candlelit ice cream is my favorite kind of ice cream.
No matter how long you "eat clean" or follow a specific diet, no matter how much better you feel on said diet, or how terrible you feel when you break its rules, there are some cravings that just don't go away. You could wave a hundred doughnuts under my nose with no success but one French baguette? I'm done for.
Another of my all-time favorites? Chicken Pot Pie.
It was hard-core comfort food when I was little. We didn't have it often, but when we did, we knew it was probably the depths of winter...those days in January when it feels as though the sun will never rise again (thank you Northern Hemisphere), and even if it does, you'll never see it because of the impenetrable rain clouds (Thank you Seattle convergence zone).
My mom's was topped with flaky biscuits that we usually only saw during holiday dinners or camping breakfasts making it all the more magical to our young selves. While I can't (as yet) replicate those life-affirming biscuits without the butter and wheat flour, I still wanted that comforting steam, soft doughy crust, and enough vegetables to make the gravy forgivable.
After gathering several recipes, reading through them carefully, and imagining all of the possibilities, I decided I wanted something warm, decadent, and very easy to make. No frozen crust pastries or hours of prep cooking. I wanted to be able to grab this recipe on a whim and (so long as I had the ingredients), make it that night. So, here's the recipe!
CHICKEN POT PIE
1 pound chicken
Cube, cook, set aside.
1/4 c coconut oil/butter
1/4 c honey
2 large eggs
1 t fresh lemon juice
1 c grated cheese
2 1/2 c almond flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
sift in, combine all, set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
mise en place for the next steps.
1 1/2 T butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
saute 10-12 minutes until translucent
1/2 pound diced celeriac
1 c chicken broth
add, bring to a boil, simmer until celeriac is tender.
1/3 c coconut milk
put in blender along with just celeriac. blend until creamy. set aside.
1/2 pound diced celeriac
3 carrots, diced
add to pan broth, simmer 8-10 minutes until starting to soften.
2/3 c frozen peas
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t dried rosemary
add along with cooked chicken. Stir until heated through. Add blended celeriac.
remove from heat. Pour filling into glass baking dish.
drop biscuit dough onto the top until covered evenly and bake uncovered 1/2 hour or until biscuits are beginning to brown.
let rest 10 minutes.
soupe au pistou
(vegetable soup with garlic, basil, and herbs)
One of my experimental projects while here in Paris is to cook some of Julia Child's classic recipes in our apartment. The catch? I only have a hot plate, toaster oven, and microwave. Here's how it's going so far.
Gathering the ingredients for this soup, I discovered a beautiful thing. If you remember from our very first day here, a woman got extremely frustrated with me over a couple of unmarked bell peppers. Since then, I have avoided all loose vegetables for fear of being huffed at again. That is, until I got wise and started stalking people who were buying them. It's all about how you sidle up next to them, fascinated by how red the tomatoes are while actually watching their every movement. What I discovered has been a revelation for our dinners.
There is an entire scale and computer in the vegetable section where you weigh your vegetables, tell the computer what they are, and have it print a label for the checker to scan. Hah! Hello package free vegetables! Oh how I have missed you.
Once I got home, the process proved very simple, beginning with a long boil to cook the diced potatoes, carrots, and leek white. In the last twenty minutes in goes chopped green beans, broken spaghetti, one slice of stale bread, and a pinch of saffron. And salt and pepper of course.
Then, just before serving, you prepare the pistou, which is tomato paste, smashed garlic, basil, pepper, olive oil, and a dash of sharp grated cheese. Whipping a cup of your vegetable broth into the paste infuses it with all of the pungent freshness of the pistou which then spreads out into the entire soup when you add it to the pot; the whole dish comes alive.
When cooking on a hot plate, it is vital to work mise en place. As soon as you turn it on, it will be very hot and there is almost no room for dallying.
Get ready for a lot of beeping. I am slowly improving in this regard, but dodging the pan to keep it at just the temperature you want makes fantastic eggs, and sets off a series of "warning, your pot is not on the element" alarms
Saffron is the most expensive food on the planet. Literally. It didn't have a label on it in the store and it proved to be a fifth of our grocery bill for four days at 12€. Absolutely worth it in my book because it's delicious and now I get to find new recipes to make with it (risotto, anyone?) but something to be aware of.
All said and done this is an extremely comforting soup. Truly a hug in a bowl and particularly welcome after eight hours of walking the width of Paris. Add some candle light, a little Brahms, some local red wine, and a crust of toasted bread, and it almost might become the best food you've ever tasted.
What's your favorite comfort food? Let me know on facebook.
Apple Gallette Baked in a Toaster Oven
As soon as I got the idea into my head, I knew I wanted to try it. Roommate's golden birthday happened this week and, as her traditional birthday dessert is pie, I felt particularly determined to see if I could make one in our tiny toaster oven. Once she picked apple for the fruit, I set to work gathering ingredients.
BUTTER FLAKE PASTRY
1 1/4 c white flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 c (176 g) butter, chilled
Cube and cut into the flour mixture with a knife or fork until the dough reaches a dry crumb consistency.
1/4 c ice water
Add one tablespoon a a time until the dough can be rolled into a consistent ball.
Place in an airtight container and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight.
After wandering about in Carrefour (une large sélection de produits for sure) for what felt like hours to find the flour and just managing to locate a bag of apples I was happy with (I am very spoiled by the PNW when it comes to apples), I had everything I needed.
Making the dough went precisely as planned despite our tiny half-kitchen lacking any sort of measuring cup or spoon. I quickly grabbed my mason jar, emptied it of the paint water from earlier in the day, and set about measuring the flour and water. As for the salt, I eyeballed it. For the butter, I simply cut out the middle where the measure lines were, meaning I didn't have to risk mis-judging the curved ends that this brand of (perfect) french butter has.
After rolling the dough into a ball and kneading it only a couple times to bring it to a cohesive texture (you want to work it as little as possible to maintain those flaky layers in your finished crust), I slid it into the same mason jar I'd used to measure and popped it into the fridge.
Happily closing the door behind it, I wandered off into the city and didn't have to worry about it for several hours.
Preheat toaster oven to 375 F (176 C).
4 c diced apples (with peels)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
Generously coat the apple with the juice and zest.
1/4 c white granulated sugar
1/4 c white flour
1 T cinnamon
Stir together in a separate bowl and then pour over the apples, stirring to coat everything evenly. Roll out the pastry crust into a mostly-circular shape and pile your apples into the middle. Slowly fold the edge of your circle up and around the apples, creating a ring of pastry around the edge. Crimp to keep it closed.
2 T butter
1 egg (whisked)
Dot the butter over the top of the apples and brush the visible crust edges with the egg wash.
Bake 30 minutes and check it. Turn down if the apples are growing dark and up if the crust still looks or feels doughy. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes until the top crust is golden brown and you can lift one edge and see that the whole bottom tilts up with it.
Once again, our little kitchen threw some curve balls at me. The smooth stone-like counter was perfect for rolling out pastry as it stays nice and cool and doesn't melt out the butter. No rolling pin though. One of our wine bottles that we've been keeping for decoration did the trick beautifully.
Without a pie dish in sight, not to mention the toaster oven being too small and unable to maintain heat with one inside, I pulled the bottom crumb catcher pan out of the bottom of the toaster oven, scrubbed it like mad (looks new now!), cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit, and our little pastry had a home.
Shaping the gallette (as this style of dish-less pie crust is called) is so simple and looks so pretty. The hardest part is not touching it too much. At this scale, it's just so cute!
A few pats of butter on the top and one more sprinkle of cinnamon and into the tiny, now very hot toaster oven it went.
After a few jumps up and down, a couple pokes and prods, and about 40 minutes, I pulled it out. I have never been so excited to hear that pastry-crumble-crunch as I slid the knife through the crust to cut it in half.
With some single-malt scotch, candlelight, and Chopin playing in the background, we sat in quiet for a moment as we ate our first bites.
Few things are more exciting than being able to create something delicious from scratch. Don't let tiny kitchens and unconventional tools stop you! All it takes is a little know-how and a whole lot of love. And perhaps a couple tries. But don't worry. I doubt you'll be wanting in the taste-tester department. Just throw around words like "gallette" and "butter pastry" and you should be just fine.
What's the craziest thing you've cooked/baked in an unconventional situation? I would love to hear about it! Share it with everyone on facebook too!
Possibly my favorite low-effort, high-reward last-minute dinner. Little bit a protein, little bit of fill-you-up spice, and a whole lot of veggie-that-doesn't-taste-bland.
2 medium zucchini
Grate on a large cheese grater, pop into a towel, and squeeze the living water out of it.
1 tsp salt
1/4 c coconut flour
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
coconut oil (for cooking)
Mix and beat together all ingredients.
Cook like you would a pancake.
Or cold as leftovers.
Both are fantastic.
Thoughts? Join the conversation @seekthewelfare on facebook.