Sunday, August 28, 2011

Paris 2011: Cooking at Home

One of the great things about staying at a friend's house, as opposed to a hotel, was that we got to cook a lot!  So, for this post, I would like to share with you all the things we cooked, plus a couple of little picnic-type assembled meals.  We tended towards light salads, to balance out all the pastries we'd be eating!  The recipes mainly came from the breathtaking Ottolenghi cookbook (which I have now ordered, because it's amazing), with a bit from Bill Granger and Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, really - and it was actually quite good!)  Ok, allons-y!


Day 1, Breakfast: Bill Granger's Peachy French Toast


I didn't contribute to this breakfast at all, apart from in the eating.  We arrived in Paris at 9:30 in the morning, and whilst we unpacked and settled in, Clarice whipped up this gorgeous breakfast!  Thick slices of brioche were stuffed with roasted peaches, dipped in beaten egg and fried in butter. Yum, yum.  I loved how the peaches lightened the taste of the french toast.


Day 1, Lunch: Cucumber and Poppyseed Salad; Grilled Aubergines with Saffron Yoghurt; Bread and Cheese

Both salads were from the Ottolenghi cookbook, whilst the bread and cheese were just assembled.


Half a loaf of Bauernbrot, a tub of Kochkäse (both brought from Germany), and a little wedge of Brillat-Savarin that we bought at a local fromagerie.


How beautiful are the colours?  The salad comprises grilled eggplant slices, topped with a garlicky, saffron-infused yoghurt, toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and basil leaves.  It was so delicious!

I would have never thought to pair cucumber and poppy seeds, but it worked really well, adding some extra texture to a refreshing and spicy salad.


Day 2, Lunch: Grilled peach, prosciutto and watercress salad; Sweet potato and goats cheese galette


This meal (again, from Ottolenghi) was a team effort: I was in charge of grilling the peaches, Sandra chopped the herbs and Clarice made the gallettes!



The gallette is made of puff pastry, crème fraîche, roasted sweet potato (or pumpkin) and chèvre.  A sprinkling of pepitas, garlic, chilli, and parsley added some spark to what would otherwise have been a rather sweet tart.  I love the flavour combos from Ottolenghi - lots of them were quite unusual, but they were all universally tasty!  I have to make this tart again at home, I know my mum would love it!


Lunch, Day 3: Baguette, Pâté, Cheese


This was, clearly, not something we cooked, but rather a little picnic lunch we had in the Jardin de Luxembourg: duck pâté, blue cheese and baguette. Miam miam.


Day 3, Dinner: Fig, goats cheese and watercress salad with honey dressing; Broad bean and radish salad with green tahini

More Ottolenghi goodness!


I don't think you can go wrong with fresh figs, fresh watercress and good quality honey and goats cheese.


The radish and broad bean salad was easily my favourite of the lot.  I love broad beans but never cook with them as they're a bit of a pain to pod and shell, so I always think of them as a special treat.  Luckily, Picard sold high quality broad beans, already podded and shelled - yay!  The salad is served with a green tahini: a mixture of tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and parsley.  I love tahini, so obviously loved the sauce, and it adds a bit of extra protein and vitamins to the dish - lovely!


Day 4, Lunch: Leftovers


This lunch included a baguette, a little cheese platter (leftover blue cheese, pâté, figs and goats cheese), the remaining sweet potato gallette, and more of that fabulous broad bean salad! 


Day 5, Dinner: Broad bean bruschetta, Salmon and beetroot salad, Chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies

For the final night of my Paris trip, we went a little special with dinner!  We started with an apéritif of broad bean bruschetta and pink champagne...

The recipe for the bruschetta comes from Nigella's Feast, and was fabulous!  Nigella says to use fresh broad beans, but we found that the frozen ones, cooked briefly in boiling water, worked just fine.

The main course was a salmon salad from the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook - it included rare salmon, lettuce, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, griddled corn and spring onions dressed in a lime vinaigrette.  It was fantastic!  A pleasant surprise!

And in total contrast to the light, fresh flavours of the rest of the meal, dessert was a totally indulgent batch of chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.  I'd brought the peanut butter chips from Australia as a gift, and I'm glad I did.  We actually saw the same peanut butter chips in an American shop in Paris, but I don't think they looked after their goods too well - it was really hot and stuffy inside the shop, and their chocolates were all melty and gross!  The PB chips also cost €8 - eek!

Cute bakeware!
Rather than a pure peanut-butter cookie, we wanted to make something with a little contrast and depth.  So, we went for a dark chocolate cookie dough - we used the recipe for the Magnolia Bakery's chocolate drop cookies, and replaced their chocolate chips, heath bars and nuts with the peanut butter chips.


I was surprised by how delicious the peanut butter chips tasted by themselves, and we did more than a few little taste tests!  I really have to make the Magnolia Bakery peanut butter fudge brownies again, this time with proper peanut butter chips on the top!

Scooping out the dough...

... and baked!


We ate these on the couch, whilst watching Arrested Development on DVD - perfect.

3 comments:

C said...

I don't suppose you'd be willing to part with the recipe for those biscuits would you? They look yum, and I have a bag of peanut butter chips in my freezer waiting for a good recipe...

Sarah said...

Hi C!

The recipe comes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and is called "chocolate drop cookies" - I don't have my copy of the book here with me, but I reckon you should be able to find it on google :)

xox Sarah

Tucson Massage Therapy said...

This all looks so fantastic! How wonderful it must've been to experience all of that food with your friends!