Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa

This is an easy healthy weeknight meal I’ve adapted from Fitness Magazine.  I’ve modified a few details to make it more flavorful but it is still low calorie.  If you wanted to be all foodie you could roast your own pumpkin instead of using canned.  I used hot Italian chicken sausages but use whatever suits your fancy.

Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa

serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup chicken stock

2 chicken sausages, removed from casings and crumbled

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup frozen peas

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan

squeeze of lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons walnut oil

2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and chopped

Cook quinoa in chicken stock.  Cook sausage in 2 tablespoons olive oil in nonstick skillet.  Remove sausage from skillet and wipe down.  Heat remaining olive oil.  Add onions and saute until soft.  Add garlic and cook for two more minutes.  Add cooked sausage, pumpkin, peas, and quinoa and mix until heated through.  Add walnut oil, squeeze of lemon, and Parmesan.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve with walnuts sprinkled on top.

Adapted from Fitness Magazine January 2013

The Best Breakfast in the World?

Best Breakfast in World

Best Breakfast in World

The best breakfast in the world?  Now there is a challenge!  For me it used to be a full english but I find that heavy and, unless it’s made with the best possible ingredients, not so good.  Migas was a favourite – not any old migas but migas from the original 59 diner.  With Hugo’ salsa of death.  But then a friend called Buddy took me to the French Press in Lafayette and frankly my life changed.  There I had Cajun Eggs Benedict and what an incredible breakfast it is…

It is rich  - so rich the term filthy rich doesn’t do it justice.  If it were a car it would be a Bugatti Veyron with baby armadillo leather trim and a case of Krug 1988 Brut in the passenger seat and with Ursula Andress in that Bikini opening the door for you.

I might be digressing.

But with this depth of richness it needs to be a special occasion meal.  You know the sort – a hangover might be involved.  So what is it? Well start with thick buttered toast, topped with boudin and a beautifully poached egg sitting as a crown of yolky(!) goodness.  All covered in Gumbo roux style gravy with smoked sausage. Its hard to describe just how well the flavours and textures blend to be the perfect mix. I had to try and recreate this……

Donald Link’s Real Cajun is full of great recipes.  In there is his recipe for Boudin.  You should really buy the book but just for the boudin look here.  I used this for my boudin.  The pepperiness (is that a word?) is sublime.  So I fried up some boudin – not too long – enough to caramelise some bits but on whole wanting to keep it soft and moist.  That went on top of hot buttered “pain” from the local boulangerie.  I made a basic flour and oil roux that was super dark and added cajun spices and tyme to make a gravy – not too thin and not too thick!  To get a great poached egg sometimes it is best to make mini bain maries with cups in a bowl of boiling water.  That way they keep a good shape.  You could always go for the whirlpool method. Whisk the water so you have a whirlpool going and drop the egg in the middle.  Sounds easy.  It isn’t.  Go for the mini bain marie.  No, I correct myself.  That’s no fun.  Do the whirlpool thing.  It’s fun.  Now clean up the mess and do the bain marie like you were originally told.  My lovely (sic) wife has just reminded me how much fun the whirlpool thing was and no doubt I made a frickin mess of the kitchen again and didn’t tidy it up.  Opps she just read that  - apparently my eggs just looked crap.  Oh well.

Anyway I also fried up some choriso sausage.  I am sure Andouille would be better but the Andouille here is slightly different as its the real thing made from tripe and an acquired taste.  I love it but not everyone does.  It is the source of my favourite food quote – “good andouille is like politics, its only good if there is the faint wiff of s**t”.  Anyway this was all plated and provided to Cath and Evie.  A huge hit even with a six year old.  That sounds so much like the “my kids got such sophisticated taste” thing which is yuck but the truth is kids do tell you EXACTLY what they think.  Well excepting Bar who once managed to walk around with a prawn in his mouth for 4 hours before spitting it out  - despite  big grin and thumbs up when he tried it.

Any way if you have the boudin already made this takes a short time to make (assuming the gravy is also saved), and you bought eggs. And you don’t have to go to the baker.  It is really worth the small effort.  We ended up having it for dinner again that night.

Unskinny Bacon

hmmmmmm  Bacon

hmmmmmm Bacon

Here in Paris buying bacon can be a challenge.  Well not really if all you want is lardons…… you can buy those with ease anywhere.  But actual rashers of bacon – that’s another matter.  If you do get them they tend to be so wafer thin you just cannot peel them out of the packet without ending up with an absolute mess.  And just occasionally :-(  that just does not work for a proper bacon sandwich.  Something Evie has become more than partial to.  So it was back to MEAT by HFW, John’s posted about it before, and curing our own bacon.  It’s very simple.  I went off to Les Sablons outdoor market and bought some pork belly.  Really getting to know one of the butchers there now and getting some great produce. Recognising the same merchant makes a big difference here as you build a rapport. Once home the bacon was rubbed in course salt into which was mixed brown sugar, bay leaves, a little BBQ dry rub and a secret hickory smoked salt (from Central Market – one of my must visits whenever in Houston).  I cannot smoke here in Paris as putting the firebox on the apartment window is likely to cause problems so hence I tried to get the smoke in by other means.  Each day for a week I removed the juices that had DRAINED (yes drained, not run, not been extracted as my kind wife has been so keen to point out to me) off (all done in a tuperware dish) and used some new rub (well until day 5 when I got bored and just poured off the juices).  After a week it was time to take it out and dry it off.  I was meant to wrap two pieces in cheese cloth but my best attempts to find some failed.  So we wrapped the pork in medical gauze – probably a bit too late to fix the piggy (visions of a pig in heaven going “what the heck is he doing now!” – bit late for that) but did the job.  I tried a couple of slices of the bacon – and WOW was it salty!  I spent that night getting up about 6 times and no doubt I drank about 5 pints of water.  After a week of hanging in a dry cool environment it was time to slice and try.  The saltiness had definitely come down to a tolerable level!  It had a great sweetness and a definite slight smokey taste with the other rub flavours in their too.  Great!  But not really still the bacon for said bacon sandwiches. Hmph! Next time Mr. HFW we’ll be using less salt… But this is great bacon for lardons. Yes we did say we could already buy them but it has so much more flavour.  Already been used in Chili Verde…. Superb….  but not as good as being in a French pub, as I was yesterday, watching the English beat Les Bleus at the rugby!  The French supporters seemed to be more vocal at English mistakes rather than good French play.  So I was more than happy to be to sole person cheering when the boys in white did their stuff.  The grand slam may be on.  Need some good bacon sandwiches for that…

Upright Brewing Company Six

I love rye.  Rye bread, rye whiskey, and rye beer.  We have an excellent rye beer made in Texas called Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye which tends to be a standard go to for me.  So I was excited to come across this in a grocery store in Portland, OR.  Upright Brewing is all about farmhouse inspired beers using saison yeast and Northwestern ingredients.  The beers are numbered based on their starting gravity (pre-fermentation sugar content) in Belgian brewing degrees.  The Six displays abundant rye spice characteristics along with some bubble gum derived from open fermentation.  It has a dry refreshing finish and me eager to try their other beers.