Hatch Pain Perdu

The pain perdu I’ve been exposed to is hard to find. When I search for the phrase, I come across “that’s just French for French toast!” or crusty, fried, maybe baked bread recipes with sauces. What I’m used to is stale bread, thrown in an oven pan, drowned in broth, cream, cheese etc etc etc and baked until the bread absorbs it. If y’all know a better name for it, let me know, otherwise I’m gonna keep calling it what I know.

In Texas around August, hatch peppers are a big thing. Grocery stores will have roasting parties, restaurants will bust out seasonal menus, city blocks will erupt in hot sauce festivals.

I caved in the grocery store and bought a loaf of the hatch cheddar bread. Although I’m an eater, I do still not have any roommates, so bread will sometimes go bad at my place. After nomming through half the loaf, I decided this would be a great way to use and keep the old bread.

To make it complete, I bought fresh hatch peppers and some hatch sausage to go with it. Hatch 3 ways.

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The end result isn’t the most photogenic, but it’s very tasty.

 

Hatch Pain Perdu

  • enough hatch bread to fill your baking pan
  • heavy whipping cream
  • broth
  • fresh hatch peppers
  • cheddar
  1. Chop bread and peppers. Mix roughly and layer into baking pan, while putting cheese between the layers.
  2. Fill the pan half way with a mixture of broth and cream. I used a bit more broth than cream, but the proportions are up to you
  3. Bake at 370 for 30 minutes, then check on it.

Aigo Bouido

Oh man, this soup.

I couldn’t stop myself from eating a pound of bread and two bowls of this soup. After that, I couldn’t do a lot of things. But after after that, I felt amazing.

I’d been feeling a little under the weather when this soup came on my radar. The fact that it would help with my sickness was an bonus, an accessory. It is no secret that I love garlic, so when this recipe made it into my brain, of course I jumped for it. I’ve always believed fervently and zealously in the power of garlic. It’s to the point that I even “convert” people and do things like make them read the Wikipedia page. It stops me from getting eaten by mosquitoes when I go to Louisiana, it keeps my heart healthy despite eating like someone from Louisiana, and it comes to the rescue when I’m coming down with something. Generally, I have a little soup I throw together on mornings when I need to eat but am feeling too bad. Aigo bouido reminded me of that soup on overdrive.

I’ve been on a Julia Child kick ever since reading her memoir, which is where I found this recipe. Although I was able to find her version online, I decided to make a Frankenstein’s monster, pulling my favorite parts out of all the recipes I found. Broth seemed more flavorful than water, a bread bowl seemed tastier and easier than toastlets with fresh mayonnaise, and despite her saying that it would be easier to peel the garlic after boiling it, I peeled it like normal.

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Falling in line with what I vaguely think I know about garlic, I smashed it instead of slicing, and I didn’t strain it out. It was delightful biting into a chunk of aromatic garlic.

*On that note, when you eat this, make sure that whomever you make out with is also eating this soup.

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In her book, she said that she made it after a rough and stormy Mediterranean day, full of wind, salt, and poor spirits. But this soup livened everybody up again. It is surprisingly light and refreshing, which is part of why I wanted bread with it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be very substantial which might lead to accidentally eating the whole pot. IMG_5160

 

Aigo Bouido

  • 1 – 2 bulbs garlic
  • 6 – 8 cups veggie broth
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tbs olive oil (or butter, or both)
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 2 cloves (don’t skip!)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sage
  • salt
  • pepper
  1.  Crush garlic. Heat oil in med/low pot. Add garlic and cook until they begin to golden.
  2. Add herbs and stir. Cook for a minute or so.
  3. Add broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and cheese together.
  5. After the 30 minutes, temper the egg/cheese by very slowly adding a cup of broth. Once tempered, return mixture to pot.

Honey Jalapeno Chicken

So recently I’ve learned a few things. One, roasting chickens is awesome. It’s cheap, easy, tasty, and impressive. Two, allspice is delicious.

I’ve been trying to save up money because I’m going to Costa Rica in August, so I’ve been eating a little cheaper (hah) but still pretty well. Chicken’s a good way to go with it, especially when you buy whole ones. They also give you a pretty good chance to experiment with flavor. Every time I’ve prepared chicken this way it’s been completely different, and it’s not hard to be creative.

This time honey jalapeno was the start.

Ingredients:
Whole chicken, thawed and innards removed
5 jalapenos
~2/3 cup honey
~3/4 cup water
~1/8 tsp allspice, ground
black pepper

The first thing I did was cut up the jalapenos and push them under the skin of the breasts and thighs. All five didn’t fit in there. The rest I put inside the cavity, save one which I used for the sauce.

Next I made a sauce to baste the chicken with as it was cooking. I combined the jalapeno, honey, water, allspice, and pepper in a saucepan and cooked on medium to start, then kept it on 2 as the chicken was cooking.

To go with the chicken, I scalloped some potatoes and put them in a pan under the chicken, to catch the drippings. Don’t cut them too thin, because they’ll just cook too fast and stick to the bottom if you do.

As for baking, there should be instructions on the packaging. I think it was 350 degrees for 20 minutes/lb. Mine was a five-pounder so it took a while. I started the chicken off with a little sauce, and every 15-20 minutes I brushed on some more. The whole process is very easy to walk away from, so long as there’s a timer going.

When there was only 20 minutes left, I opened up a can of chestnuts I had in the pantry and threw them in with the potatoes. (Chestnuts are amazing. If you’ve never had them, I highly recommend you do. They go really well with chicken and potatoes and drippin’s.)

With the chicken done and the oven on, I decided to make some asparagus to go with it. The timing worked out perfectly because by the time the asparagus was done, the chicken was cool enough to cut.

And wa-bham–cheap, easy, tasty dinner.

Seafood Lasagna

So apparently lasagna is one of those foods I really like because I tend to make it a lot. Every time it’s a little bit different, based on the whims of the day and the one I made most recently was a seafood lasagna. Seafood lasagna is another one of those dishes that reminds me of France because my host mom used to get some really good lasagna from the fisherie(?) on a fairly regular basis. This one was a bit too bright and not as diversely occupied as Sophie’s guy’s, but it’s still pretty nice.

Structurally, it was very similar to every other lasagna I’ve ever made, the only special thing was how I treated the tilapia. But I’ll go over everything just because I like you so much.

Tilapia Ingredients:
1 tsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon’s worth)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tilapia filets
olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (how convenient!)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Start by combining the zest, thyme, salt, and pepper in a bowl then take roughly half of it and coat both sides of the tilapia filets. In a oiled skilled heated on medium-high, cook the tilapia for about two minutes on each side.

They won’t be cooked, but don’t freak out. You’re going to bake them so it’ll be ok.

Once that’s over with, remove the tilapia and lover the heat to medium. Add the remaining spices and lemon juice, then stir it all around and mingle with the fish juices. Next add the whipping cream and cook for about 2 minutes until slightly thick.

While the sauce was reducing, I chunked/shredded the tilapia. When the sauce was ready, I tossed the tilapia in and took it off the heat. And that’s it for the tilapia.

Lasagna ingredients:
Tilapia and sauce (as prepared above)
About 3/4 lb cooked shrimp
Lasagna pasta sheets
1 jar Pasta sauce (I used 24 oz black olive and capers since lemon and capers are such good friends)
7 oz ricotta
~3 cups mozzarella
2-3 handfuls parmesan

Keep in mind to preheat the oven to 375, then feel free to get on your layering.

I started with a layer of pasta, using 4 sheets.
Then ricotta with parmesan sprinkled on.
More pasta sheets.
The tilapia and sauce, topped with a good amount of mozzarella.
Even more pasta sheets.
All the shrimp, a little less than half the sauce, and more mozzarella.
The penultimate layer: pasta.
And finally, top it off with the last of the sauce and however much cheese you want.

Then cover and bake for 35-40 minutes and enjoy!

The lemon comes through well, but isn’t overpowering and mingled with the sauces nicely. And even though it may seem strange to combine seafood and cheese, it totally works in lasagna. I’ve tried it a fair number of times, with a variety of sauces–even pesto–and it always works.

I ate mine with a side of asparagus, also something that turned out to be one of my favorite things.

Treasure Chest and Past Memories

So as you may know, I’ve been in the process of moving/unpacking for the last month. Right now I’m down to the very last bits. And today, while organizing the last of the boxes, I went through all the things I saved from my year in France.

And I found a list of the tasty things I had with my host family that I wanted to try to replicate once I had a kitchen of my own.

I’ve already made some of them, like the Pâtes de Manette, a quiche, soupe au potimarron, tarte aux pommes, compote, and a lot of things on the right side of the list (which is stuff my real family makes that I want to make too).

Goat Cheese Toastlets

I don’t really know what else to call these. If you have a better idea, feel free to let me know.

Basically, I came up with these as an idea for finger food for my French class’ end of the year party. I did warm them up before serving, but after tasting them cooled, they worked fine that way too. They end up looking pretty and they’re not too hard to make. (Cutting the cheese to make sure it stayed spherical was the hardest, but I’ll give you some tips to make it easier.)

I made three flavors, one that I knew was really tasty (goat cheese and honey) and two that I was pretty sure would work (cheery preserves, and basil-lemon-pepper). And for this all you need is:

A loaf of mini toasts (I got mine from the grocery store deli)
Goat cheese (I had 4 4oz logs)
Honey
Cherry preserves
Basil
A lemon
Pepper
Olive oil

Before you start anything, make sure to refrigerate the cheese. The cheese must be very cold (but not frozen) to ensure nice slices. So I kept mine in the back of the fridge while I prepped the other ingredients.

I started by slicing the basil into strips.

Thinner would work too, but I was kind of rushing. I mainly wanted them to be straight so they’d be pretty.

Next I juiced the lemon,

laid out the toasts,

and started cutting up the first cheese log.

Cutting it is, like I mentioned above, kind of hard. You want to make sure the cheese is very cold, and the knife, hot. I kept the cheese in the back of the fridge until the moment I needed it. And I kept a bowl of hot water in the sink to use to warm up and clean the knife between every slice. I found that a very sharp, non-serrated knife worked very well, and there was a certain technique I used to make sure they came out ok.

I started by warming the knife, drying it quickly with a paper towel, then going straight into the cut. I didn’t pull back and forth, because when I tried that, the knife just crumbled the cheese along the horizontal. So I just pushed straight down, trying to hold the log and keep if from smooshing in on itself. Then I shimmied it off the knife because just pulling it off would have broken it in half.

I posted the video on my brand new YouTube channel, in case you’re having trouble seeing it here.
Perfect Goat Cheese Medallions
And if you happen to have a YouTube account, feel free to subscribe! I plan on adding more videos once I get a big enough memory card.

Most of the medallions were placed directly on the toasts, but the savory lemon-basil toasts were coated with a little olive oil first. I’ll start with the sweet ones because they were more simple.

Place cheese

then add toppings. For the jam, I topped the cheese with a heaping teaspoonish of cherry preserves.

And for the honey I just squeezed on a pinwheel shape.

The lemon-basil had a few more steps. After olive oil-ing and cheese-ing the toasts, I brushed on the olive oil and cracked on some pepper.

Now I topped them off with the basil before baking them, but it might be better to do this step after baking. The basil won’t crisp up and it will still look as pretty as when you plucked it.

Now for the baking, I popped them in a 350 degree oven until the cheese was a little melty and soft. I didn’t want too high a heat because I was worried about the toast becoming inedibly hard. And don’t worry about the goat cheese not melting; it’s not like other cheeses and it won’t melt much.

Goat Cheese and Spinach Roulade

For this one I wanted to see the difference between my store’s goat cheese and feta. I found out that the goat cheese has a much milder taste and is moister. It also melts better, which is really nice for this dish.

We used:

1.33 lb thinly sliced flank steak
Fresh spinach
A .4 oz container of crumbled goat cheese
Minced garlic
Greek olives
Pepper
Kosher salt
Skewer sticks

To start, I covered the counter top with wax paper. I didn’t have any plates big enough to hold all the meat, so I figured that would be a good way to keep things neat. Next I laid out the meat and cracked on some pepper and spread on the garlic.

Next came the goat cheese. Like I mentioned above, we only used a .4 oz container, and even though it looks sparse, it actually worked out pretty well. But feel free to use more if you like. We also put the olives at the end so that way they’d be in the center of the roulade.

And the spinach we put on liberally, knowing that it would shrink as it wilts in the heat. I’d say two to three handfuls were used on each strip of meat.

Now it’s time to roll. Which isn’t that hard, so don’t worry. But do make sure you have a skewer handy. Just start at one end and roll it up like a sleeping bag.

Now there’s more than one way you can cook this. Baking it would cook it with an even heat, which would make the inside just as done as the outside. We decided to cook it on the skillet. For that, we heated a skillet on high with some olive oil (which made a bunch of smoke) and dropped them in, to sear them.

After a little less than a minute, we flipped them. A minute after that, we turned the heat to medium and covered them, letting them cook for about three more minutes.

They came out super pretty and tasty. The only thing was that the outside layer was a little dry. To fix that, I would recommend either not trying to sear it, searing it but turning down the heat sooner, or skipping/shortening the last step with the lid.

Because the meat is so thin, it takes very little to cook it, and it is therefore easy to over cook. Baking would also be a good option if you like things to be more well done. That way you could get the inside cooked without destroying the outside.

St Andre Soufflé

I had an awesome Easter, which I commemorated with French food: Soufflé and saucisson.

But because it was Easter, the grocery store was closed and I had to make do with slightly strange ingredients, but it turned out really yummy anyway.

Soufflé’s are actually not too different from a quiche. The main difference is that you have to whip the egg whites, which makes it fluffy and delicious without a whole lot of stress. You also have to make a blond roux, but that’s super simple.

To make a souffle good 3-5 people, all you need is:
Puff Pastry or Fillo dough (optional)
3 eggs
3/4 cups milk
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup cheese

An 8 x 12 baking pan
A 2 quart (?) pan
Whisk
Hand Mixer
A big bowl
Spatula

And here are the oddities that I was forced to sub in:

Vanilla almond milk and Italian blend cheese (because I didn’t quite have enough St André). But the light sweetness ended up working really well with the super creamy St André. (By the way, for those of you who are unfamiliar, St André is a triple crème bree-like cheese. It’s super fatty and delicious.)

But all oddities aside, here’s how you make it.

First start with your prep work: preheating the oven to 350 degrees and buttering your pan before putting down the dough, separating the eggs, and grating your cheese.

Now for the blond roux. Combine the butter and flour in a pan on medium heat, whisk it all together as the butter melts to ensure nothing burns, and continue for a little while it darkens slightly.

At first it will be a little clumpy, but don’t worry, just keep going.

Soon it’ll smoothen up and look like this.

While you’re working on this, have your helper heat up the milk. The microwave will work just fine for this. You want it warm, but not boiling. And if you don’t have a helper, just warm up the milk before you start on the roux.

When both elements are ready, put some of the roux into the milk, stir, then put all the milk into the roux. (It’s called tempering, and it lessens the chance of a temperature shock that could mess with the milk.)

Now that its all combined, reduce the heat to low and make sure its all stirred together well.

Now go back to your eggs and grab the yolks.

For this next step, temper the egg yolks with the milky roux. (Pour some of the roux into the eggs, stir, then pour it all back into the roux. This time it makes sure not to cook the eggs.) Make sure its all whisked together well, turn the heat to the lowest setting–just warm enough to melt the cheese.

Now add the cheese and stir until it is all melted. When that’s done, pour it into a big bowl, good for mixing (well, folding, technically).

Now turn off the heat and turn your attention to the egg whites. You want to make sure there are no egg yolk bits in here because that would pretty much ruin what you’re about to attempt. If you do have some yolk in the egg whites, just use a spoon and scoop it out.

Now beat them with the hand mixer until they form still peaks.

Now take about a fourth or third of the whipped egg whites and stir into the cheesy milky roux.

Don’t worry too much about being careful. Having this first third mixed in will make folding in the rest easier.

Make sure to Fold in the last of it. This is different from mixing because its a lot gentler and won’t ruin the fluffiness you created by whipping it up. Also, don’t worry if there’s still white stuff, you don’t want to over do this.

When it’s all ready, pour into your baking pan and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.

When the thirty minutes is up, use the toothpick test to make sure it’s done. Normally it’s recommended that you serve this right away to avoid embarrassing collapses, but I took it with me on a pick-nick and it was fine, so I wouldn’t stress about it.

And now, hoo-ray! It’s a fancy pants, seemingly ultra hard delicious delicacy!

If you wanted it to look cooler, try baking it in little porcelain ramekins, so that each person gets their own personal soufflé and the fancy pants aura of the dish is further propagated.

Goat Cheese and Honey Pizza

That may sound strange to you, but it’s super good. There’s a fairly recent trend in food where sweet flavors are combined with salty and it comes out really nicely. When I was in France there was all sorts of sucré-salé combinations in restaurant menus and they’re all great.

Start off the dough like before, but skip the oilve oil and greek seasoning. You could put it on, but it’ll definitely make it different.

Ive tried making a sauce for it before, but you have to be sure it ends up thick enough that the pizza doesn’t get too runny. If you do want to make a sauce, just make a cream-based sauce using mozzarella to thicken it. It’s similar to what I did in an older article.

Basically, heat some heavy whipping cream in a skillet and once it warms up, add some honey (about a tablespoon in total) as well as some goat cheese (to get the flavor, you won’t need a whole lot) and some mozzarella (to make it thick and stretchy). Let this sauce thicken a little more than the one for the gruyere sauce mentioned earlier. Feel free to taste it as you go to make sure it’s good. You should be able to taste both the goat cheese and honey whereas the neutral mozzarella and cream flavors should be nearly absent.

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Also, it’s a good idea to par-cook the dough before making this pizza because of it’s potential for being too runny. To do that, all you have to do is preheat the oven to 375 degrees and cook the dough for about 5 minutes. You don’t want it to be all the way done because then it will just burn when you put the pizza in.

Once the dough has cooled, ladle on some sauce. You want to cover the dough to about a half-inch to an inch from the edges but, don’t layer it on too thick. Next add generous amounts of goat cheese, and a little bit of honey, for aesthetics. The flavor of honey should be in the sauce well enough, and it’s always nice to add more at the end, so don’t use too much now.

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We used cheese crumbles here, but it would look prettier if you could get a cheese log and successfully cut it into circles. The one time I tried, the cheese crumbled anyway–I think it was too cold to cut. But if you’re able to do it, let me know because I’d like to have that figured out.

And as you can see from the picture, we put more sauce on top before baking it. If your sauce ended up too thin, then skip this part. You can put mozzarella on top to take it’s place, if you like. It will look nice, but it will tone down the flavors.

Next, bake until the cheese is mostly (or all) melted and the crust looks all the way done. This one doesn’t take quite as long as the other pizzas, so I’d say check on it about 5 minutes after putting it in a 375 degree oven.

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Pâtes de Manette

So I had to make at least one post about my France food. This is a dish that my host grandma made anytime we had something special going on, at her granddaughter Manon’s request. At first it was intimidating–I was worried about getting it wrong. It seemed so complicated, and as it was sort of a family tradition, I didn’t want to desecrate it. But I ventured, and success!

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It didn’t take much to start with, you might even have what you need. (Except probably the panko.)

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Elbow macaroni, Panko, butter, and emmentaler. Emmentaler is a mildish type of Swiss cheese that works with lots of stuff, but you can probably use a different cheese. But if you use cheddar, make sure to go with the sharp–you don’t want all the extra oil that the milder ones have. Panko is great and helps make the dish a bit more interesting; it adds a nice crunch that is so good. When you cook the pasta, make sure to leave it a little un-done–I think the proper culinary term is al dente–it’s going to cook more in the oven. While the pasta is cooling, butter a baking pan. I used a 9×13 cake sized pan. It made for a lot of food, but then again, I live with three other people. Once the pasta is cooled off to about room temperature, lay down a layer and coat it with cheese. On top of that, put a couple of thin slices of butter and a light sprinkling of panko.

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The butter helps to keep the pasta from drying out in the oven, the cheese layer gives the center some gooeyness, and the panko adds a little crunch. After this layer, repeat the process until you’re out of pasta or the pan is full. You’ll want to top it off the same way as you do between the layers. I baked it at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes in total. The times varies as to preference–how crunchy you want the top noodles to turn out. I checked on mine about three times because I’m a very impatient cook and am afraid of burning things. You don’t want to take it out until the tips of the noodles on top are browning.

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This dish makes for really great leftovers. It’s really easy to cut when cold and it gets crispy in the microwave just like when you first made it. I found that my pan was a little too shallow–there were only two layers of noodles–so I would recommend a deeper pan for extra cheesiness.