Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cooking lessons for my son

I know that when it comes to my kids I’m bias, but surely it shouldn’t stop me from ‘bragging’ about them, and for a good reason: my kids are super cool!
So when Victor asked me to teach him a few recipes that he could prepare in the common kitchen at school, I though ‘This boy is really cool!’ (and awesome and handsome too… but again I’m bias… but if you have met him you know I’m right).
So we started with a good, filling, comforting, fast, all-in-one-meal recipe:
Chickpeas, chorizo, tomatoes and spinach all in one meal
  • 1 can of chickpeas (or any other beans)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (make it ‘gourmet’ with fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 chorizo sausage cut in small-ish cubes or slices (no substitution here)
  • a few handful of fresh spinach (kale should work well too, and it’s the ingredient that make it less ‘boy food’, more ‘girl-friendly’ – always good to have a trick in your sleeve to impress the girls..)
  • salt, pepper, might also want to add some garlic (dried or freshly crushed), chili flakes are a nice addition too
Through the chorizo in a large hot pan, add garlic (careful with garlic, it does not make your breath engaging).  When the chorizo starts to ooze its fat, add the chickpeas and the tomatoes.  Stir until it’s hot.  Test and season (meaning salt, pepper, flakes).  Does it taste good? Is it hot enough? Yes, then time to through a large handful of greenness, let it cook for another couple of minutes.
You’re done, bring up the plates.
Remark: if you use fresh tomatoes, cook them first in the pan with the chorizo so they can release their water.  You can remove a bit of water, if there’s to much.
Victor's lessons
Next, we upped our game with a meaty meal:
Chicken Fajitas
  • chicken breast (1 per person)
  • 1 red pepper (or more)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lime (or lemon, or pasteurised lemon juice -  we don’t have to be fancy here)
  • paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil (or any other available oil)
  1. Halve, de-seed and cut the pepper into strips.  Peel, halve and slice the onion as finely as you can.  Slice your chicken too (nice long strips, try to follow the muscle grain)
  2. In a ball, put pepper, onion, chicken, 1 tea spoon of paprika, a pinch of cumin, the juice from the lime, a tablespoon of oil, salt, pepper.  Mix well and let marinated for 5 minutes.
  3. In a hot pan, with a splash of oil, cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes (ATTENTION, make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked, you don’t want anybody to get food poisoning).  The chicken has a nice honey colour, the pepper strips are soft and the onion are light brown… Done, another success in less that 30 minutes.
Victor's lessons1
The Chicken Fajitas was served with a French Purée à l’huile d’olive (mashed potatoes with olive oil -  sound much more sophisticated in French, but again if you want to cook to impress…).
Purée à l’huile d’olive
  • small potatoes (2-3 per person) (I like red potatoes, it makes the mash looks more interesting)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, parsley (remember, the green effect)
Boiled the potatoes in a large pan of water.  When they become soft (not crumbly) and the fork go through easily, transfer them in a large ball.  Mash them roughly with a fork, adding some oil.  Add salt, pepper to taste and some chopped parsley.
Remark 1: Add the salt at the end, in the cooked potatoes, NOT in the water.  This way, you will need less salt (which is good for you and your health).
Remark 2: Call me crazy, but I like my meal to have a mix of colours, so it looks more harmonious and pleasing.
Victor also prepared an omelet with ham and cheese, accompanied with a green salad seasoned with a homemade vinaigrette.  No pictures for this, no recipe either – he already knew how to do it.
Now, I’ve been hesitating for the title of this post.  It could have been
Jamie (Oliver), watch your back!
A good catch!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Remembrance day

I’ve just seen some amazing pictures of this display from Tom Piper and Paul Cummins:

the Tower of London poppy memorial.


I wish I was there for the remembrance ceremonies.  I wish I had been to London for this exhibition.

More info can be found all around the web, or here Historic Royal Palaces.

Monday, 3 November 2014

My homecoming princess is a mad cookie

This sounds like the perfect title for my youngest girl.

One year on in the States, and we are still experiencing some FIRST.  Last week, it was Juliette’s first homecoming ball.  I’m glad we had last year’s Year Book, had a pick at the pictures and got an idea of what to expect. And the big question was ‘THE DRESS?’ (OK, that’s not really a question).

You’ve got to understand that my ‘little’ Juliette has and always had a strong sense of style.  I remember her jumping in my bed early morning, checking my outfit for the day, making me change if she disapproved of it… and she was probably only 5.  Today, there’s no influencing her choices.  So when she agreed to let me sew her homecoming dress, I felt thrilled and stressed at the same time.

She knew exactly what she wanted (left picture).  She chose the fabric, the top layer is so flimsy, fraying so much…  After looking through pages and pages of patterns, we picked McCall M6893. It looked closed enough to what we want to achieve.

Homecoming dress

The pattern offers lots of options, from long to short skirt, fitted skirt, non-fitted skirt, alter neck, strap top, long sleeves, no sleeve…  But maybe too many options, the instructions felt a bit confusing and not detailed enough.

The top layer has been worked with French seams (isn’t it interesting that in French it is called ‘couture anglaise’ – English seam).  I’ve made the waist band narrower, did not add any boning in the bodice (Juliette does not need support).  No other modifications were needed…

Homecoming dress3
Doesn’t she look lovely?  She chose some ‘vintage-ish’ shoes and made herself a choker – looking so pretty for the party.

Homecoming dress4Au naturel, she is quite something… Crazy-mad cat lady, Project Magic enthusiast, Jujitsu kick ass, cool sister,  Wednesday Adams’ look alike…

Friday, 10 October 2014

Pretty buns

I mentioned this before, but I do bake to relieve tension…Especially when I don’t know why I’m stressed out… or tired… or unable to sleep a full night without flipping in my bed… Philippe has been away for almost two weeks and it does not help the ‘not-sleeping-properly-thingy’… I’m not good at going-to-bed-at-a-reasonable-time on my own, I’m not good at waking-up-early at all…

Well, whatever, Philippe will be back by the end of the week, I will sleep better and in the meantime we will have enjoyed some Chocolate Brioches.

I found the recipe on Pinterest, here.  Then follow the link, which took me here.  Another click and I was on these Macha Brioches which might be my next bake.  Still clicking and I ended up here, which is the recipe I used for my brioche, substituting the Macha powder by cocoa powder.  It was tempting to carry on with the clicking and the exploration of the World Wide Web but I would have had nothing to show for my afternoon.

So here are the pretties.

Chocolate brioches

You have probably noticed that my feuilleté is not too impressive… actually, I skipped the feuilletage step… I know I’m not quite ready for the Great British Bake Off (which I won’t mention again for the next 11 months as the final was on Tuesday).

Chocolate brioches1

And this is a message for my husband from our (my) cat…


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Project Big Love – a dress for Alice

Anything I stitch/knit for my kids and my close family is heavily bonded with LOVE (I can see my daughter rolling her eyes thinking that this sentence does not make sense…)  but I’m sure you understand me or at least the LOVE part.

So when Alice asked for a jersey wrap dress like the one she had years and years ago, which had been worn so much that the seams gave up, the jersey fabric got so thin…  I had no other option but to sew a new one.  And I’m so pleased she wants to wear something I made for her… plus the fact that she is promoting my blog heavily –all her friends have to follow me or she get offended…

The fabric is from Joann: heavy knit with a very nice drape, not to light, not to heavy, just perfect (and believe me it is not often that I find the ‘perfect’ dressmaking fabric at Joann).

The pattern is Butterick 5949. I find that patterns’ sizes are sometimes a bit off, so I had to make sure it will fit Alice once finished.  For the first time ever, I did a muslin of the bodice and tried on Alice before she left.  The pattern calls for lining, but I though the jersey was heavy enough to skip this step.

Blue faux wrapped dress2
Some close up details

I took my time, worked methodically on technical difficulties… and I’m quite pleased with the final product.

Blue faux wrapped dress1Juliette modeling the dress… did I mention that this one is a mad cookie?
I can’t wait to see Alice wearing it.