Archive for the ‘French cuisine’ Category

  • Fresh French Peas

    Date: 2012.11.08 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES | Response: 0

    Fresh Sugar Peas Recipe


    One of the best way to prepare sugar peas when they are in season and abundant is to add as little as possible to retain their delicate flavor. First you have to shell the peas which requires a little manual labor.  This is a great opportunity to gather everyone in the house to led a hand around the kitchen table. This recipe calls for both the pods and the peas but you must remove the thin skin from the pod very carefully, peeling it from one end to the other. Otherwise, it will be too tough to eat.  It takes a little extra  time but it is well worth the work. Plus you get to do it with loved ones.





    INGREDIENTS (for 2 people):

    4-5 cups of sugar peas (with pods)
    3-4 shallots or 1-2 medium white or yellow onion
    2 or more large garlic cloves
    1 Tbl of sunflower or olive oil
    1 Tbl raw sugar
    1/2 tsp thyme
    Some rosemary
    1 Bay leaf
    Sea salt and pepper to taste

    Peas close-up



    First you shell the peas, then you remove the thin skin from the pods.
    Mince the shallots or onion and set aside.
    Remove the skin from the garlic cloves but do not crush or mince.
    Heat up a shallow pan with a little olive or sunflower oil.
    Add the onions and stir for a few minutes on medium heat.
    Pour the pods and peas, the whole cloves and mix with the onions.
    Add the herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf) the sugar, salt and pepper and stir over medium heat for a few minutes.
    Add a little water to make sure everything cooks evenly, cover and lower the heat for 10 or 15 minutes. Remove from the stove, taste to make sure everything is tender and seasoned to your liking. You can also drizzle a little olive oil if you want.

    You can serve it on its own with some wholesome bread or with a side of herbed quinoa or rice. Place the intact garlic clove on top. It will melt in your mouth!

    Gourmet French Peas


    Bon appétit everyone!

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  • Herb Vegan Goat Cheese

    Date: 2012.05.07 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES, vegan cheese | Response: 0

    Vegan Goat Cheese

    Sorry for not having posted for a while. I am taking advantage of being in the South of France visiting my parents to try out some new French inspired dishes. While I do not miss any of the cow cheese I used to enjoy when I was a carnivore, goat cheese, on the other hand, was more delicate, naturally low fat and milder in flavor. So I attempted to recreate a dairy-free version from scratch. It turns out that organic firm tofu lends itself really well to the recipe. Truth be told, I wasn’t able to get the exact consistency of goat cheese, but obtained something in between what could be used as ricotta (if kept more moist) and soft goat cheese. Not bad at all! The taste is quite nice and the result is great addition to a vegan caesar salad or on top of spring mix. I can’t wait to harvest the tomatoes in my garden and make this stunning vegan goat cheese with homemade rosemary crackers!

    Homemade Vegan goat cheese


    2 cup of organic firm tofu
     2 tsp nutritional yeast
    2 Tbl light miso paste
    2 tsp onion powder
    2 medium roasted garlic cloves
     4 Tbl lemon juice
    2 Tbl virgin olive oil
    Salt & pepper to taste 
    1 cup fresh basil leaves




    1. Cube the tofu and place in medium pan. Cover with some water with a little salt and bring to boil. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes without a lid. Drain and let it cool of. This step will make the tofu more firm.

    2. Process the remaining ingredients minus the fresh basil until pureed.

    3. Pour into a bowl and add the fine strips of fresh basil, mix again.
    Taste, add salt and pepper if needed.

    4. Line a ramequin or a small glass container with some ceranwrap.

    Vegan goat cheese

    5. Spoon the tofu mixture making sure that it is pushed evenly all the way to the top. Refrigerate for a few hours.

    6. When it is time to serve, flip the dish and remove the plastic film preserving the shape and place on a salad or serve with crackers.

    NOTE: If you don’t eat soy products, no worry, you can use pine nuts, see recipe at  the Vegenista.

    Bon appétit everyone

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  • French Mushroom Tart

    Date: 2012.02.13 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES, Vegan Entrees | Response: 0

    Vegan Mushroom Tart

    One of the great advantage of living in the Northwest is the availability of wild mushrooms almost all year around! I had some friends over and wanted to feature them in a classy way. So I adapted an old classic French tart made with mostly caramelized onions and incorporated the mushrooms. The result was divine! I should have doubled the recipe because no piece was left. It was a success!

    4-5 cups of mushrooms (shitake, porcini*, chanterelle, white caps etc.)
    1 large yellow or red onion
    1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
    1 Tbl soy sauce 
    salt & pepper
    1/2 tsp rosemary ground
    1/2 tsp oregano
    1 package of Puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm is a popular one*)
    some soy milk

    * I used some dried porcini mushrooms that I re-hydrated in hot water and reused the water to add extra flavor my mushroom mixture.


    (this part requires gentle hands and staying in the kitchen to watch over the oven during the pre-baking period)

    Vegan mushroom tart close up

    1. Place the puff pastry in the refrigerator the night before.
    2. Start cooking the mushroom mixture.
    3. Mince the onions. Pan fry it in a little olive oil.
    4. Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce on the onions and mix. They will caramelize. When all the liquid is absorbed, pour a little water to deglaze them. Cover and lower the heat.
    5. Prepare the mushrooms. Wash and rinse them. Remove the stems and cube.
    6. Add the mushrooms to the onions and mix well. Sprinkle with salt pepper, rosemary and oregano. Cover and lower the heat for 5 mn. Remove the cover and let the juice evaporate. Taste and season again if needed.


    1. In the meantime, prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or by lightly oiling it. Turn the oven on to 350F.
    2. Open the package of puff pastry. Carefully unroll the dough. If it is too soft, put in back in the fridge until it has hardened a little.
    3. Place one sheet down on the baking sheet. Use the other sheet and cut small strips to create an edge all around if you want a square tart. Poke holes everywhere.
    4. Bake for 10 mn. It will puff a lot. Take it out push down to let the heat escape. Return to the oven for another 8-10 mn. Watch so that it doesn’t burn. Take out. Let it cool off for a few minutes.
    5. Spoon the mushroom mixture in the middle.
    6. An hour before you plan to serve, bake again for 20 mn covered with aluminum foil. Remove the foil and bake for another 10mn. Serve immediately if possible. Goes great with a spinach or kale salad.

    Bon appétit

    *Other brands of vegan puff pastry are: Dufour Pastry Kitchen

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    Date: 2011.10.01 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES, Vegan Entrees | Response: 0


    Grilled paninis

    Most countries have a version of a grilled sandwich.
    France calls it Croque-monsieur, Americans call it grilled sandwich,
    Italian, grilled paninis, you get the idea. My mom makes the best
    grilled sandwich Italian style so I decided to create a vegan version.
    To get the full effect, you will need sliced vegan meat (the smoke turkey
    or ham type) and vegan cheese available in most grocery stores.
    You don’t need a fancy grilling machine. I make it most of the time with a heavy pan to press the sandwich down.

    Ingredients for grilled paninis

    INGREDIENTS per person:

    2 square slices of whole wheat bread (forget the white stuff!)
    3 slices of veggie meat (Yves’s smoked turkey is a great choice)
    1 Tbl Dijon mustard (don’t use the sweet American type)
    1 Tbl daiya cheese (or other vegan cheese of your choice)
    3 gerkins (don’t use relish, it is too sweet and slimy!)
    1 Tbl capers flattened (large ones are better but small one will do too!)
    Some vegan butter (Earth Balance)


    1. Lightly butter the bread slices on one side all the way to the edges.
    2. Spread mustard on the other side, then place the slices of vegie meat.
    3. Thinly slice the gerkins and capers and place on top of the vegie meat making sure that they are spread out evenly.
    4. Sprinkle the Daiya cheese or other vegan cheese of your choice.
    5. Cover and pan fry.
    6. Press the top with a heavy pan to make sure that all layers are melded together and the top and bottom are crisp.
    7. Serve immediately with a nice salad or an assortment of raw vegetables, some sliced avocado etc.

    Note: this is a thin sandwich, the type you will find in France and Italy not the gooey thick one that is usually served in the US.

    Bon appétit !

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  • ASSIETTE DE CRUDITES (Raw Vegie Plate)

    Date: 2011.09.06 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES, Salads | Response: 2

    I was trying to find a translation for this salad and couldn’t come up with one that conveyed the meaning of assiète de crudités. A plate of raw vegetables sounds somehow boring and uneventful while the French equivalent is a standard in French restaurants, showcasing the freshness of local produce for customers wanting a light dish with lots of flavor and nutrition.

    Vegetables abound in our garden this time of the year. It is an explosion of life force, colors, textures and scents (and also weeds!) What a blessings to take a trip in our backyard and bring back a mountain of fresh greens, tomatoes and wild herbs.

    Fresh greens!

    One of our favorite dish for a quick but satisfying lunch or dinner is to do a nice spread of fresh vegetables served with some warm bread and some form of protein.
    There are so many advantages to growing your food, one of them is that you don’t have to worry about pesticides, herbicides and others nasty chemicals they are tipically dowsed with. A simple rinse and quick check for slugs is all that is required. They do love to nest in small folds, so you have to inspect the merchandise closely. Some of the other pluses is that you get to take a walk, commune with the elements, thank Mother nature for the abundance she has blessed us with, take deep breaths, listen to the sounds, marvel at newly found treasures burried under deep foliage (a yound egplant, clumps of cherry tomatoes, a baby zucchini or a flower…) look up and watch the birds in the trees. Life is sweet when we take the time to count our blessings.


    Tomatoes (roma, cherry, red, orange etc.)
    Lettuce Kale (curley, Russian etc.)
    Teese cheese*
    Fresh chives, basil leaves, Mint leaves
    Dash of salt,
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Balsamic vinegar
    French bread or herb crackers
    Any other vegetable you have on hand.

    The arrangement is really up to you.

    1. I usually place a few slices of lettuce, kale and any other wild greens I happen to find on the bottom of the plate.
    2. Make thin slices of tomatoes, spreading them on the plate. Sprinkle with a dash of find sea salt. Then sprinkle some balsamic vinegar over it, then a little extra virgin olive oil.
    3. Slice some of the Teese mozarella vegan cheese. Place a slice over each tomato slice.
    4. Chop a few basil leaves and garnish over the slices. That was the hardest part of this salad.
    5. Toast slices of French bread or just serve with crackers. I love Wasa crackers, rosemary crackers… they have less calories and are packed with flavor.
    Best Vegan Mozarella cheese

    * Teese offers the most amazing vegan cheese on the market today.

    For this recipe, use the soft mozarella version. It is moist, slices well, has a subtle flavor and makes the perfect replacement.

    One little package makes plenty of slices, depending on how thick you cut them, you can easily make 10 to 15. The price is even comparable to the dairy version, without the calories, the hormones, the fat and more importantly, the abject cruelty dairy cows are subjected to their whole lives. What’s not to like, really!

    Bon appétit

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    Date: 2011.08.09 | Category: French cuisine, Gluten-free, RECIPES, Vegan Deserts | Response: 2

    Gluten free crêpes

    I am not allergic to wheat (although with maturing, I can’t eat as much bread as I used to when I grew up in Europe!) but several of my friends and many of my students are, so I wanted to experiment with different recipes, types of flours and starch and see if I could get close to the original texture. So if you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease or have noticed a frequent allergic reaction to wheat products, you can add this recipe to your gluten free diet. 

    Gluten is a great source of protein and binding, so when preparing a gluten free crepe, or pancake, the trick is to find replacements that can incorporate the binding and the light texture. When researching various gluten free recipes, I was shocked by the various complicated wheat free flour combinations I found. OMG! I don’t know about you but a recipe that uses 4-5 different types of flours, like potato, sorghum, powder egg replacer, cornstarch is way too labor intensive and not flexible enough to accomodate what I may have in my pantry. Life is short, food should be fun, not a drag!

    So I attempted to simplify the batter as much as possible and yet obtain the right consistency and texture. It took several attempts to get it right. The first one, was a fiasco. The recipe called for potato starch, I could only find potato flour, not sure what happened but the batter ended lumpy and thick. As aunt Vula in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding would say: “It no work!” I couldn’t find potato starch in any local store, so that recipe was a no go! But with perseverance, I got it to where it was virtually impossible to tell the difference. Call me a purist, but the look of the food also matters. Using buckwheat may be healthy and safe but your crepes take on a grunge/hippie look that is more on the pancake side than the delicate French crepe. Call me a snob! 

    So without further adieu, here is the recipe:

    1/3 cup sorghum flour
    1/4 cup tapioca starch
    1 heaping Tbl ground flax seeds in 1/4 cup of warm water
    1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
    4 tsp vegetable oil (not olive oil)

    This recipe is not only wheat free but also corn free and soy free. This way, just about everyone, should be able to enjoy the pleasure of crepes.

    Enjoy and share with others
    Multiply and have many little happy crepes!


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    Date: 2011.07.11 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES | Response: 2

    I woke up Sunday morning, it was a gorgeous day. Not too hot, just enough air to keep it cool and enjoy a nice breakfast on the deck. I was given a great crepe pan as a gift the day before so what better treat than a lovely sweet French crepe for breakfast. French crepes are soft in the middle but ligthly crunchy on the edge. They are very thin (on the other end of the spectrum of the thick hearty pancakes).
    One of my favorite fruit, this time of the year are nectarines, because they seem to always be sweet. I haven’t had the same luck with peaches that feel more like tennis balls in terms of hardness and rarely ripen once at home.

    The filling for this recipe may seem pretty basic but don’t let it fool you, it is exquisite. French deserts are amazing, not because they have tons of sugar or fat (granted, some do) but because they allow the natural flavors to be discovered. There is such freedom in going back to this simplicity and nature. Honestly, why complicate when you can enjoy things as they are.

    1 cup soymilk
    1/2 cup water
    1 cup flour
    2 tsp dry sweetener (like turbinado sugar)
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 Tbl vegan butter
    1 Tbl ground flaxseeds

    Note: Many recipes call for powder egg replacer but you may not have it at home, so stick to flaxseeds. It is a nice way to add Omega-3 essential fatty acids (great for heart conditions), lots of anti-oxydants and is a great source of fiber. I love its nutty flavor too.

    TIPS: Buy whole flax seeds and only grind a little at a time in a blender or coffee grinder because they go rancid more quickly after being ground into meal. If you grind more, refrigerate and use in salad dressing, over stir-fries, over breakfast cereals, in shakes…


    • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for a few seconds.
    • In a thick bottomed frying pan, place a little vegetable oil and bring heat to medium high.
    • Pour a small ladle and immediately spread the batter so that an even layer spreads across the pan.
    • Using a spatula, gently lift the sides and when it no longer sticks to the pan, either flip the crepe with the spatula or with the pan. The ladder one may take a little practice but it will impress your friends.
    • When the other side is done, place on a plate.
    • Spread 1 Tbl of your favorite jam (I used peach) in the middle of the crepe in the form of a strip.
    • Place fresh slices of nectarines on top.
    • Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.
    • Fold the left and right flaps on the middle, then the top and bottom to create a lovely bundle. Serve

    NOTE: Use any fruit, get creative. Can be served with your favorite vegan icecream or sherbet.

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    Date: 2011.06.02 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, RECIPES, Vegan Entrees | Response: 0

    Ok, so I may have spoken too fast. Summer hasn’t arrived yet. It looks like the seasons have shifted a whole month forward. April showers are now May showers and the temperatures aren’t exactly summer like these days. Apparently with the various large earthquakes and tsunamis, the earth’s axis has shifted more than one degree. So warm dishes are really nice until the sun decides to make an extended appearance!

    Every now and then, we have a craving for pasta but we wanted something a little more rich with a creamy sauce. Living in the pacific Northwest, we have a great selection of wild mushroom available at regular grocery stores. So I combined a vegan cream sauce my friend and chef Miyoko Schinner showed me a few years ago with these tender and full of flavors mushrooms.  Yum!

    And to balance cooked food with something fresh, I prepared my signature wilted spinach salad dish. The challenge with these 2 dishes is the timing. Got to work fast and get things lined up correctly. In real estate, it is location, location, location. When it comes to cooking, it is preparation, preparation, preparation!

    1. Cook the pasta
    Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
    The trick is that when it is almost completely done (taste to be sure but don’t burn your fingers or your tongue in the process!), pour out the water and rinse under cold water until the noodles are warm to the touch. Pour 1/2 Tbl of oil and mix with hands to prevent from sticking. Put aside and get started on the sauce.

    2. Prepare the mushroom sauce
    First the cream:
    Blend 1 cup of cashew nuts with 2 cups of broth in a blender (or you can use plain water too).
    Add some salt if you are using water. Add some black pepper and garlic powder. Make sure that the liquid is smooth (no small pieces of nuts should be left) Pour into a small pan.

    3. Pan Fry the mushrooms

    1. Gently wash the mushrooms. Any type will do (porcini, portobellos, white caps etc.) and cut in half if they are small or slice the shrooms, as we call them at home.
    2. In a frying pan, put 1 Tbl vegetable oil, 1-2 cloves of minced garlic over medium heat. Make sure that it doesn’t burn.
    3. Add the mushrooms making sure that they are not too crowded.
    4. Add 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar and quickly mix into the mushrooms to make them sweat and caramelize. Don’t overcook, they are full of water and only need a little tenderizing.
    5. Taste, add some salt if you need it. Remove from heat and put aside.

    Putting it all together

    1. Heat up the cashew cream sauce over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the sauce until it thickens a little. As soon as you see that it does, remove from heat.
    2. Place the pasta in a large frying pan, mix the caramelized mushrooms, then pour the sauce over and gently mix for a minute or so. Immediately serve. Save some cream sauce and mushrooms because you will be asked for seconds. Guaranteed!

    4. Wilted Spinach salad

    Looks and tastes fancy but it is so easy to make and preserves most of the nutrient in the spinach.
    The trick is to heat 2-3 Tbl of extra virgin olive oil (regular olive oil will also do, but treat yourself to good things from time to time). I know, virgin olive oil should be consumed cold, but it is also nice now and then heated.

    1. Place the washed and dried spinach in a large bowl
    2. Slice some red onion thinly if you like raw onions
    3. Sprinkle some pine nuts and some nutritional yeast (1-2 Tbl)
    4. Heat up the oil in your smallest pan, on high heat for less than a minute depending on how quickly your stove heats up. Watch it because it happens very quickly. Don’t let it smoke. It is all in the timing.
    5. Pour it immediately over the spinach and quickly mix it until all the leaves are coated and shinny.
    6. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice (optional) and serve.

    Bon appétit!

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    Date: 2011.05.08 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, heart healthy foods, Mexican, Moroccan | Response: 0

    Please note the new dates.
    I clicked the publish button prematurely on the previous post!

    JUNIOR CHEF ACADEMY – June 6th, 13th, 20th, 5-7:30pm, Firstenburg, Vancouver, WA

    MOROCCAN NIGHT – July 6th, 6-8:30pm, Clark College, Vancouver, WA

    FRENCH CUISINE – July 7th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

    HEART HEALTHY COMFORT FOODS – July 11th, 5-6:30pm, Firstenburg C.C., Vancouver

    MEXICAN FIESTA – July 14th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

    A TASTE OF THAILAND – July 21th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

    DAIRY FREE AT LAST – July 25th, 5-6:30pm, Firstenburg Community Center, Vancouver

    CHINESE BANQUET – July 28th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

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    Date: 2011.04.18 | Category: French cuisine, RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers | Response: 0

    Pronounced “tah-puh-nod”, this dish, usually served as an appetizer on sliced French baguette, crackers or fresh cut vegetables, originates from the South of France. It is an olive spread, a form of caviar that captures the rich and natural essences of Provence, through the olives, the capers and the olive oil.

    In some regions, the traditional recipe includes anchovies but it isn’t needed in any way. Why add something dead when olives have plenty enough flavor on their own?

    Tapenade is traditionally made with black olives, but you can also use green ones or mix a little of both.


    1 cup black olives*
    1/2 cup walnut ground (optional)
    1 clove garlic
    3 Tbl capers
    2 Tsp Lemon juice
    1 tsp  dry oregano, thymes, basil


    Process all above ingredients in food processor, stopping and scraping every few seconds. Make sure not to pureed because you want some texture.  Serve as appetizer, can be added to tomato sauce over pasta, over polenta, as a spread on sandwich with tomatoes, basil etc. Will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.
    *You can use American olives, eventhough they aren’t as flavorful as French or Greek olives or use 1/2 of the large American olives and 1/2 of the more expensive ones.

    Olives are a good source in fat and sodium, so enjoy every bite. You will feel full and satisfied.

    Bon appétit!

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