Sunday Night Dinner: Fennel

I’ve never had fennel (le fenouil in French) before and really didn’t know what to expect when I picked a bulb up at the market.  Raw fennel has an anise-y scent and flavor, but when you caramelize it the fennel becomes mellow and delicious 🙂  I have a bunch of cans of chick peas in my cupboard, so here’s what I found, adapted from here.

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A little bit funny-lookin’

Citrus Couscous with Fennel, Chickpeas, and Olives

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 large fennel bulb
2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (the original recipe calls for coriander, but I don’t have any)
1 1/2 cups (or 1 15-ounce can) cooked and drained chickpeas
12 black olives, halved and pitted
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup instant couscous

Instructions:

1. Trim fennel and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges.

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2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.

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3. Add cumin, chickpeas, olives, and lemon juice to pan and stir to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

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4. While the fennel and chickpeas are cooking, juice the orange into a liquid measuring cup and top off with water to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid.

5. Add liquid to a small saucepan along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, orange zest, lemon zest, and salt. Bring to a boil.

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6. Stir in couscous, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

7. To serve, fluff couscous grains with a fork and spread on a dish. Spoon chickpeas and fennel over couscous.

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This recipe is good for Friday nights during Lent– no meat, but the chickpeas add a little bit of protein.  Alternatively, serve alongside a (perhaps) Middle Eastern style meat dish.  Serves 2-3 as a main meal, 4-6 as a side dish.

French word for today:
profiter (pro-fee-TAY)- to take advantage of
À Nice, on profite de beaux temps, mais il neige beaucoup au nord !
In Nice, we’re taking advantage of the beautiful weather, but it’s snowing a lot in the North!

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: 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.