Cuttlefish with Raspberries

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French Bistro is not your typical cookbook. In fact, it’s more of an homage to traditional bistros, with references to real people and actual Parisian establishments.

The book would be a smart read prior to a Paris visit!

Instead of typical chapters, they are organized by ten bistro “essentials”: The Owner, The Chef, The Chalkboard Menu, The Wine, The Servers, The Table, The Decor, The Clients, The Ambiance, and The Aromas.

The authors are Bertrand Auboyneau and Francois Simon, and it was published in 2012.

If you have a love for bistros in general, especially with those quintessential French elements like vintage tiles, carved wood elements, the lamps, the windows, and so forth, you will love the photographs in the book, as I did.

There are recipes in the book, and they’re all exciting to me. But alas, if I were to make food that involved sweetbreads, sardines, liver and tongue, I’d be eating it all by myself.

I decided on a cuttlefish recipe. My husband won’t eat those, either, but I only ordered one pound’s worth in order to make this recipe.

After much searching, because I was not familiar with cuttlefish were, I discovered that they are short stubby squid, called Sepia in Italian. I knew I would like them, because I have a love affair with all creatures tentacled!

Following is the actual recipe from French Bistro, somewhat modified because my cuttlefish, about 4 ounces each, were much larger than the ones pictured in the book.

Cuttlefish Sautéed with Raspberries, Verjus-Style

1 pound cuttlefish, or 3 – 4 ounce cuttlefish
4 ounces raspberries
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Vincotto
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped parsley, optional

Rinse the cuttlefish well in water before using.

Heat up a pot of water that they will fit in to a strong simmer. Poach the cuttlefish for 5 minutes.

Remove them to paper towels and dry well. Pop out the beak in the middle of the tentacles. It will just pop out.

Mash the raspberries with a fork and set aside.

Add about half of the olive oil to a skillet and heat over high heat. Add the cuttlefish and brown just slightly. It should take about 2 minutes.

Remove them to a plate, turn down the heat a bit, and add the raspberries and remaining olive oil.

I also added about a teaspoon of vincotto for some sweetness.

To serve, place some lettuce leaves on a plate (this is completely optional) and place the cuttlefish over them.

Add the raspberry-olive oil mixture, and season with salt and pepper.

I also added a little chopped parsley.

Enjoy warm.

These were so wonderful it’s hard to describe them. And with the raspberry mixture the whole meal was just divine.

Not only was this a great dish for warm weather, it would be good with strawberries as well in the spring. I love cuttlefish!

Cheese Blintzes

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With every season change, I go through recipes that I have saved since I was very young. It started when I would cut up recipes from McCall’s magazine and glue them on large index cards for my mother. Then I started doing it for myself.
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As I just turned 60 years old, you can only guess at how old many of these recipes are!

Recently I came across this old McCall’s recipe for blintzes. It gave me the idea to make blintzes for when I have overnight company soon.
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Blintzes can be made the day before and re-heated gently the next morning. Plus, the little blintz packages are so pretty – much prettier than some breakfast casserole.

You need three parts to make blintzes. You need the crêpes, filling and sauce.

Cheese Blintzes with Strawberry Coulis

Sauce:
12 ounces fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar or to taste
2 tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice

Filling:
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Few drops of orange oil or 1 teaspoon orange zest, optional
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Melted butter, optional
Cinnamon sugar, optional

Crêpes; make a quadruple recipe.

To make the sauce, place the three ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.
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To make the filling, place the cottage cheese in a food processor jar and process until smooth.

Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ingredients and process until all combined.

Taste the filling. Personally, I prefer the sauce sweeter than the filling; you don’t want a sweet filling and a sweet sauce because this is not dessert. Also, the cinnamon should be fairly strong because it pairs so nicely with the fruit. If you can’t taste it, add some more. There are different grades and potencies of cinnamon.

Cover and refrigerate the filling if you’re not using it right away.

When you are ready to prepare the blintzes, have the crêpes at your work station either just cooked and still slightly warm, or at room temperature, if you made them the day before. If they are too chilled they will break instead of fold. Also have the filling on your work station.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter two baking pans to hold the blintzes in one layer.

Place about one heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of a crêpe.

First fold over the front of the crêpe over the filling, then the left and right sides over the filling, then roll the whole thing over the remaining flap.

Gently pick up the blintz and place in the pan with the folded sides down. Continue with the remaining crêpes and filling.
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If you like, brush the tops of the crêpes with melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or just until golden. They will be puffy, but unfortunately they will unpuff within minutes. That’s ok – they’re still really good.
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Serve with the warm or room temperature strawberry coulis.

If you like, serve with a few fresh berries.

note: Some blintzes are sautéed in butter in a pan instead of baked. Those are also fabulous!
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Berry Cherry Hazelnut Galette

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When I see desserts on blog posts, I rarely check them out. First of all, I’m not a baker, and have no desire to bake any more than I do. But mostly it’s because many cakes and desserts are just too fancy for my taste. Not that I don’t appreciate the skill that goes into making them. In fact, I’m truly in awe of pastry chefs.

It’s just that I’m a pretty plain Jane, and that speaks for my lifestyle as well as the food I prepare. So I am attracted to simple, rustic desserts like this galette.

I found this recipe on Epicurious here, and what attracted me was the title – Raspberry-Hazelnut Galette. I’m a huge fan of both raspberries and hazelnuts so I was determined to bake my first galette. Yes, my first, even though I’ve coveted them forever!

When I went through the ingredient list, I realized there weren’t fresh raspberries in the darn recipe, so I used the recipe for the hazelnut crust, and did my own thing with the filling, using cherry jam and fresh raspberries. Here is what I did:
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Cherry Berry Hazelnut Galette

3.5 ounces raw hazelnuts, skins on
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick, 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 ounce or so of water or juice
Orange-flavored oil
6-7 ounces cup fruit-only cherry jam
Fresh raspberries
Raw sugar or pearl sugar
Whipped cream, optional

To make the crust, first process the hazelnuts, flour and salt in a food processor until a hazelnut-flour meal is formed. Place the meal in a bowl and set aside.

Using the same food processor jar, add the butter and sugar and process until smooth. Add the egg yolks and water or juice and process just to combine.

Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form the dough into a disc and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.


You might notice that my “dough” on the left looks a bit crumbly. And it was. I followed the directions, but the amount of hazelnuts on the original recipe states 3/4 cup, which I estimated at 3.5 ounces. I actually think that might have been too many hazelnuts, but to compensate for the dryness, I simply sprinkled about 1 ounce of water onto the dough until it stuck together. Thus the addition of the liquid in the above recipe.

When you’re going to make the galette, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Roll out the dough into a circle, approximately 14″ in diameter. Brush about 2″ of the outer edge of the crust with oil – I used an orange oil. I only did this because I realized I was completely out of eggs!

Spread on the jam, and top it with the raspberries. I trimmed the crust just a bit, and then gently folded it over the cherry berry filling. I brushed a little more of the orange oil on the crust.

This is when I discovered I had no turbinado or raw sugar, which was in the original recipe, so I used pearl sugar instead. With an egg wash, the sugar would have stuck better!


Transfer the galette to a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. The crust should be golden brown.
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Transfer the baked galette to a cutting board to rest. If you don’t own one of these giant spatulas, believe me. They really come in handy!
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After about 45 minutes, I cut the galette into fourths, added a little more pearl sugar, and put cream in my whipped cream gadget. Another thing you shouldn’t be without!

Serve the galette still warm, or at room temperature. Ice cream would also be fabulous instead of whipped cream!
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verdict: The hazelnut crust, which is like candy, would definitely be good with just the jam filling, but I really feel that the raspberries add to this dessert!
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Cranachan

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The three weeks my husband and I toured the circumference of Scotland were a pure delight. I knew Scotland would be pretty, but I had no idea the vast geographic extremes that exist in this country, from the highlands to the lochs to the granitic islands off the northern coast.

This post is about a Scottish recipe, but I wanted to share a few photos from our trip. If you’re never thought about seeing Scotland, you might consider adding it to your list!

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During our trip, we stopped in at Talisker, a distillery on the Isle of Skye, took the very interesting tour, and tasted their Scotch whisky.
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I am not a fan of scotch, but I had to drink it because that’s my rule. That’s why I tried banana beer in Rwanda. (never again!)

You only get about an ounce, understandably, for your whisky sample. But instead of pouring it down my throat like a shot, I probably took 100 sips of the stuff, which prolonged the pain and agony. But I finished it! It had a really smoky flavor from the peat used in the scotch making process.


So I bring up Scotland and scotch because this recipe, Cranachan, which I have no idea how to pronounce, is a Scottish recipe and it contains scotch whisky. Irish whiskey, by the way, has an “e” in it!

I picked up this little cookery pamphlet at a tourist stop, I think at Culloden, one of the famous battle sites in Scotland. Just walking around there will bring tears to your eyes. So much blood shed over the centuries.

On a brighter note, this recipe, from the smallest cookbook ever printed, at 28 pages, intrigued me because of its simplicity. The recipe is not terribly unique, since it’s whipped cream and raspberries, but there are two Scottish additions – scotch whisky and pinhead oatmeal! So I really wanted to try it. The cookbook author’s version of cranachan is pictured on the front cover of the cookbook.

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I should mention that the food in Scotland was superb. I mostly had seafood, some I’d heard of like salmon, and others I hadn’t ever experienced, like sea bream. All of it was fresh out of the sea, since Scotland is practically an island. And yes, I had haggis and blood pudding. I’m not scared of that kind of thing, but they were made traditionally, so they were very bland. Someone needs to make gourmet versions and they might be way more popular!

I also had to have cullen skink, which is a seafood soup, and also a clootie dumpling, which was a dense cake. How can you pass up names like that?!!!

Scottish oatmeal, or porridge as it’s often called, is a staple in Scotland. If you want it for breakfast at your hotel in the morning, you must order it the night before. I assume it’s because the oatmeal is soaked all night before cooking. Scottish oatmeal is not the light and fluffy quick-cooking stuff we get in the US. It’s not even thick-sliced oats. It’s pinhead oats, which are more like pieces of the whole oats, which require longer cooking time.

If you want Scottish oats, make sure that you see a photo on the canister or box, otherwise you may not get the correct variety of oats. Even steel-cut oats can be flakes. Here is the recipe as it appears in the cookbook.
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Cranachan

60 ml/4 tablespoons pinhead oatmeal
280 ml/10 fl ounce/1 1/4 cup double (heavy) cream
30 ml/2 tablespoons whisky
About 45 ml/3 tablespoons liquid honey
250 g/8 ounces raspberries

1. Put the oatmeal in a small, dry frying pan and toast it over gentle heat for 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until the oatmeal is lightly browned.

I first sieved the oatmeal to remove any fine powder, then toasted it in a skillet over moderate heat, which only took about 6-7 minutes.


Then I placed the toasted oatmeal on a plate to cool.

2. Meanwhile, whip the cream until it is thick but not stiff. Add the whisky, and honey to taste.

I first mixed together the honey, which I warmed slightly, along with the whisky, then made the whipped cream. You can see me pouring the mixture into the whipped cream, before adding the raspberries.


3. Reserve a few of the best raspberries for decoration and fold the rest gently into the cream.

4. Spoon the mixture into 4 glasses and chill until you are ready to serve.

5. Just before serving, sprinkle the toasted oatmeal on top of the cream and decorate with the reserved raspberries.

verdict: I have to say, I was first skeptical about a few things. First, I wasn’t sure how well whisky and honey could be folded into whipped cream, but it does. Secondly, I thought the whisky would be off-putting, but along with the honey and the raspberries, it was truly delightful! Thirdly, I wasn’t sure what the oats would do for the dessert, but it works!!! Just a nice little crunch!

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

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I just came across this recipe recently, and realized that I’d completely forgotten about it. I made it once before, but for the life of me, can’t remember when. This isn’t like me, because I have a pretty good food memory. I’m assuming I made it when I had company over, because I just don’t typically make ice cream. But it was marked “wonderful” in my handwriting, so I know that I indeed made it, and definitely wanted to have it again. After all, it is summer.

The recipe is from this Wolfgang Puck cookbook, published in 1991.
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The recipe calls for 4 cups of crème fraiche, which is a lot, so I began by making it myself. If you’ve never made your own crème fraiche, you should make it. For one thing, it’s so much less expensive if you make it yourself. For another thing, creme fraiche is quite versatile, from dolloping on a fruit salad, to stirring into soups. Or, in this case, turning it into ice cream. It’s nice to have on hand all of the time.

To make 1 quart of crème fraiche, place 1 quart or 4 cups of heavy cream in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of buttermilk. Let it warm to room temperature, and sit for 12 hours. I cover loosely with plastic wrap. In 12 hours, you will have a firm crème fraiche.

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream, served with Raspberry Sauce

1 quart crème fraiche
10 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar

After you’ve made the crème fraiche, chill it completely in the refrigerator. Also have your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer and ready to use.
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Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk them well. Add the sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
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Add the crème fraiche and whisk until smooth.
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Pour some or all of the ice cream mixture into the ice cream bowl, depending how much yours holds. Turn it on and let it go until it’s ice cream. Mine took about 20 minutes.
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When ice cream is ready in an electric ice cream maker, it’s very soft. If you place the bowl into the freezer to get it firmer, the outside freezes and changes the lovely texture. It also can get too hard to remove – even with a sharp scoop.

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So for the purpose of the photos for this post, I “scooped” up the ice cream right away, and it’s easy to tell that it’s soft.
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That’s okay with me, because I got to eat some. And that’s what this is all about. Crème fraiche ice cream? It’s like frozen (or partially frozen) cheesecake.

If you want to make a raspberry sauce like I did, here is the recipe:

1 – 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon white sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until smooth. If you don’t like seeds in your sauce (I don’t) then sieve the sauce to remove the seeds. Chill the sauce until ready to use.


The next day, I made a banana split of sorts with the crème fraiche ice cream, the raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, and bananas. To die for…

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Berry Sauce

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Just in case some of you have not made a quick berry sauce, I thought I’d show you what I do. No cooking involved. And, you get to pick your berries.

Here’s the recipe:

Berry Sauce

2 bags frozen berries of choice – I used blackberries and raspberries – thawed
2 tablespoons white sugar
Good splash of liqueur like Triple Sec, which I used, or Chambord

Place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
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Then pour the mixture through a sieve to catch all of the seeds, which I personally find annoying in berry sauces if they’re not removed.
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When you’re done, you’re done. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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It’s especially good with a semifreddo!
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