Moroccan Preserved Lemons….Essential, irreplaceable and so easy to make

Today, I put up a batch of Preserved Lemons for use in my upcoming  EatWith offering “Dinner in Marrakech” (more on that later).

Preserved lemons are essential to Moroccan cuisine. Their exquisite flavor, aroma and silky texture cannot be substituted in a recipe with lemon juice. Trust. Luckily, they are very easy to make. They require a brining period of 30 days, but they will keep for up to one year. Once you start to use them, you will be hooked! I always have some ready to use in my larder. Tonight, they are bringing it in Yogurt Mint Sauce which I’m using as a bed for Moroccan Mini Meatballs. I’m still tweaking the Meatball recipe, but I promise I share will it once I’m satisfied with it!

Learn how to make preserved lemons here.
As always, don’t hesitate to ask me questions.
Bon appetit!
Tess

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Moroccan Pickled Carrots … Oh Yum

The flavors of Morocco where spices such as cinnamon, coriander and cardamom take center stage are rich, pungent and completely captivating. Who could fail to fall in love with Moroccan cuisine? France and Morocco have had a long and complicated relationship. French remains the primary language of Morocco. As a result (and luckily for me), excellent Moroccan cuisine is available throughout France.

I am readying my next EatWith offering – “Dinner in Marrakesh … Exploring Moroccan Cuisine.” I will write more about it in a future post, but I want to share with you my first dish. Moroccan Pickled Carrots are infused with traditional Moroccan spices plus garlic, lemon and red pepper. They are spicy hot, and they are addictive! Since they are refrigerated rather than canned, the brine is much less salty. I use Cigalou Piment de Cayenne entier. They are readily available in nearly any French grocery store, and I always bring a bottle back with me.

Moroccan Pickled Carrots are easy to prepare. Make a batch for yourself, and bring a bit of Morocco to your kitchen. Get the recipe here. I hope you’ll come eat with me soon!
Bon appétit!
Tess

Fall and French Comfort Food

In Columbus, Ohio it’s sunny, hot and definitely doesn’t feel like Fall. Still, once the calendar turns the page to September, my thoughts turn to Autumn cooking. For my EatWith offerings, that means Parisian bistro fare. I also particularly love the cuisine of Normandy in the Fall. I just added a Normandy offering featuring apples, Calvados (apple brandy), Camembert and, of course, cider. I hope you’ll check it out! You can read a Columbus CityScene article about my EatWith offering here.
Bon Appetit!
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French Pickled Garlic

When pickled, garlic retains all the flavor of fresh garlic without the “bite” or oder. This is because the acid in vinegar breaks down the the oder-causing components in garlic. Pickled Garlic has long been a part of French cuisine and is often served as an appetizer. It’s particularly popular in Normandy. I prepared a  batch last night in preparation for my EatWith “Dinner In Normandy” offering which will go live in mid-September. You can find the recipe for French Pickled Garlic here. 

I’m leaving for a month in France tomorrow and will begin my stay with a week and a half at Casa Belle. Gilles, who is both host and chef, has kindly invited me to observe him in the kitchen. Such a treat! Since Pickled Garlic needs to brine for four to five weeks, it will be ready to enjoy when I return in a month….and enjoy it I shall!

Bon appétit!

Tess

Confitures… The Joy Of Canning French Jam

Making jam, “confiture” in French, is a beloved tradition in France. When Americans think of canning, they often picture steaming stockpots, pressure cookers and rows and rows filled jars lining the pantry shelves. I know that’s what I thought! In France, it is quite common to can just one or two jars of confiture. Fruit is selected at the peak of ripeness and cooked with cane sugar, pectin, and a little lemon juice in a copper pot. Being high in acid, jams can be canned in a water bath which is safe, easy and doesn’t require lots of complicated equipment. Here is a great water-bath canning how-to.

I often make just a few jars of jam. Last week, I made one of my favorites… Raspberry and Rosé Jam. You can find the recipe here.

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Strawberry, Mint and Black Pepper Jam is another traditional recipe I love. Mint is one of the easiest, hardiest herbs to grow, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. Don’t be put off by the black pepper. The amount is small and you actually don’t taste it; rather, it offsets some of the sweetness of the strawberries and brings out the mint. You can find the recipe here.

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Of course, fruit tastes best when fresh and in season. When I see something fabulous I want to make into jam but don’t have the time, I vacuum seal and freeze it. Canning and vacuum sealing are my best friends when it comes to eating locally and seasonally! I just made a batch of jam using frozen, vacuum sealed strawberries.

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If, like me, you’re not putting up an entire pantry full of canned goods, you don’t need an industrial strength vacuum sealer! I have owned two Food Saver brand vacuum sealers over the past 20 years. Here is my second, current one. They are affordable and the customer service is excellent. Get one and it will soon become your best “eating seasonally and locally” friend, too!

Here is one last reason to make jam. A jar of jam makes a wonderful gift. Beyond being delicious and pretty to look at, they are personal. Recipients truly appreciate the care that goes into making them.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
Bon Appetit!
Tess

Off The Beaten Path Near Paris…Coullomiers

It would take a lifetime to see all there is to see in Paris. Paris is to France what New York or Los Angeles is to the United States. It’s a place and culture unto itself. If you are fortunate enough to have four or five full days in Paris, consider taking part of one to visit a small town. There are many beautiful, interesting places easily accessible by train that can give you a taste of the rest of France. Today, I want to share Coullomiers with you. A welcoming town, Coullomiers was a Gallo-Roman settlement in the fifth century but is almost certainly older. Having survived both World Wars without suffering great physical damage, Coullomiers is traditional, pretty and rich in medieval architecture. Image

Located in the Seine-et-Marne region, Coullomiers is most famous for its cheese and rightly so. A soft-ripened, artisanal cows milk cheese, Coullomiers cheese is a lesser-known cousin of Brie although it has been produced for much longer. True Coullomiers cheese is made with unpasteurized milk and cannot be exported to the United States. Those that are available in the US lack the depth and creaminess of French Coullomiers.
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One of the best reasons to visit Coullomiers is its lively twice weekly market, one of my very favorites. Beginning at 8 am on Wednesday and Saturday and lasting until around 1 pm, this market is the real thing. It’s a gastronomic destination for Parisians who want to shop at a country market for “les produits de la terroir”, literally “the products of the land.” The market stretches down several side streets from the two market squares and features two “marches couvert” (covered markets). Spend an hour or two wandering through the market and listening to the vendors calling out their products. You will find everything from cheeses, the freshest produce, fish, charcuterie and meat to sewing machines, clothes, linens and more. Try to arrive by 10 AM to get the full effect. It’s noisy, colorful and smells divine. After your wandering is done, enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine in one of the many cafés or purchase all the makings for a picnic. Enjoy it in the beautiful gardens of Parc des Capucins where you will see the ruins of the tanneries that were once a major industry in Coullomiers and supplied the highest quality leather for French Royalty. There is also a small museum inside a 14th century Roman church that boasts a breathtaking grotto. During the summer months, you can rent a paddle boat and travel the gentle old mill stream through the ancient town.

Not to be missed is the Commanderie des Templiers. Constructed in 1173, it is one of the best preserved Knights Templar sites in all of France. It is a bit of a hike but truly amazing to see. Learn more about the Knights Templar here.

There is an RER (nonstop) train to/from Paris Est to Coullomiers several times a day. The trip takes approximately one hour. You can find out more about the Coullomiers train station and the schedule here. It is not necessary to purchase your tickets in advance. There are plenty of kiosks with an English option in Gare Est and the ticket agents there speak English. Click here for a navigable map of Coullomiers from the Coullomiers Office of Tourism. The Market Squares and the Office of Tourism (which is worth a visit) are both only a 10 minute walk from the train station.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
Bon Voyage!
Tess