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I can't see a thing!
I said Moooooove!
I have no idea why there are brown cows in this herd. Charolais are almost universally raised here in the Vendée. Pretty brown cows, though, aren't they?
But a bit too tall for the short-legged Charolais to see over.
Excuse me a minute…..
Okay, I'm back. I just had to run downstairs and out to the back pantry for a piece of chocolate. I can't keep it by my computer for obvious reasons.
The chocolate is out in full force in the supermarkets now. The first sign of Christmas here in France is when the fall housewares display is replaced by chocolate. The French, indeed, most Europeans are very serious about their chocolate and December is the month to indulge.
And indulge they do! There are an additional 2 full aisles devoted to chocolate at my local hypermarket right now; one aisle just for truffles!
Different cultures have different candy holidays.
In Ireland the supermarkets overflowed with chocolate in the weeks leading up to Easter; mainly milk chocolate and mainly Quality Street, with the requisite chocolate bunnies, eggs, and lambs.
In the U.S., fall starts out with caramel apples and is topped off with the big candy meltdown at Halloween. A special thank you to someone at Hershey's for inventing miniatures!
Actually, the U.S. likes candy at Easter, as well….. starting with the awful Peeps!
Now that I think about it, the U.S. holidays are a salute to bad candy (with the exception of aforementioned miniatures): Candy Corn (or is it Kandy Korn?), Peeps and other various sugar-coated marshmallow atrocities, usually tasteless jellybeans and, for the most part, bad chocolate.
The French, on the other hand, believe, (and rightly so, as they are told by the health ministry and their doctors) that dark chocolate is good for you. And the darker the chocolate the healthier it is. Today, I was trying to decide between Dark, Extra Dark, Intense, and Black. Such decisions. Thankfully they were all on sale.
So, those huge chocolaty displays are not encouraging us to eat yet more sweet treats during the holidays; they are meant to kindly remind us to take care of ourselves. I hear and obey.
I bought four bars of luscious dark chocolate of varying intensity. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, you see….
And my doctor says to eat at least one 'square' a day….
And I am an American, so if some is good, more must be better, right? Right?? RIGHT????
Excuse me again…
I'll be really good and have fish for dinner.
Weekend Herb Blogging is back home with our talented and lovely founder, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.
But now, it's winter. The lovely bed of tarragon is just a distant memory. Except for that nice bag of frozen leaves I happen to have in my freezer.
Tarragon imparts a light anise flavor to dishes. It is an essential ingredient in Bearnaise sauce as well as the French 'Fines Herbes'.
8 oz (250 gr) scallops
5 oz (150 gr) small shrimp (prawns)
4 tsp olive oil
4 oz (125gr) mushrooms
1 clove garlic
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs fresh or frozen tarragon
1 1/2 tsp fresh or frozen thyme
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Finely chop the shallot and garlic. Open and drain tomatoes. Roughly chop tomatoes. Clean and slice mushrooms. Heat 2 tsp oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sauté until light brown and opaque, being careful not to crowd. They sometimes have a lot of water in them and you want them sautéed, not steamed. As they brown remove them and put them into 2 individual, shallow casseroles or one larger one. In same pan sauté shrimp until they start to curl and turn opaque. Put into casseroles with scallops. Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan along with the shallot, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until shallots are tender and starting to brown. Add tomatoes, wine, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add vinegar to sauce and stir. Spoon sauce over scallops and shrimp. Bake at 400F (200C) for 10 minutes, until heated through. Serve directly from casseroles.
What did I serve with the Scallops?
Something with pumpkin, naturally.
Kevin, at Closet Cooking. inspired me to try my hand at Pumpkin Gnocchi.
And it was good! Thank you, Kevin!
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 – 2 cups flour
For the dough: Mix the pumpkin with 1 cup of the flour; using a wooden spoon or large fork to start. As it comes together add more of the flour until it forms a ball and is difficult to work with. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on the flour. Knead by hand, adding flour, until dough is not too sticky to work with. If you are using fresh pumpkin purée you will be adding more flour than if using purchased. When you can form the dough into a nice, soft, smooth ball you're done. Cover with a towel and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
For the gnocchi: Pinch off a small piece of dough, about the size of a golf ball. On a floured surface, using the flat of your hands, roll it into a cylinder 3/4 – 1" (2cm) thick. Slice off pieces about 1/2" (1.25cm) thick. Press the tines of a fork into each piece to flatten slightly and give ridges; dipping the fork into flour first if the cut pieces are sticky. Repeat until all the dough is used.
To cook: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi, about 1/3 at a time and cook until they float, 2 – 3 minutes. As soon as they float remove and place in a colander to drain.
The gnocchi can be made to this point at any time. If not using right away, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.
1 1/2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive or truffle oil
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
salt, fresh sea salt if you have it
Melt butter in nonstick skillet. Cook, undisturbed through the bubbling stage to the brown stage. Watch carefully as it can quickly burn. When light brown add the oil. Add the herbs and lots of pepper. Mix well, then add gnocchi. Stir-fry quickly to reheat and lightly brown, about 3 – 5 minutes, depending on how cold the gnocchi is and how crunchy you want the outside to be. Remove, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
Be sure to visit Kalyn's Kitchen on Monday for the complete re-cap!
And, don't forget to search your closet/pantry for skeletons. Remember, confession is good for the soul. It can be an actual recipe, or just the description of the, um, food or any food and holiday related debacle/story/mishap…. Really, any dirty little secret you feel like sharing! You have until Christmas to post – the round-up will be just before Dec. 31. The usual rules: post, link to me, send me an e-mail with permalink. Click for details!
Come on, tell! Share the pain…you'll feel better! And so will we!