Red Chimichurri

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When my husband and I visited Argentina in 2019, I was served the well known green chimichurri in restaurants, as well as a red version. Yet I kept forgetting to look it up. Here’s what the traditional green looks like.

But finally today, I googled, and up came a Hank Shaw recipe for red chimichurri. His blog is Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and he is a James Beard award-winning author and former chef.

On his blog: “ If it’s wild game, fish, or edible wild plants and mushrooms, you’ll find it here.”

Mr. Shaw has written multiple cookbooks, my favorite titles being “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and “Buck, Buck, Moose!” I don’t own his cookbooks, mostly because I’m not a hunter, and I don’t actively fish or forage in Oklahoma, but I do enjoy his blog.

Shaw recommends chopping everything by hand, otherwise the chimichurri will turn a strange color. I think we’ve all learned with paints that red and green don’t blend together well!

Chimichurri is typically offered alongside steaks.

Red Chimichurri
Recipe by Hank Shaw

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 or 2 small hot chiles, minced
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped (I used a 6.52 ounce jar Piquillo peppers)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped fresh parsley, lightly packed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked or paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mix the vinegar with the minced garlic, shallot, hot pepper and roasted red pepper and let this sit for 10 minutes or so to mellow out.

Mix all the remaining ingredients together and let the sauce sit for at least a few minutes, or, better yet, an hour, before serving at room temperature. There were six Piquillo peppers in the jar. I first gently rinsed and dried them before adding to the chimichurri.

Chimichurri, whether red or green, is a fantastically fresh and flavorful condiment. I could eat it with a spoon.

Try it on steak, but also try it on fish and shrimp and lamb and eggs….

My only suggestion with this chimichurri is to finely chop the parsley!

Salmagundi

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A while back I received a newsletter from Sous Vide Supreme, where I’d purchased my sous vide, and this was the name of the newsletter – Sous Vide Salmagundi! So I had to google salmagundi.

According to Serious Eats, “Salmagundi is more of a concept than a recipe. Essentially, it is a large composed salad that incorporates meat, seafood, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts and is arranged in an elaborate way. Think of it as the British answer to Salad Niçoise.”

Well, it isn’t exactly like a Niçoise salad, if it contains meat, fruits, and nuts, but I was intrigued, and googled more.

From Wikipedia, “It seems to appear in English for the first time in the 17th century as a dish of cooked meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, leaves, nuts and flowers and dressed with oil, vinegar and spices.”

Isn’t that fascinating?!!

Furthermore from Wikipedia, “In English culture the term does not refer to a single recipe, but describes the grand presentation of a large plated salad comprising many disparate ingredients. These can be arranged in layers or geometrical designs on a plate or mixed. The ingredients are then drizzled with a dressing. The dish aims to produce wide range of flavours and colours and textures on a single plate.”

Well, I immediately thought, party food! What a fabulous way to serve a meal, on a giant platter, like a whole buffet on a platter. Guests can create their own plates and, it would work for both vegetarians as well as nons.

Here are a couple of photos I found online, the left being from Serious Eats, the right one from The Boston Globe.

I told my husband about salmagundi, and he also said – party food! Surprisingly there is no cheese mentioned, but I added cheese!

Options for Salmagundi:

Roasted chicken legs
Boiled shrimp
Hot-smoked salmon
Corn on the cob halves, roasted
Salami
Potatoes
Hard-boiled eggs
Green beans
Steamed beets
Cornichons
Fruits
Nuts
Tomatoes or roasted tomatoes on a vine
Radishes
Edible flowers

This was a lot of fun to put together, as you can imagine!

I would have had people over but the flies are so bad when I did it. In fact, my husband stood guard for me, waving away flies while I photographed.

I didn’t cut up all of the cheese, or provide any dips, but you get the idea. So much more can be done with this salgagundi concept!

Eric Ripert’s Seafood Chowder

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The New York City restaurant, Le Bernardin, a seafood restaurant, is constantly on top of the world’s ten best restaurant lists. In May of 2021, the chef-owner Eric Ripert was proud to advertise his long-standing 3 Michelin star rating.

In 2010, when my daughter went to New York City for an interview, I volunteered to meet her there. Of course, I made reservations at some great restaurants, including Le Bernardin. I’m a good mom like that!

This is a photograph of the dining room, from the restaurant’s website. In person, that painting seemed like it was 100 feet wide!

We had the most helpful sommelier while we dined at Le Bernardin. It could have been because my daughter was 24 and gorgeous…

In any case, our meal was exceptional, not surprisingly. If you’ve watched or read anything about Eric Ripert, you are aware that he’s a perfectionist.

In 2009 I purchased his just published cookbook, “A Return to Cooking,” about Eric Ripert and his culinary passion and skills, written by Michael Ruhlman.

As an homage to Eric Ripert’s love and respect of seafood, I chose a seafood chowder to make from the cookbook. It was excellent, and could easily be enjoyed during warm months. The hardest part was cracking crab legs for the meat, but so worth it.

Salmon, Crab, and Scallop Chowder
Printable recipe below
Serves 6

2 slices double-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into julienne
3/4 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup dry wine
3 cups fish fumet*
1 cup water
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon canola oil
One – 6 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 3/4” cubes
4 ounces crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
6 large sea scallops, cut horizontally in half
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Cook the bacon julienne in a large pot over medium heat, until it has rendered its fat and is crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the leeks and sauté until limp and lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine, stirring to incorporate the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Return the bacon to the pot, cover with the fumet and water, and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and boil gently until the potatoes are tender, 10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the cream to the fumet and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat until ready to serve.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush it with the canola oil. Place the salmon, crab, and scallops on the sheet and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes, until just barely heated through. The salmon and scallops should still be quite rare.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the soup. Add the dill and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasoning.

To serve, divide the warmed salmon, crab, and scallops among warmed bowls. (This is so French – my mother always heated dishes before serving!)

Ladle the soup over and serve immediately.

* From the notes of Michael Ruhlman: Fumet is very easy to make once you have good bones. The bones of the turbot are the best for fumet because of their high gelatin content, but generally any white bones from a non oily fish can be used. To make a fumet, you sweat sliced onion and fennel until they’re tender, add the bones and cook them gently, then add water to just cover and a bouquet garni and simmer very gently for 10 – 15 minutes. Let the fumet sit off the heat for another 15 minutes, then strain it through cheesecloth.

This is what I used, purchased at Amazon, of course. It was delicious; all you have to do is add it to water just like a demi-glace.

 

Eating Australia and New Zealand

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My husband and I live in Oklahoma, a land-locked state in the heartland of the United States. It’s called the heartland to make it sound better than it really is.

We basically live in the middle on the U.S., where the ground is flat, the dirt is red, and the winds come rolling down the plains. You know the song.

Our town is not glamorous. After the land run, homesteaders settled here, many of whom farmed wheat and raised cattle. Later, an oil boom resulted in a population spike. Agriculture and the oil business, along with an Air Force base, are the mainstays of the local economy.

How we landed here is a long story, which I won’t recount, but we moved in 1989, and have lived here ever since. As much as I tried to get us moved out of Oklahoma over those years, (I was hoping for Colorado), there are advantages to living here.

There’s no traffic, there are no lines at any time, and no reservations are ever required, for anything. Plus, the people here are good, down-to-earth folks.

But most importantly, the cost of living is low. As a result, we get to travel, which is why we’re still here after our nest emptied long ago.

It’s especially satisfying to cross a long-awaited destination off of a bucket list, and that’s exactly what my husband and I were able to do recently. This past fall, in 2017, we visited Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, we bounced from Sydney to the Outback, to Lizard Island, Kangaroo Island, then to Tasmania.




In New Zealand we explored Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo, and Queenstown.




As usual, part of my initiation to these countries was to eat as much of the local foods as possible.

Of course the beef and lamb were both exquisite.

I also enjoyed barramundi, coral trout, Bondi squid, octopus, mud crab, Sydney oysters, abalone, and green-lipped New Zealand mussels.

Although we rarely pass up a gastropub, we also dined at upscale restaurants, like Quay, The Gantry, and Altitude, all in Sydney.

I have to thank Lorraine Elliott for her spot-on restaurant reviews on her well-known blog, Not Quite Nigella.

And, of course, there were fabulous wines, beers, and other drinks.

It was so much fun to look at wine lists, this one in Queenstown, New Zealand. Not like any back home.

I’ve always favored Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, but the Pinot Gris really took me by surprise.

The trip was incredible, and lived up to everything we hoped for and more, in terms of scenery, culture, destinations, the local animals and, of course, the food and wine.

Persillade

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Parsley in French is persil, so it’s not surprising that persillade is a parsley sauce, combining the freshness of parsley, with butter, garlic, and lemon. It is also called Sauce Persil.

Personally, I love all of the green sauces, like pesto, gremolata, and chimichurri, so I knew I’d love persillade.

I was inspired to make it because of my friend Stéphane’s blog My French Heaven, specifically the post is entitled “The Power of Love, Laughter, and Persillade.” (It’s one of my favorites!)

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On that post he has a recipe for grilled scallops with persillade, but it’s a wonderful addition to not only seafood but meat and poultry as well. I’m making it for roast lamb.

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Parsley, I feel is really an underused and appreciated herb, having filled the role in fine cuisine as primarily a decoration. But I use it in just about everything – vinaigrettes, pestos, marinades, and so forth.

There are many variations for persillade, I discovered. What I’ve noticed mostly is the use of olive oil instead of butter, and either lemon zest, lemon juice, or no lemon. But the parsley and garlic are always clearly the main players.

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Here’s what I did.

Persillade

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, rinsed, patted dry
3-4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces unsalted butter
Squeeze of lemon

Place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and process. Add 3 ounces of melted butter and the salt and process, but don’t over process. You want to see the parsley and garlic bits.

Place the remaining butter in a small saucepan and melt it over medium heat. Stir in the persillade and give the mixture a good stir, and once you smell the garlic, remove the saucepan from the heat and add a squeeze of lemon.

Serve immediately so the butter stays warm and melted. It’s challenging to keep the parsley and garlic in suspension in the butter, so the persillade ends up looking like a green blob.

With scallops and shrimp, they can be tossed in the persillade. I served the persillade with lamb slices and roasted tomatoes.

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Stéphane claims that no one really loves escargots. It’s all about the persillade. He might be right!

Scallops and Veggies

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This dish is easy and healthy, and a nice change from all of the heavy meals typically served during the holidays. It’s simply seared sea scallops on top of layers of vegetables. What could be better!! So, here’s the recipe.

Scallops and Veggies
Serves 2 hearty eaters, or 4

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash, baked
1 pound sea scallops, of uniform size
2 leeks, white part only
Olive oil
1 large purple onion, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
Butter, for the scallops
Cayenne pepper flakes

Bake the squash using this recipe. Then, after it’s cooled down, use a fork and scrape out all of the strands of spaghetti squash onto a serving platter; keep it warm.

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Rinse the scallops, and place them on paper towels to dry off; set aside.

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The next step is to clean the leeks. Leeks grow in soil, so they always contain dirt and silt that you need to avoid.

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Slice the white ends cross-wise. Place them in a medium bowl and fill the bowl with water. Separate the rings of leeks so that any silt sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Then remove the leeks from the water and place them on paper towels to dry.

Using a large skillet or work, heat the oil over high heat, and add the red peppers and onion when it’s hot. Allow some caramelization, then reduce the heat slightly to cook the vegetables through. Add a little salt and pepper, then place them over the cooked spaghetti squash. Keep warm.

Add a couple more tablespoons of oil and using the same technique, caramelize and then cook the leeks. Add a little salt and pepper, then place the leeks over the red bell pepper and onions.

Switch to a clean, flat skillet to cook the scallops, which should be completely dry. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil, and 1 tablespoon of butter and heat over high heat. The butter will brown, which only adds flavor.

Sear half of the scallops in the oil and butter mixture, for at least one minute. Then turn them over using tongs and sear the other side. Make sure to also season them with salt and pepper, and even garlic pepper if you so desire.

Turn down the heat a little if you feel they’re not completely cook through. Place them on a plate, and continue with the remaining scallops.

When you’re ready to serve, make sure your vegetables are still warm, then top them with the scallops.
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Serve from the platter, making sure every serving includes squash, peppers, onions, leeks, and scallops.

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I love cayenne pepper flakes on this dish, and you can also offer Sriracha for extra spiciness!

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I have also smothered the cooked scallops in chile paste before, and you could always create a sauce with a Thai curry paste for an alternative flavor profile.

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But even straight forward, with salt and pepper, the scallop on the vegetables, all cooked to perfection, creates a fabulous dish!

I served this dish with an Albariño, and it was a lovely combination.

note: I could imagine this dish with also lovely sausages or grilled shrimp!

French Markets

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I don’t profess to be an expert on markets in France. In fact, I’m not at all. In the past, when I visited my family as a child, I don’t remember markets. I do remember walking to shops with my grandmother in her village, getting milk, then cheese, then meat, and so forth. I don’t think I remember seeing a farmers-type market until I was much older. I also remember my mother commenting on how much prettier all of the produce is compared to the U.S.

Fast forward to married life, when my husband and I have, luckily, traveled in France and many other European countries. Because we always wanted to see the countryside, we’re typically on the move. We’ve never rented a home, spent a week, and cooked.

So it wasn’t until I visited Stéphane from the blog My French Heaven, that I really got to see markets and experience them.

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In 2013, when my daughter and I went, the three of us went to a different market on four days in four different towns! But I know that the one Stéphane frequents is on Sunday in Libourne, where he resides. Which is why he refers to it as his church.

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In France, as it is in many European countries, markets aren’t like a visit to a super Wal Mart. It’s about planning what to cook, seeing what’s in season, visiting with friends. It’s almost more of a social institution than just buying groceries.

After three trips to visit Stephane, I’ve been to the Libourne market many times now. I recognize his favorite butcher, who blushed when my girlfriend gave him a hug for a photo. I recognize the old curmudgeon of a foie gras guy. And there are the cute young ladies who sell seafood. And so forth. Can you imagine having such a relationship with a cheesemonger? I have none of that where I live.

If you’ve never been to a French market, please read Stéphane’s post, entitled “My Market is my Church.” It gives you tips on how to navigate a market, how to talk to the vendors, and also what not to do.

I thought this was such important information because if I’d never had guidance from my mother, I could be one of the ugly Americans, touching the beautiful produce, asking for samples, perhaps yelling when a Parisien butted in line in front of me.

That doesn’t happen in France. In fact, you keep your hands to yourself and you remain calm. Farmers are proud, and they’re not selling any strawberry or green bean that isn’t perfectly ripe. There might be dirt on the carrots and potatoes, but that’s the only thing that an American would consider imperfect. You tell the vendor you want a half a kilo of mushrooms, and he/she will place them in a bag for you. Payment is in cash.

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Farmers markets are also not like our food festivals in the US. They’re not giving out food samples to draw you in. They’re too busy doing what they should be doing anyway. If you want one of their cheeses, ask for it, or move on.

There are counterfeit farmers. In Stephane’s post, you’ll read that if you see stamped eggs, for example, or if a “farmer” has baby-bottom soft hands, chances are you’re not dealing with a true farmer. They’ve most likely stopped by the French Costco equivalent and are re-selling at the market.

When my husband and I visited Stephane recently, we spent a couple of days in his home town. This was at my request, because as much as I like traveling and eating out, I can honestly say that there’s nothing quite like spending time with Stephane at his home, shopping with him, sipping the wine he’s chosen for you, and being served perfect food prepared by him.

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For lunch on our first full day in Libourne, he served my husband and I steaks with a green peppercorn cream sauce, and sauteed potatoes. Followed by a platter of cheeses.

We had purchased all of the ingredients that morning at the market.

In the evening, just for me, along with my Lillet, I enjoyed cured duck filled with foie gras.

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Then Stephane made us a dinner of his famous prawns in a Jack Daniels cream sauce.


How nice it must be to have a relationship with people who really understand their food, who have raised it, caught it, cooked it, and are proud of it. It’s wonderful to have trust in these vendors as well, and know their reputations. These people are so knowledgeable that they will tell you how to cook the eel they’re selling, still wiggling, of course, or even how best to prepare a cut of lamb. This is also a part of what makes shopping at farmers markets so meaningful.

A Seafood Salad

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There’s one thing that I really dislike after a vacation, and that’s having to go to the grocery store. Of course, no one else goes for me, so inevitably I drag myself out of the house to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and whatever I need for my planned meals.

But it’s especially nice to not have to go, especially the first day back. Especially if there’s some jet lag involved. Usually there’s unpacking, laundry, organizing, re-visiting lists, checking plants, and reuniting with the dogs that take precedence.

We have a pet sitter who will place frozen cuts of meat into the refrigerator on the day I ask her to, which is helpful. But my husband tends to eat heartier and meatier meals than I do. If you’ve ever seen me eat, you might be laughing at this. But seriously, I’d rather have a salad than a steak. Except that there’s no fresh lettuce and other veggies in the fridge after being gone for two weeks.

So enter my solution for having a nice meal on your first day back, without having to go to the store. It’s a salad of warm potatoes and canned seafood. It’s actually good when you have food in the house. The key, of course, is having good quality seafood on hand. The only think you have to plan ahead is to have some potatoes stored in the refrigerator before you leave town.

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So here’s what I did in order to procrastinate going to the grocery store for another day.

Potato and Seafood Salad

2-3 medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled
Canned tuna in oil
Canned octopus in oil
Other canned tuna, if necessary
Lettuce leaves, optional
Olive oil
Vinegar of choice
Capers
Salt
Pepper

Begin with the potatoes. Chop them up in equal pieces.

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Place them in boiling water. When they are tender, drain them in a colander.

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Add all of the seafood canned in oil to another colander over a small bowl and let it drain. Save the oil.

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Place the potatoes in a bowl, and add most all of the saved oil from the canned seafood, or to your taste preference. If you feel that the oil is too “fishy,” simply add olive oil to the still-warm potatoes. But this is an important step because the oil keeps the potatoes moist. Add some salt and toss gently.

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On a serving platter, place the lettuce leaves decoratively.

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Add the still warm potatoes.

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Add the seafood to the salad.

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Sprinkle the salad with a little more olive oil, if needed. I do.

Then sprinkle some vinegar over the salad. Today I used sherry vinegar, but any vinegar except balsamic would work well.

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If you prefer, make a vinaigrette using oil, vinegar, and some Dijon mustard first and pour that over the top of the salad.

Then add capers, a little salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Serve immediately.

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You could always include chopped shallots or chives, if they’re available.

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As I mentioned above, other ingredients can be added to this salad, like fresh tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and olives, but on a day when you have a limited supply of food, it’s a delightful and healthy salad to make and enjoy.

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note: If you don’t have potatoes, the same ingredients can be added to cooked pasta. I would suggest warming some minced garlic in a generous amount of olive oil first, then adding the pasta and seafood. If everything is dry, a little chicken broth can be added. Heat everything through over low heat, with a lid on the skillet, to maximize absorption of the liquid. Canned seafood is a staple in my pantry!

French Heaven

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As many of you know, especially those who have seen the photos of beautiful French food that I’ve been posting, my daughter and I flew to Bordeaux to spend four days with Stéphane. He is the author of My French Heaven, his blog, and Your French Heaven, his business.

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As soon as he picked us up at the airport, we knew we were in good hands. Stéphane is so likable. Lovable, in fact. He’s funny, smart, and slightly irreverent, which suited our personalities to a T.

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I’m not here only to promote Stéphane’s business; it needs no help from me. But for a little explanation in case you’re not familiar with it, he customizes your visit to the part of France where he was born and raised, based on your likes and desires and how many days you have to spend.

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Of course for me and my daughter as well, our daily plans revolved around shopping for food, cooking it, and eating it.

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But we also got to see the stunning countryside, enjoy the local wines, and see some sights for the benefit of my daughter and her specific interests in the world of art history.

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We also shopped at a brocante, which was a new word for me. It’s a combination of an antiques shop and flea market.

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This blog post could easily be a book because of how much we packed into each day.

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I’ll keep most of the details to myself as cherished memories, because Stéphane designed our time together just for us. He will most likely never duplicate these days, because of course all of the food we prepared together was based on what was fresh and available at the daily markets.

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Some people may not want to have the same extreme foodie days as we did!

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As much as I enjoy meat, we wanted to focus primarily on the lovely seafood available in that corner of France.

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My daughter and I stayed at Chateau Saint Jacques Calon, near St. Emilion, which is the B & B that belongs to Stéphane’s family. That is not mandatory, but it added to the magic of our holiday. (Not available any longer.)

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In fact, the weather was so perfect on 3 of the 4 days that we took breaks and sat by the beautiful pool.

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After a generous breakfast every morning, we drove to a different market.

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No matter where we went in the area, everybody seemed to know Stéphane. It was lovely hearing him chat away in his native French.

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And speaking of that, Stéphane’s English is perfect. I had moments of remembering French words and phrases, as French was shared with English in my home as a child, but mostly I let Stéphane do the talking.

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Stephane always had a general menu in mind for the day, but it all depended on what was available at the market, of course.

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On the first day together, I got to get my hands “dirty” when I helped prepare a foie gras terrine that was planned for our last day.

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That first evening, we walked to a local restaurant, owned by friends of Stephane, and enjoyed a wonderful meal as we watched the sun set.

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The most exciting thing for me was the walk through the French countryside, with grape vines just popping new leaves, and flowers showing off their spring splendor.

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The one good thing about hanging out with another blogger is that it’s okay to constantly take photos. My daughter was often the focus of our photos, because of her innocent beauty. She might have cared, but she didn’t show it, which is a testament to her calm and patient personality.

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She was often my model.

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As well as my hand model.

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Every morning we went to the market, and also stopped by Stéphane’s favorite bread baker for fresh baguettes.

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Then we’d go back to his house to prepare and enjoy lunch, typically outside because the weather was so perfect.

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One day we visited the beautiful village of St. Emilion.

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Which is where we also went to a wine tasting.

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Stéphane also showed us a beautiful part of Bordeaux.

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I’ve never been to this corner of France before, so everything was new to me. The expansive vineyards are quite impressive, especially along the Dordogne.

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Stéphane made sure we always sampled the many different regional wines, and kept us well stocked.

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He also made sure we enjoyed some of our favorite cheeses, as well as experience a few I’ve never heard of before. Fabulous!

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On our final full day with Stéphane, he put out a variety of cakes that he’d ordered from his favorite patisserie in Libourne.

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Both of our birthdays, mine and Stéphane’s, are in April, so we celebrated Easter as well as birthdays!

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I even got a birthday candle!!!

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For our final dinner together, we began with the foie gras terrine paired with Sauterne. Life just doesn’t get much better than that!

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It was bittersweet leaving France, but at least I got to spend a few days with my daughter in London, before leaving her behind and returning home. But we both shared fun, beautiful, and delicious experiences, thanks to our host, Stéphane Gabart.

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And I didn’t have to do dishes!!!

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Boxty

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Of all things, my first boxty was not eaten in Ireland. It was, in fact, enjoyed in an Irish pub in, of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s called Kilkenny’s, and it’s been an established and popular Irish pub since 2002.

I really enjoyed the boxty, which I’d never heard of before. I only ordered it because I wanted something traditionally Irish since I was in an Irish pub. And of course it was good – it was a giant potato-based crepe filled with creamy goodness. I can’t really remember all of the details now, but because of that experience, I was determined to have one in Ireland… which I did just a few weeks ago.

We had lunch in Dublin at Gallagher’s Boxty House one Sunday. We went there knowing that it was a touristy sort of place, but I had to have my boxty. Gallagher’s Boxty House is an unassuming little joint of a restaurant in the Temple Bar area of Dublin.

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It actually seemed like only locals were eating lunch there – especially families with children. The young man who waited on us was 17, and the son of the restaurant’s owner. It was nice finding out it’s a family business.

But touristy or not, we all have a fabulous lunch. I chose the seafood boxty and it was delicious.

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That day in Dublin was Latvia Day, as we surmised after passing loads of people dressed up in their traditional Latvian garb. (Of course, we had to ask what the hoopla was all about…)

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Aren’t these women beautiful?!!!

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I only mention Latvia day because the presence of the singing and dancing Latvians added to the frivolity of walking around Dublin on a beautiful Sunday when everyone seemed to be outside enjoying themselves. And the parade that ensued went right by the Boxty house while we were enjoying our lunch!

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Okay, little things like that get me excited.

But back to the boxty.

After returning from Ireland last week, I wanted to make boxty. I own a book on Irish cooking*, and it revealed that the boxty originated in the north of Ireland, actually. The word boxty came about from the fact that people cut holes in boxes in order to grate the potatoes to make this dish! I now appreciate my metal grater even more than ever.

There are also, not surprisingly, a few different versions of boxty. One is exactly like what I had in Tulsa and in Dublin – an oversized pancake with filling. Another version is a pancake on a smaller scale served simply with butter.

The third version, which I didn’t make today, is from a thicker pancake batter – essentially a dough. Round shapes are cut out of it much like our biscuits, and baked. I think I actually saw these on breakfast menus in Ireland, because they were described as hash brown potato cakes. I’m sure they were delightful but unfortunately I never had one.

Here’s my version of the giant boxty pancake with a creamed ham and cheese filling, and boxty pancakes with butter.

Boxty with Creamy Ham and Cheese Filling

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups milk, I used whole
Butter

Chop up two of the peeled potatoes and boil them until done. If you’re not sure, stick a fork in the pieces to see if they are tender. When they are cooked, drain the potatoes; set aside.
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Grate the remaining two potatoes and place them on paper towels for a few minutes to drain.

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Then place the grated potatoes in a medium bowl. Add the flour and baking powder. Mash the two cooked potatoes and add to the grated potatoes in the bowl.

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Give everything a stir, then slowly stir in the milk. The batter should have some consistency, yet be somewhat thin as well.

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Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Use a generous amount of butter for each pancake. When the skillet is hot, almost completely fill the bottom of the skillet with the batter. Don’t make it too thick, but also fill in any thin spots or holes. Turn down the heat to medium, and cover the skillet with a lid.

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After a few minutes, turn the heat down to low to finish cooking the pancake. I discovered that it was nearly impossible to flip over these “pancakes,” so I just let them cook on the bottom side slowly.

After a few more minutes, slide the pancake onto a large plate, turn up the heat again, and make a second pancake. When the second one is done, slide it onto a separate plate.

Complete as many pancakes as you wish, then proceed with the filling:

Filling:

1 recipe for white sauce
About 2 cups of chopped ham
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese

Make a white sauce according to the directions using butter, flour, and milk or cream, whichever you prefer.

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Stir in the ham and the cheese. I also sprinkled in some white pepper, but that is certainly optional.

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Add a generous amount of the filling to each boxty, and fold the other side over. Repeat with the remaining boxties that you made. The filing will generously fill four boxties, approximately 8″ in diameter.

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Serve immediately, or reheat later right before serving.

Boxty Pancakes

Make the same batter for the boxty using the grated and mashed potatoes, the flour, baking powder, and milk.

Add a generous amount of butter before adding the batter to the hot skillet. Make these the size as breakfast pancakes, turning down the heat to cook them through and prevent burning. It should take about 3 minutes on the first side, then flip them over and cook for about another minute.

To serve, add a tab of butter to the hot pancakes. These can be served as a side dish, or eaten as is. Personally I would have to have them with a side salad, or a few wedges of tomatoes.

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* It’s called The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook, by Kay Shaw Nelson.