Cooking class at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

image of Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

I was recently invited for a cooking class with bloggers at Cook & Go Culinary Studio located in Chelsea. 
image of Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York
Cook & Go started few years ago in France, more precisely in Lyon that is the capital of Gastronomy there. Their classes target people who are not professional or advanced cooks and want to learn simple recipes in a relaxed atmosphere. You come, cook and then go with the food you just made so your friends and family can try! 
image of kitchen at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

The place is big and can host up to 80 people. Of course, there is no way that 80 people can cook at the same time or in that case it will have to be uncooked dishes like some we made. Interestingly, some companies are organizing events there: good idea for team building sessions.
image of utensils at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Our teacher (and Chef), Christine, made the experience very relaxed, with no pressure, providing useful tips.
image of Christine at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Each of us had its own space setup.
image of cooking station at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

And I was ready to start! Au menu were:
  • Purses filled with pear, brie and raspberry.
  • Tuscan White Bean Crostini.
  • Apricot Chicken.
  • Cakes filled with dates.
  • S'mores shooters.
The recipes below were courtesy of Cook & Go. 

The first dish was Purses filled with pear, brie and raspberry

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
8 oz brie
24 raspberries
2 pears sliced and caramelized
image of ingredients for Purses filled with pear, brie and raspberry at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Unfold on a lightly floured surface:
1 puff pastry sheet , thawed.  Using a rolling pin, roll the sheet into a 10x15-inch rectangle.
Cut into 24 (2 1/2-inch) squares.  
image of  raspberry at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Divide the brie, raspberries, and pears among the pastry. Close like a purse.
image of Purses filled with pear, brie and raspberry at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Et voilà!
image of Purses filled with pear, brie and raspberry at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

It was delicious, but I should have put more brie in it. Problem was that with more cheese, I am not sure I would have been able to close the pastry...

The second recipe was Tuscan White Bean Crostini:

Yield: 6 servings

2 cans (15 ounces each) white beans (such as Great Northern or cannellini), rinsed and drained 
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped or 1/3 cup finely chopped roasted red bell pepper 
1/3 cup finely chopped onion 
1/3 cup red wine vinegar 
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
18 slices French bread, about 1/4 inch thick 

1.Combine beans, bell pepper and onion in large bowl.
image of Tuscan White Bean Crostini at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

2.Whisk together vinegar, parsley, oil, garlic, oregano and black pepper in small bowl. Pour over bean mixture; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours or overnight (of course we did not do this at the class).
3.Arrange bread slices in single layer on large ungreased baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil, 6 to 8 inches from heat, 30 to 45 seconds or until bread slices are lightly toasted. Cool completely.
4.Top each toasted bread slice with about 3 tablespoons bean mixture.
image of Tuscan White Bean Crostini at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

It was good and refreshing, a perfect amuse bouche if you have guests, but a bit tough to eat as the garnish tends to fall off the bread...

After that, we made Apricot Chicken:
Yield: 6 servings.
1 1/2 pounds apricots, roughly chopped, pits removed and discarded
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 pounds skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (can sub olive oil)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cups chicken stock or broth (use gluten-free stock if you are cooking gluten-free)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (you can add more if you like)
Black pepper

1 Place the chopped apricots in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the vinegar. Let sit while you brown the chicken in the next step.
image of Ingredients for apricot chicken at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

2 In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place chicken pieces in the pan, without crowding the pan, and brown them on each side. As the chicken cooks, sprinkle salt over it. Once the chicken is browned, remove the pieces from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Note: this is where the recipe differs: we just put all the ingredients in a bowl as showed on the photo below and cooked it in the oven.
image of Ingredients for apricot chicken at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

3 Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. As the onion cooks and releases moisture, use a flat edged spatula or wooden spoon to scrape off the browned bits from the chicken (called fond) from the bottom of the pan. 

4 Once the onions have browned a bit, add the chicken stock and lower the heat to medium.

5 Put about 2/3 of the apricots, along with any juice they have given up, into a blender and blend into a purée. Pour the purée into the pan with the chicken stock and onions. 

6 Add the cinnamon, rosemary and Tabasco and taste. You may need to add some salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 10-20 minutes. 

7 When you are ready to serve, put the chicken and the remaining apricot pieces into the pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes. 

Serve hot with rice.
image of  apricot chicken at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

This was my least favorite dish: although the chicken was moist (I cut large ribbons, smaller would have make it dry), it was very sweet; too sweet.

After the apricot chicken, we cooked Cakes filled with dates:

In a bowl, measure the butter, cream and sugar. Mix with a spatula until blended. Add sunflower oil, and orange blossom. Mix again. Add flour and mix. 
image of Cakes filled with dates at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Refrigerate. In another bowl, measure your dates and remove the pits. Chop coarsely and add the orange blossom and cinnamon. Mixing to obtain a homogeneous mixture. Cut the dough into 4 pieces per serving. Place a piece of dough in hand. Flatten and widen slightly in the middle without a hole. Place the stuffing at the center and close the cake. 
image of Cakes filled with dates at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Arrange on a sulfurized paper and bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
image of Cakes filled with dates at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

This was, with the last dish below, my favorite: the cookie was buttery and flakey. I will sure try this one at home, probably with chocolate...

The last dish we cooked was dessert (shall I say long awaited?). It was S’more shooters:

Yield: 12 servings

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
image of marshmallow fluff for S'mores shooters at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.
image of marshmallow fluff for S'mores shooters at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

Chocolate Glaze
12oz semi-sweet chocolate – chopped finely
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup

In saucepan on med-low heat, heat the cream until bubbles start to form – watch it very, very closely
Add chopped chocolate to med size bowl.  Add cream and leave it for 2 mins.  Slowly stir to melt chocolate (whisking quickly creates air bubbles)
Add butter and corn syrup.  If mixture is not completely melted together, put in the microwave in 10 sec intrevals.
image of chocolate ganache for S'mores shooters at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

The secret to these shooters and any layered dessert (Trifle) is to be very neat and tidy with your layers.  That means making sure each layer is smoothed out evenly and touching the side of your dish but also the sides of the glass dish are kept clean.  If you slop on the side and above the layer you are working on, take a cloth and wipe it otherwise the layers will not show properly.  For creating this layered look in the shooter glasses, put your marshmallow frosting in a piping or ziploc bag.  The glaze can be put in a bag but it will be in almost a liquid until cooled – use either a spoon or a ziploc bag.
Layer the following: put 2 tsp of graham cracker crumbs in each glass, marshmallow frosting, chocolate glaze and then repeat. If you are using a piping bag for the frosting, just swirl it in the glass but make sure it touches the edges. Once filled to the top, garnish with graham crumbs and chocolate chips.
image of  S'mores shooters at Cook & Go Culinary Studio in Chelsea, NYC, New York

This was fantastic and I cannot wait to make it at home (well, since Jodi knows that I can make it and saw the result, I do not have that much choice...).

I had a good time. I love the concept and truly appreciate the fact that the recipes are easy to make, so I can wow my family and friends next time I receive them!

If you are interested by a class, you can use this 15% coupon BPIBLOG at

Thank you to Cook & Go for inviting me to this great event.

Enjoy (I did)!

If you like this post or the photos, feel free to share it using the toolbar below or to write a comment! 

And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Please note that this cooking class was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own! 

Recipe: Italian Egg Benedict

image of Recipe: Italian Egg Benedict

I love eggs benedict and, as I had to create a dish with pasta, I came up with the idea of Italian egg Benedict, where the English muffin would be replaced by pasta, but keeping the presence of bread with breadcrumbs that added a bit of crunch!
image of Recipe: Italian Egg Benedict

My pasta of choice were bucatini from Delverde. I like bucatini, which is thicker than spaghetti.

It is a fairly easy dish to make and it only requires couple of steps!

Step 1- cook the pasta:
image of Recipe: Italian Egg Benedict

Once the water is brought to a boil, add salt (no oil: just stir from time to time) and then the pasta and cooked to the preferred consistency; the instructions say 7 minutes, but, I prefer 10 minutes.
image of Recipe: Italian Egg Benedict

Then strain them in a colander.

Step 2- Cut three stripes of bacon in small slices. 

Step 3- in a pan, put 1/4 of a cup of olive oil and put right away the bacon, that way, it will infuse in the olive oil. Once the bacon is brown, add a tea spoon of oregano. 

Step 4- put the pasta in the pan with the olive oil and bacon. Stir and cook for five minutes at low heat. 

Step 5- prepare the egg. 

For the photo, I fried the egg in a ring to give it a round shape. But you can make a poached egg (check out how to make a perfect poached egg!). 

Step 6- serve!

In a pasta bowl, put the pasta and the egg in the center. Add breadcrumbs (I added 1 table spoon).

Et voilà! Bon Appétit!

If you like this post or the photos, feel free to share it using the toolbar below or to write a comment! 

And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!

This recipe is posted as an entry to the Delverde DISH YOUR BLOG recipe contest. I received free sample products to compete.

Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Here is a very easy recipe for a delicious Pineapple Upside Down Cake!
Image of Recipe of the pineapple upside down cake

- 7oz (200g) of butter
- 7oz (200g) of powdered sugar
- 7oz (200g) of white flour
- 5 eggs
- 1teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1teaspoon of almond extract
- 1packet of yeast
- 1can of sliced pineapple

1 - Prepare the cake batter:

  • Melt the butter and integrate it with the sugar
  • Incorporate one by one the eggs
  • Add the sifted flour and the yeast
  • Add the almond and vanilla extracts
  • Add some of the pineapple juice from the can

2 - Make a caramel:

  • In a saucepan, melt some brown sugar and water to make caramel
  • Bring to a boil
3 - Assemble the cake:
  • In a cake pan (I use a springform pan), pour the caramel and then lay the slices of pineapple.
Image of Recipe of the pineapple upside down cake
  • Cover with the cake batter, making sure that no batter goes under the pineapple slices.
Image of Recipe of the pineapple upside down cake
4 - Cook the cake:
  • Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Cook for 35 to 50 minutes (check if the cake is cooked with a knife).

When the cake is cooked, put it on a plate, pineapple up, and let it cool. Et voila!

Bon appétit!

Recipe: Anise Infused Bread

Anise Infused Bread recipe
Anise Infused Bread recipe

Here is a very recipe to make a wonderful bread that has a subtle anise taste.

For 8 small breads:

17.5 ounce (500g) of white flour

1 tablespoon of salt

3/4 tablespoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of anise seeds

1/2 ounce of dry yeast

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

0.8 cup of lukewarm water

The first thing to do is to grind the anise seeds.

To grind seeds, I use a coffee grinder.

Mix all the ingredients and knead until firm. I have a bread machine and use the setting to only knead and rise as I will cook the bread in the oven.

Let the dough rise for 1h30.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, make 8 even portions of the dough and lay them on a cooking sheet or aluminum foil, making sure you either grease it or put some flour to prevent the bread to stick.

Anise Infused Bread recipe
Anise Infused Bread recipe

In a small ball, make an egg wash by cracking an egg at room temperature and whisking it until the yolk is incorporated in the white. 

With a knife, make a X on top of each bread so they open while cooking.

Then brush each bread with the egg wash.

Rest for 25 more minutes; the bread will rise again.

Put the bread in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden.

Et voila!

Anise Infused Bread recipe
Anise Infused Bread recipe

 Bon appetit!

Recipe: Brioche with chocolate chips

Chocolate chip brioche recipe
Chocolate chip brioche recipe

Brioche is a viennoiserie that is similar to Challah bread, where water is replaced by milk, has more eggs, butter and sugar.

The recipe below is very easy to make! 

Ingredients for 12 brioches (approx. 2 pounds):

- 1/2 cup of milk

- 4 large eggs

- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter

- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

- 1 teaspoon of salt

- 3 3/4 cups of white flour

- 2 packets of yeast (I use active dry instant yeast)

Place in the following order the milk, eggs, butter at room temperature and cut in small pieces, sugar, salt, flour and yeast in a pan. Knead until obtaining a soft dough, and let rise for 45 minutes.

Melt some butter and brush generously the inside and outside of a muffin pan (you can use a bread pan also for cooking the brioche). The butter will prevent the brioche to stick to the pan once cooked.

Put some dough in the bottom of the muffin hole and add some chocolate chip in the middle. This time, I put chocolate chips inside the brioche. You can other wise not put anything or put nutella or jam. 

Cover with some dough and try to seal the brioche (do not worry: it will crack anyway during the cooking process, revealing some chips). Brush the top with an egg wash. Let rise for another 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Then remove from the oven and let it cool. Et voila!

Chocolate chip brioche recipe
Chocolate chip brioche recipe

Bon appétit!

Laddu recipe

One of my co-workers brought me some laddu for me to try as he knows that I love Indian food (I should say Food!) and sweets. Laddu or Laddoo is a popular sweet in India and South Asia eaten during celebrations or festivals. It is made of little balls (in sanskrit, Laddu means small ball) that are put together, fried and dipped in sugar syrup. The recipe can vary: for the flour, some use Bengal gram, dhal(chickpea), flour ((besan), wheat flour, semolina (suji or rava ), etc...
Image of Laddu Indian recipe
The one he gave me had almonds and raisins in it! It was deliciously sweet with a bit of crunch! Of course, it was smaller than the biggest Laddu in the Guiness World record: 5,570 kg obtained end of 2011 in India (the previous record was held by a temple in England - 551 kg).

Here is the recipe as he gave it to me:

Cooking time: 11/2 hours
Servings: 10

  • Bengal gram flour ( besan or kadalai mavu):  360 grams or 4 full cups
  • Refined sugar: 600 grams or 31/2 cups
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Rice flour(raw rice): 2 1/4 teaspoon
  • Soda bi-carb( cooking soda): 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cardamom: 7
  • Cashew: 50 grams
  • Almonds
  • Raisins: 40 grams
  • Ghee(clarified butter): 100 grams
  • Oil(preferably refined oil): 11/2 litre
  • You also need a perforated  ”boondhi” ladle, for frying the boondhi.

Mix the Bengal gram flour with rice flour and soda bicarb and add some water to make batter. This batter should be similar to ‘dosa’ batter consistency. Set aside.

Take a thick-bottomed vessel and add both sugar and water (2cups). Heat on medium heat to make sugar syrup. You have to keep stirring often till you reach a certain consistency, which can be tested by taking some syrup between your thumb and index finger and spreading the fingers out. If the syrup is sticky and extends like a thread between the two fingers, it is ready. Set this aside. 

Powder the cardamom.

Heat oil in a frying pan on high. When the oil is very hot, take a big spoon of flour batter. Place the ”bhoondhi” ladle over the hot oil, pour one spoonful of batter into the bhoondhi ladle and press down.
Small balls of the dhal batter will drop into the oil. Once they are cooked, remove with another spoon, draining the excess oil. Let the fried batter balls (Boondhi) soak in the sugar syrup. Do the same with the rest of the batter. 

Using a big heavy spoon, pound the cooked mixture to a pulp. Fry the raisins and cashew in ghee and add to the pulp with the remaining ghee. Now you can add the powdered cardamom and the whole cloves, and make round laddus, pressing the pulp into spheres using your hands.

Tips: Making the sugar syrup to the right thread-like consistency is the tricky part in the preparation of laddus. Adding colours and other ingredients like edible camphor, saffron or ”diamond kalkandu”(sugar crystals) is optional.

I did not try the recipe, but will one day!

Enjoy (I did)!

Recipe: Almond cigars

Recipe: Almond cigars

I love Almond Cigars. When I was a kid, my mom and my grand mother use to make them: it was driving me crazy! Well, it still does...

It is a treat that comes from North Africa, but in fact, as cuisine traveled, you can easily compare it to the baklava found in Greece or Middle East. It is a delicious dessert, served with a hot tea (best is with mint tea in fact).

Recipe: Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous or ptitim, is a toasted pasta shaped like pearls. I never heard of it before coming to the US, seeing it at the salad bars or on TV, cooked in Iron Chef. I was more used to the couscous semolina that has a totally different taste and is used for taboule.

So, here is an easy recipe to make a Pearl Couscous Salad that I hope you will, like me, find delicious!

For 2 servings:
- 1/2 cup of pearl couscous
- 2 tomatoes
- 0.25 lb of feta cheese
- 20 to 30 manzanilla pitted olives
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of garlic
- 2 table spoons of olive oil
- raisins

In a saucepan, put the garlic, olive oil, cumin and pearl couscous on medium heat. Toast the pasta until golden. Then add 3/4 of water, salt and cook until the water is fully absorbed for approx. 9 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Cut the tomatoes, olives and feta into small cubes of similar size. Put them in a salad bowl with 1/4 of a cup of raisins. Add vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let the raisins soak for 10 minutes.
Add the pearl couscous to the bowl and mix. Refrigerate and eat cold. Et voila!

Note: after 30 minutes, mix again in the bowl as the couscous tends to stick all together.

Bon appétit!

Do not hesitate to let me know what you think about this recipe by posting a comment!

And remember: I just want to eat!

Recipe: Tomato bisque made with coconut milk

Last time, I was wondering what to cook for dinner and decided to try to make a tomato bisque. Now, I should not be using the term bisque as normally, a bisque contains a broth made with crustaceans (crab, lobster...), but it seems that everybody is using this term, probably to give a fancy name to a dish. Think about it: 
"I am going to serve you a tomato soup" - ok
"I am going to serve you a tomato bisque" - oh!

I love tomato bisque with grilled cheese. I even got that served in a wedding cocktail last year in Milwaukee and it was amazing! It is an awesome pairing, especially if you dip the grilled cheese in the soup.

The recipe below is very easy!

For 2 servings:
- 1 can (28 Oz) of fire roasted diced tomatoes (you can fire roast them yourself, but I personally do not have time for that!).
- 1 can of coconut milk.
- 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce.
- basil

Put the fire roasted tomatoes in a strainer and remove some of the tomato sauce by pouring water over it. Put the tomatoes in a blender and add the coconut milk, Sriracha sauce and some basil. Blend it together.
Reduce on low heat in a sauce pan for approximately 20 minutes. Et voila!

You can replace the Sriracha sauce with cayenne pepper: it is used to give a slight kick to the dish.

Bon appétit!

Recipe: Ghetto Garlic Bread from Coolio!

So everybody probably knows Coolio from the song Gangsta's Paradise he wrote in 1995 for the movie Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer. What I did not know until I watch Rachel (Ray) vs. Guy (Fieri) on the Food Network, is that Coolio is also a cook. He even published a cook book called 

Cookin' with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price

and calls himself the Ghetto Gourmet. In this book, he will teach you how to be a Kitchen Pimp, explaining what you need in you Pimp-try...

Let me tell you: this guy knows how to cook (taught by his now deceased mother) and he ended up in the finale!

So, I decided to try to cook his Ghetto Garlic Bread, his take on Garlic Bread, made with mayonnaise. I do not have a cook book, so I tried to recreate the quantities.

In a bowl, I mixed:

  • 6 tbsp of mayonnaise, 
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic and 
  • cheese (depends how much you like).

I spread the mixture on a baguette cut in half and toasted it.

It was good, but if you do not like mayonnaise, I do not think it is for you!

Enjoy (I did)!



Easy Thin Fish With Olive sauce Recipe!

I like sometimes to try few recipes easy to prepare with ingredients I like. Olives is one of them! When I prepare my Olive Oil Oven Poached Tilapia (click here for the recipe), it takes a bit of time. So I decided to do try an olive sauce with simple ingredients: olives, olive oil and garlic.

For the fish, you can use any thin fish such as tilapia or sole. 

Quantities will depend on how much olives you would like. I used manzanilla olives, pitted of course as you do not want to spend your time eating removing the pit...

First, I put some olive oil in a pan (2 tablespoons) and cook the garlic and olives together, with a hint of French tarragon and pepper. Once the garlic starts to brown, remove from the heat.
In another pan, cook the fish in olive oil. I usually cook it for approximately 7 to 9 minutes: all depends on the thickness of the piece you get. Once the fish is closed to be cooked, I add the sauce prepared before. Et voila!

You can serve this dish with mash potatoes or vegetables like corn, asparagus or brussels sprouts.

Bon appétit!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts!

When I was a kid, I hated brussels sprouts! I could not stand the smell or the taste. I remember that my mom used to prepare them with merguez (lamb sausages) and unfortunately, the sausages were absorbing all the taste of the brussels sprouts! Many years later, I ended up with brussels sprouts on my plate, in a restaurant in New York City. I tried and kind of liked them! So, if you are struggling to get your kids to eat vegetables, it is not desperate and you should try to roast them (the vegetables, not the kids!!!). 

The way I roast brussels sprouts applies also to other vegetables like asparagus. I like them slightly burnt so it caramelized them. 

First, after washing the brussels sprouts, I remove the buds from the stalk and discard any loosen leaf from the surface. Depending on the size of the sprouts, I may cut them into two parts. Then, I put them on a tray with olive oil, salt and pepper. With my hands, I mix the brussels sprout with the oil, salt and pepper to ensure they all get their little bath. I then cook them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Et voila!

Bon Appétit!

Recipe: vegetarian chili

Before watching a chili competition on TV, I did not know that the original chili does not contain any beans (I am sure some of you would be grateful about that omission...). In fact, chili was made by American settlers using  dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers (usually chilipiquenes), and salt, which were pounded together, formed into bricks and left to dry. They would then boil the bricks during their trip. I think I made my own chili when I was not even 10 years old, probably after seeing a John Wayne movie or, I have to admit, a Terence Hill movie (shame on me). My attempted were not always successful, especially that time when I did not really cook the beans (my cousin Sandrine still remembers me that one). One day, I decided to make a vegetarian chili. I went on the internet, checked few recipes and made my own which is as follows:

Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 14 oz of firm tofu
- 15 oz tomato sauce unsalted
- 2 cans of red beans (15 oz each)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp of soy sauce
- olive oil
- chili powder
- cayenne pepper

It is important to use unsalted tomato sauce as the soy sauce is already salty.

In a dutch oven, put the olive oil, minced garlic and tofu cut in small cube at medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook until half the liquid (soy sauce and olive oil) has evaporated. Then, add the tomato sauce, red beans, chili powder and cayenne pepper (to your liking). Cook at low heat for 45 minutes, uncovered. 
I suggest eating the chili the next day to rest it all night so the tofu will get more flavor from the sauce.

You can add to the recipe peppers, jalapenos, etc...I personally like to it it with sour cream, guacamole and cheddar cheese.

Bon appétit!

Another attempt at making Crab Cakes Benedict!

After the not so bad attempt to make Crab Cakes Benedict few months ago (click here), I decided to try again. This time, it was much better! First, I used crab meat and not claw meat. That makes a big difference. Then I decided not to put too much of anything else to really feel the crab. Below is the result. Not bad, don't you think?

As you can see on the photo, I served it with roasted asparagus and roasted brussels sprouts. I found it was a good alternative to the classic roasted potatoes and gave me the impression I was cooking a healthy meal...

So, this time, this is what I did:
For 4 crab cakes:
- 1 lb crab meat
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp of butter
- salt and pepper

I made sure that I removed all the water from the crab meat by pressing it in a strainer. I then added the salt and pepper, melted butter and the egg, beaten. I mixed everything. With my hands, I made 4 cakes and delicately put them in a pan on medium heat where I previously put olive oil and butter. I then covered and cooked for 10 minutes.

Hollandaise sauce:
- 4 yolks
- 5 tbsp melted butter
- salt and pepper

Put the 4 yolks in a bowl with salt and pepper and beat them until obtaining a thicker consistency. Slowly add the melted butter. Once the butter is incorporated, put in a sauce pan at low heat and continue stirring so the yolks do not start cooking too fast and scramble. Once the sauce is warm enough, serve immediately. 

Note that you can put any twist to the sauce: you can add cilantro or truffle oil for instance.

Bon appétit!

Recipe: olive oil oven poached tilapia

I tried a similar dish at

The Franciscan

, one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. Similar in the sense that I tried to recreate it and hopefully it is close enough! I love this dish: it is great for a nice dinner and very flavorful, mixing the flavors from the fish, the olives and olive oil and the sweetness of the butternut squash. It is not complicated, but takes time (close to 1h30)!

Here is the recipe:

For 4 servings

- thin white fish: I picked tilapia (4 filets)

- Pitted Manzanilla Olives (8oz)

- Peeled Butternut Squash (20oz)

- Potatoes (24oz)

- Salt and Pepper

- Olive oil

For the potatoes, I picked some baby potatoes, preferably the creamer ones, with a thin and tasty skin as I keep the skin on it when roasting them. They are usually moist and have a creamier flesh perfect for this dish. 

For the Butternut Squash, I prefer the peeled one as it is a pain in the neck (excuse my French) to cut a squash. I cook it in boiling water until soft as a first step and then will cut each piece in a size that will match the size of the potatoes that I will also cut in small pieces.

In a dish that goes in the oven, put some olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the potatoes and cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the flesh is soft (test with a knife). This may take 30 to 40 minutes. Then, put the pieces of butternut squash and the olives. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add some more olive oil and put in the bottom of the dish the filets. Cover with the potatoes, squash and olives and cook for 30 minutes. Et voila!

Bon appétit!

Recipe: Macarons

Macarons start to be popular in the USA: you can find them in stores like La Maison Du Chocolat, Macaron Cafe or Bisous, Ciao. I even found some (not so good), in the Korean Food Gallery 32 on 32nd street! They are not to confuse with the coconut macaroons commonly found here. I have tried them with jam as a filling and one time, my sister made them with creme fraiche and smoked salmon. I thought it was an original idea! 

Here is an easy recipe:

For 12 macarons:
- 1 cup of ground almonds (I used almonds slivers).
- 1 cup confectioner sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/5 cup granulated sugar

Sift the almonds and the confectioner sugar. Mix them together.
Whip the egg whites on medium speed. When it becomes a foam, add 20 drops of food coloring. Increase the speed to high and add gradually the granulated sugar. Continue to whip until the eggs are firm and shiny (photo 1).
Once the egg whites are ready, incorporate little by little the almond / sugar mixture prepared earlier.
Put the mixture in a piping bag and create 1 inch circles on a parchment paper (photo 2).
Rest for an hour.
Cook in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes. Once cooked, put them on a cooling rack. When cool, use a knife or a spatula to remove from the parchment.

For the filling, I used:
- cream cheese and smoked salmon.
- gorgonzola and sour cream.

Just create small sandwiches!

The mix between salt and sweet is great but remember that these are still cookies before eating 20 of them!

Bon appétit!

Recipe: chocolate truffles!

Chocolate truffles are the perfect treats for the Holidays! It is easy to make and, if well done, delicious!

Here is a simple recipe!

Image of Chocolate truffles recipe
For 24 truffles:
- 0.5 lb (250 g) of dark chocolate semi-sweet
- 0.25 lb (125g) of unsalted butter
- a packet of vanilla sugar
- 0.2 lb (100 g) of confectioner sugar
- 2 yolks
- cocoa powder and shredded coconut for the decoration

Melt the chocolate (cut in small pieces) in a double boiler (see below). Incorporate little by little the butter. Once the butter is fully melted and well incorporated to the chocolate, remove the bowl from the stove. 
Add the sugar, vanilla sugar and yolks. Stir until completely integrated with the chocolate.
Put the bowl in the fridge for one hour.

After an hour, remove the bowl from the fridge. With your hands (be prepared for a weird texture!), make little balls of chocolate. Once formed, dip them in the cocoa powder or in the shredded coconut. Once all the truffles are formed, put them back in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours so they become hard. Et voila!

Image of Chocolate truffles recipe
Double boiler: also called "bain marie", this technic prevents from burning ingredients and is used to make delicate sauces or melt chocolate. It consists in putting a bowl (where the ingredients will go) in a pot of water brought to a boil.

Recipe: Italian Mac and Cheese!

Mac & Cheese are close to the pasta gratin we know in France, but the way I learnt to make gratin was different: it was one layer of macaroni, one layer of cream fraiche, one layer of cheese, repeated few times. 
Mac & Cheese are good when well prepared, unfortunately, a lot of restaurants are using either already prepared ones or make it with processed cheese! There are two places were I had memorable Mac & Cheese: The Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York with their amazing Truffle Mac & Cheese and Dino and Harry's in Hoboken. It is in the latter that I had Italian Mac & Cheese, that is creamy Mac & Cheese but with orzo for pasta. So I tried to re create it at home. Below is the recipe:

For 4 servings:

- 8 oz orzo
- 0.25 lb of aged gruyere or comte
- 0.25 lb of sharp cheddar 

For the bechamel:
- 6 table spoons of butter
- 1/5 cup of flour
- 1 pint of whole milk
- salt and pepper

Cook the orzo in boiling water with oil and salt. Cook them al dente. Once done, strain them.

Prepare the bechamel sauce: in a pan, low heat, melt the butter. Add salt and pepper. Incorporate the flour and then the milk until obtaining a creamy sauce.

Incorporate the grated cheese in the bechamel sauce and then put the orzo in the pan and stir until the sauce is all over the pasta. Put the pasta in a dish that can go in the over (ramequins are good for individual serving) and gratine in the oven (broil). Et voila!

Now, one thing you can do it to put some truffle oil (1/8 cup) with the butter when preparing the bechamel sauce! You will then have some delicious Truffle Mac & Cheese!

Bon Appétit!

Recipe: Mantecaos

Mantecaos are cookies that come from North Africa (some say that it originated in Spain). Some cook it with almonds or with cinnamon. On my side, I make them simply, as follows:
- 1 lb / 500 grams of white flour
- 0.5 lb / 250 grams of sugar
- 1.25 cup / 0.3 liter of vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients together. Make small balls with the dough and place them on a baking sheet or aluminum foil (I put some flour on the aluminum foil so the cookies do not stick to it). Cook for 25 to 30 minutes in the oven at 350 F. Right before the end of the baking process, you can drizzle the top with chocolate powder.

Enjoy (I did)! Especially as I had to eat one of the cookies for the photo...