Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hot Yogurt & Bulghur Soup

This recipe is adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe from his latest cookbook Jerusalem (p134), which is itself derived from an old Armenian recipe. This soup us very easy and quick to make and is a comforting soup.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Yotam at the 2012 Arc of Flavor at the CIA Greystone and witness a couple of his cooking demo. His cooking and the flavors are dear to my heart as it brings me back to smells and tastes I experienced as a kid while growing up in Tunisia. Chef Yotam wrote his latest cookbook Jerusalem with his Palestinian friend Sami Tamini. A book of harmonious recipes written by a Jewish & a Palestinian Chef. If only the Middle East situation was that easy...
The recipes are absolutely excellent, well written and exact. I highly recommend any of you reader to acquire this book. It is available from Amazon.
I went running this morning as I started my day 1 of Ultrarunning training and although only did a 3 miles run w/ 15 push-up burpees every mile, I was famished when I got home. This is a really quick recipe, with wholesome healthy ingredients, to put together w/ both carbs and proteins to replenish depleted stores.


4 cups/ 1 ltr of vegetable stock low sodium
1 cup of water
1 cup/~180 g of bulghur
1 1/2 tsp dried mint
4 tbsp/60 g of unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten
scant 2 cups/400g Greek yogurt
2/3 oz/20 g fresh mint chopped
1/3 oz/10 g flat leaf parsley
3 green onions sliced
salt & freshly ground black pepper


1. saute the finely chopped onions in the butter with the dried mint for about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Do not let them brown. Add the bulghur and wet with the vegetable stock. Simmer for 20 minutes until the bulghur is cooked.

2. In the meantime, beat the eggs and whisk together with the yogurt in a large heatproof mixing bowl.

3. slowly mic in some of the bulghur and hot liquid with yogurt egg mixture, one laddle at a time. Proceed slowly as to temper the yogurt progressively and avoid splitting the eggs when added to the hot liquid. Return to medium heat, stirring continuously, until the soup returns to a light simmer. Remove from the heat, check the seasoning and adjust. Add the chopped herbs and green onions. Serve hot.

Note: A variation could be done by adding finely chopped mushrooms such as shiitakes at the beginning of the preparation with the chopped onions and dried mint.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Acorn Squash Truffle Soup with Kale

Wow... It's been so long since I posted here... Well... Let's see if we can look back at what happened...

In November 2011, I finally completed my training for Ironman Arizona in Tempe, AZ and completed my IM! Yes!... It was an enlightening experience with highs and lows. I had a grand day, enjoyed every single minutes of it, maybe not every single minutes... But most of them! 

Afterwards, I fell in a period of complete inactivity which resulting in weight coming back on. 

How surprising, right? Got back on the training wagon for a while targeting a 30 miles and a 50 miles run race... That did not work out as I focused my training strictly on running without thinking of cross-training... Body broke down with falls and trips and ankle sprains... 
Would you say someone was reaching out to me from above to spank me and bring me back down to earth...

So I am back to cooking although I never stopped, very much influenced lately by Ultramarathoner's books such as Eat & Run by Scott Jurek, evolving my cooking towards healthy to very healthy, while preserving tastiness.

What I have prepared for you tonight?

I cam across a recipe posted on (acorn squash soup with kale)... And made it better... Sorry Martha!

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 8 strips Parmacotta (Italian Speck)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound kale, thick stems removed, leaves finely chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 4 cups of acorn squash purée or 2 packages (12 oz each) frozen squash purée
  • Coarse salt & ground pepper

  • Directions for the squash purée:
    1. When cool enough to handle, halve each squash lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds; scrape out flesh from squash halves, and transfer to a food processor (discard skin). Process until smooth. You can also season it and serve it as a side dish.
    1. In a medium saucepan, combine squash purée with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Cook over medium heat until hot, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg.
    1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.
    1. Add onion to fat in pan, and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add kale; cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
    2. Add squash puree and 3 cups water (or more if necessary to achieve desired consistency); bring just to a boil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with reserved bacon.

  • 4 cups Acorn Squash Puree, or 2 packages (12 ounces each) frozen winter squash puree, thawed
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.
  2. Add onion to fat in pan, and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add kale; cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add squash puree and 3 cups water (or more if necessary to achieve desired consistency); bring just to a boil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with reserved bacon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Matcha, Goat Cheese and Honey Madeleines

Well, my daughter asked me for a quick little snack today, so I figured I could bake something... I ended up baking these madeleines. Although they do not look visually like madeleines, they do taste like ones. Note to future self: need to buy madeleines molds...  Instead, I used small tart molds.
This is a very easy recipe to make, inexpensive if you already have in your grocery closet Matcha.

After baking the madeleines, I ended up visualizing tonight's meal... and shame on me, decide I will not go to swim practice but for once enjoy a family meal actually sitting down with my wife and daughter, instead of eating much later at night when all practice is done an they are in bed!
Tonight meals will be a pan-fried filet of steelhead salmon (I will not write a recipe as this is very straight forward to make - just make sure you are watching the cooking as a fish filet can overcook very quickly. You want to remove it from the heat when the center is still somewhat translucid and is about to turn opaque - the fish has to be very fresh!), and Steamed green vegetables with a vanilla butter (Thanks Melody! We never stop enjoying it).

Matcha, honey and goat cheese madeleines (4 people - about 10-12 madeleines)

2 eggs
4.5 oz flour
3 oz goat cheese
2.5 oz butter
1 tbsp hazelnut oil
1 tsp matcha tea powder
1.4 oz liquid honey
0.4 oz baking powder (1 tbsp)
Salt & Szechuan Pepper

Heat the oven at 300F. Soften the butter in the microwave. Dice the goat cheese in small cubes, spread them on a plate and place in the freezer.
In a mixing bowl, mix well the flour, baking powder, salt, white pepper, Szechuan pepper and matcha tea powder. Add the soften butter, the eggs, the hazelnut oil and the honey. Work the dough well to obtain a smooth texture. Add half of the goat cheese cubes. Place the remaining ones back in the freezer.
Portion the dough in silicon madeleine molds, spread the remaining goat cheese cubes over each madeleines and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until fully cooked. Enjoy warm or cold.

These madeleines are lightly sweetened and can be enjoyed with a drink (Chardonnay) prior to a meal or as a delicate accompaniment. They are also a perfect snack with a cup of Hojicha (grilled japanese green tea).
You will only be able to keep these for 24 hours in a tightly sealed container as they contained a fresh cheese.

Steamed green vegetables w/ Vanilla butter

To be served tonight with a pan seared steelhead salmon filet & matcha, goat and honey madeleines

Steamed Green Vegetables in Vanilla Butter (4 pers.)

9 oz extra fine green beans
9 oz green peas (you can use frozen)
9 oz asparagus
1 handful of fresh baby spinach or other leafy green
1 vanilla pod
2.5 oz butter or 4 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
1 tsp Xeres vinegar
black pepper

Heat 4 quarts of water in a pressure cooker. Clean and prep the green beans. Clean, peel and cut the asparagus stalks, cut the remaining stalk into 1/2 inch sections. Wash and remove the larger stalk from the leafy greens.
Sauce: Slit the vanilla pod in half and extract the black seeds using the back end of a knife. Place these in a heat-resistant bowl with the butter cut in pieces (or oil), the vinegar, salt and pepper.
Place the remaining vanilla pod in the pressure cooker perforated basket. Cover with all the vegetables. Place the lid and cook for 10 minutes on high heat. Make sure you leave the sauce bowl on the stove by the pressure cooker to allow for a gentle heat to melt the butter, without altering the vanilla flavor.
Toss the vegetables with the sauce and serve with fish or chicken white meat.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Warm Goat Cheese w/ Vanilla Tomato Salad

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog, actually more than a year! Recently a friend and teammate of mine, reminded me of the blog and suggested that I'd come back to it... As an added incentive, she brought back from a trip to Indonesia a whole bundle of Vanilla beans and so kindly gave me several of them. Thank you! You know who you are... Some others can probably put 2 & 2 together and figure it out!
Anyway, this was a thoughtful, wonderful gift, which I have to put to good use. A special gift calls for special attention. Dear vanilla, aroma of far away tropical places, hints of sweetness, reminiscent of a woman skin's fragrance, I visualize myself by a blue lagoon, where the sun lights up the skin. Corny isn't it? That's why I'd rather cook than write poetry...
So I have been searching for an acceptable recipe in my usual recurring theme: tasty, light, quick to make and savory. I did not want to fall in the common set of vanilla usage, but find instead something a little more unusual. This will be the first posting of a series of vanilla focused recipes.
So tonight I choose to make for dinner this very light recipe for a clean finish of the day. It could be served as an appetizer as well.

Warm Goat Cheese w/ Vanilla Tomato Salad
(4 servings)

For the salad:
a container of mixed greens
2 pints of cherry tomatoes (can be replaced for striking effect by 8 medium size heirloom tomatoes)
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
salt crystals

For the dressing:
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp of lemon infused olive oil (if not available, replace by 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice - preferably Meyer lemons)
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
1 tsp of salt crystal

For the goat cheese:
2 bijoux or Crottins de Chavignol
4 slices of country bread
olive oil

Turn on your oven broiler.
Start by preparing the vanilla dressing. Slit the vanilla bean and extract the seeds using a knife. Place all the seeds in a bowl with the other ingredients, emulsionize with a whip or a fork.
Toast the bread slices, lightly rub olive oil and cut the goat cheese in 2 halves, placing a half goat cheese on each slices of bread. Place under the broiler to obtain a slight melt. Be cautious as it will go fast...
Do not remove the tomato seeds or skins. Half the cherry tomatoes after having washed them (if using heirloom tomatoes, cut them in 8 pieces). In a mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes and the dressing together.
Lay a handful of mixed greens on a plate, garnish with some tomatoes, and place the warm goat cheese on toast beside it. Just before serving (be quick as you want the goat cheese to still be warm), sprinkle some chopped chives and salt crystal on top of the salad.
Serve with either a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay.
Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Compote of Banana & Orange with Vanilla

So yesterday, my "End-Of-Week" Soup cooked all day in the crockpot. We came back home and this wonderful cooked vegetable and chicken smell was throughout the house... Oh wonderful feeling, not to have to cook anything... Serve, sit and eat... Well, well... I couldn't resist to do a little sweet dessert for the family. I had tasted this dessert several years ago (2002 or 2003) at Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr's restaurant in London and I had loved its delicateness. Chef Roux is an avid marathon runner and he wrote a cookbook called The Marathon Chef - Food for Getting Fit. He was kind enough at the time to sign one copy for me.
His dessert was then prepared with muscovado sugar instead of the brown sugar I used tonight. Muscovado has a slightly lower sugar content with a more intense taste. It carries notes of anis seed, caramel and coffee... Huuummm...

A quick note - when doing pastry/desserts, you ought to use a metric scale as it is more accurate. Pastry is almost like chemistry. It is a precise science... Of course, it is more important for some desserts than others. Most household electronic scales will have a oz & gram function.

Banana & Orange Compote with Vanilla: (4 persons) - 35 minutes
Ingredients: 4 bananas, 6 oranges, 2.5 oz (75g) granulated sugar, 2 vanilla pods, 4 oz (120g) brown sugar, 30 ml dark rum

Peel and julienne the skin of 2 oranges. Juice the oranges and reserve. Cover the orange peel julienne in cold water and bring to a boil, strain and repeat 2 more times. While boiling the peels, prepare a sugar syrup with the granulated sugar and 100 ml of water. Once the peels have been boiled 3 times in cold water and drained, cover the peels with the sugar syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes to make candied orange peel.
While you are making the candied orange peel, peel the remaining oranges and divide them in segment being careful to remove the membranes between each segments. Do not waste any juice, press the remaining core and segment membranes as well as peel for any juice. Add it to the pressed one made earlier.
Place all the juice in a pan, with the split vanilla pods, the rum and half of the brown sugar. Boil & reduce by 1/3.
Peel the bananas, slice and add to the juice. Simmer stirring with a wooden spoon until lightly cooked. Remove the vanilla pods, Portion the bananas and juice in 4 terracota ramequins or shallow bowls. Arrange the orange segments on top, sprinkle the remaining brown sugar and glaze under the broiler or with a blow torch as I did here (see picture). Decorate with the candied orange peel.

This dessert served warm is delicious... You could even, after a hard and long training day, gives yourself a little satisfaction by adding a small portion of good quality vanilla ice cream!

Monday, November 9, 2009

End of the Week Vegetables and Chicken Soup

Fall is here, winter is coming, but throughout the year, I have basically made a similar recipe roughly once a week. It all depends on how much I cook, what recipes I try or repeat, etc... When shopping, either the product packaging requirements or my pars are off sometimes. So I have instituted this recipe which is basically the leftovers either in a stew or soup format.
I try to avoid wasting anything so I will use vegetables peelings (specifically turnips, carrots, etc...) if they are clean and in a good shape or when some unused vegetables are starting to wilt or rot, it's time to make a soup...

Green Vegetables & Chicken Soup:
Ingredients: 5 small zucchinis washed, quartered in length and diced, 1 cup of green peas, 3 branches of celeri washed and diced, 1 cup of wilted romaine salad, 1/2 cup turnip peelings (from another recipe), 3 tomatoes quartered, 3/4 qt beef stock, 1/2 qt chicken stock, leftovers of a roasted chicken, 1/2 cup sage leaves wilted, salt, pepper

In a crock pot with a low setting, pleace all the diced vegetables, herbs and pulled meat from the chicken (remove all bones) and pour the stocks. Cover and set on the low setting in the morning prior to leaving for work. When back, the soup is ready...
We traditionally eat it as is witout blending it. If there is soup left, I blend it and let it cool. When cooled I pour it a liter size empty bottles of  water (3/4 of the way, otherwise the bottle will pop in the freezer) and freeze for later us when I do not have any time to cook!