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FrogPrincesse

eG Foodblog: FrogPrincesse (2011) - From tartines to tikis

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I guess it's officially Sunday now so it's time to start this topic!

Kerry Beal guessed correctly that this week's foodblogger was from San Diego, however nobody guessed the right person.

I am FrogPrincesse, also known as Elise. I was born and grew up in Paris, France. I moved to San Diego for work 13 years ago with my American husband. We have a 5-year old daughter and live in a house in Pacific Beach. I am a chemist and graduated from the same college as Herve This (ESPCI), although I did not study molecular gastronomy. I work for a pharmaceutical company.

I've always been interested in food. When I was growing up, I was the self-designated pastry chef at home. I spent a lot of my free time baking pretty much every chocolate-based recipe that I could put my hands on.

My mom cooks a lot of traditional French dishes (beef bourguignon, etc), so that definitely had an influence on me. My style of cooking is mostly French bistro and I try to incorporate fresh & local ingredients as much as I can. I belong to a CSA. I enjoy making things from scratch, so you may see homemade bread, fresh cheese, pasta, ice cream or charcuterie make an appearance sometime this week.

I use cooking as a form of stress relief after work, so it’s not unusual for me starting a large cooking project late in the evening, and tonight was no exception.

I am extremely excited to host the eG Foodblog this week. I’ve been reading these blogs for years and it’s a great way to get to know eG members better. So I hope that my blog will be an occasion for me to interact with all of you. Please feel free to ask any questions.

I am glad that I can represent San Diego. It’s a pet peeve of mine – I feel that our area has a lot to offer but that it’s often overshadowed by its big neighbor, LA. Hopefully my blog can somewhat change that impression. We do have a lot going on in San Diego as you will see this week.

edited to correct typos


Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)

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Looking forward to your blog. Which CSA do you belong to and are you planning to include any restaurants this week ?

And just out of curiousity since I am also chemist living and working in San Diego and working in the biotech industry which company are you working for ?

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First, I would like to go over the teaser pictures.

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The uni (sea urchin) in the shell

This has to be one of our favorite treats. When I lived in France, my parents used to harvest them from the shallow waters in Corsica and we would eat them right on the beach, with a squeeze of lemon juice (there, they are small and black with bright orange roe).

Luckily San Diego has some of the best uni in the world, as documented in Jeffrey Steingarten’s book, It must’ve been something I ate (chapter - “Prickly Pleasures”).

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The books

I have a collection of about 50 cookbooks (total of about 75 food-related books) which reflect my evolving interests and skills in cooking. The picture shows part of my collection.

The first cookbooks that I bought while in the US were by Jamie Oliver. I still use them regularly.

One of my favorite books is Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin, because it has a style that suits me well that is based on French dishes and techniques with seasonal Californian ingredients and influences from the Mediterranean.

Les Halles is heavily used for classic bistro dishes, together with The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan for more specialized recipes.

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The tiki

We love Hawaii and Polynesia in general. We’ve been lucky to go to Tahiti twice and to Hawaii countless times. And my husband grew up in Honolulu. So we are trying to keep the aloha spirit at home. You will definitively see us at the Tiki Oasis this summer in San Diego, and we never miss an occasion for a good tiki drink.

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The cow at Iowa Meat farms

This is my butcher shop. I buy most of my meats there or at their other branch, Siesel’s. They are able to get the most "obscure" ingredients for me (things that would not be so hard to find in Europe but can be a challenge in the US), as a good butcher should (pig liver, hog casings, etc).

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The view

We are fortunate to have this wonderful view from our backyard.

All these pictures were taken by my husband who is an avid and expert photographer during his free time. He has agreed to help me document my week so we should see a lot of pictures.

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Looking forward to your blog. Which CSA do you belong to and are you planning to include any restaurants this week ?

Hi Honkman,

Glad to see you on this thread.

I use Specialty Produce's version of the CSA, aka "Farmers' Market Bag", which has the great advantage for me of being completely flexible. I can decide each week if I want to participate. Everything is organic and local. I've been happy with the quality and variety.

I am sure that there will be a few restaurants this week.

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Hello FP,

Always glad to read about SD. My parents lived there for about 20 years, on College Avenue (don't remember the district name) during the 70s and 80s, so I got to know the city a bit. Lovely place. Not like the frozen northeast Ontario. :smile:

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Elise - looking forward to your blog this week.

Do you travel to France often? Are you able to find other 'obscure' european speciality foods in San Diego?

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Hello FP,

Always glad to read about SD. My parents lived there for about 20 years, on College Avenue (don't remember the district name) during the 70s and 80s, so I got to know the city a bit. Lovely place. Not like the frozen northeast Ontario. :smile:

Hello Darienne.

San Diego is indeed a lovely place. I love it here. And it's hard to beat the perfect weather!

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Thanks for taking the time to blog this week. Corsica was a food epiphany for me as a young teen. Did the cuisine from the island influence your current style of cooking and eating?

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Elise - looking forward to your blog this week.

Do you travel to France often? Are you able to find other 'obscure' european speciality foods in San Diego?

Hi Kerry.

I travel to France a couple of times a year on average. I just spent a two-week vacation in Paris last month and go to Europe regularly for work.

Regarding specialty foods, 10 years ago this was often a challenge, but nowadays I am able to find most items between Trader Joe's (mustard, olives, cheeses) and Bristol Farms (chocolate, demi-glace, French butter).

For the more obscure items, we have Euro Food Depot which unfortunately closed their brick-and-mortar store, but still takes online orders. It's a local company that sells to restaurants and has a great variety of hard-to-find items including lentils, saucisson, escargot, foie gras, super-fine French beans, pommes dauphine, petit suisses, etc.

And for the few items that I can't find anywhere, I just buy them directly in France (piment d'espelette, Suze, tonka beans).

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I love San Diego, it's a beautiful place. And it's nice to see that another "princess" is blogging this week! I just have a couple more wrap up posts and I'll be clearing out of the blogging scene. Look forward to reading your blog!

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Thanks for taking the time to blog this week. Corsica was a food epiphany for me as a young teen. Did the cuisine from the island influence your current style of cooking and eating?

Hello Heidi,

I can't say that I am very familiar with the cuisine from the island, however some of the local specialties made a big impression on me.

In addition to my sea urchin memories, I still remember the wonderful rock lobsters, sheep cheeses flavored with herbs from the "maquis", fresh brocciu cheese, coppa sausage, and the small blueberries we used to gather.

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I love San Diego, it's a beautiful place. And it's nice to see that another "princess" is blogging this week! I just have a couple more wrap up posts and I'll be clearing out of the blogging scene. Look forward to reading your blog!

Hi toolprincess,

It's indeed funny that one "princess" follows another.

Good job on your blog, it's been fun reading it!

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I love San Diego, it's a beautiful place. And it's nice to see that another "princess" is blogging this week! I just have a couple more wrap up posts and I'll be clearing out of the blogging scene. Look forward to reading your blog!

Hi toolprincess,

It's indeed funny that one "princess" follows another.

Good job on your blog, it's been fun reading it!

thank you! I really enjoyed doing it and I know you'll have a blast. And you are going to have beautiful pictures...my photography skills are very lacking. :wink:

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OK, so it's almost 10 and we are about to head out of the house.

We are not big breakfast people, so this morning the adults just had a cappuccino. We have a nespresso machine which is very easy to use.

There is no mess thanks to the coffee pods, which is a good thing because I am not a morning person.

Charge pod, press button, and coffee is ready in a few seconds.

That's all I am able to handle before 8 am :smile: .

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The picture above shows our basic setup. The machine on the right is what we use to foam the milk.

You just add the milk, press a button, and voila...

Our daughter had a glass of milk and nutella on toasted bread, and a banana.

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Why was I up until 1 am last night? I was making sausage.

We are going to be hosting a 4th of July barbecue party, and I've decided to make sausage. It's only my second time making sausage, last month I made breakfast sausage. I am doing the chacutepalooza challenges and June was stuffed sausage (I am a little behind!).

There will be two kinds of sausages, a sweet italian sausage and lamb kofta kebabs.

For the sweet italian sausage, I am using the recipe from Charcuterie.

Here are the ingredients.

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I got the pork shoulder and back fat at Siesel's.

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Here I am weighing the back fat and dicing it.

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At some point I realized that I had mixed up the recipes for the sweet and hot sausages, so I had no used enough of the back fat and had to dice more.

It's interesting that the spicy sausage uses 225 grams of fat for 2 kg of shoulder, whereas the sweet sausage uses 450 g of fat for 1.8 kg of shoulder.

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Then I started breaking up the shoulder. I am using a Forschner knife which is a little low-weight for the job. Also it's not quite as sharp as I would like. It needs to be sharpened. I will be doing a little sharpening session on the EdgePro when I have a chance.

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So at some point I switched to a heavier, sharper Messermeisster which was a better fit for the task.

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While dicing the meat, I got rid of anything that looked like "sinew". This was the main problem during my previous attempt at making sausage, the sinew was getting stuck around the grinder blend and I ended up having to clean the blade a dozen time during the process which was a nightmare. So this time I was more careful.

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Then I added the garlic. I use a press for large quantities of garlic, because I am rather slow at mincing garlic by hand.

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All the ingredients are now together.

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Mixing everything. It was a good idea to use a metal bowl as it kept everything cold during the process.

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Here is the equipment that I use for grinding. I just bought this Kitchenaid as a birthday present to myself in May, and also got the grinder attachment.

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Even with the careful trimming, there was still some sinew left, and I had to clean the grinder once during the process.

Sorry for the unappetizing picture! But this is what happens when sinew gets stuck on your grinder blade.

It has a detrimental effect on the texture of the sausage so I tried to avoid it as much as possible.

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Overall, it was a much smoother process than my first attempt at sausage last month.

The key was to keep the meet very cold before and during grinding. I put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes pre-grinding.

I was very happy with the final texture.

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I will be stuffing the sausage this evening, so wish me good luck!

Now, on our way to Chinos farms to get some things for our barbecue.

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For the more obscure items, we have Euro Food Depot which unfortunately closed their brick-and-mortar store, but still takes online orders. It's a local company that sells to restaurants and has a great variety of hard-to-find items including lentils, saucisson, escargot, foie gras, super-fine French beans, pommes dauphine, petit suisses, etc.

And for the few items that I can't find anywhere, I just buy them directly in France (piment d'espelette, Suze, tonka beans).

Hi FrogPrincesse! I'm loving your blog already, but one thing you said makes me curious: you have a hard time finding lentils? Are you talking about some special kind of lentils? Because I can find lentils in every grocery store here in Seattle. Thanks for doing your blog and thanks to your husband for the wonderful photos!


Edited by heidih Fix quote tags (log)

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FP -- looking forward to your week! I've been to San Diego once, and loved, loved, loved it! Anxious to return.

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Hi FrogPrincesse! I'm loving your blog already, but one thing you said makes me curious: you have a hard time finding lentils? Are you talking about some special kind of lentils? Because I can find lentils in every grocery store here in Seattle. Thanks for doing your blog and thanks to your husband for the wonderful photos!

Hi SusieQ,

You are right, I should have been more specific. We can also find lentils in grocery stores in San Diego.

I was referring to the Puy lentils, which are green lentils from France. They are so delicious that they are the only ones I use. They keep their shape better after cooking and have a wonderful taste.

My favorite thing to do with them is a warm lentil salad with a drizzle of red wine vinegar and some herbs, especially in winter.

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Hi FrogPrincesse! I'm loving your blog already, but one thing you said makes me curious: you have a hard time finding lentils? Are you talking about some special kind of lentils? Because I can find lentils in every grocery store here in Seattle. Thanks for doing your blog and thanks to your husband for the wonderful photos!

Hi SusieQ,

You are right, I should have been more specific. We can also find lentils in grocery stores in San Diego.

I was referring to the Puy lentils, which are green lentils from France. They are so delicious that they are the only ones I use. They keep their shape better after cooking and have a wonderful taste.

My favorite thing to do with them is a warm lentil salad with a drizzle of red wine vinegar and some herbs, especially in winter.

Puy lentils are the best!

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Major Market in Escondido and Jonathan's in La Jolla tend to have Puy lentils (and sometimes Whole Foods in LJ). And since you mentioned unusual meat cuts, e.g. pork liver, asian markets as Ranch 99 and Lucky Seafood are good sources. Two other good butchers who tend to have those cuts are Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad and Bisher's Meat in Poway.

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Major Market in Escondido and Jonathan's in La Jolla tend to have Puy lentils (and sometimes Whole Foods in LJ). And since you mentioned unusual meat cuts, e.g. pork liver, asian markets as Ranch 99 and Lucky Seafood are good sources. Two other good butchers who tend to have those cuts are Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad and Bisher's Meat in Poway.

Thanks for the tips, Honkman.

I've never had much luck with Whole Foods in LJ for Puy lentils but you are right, Jonathan's is a good place for that kind of thing.

I am familiar with Ranch 99 and Lucky Seafood. Actually I was just there today (more on that later).

They do have a great selection of meat and seafood, but I am not always sure about the quality.

Tip Top and Bisher's Meat are good too, but a little far for me.

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This morning we went to Chino Farm, which is located in Rancho Santa Fe, amongst the most expensive real estate in San Diego. It's always been farmland and luckily the locals like to keep it that way.

This small farm is legendary. It provides top-quality produce to a number of restaurants in California, such as Panisse in Berkeley, and Spago in LA.

There is no "Chino Farm" sign when you get there. What you see is farm land with this sign.

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The little farm stand is very unassuming but the variety and freshness is quite remarkable.

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They got a little nervous when my husband started taking pictures with his big camera, but he managed to take a few shots of the beautiful produce.

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The most beautiful squash blossoms I've ever seen

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I was there to buy some corn for our barbecue tomorrow.

They had 3 kinds - yellow, bicolor, and white.

I got half a dozen each of yellow and bicolor.

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Here are the fields they come from.

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