A creamy mushroom tartine recipe

The warmer weather is upon us in Southern California, and this has revived one of the fondest summer traditions of my childhood: being able to eat outside. Raised in Normandy with many, many days of grey and rain (admittedly accountable for the amazing grass and thus, very healthy cows producing amazing cream and cheeses), I grew up valuing and savoring every second of sunny and warmer days. Meals savored outside felt like a joyous celebration of the end of the dreary tunnel that winter in Northern France can be. It felt like a rebirth, like one could finally fill one’s lungs with a deep breath of fresh air. To sit down, feeling the sun on my back, listening to the sounds of the world out there, and eat a simple crudités salad, dipping bread in its vinaigrette… what a way to commune and connect with loved ones, with oneself, to slow down, take time.

To take our  time. The very opposite of losing or wasting time. For being in the moment is the best possible use of our time. Cooking, eating are golden opportunities for us, to reclaim time.

The other night, after a long day of cooking and preparations for Pablo’s birthday picnic, a day of people in a small kitchen, ovens going and stifling heat in the house, I suddenly felt the walls around me. I peered out the window to the garden, and just the thought of eating in the quiet dusk outside made me feel relieved, calm, like a sigh, an exhale. When we eat indoors, our meals are lovely, we take our time, we bond, we laugh and savor together, but everyday life is still there, around us, lurking. The cleaning, organizing that has yet to be done. The objects around us remind us of the past, sad or happy. Photos of lost ones. Gifts from the estranged. Images of past voyages. (Though this is the burden of adulthood, as young children do not (and cannot) project in this way. They are wired to be fully in the moment. There’s too much fascination in the present to bother about the rest. Yet.)

In contrast, when we eat outside, I glance at my herbs and strawberries in becoming, and I feel surrounded by the present and the future, by inner and outer growth and ripening. The descending light makes our other senses more attentive to the world around us: the smell of sundown, of the neighbors barbecuing; the song of the tireless mockingbird, of a firetruck in the distance, of an airplane going to a faraway land; the sensation of a passing evening breeze on the skin; the flavors on our plates.

I don’t know much about what the future holds, but I do know we shall be savoring most of our meals outside for the next few months (and cooking them outside too whenever possible).

So should the weather show some clemency wherever you live, I wish you many meaningful, mindful, delightful meals outside, precious celebrations of the timeless here and now.

I have become a big fan of “tartines” in the past few months, simple open-faced sandwiches. They are as scrumptious as easy to make, and ever so versatile. It is such fun to experiment with the ingredients and different combinations. It allows us to think with our palate. They make a lovely lunch, along with a salad. Children and grown-ups can eat with their fingers. And indeed with this one tartine I’m sharing today, all our fingers were thoroughly licked. Hope you enjoy!

And scroll down for our upcoming week’s menu… 🙂

Mushroom comté prosciutto tartine

Adapted from Petit Larousse des Recettes aux Légumes du Potager by Valérie Lhomme

Makes 4 tartines

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Age for babies: 12 months and up, they will most likely eat the components of the tartine with their fingers, which is fine.

1 lb mushrooms

1 sprig of thyme

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp crème fraîche (or heavy cream)

3.5 oz grated comté cheese (or pecorino, manchego, gruyere, any flavorful hard cheese or your liking)

4 thick slice of good country bread

4 slices of prosciutto (San Daniele is very good and not too salty)

4 pinches of nutmeg

Salt & pepper

Clean the mushrooms, cut off the tip of the foot, and slice. Wash the thyme and remove the leaves from the stem.

In a pan over high heat, melt the butter and coconut oil, and toss in the mushrooms. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, then add the thyme leaves, a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue cooking over medium heat for another five minutes.

Drain the mushrooms. In a bowl, whisk the crème fraîche and add in the mushrooms, gently stir to combine and set aside.

Preheat the oven at 450°F

Toast the bread slices lightly. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of each slice. Add some creamy mushrooms, some grated cheese, a pinch of nutmeg, and place in the oven for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Easy Shrimp & lime recipe

Oh the guilt, of this week spent away from this space. Alas, I didn’t make my mid-week recipe post… 🙁 Work has been overwhelming, and I am actually pretty grateful I was able to keep up with our planned menu (By the way, if you want to have a look at some of the recipes I try during the week and our other adventures in food, join me on Instagram, I will be sharing even more now that we set the clock forward… later daylight = prettier pictures!)

I am working on a longer post for this mid-week, but in the meantime, I’ll replace some of my talking with some listening! (Always a good thing.) I would love to hear your thoughts on these (I’ll start…)

What is one of your favorite recipe/post from this blog?

What food blogs do you love?

So many. Check out some of the blogs on my Blog Love column on the right!

What recipe you’ve never tried, would you love to finally make?

Puff pastry, popovers, homemade cheese.

How much time do you spend cooking on a typical weekday (for all meals)?

60-90 minutes

Besides the week’s menu (scroll down for that), I wanted to share this very easy and delicious shrimp recipe found in a family cooking magazine I got while queuing at a French supermarket during my last visit there (it was advertised as: “Our best recipes for less than 1 euro per person!”)

Hope you enjoy!

Sautéed shrimp with lime & coconut rice

From the French magazine “Best of Gourmand”

Serves 3

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time : 35 minutes

Age for babies: 12 months and up

12-15 large shrimp (depending on size)

1 lime

1 rosemary sprig

1 sprig of lemon thyme

2 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 cup of rice of choice (I used Jasmine)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 tbsp sunflower oil (coconut oil would be good too, I think!)

A few drops of sesame oil

Salt & pepper

Rinse the rice. In a large pot, sauté the rice with 1 tbsp of oil, until translucent. Pour the broth over it, and cook over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed. Then add the coconut milk little by little, stirring constantly, until absorbed. (By then, rice should be tender. If not, add a tbsp or two of hot water or coconut milk, until rice is tender.) Add salt & pepper to taste, stir and cover to keep warm.

Wash and dry the lime, slice them. Wash and dry the herbs, and pick the leaves off the stems.

In a frying pan, heat the remaining sunflower oil and sesame oil. Add the shrimp, lime slices, rosemary and lemon thyme leaves, and cook over high heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Serve immediately, over the coconut rice.

Pastel Romanesco salad

With much excitement (because we get excited about such things…), our CSA basket brought us a couple of heads of Romanesco broccoli last week. This Madonna-reminiscent bright green vegetable is somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower, with a very subtle flavor and pleasant texture, soft and crunchy at the same time.

Its vivid beauty inspired me to improvise something colorful and fresh for lunch, in the way of this salad, which I am sharing with you today, along with the week’s menu (scroll down below the recipe for it.)

Wishing you a wonderful, fragrant week.

Romanesco purple potato smoked salmon salad

Serves 4

Age for babies: 8-10 months (Romanesco florets make a great finger food)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 25 min

1 head of Romanesco broccoli, florets separated and washed

4-5 purple potatoes

4 slices of smoked salmon

Fresh dill

Half a lemon

Dressing:

1 shallot, finely minced

A few sprigs of fresh dill

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp hazelnut oil

1 tsp mustard

Salt & pepper

Place whole blue potatoes in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook until tender, about 15 minutes depending on their size.

Bring another large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, separate the Romanesco florets and wash them.

Cook the Romanesco florets in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Let potatoes and Romanesco cool down to lukewarm.

Combine all the ingredients of the dressing.

Peel potatoes and slice. Place potatoes and florets in a bowl, sprinkle with fresh dill, pour dressing and mix well (but gently).

Serve in salad plates or bowl, adding small pieces of smoked salmon on top, and some more dill if desired. Drizzle lightly with lemon.

Pablo’s weekly menu… & a crisp pea salad

I think I’m getting into a groove here, posting a simple salad or soup recipe with the menu on Sunday or Monday, and another recipe mid-week, Wednesday or Thursday. How does that sound to you, my good readers? (So thankful for you, by the way). I have a very bad tendency to overextend myself and spread myself too thin, but I’m slowly improving on that front (I think.)  So this should be a reasonable compromise for the time being…

Scroll down for the week’s menu, we had some changes of plans last week, so you will find some of the dishes I didn’t get to try last week. My mom visited the fair city of Seattle and brought back several dozens oysters and clams and a gorgeous fresh Pacific lobster tail. We savored it simply grilled and topped with crème fraîche and fleur de sel… What a feast! The excitement was such I didn’t even think of photographing it! I never want to eat frozen lobster again… 

By the way, I wanted to invite you to follow me on Pinterest if you’re not already, where I pin recipes I have tried and loved, or want to try, in case you’re looking for extra inspiration!

Speaking of inspiration…

A piece of spring

Pierced me with love for this empty place

Where a
prairie creek runs

Under its cover of clear ice

And the sound it
makes,

Mysterious as a heartbeat,

New as a lamb.

(Excerpt of “In the Late Season”, by Tom Hennen)

I know it’s only March 3rd, but I’m feeling the breath of spring… And a bite of the lovely pea, herb & spring onion salad I’m sharing today, made it even more palpable.

Spring is far from the words above in Southern California… No covers of clear ice here. But that ice breaking to release a rushing creek is a perfect metaphor for the season of renewal. There’s just something in the air right now.

The other day, I noticed our jasmine bush was full of buds, soon to invade the air with its intoxicating scent. And as I looked up, our resident mockingbird was sitting on the line. Not calling for love at all hours of the night quite yet. But thinking about it.

T’is the season of anticipation.

May this crisp salad ease you into it…

UDPATE: Turns out what I used above wasn’t spring onions, but green (or spring) garlic! They do look strangely similar! And you could make it with green garlic as I did (unwittingly), but it has a serious kick! Meanwhile, can’t wait to find real spring onions here (like scallions, but with more of a rounded bulb). May just have to grow them myself! And since green garlic season is in full swing, am currently working on some recipes to share soon 🙂

Pea, herb & spring onion salad

Adapted from Petit Larousse des Recettes aux Légumes du Potager by Valérie Lhomme 

Serves 3-4

Prep time: 10 mn

Cook time: 3 mn

Age for babies: 8-10 months, omitting the dressing. Peas are a great first finger food. If used as finger food, only give the peas, as the spring onions & herbs would be too hard to chew. You could also finely mix peas/chives together with a drizzle of olive oil as a cold puree.

3 cups frozen peas (fresh peas are hard to come by here, if you can find them, all the better, use about 2 pounds unshelled)

1 handful of chives

5 sprigs of Italian parsley

3 spring onions (or scallions)*

1 handful of micro broccoli (or microgreens of choice) (optional)

*Note: Spring onions definitely have a kick to them, you can make them milder and more tender by soaking them (once chopped) in cold water for 1 hour (up to 24 hours in the fridge). Otherwise, go for scallions, shallots, or omit entirely.

Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

Drizzle of honey (optional)

Salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put the frozen peas in and let cook 3-4 minutes (from the time you put them in, not when it starts boiling again.)

(If you’re using fresh peas, cook them 4-5 minutes).

Drain them and pour them in a large bowl of cold water and ice cubes.

Wash the herbs and microgreens. Chop the chives and parsley with scissors. Cut off the dark green ends of the spring onions, keeping only the bulb and light green stem. Wash and chop the onions (*see note above on soaking).

Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients.

Drain the peas, mix with onions and herbs.

Just before serving, add in dressing and mix well.

Onto the week’s menu… Wishing you a crisp, flavorful week.

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Goat gouda, Comté (type of Swiss), Enoteki (sheep’s milk).

Desserts: At lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


MONDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pea, herb & spring onion salad above!
Main course: Smoked salmon, dill, endive tartine

Goûter (4pm snack) – Homemade chocolate pudding*

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Oysters on the half shell
Main course: Roasted chicken thighs with clementines from Sassy Radish (we didn’t get to make it last week, had lobster brought back from Seattle instead!) + leftover sunchoke gratin dauphinois*

TUESDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Avocado
Main course: Trying this leek feta lemon quiche from London Bakes

Goûter – Apple compote

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Turnip and turnip greens velouté*
Main course: Lamb chops, creamy carrots & rosemary baked in a parcel

WEDNESDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Authentic Greek salad
Main course: Duck breasts with braised pink radishes*

Goûter – Homemade chocolate pudding*

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cauliflower, green beans salad
Main course: Dover sole filets with micro broccoli puree

THURSDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cucumber Feta rolls from Good Life Eats
Main course: Ham, quinoa

Goûter – Banana

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Tomato, heart of palm, purple potato salad
Main course: Mushrooms stuffed with cream of sardines

FRIDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: White asparagus in creamy tarragon sauce
Main course: Tuna steak baked in parcel with avocado and cilantro*

Goûter – Pear-blueberry compote

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Artichoke soup, a recipe I found here
Main course: Pan fried skirt steak, & the Swiss chards with blood orange dressing from Vanilla Bean

SATURDAY

Lunch- OUT

Goûter – Kiwi

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Leftover artichoke soup
Main course: Shrimp & lime over coconut rice

SUNDAY

Lunch – OUT

Goûter – Tangerine

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Butternut leek soup
Main course: Oven roasted pork ribs, fingerling potatoes

An herbed chickpea feta salad

I had a lovely Mother’s day spent mostly between the kitchen and the table. Even though I was exhausted by the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was imagining what a Mother’s Day with brunch at a restaurant would be like, for example. And that would be lovely, of course, but celebrations where I don’t cook feel slightly off to me, as if something is missing. I realized that cooking and sharing a homemade meal with loved ones is truly my way to celebrate. When I first lived in the US, I was always puzzled at the fact that the expression “partying” was synonymous with drinking. Because to my French self, “partying” (faire la fête) had always been synonymous with a good meal.  A “feast” of sorts. And a feast we did have.

Our  meal was quite delicious (quite a few shots of it on Instagram if you want to check it out), in particular these beet tartlets which I highly recommend, and the chickpea, feta, cilantro salad I’m sharing here. I was looking for a Greek recipe for our menu and found this lovely salad in the beautiful family cookbook I got as a gift for my birthday, Falling Cloudberries, by Tessa Kiros. I love how it connects cooking, family and culture as inextricable.

And this salad… So flavorful and simple. I take a bite, close my eyes, and can see myself sitting at a terrace by the sea with my Greek sister and niece, feeling the warm, dry, salty air of Greece on my every pore.

Here’s the recipe. And scroll down further for our week’s menu… A lovely spring week to all.

Chickpea, feta & cilantro salad

Barely adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

Serves 6 as appetizer or side dish

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

Age for babies: 10-12 months, the chickpeas make a nice finger food.

1 can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
1 cup of olive oil (Greek, if possible)
1 large red onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 2/3 cups of crumbled Feta (about 5-6 oz)
4 scallions (green part)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 small bunch of Italian parsley (depending on size, basically twice as much parsley as cilantro)
Juice of one lemon

Open the can of chickpeas, drain and rinse them well. Set aside in a bowl.

Chop the red onion and garlic cloves finely. Chop the scallions.

Wash the cilantro and parsley, pick the leaves off the stems. Process together in a food processor until finely chopped. (Or chop by hand).

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the red onion gently, until cooked through and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few more seconds, until you can smell the garlic. (Do not brown the garlic.) Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

Add the mashed feta, the chopped cilantro/parsley, scallions and lemon juice to the chickpeas, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the onion/garlic mixture (Make sure it is completely cooled, if it’s still warm, the feta will melt). Then the remaining olive oil (a little over 3/4 cup left.).

Mix very well. You can make a few hours ahead of time or even the night before. You can let it marinade at room temperature and serve.

It keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

And sharing our week’s menu 🙂

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Camembert, Gouda, Goat Brie.

DessertsAt lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


MONDAY

Lunch 
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Spring pea salad
Main course: Leftover paella from Mother’s Day lunch

Goûter (4pm snack) – Dark chocolate fondant*

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Artichoke leaves with vinaigrette
Main course: Pan-fried garlic shrimp & this braised fennel, potatoes & radishes in brown butter lemon sauce

TUESDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Authentic Greek salad
Main course: Sardines, baby bok choy puree

Goûter – Apple-strawberry compote

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Endive & goat cheese salad with beet greens walnut vinaigrette
Main course: Herbed lamb meatballs in coconut milk over quinoa

WEDNESDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green beans, cauliflower, Italian parsley salad
Main course: Turkey filets & snap peas in mustard cream sauce*

Goûter – Strawberry rhubarb compote*

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Chards, blood orange, goat cheese salad from Vanilla Bean blog
Main course: Pan-fried Dover sole filets, spinach broccoli puree

THURSDAY

Lunch – Picnic at the park
Grated carrots French-style; hard-boiled eggs; mixed quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, hearts of palm, beans, bell peppers, cucumber; bread & cheese; grapes.

Goûter – Pear-blueberry compote

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pea, edamame, mint soup from Gourmande in the Kitchen
Main course: Oven roasted pork ribs, blue potatoes

FRIDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Warm leeks with vinaigrette
Main course: Mushroom prosciutto tartine

Goûter – Homemade rhubarb raspberry mint ice cream*

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Shredded Brussels Sprouts with walnuts & dates from Food Loves Writing
Main course: Duck filets with braised radishes

SATURDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Orange tomato gazpacho
Main course: Chicken liver salad with raspberry vinaigrette

Goûter – Apple

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Lentil shallot salad
Main course: Trying the braised fennel with saffron & tomato from Green Kitchen Stories

SUNDAY

Lunch/Brunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Zucchini mint terrine
Main course: Smoked salmon, avocado & radish garnish

Goûter – Kiwi

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Asparagus, arugula & avocado soup with crab*
Main course: Eggplant au gratin