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eG Foodblog: Franci (2012) - From heirloom tomatoes to zucchini blosso


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Good Thursday, everybody. After two days of so and so weather it seems is going to be a sunny day. Good to take some pictures!

Just had my first coffee.

Franci – I very much like your rice cakes! I’ll try that next time we have leftover rice. And your pot stickers are gorgeous – both the exquisite folding and the nice crisp bottoms! A question about the cucumbers – they seem to be ridged slightly where they are peeled. Is that your peeler? It looks attractive and I’d imagine helps to hold on to the marinade the same way pasta ridges help hold sauce.

Edited to add that I hope you are feeling better.

Thanks for asking Kim. I'm feeling a little better, I didn't know I was suffering from seasonal allergies...

There rice cakes can be a little tricky. I can spare some of tricks learnt over time. The traditional ones are made with no eggs, the starch from risotto and cheese should be enough to bind the cake. Sometimes I add one egg per cup of uncooked rice, more or less. They tend to fall apart, so to prevent it, I help myself with a ring. I used the ring to form the cakes and immediatly shake it a little, the bottom gets loose straight away, remove the ring and use it again when flipping the cakes. Otherwise, wait untill it's nice and crispy and flip with a ring in place. I like also a bigger version where I use a 14 cm ring and my small lyonnese. they can also be stuffed, traditionally with mushrooms, frog legs or snails.

Good catch on the peeler. It is a tomato peeler. My son always loved raw peppers with no skin and I spent almost 3 years painfully peeling peppers with a regular peeler, wow, what a difference a good tomato peeler! It is great also for cucumbers or fruit because removes just the peel. I love it also for lemons, peels off just the right amount.

Hello Kay. I do not know much, just that besides being Labor Day it is "Muguet" Lily of the Valley Day, so the two are associated.

Franci,

Thank you for the extra piece of information. Using it and a little google work I found the following:

"As the story goes, on the first of May 1561, King Charles of France—who was ten at the time—was presented with a fragrant bunch of muguet: the delicate green sprigs capped with tiny white bells that we know as lily of the valley. It was a gesture signifying luck and prosperity, which so touched the king, he continued the tradition by giving the sweet-smelling blossoms to the ladies of his court each year on the same day. La Fête du Muguet continues in France today, and though men, who wear a few stems in their lapel, still present women with fresh bouquets...'

It is always amazing what you can learn on egullet. Thanks for all your work blogging with two little ones.

Kay

Well, thank you Kay, I didn't know it :smile:

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There rice cakes can be a little tricky. I can spare some of tricks learnt over time. The traditional ones are made with no eggs, the starch from risotto and cheese should be enough to bind the cake. Sometimes I add one egg per cup of uncooked rice, more or less. They tend to fall apart, so to prevent it, I help myself with a ring. I used the ring to form the cakes and immediatly shake it a little, the bottom gets loose straight away, remove the ring and use it again when flipping the cakes. Otherwise, wait untill it's nice and crispy and flip with a ring in place. I like also a bigger version where I use a 14 cm ring and my small lyonnese. they can also be stuffed, traditionally with mushrooms, frog legs or snails.

Thank you for the hints. I'm new to making risotto and was wondering what to do with leftovers. I experimented and made these for the first time using an egg but they still didn't stay together very well. I guessed that I probably wasn't the first one to fry up rice cakes and am glad to learn the name - Riso al salto. I'm really enjoying the blog.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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OK, I can understand why you are such a good cook because you had training, but how did you also become such a great photographer?

dcarch :wub:

Ditto- I recently upgraded from my Android phone camera to a Nikon D5100 and have fallen into the abyss...would love any camera related info, you're doing an awesome job on taking photos while multitasking! Loving the blog!

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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OK, I can understand why you are such a good cook because you had training, but how did you also become such a great photographer?

dcarch :wub:

Coming from you dcarch, I take it as a huge compliment. Thanks also to Zeemanb.

This is funny, because, as Heidi knows, my new camera -received as gift- had an accident...luckily I also got a new Ipad. I'm a very mediocre photographer but the new Ipad rocks!

Thank you for the hints. I'm new to making risotto and was wondering what to do with leftovers. I experimented and made these for the first time using an egg but they still didn't stay together very well. I guessed that I probably wasn't the first one to fry up rice cakes and am glad to learn the name - Riso al salto. I'm really enjoying the blog.

Thanks Haresfur! I can also add that a good flexible spatula is of great help.

Edited by Franci (log)
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How much effort does it take for you to go to Nice? Is there reliable public transit, or do you drive yourself? Is it a "big deal" sort of trip for you? (I ask because I'm dissatisfied with the supermarket in my little town. There's a much nicer option about an hour's drive away. I'm in that neighborhood once or twice a week anyway, so I try to do my shopping on that trip, as well as other things I can't do closer to home. We don't have a good public transit option.)

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Loving the blog Franci - everything looks great, its interesting to see a slice of Monaco too. Glad you are feeling better!

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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This morning when I got up, I mixed a spaetzle batter, covered and left to rest in the fridge.

I had the usual breakfast and left for the Condamine market with the little one.

thursdaycondamine1.jpg

There is a nice arcade with a butcher and cafes

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The open air market is not very big

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Finally I see the little tomberry tomatoes from Ottolenghi's book!

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I stop at this stall and get a basket of strawberries from Pigna (a little town on the italian side, not too far away), a bunch of white asparagus, a trombetta and cucumbers for my son.

thursdaycondamine8.jpg

Saturday morning we are going to Ventimiglia's market. I need to make mental notice of prices to compare: 70 euros for porcini, 8 euros for the long trombetta

thursdaycondamineceps.jpg

thursdaycondamine10.jpg

Edited by Franci (log)
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Thanks, Nikkib!

How much effort does it take for you to go to Nice? Is there reliable public transit, or do you drive yourself? Is it a "big deal" sort of trip for you? (I ask because I'm dissatisfied with the supermarket in my little town. There's a much nicer option about an hour's drive away. I'm in that neighborhood once or twice a week anyway, so I try to do my shopping on that trip, as well as other things I can't do closer to home. We don't have a good public transit option.)

MelissaH

I'm exactly half way between Nice and Ventimiglia. Although it's only 16 miles, Monaco is nestled by the sea surrounded by rocky mountains and there are some curvy roads to go up to the highway, so it takes about 30 minutes to Nice, 30-40 minutes to Ventimiglia. Before my daughter was born I used to go to Ventimiglia shopping every Wednesday but now not anymore. She really doesn't like travelling by car, so I wait for my husband to be home and we do some shopping on Saturday and not always. Because otherwise the all day is dedicated to shopping and we get home exausted.

I do prefer to shop for food on Ventimiglia and, just like me, a lot of people from this side of the border. The all economy of the town is based on selling to French shoppers and commuting to work in Monaco . You'll see Saturday morning the difference in variety and prices at the Italian market.

I could use the train, 10 minutes to go to the station, 20 minutes ride plus waiting times, with two small children...Forget! For me it's a big trip.

So, although it is more expensive here and is more limited, I spare myself some pain.

Also buying food online in Monaco is not very easy. By most sellers it is very expensive to ship to Monaco because it's outside European Union and it is not considered "France Metropolitane". I used to shop in London at Natoora (it's a French/Italian business), I cannot do it anymore.

Edited by Franci (log)
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The open air market is not very big

Ha! Many would kill for that beautiful selection of produce!

Can you describe your potsticker filling? Also what makes the rice have that yellow color?

Enjoying this immensely.

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Ok, let's get back to the market

The covered part of Condamine doesn't leave me with a good feeling, it's mostly empty.

thursdaycondamine11.jpg

Pissaladiere

thursdaycondamine12.jpg

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Fresh pasta, gnocchi and sauces to dress (bolognese, pesto and tomato), plus panisse (the chickpea polenta)

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general food

thursdaycondamine15.jpg

and this new place that look more like a bar to me...

thursdaycondamine16.jpg

I counted three butchers inside

thursdayconaminde17.jpg

Next stop is the little Bio market at the back. My son is going out for a field trip with school and I got some dry fruits and nuts

thursdaybiomkt.jpg

Just in time to pick up my son from school

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The open air market is not very big

Ha! Many would kill for that beautiful selection of produce!

Can you describe your potsticker filling? Also what makes the rice have that yellow color?

Enjoying this immensely.

Yes, I know Heidi. I should keep my mouth shut.

I followed Andrea Nguyen recipe of pork filling for the regular jaozi (so pork, napa cabbage, scallions, ginger, soy, salt and rice wine). I like her skins for potsticker but not for water dumplings. I made the filling in the past and froze, doesn't keep that well but it is so convinient to have it ready.

In the yellow risotto, or risotto alla milanese, the color is given by the saffron.

Edited by Franci (log)
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Lunch as usual takes me start to finish 20 minutes at most

The batter for the spaetzle was ready

thursdayspaetzlebatter.jpg

With the spaetzle tool I dropped the batter in boiling water, drain when the dumpling floated to the top and crisp them up with butter

In another pan I saute quickly some scalliions, carrot, trombetta, speck in cubes, chiffonade of the trombetta flower at the end.

A little basil and some grated comte for me

Voila'

thursdayspaetzle.jpg

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that looks quite delicious!

Ive enjoyed seeing the tomatoes in the market: how 'vine-ripe' do you feel they are? Of course some might be more so than others. do the heirlooms 'burst with aroma' when you cut into them?

in the past ive grown a lot of my own tomatoes, and nothing compared to home-grown with regard to aroma as i was able to pick 'perfect ones' while in season and had no economic motive to pick a little early so that i might sell them. It seemed to me that true vine-ripe aroma came in the last week or so on the vine.

Still the tomatoes i see im sure are intensely better than anything i can get here now, and probably better than store-bought here for some time.

Enjoy!

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Ive enjoyed seeing the tomatoes in the market: how 'vine-ripe' do you feel they are? Of course some might be more so than others. do the heirlooms 'burst with aroma' when you cut into them?

So far, I've bought heirloom tomatoes only two times. The black crimea you have seen in the teaser picture and a beef heart. The black tomato was disappointing, very mealy. The coeur de beouf was decent, with a good smell but still not that tasty. So far the only tomatoes I found good are the small "datterini", little dates (last picture from the open market, next to the trombetta zucchini.

Today was a rough day. The little one didn't sleep in the afternoon, so I didn't have time to make something I had in mind: rendering beef fat. In the fridge I keep many different fats, I was out of tallow, so the other day, from Formia, I got some fat to render (they forgot and didn't keep for me the best option but I guess it is still ok).

The girl was of course very irritable for the rest of the day. I decided for an earlier dinner for them . A soup, just like the one you have seen a couple days ago, some grilled meat and a cucumber salad.

I peeled the white asparagus and the girl wanted to help. They were huge! I was disappointed to find a hole so big in one of the asparagus

thursdaydariaandasparagus.jpg

I served in the most simple way. This season I've not had very, very good white asparagus...hopefully soon, because when they are good I find them truly good.

thursdayasparagua.jpg

Then we had some scallops (yes, defrosted!). I wanted to try a recipe on the side note of Flavor Bible. I don't like it, meaning that for me that is fine if a want to make a calamari sauce to dress pasta. Possible my mistake...to much brown bits in the pan...so a darker sauce. A larger, tomato concasse'. I'm not sure but I'm with my husband on this one, better plain simple scallops with plain salt.

thursdayscallops.jpg

Edited by Franci (log)
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Wow those asparagus look huge in your daughter's hands. By simple were they just steamed or quickly boiled and dressed with olive oil or? I have never had them. How would you compare the taste to the green ones. Just the same without the vegetal edge?

As to the scallops - I love the color but I think you are saying the taste was just too busy/overwhleming?

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Franci, what are your impressions about the restaurant scene in Monaco? Neighborhood places vs fine dining? I'm curious where you (or your neighbors) go when you want a casual meal out, especially with a family?

Thanks for blogging, it's great to get an insider's view into a place like Monoaco.


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I have nothing to add apart from saying that everything looks extremely delicious! Oh, I suppose I'll ask this: The guo tie looked lovely, any more Chinese food on the horizon?

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Wow those asparagus look huge in your daughter's hands. By simple were they just steamed or quickly boiled and dressed with olive oil or? I have never had them. How would you compare the taste to the green ones. Just the same without the vegetal edge?

As to the scallops - I love the color but I think you are saying the taste was just too busy/overwhleming?

Heidi, they were steamed for 20 minutes. Differently than the green asparagus they need peeling and longer cooking. The taste is also quite milder sometimes with a bitter note. One time I tried some white asparagus brought from people living around Padua, they were amazing, so much better than other white asparagus I tried. So I think sourcing the right product is very important in this case to really have a good experience.

Franci, what are your impressions about the restaurant scene in Monaco? Neighborhood places vs fine dining? I'm curious where you (or your neighbors) go when you want a casual meal out, especially with a family?

Thanks for blogging, it's great to get an insider's view into a place like Monoaco.

I would like to be able to answer in a more specific way to your question, Linda. Reality is that I've really not dining out much since we got here and especially in Monaco. We go either to Nice for fruit de mer or to Italy for pizza...And I don't know what my neighbors do. I know that most people here don't stay in Monaco all the time, they travel and have properties all over the world. So if they get bored with the local fair they surely have the opportunity to go to fancy restaurants elsewhere. I don't have the impression that people is very much interested into food. There is not a high-end supermarket.

I have nothing to add apart from saying that everything looks extremely delicious! Oh, I suppose I'll ask this: The guo tie looked lovely, any more Chinese food on the horizon?

Hassouni, I'd love to cook more Chinese food especially because I don't go out for Chinese here and I miss it but my Chinese husband doesn't want to eat Chinese food that much :laugh:

I don't want my children to perceive Chinese food as foreign...but so far my son dislike the taste of soy sauce. This morning I took a couple pictures of my local little store for Asian ingridients...another reason I don't cook much asian food.

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This morning I went to the bakery and got a couple pains au chocolat for breakfast and some bread to make a roll for my son's trip with the school.

Then, I went to the Beausoleil market.

Around there are also 2-3 little Asian stores, where I get some bottle sauces or sushi rice, very limited selection.

fridaymktasiatico1.jpg

fridaymktasiatico2.jpg

I especially don't feel like buying their vegetables

fridaymktasiatico4.jpg

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On Friday I can have someone bringing in fish from Ventimiglia. Today I got a big red mullet, enough for pasta for me and my daughter. A sole that is going to be childrens' dinner and half a kg of small red mullets to fry for my husband and I.

Here is the red mullet for our lunch

fridayredmullet.jpg

I filleted the fish and used the head and bones for a quick fumet. Some EVOO and garlic, trimmings and head, some cherry tomatoes, parsley stalks, deglazed with white wine, water and quick cooking for 10 minutes. Strained the sauce and put on the side.

fridayredmulletfillet.jpg

I cut the fillets in bite sizes and saute them in garlic and EVO, plus cherry tomatoes, some black olive and the fish stock

fridaysauce.jpg

Saute' some spaghetti in the sauce, dusted with chopped parsley. Done. It was nice

fridayspaghetti.jpg

And the head it's for me

fridayhead.jpg

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Today the weather is very nice and warm. I decided to bring the girl down to the beach in the afternoon

fridaybeach1.jpg

By the beach there are many snack places and little restaurants.

A relaxing atmosphere

fridaybeach3.jpg

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From here, facing the beach, I couldn't take pictures, it was too bright. So I had to move on a little bit, to the next restaurant

fridaybeach4.jpg

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We decided to stop at the last coffee place on the way out for an ice cream

fridaybeach9.jpg

A couple more weeks and here is going to be very crowded

Edited by Franci (log)
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The children already had their dinner

The sole was very nice

Fridaysole.jpg

Served with oven roasted chips. My daughter ate half of the fish, my son ate the potatoes :laugh:

Fridaysolemeuniere.jpg

We are going to have a late dinner.

Tomorrow morning we are going to Italy. Please, let me know if you are curious of particular aspects. There is a big vegetable market, one side dedicated especially to farmers. In the far back the fish section and on the sides some general stalls (salumi, fresh pasta and butchers).

Ventimiglia is also full of wine stores, they make most of their profits with the French and Monaco shoppers.

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Late to the party but had to see what Franci was up to. Always like reading your posts. You will tackle most anything and do it well. Your food pictures are an inspiration and make me down right hungry any time of the day.

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Oh, thanks Scudadoo97! You are very nice :blush: .

I kept my food very simple and I try to cook what I know is liked in my house, in fact, tonight dinner has already been seen to egulleters on the "dinner thread".

Two things my husband is particularly found of: fried fish and fried artichokes.

I generally like much smaller red mullets for frying but these were still pretty good.

Fridayredmulletstofry.jpg

friedredmullets.jpg

and I think I'm going to be done with artichokes for a while, they were still sweet but time to replace them with zucchini blossoms which strangely I couldn't find this morning

fridayfriedartichokes.jpg

Edited by Franci (log)
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