Creamy carbonara

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One of the first things that I learned to cook upon arriving in France was something not whatsoever French: carbonara. I also learned how to make the Italian dish from a Colombian girl, so you can imagine that it was not necessarily the most traditional interpretation. Nonetheless, carbonara is great for so many reasons: I almost always have everything I need to make it on hand, it’s delicious, and it doesn’t cost much to make. Continue reading

Braised fennel with cream and bacon

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It’s a wonder that I love fennel. I hate licorice, and in France anise is everywhere, more specifically in the Ricard-type liqueurs that are so thick and full of alcohol they must be diluted with water. Jérôme loves them, and I just can’t get behind their strong, overpowering anise flavor. Raw fennel is packed with much the same flavors, which is why for a long time I didn’t dare buy it. I finally decided to go out on a limb one day a few years ago, and this recipe was born. The fennel is braised in a cream sauce and balanced with smoky bacon and delicate cream, with just a touch of mustard for an extra kick. The flavors go wonderfully together, and this dish completely annihilated my fear of fennel, leading the way to raw fennel shaved in salads in the spring. I just had a lovely salad of fennel, avocado and mâche last night (and today as leftovers), and I have this recipe to thank for it. Continue reading

Creamy cauliflower, cumin and lardon soup

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Yes, I know. ANOTHER soup! But it’s the season, and soups are one of my favorite (and economically advantageous) ways to warm up and enjoy something home-cooked in the winter months. It was especially cold here in France over the last couple of weeks when the weather brought us our first snow of the year that actually stuck, so soup was definitely on the menu (potato, leek and fried almond, turnip leek and sweet potato, roasted carrot and parsnip with coconut milk, etc., etc.). This is a fabulously basic soup. It’s hearty, filling and satisfying. You can eat it as thick or as thin as you like but I promise it’ll fill you up. I’m not sure what it is about this soup. I never regarded cauliflower as extremely filling but this is one hearty soup. It’s also very simple and something about respecting the cooking times and different steps takes it to another level, and I don’t recommend skimping. Continue reading

Thick coconut hot chocolate

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You know when a craving hits, and all of sudden you’re racing into the kitchen and rummaging in your cupboards, crossing your fingers that you happen to have everything you need to satisfy it? Yeah, that happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was home alone and in need of something sweet. Something chocolately. Something warm. I’ve been on a coconut kick lately (these double coconut cupcakes were amazing!) and so I hoped and prayed that I had some coconut milk tucked away somewhere. I did. The only thing I didn’t have was any actual chocolate! The dilemma fresh in my mind, I decided to make hot chocolate anyway. I remembered a recipe from the Food Network where cornstarch was used to make an incredibly thick hot chocolate, and hoped that mine would be rich enough to stay my craving even though there was no actual chocolate involved. Continue reading

Impossibly creamy pumpkin risotto

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I’ve never been a big fan of pumpkin, or squash in general. Last winter I made a very tasty squash, red wine and bacon soup that was a big hit, but never found its way into my recipe rotation. This year I bought some pumpkin for my Thanksgiving pie and once the holiday was over, I decided to give it another chance. Pumpkin risotto was born, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how incredibly unctuous, smooth and fragrant it was. Of course, you must like the flavor of pumpkin, and I’ll admit that even though it’s not one of my favorite flavors in a savory dish, I enjoyed each and every last spoonful. Continue reading

Creamy turnip, leek and sweet potato soup

This soup was awesome, and I honestly didn’t expect it to be. It was once of those cold winter days when I asked myself what I should make for lunch, and realized that I had some turnips, leeks and sweet potatoes that weren’t going to last much longer. Making soup was the easiest solution, and so I set myself to it. The result was something incredibly fragrant despite the lack of flavor boosts like bacon, herbs or even many spices. This soup is simple, but it doesn’t taste like it. Continue reading

Creamy potato, leek and lardon soup with fried almonds

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I didn’t eat much potato soup growing up. I don’t remember doing it, anyhow. I do have memories of the soup that originate from one of my best friend’s Mom’s houses. This was a real neighborhood house. The mother of three girls, Cindy had a sort of open-door policy concerning all of the random friends that liked to hang around with her daughters. I knew that I could stop by whenever I wanted, that the front door and snack drawer would always be open and that I’d always be welcome. Sometime’s hanging out carried on into pizza night, or chili on Friday, or even donuts the next morning. And if we were really lucky, potato soup. Continue reading