Sunday, September 18

Slow Cooked Beef Amongst the Big Guns in Paris

I have been enjoying the use of my kitchenette in my apartment recently with the exception of one of my favourite night's in Paris thus far...

Unexpectedly whirly due to the single gin fizz I picked up on the way to the restaurant at a local bistro, which cost an excruciating 12 euros, I stepped off the metro in Bellville in the twentieth. Lightly influenced and sitting across from Frédérick, a Parisian food journalist, I asked him, “So how did you get into it all?” Frédérick’s smile was something to enjoy watching due to the absolute passion he had for his day job. “I just remember my grandmother. You know, it is so rare now in France to have two grandmothers who cook.” I remembered my own grandmother’s soggy carrots and I was starting to realize I was from the wrong country. “I have this memory of when I was three or four. I was out picking griolles in the forest,” I nodded because I prepare crates of these mushrooms each week, “and I picked one up and it smelt of dirt but it had a musty and at the same time, fresh scent and I just remember being amazed that this came from the ground. You can’t do that in France anymore, it’s really a shame, but our fruit and vegetables are just not as fresh as they used to be.”

Frédérick told me about how he had first come to this restaurant ten years ago as a guest of Pierre Hermé, one of Paris’ most well known chocolatiers. This was quite a moment for me. As he continued to set the scene of the evening I thought back to my walk to the restaurant. Rue de Belleville is what I call Chinatown hill. It is covered foot to top with Chinese restaurants. And yet where we where, just off the road, was an insanely traditional French restaurant with exquisite food and an accompanying wine list with wines from all over France. “She is in the kitchen,” Frédérick pointed to a lovely looking women with stiff brown hair pulled behind her as she leaned over the bar, “and her husband stays out here.”

Frédérick’s partner, my friend who had invited me to this evening, had told me over coffee once that Frédérick was the type of person to trail across Paris to get the perfect olive oil for a certain dish. And I knew right then in that moment that he was someone I would enjoy meeting. He pointed at my plate. “This was cooked for 6 hours. It is so appel d’offres,” he turned towards his partner. “How do you say it,” and he raised his hands in front of his face and touched his fingers together and then slowly drew them apart. “What do you mean?” She watched his hands. “You know, appel d’offres.” She looked at his hands. I looked at his hands. And then she said, “Oh you mean tender?” I love how different languages communicate words without knowing them. We are all connected through our mannerisms.

At the end of the night Frédérick stood up and then looking across the restaurant his checks raised and he called out, “Pierre! Ça va?” And then he introduced me to Pierre Hermé, a man worthy of his weight. And all I could think while leaving the restaurant was that I had just had one of my favourite meals in Paris, not because the food was just as he said, exquisite, not because of the full bodied wines form all over the country that I live in, and not even because I met one of the kings of pastry, but because I got to learn about some one who is important to a friend of mine and I got to hear about someone’s passion which I could entirely relate with.

A part from dinners in restaurants there have been breakfasts in bistros and breakfasts at home.

A typical French petit déjeuner at a bistro consists of baguette with comfiture of butter and jam.

A typical French petit déjeuner at my kitchenette table consists of baguette filled with butter and cubes of dark chocolate as well a croissant smothered in nutella.

Recently my kitchentte has also played with the remnants of my trip to Italy. These have been effortlessly carried out with appreciation for the only plant in my apartment. It is now raining in Paris. One of my favourite moments to be a part of. And I am about to start making a fish stew with langoustines and gambas and Cabillaud for this evening’s dinner.

Names were changed for the sake of privacy.

Friday, September 2

Corn Obsession and Experimentation

It’s all the fresh hand picked produce just down the road and around the corner, it’s the opening of the front road side door that leads to the courtyard, and it’s the four flights of stairs that walk me up to that space I name kitchenette, with that view I can’t get enough of, that all as a combination cause me to endeavor into experimentation.

Especially considering it is finally corn season here in Paris. Seriously, someone couldn’t have waited longer.

The way I see it, I’m practicing for when you come over for dinner.

And in doing so there’s been something I’ve had to think about; how food was supposed to be about unifying people, it was supposed to be the drawing us together.

But you’re there and I’m over here and that’s my fault.

At least I know that.

And so I have to say this: I can’t make every meal about you.

And so in the meantime I’ve had to have a change of perspective; Not everything can mean that much.

It can’t all be meaningful, something that ends in a lesson or is put away for a rainy day. When did we start to search for reason in everything and miss out on enjoying what was happening around us? Was that ever ok?

Sometimes you will just have to do things that seem as though they are not leading anywhere or they are not helping anyone, but I think it is ok to rest in that place, to wait, and while you are there, to just do what you already know you should be doing.

And for now, in this season, that is corn obsession and experimentation.

Omelette personifying the Tortilla with condiments and corn

For the Guacamole…

Either mash or use your hand processor to combine an avocado, half a diced tomato, a quarter diced red onion, a good squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper.

For the Tomato Salsa…

Very finely chop half a tomato, a quarter red onion, a small bunch of coriander, one clove of garlic and mix them together with a good squeeze of lime juice, a gulp of olive oil and some salt and pepper.

For the Omelette…

You will need a quarter chopped red onion and a handful of corn kernels for the inside.

In a small bowl beat together two eggs with a sprinkling of salt. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat. When the butter is bubbling pour the egg mixture in to the pan. Agitate the pan so the egg mixture spreads over the width of the pan. Continue agitating so the egg doesn’t stick to the pan and it doesn’t over cook. Once the omelette is half cooked, sprinkle the red onion and corn over half of the omelette that is closet to you. With your fish slice flip the side of the omelette that is furthest from you towards you over the first half. Then in the same direction flip the omelette over itself and slide on to a plate.

Serve with your homemade guacamole, tomato salsa and some crème fraiche (sour cream).

Pancetta and Corn Spaghetti that you must try

You will need…


An onion roughly chopped

Pancetta cut into squares

A handful or more of corn kernels

A handful of grated parmesan

2 Tbsp cream


lots of pepper

Cook your spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente. Once there is one minute left for your pasta to cook, add your corn kernels. Drain pasta, keeping about 2 – 4 Tbsps of cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, melt a small chunk of butter in a pot, add your onion and cover until just translucent, about five minutes. Add your pancetta pieces, mix well and sauté for about two minutes. Add the cream allowing it to reduce for half a minute. Add your drained pasta to the onion mixture with a small amount of the cooking liquid and your parmesan. I like this with a lot of pepper and some salt. Add what you want of these and then enjoy with a glass of red wine.

Hidden Corn in Carrot Rosti with tomato salsa and crème fraiche

Grate one carrot per rosti and place in a colindar with a handful of corn kernels. Sprinkle over a reasonable amount of salt and pepper, 1 tsp flour, a small gulp of olive oil and a cap full of milk. Mix well.

Meanwhile heat oil in a pan on near high. Once the pan is hot, take a handful of the carrot mixture and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the carrot. The salt draws the water out of the carrot so there will be a lot of liquid. Shape it into a flat ball then carefully place each rosti in the pan and press down with a fish slice until it is reasonably flat. Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes in the second side. Be careful when flipping the rosti as it may fall a part, but it can be successful flipped I promise. Once cooked place it on a plate with a dollop of crème fraiche and some homemade tomato salsa (recipe above).

Wednesday, August 31

Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken and The Way it Should Be.

There’s been a swift change. Suddenly everything is the way I remembered it being. I was starting to think that France had lost everything from four years ago that had given me feelings of; I can’t believe this is my home.

My last apartment didn’t overlook blue roofs with scattered red chimneys, the parks weren’t filled with children and clean grass but instead men who wouldn’t bother finding a bathroom, and I hadn’t yet come across one of the few streets in Paris filled with shops overflowing out onto the road; whether it be for your baguette, cheese or horse meat, you can now find these just around the corner. And so, as I was saying, everything is as it should be.

Of course in all areas of Paris there are still those few people who do us the disgrace of seeming to personify this country’s stereotype. The other morning at 7 a.m. a very crafty gentleman attempted to run me off the road as I rode my bicycle to work. I skidded, he pushed his breaks, I stopped, he rolled down his window, I became aware that there was no one else on the road, he reversed as I rode behind him and he yelled at me.

And there would be many of you who would nod at this and say that yes, everything is the way it’s supposed to be in Paris.

But you’re wrong.

Because where have all the classic sauces gone that France is known for?

A few months back I did a course at Le Cordon Bleu called Classic and Modern Sauces. I completely recommend it, even if it is just for the experience created by the chef who has spent a considerable amount of time working at the Ritz here in Paris (that link is worth a click even if it is just to listen to the back ground music).

Yes, I have become determined that sauces will not be left to only their culinary professionals. I will say this for everyone; we too can make sauce worthy of groaning. I may have chili in my fingernails and it may sting just as much as it would if it were in your eyes, but you too are capable of balancing your sweet and tart flavours, correcting your seasoning and becoming overwhelmed by the glory of reduction!

Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken

The ratio of this recipe is to 1 chicken piece.


1 Tbsp curry powder

1 cm green chili, diced

1 cm lime rind, diced

6 saffron strands



juice of half lime

50ml coconut milk

1 Tbsp fresh coriander, diced

Chicken on the bone, amount depends on people

1 tsp peanut butter

½ onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

¾ cup chicken stock

Place the marinade ingredients in a bowl big enough to fit your chicken pieces. Mix well and add your chicken. Try and leave it for a few hours, or even over night, but don’t be too fussy about this.

Meanwhile, in a pan add a splash of oil (olive or peanut) and the peanut butter. Add garlic and onion and allow to sauté for a few minutes. Once the pan is quite hot, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and shake them a bit, then place them in the pan skin-side down. Allow them to golden and crisp ever so slightly on both sides. Turn the heat on low and add your stock. The stock will simmer rapidly then slow down. You want it to be at a consistent light simmering. Once this has reduced by at least half, add the rest of your marinade and stir well.

This will reduce again, creating a thick and sticky consistency. When the sauce comes to your desired sauce consistency, check seasoning and see if the chicken has cooked through. Serve.

I served mine with garlic sautéed spinach, which was incredible. Just bang butter, diced garlic and spinach in a pan, cover and allow to soften and then dry slightly before eating.

Monday, August 29

Curried Lentil Soup with Coriander and Movie Night

When you say, “take me to Paris,” for no other reason than because you love it there. And when you are taken there, to this place that gives you that feeling; the one Harriet I said I would always describe as overwhelment, then all you can be is thankful. And know that that person must love you a lot.

We’ve been on our honeymoon. We walk through the streets that are covered with crackling brown leaves, we linger in the aisles at the monoprix supermarket deciding if we would prefer haricots blancs; fresh or dried, and we ride our bikes on Sunday afternoons when it’s quiet and the streets are barely chattering.

And it smells like it used to smell here. All the air-conditioned air blown out on to the streets, the open-styled fish mongers displaying their morning catches on the pavements, and the whiff from four a.m baked baguettes that floats around my courtyard, up towards my apartment and through my open window that overlooks the roofs of Paris.

There have been so many more surprises here in this city than I expected to find...

Like Sarah.

We talk about relating and moving countries and living, not only in Paris, but in every day life.

I’ve been back from Italy for four sleeps and already we’ve had a moving-in-day, which actually turned in to a Nicoise Salad Lunch with Cereal Baguette. Not a bad substitution.

And then last night there was Curried Lentil Soup with Coriander and Movie Night. That one was most exciting, as it required a process which ended in relating with some one else. And isn't that what it is all about? How the process leads to the relating…

But how ever you like it, how ever you make it, make a thing of it. Because it is how well we go about dwelling in these kinds of processes, that then establishes how authentic we become to relate with.

Curried Lentil Soup with Coriander

I used water but if you want an even more full-bodied flavour-filled soup, then used vegetable stock.

Makes enough for two.

1/2 cups red split peas

3 cups water or vegetable stock

a large handful of broccoli florets

1 carrot

1 onion

4 cm ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp curry powder

7 saffron strands

some butter

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup coconut milk

small handful coriander

handful spinach



Wash your lentils and place them into a pot with about 3 cups of water (or stock) and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer.

In a dry pan, toast your curry powder until it has become richer in colour and very fragrant. Be careful not to burn it, stir the pan often. Once it is toasted nicely pour the powder in to a bowl and cool.

Dice your onion, 2 of your garlic cloves and half your ginger. Place the pan back on the element and add 1 Tbsp of butter. Add these vegetables and sauté until the onion is translucent. In the meantime, grate the left over ginger and carrot and place them both in with the lentils. Stir well and continue to simmer. Add your broccoli to the lentil mixture. Once the onion mixture is ready, add the tomato paste, raisins, ½ tsp of untoasted curry powder and the toasted curry powder. Mix well and sauté on low for another two minutes. Add this to the lentils, along with 7 saffron strands and stir well. At this point you want the lentils to be absorbing a lot of the liquid and becoming barely visible within the soup as they simmer. Continue to do this until the lentils are at your desired consistency, about twenty or thirty minutes. Next, add the lemon juice, coconut milk, sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. Taste. If you want it a little sweeter; add more sugar, if you want it with a bit more of a bang; add more lemon and so on. Dice the coriander and stir it through the soup. While all this is happening, in a separate pan add a small knob of butter, 1 diced garlic clove and your washed spinach. Cover for five minutes on low, then stir. Spoon the soup into two bowls, top with spinach, a splash of coconut milk and some fresh coriander leaves and cracked pepper.

Note: If you prefer your soups more liquidy, just add some extra liquid ten or some minutes before it is ready.

Wednesday, August 24

I Imagined my Kitchenette when in Rome

It’s coming to a close; seven days of Nero’s naturally chilled aqueducts in Rome.

Except that I don’t want to talk about any of it. I don’t want to talk about travel, about dragging a 26 kilo suitcase around, about wearing sun block all over my body in 39°, and I don’t even really want to talk about the food… not really.

Except that I am a strong believer that a successful traveler is a well researched traveler. Therefore, to help you along in your own Roman experiences I will tell you two things…

Gusto; I had so much fun with you. Watching you in your pizzeria rolling out your dough and throwing rocket and fresh balls of mozzarella (not sparingly) on as toppings. Walking between your stacks and cases of various cookbooks, old and new. And then we sat over a bottle of wine listening to the clatter of pots from the open kitchen, walking through your three or so dinning areas, and admiring your baskets of aperitifs in your wine bar. Gusto, that was one hell of a night.

Gusto is a highly recommended Roman food experience for dinner or a long lunch.

And then you get to the point where you don’t care any more if pasta and pizza are Italian and you’re in Italy and it’s supposed to make sense, that combination of place and cuisine. In this case, it has just become entirely appropriate to visit Piazza Vittorio. Here you will discover Rome’s largest food market.

And for the first time in Italy you will finally get your hands on the most beautiful vegetables ever created: borlotti.

You will take these fire crackers home and pod them and then put them in a pot of salted boiling water with some extra virgin olive oil, a bunch of sage, and perhaps even some rosemary, and they will turn light purpely/burgundy right there in front of you. And then you will eat them all on their own… except if you are cooking for someone else you will put them in to a fresh salad made from all the other vegetables you bought from this market dream.

Rome, your dinners in your piazzas fulfilled every imagination. But that’s all I’m going to say.

Because tomorrow I move back to Paris, into a 14-squared-meter apartment, into my very own place that I have rented on my own before, in to my very own kitchen(ette)...

And I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 9, Roma

Sunday, August 21

Florentine Favourites and Why I Should be Over for Dinner

“It feels a little strange that you haven’t been around for dinner recently.”

Over here there’s being away and living in Paris; adjusting to a life filled with genuine pastry; walking down streets that in themselves possess the notion of entertainment. There’s seeing new things; popping over to Africa; flying into Bologna; imagining living in Florence, a place filled with calm as well as city, rushing water as well as horses on cobbles, and the best biscotti and seafood spaghetti, that one’s mouth can not even strive to imagine.

I’ve even met this gorgeous boy.

And when she made that comment, she was responding to what I had told her; that living really is just spending time in your homes with you, it’s being a part of your lives so we can figure it all out together, it’s having a meal with you and your husbands, because that is the space I enjoy; being in all your presences.

Mother is here with me now. We have been doing these sorts of things, spending time and having meals together. We’ve eaten the most delicious dessert involving custard. It was called Grandmother, except that it was in Italian.

We had that seafood spaghetti I was talking about, the one outside the Duomo in Florence.

Then there was the swankiest coffee/sandwich/patisserie bar that I have seen in Italy with an Italian standing outside on his cell phone. It seemed appropriate considering our location and so we got the most vegetarian-Italian sandwich you could imagine; marinated aubergine, sliced tomato, soft white cheese and fresh basil leaves.

There was the hugest gelato cone one has ever held, which was surprising considering the bountiful amount of dairies I bought ice creams from growing up in New Zealand. Even more surprising was that the flavour I have most embraced so far has been mint with chunks of dark chocolate.

Then this man here…

He brought out an entire fish for us…

And he prepared it at our table…

And it was wonderful.

But not as wonderful as coming around to yours for dinner.

I knew that before I came here. I know that even more now. And so what I am saying is that it feels a little strange that I haven’t been a part of your lives recently.

And that I am looking forward to that dinner at your place, very much.