Dinner ideas: 7-minute spicy shrimp with creamy polenta (gluten-free)

Shrimp and gritsI don’t know much about the cuisine of the Southern United States. I know that some meals include deep fried chicken, that the food is supposed to be very comforting and that all the dishes mentioned in the book “Fried Green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” ( not only fried green tomatoes) are typical of the Deep South. I still need to look up what Okra is.

I’ve been looking for some new meal ideas to test out recently because we’ve gotten into a quiche routine (I believe very common in France). I decided to try this recipe for Shrimp and grits (Grits! We only have polenta which may actually be the same thing) which is a typical Southern dish and it came out great!

It’s spicy, comforting (must be doing it right) and comes together mighty fine. I will not say y’all because I don’t feel like I’m allowed.

Ingredients: (for two people)

14-16 shrimp, peeled and deveined (can we just? gross)

1 small chorizo or saucisson sliced into rounds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon of paprika

large pinch of black pepper

large pinch of chilli flakes

large pinch of salt

100g polenta

400ml water

Method:

I bought fresh grey shrimpies but you may choose to buy them peeled already (wise). If you have bought them still grey, place a teaspoon of oil in a pan and fry little shrimpies on medium-heat for around 5 minutes, turning them over half way through so that they become pink all over.

Once cooked and pink (!), take them off the heat and peel the shrimp.

Toss peeled shrimp together with olive oil, paprika, chilli flakes, salt and pepper in a bowl and then fry in a pan alongside the chorizo rounds for a few minutes.

Serve the shrimp and chorizo over polenta (use the instructions on the back of the box to make the polenta. I use 1-minute polenta and my rule of thumb is 50g of polenta per person (mixed with 200ml of boiling water)

I now just want to watch the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

Shrimp and grits

Shrimp and grits

 

Dinner ideas: Hawaiian teriyaki burgers

Hawaiian teriyaki burgers

Suns out, hamburger buns out!

I make burgers all the time, at least once a week. I consider them to be a very balanced meal if properly totemmed.

Most of the time I just make cheeseburgers but I found this ridiculously amazing recipe for Hawaiian Teriyaki burgers online. My housemate thought they were just about the greatest thing and I can confirm that the sauce is really very good.

These burgers are allowed to be called Hawaiian because they are topped with a ring of grilled pineapple. If only gaining nationalities was as easy for humans.

IMG_3761 IMG_3765

Hawaiian Teriyaki Burgers (for four burgers)

Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste

4 hamburger patties (worst word, am I right?)

4 hamburger buns (second worst word) – I buy those awful ones from the Harry’s brand which last a worrying amount of time because there are few other hamburger bun options in Paris. I have recently discovered, however, that Marks&Spencer make hamburger buns that would not survive a nuclear war. (In this context, a good thing)

4 pineapple rings (I took mine straight out of a can, but of course it is better to use fresh pineapple)

lamb’s lettuce

grated carrot (again, I just buy mine because who has got the time?)

Teriyaki sauce 

  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water and set aside.

Mix together the pineapple juice with the soy sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger and garlic in a small saucepan over a medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for around 15 minutes until the sauce reduces.

Add the cornstarch water mixture to the mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens. This took about 3 minutes in my case.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

ASSEMBLY

Once your teriyaki sauce has been made and is cooling…

Heat up a pan, add a teaspoon of oil and fry the pineapple rings, two minutes each side. They should have a nice golden brown look about them. Set those aside.

Next, using the same pan, cook the hamburger patties. I usually cook them around 2 minutes a side too but that is because I am part French and like meat that is not cooked all the way through. You may do as you please.

Slice open the hamburger buns. (I usually toast them a bit in the oven)

Place some lamb’s lettuce and grated carrot on the bottom of each burger bun. Top with a hamburger patty, a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce and a grilled pineapple ring and serve like a champ.

(I stuck knives in ours because I saw it in a restaurant once and it looked so cool.)

IMG_3773

 

 

Dinner ideas: Spicy West African peanut soup (vegan, gluten-free)

West African peanut soup

Since I had to bring my puffa jacket and boots back out yesterday morning for the Paris Winter comeback of 2016, I thought I might as well go through the whole acceptance process and make soup for dinner when I got home. I put on the soundtrack to West Side Story and felt rather melancholy as I chopped away at the red pepper with the rain falling outside and Tony singing about how he and Maria would find a place somewhere.

I tried to translate the lyrics of ‘Somewhere’ into French for my housemate when he came into the kitchen so he would understand how tragic the song was and by consequence, why I was looking so sadly at the red pepper. I don’t feel like he fully grasped the gravity of Tony and Maria’s doomed relationship.

Anyway, it is basically June  and therefore, it should not be raining. And Tony should not have had to die. Sometimes life gets you down. Not so with this soup.

This soup brings together tomatoes with peanut butter which is what some cooking magazines would label “surprising”. At least that’s what French cooking magazines do. But it works, please believe me. The result is a full-bodied (I’m laughing at myself for using that word) spicy soup that fills you up which I find  unusual for a vegetable soup (I know, I know. The peanuts!).

We had ours with fresh bread from the bakery but if you’re gluten-free, I’ll bet you one euro this goes well with corn tortilla chips.

West African peanut soup

Ingredients: (Makes enough for four bowls)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

an inch of minced ginger

2 cloves of minced garlic

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 vegetable stock cube mixed in two cups of water

1 teaspoon of chili purée/hot sauce/sriracha

3-4 tablespoons peanut butter

roasted peanuts and coriander for garnishing

Method:

  1. Pour olive oil into a large deep saucepan and fry the onion and red pepper  over a medium-low heat for about 10 mins until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a min before adding the two tins of chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and chili purée. Let simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat.
  2. Ladle out a spoonful of the soup into a small bowl or mug and mix in the peanut butter. Pour the content of the small bowl back into the saucepan and stir. This way the peanut butter will mix in smoothly to the mixture.
  3.  Serve with peanuts and coriander. I like to throw a 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts into the soup at the very end if I’m going to serve the soup immediately. Alternatively, you could just place a bowl of peanuts on the table and let people do their own peanut placement.

West African peanut soup

Bran muffins are best

Bran muffin

When we were children, my brother and I were allowed to choose whatever take-out we wanted for dinner on our birthdays. There came an age, however, where my brother started doing this very infuriating thing. His birthday would come along and he would say,

“I don’t want to get take-out, I like mom’s cooking”.

I hated him for that. Our ONE CHANCE to get fast food and he would ask my mom to make roast chicken with a side of veggies.

Of course my mom’s cooking was way better than all the take-outs in the world but at the time I refused to believe it.

This is where I come to these bran muffins.

While I had to do a lot of soul-searching to realise that my mom’s cooking was better than take-out, (I, of course, realised this too late), I had to exercise even more self-acceptance to acknowledge my love of bran muffins above all other muffins.

It is still something of a struggle for me to reach for a bran muffin instead of a double chocolate caramel one at a coffee shop, even though I do prefer them. I still have to fight something inside me that says surely I must prefer the double chocolate caramel muffin because it is double chocolate caramel.

But all that glitters is not gold!

I use the classic recipe for All-bran muffins (see here) that my mom used to make muffins on Sundays. They’ll go perfectly for breakfast this Sunday because it’s Mother’s day in France.

I hope you like them too! Have a good weekend!

Bran muffin

Bran muffin

 

 

 

Flammekueche – Dinner ideas

Flammekueche

Finding inspiration for what to make for dinner is a daily struggle for me. I’m not quite sure why since there are so many great cooking blogs and websites out there. I imagine part of the problem is my undying love of instant mashed potatoes (why cook when you can rehydrate dehydrated potatoes every night?).

A great week-night dinner recipe which is easy and quick to prepare (20 minutes including oven time!) is Flammekueche, a specialty of the Alsace region in France. It’s basically a thin-crust pizza with a crème fraiche base instead of a tomato one as well as non-negotiable onion and bacon for toppings. I first discovered Flammekueche when we visited Strasbourg for a few days back in December to see the Christmas markets. It was basically all we ate while we were there and that was just fine by me .

Flammekueche

Flammekueche

 Flammekueche:

For the base:

250g flour

150 ml warm water

2 tablespoons of oil

1 tsp salt

(let’s be real, if you don’t have time to make the base, a store bought roll-out pizza base will be just fine)

For the toppings:

2 tablespoons of crème fraiche (or sour cream)

2 medium-sized onions

150g of bacon bits (lardons)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 250C (HOT)

Mix flour, water, oil and salt to form a dough and knead it for a couple of minutes. You’re supposed to do more but I can never be bothered because it’s not all that important, there being no yeast in a flammekueche base..

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (or a tall glass) to form a thin rectangular base and place on a greased baking tray.

Spread a thin layer of crème fraiche onto the pizza base. Top with the onions finely diced (around 0.5cm) as well as the bacon bits. You don’t have to fry the onions or the bacon beforehand. I was scared too but it turns out fine!

Bake the flammekueche for 8-10 minutes in the oven (it seems little but remember the oven is so hot) and serve with a green salad.

Flammekueche

 

Pineapple coconut popsicles

pineapple coconut popsicles

My colleague Ron and I went through a phase where, every day at work, we would come up with a new business venture. We would traipse down to tea time (which our fellow prisoner Natasha, calls Team Time), put on the kettle and brainstorm a new glossy future away from the gloomy halls and malfunctioning nespresso machine of our present job.

Amongst a number of inspired entrepreneurial visions, including the idea to found BricoBitch (a DIY store aimed at mean women who like tools) we thought it would be a brilliant plan to start a popsicle stand in Paris in the summer months.

Paris has wonderful gelato, magical café liégeois sundaes, designer ice-cream sandwiches and even a pop-up make your own Magnum stand, but it is quite low on cheap popsicles. And sometimes, all you want is a cheap, watery popsicle.

While we eventually decided that making popsicles for a living was perhaps not the best idea, I still bought this ice-cream popsicle mold to make my own popsicles at home. Because, well, I like eating popsicles.

These pineapple coconut popsicles are perfect for summer: refreshing, delicious, healthy (I’m sorry), VEGAN and they contain only two ingredients. Yes, that is right.

pineapple coconut popsicles 3

Pineapple coconut popsicles (for eight popsicles)

300ml pineapple juice

250ml full-fat coconut milk

Pour the pineapple juice and coconut milk in a bowl and stir together. (You can add a tablespoon or two of sugar to taste if you like but I don’t). Pour the liquid evenly between the eight popsicle molds and let set in the freezer.

To take the ice-creams out of their molds, run the mold under warm water and then leave the ice-creams for 5 minutes before extracting a popsicle or two.

pineapple coconut popsicles 2

 

pineapple coconut popsicles 4

 

Asha’s top six desserts in Paris

desserts

My friend Asha has an Instagram account called eat.travel.laugh which she uses to document all the places she eats out in Paris. I go on her account whenever I am called on to make a suggestion on where to go for dinner because she has some brilliant addresses. I also go on it Sundays to check that she is still alive after the night before. If she is, she will almost certainly have posted a photo of brunch.

I asked her if she would let us in on her favourite places to go for dessert in the Capital and she has given me a list of her top six. Thank you Asha!

Here they are:

1.The moelleux au chocolat at Marcel.

Molten chocolate cake in Paris is a standard in French bistrots but they are not all created equal and we’re always looking out for a better one. I’m pretty sure Asha was swayed by the whipped cream when she said that this is the best moelleux au chocolat she’s found but she has assured me that it also had the perfect goo to cake ratio.

2. Pavlova aux fruits Rouges at Café RUC

Meringue, cream and red berries piled up on top of each other, this dessert is perfect for the summer months coming up.

3. Pain perdu au caramel beurre salé at Chez Julien

This dessert could double up as a (very) indulgent breakfast and features French toast, made with a thick slice of brioche, slathered with salted butter caramel. (another one of Asha’s weaknesses)

4. Chocolate tart with caramel and hazelnuts, served warm at Pamela Popo

A crisp pastry shell filled with a rich, dark chocolate filling that comes oozing out as soon as it’s hit with a spoon.

5. La Joconde at Angelina’s (La Joconde means the Mona Lisa in French. Personally I think this dessert looks nothing like her)

Part of the Autumn/Winter collection of the house’s desserts (because everything is a fashion show in Paris), this purple tower creation can not, unfortunately, be found in the summer months. I would personally go for their new take on the Mont Blanc which is available this spring.

6. A super creamy and decadent chocolate cake in a pool of raspberry coulis and crème anglaise at Le Plomb du Cantal, situated 3 Rue de la Gaité, 75014 Paris.

This restaurant offers cuisine from the Auvergne region of France and comes highly recommended. Most mains are likely to combine potato, melted cheese and charcuterie.

You can follow Asha on eat.travel.laugh

 

Italian wedding cake (lemon poppyseed layer cake)

Lemon poppyseed cake

I’m not sure that this is actually an Italian wedding cake recipe but the frosting is made with mascarpone and I assume they have lemons in Italy because they invented limoncello.

What I’m hoping, is that we can pretend that this was the cake that they served at Sofia Coppola’s wedding to Thomas Mars, which took place in her family palazzo in the South of Italy back in 2011.

This cake bursts with summer and that’s all I care about.

Not wanting to buy a cake stand until I can be sure that I am going to make more than this one cake in my life, I looked online and found some ingenious DIY ideas for cake stands. Just turn a wine glass upside down and stick it to a plate and it becomes a beautiful cake presenting platform. Other options include perching plates atop candle stick holders and books, anything that elevates really.

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Fresh seared tuna with carrot and zucchini salad

carrot and zucchini salad

After the night before last’s supper of a toasted hamburger bun with Nutella and butter (genius), I had to remind myself that I should look after myself a bit better. I often forget.

What with summer coming in, I also have to remember how to make all the salads I knew how to make last summer. This one is really quick to whip up and its fresh and delicious. Also, people think fresh tuna is some kind of difficult ingredient to prepare so if you’re serving it to friends, they will be impressed.

Also, the colours!

The thing you really need to make this salad is a julienne slicer. If you don’t have one, you should get one. They’re cheap and who doesn’t want to cut vegetables into ribbons all day?

You will need: (for two people)

2 fresh or frozen tuna steaks (I buy frozen steaks at the supermarket)

sunflower oil for frying

salt and pepper for tasting

four carrots

two zucchini

For the sauce:

2 Tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons of olive oil (if you have sesame oil, be my guest)

How?

1 Julienne (that means cut into ribbons) the four carrots and two zucchini then mix all the ribboned vegetables up a bit.

carrot and zucchini 3

2. In a small bowl pour the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, lemon juice and olive oil together and mix to create your dressing. Pour most of it over the salad and mix it all up but leave a little to pour over the seared tuna at the end for dramatic effect.

thai sauce

3; Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan at medium-high heat ( I put it at 7). Fry your (defrosted) tuna steaks for one and a half minutes each side and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut each steak into long strips with a sharp knife.

carrot and zucchini 4

3. Place a good amount of salad in two bowls and add the strips of seared tuna on top; Drizzle the remaining dressing over the tuna and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

4. Serve with a glass of rosé and lots of ice on a balcony by the sea. Failing that, eat on your own in your Paris apartment with a cherry coke whilst watching Clueless.

I hope you guys have a great weekend! See you on Monday x

Candice

 

Sundried tomato, courgette and flaked almond quiche

vegetarian quiche.jpg

Vegetarians.

They’re everywhere.

Sometimes they come over for dinner. My vegetarian’s name is Natasha but I also have a Lauren and a Jade ( who is a vegan. When she comes over I have to get even more creative).

Quiche is one way to make your brachiosauruses happy because there are lots of vegetarian quiche recipes.

No, not quiche lorraine.

vegetarian quiche.jpgOne of my favourite things about quiche is that you don’t have to serve it hot. My mother has a fear of serving lukewarm meals, one which she has passed on to me and my brother, but quiche is the near-exclusive case in which the meal is supposed to be lukewarm. So that is very relaxing.

I personally believe that it is the flaked almonds that make this quiche. #inspired

vegetarian quiche

You will need:

1 roll of puff pastry

4 eggs

200ml single cream

sun dried tomatoes

1 courgette

25g flaked almonds

basil (I used dry because that is all I had but you could chop up some fresh basil which would do nicely)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 200C

2. Roll out the puff pastry that it fits all nice and snug in the pie tin. Tuck it in if necessary.

3. In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream and salt and pepper and basil and pour all that onto the pastry.

4. Thinly slice courgette into circles, chop up 4-5 sundried tomatoes into strips and place all of those in an expressive pattern atop of the egg mixture.

5. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on to of the quiche.

6. Place in oven for 20 minutes and take it out again.

7. Eat the quiche lukewarm with a giant green salad and some more vegetables for good measure.