My Plate in France

I just returned from vacation in France, where I visited Loire Valley and Bretagne. Lots of sun-filled days were spent exploring 14th and 15th century castles, picnicking under trees, buying fresh veggies and fruits from markets and of course indulging in French cuisine. What I love most about French food is the pureness and simple complexity of it. Roasted ripe cherry tomatoes presented over a palette of greens. Simple ingredients that we can find in our garden, yet with an unexpected twist making it seem somewhat complex. Presentation is not a strength of mine, but after returning from France, it’s something I’d like to play around with, sometimes, just for fun.

Here are a few pictures from my travel eats.

The cotton candy was amazing! It was served with a fresh raspberry syrup and a droplet, as the syrup was poured over the candy, it zigzagged in and out of little air channels, quite mesmerizing to see.

What are your favorite dishes from your summer holiday?

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Quick Pan-Seared Herb-Crusted Salmon

I typically try to post on Mondays, however I came down with the flu on Sunday. The hubs quarantined me in the bedroom and forced me out of the kitchen. He served me snacks, tea and even gave me a little bell to ring if  I needed him to bring me anything else. I’ll admit it, I rang the bell once or twice *hides in shame*. It was my chance to have a  Downton Abbey experience (minus the sprawling estate, fabulous 1920s attire and the artillery of maids).

Now all is back to normal and I’m back in the kitchen, apron and all. Here’s a quick recipe for salmon. If you love salmon and are short on time, this recipe is perfect. It’s packed with flavor and will be on the dinner table within 15 – 20 minutes.

What you need.

  • (Wild) salmon with skin
  • dried pepper, sea salt, red pepper, thyme, dill (or your seasoning of choice)
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon, to taste

How you make it.

  1. Season both sides of the salmon
  2. Heat about 3 – 4 TBSP (or enough to cover the surface of your fish) of olive oil in pan on medium-high heat.
  3. Carefully place salmon in the pan – skin side down. Cook the salmon for about 4 minutes.
  4. Flip the salmon and cook for about 1 -2 minutes. Pour a small amount of water about 1/8 cup or enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan, to create a steam effect. Cook salmon (still on med-hi heat) for about 5 minutes and allow it to absorb the water.  If you have a very thick piece, it might take 8 – 10 minutes.

Serve with a side of rice and salad and you’re good to go!

 

Crunchy Roasted Granola

Buying cereal in Switzerland is nothing like back in the States. At home, cereal can be found on its own aisle! You could probably fit 10 Swiss aisles into one US cereal aisle!

My husband once told me that when he moved to the US, he kind of panicked whenever he made his way to the cereal aisle. He’d observe what locals were buying and quickly grab something and continue with his shopping. Considering many shoppers were parents buying their kids ultra, frosted, sugar-glazed cereal — he quickly opted for another method. As an American, I guess I’d never thought about the amount of choices being overwhelming.

Actually, when I moved to Switzerland, I practically couldn’t find the cereal aisle. Well, it wasn’t really an aisle, rather a small section of an aisle with probably no more than 10 – 15 choices of cereal. Crazy as it sounds, I suddenly spent more time, trying to figure out, which cereal to select. With only a few choices, I felt the need to read the ingredient list and nutritional information on every box, to do a price comparison to figure out the most economical choice. Well, this is Switzerland and I shortly realized, economical is not part of the vocabulary here. Things are pricey! I just couldn’t justify paying 7 dollars for a tiny bag of organic granola. In the end, I walked away from my few choices, deciding not buy anything at all.

This worked out well for me, because I discovered, making my own granola was just as good, if not better than store-bought granola. Best of all, it costs a fraction of the price. Here’s my recipe for crunchy granola. You can adapt it to your liking.

What you need (feel free to double the recipe if you’re cooking for more than 2 people).

  • 3 cups of oats (not the instant kind)
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts and/or seeds of your choice (I used pecan and sunflower)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of molasses, maple syrup or honey (I used molasses)
  • 1 cup of raisins or dried fruits/berries of choice. Add in some chocolate chips to if you’d like.

How you make it.

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C)
  2. Place oats in a large skillet and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Throw in your seeds/nuts and cook on low heat with oats for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour into a baking dish (9×13), sprinkle with cinnamon, throw in salt, mix well
  5. Add your sweetener (i.e. honey, molasses or syrup) and mix well.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove and allow to cook on a wire rack.
  7. Once  your mixture cools, stir in dried fruit/berries and refrigerate in an air tight container for as long as you’d like.

Play around with the recipe and make it with the things you love. This tastes great with milk, plain yogurt or by itself. I like to make a frozen yogurt parfait: blueberries, topped with plain yogurt, topped with granola – pop it in the freezer for a few hours and enjoy!