Friday, July 8, 2011


Forth of July weekend!!! Well, not here in France, but most definitely back home in the US!
Nonetheless, it is summer here and everyone is having parties! Tonight I am going to a party at my friends Philippe and Ingrid, with whom I grew up. And there will be other childhood friend. Some I have not seen in ...20 years!!!
As I often do when invited somewhere, I bring a dessert. Today being Independence Day weekend, what better dessert that an all American brownie? This one is so chocolaty!!! And decadent with twirls of cream cheese!

Cream Cheese Brownie

Makes about 16 squares

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) + 2 Tbsp
10 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp
4 eggs
1 cup flour + 2 Tbsp
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

Prepare a 9 inch square pan: butter and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Butter the paper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place the stick of butter and the chocolate in a small saucepan over simmering water (do not let saucepan touch the water). When melted, add the sugar. When cooled a bit, add the 3 eggs and mix to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the 1 cup of flour with the cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter/chocolate mixture and mix only to combine.

In another small bowl, combine the cream cheese, with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of sugar, one egg and 2 Tbsp of flour. Whisk to combine.

Pour the chocolate batter in the baking dish and spread evenly. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top and twirl to marble with a knife.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cut into squares to serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rum Marinade

There are rarely less than 10 people at the dinner table during our French summers! Most of them teenagers that inhale their food and are always hungry!
Chicken breast are a nice choice...quick to grill, great with just about any marinade...For this homemade marinade, I just opened a few cabinets, and the "bar" and went to the garden.

Rum Marinade

Makes 2 cups

1 cup Amber Rum
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all the ingredients and marinade the meat (chicken or pork) in it for at least 2 hours.
Grill the meat as usual.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Zucchini and Tomato au Gratin

Not only does this dish look really good, it tastes great too. It is very easy to prepare, but requires the patience to alternate the slices of red and green. Perfect side dish for a summer dinner.

Zucchini and Tomato au Gratin

Serves 6

5 zucchini, washed, dried and sliced thin
10 plum tomatoes, washed, dried and sliced thin
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large baking dish, arrange the slices of zucchini and tomato, alternating each time. Slices should be fairly close together.
Once the dish is full, sprinkle the olive oil. Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven to let the cheese melt.

Serve hot.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ratatouille is a great dish. Perfect for the summer, served hot or at room temperature, or even cold! Great hot during the winter! And it goes with everything, and stands alone really well too!
It takes a little time to make, as I do not just throw all the ingredients together. I cook each separately and then finish them all together. They all taste great and we do not have a soupy ratatouille.
Ratatouille is a dish from Provence, southern France, where in the summer, the tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini are plentiful. A mix of Herbes de Provence add the final touch to the dish.


Serves 8

3 medium eggplants, cut crosswise in 1/2-in. slices
7 small zucchini, cut crosswise in 1/2-in. slices
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
8 plum tomatoes, quartered
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottom saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the eggplants and saute until soften and lightly golden. Transfer to a salad bowl.
In the same pan, add more olive oil and add the zucchini when hot. Cook for about 8  to 10 minutes, until soften and golden. Transfer to the bowl.
Repeat with the bell peppers.
Saute the onions until golden and add the garlic.
Return the other vegetables to the pan. Add the Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper. Mix the vegetables well and let cook together for about 5 to 10 minutes.
The ratatouille should not get soupy.
Serve hot as a side dish or at room temperature as a salad.

Melon Salad

There is nothing like a "lazy" Sunday lunch with friends! We went to our friends Patricia and Philippe today and had lunch outside under the wisteria. Of course we drank more rosé wine and had a BBQ!! With the Merguez and Chipolatas (French sausages), Patricia had made a melon salad that was absolutely delicious and refreshing! And she shared the recipe with me!!

Melon Salad

Serves 8

3 ripe melons
6 oz feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1 branch rosemary, leafed
2 Tbsp Xeres vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the melons in half and take the seeds out. Scoop out small balls of melon and place in a large salad bowl.
Add the other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with a chilled rosé wine from Provence.