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  1. Thanks Prasantrin. Definitely a good thought for the congee. I had noodles stuck in my head since I know she eats lots of noodles normally, but I don't think they would keep or reheat well once cooked. I really would like to prepare things that will take next-to-no effort to be ready to eat. Her mother-in-law will make her some French food but I know she would appreciate some Thai dishes too.
  2. A very good Thai friend just had a baby yesterday, and I would really like to bring her the Thai equivalent of a casserole - something that would be simple and comforting for her, yet easy to reheat. I do not have very much experience cooking Thai food but I do have access to a decent (not incredible) Asian grocery store. Any suggestions? Recipes would be most appreciated, but even names of dishes could get me started. Thanks in advance!
  3. mangosteen

    Wine Tag: F

    Chateau de Fieuzal in Pessac-Leognan, France. Their white wine is highly reputed and more expensive than their red, but I find it way over-oaked (maybe I need to taste some older vintages?). On the other hand their reds are excellent and still well-priced (around 30Euros for recent vintages). I recently enjoyed a 1998 and adored the cherries, black fruit and violets that came through in the nose after decanting. The tannins were already well-integrated but structure-wise I believe the wine has many good years ahead of it.
  4. Joseph Swan Winery in the Russian River Valley produces some really excellent vineyard select Pinots and Zinfandels. The winemaker opens for tastings on the weekends so if you'll be there on a weekend I highly recommend stopping to visit. Swan Winery Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley is another favourite - for their Rhone varietal wines - but I think you would have to make an appointment to visit. Unti Vineyards I hope that helps.
  5. Since Jacques Beaufort does not export his wines to the U.S. I'm not sure this is the best place to post this information. Nonetheless, I am so excited about his wines I just had to share somewhere. I first had non-vintage Andre Beaufort Brut Champagne in the summer of 2003 and instantly fell in love. It was fairly low acid, more on the fruity side than yeasty, with great length and what I would call "elegance" or balance. It was memorable enough that I searched for it afterwards and only found it again once (at Lavinia in Paris). I finally managed to visit the winery in Champagne this past weekend. Jacques Beaufort, who has taken over the winery from his father, Andre is definitely what you would call a character. He is a passionately organic winemaker. His vineyards are all maintained without herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. He uses aromatherapy (essential oils) and homeopathy to control mildew rather than sulfur and copper sprays. This would be unusual in even Burgundy but in Champagne it borders on heresy. We tasted wines from his Ambonnay (grand cru) and Polisy vineyards, Brut, Demi-Sec's and Doux's, non-vintage and vintages from 1988 to 2000. Yes, he was incredibly generous with both his wine and his time. Overall what struck me was the variability (which I had been previously warned about) and the surprising youthfulness of some of the older vintage wines. Some of the 1998's were quite oxidized in both the nose and appearance, but the 1990's could be pale colored, bright, fresh and fruity. I'm not a big fan of older Champagnes with nutty sherry-like characters but my husband enjoyed those wines. My favorite of the whole tasting was a 1990 Ambonnay Doux Rose, that had just recently been disgorged - it was so pretty and bright. I think the main downside of the Andre/Jacques Beaufort wines is their inconsistency, both vintage to vintage and within a vintage. If you ever happen to see a bottle of the Beaufort Champagnes I would wholeheartedly recommend trying it. You might love it, you might hate it, but I guarantee you won't be bored. Thanks for letting me share my enthusiasm! Lisa
  6. Ah Leung Thanks so much for this recipe, and all the others that you post. It is so generous of you to put all that time and energy into your pictorial recipe project and then share it with all of us. I made the lemon chicken last night and it turned out fabulously. I could not find American-style lemonade so I just used the juice of two lemons sweetened to taste with a fair amount of sugar. I didn't read the recommendation to not reduce a lemon juice based sauce until today so it was pretty concentrated before I added the cornstarch slurry at the end. For us the small amount of tangy sweet sauce over the crispy chicken was perfect. Mmmmm. I've never tasted this dish in the U.S. so I am not familiar with the gloopy sweet version but this version is fantastic. I wanted to mention that we also made the Sichuan dry-braised green beans (for the second time) the night before last and they are also delicious. Thanks again! Lisa
  7. Funny you would say this, since it's exactly my problem. I grew up on Hellman's and French mayonnaise is too strongly flavoured. I don't want mustard in my salmon or egg salad. It just doesn't seem right. I have never made mayonnaise myself since it seems kind of intimidating but maybe I should give it a try. You can actually find both Hellman's and Philadelphia cream cheese at the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet in Paris, but this is a pretty unusual and expensive resource. It's nice to hear about substitutes that are available throughout France.
  8. Thanks for the links Lucy and John. I have them bookmarked for future reference. All of this information will definitely come in handy. Chopped up bits of dark chocolate are a vast improvement over Hershey chocolate chips (rare and expensive) in chocolate chip cookies. I also think the cassonade (in place of brown sugar) contributes a lovely flavour to the dough. I have used the type 55 flour from Carrefour and Monoprix in place of all-purpose flour in American recipes and it has worked well for me. I have not looked for the type 65 but I'll have to check that out. Picard sells frozen bagels. Duck fat makes an excellent substitution for lard when making carnitas. I'm afraid I have more questions than answers. Where can you get a tasty version of a hamburger bun? I don't mean the replica of the standard bun that you find in all the grocery stores. That one is nasty. Why is the mayonnaise different here? It seems too sweet to me. Is there always mustard in it? I miss Hellman's/Best Food mayonnaise. I use the Kiri-like cheeses for bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, but could you use it to make cheesecake? Cuts of meat are still confusing to me. Thank goodness I found a good butcher so I just tell him what I'm trying to make and he suggests something.
  9. I was in Saint-Emilion this weekend and so I took advantage of my trip to ask Frans Roskam, the winemaker at Chateau Cantenac, some questions about the Grand Cru appellation. The following is based on my notes of his perspective on the subject. In the Saint-Emilion area there are two appellations: Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Only within the Grand Cru appellation is there a hierarchical classification (Premier Grand Cru Class A, Premier Grand Cru Classe B, and Grand Cru Classe) and the qualification system for the Grand Cru appelation is more rigorous than for simple Saint-Emilion. The Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation is the only Bordelais appellation where there are two tastings per vintage to qualify the wine. The first is to verify that the wine has a sufficient quality to age (done in Spring following harvest). The final tasting takes place within 2 months of bottling (after approximately 18 months of aging) and verifies straight-up quality. Other bordelais appelations (such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Julien) do only the first of these two tastings, so any aging related issues, such as Brettanomyces would not be evaluated. Therefore the Grand Cru designation is a regional appellation but their are significant quality controls to pass for the right to put the designation on your label each year. The last re-classification of the Grand Cru Classe's was done in 1996 and the union has started the process to redo the classification this year. The last ten vintages of a chateaux' wines (1993 to 2003 this time) are tasted to evaluate whether a property should remain in it's current classification. Not only the quality of these wines but also the history and image of the chateau (including the selling price), the terroir, and the winemaking facilities of the winery are considered. Most important are wine quality, terroir and selling price. If a chateau would like to enter it's vineyard into a higher category they will submit a justifying presentation (I'm having trouble translating "dossier") on their property including soil analyses, media publications, tasting notes, and distrubution details. Frans says in fact that "Everyone in the classe group presents a dossier" just for insurance. Especially those wineries that have had some recent trouble with the quality of their wines will be sure to submit some justification for the problems and some explanation about how they plan to rectify them. The example I remember from this year's re-classification was Canon. Frans pointed out some strengths of the Saint-Emilion classification procedures. Foremost is the fact that the classification is redone every 10 years. The annual judgments of the 1855 classified wines are based on the same criteria as other wines in the same appelation, i.e. Chateau Margaux is tasted by the Margaux appellation union using the same criteria as any other generic Margaux and then because of their 150-year old first growth designation they are entitled to put "Grand Cru Classe" on their labels. In the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe judgment a specific vineyard is classified, rather than a chateau (as in the Medoc) so a winery cannot purchase adjacent land and then add it to their production. In fact Beausejour-Becot lost their classification for 10 years after buying the Trois Moulins' vineyards and then including it in their Beausejour-Becot labelled wine. Certain chateaux that were classified in 1855 started out with 15 hectares and now make wine from much larger properties. I hope some of these insights are helpful and interesting.
  10. I feel like we, as North Americans, are overly careful/paranoid about food safety. Antibacterial handsoap was first and now we have antibacterial counterwipes?! There are studies linking children's lack of exposure to bacteria/viruses to later development of allergies and asthma. (Hygiene Hypothesis) When I first stayed at my mother-in-law's house in France I was horrified. She would cook chicken legs one night, leave them out in the pan and then reheat them for lunch the next day. The wood cutting board stays on the counter and is used for cutting bread, cheese, raw meat, etc. I think I'm the only one who'se ever cleaned it with bleach. Regardless, she entertains often, her employees eat here everyday and no-one has gotten sick, including me, in the three years that I've been here. There are lots of other examples of ways in which the French (I am generalizing) are much less rigorous in food preparation. I don't know the real probabilities of food poisoning, but I can't believe they are as high as many nutritionists and food safety experts lead us to believe. Sometimes I think we like to scare ourselves, and we have too much unfiltered information. I had a Microbiology professor who could not meat after he started his studies. Are there any published statistics on food poisoning cases per annum in various countries? Personally, I try to be logical and rely my knowledge and experience and I've probably gotten more lax since living in France. I will smell milk rather than throwing it out the day after it's expiration date. I forgot to but my chicken stock in the fridge the other night and after some agonizing I decided that there were probably very few bacteria left (ok possibly some heat-resistant spores hence the worry) after 5 hours of boiling, and that I would just boil it again and put it in the fridge.
  11. Hello Hiro I would be happy to share my point of view, but I'm not sure that I understand the question. Are you asking whether many pastry shops are closed, as in gone out of business? Are you asking wether they are closed to new ideas, or have I totally missed the point? Could you please clarify?
  12. mangosteen

    New Zealand Wines

    I will be going to work harvest at Kim Crawford's winery in Marlborough this year. Supposedly they work crazy hours (2 12 hour shifts 7 days per week) down there, but hopefully I will get some time to do some tasting while I'm there. I will definitely take notes and I would be happy to share the names of the wines that I particularly liked. Cheers, Lisa p.s. I started out in the Cooking forums and just found my way over here.
  13. mangosteen

    Moussaka Ravioli

    We made our initial attempt at moussaka ravioli tonight. Thanks for all of your suggestions. We used this recipe from Epicurious as a guide... Moussaka a la Grecque Recipe adapted from The New York Times Cookbook, Craig Claiborne, Harper/Rowe, 1961 3 medium eggplants 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 onions, chopped 2 pounds ground lamb 3 tablespoons tomato paste 1 1/2 cup red wine 1/2 cup chopped parsley Pinch cinnamon 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 quart whole milk, heated 4 large eggs, beaten Pinch nutmeg 2 cups ricotta 1 cup fresh bread crumbs 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Peel the eggplant and slice it crosswise 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides of each slice lightly with salt, arrange in 1 layer on paper towels and let drain for 30 minutes. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat; add as many slices as will fit in 1 layer and brown on both sides. Repeat the procedure with 4 tablespoons of the remaining oil and the remaining eggplant. Drain the eggplant as they are cooked on paper towels. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the onion to the skillet and cook until the onions are brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the skillet and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper, to taste. In a sauce pan, over low heat, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to moderate and add the milk in a stream, whisking. Simmer for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat. Cool slightly and stir in the eggs, nutmeg, and ricotta. Grease and 11 by 16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with bread crumbs. Arrange alternating layers of eggplant and meat sauce in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Pour the egg sauce over the top and bake one hour in a preheat 350 degree oven, or until top is golden. Let cool twenty minutes before slicing. Here is a picture of the ravioli as they were being assembled... and the finished product (sorry the picture is so dark!)... It might not look beautiful, but it was very tasty. I made a simple tomato sauce, with oregano and red wine, and added the bechamel "garnish" on the plate, which provided a nice creamy contrast with the tomato sauce but was not too rich. I did not add the egg to the bechamel since we couldn't bake it. We put a little in some of the ravioli but because it was also served on the plate it didn't add much to have it inside the ravioli as well. Next time I think we might make much larger ravioli (similar to the manicotti or crepe idea) to increase the effect of the layers. I also really like the idea of a moussaka-spiced lamb-tomato sauce on bechamel-eggplant ravioli. We will have to try that too. So many ideas so little time! Thanks again. Lisa
  14. Your post has me salivating. Now, I've got to search these little treats out.Thanks fo the tip. ← Uh oh! I feel badly. I don't know where you live Chow Guy, but I don't think either of these chocolates make it to the states. If you are in Paris now or in the future Rochoux's shop is on Rue d'Assas, just South of the Bon Marche and Etoile d'Or in the 9th carries Bernachon's chocolate. So sorry to get your mouth's hopes up. Irresponsible posting!
  15. Hiro It is interesting that you would bring up the topic of Japanese and French pastries. I have been struck recently by the ubiquity of Japanese ingredients found in pastries here in Paris. It is not surprising that Sadaharu Aoki uses them but I've seen green tea macarons a number of different places (Bon Marche, Pierre Herme, Guy Mulot come to mind). Of course I've only seen the salted plum macaron at Aoki. I am currently living in Paris, and before that lived for a year in Bordeaux, France but I have only spent 2 weeks on vacation in Japan (which I loved!). When I was in Kyoto, I was pleasantly surprised by the pastries since I was not expecting any French or Western-style pastries at all. I enjoyed the lighter, less sweet style of treats that we picked up for breakfast every day. I would not say that these pastries were better than ones I find in France, but they definitely had a different flavour profile. I really liked the flavours but other Westerners may not. For example the use of sweetened red beans was difficult for me to get used to. On the other hand some people (including Japanese?) might find pastries in France too rich in general. For me, the fantastic pastries in Paris are one of the reasons that I'm so excited to be living here. I have been making an effort to come home with treats from the various better known patisseries here. 7 Euros is expensive but remains affordable for most people. I work in the wine industry and if you want to compare a high end wine "treat" to a world famous pastry treat you are not even in the same ballpark. Expensive can be relative. Recently I have been going to the patisserie of Arnaud Larher, who is Breton, in the 18th and have yet to be disappointed. For my tastes the more innovative pastries by the big patissiers have actually been the least successful - olive oil and vanilla for example. I didn't get a chance to try Pierre Herme's white truffle hazelnut macaron, but that sounds pretty innovative and an example of international fusion at the same time. [OK, I confess: Pierre Herme has been our least favourite so far. Too much - too heavy, too rich, too strong... however I loved the Emotional Mahogany: mango and lychee compotes topped with caramel marscapone and coconut daquoise. So light and flavorful. Mmmmmm.] After tasting some of the pastries that I have recently I'm struggling to understand the claim that pastries are sub-par in Paris. I am by no means a connoisseur/connaisseur or even a sophisticated consumer of pastries. I have had the good fortune to eat pretty well in a various parts of the world but I do not have a professionally trained palate. I think most anyone who grew up in North America would be blown away by the quality of the pastries found in the patisseries of Paris. My frame of reference is Canada (Toronto) and California (LA and San Francisco) and there is absolutely no comparison. In the past few weeks I have had the best pastries of my life, all here in Paris. I'm almost giddy with the thought of the dozen boulangeries/patisseries within easy walking distance of my apartment.
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