Sunday, January 29, 2006

Banoffee Pie

The first time I ate Banoffee Pie was in the UK in a charming little gastro-pub this past summer. I started looking for a recipe and kept reading about dark colored toffee filling. The Pie I ate had a lovely 'blonde' toffee. How'd they do that?

I sent 'the hubby' on the task of begging for the recipe from the owner of the pub last week. She was delighted to share the recipe with him, who can turn down a pilot?

Now I know the secret to the blonde toffee. The recipe was so easy!

Digestive biscuits/graham cracker crumbs and melted butter make the crust. I always had a little trouble laying-in a crumb crust. Thick in some places and thin in others, till I saw a chef on TV using a glass (duh, why didn't I think of that?) That little trick enabled a nice deep sided crust and an even bottom. Listen, you don't want an uneven bottom!
Next, melt butter and sugar, but don't color....Then add a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk, stir for about 20 minutes until nice and thick.
Dump it into the chilled crust......And there you have it. Top with sliced bananas, add some whipped cream.
Don't forget the chocolate curls, I forgot 'em. Sorry!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Simple Food" served on a Happy Plate

When I was a little girl, I didn't eat eggs! I remember when Dad used to take us out to Frisch's Big Boy for breakfast, he'd order his usual American Breakfast; eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, toast & coffee. My sisters and I would be allowed the special privilage of ordering Hamburgers and French Fries! What a treat, we always felt like we were getting away with something ordering lunch food at Breakfast time!

So, what is up with the egg, vinegar and All-Clad? Yep, perfect poached eggs!
It was much later in life that I discovered the joy of eggs in the morning! I love a toasted English muffin smothered with ketchup (don't gag!), bacon and a fried egg on top! Only some of my family members think this is wonderful.

Today, I was feeling like I needed a little extra care for breakfast and wanted a simple poached egg on a muffin. I used to poach eggs in the little egg poacher, you know where an egg is formed into a perfect-Stepford Wife- shape and ends up to be overcooked......or I have used the microwave egg poacher, that egg turns out like rubber everytime!

I've found that the Brits do the best egg poaching in my travels, wherever we are in the UK I find a perfect poached egg. There is an art to it. Do you want to hear it?
You boil the water (yes, you can do this!!), then add a tablespoon of vinegar. When the water boils, you make a vortex and drop your egg in.
The photo is an action shot attempt, you might have to really stare into the screen for the full effect!

Served below on a Happy Plate! That is part of the morning experience, breakfast must be served on my vintage Villeroy & Boch 'Provence' plate!

Don't you feel happy too?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Turning over a new leaf

Anyone who visits this blog can guess, I love to cook!
Cooking = Extra Pounds
It isn't just me either. Its the 'family unit' who is having trouble buttoning up their jeans!

Thought I'd try something new last night for dinner. Grilled salad! Mom, you have cracked-up, came the comments from the couch! Yeah, I know! Strange as it sounds, it really was delish! You need to try this one, for sure.

I found a new web site, The Cooking Guy, go check this guy out! He is really funny, and has some great ideas. Plus he has little Quicktime Videos that you can take a look at.
He did his salad on the gas grill, due to the rain yesterday I opted for the good ol' Le Creuset grill pan.
It is nothing more than some Little Gem lettuce cut in half. Brush with olive oil and placed on the hot grill pan. I had a couple strips of bacon done really crisp. To finish the plate, I added some of my 50 year old Balsamic vinegar, some Parmesan shavings and a little more olive oil. It was SO good!
The Little Gem lettuces are from Spain and these were extra large, but the Little Gems you can find already packed at the local supermarket, 6 to a package, would work just fine too.

Can't wait for a drier day to try this one out on the grill! You know me, I grill out all winter, much to the curious stares of my neighbors!
Jeans are feeling loose already.....well, not exactly!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Sometimes you need something quick and easy for dinner! This is a Donna Hay recipe. I first read about Donna in a Books For Cooks 'compilation' cookbook. They kept singing her praises and I thought I better find out about this lady! Another fan of Donna is a fellow blogger/friend Barbara from NZ!

I was delighted to find 2 of her cookbooks in WH Smith on the Rue de Rivoli. Her books are beautiful, I love the way she styles a food photo, clean and simple. And very appetizing!

This particular recipe is her Spinach Pie. Spinach bought from Picard, the French frozen foods store. A creamy addition of ricotta cheese and eggs. Top with some Feta cheese and cherry tomatoes and you have a lovely and quick dinner. This little dish is great at room temperature. I think with a few less eggs you could stuff some ravioli with the mix. I also think this could go into a filo dough package.

You can't say more than that! Give it a try!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

One Year Old!

Yesterday, was the 'year anniversary' of my Blog! It started out as a fun experiment. I never thought anybody would discover it and lo-n-behold, it was Keiko of Nordljus who wrote my very first comment. I screamed to the family that somebody actually looked at my Blog. It was exciting!

One year on, this little web-log has been such fun. I've met some wonderful folks who have actually taken a gander at the Banlieue Blog and I've been inspired by some really fantastic food blogs. So many talented people out there!

Take a walk down memory lane with me; photos from my very first post!

This year, my goal is to try and tweak my blogger template and create a new banner! Don't hold your breath, I have talked about this for a while!! Check back to see it that does indeed happen!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bubbling Pot of Goose Fat...... to Confit a Cuisse de Canard!

Way back in cooking school, one of the dishes I wanted to learn was Confit de Canard! Our 'formateur' told us that is was TOO EASY, he would just tell us how to do it. Yes, it sounded easy to him, a trained chef, but sometimes the only way I can learn is to stand over a bubbling pot and witness! Much to my surprise one morning, we found a box of Cuisse waiting for us to prepare!

Starting to cookThe first step is to salt, generously, the duck leg and thigh. Add some fresh Thyme and cover, leave overnight in the Fridge. Next morning, brush off the salt and place into a pan of Goose Fat. You can buy jars of goose fat in the grocery, or places like the Ferme de Gally.

After 3 hoursJust make sure the fat is just bubbling, one or two bubbles, not all out frying! Simmering, poaching!!
You do this for 3 hours and the meat falls off the bone. The photo is the duck just taken out of the fat. Now, don't's not finished yet. No eye appeal, I know! At this point you can place it in the fridge till ready to eat. Or, you can pour the duck fat on top and keep it in the fridge for a few months. You know those gorgeous Confit Pots we like to collect from the Brocante.......that is what 'they' used to keep it in, in the old days! Now, 'they' use a Mason Jar, or bocal.

Remember, don't throw the extra fat away. Strain off the 'bits' and pour into a jar to keep handy when you want to fry up some potatoes! No.......this isn't on the South Beach diet, but every so often you need some comfort food!

Here is the finished plate. You just take your duck and run it under the broiler to crisp up the skin and heat the meat through.
Our New Year Eve's dinner was a very small attempt at a healthy start. Yeah, after all that fat......I know!!! Instead of my beloved potatoes, I cooked up some rice, folded in some zuc and feta and tomatoes.......and baked in a red pepper. Side salad to complete the healthy attempt. If a Frenchman takes a look at this photo, he might yell out in pain. No potatoes cooked in goose fat....sorry sir, middle-aged mom trying to keep the 'poundage' in check!!!

Today, New Years Day, we'll celebrate with Ribs, Sausages and Saurkraut. Plus mashed potatoes and Black Eyed Peas.......
I think 2006 will be a fantastic year, don't you?
Happy New Year everyone!