Tag Archives: french

Viva la Bastille!!! French-inspired veggie-full recipes…

14 Jul

Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’etendard sanglant est levé
Entendez vous dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces feroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes!

That’s all I know about La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem.

But I do know that I have a secret love affair with anything French…  last year, about this same time, I was in Paris for the 3rd time enjoying my first ever international vacation all by myself.  It was a great experience and something I recommend anyone to try at least once in their life.

To celebrate… I would like to recap a few of my favorite French-inspired vegetarian remakes for all of you who might think French food can’t be made vegetarian and delicious and authentic at the same time…

Crepes can be made without eggs… and even without gluten.  

You just need to be patient and buy the right ingredients.

Crepe Stack - Copy

Crepes for Lunch or Dinner

Fill them with Spinach, Potato and Broccoli or just plain Cheese… Crepes are France’s version of the sandwich.

Potato Broccoli Crepe KFC

Crepe Fromage 1

Photo Courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

 

Crepes for Dessert

Fill them with macerated fruits or even a dulce de leche, sweet crepes are the gold standard of street-food decadence.

Egg-free crepes

crepe caramel beurre salee

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Vegan Gluten-Free Crepes

28 Apr

A few weeks ago, the Yoga Center celebrated an International Festival of Vegetarian Dishes.  I wanted to contribute by making something that is traditionally considered a “forbidden” food for vegetarians out there, but at the same time that it would be easy for me to make.

I have made crepes time and time again, but out of spelt flour, which is a cousin of wheat.  Most people with wheat-intolerance deal well with spelt, but many people at the Center are avoiding wheat and gluten altogether so if I wanted to make a dish everyone would enjoy, including our Master, I needed to make something gluten-free.

This was my contribution to the Festival…  vegan gluten-free crepes filled with macerated strawberries and decorated with a drizzle of carob syrup.  This was my homage to Didier and the delicious sweet and very popular crepes he would make for me at the Alliance Française a few years ago.

 

Egg-free crepes

VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CREPES

1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
4 tbs coconut oil
2 cups almond milk + 6 tbs
½ tsp salt
4 ½ tsp egg-replacer
More coconut oil to cook the crepes to oil the pans

 

  1. First, prepare the egg-replacer mixture in a small bowl mixing the egg-replacer and 6tbs of almond milk.  Whisk well together and set aside.
  2. In a blender, add the flour, 2 cups almond milk, salt and egg-replacer mix you prepared earlier. Blend well until all ingredients form a smooth batter mixture.
  3. Refrigerate the crepe batter for at least 2 hours.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.  I cannot stress this enough…  if the batter is not rested for at least 2 hours your crepes will be full of bubbles and they will cook uneven.
  4. When you’re ready to use the batter…  move it around and see if it has the consistency of a light pancake batter.  If it’s too thick, add ¼ cup of water or more almond milk to make it thinner.
  5. Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tbs coconut oil and spread out using a paper towel.
  6. Pour one ladleful of batter into skillet into skillet, turning and tilting skillet as you’re pouring the batter.  The idea is to coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of batter.  Don’t be discouraged if the first few ones are not as you expect.  It took me a few tried to get the right rhythm of ladle and skillet.
  7. Loose the edges of the crepe using an off-set spatula.  You’ll see the crepe bubble a little, very similar to pancakes.  Loosen the crepe delicately from the pan using a silicone spatula.  When you can move the crepe loosely by just shaking the skillet, after about 1 minute of cooking, flip the crepe using the silicone spatula.
  8. Cook on the other side for about 30 more seconds.  Just slide the crepe out of the skillet onto a plate lined with wax paper.
  9. Repeat the process all over until you finish the crepe batter.  Pass the oiled paper towel once in awhile in between crepes, as needed.

In my belief, these crepes were a COMPLETE SUCCESS!!!!  But I will let the people who actually tasted them give their comments and tell you all about them in their own words.  People… I am counting on you!!!!

Vegan Gluten Free Crepes

Cinco de Mayo – The most popular celebration not celebrated in Mexico…

3 May

Ever since I lived in Chicago a few years ago, where there is a huge Mexican population, I learned that Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated in September. I remember people riding outside their car windows carrying huge Mexican flags, parading themselves with pride.

So, if this is celebrated every year in September… why does every gringo I know believes Mexican Independence day falls on Cinco de Mayo?  My belief on the popularity of Cinco de Mayo is for several reasons (and I am just speculating here):

  • It’s simple to pronounce even if your main language is English. Try saying “dieciséis de septiembre”!!!! Rolling those “r’s” can be a challenge to many.
  • May more or less signifies the beginning of warmer weather so gives people an excuse to party in shorts
  • I truly believe a beer company started this as a promotional scheme to start selling beer in May rather than waiting until June/July when it’s actually hot.

 

Cinco de Mayo is not really an important holiday or celebration in Mexico. I am “friends” on Facebook with Chef Marcela Valladolid. And this is her perspective, as a Mexican, on Cinco de Mayo:

Chef Marcela - Cinco de Mayo

In reality, Cinco de Mayo is the date when the Mexican army drove away the French army at a great battle in Puebla. The Mexicans were never ever expected to win and they did. And for that… we celebrate!!!!

Nonetheless, for whatever reason Cinco de Mayo got popularized in the US, we use it as an excuse to celebrate everything Mexican. I wish I had a recipe for Mole Poblano in my blog to share with you all, but in the meantime, here are a few recipes that celebrate Mexico, France and combine a little bit of both…

French Quesadilla

Cordon Bleu Quesadilla

(In México, these are called sincronizadas because they’re made on Wheat Tortilla.  True Quesadillas are made on corn tortillas)

Fried Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Poblano Pepper Rajas

Chopped Avocado Dressing

Veggie Tortilla Soup

Mexican Lasagna

mexican-lasagna

 

A Vegetarian in Paris… Mon premier repas à Paris

13 Oct

You already know I am in love with anything French.  And it was only fitting that I would visit the capital of France to experience firsthand all that Paris has to offer.   Last May, my friend Annie Mariel and I decided that we would go to Paris in September.  June was too close, July too hot, August emptied of real Parisians… so September was the ideal time to go.

Drapeau Francais

I had not set foot in Paris since I was 16… we will not actively reveal how many years ago that is.  Just know that it’s been a real while.  They used the French franc then and the European Union did not exist. 

So this trip was a re-acquaintance trip of sorts – getting to know Paris as an adult, testing my French language skills, and discovering all that French cuisine has to offer, to a vegetarian.  Because something else is also different on this trip when compared to my previous one…  I was not a vegetarian then.  Not even dreamt about it.  On that original trip, I remember quite well ordering steak frites, one of Paris’ staples.  But I was confident I would manage…

I will divide my trip experiences in a few installments … because I noticed I took as many pictures of what I ate as pictures from the well-known Parisian monuments – the Eiffel Tower, the Arc du Triomphe, the Mona Lisa, Place de la Concorde… 

I hope you will enjoy Paris as much as I did, even if it’s vicariously thru my pictures and commentary… on y va!!!

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

The trip to Paris is quite long… 3 ½ hours from SJ to NYC and 7 hours from NYC to Paris.  It’s a “sort-of” overnight trip because you arrive in Paris at 7AM Paris time, even though it’s actually 1AM for your mind and body.  We were lucky to fly 1st class from SJ to NYC, but not so lucky on the long leg of the trip… we ordered vegetarian meals for both of us, Annie Mariel and I, and this is what we got:   Curried Chickpeas with White Rice – is this a flight to Paris or to India??? –  some overcooked broccoli, a salad and cantaloupe.  This reminded me of the airline food challenges in Top Chef a few seasons back.  Pathetic to say the least…  I was very much looking forward to some great Parisian food.

Ariline Food 1

We arrived in Paris at about 7:30AM.  We got into the city at about 8:30AM.  Our landlady was waiting on us in our Parisian apartment.  We rented an apartment in the 2eme arrondissement because we wanted to live as the Parisians do.  And besides, it’s much cheaper than a hotel if you’re staying more than a few days.  We were a bit jetlagged and took a power nap to get our energy up…

We arrived on a Sunday morning and Sundays in Paris are very much like I remember things in PR about 30 years ago – no shops are open, everything is closed for the day.  Only the Champs Elysées and the touristy areas are open.  But we wanted to live as Parisians and that meant to walk to a touristy area if you want to eat in a café or restaurant on a Sunday.

We decided to walk around our neighborhood to get familiarized with it…  we were located right in between the Opera/Madeleine area and the Louvre – all that within walking distance.  Following my namesake, we decided to head towards Opera/La Madeleine and see where that would lead us.

Place de la Madeleine

We found a café aptly named Café Madeleine… hey, I had to eat there!!!  I loved that most everything on the menu was accompanied by “frites et salade”, French fries and salad.  Remember I told you, all fries in France and French fries… you need to order frites.  I ordered a tartine which is an open faced sandwich on toasted whole-grain Poîlane bread (check!!).  I ordered the one with cheese and tomato, sans the jambon.  The server was not too happy, but I explained in my best French that I was vegetarian and I did not want the ham at all… he understood or was it he felt compelled to please me by my attempt of speaking French by the locals… I will never know.

Tartine Madeleine

The tartine looked and tasted delicious… way better than what we had had on the airplane a few hours back.  The salad was simply dressed with vinaigrette, worthy of any French café.

 And because we were on vacation, we had to end with ice cream…  Annie Mariel loves chocolate and I had to oblige.  It was delicious.  And the wafers that came on the side were awesome too.

Glace au chocolat

This was light and a perfect introduction to our culinary/eating adventures in Paris…  stay tuned for more on my French vegetarian adventure.  A bientôt…

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