Thursday, February 28, 2013

Verny Kebab in Verny, France

Once in a while I like to take a break from cooking and order for delivery. This happened a lot back in Cebu as we had many delivery / take-out options and most of them weren't very expensive. Where we are now in France, it happens less because first, there are no establishments that deliver to our house and second, there aren't many options for fast food take-out. The closest place we have that can be considered as fast food is Verny Kebab, in Verny, France. It is about 6 kilometers away and only allows pick-up / take-out (no deliveries). We called ahead, ordered, and was told what time to come pick them up. It took them 10 minutes to prepare everything. I like this arrangement because when we get home the fries are still fresh and hot!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Poulet Coco / Chicken with Coconut Milk / Ginataang na Manok

What a LOL day I had today! MR had an appointment regarding his visa today. We woke up earlier than usual because I wanted him to arrive early. The plan was to leave the house at 7:30 AM for his 9:00 AM appointment. Last night, I saw online that the trip would take about 20 minutes, but there was no way I wanted him to be late because I wasn't familiar with the route. Well, thank God we did just that because once we got on the boulevard we couldn't find the damn building! We went back and forth the street and I tried calling the place but no one was answering (it was too early). It turns out we were right there all along, we just didn't see the teeny weeny sign on the door! LOL.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baked Fish en Papillote

"En Papillote" pertains to cooking in a grease-proof paper or foil and so Baked Fish en Papillote means baked fish in parchment paper or in this case, foil. I always have fish at home and I try to cook fish a lot, but unfortunately, I also run out of ideas. Baking a fish "En Papillote" can be done a dozen different ways. You can mix in whatever ingredients fancies you that day. In this case, I had a mixture of fresh tomatoes, red onions, butter, lemon juice, a tablespoon of cream, and frozen mussels (I didn't even know I still had some in the freezer until I went raiding today!). The advantage of cooking this way is that you don't have to use your pots and pans. It's fast and uncomplicated. Because we don't have a dishwasher yet, I am not too fond of washing a lot of dishes. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who doesn't mind doing the dishes as long as I prepare delicious meals for him. LOL. A match made in heaven, it would seem! :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Frisee Salad with Bacon Bits, Tomatoes, and Eggs

I've always had an attraction for salads. Even at a young age. Dad rarely made any at home and I discovered  that attraction when we would eat out in restaurants. While I would eye the salad section of the menu, Dad would discourage me to do so, saying "I wouldn't be full with just a salad and I should take a main dish instead". LOL. Don't question, I wouldn't know how to justify Dad's way of thinking on that one. Especially since some complex salads are already a meal in itself. Anyways, I took his advice by heart and until now I rarely ever order a complex salad when I eat out. But since moving to our new house, I've noticed that unconsciously I've been preparing a lot of salads for dinner. Mostly a simple green salad with a simple vinaigrette. With a piece of cheese and that becomes our meal. But tonight, as I scanned my kitchen, I asked myself, why don't I make one of those salads I've always wanted to order but didn't?!?!?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Turkey Leg with Prunes and Carrots

One of the best things about moving to a new place is all the first experiences you will have. I have undeniably been enjoying doing that a lot since moving to France. Especially when it comes to cooking. In the past year and a half, I have enjoyed making dishes I never thought I would ever make. That thought goes to the beef kidneys and heart I've made. This time I wanted to experiment with turkey. Obviously a whole turkey is way too big for us 4 (3 adults + 1 child), but after several trips at the supermarket, Carrefour, I saw that they had turkey legs for sale and I was tempted to get one.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spaghetti Bolognese

So yesterday afternoon I drove to my brother-in-law's and helped him with the last cows he slaughtered. The whole team was already there when I arrived, which included the butcher and his assistant. They were already getting down and dirty with the first cow. We were taking care of 2 cows today, one in the morning, the other this afternoon. We all work really good together so time really flew fast. After a quick lunch break, where we ate steaks taken from the first cow, we were getting down and dirty with the second one. We were done at 5:30 PM and I left my brother-in-law's with 1/8 of the afternoon cow prepared in various cuts. There was a little of everything - steaks, ribs, ground beef, burger steaks, filet  beef cubes. I arrived home and arranged the meat in our brand new freezer (good thing I picked it up just a few days ago!). I think we now have meat to last us a whole year!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

They say that when it comes to Fifty Shades of Grey, you either love it and hate it. I'm gonna go against that and go after my own instinct (please don't hate!). I didn't love it and I didn't hate it either. I guess we could say.......I kinda, sorta.....liked it. It left me feeling the same way I felt about Twilight. A strange cutesy feeling but nothing more than that. It isn't a book that will have much impact and influence on my life. It had high points, but also real low ones.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Joue de Boeuf Carottes / Beef Cheeks Carrots

My brother-in-law, TH, has just slaughtered one of his cows and once again he asked me if I'd be interested with the offal and the cheeks. I'm not one to refuse, so I took whatever he had for me. I've already featured recipes using the offal (kidneys and heart) here, so I thought I would focus on the Beef Cheeks this time. This  started as a challenge because I wasn't really sure what to do with them. I couldn't ask my sister for advice as she's never prepared beef cheeks. The internet wasn't really helpful either. The only recipe I stumbled on was one called Boeuf Carottes, or Beef Carrots, which coincidentally also means in French slang the inspectors of the police. As you can imagine, I've never handled and prepared beef cheeks in my life before and I didn't want to mess it up. But I thought I would give it a try.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hit That Replay Button: I Look To You by Whitney Houston ft. R. Kelly


Exactly a month from today, Dad will be in the hospital for his heart surgery. If love was enough, there would none of this - no uncertainty, no doubt, no fear, no surgery. I try to be strong most of the time, but sometimes when I'm in front of my laptop getting ready to write a blog post, my mind wanders and my uncertainties take over me. Then I think of this song and I start breathing normally again.

"I look to You, Lord. After all my strength is gone, in You I can be strong. I look to You."

Beignets from Paul in Metz, France

I was out on an errand in Metz this morning after dropping SO to school and I passed by the store, Paul. I saw that the parking was fully occupied and I wondered what kind of store this was. That's when I remembered I had read about a store called Paul in France in a food blog, but I had no idea what it was. I recalled the blogger giving great reviews so I thought I would turn the car around and quickly check the place out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crab Meat Toasts

My niece, MO, was going back to Belgium today and since she passes near our house on her way, I invited her to have lunch with us. I knew that my sister and brother-in-law were having lunch at a friend's house, which meant MO would have eaten alone on her last day home. This was my way of nicely saying thank you for baby sitting SO a few times, which she loves doing anyways. Despite the age difference, the two cousins love spending time and doing things together. In a way, I think SO sees her cousin, MO, more like an "Ate" or big sister. Compared to my husband, I don't have a lot of family members, so it warms my heart to have moments like this.

Hit That Replay Button : Stay by Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko


I knew after seeing Rihanna perform her newest song at the Grammy's, that that would become a sure hit. But then again, most of Rihanna's song become hits, eh. She has, in my opinion, the golden touch (or voice). I am a big fan of the songs, not the person though. To me, Stay is probably one of her best songs yet. The lyrics tell a sad love story, one where she wants the person to stay although they're both hurting at some point. I often wonder if there is any connection with her Chris Brown story. I also love Mikky Ekko's voice here. Hits you with even more sadness. *sniff* 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Salad Spinner / Essoreuse a Salade

I have become a big fan of Green Salad and recently we've eaten a lot of salad for dinner. Sometimes with a simple vinaigrette and sometimes I add ingredients to embellish it. We are pretty lucky in France to have different kinds of salad available, so every time it is something different. I try to take turns with Mache, Frisee, Roquette, Endive, Scarole, Lettuce, Romaine, or a Melange de Jeunes Pousses. I also make different vinaigrettes and my current favorite is Balsamic Vinaigrette. From all these salad choices, many are thankfully found prewashed and bought in sachets. But I find that, for example, the Scarole, Batavia, Lettuce, and Romaine to be nicer straight from the jardin / garden than the ones in sachets (which I find tougher). So it was only a matter of time before I bought myself a Salad Spinner or Essoreuse a Salade to wash and prepare salads straight from the garden (although LU has advised me to wash the sachet one too - you can't be too sure, she tells me). But I didn't want to pay a fortune so I waited until I could find one that was reasonably-priced. I find that the Salad Spinner is one kitchen tool where you don't have to spend so much on. After a couple of weeks, I finally found one that would do perfectly for only 4 Euros! One that was cheap, but not flimsy.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ginaling / Giniling na Baka

Earlier this month, Dad mentioned that he'd love it if he could take his grandchildren out for dinner. I thought it was an excellent idea, but I suggested that he didn't take SO with them. She's still too young and if he wanted to have a serious sit-down talk with his grandchildren, he wouldn't be able to with her around. When he talked to me about this dinner idea, I couldn't help but be happy. His other 2 grandchildren are now 18 and 19 years old and he is just getting to really know them now. I guess his upcoming surgery reminded him of how time flies fast and we should make the most of every minute. With the help of my half-sister, we arranged their plans. Unfortunately, it had to be called off several times because my nephew broke his wrist and my niece studies in Belgium, but tries to come home on weekends. Tonight was the perfect opening. And the perfect time for me to make some good ol' Filipino food for us left behind! Hehe.

Hit That Replay Button: Glee - Give Your Heart A Break

Give Your Heart A Break
Original Version by Demi Lovato / Performed in Glee by Lea Michele (Rachel) and Dean Geyer (Brody) 

The day I first met you
You told me you'd never fall in love
But now that I get you
I know fear is what it really was
Now here we are, so close
Yet so far, haven't I passed the test?
When will you realize
That baby, I'm not like the rest?

-Rachel and Brody-
Don't wanna break your heart
Wanna give your heart a break
I know you're scared, it's wrong

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

For the past couple of weeks, MR and I went back and forth our Valentine's Day plans. We wanted to eat out and then we didn't. We wanted to do an activity and then we didn't. I was thinking of trying an Indian restaurant. He wanted to do a culinary class together. But we couldn't decide. I had already asked Dad to babysit SO for us and he agreed (after I bribed him with a promise that I would cook a Quiche Lorraine and an Apple Cake). Basta, all I knew was that MR and I would go out for Valentine's Day. What's great about the both of us - is that it doesn't take much for us to be happy, just as long as we're together. :) 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hit That Replay Button: Glee - Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)

Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself )                                                                  Original from Ne-Yo - Performed in Glee by Jacob Artist (Jake)
Much as you blame yourself,
You can't be blamed for the way that you feel
Had no example of a love that was even remotely real
How can you understand something that you never had?
If you let me,
I can help you out with all of that 
Let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself

Let me love you
A heart of numbness gets brought to life
I'll take you there 
I can see the pain behind your eyes
It's been there for quite a while
I just wanna be the one to remind you what it is to smile
I would like to show you what true love can really do

Let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself 
Let me love you
I know your trouble
Don't be afraid, oh I can help
Let me love
A heart of numbness gets brought to life
I'll take you there 
Let me love you
I know your trouble
Don't be afraid, oh I can help

*I love the original version of this song by Ne-Yo. It has a catchy sound and I can't help but dance every time I hear it. I was loving the beat and quite frankly didn't bother to listen to the lyrics. And then Glee took the song, transformed it to a slower pace, and the lyrics just hit me straight in the face and heart. It doesn't hurt that Jacob Artist has the perfect voice for go with this version! By the way, I just got back to watching Glee (which means that I am finally settling in our house and our new routine). I just watched the "Naked" episode and I am totally lost with the new faces and the story line. I think I'm gonna have to find some time to go back to the first episodes of this season or even last season!!! I do wonder what the "New Glee" is gonna turn out to be like. I can still remember watching the first episode of the series and loving it! I hope I don't get disappointed! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Beignets de Carnaval

I thought I could get away with making Beignets, but I didn't. Last weekend, France celebrated the yearly Mardi Gras or Carnaval. Traditionally, the women prepare Beignets de Carnaval as it has become a staple Mardi Gras delicacy. This is one of the few things that I prefer going out to buy rather than make at home. Truthfully, anything to do with levure / yeast is scary to me. But I got a school note from SO's school that announced that the children should come to school in costumes today (SO chose a nice Snow White costume) and if the weather permitted they would parade around our village. And and and...the teacher asked very nicely if I would be kind enough to prepare some Beignets for the kids. Toink! LOL. I probably could have bought some at the local Boulangerie, but my proud nature prevented me to do so. SO would bring homemade Beignets to school even if I had to turn the world upside down.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weng Hoak in Nancy, France

After our little experience of the Chinese New Year, MR, SO, and I were walking in the main street of Nancy, France, not sure exactly where to go next. And then SO complained that she was still hungry. It was 1PM and the little girl was looking for a proper sit-down lunch. She must have said the right words because MR looked at me and I saw the unspoken words in his eyes that our daughter had said out loud. After all  a small cup of Chinese soup, 5 sticks of Chinese Fondue, 3 Fried Spring Rolls, and 1 Fortune cookie shared by 3 is more like appetizers. LOL.

We wanted to stay with the Chinese theme. But the only Chinese restaurant I know in Nancy is buffet and I wasn't tempted to go. Instead, I remembered a little place we passed by the last time we were in Nancy with my sister and niece. It was located on one of those small streets branching out from the main street and it took us a couple of toss and turns to make it to the place: Weng Hoak.

Chinese New Year 2013 in Nancy, France

I knew that the Chinese New Year was coming up, so one evening I started to look up the internet if there was any events in our region. It's so hard to find any events going on here. There's just so many events happening at the same time and happening everywhere. Thankfully, I stumbled on a site that talked about the first Chinese New Year celebrated in Nancy, France last year, how successful it was, and how most probably it was going to happen again this year. I dug deeper for more information until I found out exactly what I was looking for: the date and the location. Although I am not from Chinese descent, I've always done something for the New Year. The Chinese culture truly amazes me and I always take an opportunity to explore and learn new things.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mixed Vegetables Soup

I wasn't lying when I said I would take advantage of my newly-bought hand blender to make wonderful homemade soups. I've officially said goodbye to buying already prepared soups, which let's face it, contain preservatives and more. So I've been stocking our basement with different vegetables. I gotta say it is quite a pleasure to be sipping on homemade soups for dinner with the winter we're experiencing. I heard on the radio that it's been the grayest winter in the history of time. They're not wrong; it's been awfully gray and sad! :(

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tarte aux Abricots / Apricot Tart

We've been eating a lot of Clementines and Bananas for our fruits this winter, because they are in "season" and readily available. Although I love Bananas, I so much prefer the summer fruits, i.e. Peaches, Cherries, Strawberries, Nectarines, Apricots. These are also fruits that we didn't have available in Cebu, so ever since I arrived in France, I've been eating a lot. I'm just bummed that I have to wait for summer to enjoy the perfect peach again. Anyways, I was doing my weekly grocery shopping the other day when I noticed a can of Apricot halves. Personally, I prefer Apricots in cans or baked in pastries. One my favorite French pastries are Apricot Croissants! Since I don't know how to make Croissants, I thought I would try my hand in making an Apricot Tart / Tarte aux Abricots. We ate it while watching the football match France vs. Germany last night. And OMG, thank God we had the tart to console us after what was another French loss! :'(

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Family Lunch at Kefan in Metz, France

Today is Wednesday, which means it is also SO's rest day from school. I know what you might think, lucky French children they have no school on Wednesdays. I'm not sure about that. Their regular school days start at 8:30AM and end at 4:30PM, which I reckon is a little too late. If they had school on Wednesdays, maybe they could end their classes at an earlier time, say 3:00PM? And there is also the issue of who takes care of the children on Wednesdays when the parents are working and there are no grandparents around. In today's case, Dad had his appointment with the heart surgeon and everyone decided to tag along. It was set at 10AM, but you know how it goes in doctor's offices; you never really know what exact time you'll get out. Like I thought, we were over and done at 1PM and super hungry! I'm not much of the Metz expert yet, but I do know where is located my favorite Asian-Japanese-Fusion restaurant, Kefan. Who would have thought that my restaurant disaster would turn out to be one of my favorites?! Check out my Kefan evolution here and here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Homemade Merguez Sausage

A French street fair favorite of ours is Grilled Merguez Sausage. Cooked on a hot barbecue grill, stuffed in a crusty baguette, and with a hint of mustard. Perfection; I drool. But we are in the middle of the winter season. The only walking and enjoying of street fair I'm doing is in my dreams. But this doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good Merguez Sausage from time to time. I'm just grilling them indoors instead.

Hit That Replay Button: Beyonce Super Bowl 2013

OMG!!! How hot was Beyonce and her performance!!! This was 15 minutes of pure entertainment. I'm not a huuuuuuuugggge fan of hers, but I recognize that she is one of the best performers ever. It shows that she is a perfectionist! It was also great to witness the mini Destiny's Child reunion and hear songs from my teen years. Makes me reminisce. 

Who else bothered to watch the Super Bowl just for the halftime performance??? :))) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Potato and Leeks Soup

Whenever Dad could get a hold of beautiful leeks, they always ended up in a Potato and Leeks Soup. But back in Cebu, this wasn't quite often and the leeks were expensive! I remember that Dad would buy them all and at home he would clean, slice, and store the leeks in the freezer. These would eventually all go in soups. I would immediately know if we were having Potato and Leeks Soup that day because I love the smell of leeks cooking in the kitchen! In France, it isn't as hard to find beautiful leeks nor is it expensive, which I've totally taken advantage of. The winter temperatures are quite rough nowadays (we're talking -8 to -10 degrees Celsius) - the perfect setting for some good homemade soup to warm our bones up!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Last night's plans for dinner was just the Crepes. Dinner at our house is really simple - a homemade soup, salad, casse-croute - except when we have company, which was the case. I quickly made a mental note of what I could make. MO loves anything to do with potatoes. Roasted, Baked, Steamed, or in this case Twice-Baked, which I don't know if she's ever tried. But when she got here at 4:30PM and saw the potatoes on the kitchen counter, she told me it wasn't necessary to prepare anything else aside from the crepes. Lazy me didn't want to make another trip to the underground basement (where I store my potatoes) and I left them on the kitchen counter. I guess the Twice-Baked Potatoes would be made sometime soon, which conveniently happened to be today. It is a very simple and easy side dish to make. But this is also the basic version. If you like to play with your food (like I do!), then I encourage you to play around and add whatever ingredients and flavors you like. A little makeover and I reckon this could totally be bumped up to a main dish.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

French Crepes - Le Jour de La Chandeleur

Dad insisted that I make Crepes for dinner tonight. I wasn't up to going out and shopping for ingredients so I told him I'd make him some another day (thinking it was merely another craving of his).

"No! You have to absolutely make them today. C'est La Chandeleur!", he told me, not wanting to hear another word from me.

Huh, La Chandeleur?! What am I missing???

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gratin Dauphinois

It was on an episode of Top Chef France last year that I learned how to make a good Gratin Dauphinois. There are 2 secrets in making Gratin Dauphinois which I'd kept in mind until the time I would attempt to make it for the first time. As simple as this recipe may look, I've eaten some that were under cooked and well raw potato is just inedible, IMO. So please make sure that the potato cook through well when you have them simmering in the cream/milk. I looked online and saw that many recipes use plainly cream. And also top the dish with grated cheese.I wanted to cut down on some of the calories so I did a half and half and no cheese version which turned out pretty good. Dad could not tell that I had substituted one cup of cream for milk and didn't mind that there was no cheese! I made this as a side dish to the sausages I bought to make today. I've also been thinking that this could be a great side dish when we have guests at home. All I need are individual baking dish / ramekins to serve. It would go perfectly with any roasted meat. And it's pretty cute too! :)

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