The other day I picked up the book “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard. It’s one of those memoir books with recipes at the end of each chapter. The story is about a young American woman falling in love with a Frenchman. The story itself isn’t especially exciting, but her writing is vivid and beautiful, and for someone who lives her life vicariously through travel books, I eat up any and all descriptions of life in another country. But the recipes are what really make this book amazing! If you are looking for some cooking inspiration and some fresh recipes, this is a great book to pick up. Also if you’d like to try some French cooking but aren’t brave enough to tackle Julia Child’s cookbook, this is a great book to get you started.
Pasta a la Gwendal
Gwendal is the author’s French boyfriend, and this is the first meal he cooked for her. This is kind of like a Parisian stir-fry, so feel free to be creative with what you use. This is a great last minute meal and an easy way to use up stuff in the fridge. Here I will list the actual recipe, but since this recipe is flexible, I used celery instead of fennel, broccoli instead of zucchini, and canned diced tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes, and I added sugar snap peas.
8 ounces chopped bacon (more or less depending on your mood)
2 onions diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, coarsely chopped
2 zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
3 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 pound spaghetti
Chopped parsley, freshly ground black pepper, to serve
Bring water to a boil, and then add the spaghetti. Meanwhile, warm a skillet at medium high heat, then add bacon. Fry for about 2 minutes, then add the chopped onions and carrots. Saute for another 2 or 3 minutes, and then add remaining vegetables. Fry, stirring frequently until the bacon is mostly cooked through. Turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and cook for about another 10 minutes or until bacon is cooked and vegetables are soft. I added the juice along with the diced tomatoes otherwise I think that the dish would be too dry. You could also probably add a cup of chicken broth if you wanted. Or you could skip both, I just think the dish would be too dry without some liquid. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain, and mix in 2-3 TB of butter. Serve the stir fry over the spaghetti. Enjoy! As a friend of ours said, you can’t go wrong when you add bacon to a stir fry.
Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes
This is an easy way to soothe your chocolate craving as well as serve up a stunning dish in minutes; I mixed these up in about 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook longer than 8 minutes, otherwise you won’t have the ooie gooie middle (I didn’t think they would cook so quickly so I left them in the oven a minute longer). Also, I definitely recommend serving this with a dollop of homemade (store bought will not cut it) whipped cream. We didn’t have cream so we had to eat these with limited happiness.
8 TB (1 stick) butter
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB flour
Preheat oven to 450. Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in the microwave. Beat together eggs, egg yolks and sugar until light and slightly foamy. Add flour and stir to combine. I used well buttered ramekins, but you could probably also use muffin tins, though it may be a bit difficult to get the cakes out without damaging the insides. Also, you can use Reynolds foil cupcake liners, 5 or 6 stacked together to make a stiff cup. Whatever you use, you will need 5 or 6 of it. Divide the batter evenly and bake for 7 minutes for a thinner crust, or 8 minutes for a thicker crust. Serve warm.