsa de Tomate & Avocat
Oeufs Mimosa avec Tofunaise maison
Endives avec Poires, Stilton, Célerie et Noix
Patates douces rôties
Blancs de Poulet Marinés Grillés
Cheese Cake Crémeux et Confiture de Chia aux Baies

A delicious menu for your next party — no added sugar, low glycemic, a good balance of proteins, greens, raw & cooked food— Try it for the Oscars! Today two recipes:

Shrimp Cocktail w/ Avocado Salsa
Deviled Eggs  w/ Home made Tofunaise
Belgian Endive  w/ Pears, Stilton, Celery, Walnuts Baked
Japanese Yam Fries

Grilles Marinated Chicken Tenders
Creamy Nut Crusted Cheese Cake w/Berries Chia seeds Jam

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Cocktail de Crevettes avec Salsa Tomate & Avocat -Cuire 500 gr (pour 3/4 personnes) de crevettes non pelées dans un court bouillon. Pour le court bouillon faire frémir l’eau avec de l’oignon, du citron, du sel de céleri, une feuille de laurier, du thym, du persil…etc, après 5 minutes de cuisson égoutter et les laisser refroidir. -Salsa: 1 grosse tomate, 1 avocat— bien mûrs, 1/2 oignon doux, coupés en petits dés. 1 bonne poignée de coriandre fraîche ou de persil haché, 1  jus de citron vert, 1 ou 2 cuillères à soupe d’huile d’olive vierge, quelques gouttes de sauce piquante, sel et poivre.

Shrimp Cocktail w/ Avocado Salsa (3/4 people) 1 lb of unpeeled medium size raw shrimp. Cook them 5 minutes in a court bouillon. For a quick court bouillon add onion, lemon, OldBay-seasoning , bay leaf, thyme, parsley … etc to water. Bring it all to a gentle boil & cook shrimp no more that 5 minutes. Then drain and let cool. Salsa: 1 large tomato, 1/2 sweet onion, 1 avocado, diced. 1 bunch of coriander or parsley; juice of 1 lime, 1 to 3 spoon full of virgin olive oil, hot sauce, salt & pepper.

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Oeufs Mimosa avec Tofunaise maison
Cuire les oeufs dur. Les laisser refroidir. Pendant ce temps préparer la “Tofunnaise”, qui n’est qu’autre qu’une mayonnaise au tofu mais plus digeste, moins grasse et — je vous le garantis! — meilleure que n’importe quelle mayonnaise achetée.
-1 livre de tofu soyeux, 2 gousses d’ail, un peu d’huile d’olive, sel, piment d’Espelette, mettre le tout dans le mixer. Peler les oeufs. Ecraser les jaunes et en garder une cuillère à soupe pour décorer. Mélanger les jaunes écrasés à la tofunnaise et remplir les oeufs avec une cuillère ou avec une poche à douille. Décorer avec jaune et paprika.

Deviled Eggs  w/ Home made Tofunaise
Cook hard boiled eggs. Cool. Meanwhile prepare the Tofunnaise. This tofu mayonnaise is more digestible, less oily and will taste better than any store bought mayonnaise.
-1 lb silk tofu, 2 cloves of garlic, a little olive oil, salt, Melinda hot sauce — into the blender & mix thoroughly. Peel the eggs. Mash the yolks and keep a tablespoon for garnish. Mix the mashed egg yolks with the tofunnaise and fill the eggs with a spoon or a pastry bag. Garnish with paprika and the saved yolk.

 

 

Grand Central Station Oyster Bar

I always look forward to go eat at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station (New York City). The  food, the decor, the dishes & even the waiters make you feel it could be 100 years earlier. You can always rely on the freshness and the great variety of the oysters, but what fascinates me the most is their signature dish: the Stew / Pan-Roast. I like to sit at the counter as near as possible to the fixed steam-sleeved swivel pots. There, a dexterous cook prepares your pan roast to order. The Ur dish is the Pan Roast made with oysters — though today also made with cherry clams, scallops, shrimp & even lobster— then butter, clam juice, Heinz Chile Sauce —spicy ketchup—, toast points, Worcestershire Sauce, celery salt & heavy cream are added to the pan. The mixture is brought to a boil, swirled onto your plate and once it has been generously sprinkled with paprika it is brought to you piping hot with a few packages of crackers. The Stew Roast is pretty similar minus the point toast and the Heinz Chili Sauce and I must say I prefer that version. I haven’t made it at home yet but below you will find one published in the New York Times in 1974. It is a really very easy and quick to make once you have the ingredients.  Anyhow as I said before a premium destination for Pierre and I and when we went last week I recorded our impressions:
Listen to our  live impressions at the Oyster Bar
!

1 August 1974, New York Times, pg. 32:
OYSTER PAN ROAST
8 freshly opened oysters
1 pat of butter
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of lemon juice
1/4 cup oyster liquor
Celery salt, a dash
Paprika
4 ounces cream
1 piece of dry toast (if desired)

Place all but the cream in a deep pan and cook briskly for a minute, stirring constantly. Add cream. When it comes to boil, pour over toast in a soup plate and serve

ps: Before or after the Oyster Bar do not miss the “whispering gallery”.

Spirited Noël Dinner

We are not particularly attached to any specific Christmas tradition although this year we were eager to have an intimate family dinner at our new place and to take out the family heirloom china that had been in boxes for a while. So after consulting with husband, sons, and daughter in law, we agreed on a menu:

Foie

Home made Foie Gras au Torchon

Fisher Island Oysters

Roasted Suckling Pig
Mashed potatoes
Apple & Chestnut Bourbon dressing

Cinnamon Rice Pudding

I had never made Foie au torchon before but my friend, chef Pierre Landet, the executive chef at Cercle Rouge, suggested this excellent idea —by the way, Congrats to Pierre soon to be made Maître Cuisinier or Master Chef! This simple recipe keeps the foie velvety & easy to deal with — even though I have to confess I missed one step.
First break the lobes and delicately take out the nerves and veins. Some people get crazy about the cleaning process and turn their foie into a battlefield. My previous experiences on making terrines had taught me that there is no need for over cleaning. I then seasoned the foie with salt and pepper and rubbed some Armagnac on it. Next step is to put the lobes on top of each other and roll the foie very tightly in cheesecloth —like a sausage — and poach it in a broth at 140ºF for 5/7 minutes. Now cool your foie
in a bath of cold water with ice cube to stop the cooking. This is the step I missed!  So mine was a little over done but no one complained.

Our next course was a dozen Fisher Island oysters each. It gave me a good work out to open the 5 dozen. They were extremely fresh, all very tightly shut. The first taste of a Fisher Island oyster comes as a hit of seawater, followed by the very clean taste of the firm texture of the shiny silvery mollusk. Our favorite way to eat oysters is to add a few sprinkles of lemon, Pierre (Joris) likes to add some fresh ground pepper on his. The experiment this year was to add a ½ teaspoon of a fresh homemade salsa in the oyster shell. Pierre remains skeptic, the kids more enthusiastic; I do like the bite of the salsa on a few of them.  We paired them with a pleasant Sancerre. No other info on that, as the bottle got recycled before I could take a picture of it!

Pierre

Then came the “piece de resistance:” our roasted suckling pig, an ever so festive and ever so delicious dish. We ordered it from d’Artagnan, and upon it’s arrival we lovingly massaged the piglet with a marinade of lemon, olive oil, thyme and garlic; this can be done 24 to 12 hours before roasting it. We had decided against stuffing it in order to keep our meal “lighter” and most of all to keep the roasting time down! It took about 3 hours for our 10lbs piglet. Pierre (Joris) handled the roasting, he diligently basted it every twenty minutes and covered and uncovered it with aluminum foil as he felt the need to. It turned out perfect, done but moist! I made last minute jus —or light gravy— by deglazing the piglet’s pan with very thinly chopped onions —should have been shallots but I had none— flambé’d it with bourbon, added 1 teaspoon of arrowroot, then some chicken broth and 1 cup of re-hydrated cèpes (boletus), salt & pepper to taste. It was lovely to pour some on the fluffy buttery mashed potatoes (w/ a hint of nutmeg).

Apple

The apple, chestnut & Bourbon dressing (with sautéed minced onions)  enhanced the pork flavor. There is a beautiful complementarity between pork and chestnuts, and as for the apples that had slightly caramelized, they added a pleasing hint of tartness.
The Corbières L’Enclos 2005 —from Domaine des 2 Anes— brought the last touch of bliss to the dish.  This organic blend of mostly Grenache with Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes has an earthy, rich and supple taste that literally “talks to me”!

The light, refreshing Ecuadorian cinnamon rice pudding was a Christmas present from our good friend Eleana and it came as a good conclusion to our excellent meal.

Well, the final punctuation was the digestif & the Laubade Armagnac did bring a few spirits down! Santé to you all!

Au revoir Paris, but no Regrets!

coquilles d'huitres

My last night in Paris was a good transition to return home. I first met up with a friend from my teenage years that I had not seen in 30 years! Bélinda and I reconnected via Facebook a few months ago. What I find totally fascinating in these reconnection stories —and that happened more than once this year— is the re-collection of my own forgotten memories. Bélinda de-fragmented my hard drive revealing a few events that I am sure glad to have recovered.
The first one was a luncheon at the famous Paris restaurant Chez Coconnas on Place des Vosges with Roland Dhordain.  Roland is a radioman —now long retired— who had been general manager of Radio France in 1965. He became a close friend of the family in the 1970’s. Bélinda also remembered us having Lunch at the Eiffel Tower with my parents the day  Jimmy Carter won the presidential election, so that was November 2nd 1976, I was 16 & Bélinda 18! Bélinda always wanted to be an English teacher and she became one! She loved purple and still does, though I didn’t notice her wearing purple mascara anymore! It was lovely to see her.

Around 7 PM we took off to rue de Rivoli to meet up with New York poet friends Yuko Otomo & Steve Dalachinsky. They had been on a European tour and they were reading at 59 rue de Rivoli for the  “Grand reopening of the Squat / Art Music Poesie”. Steve & Yuko kindly invited me to perform a few pieces. The set up was not an ideal situation for a poetry reading. Lots of people where going in and out to watch the multilevel art shows and there was no microphone. Despite the conditions, Yuko’s beautifully crafted bilingual (Japanese –English) haikus soared through the noise and fall gently into attentive ears.

Claude

Steve mesmerized the crowd with his rhythmical & entrancing poems; an improvising accordion player called Claude Parlé accompanied him. Claude improvised on my pieces too. Once again my Gascon Southern French accent drew more attention in Paris than in NYC. So I took the opportunity to declare my allegiance to the Southwest — be it Southwest Brooklyn or Southwest Occitania — and proclaimed my self-declared nationality to be Gasco-Ricain! I performed “Things fall where they lie,”  “Cranes” and “Outer outer edges”.

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Bélinda returned home after the reading. Steve, Yuko and I had a lovely walk back to my place in the 6th. When we passed the inviting outdoors oyster stand of Bistro de La Grille I couldn’t resist getting some to take back to the studio. On the video below you can see Steve skillfully carrying the mayonnaise and the shallot vinegar through Rue Guisarde. The oysters highly recommended by the écailler were Fine de Claire Nº2, I didn’t get to ask the  exact provenance; the transaction to take the oysters home was a little out of the ordinary but once I called onto the wonderful Thierry —manager for as long as I remember the place! — things eased up and we walked home with all the trimming I mention above, plus an overload of bulots, rye bread and beurre salé de Bretagne (j’ai pensé à Claire!). The oysters were delicious, very meaty and firm, not as green as the one we had in Angoulême but that was the specificity of that type of oysters. As for wine, I had bought a red Alsace wine. It had been recommended by the sommelier of the wine shop at the marché St-Germain. I asked for a light red that would go well with seafood or a light meal. He highly recommended a €10 biodynamic Alsace Pinot noir called “Lunatic”. With a name like this how could I pass. The Estate Barmès Buecher is located in Wettolsheim and totally dedicated to biodynamic  growing; this is what they say about it:

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” Wine is made on the vine and not in the winery”
…We work the vineyards bio-dynamically, that’s to say with activated preparations, according to the influence of the planets and the apogee and perigee of the moon. No synthesized chemical product is used, neither in the vineyards nor in the winery.
The aim of this is to keep the initial balance of the grapes undisturbed, and not to mask the effect of the vintages, so that the wine can show its “terroir” to the maximum and to preserve the energy it has acquired (from the bio-dynamic culture of the vines).
The soils are ploughed and hoed between November and July and then we mow the grass from August to the harvest.
The vines are planted
closely at a density of 6000 to 8000 plants per hectare to create maximum competition for the roots. This forces them to delve as deeply as possible.
No weedkillers or chemical fertilizers are used. If needed, we just use compost we make ourselves…more click here.

Many would argue about pairing red wine and oysters, but what can I say other than: this simple, clean, straight and dry red wine with a subtle tinge of red berries enchanted me! I loved it and so did my guests! Au diable les conventions!

Voilà! we ate, drank, talked into the late night — voir early morning— and when time came to separate I did something that is very Parisian among intimate friends: I gave them the trash to deposit downstairs! Now I am back home and as the song on the video says, I had a great time but  no regrets to leave Paris!


Piano: Yuko Kishimoto
Voice: Nicole Peyrafitte
recorded at Bender Studio by Sten Isachsen
May 2004

Country Mussels or Moules Paysanes

Country Mussels

Mussels contain high doses of Omega-3, a fish oil compound that nutritionist say is helpful in reducing cholesterol. Farming mussels is believed to have been invented in France in 1235 by an Irishman named Patrick Walton. The story goes that Patrick Walton left Ireland to escape the police. His boat wrecked on the coast of France. He tried to feed himself by trapping sea birds. To this purpose he planted stakes into the water at the edge of the beach and stretched nets over them. The sea birds ignored the contraption, but after a time he noticed that mussels had attached themselves to the stakes and were growing rapidly.  Cute story! But there are some indications that the Gauls had cultivated mussels even before the roman invasion.

The most common way of preparing mussel is as Moules Marinière; our version today is an extension of this traditional preparation. It is my original version based on several French Southwestern recipes and inspired by what I found at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket this morning and I call it Country Mussel or Moules Paysanne.

First a few tips about mussels:
How much mussels to buy per person?
To serve them as a main dish, get as much as one pound per person. As an appetizer half a pound should do it.

Do’s and Dont’s about store bought mussels

1- Do’s

-Discard dead mussels: that is if one is wide open, it’s probably dead. If they are open only slightly, a quarter of an inch or so it should be fine. How do you tell if a mussel is merely gaping to breathe or if it is dead? Simply put ice on the mussels for 15 minutes then tap them gently. They should begin to close. If they move, they are alive therefore  can be eaten – even if they don’t close all the way. If a mussel won’t move, and is gaping widely, it is probably dead, past it’s shelf life and should be discarded.
-Throw out broken-shelled mussels.

Mussel with byssal threads-De-beard mussels.  Most likely you will not have to do that, and good for you. I remember cleaning kilos of them in my early restaurant time and that’s ain’t fun. Today they are de-bearded before you buy them, but once a while one is missed and you get to see what the beard looks like. The “beard” also known as Byssal, or byssus threads they are the strong, silky fibers made from proteins that are used by mussels to attach to rocks, pilings, or other substrates.-Discard heavy mud filled mussels. Some extra-heavy mussels that are closed may be full of mud. Doesn’t happened very often but worth checking because only one of these unloading its cargo in your kettle of broth will spoil the entire dish. Usually a “mudder” can be discovered by simply squeezing the shells and sliding them apart from each other.
-Rinse them just before using them

2- Don’t

-Do not soak them
-Do not over wrap or purchase over-wrapped mussels. Remember they are alive, do not suffocate them in the fridge or do not store mussels in airtight containers.-Do Not overcook your mussels-Do Not buy mussels that are displayed in live lobster tanks or in shellfish display tanks.
-Do Not eat mussels if you believe you are allergic to shellfish.

Recipe
for 2lbs of Mussels

Sauté 4 shallots and 1/2 lb of Italian turkey sausage (or sausage, or Italian sausage or pancetta, or ham) in a tablespoon of butter and oil (addition of oil will keep the butter from browning); when meat has rendered and the shallots are transparent, add 1 or 2 (depending on how you like it) skinned, seeded and diced fresh tomatoes (canned if not in season). Mix it all well, add a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Add all the mussels (that have just been rinsed), mix well. Add about 1 large glass of dry white wine (about a glass per two pound bag). Close the pot tightly and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add a generous amount of finely chopped parsley or cilantro or basil and also garlic it you would like your dish stronger and especially if your meat was not already spiced.

Mix it all up and let cook for two more minutes. Please do not over cook them, or they will become rubbery. At this point all your mussels are open and ready to be eaten!

Serve in soup plates with a lot of fresh bread to dunk into the broth. Eat them with your fingers and use the shell to scoop out morsels—If you are from Bay Ridge get Country bread at Yanni’s Restaurant on 4th & Ovinton.

Voilà! and now please do watch another one of my homemade videos. The Country Mussel  recipe was literally filmed with the left hand while cooking —and then eating, just watch until the end! with the right one.  I didn’t know I could do this until today.  Honestly tell me if it is watchable and/or helpful.