Sunday Night Dinner: Salmon

This week’s Sunday Night Dinner is a double whammy!  Since I’m not going to be making a nice dinner this Sunday night (I’m running a half marathon, so I’ll be treating myself to breakfast for dinner on Sunday night instead!), this week will be a 2 for 1!

Every time I walk into the Old Town in Nice, I walk past a tiny square with about 5 or 6 stands set up selling fresh fish.  It always looks so good (and smells so fishy) and I’ve wanted to try some kind of fish from there for a while, so last week I picked up a really nice salmon fillet.  As I was paying, the man at the stand said “Il faut le manger cru!” meaning “The fish is so good you should eat it raw!” which is what I was planning on doing (at least part of it)…

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Last week was the first time I tried my hand at sushi.  I bought a kit at the store that included nori (the seaweed sheets), sushi rice, rice vinegar, a rolling mat, soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi paste.  All you have to add is the vegetables and/or fish.  After doing a lot of research here on how to make sushi and finding some good recipes, I decided to make 2 rolls: one with imitation crab, cucumber, avocado, and pineapple and one with salmon, cucumber, and cream cheese.

Fillings are ready!

Fillings are ready!

It was actually pretty easy.  You just lay down the nori and spread the rice on top…

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lay down your vegetables and fish…

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Salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber

Imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, and pineapple for the inside out roll

Imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, and pineapple for the inside out roll

and roll it up using the mat to distribute even pressure.

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These rolls were kind of massive so next time I would use less rice per roll than they suggest and I’d like to try a different nori because I wasn’t super impressed with this one.  The homemade sushi was good, and I’d definitely do it again, but I have to say going out to a nice (all you can eat) sushi place is still my favorite 🙂

The next day I used part of the remaining fillet in a brilliant recipe, suggested by Tanya, that involves no cleanup.  It’s literally a no-pot dinner!  I also love this recipe because I can make a single serving for myself, but you can get as many fillets as you want and make it for a family or a dinner party if you wanted.

Salmon and Potatoes en Papillote (in a parcel)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small potato
1 salmon fillet
2 tbsp sliced sundried tomatoes
¼ cup chopped broccoli florets (you can use frozen, but I used fresh)
Lemon juice
Herbes de Provence (or Italian seasoning)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F)

2. Lay out a piece of foil, 12” x 12” should be good.

3. Slice the potato lengthwise and place the slices on the foil.

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4. Place the broccoli florets on top of the potatoes.

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5. Place the salmon fillet on top of the broccoli.

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6. Place the sliced sundried tomatoes on top of the salmon.

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7. Sprinkle with a little bit of lemon juice and seasoning.

8. Fold the foil over and scrunch to seal the parcel.  Place it on a baking sheet in the hot oven for 20 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender.

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You can turn the parcel onto a plate (or just eat it out of the foil, like I did!) and serve with a green salad.

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Today’s French word:
ampoule (a-POOL)– blister
Ce que j’ai au pied, c’est une ampoule!
I have a blister on my foot!

Sunday Night Dinner: Sweet Potato

I had this really good pumpkin curry once at Thai Sookdee, one of my favorite restaurants in Evanston.  When I happened upon this recipe, adapted from here, I thought I’d see how close I could come.  It’s similar to the curry recipe I did before with the cauliflower, but I added chicken this time and switched up the spices and vegetables a bit.  Not too bad! 🙂

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Sweet Potato Curry

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
300 ml (1-1/4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
400 ml (1-3/4 cups) coconut milk
200 g (about 1 cup or so) frozen peas

Instructions:

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add spices and sauté for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

3. Add chicken, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Onions, spices, chicken

Onions, spices, chicken

4. Add the stock and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

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5. Add the frozen peas and simmer for 5 more minutes.

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Serves 6 (I froze half of it for a few quick and easy dinners when I get back from Belgium!)  The great thing about this recipe is that it’s another versatile one.  Try adding chickpeas and spinach right at the end to beef it up a bit more, or eliminate the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock to make a vegetarian/vegan dish.  I want to try adding eggplant, too!  Serve with white or brown rice.

YUM!

YUM!

 

Our French word today is:
admis (ad-MEE/MEEZ)- accepted
Jusqu’à présent, j’ai été admise dans les facultés de médicine à Wake Forest et University of Cincinnati !
So far, I was accepted to the medical schools at Wake Forest and University of Cincinnati!

Sunday Night Dinner: Red Peppers

It’s a freezing, rainy Monday morning and as I’m writing this, I’m sitting at home eating a warm homemade bagel with cream cheese and jam.  Perfect start to the week 🙂

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After 2 and a half weeks city-hopping in the US, I’m finally back in France and settling back in in Nice.  I traveled 13,042 miles (roughly) and satisfied my cravings for sushi, Indian food, bagels, Starbucks coffee, Chipotle, sticky buns, French fries, pancakes, Krispy Kremes, and (really good) grilled cheese.  So what better way to get settled in here than to make another Sunday Night Dinner? 🙂

Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly prepared to be making SND this week, but I had a red pepper from the market in my fridge and all the necessary ingredients for stuffed pepper (which I’ve been wanting to try with red instead of green peppers anyways).

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Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min

(Note: I only made 1 large pepper, but the following recipe is for 4 peppers)

Ingredients:
4 peppers (any color—I really liked the red variety in this one)
½ lb sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini (mushrooms would also be good), cubed
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup shredded cheese (I used Emmental, but parmesan or mozzarella would be really good too)

Instructions:

1. Wash the peppers, slice the tops off, and remove the seeds.

2. Brown the sausage in a skillet. Break up the bits of sausage as best as possible with a spatula, so you have small pieces.

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3. Remove the sausage from the skillet (I also removed most of the grease/oil).  Add the garlic, onions, and zucchini to the skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

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4. Add the sausage and cooked rice and sauté for a few more minutes.

5. Add half of the tomato sauce and half of the cheese.

6. Spoon the sausage and rice mixture into the peppers, filling them completely.

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7. Place the peppers in a lightly greased baking dish.  Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the peppers and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

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8. Bake in a 425F (220C) oven for 30-40 minutes.


I think this is my favorite stuffed pepper recipe.  Besides being simple and quick, I like the spice of the sausage and the rice to break up the filling a little bit.  Plus, the red pepper was perfect!  I served it with a salad and a glass of wine 🙂

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French word of the day:
glisser (glee-SAY)- to slip
J’ai glissé sur la glace et me suis fait mal.
I slipped on the ice and hurt myself.

Sunday Night Dinner: Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are one of those vegetables that get very little love, which seems strange because they can be prepared so many ways, including boiling, steaming, stir frying, and roasting.  These tiny cabbages are also also rich in vitamin K and sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anticancer properties.  I found a recipe that dresses them up a little bit to make a delicious side dish 🙂

Secret ingredient: Brussel sprouts (choux de Bruxelles)

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tsp white sugar
300 g (about 2 cups) brussel sprouts, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c water
2-3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and cooked until crispy
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:
1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
2. Combine the cider vinegar and sugar and add to onions.  Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes. (I would eat these onions alone, they are SO good).

YUM

YUM

3. Heat the olive oil in separate large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the halved brussels sprouts and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, about 6 minutes.

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4. Add 1/4 cup water and 1 tbsp butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes.
5. Mix in the cooked, crispy bacon and top with the onions.  Serve warm.

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Serves 2.  I made these brussel sprouts to go along with an easy marinated chicken: marinate 2 chicken breasts for an hour in a mixture of 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp melted butter, 3 tbsp honey, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika.  Grill or broil for 20 minutes at 400F (205C).

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French word of the day:
tricoter (tree-ko-TAY)- to knit
Je tricote un chapeau parce qu’il fait froid!  Le chapeau et mon écharpe vont bien ensemble.
I’m knitting a hat because it’s cold outside!  It matches my scarf.

Sunday Night Dinner: Ratatouille

I can’t believe I’ve never made ratatouille before, especially after living with so many vegetarians last year (and this recipe is vegan)!  It’s seriously SO easy and SO delicious.  All you do is chop up a bunch of vegetables, throw them in a pot, and let them do their thing while you blog/do laundry/knit/Facebook.  Also, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year—a nice hot bowl of ratatouille, a crusty baguette, a warm blanket, and a book.  Sounds perfect 🙂

There’s also something comforting about this meal for me, which is weird because I’ve never had ratatouille before.  I have to say though that recently I’ve started to feel things kind of “click” here. Maybe I’ve just been in a good mood lately, but I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to establish myself the teensiest bit in Nice (but I don’t want to jinx it!).  I can get around without using a map, I’ve got friends to go out with, and I’m starting to think about the things I want to do when my parents come in December and Emily comes in March.  And the feeling all started this week with ratatouille, so I can tell this is going to become a comfort meal for me.

There’s not one “secret” ingredient this week, since I got all my vegetables at the market!

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small eggplant
2 zucchinis
2 tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper
2-3 tsp herbes de provence (OR 2-3 tsp Italian seasoning OR 1 tsp dried basil + 1/2 tsp dried oregano + 1/2 tsp dried thyme + 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Quarter and thinly slice the onion; mince the garlic; cube the eggplant and zucchini– try to make the sizes of the cubes as uniform as possible; remove the seeds from the tomatoes and roughly chop; roughly chop the bell pepper.

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2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.

3. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 6-7 minutes.
4. Add the eggplant and stir to coat with olive oil.
5. Add the zucchini and peppers, stir.

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6. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking.

7. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper.

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8. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.  The eggplant should be tender but not too soft.
9. Serve hot.

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This recipe made 2 servings (but I went back for seconds both times!)  Also, make sure you have a nice crusty baguette for afterwards to soak up all the juices.  Bon Appetit!

French word of the day:
comprimé (KO-pree-may)- pill, tablet
Il prend un comprimé contre le mal de tête.
He takes a pill for his headache.

Sunday Night Dinners

I’ve been going to the fruit/vegetable/flower market at least twice a week for the last few weeks. I walk around and look at all the produce and preserves and cheeses and meats and oils and spices and wish I knew how to cook with all of them.

I’ve also taken to planning out my dinners for the week every Sunday. I find that it makes me more likely to actually cook a healthy meal most nights instead of opting for a frozen pizza or pasta. It’s hard to cook for one person, so I usually make dinner 3 times a week and do leftovers the rest of the nights. Since I’m not engaged to a chef, like my sister, I look for recipes online that are conducive to my needs.

So these two situations led me to a new idea: Sunday Night Dinners! My goal is to go to the market on Saturdays and pick one ingredient. It can be anything, familiar or strange, French-based or not. I’ll find a recipe online, make it for dinner on Sunday night, and then share the recipe and let you all know how it turned out. To be clear, this is NOT me making up my own recipe… I’m not that talented.

My first attempt was last week (it didn’t happen on Sunday, but oh well) and I kind of cheated because I had a recipe before I picked the ingredient, which was…… CAULIFLOWER.  Here’s what I did!

The star ingredient

Coconut-Curry Cauliflower and Chick Peas
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

– 2 tsp vegetable oil
– 1 small yellow onion, minced
– 1 carrot, thinly sliced
– 3 cups small cauliflower florets (what you get from 1 small cauliflower)
– 2 tbsp curry powder or paste (I used powder)
– 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
– 1 cup vegetable broth
– 1 (15 ounce) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 (13 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
– 1/2 tsp salt
– black pepper

Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).

Onions cooking

3. Stir in the carrot, cauliflower, and curry powder to taste.

4. Add the tomatoes and broth, cover, and cook until the vegetables are softened (about 10 minutes).

Carrot, cauliflower, curry, tomatoes

5. Stir in the chick peas, peas, coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste.

6. Cook uncovered until the flavors are well blended and the mixture thickens slightly (about 10 minutes longer)

YUMMM

7. Serve hot over rice.

Hungry yet?

Whenever I make a rice dish, I like to make double the amount of rice that I need and make fried rice the next day (this time it was shrimp and pineapple fried rice)

The best part about this dish is that it is DELICIOUS. The second best part about this dish is that it’s vegan, so if you’re entertaining and don’t know what to make for a vegan guest, check this out! It’s sure to please everyone. Also, I got the recipe here and it says it makes 4 servings, but they’re actually talking about 4 football players. I ate half of this in 3 nights and froze the other half to eat another time.

I’m really excited for this “project” because it will give me an excuse to keep going back to the market, to explore different fresh ingredients, to discover some of the local French cuisine, and to broaden my limited knowledge of cooking 🙂

And our French word today is:
mijoter (mee-jho-TAY)- to simmer
Le ragoût mijote depuis ce matin.
The ragout has been simmering since this morning.