Posts Tagged food

Restaurant Review: La Galette Berichonne

10 April 2013

Fordland, MO is not exactly the culinary capital of the world. That’s why I was surprised to hear rave reviews about a French restaurant in Fordland called La Galette Berichonne. With a Gallic sense of skepticism, I decided to try it for myself.

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First Impressions. The building itself is modest but decorated with little French touches. Each meal came with a house salad and homemade vinaigrette and an abundance of freshly-made bread. All food is made from scratch using local ingredients whenever possible and the quality is reflected in the great taste of each dish.

The Menu. La Galette Berichonne is a bakery/cafe so the menu includes lots of pastries and sandwiches. A chalkboard lists the hot entrees, which change on a regular basis. Everything on the board looked good to me so I peeked into the open kitchen and asked the chef for his recommendation: he suggested the Seafood Croustade and I was favorably impressed with the result (see below for pictures).

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Seafood Croustade

Spinach quiche

Spinach quiche

Lamb

Lamb

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Fellow diners after a great meal (notice the open kitchen in the background)

Fellow diners after a great meal (notice the open kitchen in the background)

The Verdict. What a surprise to find authentic French fare (though in American-sized portions) prepared by a genuine French chef at very decent prices in the heart of nowhere! This restaurant is a real jewel.

Casual lunch? Date night? This restaurant would fit any occasion and any budget. One suggestion: call before you go. They are open different days for different meals, and even offer a once-a-month 7-course evening dinner for those who reserve well in advance. Chef Parny offers some culinary classes as well.

Why Fordland, MO? So why did Chef Roland Parny choose Fordland, a town of 684 situated 20 miles east of Springfield, for his restaurant? Apparently this part of Missouri is similar to Le Berry, the region of central France where Parny grew up. “Berichonne” means “from Le Berry” and “Galette Berichonne” is a savory stuffed pastry typical of Le Berry.

Bon appétit!

Sausage-Mushroom Breakfast Bake

6 April 2013

Perfect casserole for brunch

Every semester, my former boss’s sweet wife, Mrs. Dunn, hosted a brunch for Dr. Dunn’s students. They graciously invited me every time and I was only too eager to go! This sausage-mushroom breakfast bake and Mrs. Dunn’s French toast casserole were always huge hits and I’m thankful she was willing to share the recipes with me. Making them reminds me of the good times, great fellowship, and delicious food we invariably enjoyed at those brunches. I’m posting the breakfast bake recipe today and will post the French toast casserole recipe next Saturday.

Sausage-Mushroom Breakfast Bake
Prep: 25 minutes

Bake: 50 minutes + 10 minutes standing

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients

1 pound bulk pork sausageIMAG0254

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

6 cups cubed bread

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

10 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups milk

2 teaspoons ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, cook sausage and mushrooms over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Place half of the bread cubes in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish; top with 2 cups sausage mixture and half of the cheese and tomatoes. Repeat layers (starting with bread cubes). In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper; pour over bread mixture.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nat’s Notes

  • Do not substitute regular mustard for ground mustard, and do not skip ground mustard.
  • This recipe can easily be cut in half to accommodate a small group.
  • Because this casserole is very salty and not exactly low-cal, I serve it with a fruit salad (for example, fresh pineapple, orange, grapes, and strawberries).
  • If you like onions, consider throwing in a finely-chopped regular onion in the first step of this recipe, or adding chopped green onions in the last 5 minutes of the meat cooking process.

A “First Class” Start

27 February 2013

Creative writing teachers will tell you that bad experiences make for good stories. It’s true.

And I’ve had my share. The “wisdom” behind posts like Tips For If You Miss Your Flight usually comes from really stupid things I’ve done while traveling — like missing my flight because I’m sitting at the wrong gate or I’m waiting at the gate for a plane that’s going where I need to go and I think it’s my flight but, oh, it’s not my airline. I’ve slept overnight in airport lounges enough times to feel like a supporting cast member in Tom Hank’s movie The Terminal.

But every once in a while an experience falls into your lap that’s too good not to share.

Thanks to my uncle who trains pilots for a major airline, I was flying “non-rev” from Dallas, Texas to Norfolk, Virginia. Flying non-rev is a gamble: sometimes you don’t get a seat and get bumped to the next available flight, sometimes you manage to slip into the last seat available on the plane, usually a middle seat. And sometimes — blessed times — you get to fly First Class.

Yesterday was one of those blessed days. As I sat there in my luxuriously roomy seat watching the other passengers go by, I was trying to look sufficiently calm and composed on the outside while I was doing a happy dance on the inside. Thank you, Uncle Robert, thank you, thank you for your choice to work for the airline and support your family members’ addiction to travel. You are my hero.

I’ve already described in detail the pleasures of flying First Class, and how humbling it is to be given this gift through no merit of my own, symbolic in a way of that Other great gift we’ve been given through no merit of our own. So I’ll limit this post to describing what I had for lunch at 30,000 feet: grilled shrimp and cheesy grits. And they were surprisingly good.

This writers’ retreat week is off to a great start. Bring it on, Lord. I’m ready.

Homemade Hummus and Pita Chips

1 August 2012

 

Hummus

A few days ago, I was on vacation in Greece eating souvlaki and swimming in the Mediterranean (not at the same time!). So today, to extend the experience a little, I decided to make that staple of the Mediterranean diet – hummus.

HOMEMADE HUMMUS

This recipe, posted by ROYHOBBS at Allrecipes.com, is super simple and easy to make.

Ingredients

1 (19 oz) can garbanzo beans, half the liquid reserved

4 TBS lemon juice

2 TBS tahini (I put in 3)

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

black pepper to taste

olive oil

Directions

1. In a blender, chop the garlic. Pour garbanzo beans into blender. Place lemon juice, tahini, chopped garlic and salt in blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed, adding in liquid from can as needed.

2. Transfer the mixture to a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with pepper and pour olive oil over the top.

 

BAKED PITA CHIPS

The recipe for baked pita chips has been modified from an online recipe located at theshiksa.com.

Ingredients

4 pita bread rounds (I use whole wheat)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush your baking sheet with olive oil, coating the entire sheet evenly. Brush the top of a pita round evenly with oil oil. Sprinkle pita with salt to taste.

2. Cut the pita in half, then in quarters, then in eighths to make eight equal sized triangles.

3. Place pita triangles seasoning-side up in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet. Repeat process for remaining three pita rounds.

4. Place baking sheet in the oven. Let the pita chips bake for 8-10 minutes, turning the sheet once during the baking to ensure even heat distribution. Chips are done when they’re golden brown and crisp. Towards the end of baking keep an eye on the chips, as they will brown quickly and can burn if not watched.

5. Remove chips from oven and allow to cool. Serve the chips on their own or with a dip like hummus or baba ghanoush. Store in a sealed Tupperware or Ziploc bag.

Nat’s Notes

* Hummus can be served with vegetables as an even healthier alternative

* Chickpeas contain loads of fiber and nutrients

* Hummus makes a healthy snack as well as a great sandwich spread

 

 

Helping the Greek Economy

25 July 2012

While I’m here, I’ve decided to make an effort to support the Greek economy … primarily by supporting the food industry. :-)

My first attempt is seen below:

Clockwise from left: black olives (wrinkly kind), Greek yogurt, stuffed grape leaves, and green olives in brine.

These products were all purchased from the local store in the closest village, Agii Apostoli. The descriptions were all in Greek so I relied entirely on the label photos. They all had a Greek flag on their packaging, which I’m assuming means “Made in Greece.” Yum! Everything tastes so good!

 

Sunshine in Oxford

25 June 2012

We had a sunshiny and — get this — warm day here in Oxford for the first day of class and the Welcome Tea. In fact (and this is a first-ever phenomenon for me) I got a little sunburn from sitting in the Hertford College quad for the better part of an hour. Sunburnt. In Oxford.

Yesterday’s lunch was chicken in a white wine sauce with a sort of rice pilaf, snowpeas and carrots. Chocolate cake for dessert.

Chicken in Wine Sauce

Walking back from class today, I made the mistake of taking a shortcut through the Covered Market. I came out on the other side with two flower containers and 3 bouquets of flowers from the discount bin!

Blue Flowers

Lilies in my dorm room

 

An English Breakfast: The Stuff of Dreams

24 June 2012

Ahhhhh! A traditional English breakfast. The smell wafted up to me on the top floor of Abingdon House as I woke up this morning, my stomach rumbling in anticipation. The fare did not disappoint.

An English Breakfast

Eggs, “bacon,” mushroom, tomato, hash browns, sausage plus toast, croissants, fresh fruit and berries and several options of cereal, juices, milk and coffee. It’s the breakfast of kings. What a great way to start a Sunday morning!

Cheesy Rigatoni Bake

29 April 2012

Rigatoni Bake

The March 2012 issue of Family Circle featured a recipe called “Rigatoni with creamy pepper sauce.” It looked so good that I decided to try the following variation with some ingredients I had on hand.

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet red pepper

1 or 2 yellow squash, sliced in half or fourths lengthwise

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded Swiss or parmesan cheese (or mix)

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 pound rigatoni

1/3 mozzarella ball, divided into 4 or 5 smaller balls

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced in thin strips

5-6 grape tomatoes

Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat broiler. Line a large broiler pan with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place pepper on prepared pan, cut side down; add squash. Broil for 9-10 minutes, about 4 inches from heat source. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove pepper and squash from heat and set squash aside, slicing into wedges when cool. Place the pepper in a paper bag or covered bowl for 5 minutes. Peel skin off peppers and discard; thinly slice peppers.

3. In a large nonstick skillet bring broth to a simmer; add garlic and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in cream, salt and pepper and cheese and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cook pasta following the package directions, about 10 to 14 minutes for al dente. Drain and return to pot.

5. Butter a medium-sized casserole and add cooked pasta. Add cream mixture and sliced peppers, squash, tomatoes and mozzarella balls; stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with basil and parmesan.

6. Bake uncovered at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned on top.

Easy Guacamole

15 April 2012

I love guacamole!

In my opinion, there is no wrong way to make guacamole: the key is to use the ripest, freshest ingredients possible. Here’s a basic easy recipe but there are dozens of ways to personalize it. For example, some people don’t use tomatoes — but I love the beautiful color they add and how the red contrasts with the purple of the onions. Some like their ”guac” smashed to death while I like it with a bit more chunks and texture. And sometimes I leave out the jalapeno. :-)

INGREDIENTS

Fresh, beautiful ingredients

2 ripe avocados

1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)

1 small jalapeno, seeded, minced (Be careful when handling hot peppers!!)

1 TBS fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

Dash of fresh black pepper

1/2 ripe tomato, seeded, chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Slice avocado in half, twist to separate and carefully remove seed. Scoop out avocado “meat” into a small bowl.

2. With a fork, mash the avocado. Then add the onion, cilantro, lime and seasonings; mash to combine. Add jalapeno if using.

3. Gently mix in tomatoes just before serving.

Serves 2-4

Best French Toast Recipe

7 April 2012

In spite of having been born and raised in France, my favorite French toast recipe actually comes from Courtney Heins in Palmer, Texas. Ironic, non? We had these for breakfast this morning along with a fruit cup consisting of melon balls, sliced strawberries and kiwi.

Easy French Toast

French Toast

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

Bread (preferably “stale” or a couple of days’ old)

salt (just a sprinkle)

cinnamon

Combine and whip eggs, milk and vanilla; pour into shallow dish. Dip both sides of bread in mixture and place in skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Grill both sides until golden brown. Top with sprinkle of cinnamon while grilling. Add toppings when finished. Voila!

Nat’s Notes

* I like to use slices from a round loaf of French bread. Also works great with challah.

* Sprinkle with powdered sugar (as in photo) for a nice presentation.

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