Europe, French Fries, and Mussels – Oh My!

Back in September, my mom and I went to Europe to visit with some family friends. My parents were newlyweds when they met Tammo in Houston, Texas (circa 1981), and they all worked together. Tammo was homeless, because of some unfortunate circumstances upon his arrival in Houston from The Netherlands. My mother asked Tammo to come stay with them in their one-bedroom house.

Long story short, they helped Tammo get back on his feet and he eventually went back to The Netherlands. When he returned, he got married and had two boys. The boys are four years apart and the oldest is just a year and some change younger than me. At a very young age, I remember when Odji and Gitchy would send us drawings and Tammo always wrote letters and sent photos.

During the summer of 2006, I had the privilege of meeting our life-long pen pals when I was in Europe for my study abroad in Spain. After the 5-week long study abroad, I took my friend Michelle with me to The Netherlands to meet them. The visit was short, we spent one night and day in Amsterdam and stayed with Tammo and his family in Warffum for four more days.

1927719_512536865147_4123_n[Left to Right: Gitchy, Tammo, Me, Michelle, and Odji – Amsterdam, June 2006]

I often laugh that my website is called “Dutch Lovin’,” because it works for many reasons. I definitely love my Dutch friends, but I also love Dutch ovens, as in the cooking utensil. Clarification is nice sometimes. ;)

IMG_0477[This is Tammo preparing breakfast in Wimereux, France. That’s fresh-squeezed orange juice he made for us. Thanks for spoiling us, Tammo. September 2014]

Making the trip to Europe with Mom this past September was long overdue. It was 33 years since Mom and Tammo had even seen each other. Obviously, they had a lot of catching up to do.

The trip was a culinary experience for me, because FRANCE!!! Ready to indulge in the culinary treasures of France, we spent about a week in The Netherlands and a week in North France. Having Tammo there was the best! One day, in Wimereux, he made “Suquet” and called me a pussy (I laughed my ass off), because I couldn’t help him finish off the rest of the soup. Sorry, Tammo, I was too busy filling myself up on French fries beforehand, or as they call them in France, “frites”.

IMG_9924[Second day in France, we were about to check-in to our apartment in Wimereux. First time I ever ate French fries in France. September 2014]

Tammo always told my mom that he wanted to take her to France. Not only did she love it, but she also made me so proud. Mom ate so many things that she had never tried before, including duck, veal, mussels, African food, and the list goes on. There were a few times where I had to tell her, “Don’t be a wimp, Mom.” This is also why Tammo called me a pussy, because I kept calling Mom a wimp.

Now, let’s talk about mussels and French fries, better known as “la moule-frite” in France. Before we got there, Tammo told me that in Lille, France they love their moule-frite. Already a fan of mussels, trying la moule-frite was one of the things I anticipated the most.

IMG_0568[September 2014]

First of all, let me admit to how much I just love mayonnaise. Tosh.O has a joke where he makes fun of people that dip their fries in ranch dressing. He says that it’s disgusting, because it’s one step away from dipping with just straight mayonnaise. I am guilty of this, I love dipping fries in ranch dressing and if it were socially acceptable in the U.S., I would dip my fries in mayo all the time. No shame here!

Needless to say, I was hungry and seated at an Italian restaurant in Lille on my third day in France when they placed my moule-frite in front of me with a side of mayo for dipping my fries. I was in heaven! Seriously, look at that face and the sun was shining through like I was Jesus.

foto (27)[Me with my first moule-frite. September 2014]

IMG_0040[Here is my view of the feast! September 2014]

I am positive that this was Mom’s first time trying mussels. I need to get her out more, because it was tasty and she didn’t seem to object.

IMG_0624[Here is another moule-frite I had on my last night in Wimereux, France. September 2014]

IMG_0248[Finally, here is a photo of a salad that came with fries at Restaurant de la Haute Ville in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. September 2014]

It’s no wonder that as Americans we call them “French fries.” The French really do love them and will serve them with just about anything. It’s funny, because Bob (my boss) told me that he was at a U.S. airport restaurant and the salad he ordered came with fries in the salad. He and I both talked about how that was a strange concept. It wasn’t until I got this salad in France that I realized it’s just a normal French thing to do and not a bad idea at all. This was a decadent salad, it had herring and a citrus dressing that just worked so well with the fries.

I have a lot more food photos to share from my trip to Europe. We ate out a lot, but I feel like we definitely did our fair share of cooking as well. I enjoyed cooking with Tammo, because I learned a few things from him and everything was so delicious. One thing is certain though, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. After being there for two weeks, the only thing I really missed was breakfast tacos.

Beef Stew

This is a very hearty stew. It’s hearty in the sense that I like to use more vegetables than meat, it’s better for you and I am a sucker for cooked carrots. Feel free to add more meat to this recipe and cut back on veggies, if that is what you fancy.

There are a lot of ingredients here, but trust that this recipe is worth it.

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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3 hours

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs. beef stew meat
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. sweet smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. roasted garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 porcini mushroom bouillon cubes
  • 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2-32 oz. beef broth
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs. golden baby potatoes, rinsed and cut in half
  • 2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
  • 2-14 oz. bags frozen pearl onions

Directions:

  • In a 10-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
  • After the oil heats up a little, add the meat, spices (salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and garlic powder), and herbs (oregano, thyme, and basil). Stir occasionally until meat is browned.
  • Once the meat is browned, add the butter and porcini mushroom cubes. Stir to combine.
  • Add the tomato paste and incorporate.
  • Drop to a medium heat and add the flour a little a time, incorporating after each addition. The flour will soak up all the fat.
  • Turn up to a high heat, add beef broth, and stir to incorporate the flour with the liquid.
  • Let the stew come up to a simmer and stir constantly.
  • Drop to a lower heat; add the 4 bay leaves, potatoes, and carrots.
  • Cover and let it cook for two hours on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • After two hours, add the frozen pearl onions, cover and let it cook for one more hour.
  • When it’s done, let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

I like to make the blue cornbread to accompany this dish. It’s deLIZcious every time.

As you can see, I used porcini mushroom bouillon cubes, a product I brought back from Europe when I went in September. I haven’t tried looking for them here yet, but I am sure Whole Foods or Central Market carry something similar.

I got the olive oil (amazing) and porcini mushrooms cubes from an Italian market in Groningen, Netherlands. My friend Tammo took me there, since his friend owns it. I also got away with some of the best garlic I have ever had and some vinaigrette. It was a wonderful little market.

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Also, pictured here are the pink peppercorns I got from a market in France. The bottle says, “baies roses”. I use these peppercorns in my pepper grinder with some black peppercorns. It’s a nice little medley.

Happy eating!

Blue Cornbread

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Not only is this a delectable treat, but the color of this blue cornbread is always so captivating to me. Now is the perfect time to share this recipe, because it can be paired with any stew or chili of the season. It’s been quite cold in Austin lately.

On that note, I am ready for spring. I like this blue cornbread, but I prefer to see bluebonnets!

I bid you good eating and please stay warm!

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12-14 minutes for loaves (or 18-20 minutes for glass pan)

Makes: 3 mini loaves (or one 9 x 9 inch glass pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic blue cornmeal
  • 1 cup organic all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. organic sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. iodized sea salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup oil

 Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • In a mixing bowl, sift the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt together.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and oil.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until all is incorporated.
  • Grease and flour pan(s) lightly.
  • Evenly disperse batter among mini loaves or pour all into the one 9 x 9 inch glass pan.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes for mini loaves or 18-20 minutes for glass pan.
  • Check for doneness before removing from oven, insert a toothpick into the middle of the bread and make sure it comes out clean.
  • Remove bread from oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes before cutting and serving it.

IMG_6974

Gustoception and Chocolate Mousse

Back in April, I participated in an art show at The Museum of Human Achievement here in Austin, Texas. The art exhibit was called “In The Dark”, which was a multi-sensory exhibit minus the visuals. Basically, people were blindfolded and led through the museum in groups of four to experience pieces ranging from audioception to even thermoception.

In March, one of my best friends from Victoria called me and asked if I was interested in participating in this art exhibit at a new museum he was opening up with some friends. I was asked to write a proposal for the “gustoception” (taste) piece. As soon as I learned that I would get to feed blindfolded people, I was very intrigued. Immediately, I had so many ideas going through my head. I decided to go with a chocolate mousse with pop rocks as garnish. I wanted the bite to be tasty, yet surprising.

Needless to say, they happily accepted me into their exhibit and it was such a great experience. As the groups came to my station, I read this piece of prose (pictured below) to them, fed them, and they were on their way. The best part of all of this was seeing the look on everyone’s faces after they were spoon fed by yours truly. Some people really liked it, some people had squinty faces, and others had big smiles after they discovered the pop rocks.

Tongue

I had a couple of good friends come to the exhibit and listening to their experience after the fact was awesome. To be blindfolded and led through a building that you are unfamiliar with, with people that you have never seen before, will leave the imagination to so many things.

I recreated the recipe, wrote it down, and made it for my roommate’s birthday back in August, which is what you see photographed here. Mousse is super rich and decadent, so it’s not something I do very often, but I thought I would share this recipe anyway. The recipe here doesn’t use pop rocks, since that was just a garnish that I used for the purpose of the art exhibit.

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If you happen to find yourself interested, please feel free to read MOHA’s “In The Dark” showcase program.

Mousse(Click on the image to enlarge the recipe.) 

Photo Taking and Impulsive Baking

So far this year, my life has been pretty crazy.  The first half of the year came with many changes and misfortunes. The good news is that things are really starting to look up for me in some magical ways.

I haven’t blogged since March, isn’t that wild? Back in April, I was a part of an art exhibit where people were blindfolded and led through the museum in groups of four. I was the “gustoception” (taste) piece. I am going to dedicate my next blog to talking about that experience, because it was really interesting. The following weekend in April, my dad passed away. As a result, April was unexpectedly a busy month for me.

In May, I took my first photography course to learn my camera a little better and I’m so glad I did. The quality of my photos has improved tremendously. The class has already paid off and it has made me even more excited about my trips to Colorado and Europe. I plan on doing another food porn blog when I return from Europe in September. I just know I am going to consume lots of yummy food and wine.

I spent most of June helping my new boyfriend find a place/get settled in Austin. Now it’s July and it’s getting really hot in Texas. Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday month, but I have been baking a lot lately: cheesecake, blueberry muffins, cherry cobbler, cookies (of many varieties) and even a lemon blueberry cake.

Though I am not posting a new recipe here, I wanted to share a couple of photos from my photography class and re-blog the cookie recipe. During the first class, the instructor (Carlos Austin of Austin Photography) and I made a deal — if I brought food to the last class, he would show me how to photograph it. I showed him my post from the loaded oatmeal cookies that I like to make on the regular, and we both agreed that I needed better photos. Practice makes perfect, right?

photo

This is a photo of what we did to set up our station. I took this photo on my phone, so please don’t judge the quality. My real camera is the one you see on the tripod.

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This is the final product with my crazy cloth.  

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This is the final product on a black cloth, with interesting lighting techniques.

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This is a photo of the lemon blueberry cake I made for Natalie’s birthday earlier this month. Note the awesome photo quality. Thank you, Carlos, for the mad skills.

Those are candied lemon peels that I made for the garnish. I am thinking about posting this recipe, because it was super deLIZcious. I wish I would have taken a photo of it when it was sliced. That just might be a reason good enough to make it again. We’ll see, because blueberries are rocking right now.

My next post will be about the art exhibit that I was a part of back in April. I have already started it, just need to get my chocolate mousse recipe together. Chances are, you will see that post from me sometime in August. I am heading to Colorado this Saturday with my new boyfriend for a week. Should be back in full swing and hopefully posting monthly again when I return. Cheers and happy eating!

Vertical Pear Salad, Food

Liz:

I wouldn’t mind trying something like this! Grilled pear, maybe?

Originally posted on Ben Rogers Blog:

Vertical Pear Salad, Food
see the posting here

View original

Shrimp Bisque

Hello, Blogosphere. Oh, how I have missed thee. Sometimes life just happens and certain things have to go on the back burner. Among many big/recent changes in my life, I have recently taken on a new job/project that I am excited to be a part of. However, carrying a full-time and part-time job is very time consuming.

Regardless, I am excited to be blogging today. Today is a special day, because I am blogging. Now that I have adjusted to my new/crazy schedule, I think I can blog a little more often than every 3 1/2 months.

Also, I have an exciting food project coming up in about 2 weeks at a new art gallery opening up here in Austin. I don’t want to give too much away and I don’t have all the details yet, but more to come on that later.

With the crazy weather that we have been having in Austin, I figured it’s still not too late to post a “soup”. This shrimp bisque has helped me win friendships (Kevin, that’s you). Serve this up with toast points, because the broth is so good that you will need something to soak it up. Happy cooking, friends!

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Picture 1

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Seared Ahi Tuna Sushi Rolls, Food

Liz:

Gorgeous!

Originally posted on Ben Rogers Blog:

Seared Ahi Tuna Sushi Rolls, Food
see the posting here

View original

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

If you happen to be a fan of carrot cake and have some leftover (fresh) pumpkin, you are definitely going to enjoy this recipe. The only thing that I would do different to this, is add some big golden raisins to it. I opted out of raisins, because I have a friend that is not a fan.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble until you wobble.

IMG_2086[Photo Credit: Roy Peña Photography]

Recipe

Pumpkin Dip

When I first discovered pumpkin dip, it changed my life. Of course when I had it for the first time, the pumpkin came from a can, which I did not approve of. Though the dip was tasty, I knew it would be so much better if I used freshly cooked pumpkin. Also, when I had this dip in the past, it was prepared with cool whip. Since I am also not a fan of cool whip, I use the real stuff. Therefore, this recipe is simply a pumpkin whipped cream.

Like all of my other pumpkin recipes, I follow the Pumpkin Basics to cook the fairytale pumpkin (my favorite). The color of the pumpkin meat is a bright orange and the flavor is so delectable. This recipe is so easy, that it only took about 10 minutes to prepare it for a party (that is, if your pumpkin meat is already cooked).

Once you whip this pumpkin dip up, serve it with graham crackers. It is definitely a crowd pleaser. Happy pumpkin eating!

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Pumpkin Dip Recipe

pumpkin-dip

[I borrowed this photo from another website, since I forgot to take a photo with the graham crackers. For the photo & another version of this recipe, please click here.]

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