Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Bruges

You would think that being in Paris would allow me to travel every single weekend around Europe, or at least a different part of France to experience all that it has to offer, but most of the time I'm just tired. The stage is pretty draining, and when I'm not working, I'm trying to recuperate from the previous week.

Fear not, I do get out every now and then and was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Bruges, Belgium. Now most of you will say, "Bruges?! Where the heck is that?!". Thats what I thought too. Apparently Bruges is this really beautiful medieval city deemed the "Venice of the North" with its array of canals. Plus its the chocolate capital of the world. Chocolate, waffles, fries, mussels, beer... need I say more?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Picard 4

I'm starting to appreciate Picard. Not that I don't like cooking, but some days I'm far too tired to cook. Picard is kind of like cooking, and writing a blog post about it justifies stopping by the shop a little bit more than just plain hunger pains. Plus, as I've previously mentioned, Picard isn't your ordinary Celeste frozen pizza or Hungry Man dinner entree. They sell a wide variety of items from frozen breads, to desserts, to veggies, full entrees and frozen meats. If all you had in your home was a huge freezer, Picard would be heaven.

So I picked up Bouche a la reine (puff pastry with a creamy meat filling), sauteed veggies, and chicken fingers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Asian food in Paris

I've been a bit disappointed by the Asian food in Paris. Like most things, it's alright, but just not the same. Whether its Vietnamese, Korean, or Chinese, I keep comparing to restaurants I frequent in California. The Japanese food here, however, is pretty good. Though once I went to a Japanese restaurant and ordered spicy tuna rolls and to my horror discovered they were made with soy paper instead of seaweed, and with cooked tuna instead of raw. Gross.

I've taken to cooking a lot of my favorite dishes at home. One of them is pho. When its cold outside there's nothing quite like a hot bowl of noodle soup. I fill mine with brisket, steak, meatballs, and tons of fresh veggies.

When I was last in California, I also picked up some seaweed, Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, okonomiyaki sauce, and okonomiyaki mix. Making the batter is a just a matter of mixing in water, egg, and julienned cabbage. I like to make mine with bacon or shrimp.

Another Vietnamese dish I really love is banh cuon. It's the Vietnamese version of filled crepes. The batter is made with a mix of cornstarch, rice flour and potato starch, but you can just buy it in a mix at any large Asian store. You mix the powder with water to form a very liquidy batter.

For the filling, I mix about 500 grams of pork, a good handful of re-hydrated black wood wear mushroom, onions, pepper, and a bit of fish sauce. Of course you could probably fill it with anything you like, but mushroom and pork are the traditional filling.

The crepes are cooked quickly in a skillet, flipped out onto a cutting board covered with greased aluminum foil (they're VERY sticky), and while still hot, filled with the pork/mushroom mixture and rolled up into little packages.

Banh cuon is served with bean sprouts, basil, fried shallots, fish dipping sauce (nuoc mam), and sometimes cha lua, which is Vietnamese pork sausage, or what I call Vietnamese "SPAM".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Picard round 3

So this week's Picard venture required even less cooking. The two entrees went into the microwave and the veggie dish cooked in the oven for 20 minutes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tasty bites and not so tasty andouillette

So I had a couple friends visiting from the states recently. I can't imagine a better reason to dine out than to show my friends tasty treats around Paris.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summer rolls

Most people are familiar with Spring rolls aka goi cuon, which you can find in most Vietnamese restaurants, but not many people have tried Summer rolls aka bo bia. Spring rolls are filled with vermicelli noodles, veggies, pork and shrimp. On the other hand bo bia (I call them Summer rolls.. well because I'm not sure what else to call them), are filled with sauteed jicama, carrots, scallions, veggies, egg, and Chinese sausage. I prefer them over Spring rolls as they're served warm.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tons of buns

So lately I've got tons of buns in the oven. Literally speaking of course, otherwise yours truly would be really freaking out. There's something to be said about eating something fresh and warm out of the oven, and even more so when its sweet, gooey, or stuffed with some delicious filling.

I made some ooey-gooey cinnamon buns, though I tweaked the recipe a little since the original has far too much butter and sugar to my liking. Plus I added maybe three times as much cinnamon as called for.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reine des gauffres

It's only fitting that since I'm going to Bruges that one of my tasks this week was to make waffles. I like waffles, but after making over a hundred of them while broiling over a super hot 'gauffrier', I'm not looking forward to eating them in Belgium.

The one thing I like about making waffles? Everybody loves you when you make waffles. No, I'm not kidding. Everyone in the lab walks by with roaming eyes hoping that there's a hot reject they can claim and dip in sugar. Some are even brazen enough to say "can you make one for me?" or "wheres mine?" Seriously people, I need to finish making these damn waffles.

Our sous-chef (last year's world pastry champion) even went as far to call me the "reine des gauffres" aka queen of waffles. Maybe because I was doling them out; yeah there were quite a few rejects. When I was done, I actually requested to clean out the walk in fridge.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Boozin' in the lab

Okay well not exactly.  No alcohol consumption is going on in the lab, lest I want to lose my job. A couple weeks ago I noticed one of the sous chef making a chocolate transfer of Buzz Lightyear. In France they call him Buzz L'eclair... and it's pronounced booze lee-claire. How curious I thought. A few days later I was asked to cut out over a dozen stupid gold cardboard things that vaguely looked like a plane or something with wings.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Seafood massacre

I was finally able to find some bigorneau aka periwinkles at the market. They were kind of expensive at 15 euros a kilo, considering you can easily hunt for them yourself if you happen to live along the coast of France. I guess the 15 euros goes to transporting these little suckers.