Category: France

Chateaubriand Steak

 

Chateaubriand Steak

Chateaubriand is a thick cut fillet steak.  Usual method of preparation is grilling the meat and then generously topped with Bearnaise sauce.

It was a recipe by the chef of the Vicomte de Chateaubriand, Francois Rene, in 1822.

The Modern Recipe:

Ingredients

  • Sauce:
  • 1 oz shallots
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 pint white wine
  • 1/2 pint veal stock
  • 4 oz maitre d hotel butter
  • Chateaubriand Steak
  • This steak comes from the centre of the fillet. It is difficult to state it’s exact weight , because it depends so much on the thickness of the fillet, but one weighing about 12 oz to 1 lb is about right.
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • melted butter
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Wipe the steak with kitchen towel and bash it a couple of times on each side with a meat bat. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and put to one side to come to room temperature.
  2. Put the shallots, thyme, bay leaf, mushrooms and wine into a pan and reduce almost entirely. Add the stock and reduce again until there is about 1/4 pt left. Strain and whisk in the maitre d hotel butter until the sauce thickens. Put the sauce in a bowl over warm water until ready to serve.
  3. Season the steak with salt and brush it generously with melted butter and olive oil. Brush the grill grid with oil before placing the steak on it and grill 9 mins each side for rare, 11 mins medium and 12 mins well done.
  4. Cut the cooked steak on a carving board and carve it at a slight angle with a very sharp knife into about 6 slices (depending on the size of the steak). Serve with the Chateaubriand sauce handed round separately.
  5. Goes well with watercress and roast potatoes sprinkled with fresh herbs
  6. Cheats sauce. You can speed the whole thing up by using a can of good quality consomme, a chicken stock cube, 4oz butter, 1 tbs finely chopped parsley, 1 tbs lemon juice, salt, black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Reduce and serve with the steak as above.

Coq Au Vin Recipe

Chicken Casserole, photo by JMorton

Coq Au Vin Recipe

When it was a ‘Chicken Tonight’ night I would cook coq au vin.  Because it is easy to do and so delicious to boot.  When I first learned to cook this recipe, I cooked it for weeks on end!

Why not, I thought, it has all my favourite things: chicken, mushrooms and bacon bits.  🙂 It was only when the family start mentioning about going vegetarian that I took the hint that perhaps I was feeding them too much chicken. 🙂

Anyway, here is the recipe of this fabulous chicken dish!

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g smoked back bacon, fat trimmed, chopped
  • 12 small shallots, peeled & halved
  • 8-10 plump chicken thighs
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp brandy or Cognac
  • 600ml red wine
  • 150ml chicken stock or 2 chicken bouillon dissolved in 150ml of hot/boiling water
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 3 thyme sprigs, 2 rosemary sprigs and 2 bay leaves, to make a bouquet garni
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  •  250g chestnut mushroom, halved if large
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp softened butter

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole pan.
  2. Quickly fry the bacon until crisp. Remove and drain over kitchen paper towels.
  3. Add the shallots to the pan and fry until softened and brown.  Again, remove from the pan and set aside with the bacon.
  4. Wash the chicken thighs and drain.  Pat dry with some kitchen paper.
  5. Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into the casserole pan.  Fry the chicken thighs until golden brown all over.  Remove and set aside.
  6. Fry the garlic over medium heat until fragrant.
  7. Pour in the brandy (or Cognac), stirring the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
  8. Return the chicken thighs to the pan along with any juices, then pour in a little of the wine, stirring the bottom of the pan again. Stir in the rest of the wine, the stock and tomato purée, drop in the bouquet garni,
  9. season with pepper and a salt according to taste.
  10. Drop in the bacon and shallots to the pan.
  11. Cover the casserole, lower the heat to a low simmer and cook for an hour.
  12. In a frying pan, heat the rest of the olive oil and fry the mushrooms.
  13. Tip in the mushrooms to the chicken casserole during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  14. Lift the chicken and bits into a serving platter (discard the bouquet garni), leaving the sauce in the casserole to continue simmering.
  15. In a dish quickly dissolve the flour in 3 tbsp of hot water.  Add the butter and the remaining olive oil.  Gradually pour this thickener into the simmering sauce while stirring all the time.  Leave to simmer for a minute.  Then pour all over the chicken.

Enjoy with freshly boiled rice 🙂

April in Paris

April In Paris

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling

That no one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart
……………………………………..
What a beautiful song. It is so romantic and it makes you feel warm inside and  very much loved.

Paris is known for his romantic ambience, many proposals of marriage were executed in the city of romance, especially on top of paristhe Eiffel Tower.   Tom Cruise was so  giddy with excitement of the place that he proposed to Katie Holmes in Paris.  There were even rumours that the late Princess of Wales was proposed to by Dodie Fayed, just before their untimely death. 🙁

Anyway, we have this idealised city where everyone is well turned out, in the height of fashion, women are beautifully coiffured, dressed in the latest designer accessories.  They are all so chic and confident.

Peter and I love Paris and we hope to go back one day.  There are so much to see and admire.  It is so beautiful and the food are really something.

But did you know that there is some sort of medical condition called Paris Syndrome, which was first diagnosed in 1986.  Apparently sufferers manifest symptoms of depression, hallucination, nausea and tachycardia (fast heart rate)

It was found that the reason for an attack of Paris Syndrome, which seems to afflict many Japanese tourists, was due to culture shock, language barriers and tiredness.

About a dozen Japanese tourists suffer from the condition each year.

Apparently these people found that Paris is vastly different from their romanticised, idealised and imagined city of love.   What they saw was Paris being just a regular place, like many others.  Some parts are noisy, dirty and disorganised. 🙂

Je l’aime à mourir (I love her to death)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1892 painting, In Bed: The Kiss, captures two prostitutes from a brothel in a lip-locked moment of lesbian love.

This song sounds so romantic. French is I think the language of the heart. The song does sound so deeply heartfelt, though I don’t really understand a word. For us who are unlucky enough not to speak the beautiful French language, an English translation follows down below.

It is Friday night, grab the otherhalf and dance to this for a romantic evening.

Enjoy!

Je l’aime à mourir (I love her to death)

http://lyricstranslate.com
French
Je l’aime à mourir

Moi je n’étais rien
Mais voilà qu’aujourd’hui
Je suis le gardien
Du sommeil de ses nuits
Je l’aime à mourir

Vous pouvez détruire
Tout ce qu’il vous plaira
Elle n’aura qu’à ouvrir
L’espace de ses bras
Pour tout reconstruire
Pour tout reconstruire

Je l’aime à mourir

Elle a gommé les chiffres
Des horloges du quartier
Elle a fait de ma vie
Des cocottes en papier
Des éclats de rires

Elle a bâti des ponts
Entre nous et le ciel
Et nous les traversons
A chaque fois qu’elle
Ne veut pas dormir
Ne veut pas dormir

Je l’aime à mourir

Elle a dû faire toutes les guerres
Pour être si forte aujourd’hui
Elle a dû faire toutes les guerres
De la vie, et l’amour aussi

Elle vit de son mieux
Son rêve d’opaline
Elle danse au milieu
des forêts qu’elle dessine

Je l’aime à mourir

Elle porte des rubans
qu’elle laisse s’envoler
Elle me chante souvent
que j’ai tort d’essayer
De les retenir
De les retenir

Je l’aime à mourir

Pour monter dans sa grotte
Cachée sous les toits
Je dois clouer des notes
A mes sabots de bois

Je l’aime à mourir

Je dois juste m’asseoir
Je ne dois pas parler
Je ne dois rien vouloir
Je dois juste essayer
De lui appartenir
De lui appartenir

Je l’aime à mourir

Writer(s): Antoine Motos, Francis Cabrel

I Love her to Death

Me I was nothing
But today
I am the keeper
Of her nights’ sleep
I love her to death

You can destroy
Anything you’d like
She will only need to open
Her arms
To rebuild everything
To rebuild everything

I love her to death

She erased the numbers
From the area’s clocks
She transformed my life into
Paper hens
Bursts of laughter

She built bridges
Between us and the sky
And we cross them
Everytime she
Doesn’t want to sleep
Doesn’t want to sleep

I love her to death

She must have been part of every war
To be so strong today
She must have been part of every war
Life’s and love’s also

She lives as well as she can
Her opalin dream
She dances in the middle
Of the forests she draws

I love her to death

She wears ribbons
That she let’s fly away
She often sings to me
That I am wrong to try
To hold them back
To hold them back

I love her to death

To come up to her cave
Hidden beneath the roofs
I have to nail notes
To my wooden clogs

I love her to death

I must only sit
I must not talk
I must not want anything
I must only try
To belong to her
To belong to her

I love her to death

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette Locket

The above beautiful and rather ornate Heart shaped pendant locket is traditionally ascribed as belonging to Marie Antoinette, set under glass or rock-crystal with an inscribed card and mounted in a gold filigree setting also contains a lock of her hair.

A small gold padlock is suspended from the base with a key on a chain attached to the suspension loop. The filigree in the form of tight spiral discs forming ‘spectacles’ shapes, placed within the flat wire rim.

If you want to see it up close and personal, go to the British Museum.

By Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty (1740-1786) - Unknown, Public Domain,

By Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty (1740-1786) – Unknown, Public Domain,

Marie Antoinette was born on November 2, 1755 in Vienna, Austria. She was the 15th of the 16 children of Emperor Francis I.  She was only 15 years old when she was married off to Louis XVI of France, who was then 16.

She was only a teenager when she became a queen. She became a symbol of the excesses of the monarchy and is traditionally credited with the famous quote: “Let them eat cake,”, although there is no evidence she actually said it, upon learning that the peasants had no bread.

This showed that the great princess was out of touch and oblivious to the condition of the people.

The beautiful Marie Antoniette was beheaded by guillotine.

Henri IV of France

150px-Henri_IV_Lemot_Pont-Neuf_n3

Equestrian statue of Henry in Pont Neuf.

Henri IV of France was apparently a good king, so good in fact that he became known with the sobriquet  Henri le Grand (Henry the Great) he is also called le bon roi Henri (“the Good King Henry”) or le Vert galant (“the Green Gallant”), a reference to both his dashing character and his attractiveness to women.

Not long after his death ( he was assassinated by a fanatic Catholic) his statue honouring him was placed in Pont Neuf, a bridge which was completed and inaugurated during his reign.

The statue was torn down during the French Revolution as most royal statues were.  But after the revolution, King Henri IV’s statue was the first one to be rebuilt.

He was really popular with the people.

Probably a conversation he had with the Duke of Savoy will give us a bit of idea why he was well-loved and thought of.

“If God grants me longer life, I will see to it that no peasant in my kingdom will lack the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday.”

Plum & Almond Tarte Tatin

I found this recipe at Tesco: http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/plum-and-almond-tarte-tatin.html
I love this recipe because it is just the cake to make this autumn when there are a lot of plums in the market.

PlumAlmondh-baff21ec-f423-450a-a35a-b5b812c74468-0-472x310

 

An indulgent variation on the classic tarte tatin with juicy plums, marzipan and toasted flaked almonds.

Ingredients:

  • 50g (2oz) butter
  • 50g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 5ml (1tsp) almond extract
  • 500g (1lb) ripe plums
  • 100g marzipan
  • 320g pack ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp toasted flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Melt 50g (2oz) butter, 50g (2oz) caster sugar and 1 tsp almond extract in a 20cm (8in) ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Mix to a golden caramel.

Halve and de-stone 500g (1lb) ripe plums, place cut side up in the pan so they cover the base snugly and put a square of marzipan in each stone-hole. Leave to cool slightly.

Unroll a 320g pack ready rolled all butter puff pastry and cut out a circle 2cm (1in) wider than the pan. Carefully place over the plums, pressing down the sides to ensure the pastry goes to the edge. Prick with a fork, brush with beaten egg, then bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then run a sharp knife between the pastry and the edge, place a serving plate over the top, invert the pan and scatter over 1 tbsp toasted flaked almonds and serve.

 

Tuk tuks & Rickshaws Going The French Way

tuktuk

Tourist in Paris would be forgiven to think that they were in Dehli or Bangkok instead of Paris if not for the huge Eiffel Tower.

Apparently tuk tuks and rickshaws, mainstay of India and Thailand are over running the city.  They are now the favourite transport by tourists.

Tourists can’t get enough of the slower moving rickshaws and tuktuk.  It gives them more time to admire their surrounding area and most of the drivers become willing impromptu travel guides.

The police are still rather wary of this type of transport.   They are not keen and insisting for further regulations.

However it looks like it is going to stay for the near future.

 

Paul Valéry Quotes

83

Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry (French, 30 October 1871 – 20 July 1945) was a French poet, essayist, and philosopher. His interests were sufficiently broad that he can be classified as a polymath. In addition to his poetry and fiction (drama and dialogues), his interests included aphorisms on art, history, letters, music, and current events. (Wikipedia)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Paul Valéry Quotes

Advertising has annihilated the power of the most powerful adjectives.
– Paul Valery
…..
A man who is “of sound mind” is one who keeps the inner madman under lock and key.
~Paul Valéry
……
An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it.
~Paul Valéry

……

Love is being stupid together.
– Paul Valery

Power without abuse loses its charm.
– Paul Valery

 

The House of Dior

images (4)Zest is the secret of all beauty.  There is no beauty that is attractive without zest.
– Christian Dior

The best dressed movie stars at the moment are clothed by Dior.  Cannes 2013 highlighted Dior classy and elegant creation.  Jennifer Lawrence, current Hollywood darling, changed from one sumptuous Dior to the next which showed her youth, vibrancy and chic!

The current Dior corporation celebrates 1947 as its opening day but actually the House of Dior was established a year earlier on 16 December 1946, in “a private house” at 30 Avenue Montaigne Paris B.
dior
The designer was  Christian Dior of course but the company was really operated by Marcel Boussac who put up the capital.  Nevertheless Christian Dior had a free run on how the house should move forward.  And how it moved forward!!!

Dior_mitzah_butterboom_3

 

MITZAH BRICARD: CHRISTIAN DIOR’S MUSE

Christian Dior admired his beloved muse, Mitzah Bricard, as much for her refined and distinguished taste as for her mysterious personality that inspired him throughout his career.

Legend has it that Mitzah used to wear a panther print chiffon scarf at her wrist to hide a scar. Fascinated by her elegance, Mr Dior decided to include this magnificent Jungle motif in his collections from 1947 onwards.

“Madame Bricard is one of the rare people for whom elegance is their sole reason for living,” Christian Dior.

Christian Dior

Christian Dior

…………….

A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.
– Christian Dior
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