Archive for March, 2010

Shrimp and Pancetta /Polenta

Shrimp and Pancetta over Creamy Polenta 
Originally a recipe that I stumbled across and the list of ingredients intrigued me. I decided that it needed some modifications to make it mine and tried it for the first time a few weeks ago. The result was an overwhelming success from the hubby and three year old. I’ve done enough modifications to this recipe that I can successfully call it mine and one that will be a repeat on the menu.

Makes 4 servings
  • 3/4 cup instant polenta
  • 1/4 pound (110 grams) pancetta, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion finely chopped 
  • 1/4 tsp (cc) pepperoncini  (depending on hot you like it), pepper flakes can be substituted
  • 3 tablespoons (cs) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (14-ounces) (450g) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 pound  (450grams) cleaned large shrimp
  • 2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiana 
  • 2 tablespoons (cs) of butter

In a non stick pan, cook pancetta , onions, garlic and pepperoncini over medium heat until pancetta is crispy and garlic and onions are pale golden approx 3-4 minutes. Increase heat to high and add shrimp and cook until it turns pink.  Decrease heat to medium and add tomatoes with their juice and simmer until liquid is reduced and sauce becomes thick.

While sauce is simmering, cook polenta according to package instructions, my hint is to use 1/2 cup minus 2 tbs of polenta and once its starts to get thick turn off the stove. Add in butter and grated cheese stir to combine, taste and recifty salt.

At this time the shrimp should be finished, taste for salt & pepper (be careful as pancetta can be salty)

I like to serve this in shallow bowls so that the polenta can really absorb the tomato sauce top with reserved parsley.

A Riesling would be a good choice to accompany this dish.

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Ah Saturday mornings 🙂 This one started a little earlier as my 11mth old decided to wake up at 7am this morning, I know that many parents wake up even earlier than that, but we are not used to this, especially after going to bed quite late last night.

Anyway, the menu was done, market checked off the list and now I’m eagerly waiting on my after lunch expresso, so, while I wait here is what’s being served at our house this week.

Saturday: My son chose this – entrecĂ´te (prime rib) & fries ( no doubt a green salad will be served on the side)

Sunday: Trying out a new recipe here:  Fresh corn soup topped with roasted corn guacamole ( admitting up front that I will use frozen corn)

Monday: Steamed fish with green beans

Tuesday:  Pan roasted noix st jacques (scallops), with roasted green asparagus and red potatoes (My daughter’s 1st birthday so having a special dinner served with Veuve Clicquot Champagne to honor her)

Wednesday: Grilled lemon/garlic chicken with carrots and fresh peas

Thursday: Ham & Manchego cheese sandwhiches/ green salad
Friday: Tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole

Bon Appetit !  (and still no sign of the cafĂ© – hubby is looking after the salad for the week – I’ll post our tips on how to have fresh, crisp salad and herbs for the week in another post)

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Neither, we did Cake Balls Ă  la Bakerella upon request from the hubby for his birthday cake this year.

Chocolate Covered Cake Balls

They really are quite easy to make and the effect is amazing on young and old. Before I list the recipe no need to get scared they are not as sweet as they look and you can actually modify the level of sweetness by adjusting the frosting.

Chocolate Cake Balls

  • 1 chocolate cake either homemade or mix ( I prefer homemade but your choice)
  • 2 cups of your favorite frosting (This is where you can adjust the sweetness level)
  • 1 package chocolate bark or baking chocolate (just remember baking chocolate requires that this be refrigerated)
  • wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl ( Its easier to use your fingers to do this however make sure they are clean)
2. Add one cup of frosting and mix thoroughly you essentially want it to be able to bind easily to hold its shape, once it gets to this point stop adding frosting.
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50.
4. Chill for several hours, they can actually be kept overnight covered in plastic wrap until you get ready to do the covering. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer, however if you do this they only need a few minutes to firm up.)
5. Melt chocolate in bain marie ( you can use the microwave but I’m rather against this)
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

If you used baking chocolate you will need to refrigerate these so that they harden, if not they will remain “soft”. We prefer these little treats refrigerated mainly to have that firm texture. However if you used candy melts or the bark then they can keep for a week in a well sealed container.

Warning, one is more than enough even though you may have second thoughts 🙂

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Compote or Applesauce ?

In France just about every cooked pureed fruit is put under the heading of “Compote” in anglo saxon terms cooked Apples fall under Applesauce.
Both my kids like just about every average French baby/toddler start of eating compote for dessert and this continues to their adult years. Not to get sidetracked but a thick apple compote cooked with some rum and served over yogurt can be a very delightful comforting dessert and one my hubby’s favorite desserts. Ok I’ll go back to my original post now.
I like many mums choose to make both my kids compote myself, its rather easy and has become a Sunday tradition for me. Our “compotes” are made with fruit of the season, so for now my two kids are probably getting rather tired of Apples and Apple/Pear combinations.

The recipe for this is fool proof really but the results are amazing


Apples, Pears & Raisin ( Raisin sec)Compote

  • 1 kilo (approx 10 ) apples (Chantclair)
  • 1 kilo (approx 10)  pears (Conference)
  • 1 tsp (cc) Cinnamon
  • 2 tbs (cs) Raisins (Raisin Sec)
  • 2 tbs  (cc)of water
Any pot will do but I prefer either a cocotte or a dutch oven (heavy pan) to do this in.
  • Peel apples and pears and put in pot
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and raisins
  • Add water just so that the sugars that are released from the apples don’t cause it to burn
  • Cook until soft on medium to low heat for approx 45mins but depends on fruit
  • You could at this stage leave it like this or purĂ©e it. The simplest way to purĂ©e it is with the blender attachment for your hand held mixer
  • PurĂ©e until you reach the conistency that yo like
  • I like to continue to let it simmer for the juices to evaporate and the taste to become even more pronounced
I tend to reserve half of the compote for immediate use the beginning of the week and then I freeze in ice cube trays the remaining, this way I have easy sized portions that I take out the morning and by snack time its ready to eat. An additional teething tip: the ice blocks may good teething rings for soothing those tender gums.

Let me know if you try it ?

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Its once again Saturday and that means that I’ve already planned my menu and that hubby is out at the farmers market as we speak. I’m somewhat behind on posting but hopefully will catch up this weekend. Planning the menu this week was a bit difficult I have to admit, though you would think with spring being here that it would be easier ? Well not so, it all depends if the market is ready to show us all the spring jewels that it has been hiding so I had to remind myself that I would have time in the coming weeks to reacquaint myself with the bounties of spring.

SaturdayShrimp and Pancetta severed over creamy polenta. The insipration behind this dish is that my son loves shrimp and pancetta and I’m trying to get him to eat polenta so will be making a tomato based sauce for the shrimp and pancetta.

SundayEntrecĂ´te (prime rib) served with a fresh green salad and corn on the cob (rushing the seasons a bit here)

Monday –  Fish (waiting to see what hubby bring back from the market) with semoule (will probably add some dried apricots and chili to the semoule to add some variety to it)

Tuesday –  Ahh the first tastes of spring – Omelette’s with mushrooms (girolles I hope) and green asparagus

Wednesday Beef & Broccoli  with Rice

Thursday Velouté of carrots with grilled brie sandwhiches

Friday – Not sure as yet but it will  be worthy of Friday fun  

Bon Appetit

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Le Chiberta

Its high time that I gave a review of the restaurant that we celebrated Eric’s birthday at – Le Chiberta a restaurant from Guy Savoy. Exquisite is about the word that best describes our experience – from the minute we walked in to when we left it was a dining pleasure. Now its true we don’t make a habit of treating ourselves to a restuarant like this but special occasions call for some bells and whistles.  Hubby has asked that I recreate this menu at home but more of a bistro style as the tastes are so subtle that I’m not sure to do it justice.

Below is the menu that we had along with the wines that were served at each course, we started off lunch with deux coupes de champagne to celebrate and then waited in anticipation.

Its hard to say what dish we/I preferred because they were all so good. The soup perhaps stands out as it was just the right balance of savours that you coud not discern the ingredients except for the hint of ginger at the end. The roasted pigeon /risotto/foie gras was also noteworthy, not too heavy just enough to make you happy that there were still some remaining. The pre-dessert was with perhaps the most refreshing dessert that I’ve had in a very long time – clementines, with a lime sorbet and little blocks of something that I can’t put my taste on. Each dish was a star on its own and we throughly enjoyed every minute of it. The wines were delicious we were especially in awe of the white and the dessert wine .

Amuse Bouche

Velouté of carrot lemongrass and ginger, king prawns and spices
Saint-Aubin, 1er cru  En Remilly 2007, Marc Colin
Green lentils and truffle juice
mâche salad and parmesan
Bass “Ă  la plancha”
swiss chard gratin and buckwheat emulsion
Roasted filet of pigeon
risotto and sautéed duck foie gras
Château Peyrat Fourthon 2004
Saint FĂ©licien (goat) and walnut, mesclun salad
Maury Mas Amiel 2006
Pré dessert
Chesnut and pistachio entremet
We left with happy stomachs, a lighter wallet and a very memorable lunch that won’t soon be forgotten.

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Before I list our menu for this week, I have to give a very special thank you to a very good friend of mine for redoing the design of the blog. Her name is Bethany and she created my header and images for the blog. You can find her work at Scrappin Daisies so if you have a moment check her out. I’ll be putting a permanent link to her blog on the site later on today.

Saturday once again started off very hectic here and it will continue to be like that because as of next week my Yoga classes start back at 11:30 so bye bye to long lazy Saturday mornings. This week is the hubby’s birthday celebration weekend and so he chose the menu for this weekend. We are going out for lunch the actual day of his birthday to a restaurant – Le Chiberta  that has been given a one star rating by the Michelin guide. Needless to dinner that night will be light and it will most probably be my three year old that may choose what we eat that night.

So what’s on the menu this week ?

Saturday: Just my son and myself for dinner tonight our babysitter canceled at the last minute, we were supposed to have dinner with friends but the hubby will be going by himself instead. I asked my son what he wanted and like any three year old he said FRIES ! so we’ll have oven baked fries (shhh don’t tell him) and crispy baked chicken.

Sunday: This is where the hubby mentioned what he would like to eat 🙂 and you can see that he is French 🙂 Canard ( thinking of doing a pink peppercorn sauce to go with it -still undecided) with red thym potatoes. Planning a surprise for the entrée (appetizer) so need to see if I can first get the ingredients

Monday: After our lunch not sure how hungry we will be but we will of course have dinner, champagne and cake with our two kids

Tuesday: I tend to work late on Tuesdays (I don’t work on Wednesdays) so pasta with homemade tomato sauce (need to post the recipe for this)

Wednesday: Chile coated salmon with creamy lentils

Thursday: Grilled lemon/garlic chicken with haricot verts (string beans)

Friday: As you probably guessed, Friday nights are pretty calm here so we’ll be having tacos, with homemade salsa and guacamole

Let me know what you are eating this week ?

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