Monthly Archives: June 2014

World Palate Recipes – French Crepes

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World Palate Recipes – French Crepes with Fruit fillings

The first time I had a French crepe was on a trip to Paris, many years ago. We visited Montmartre a historic and quaint area on the hill, outskirts of Paris. Officially dubbed as artist’s enclave it boasts of many art galleries and fine restaurants. We awaited our dessert.

A paper-thin, curly, crepe.

Filled with orange butter sauce and drizzled with chocolate flakes it looked stunning and divine! Orange and chocolate made for contrast flavours.

 

French crepe with fruit and chocolate sauce

French crepe with fruit and chocolate sauce Photo courtesy:http://cupcakepedia.com/2013/11/16/homemade-french-crep

Crepe is the French version of a light and versatile pancake, it is made as both sweet and savoury snack. It reminded me of ghavan, an Indian pancake, that my mother often made as a quick after-school snack. Fill the crepe with fresh strawberries and cream or just spread Nutella or chocolate sauce – Voila! a dessert crepe is ready. Else. like the French stuff in some sautéed asparagus, garlic pod and pine nuts – a savoury snack in a jiffy!

Here are some interesting names of pancakes around the world: Mexican tortillas, Russian blini, German pfannkuchen, Korean jeon, Malaysia apam balik, Indian cheele or dosa, ghavan, adai, British pancake and …….maybe you can tell me some more.

Crepes can be made with 4 basic ingredients, easily found in any kitchen: flour, milk, butter, eggs.

Here is an interesting French tradition: It is customary to hold a coin in one hand. With the other touch the handle of the frying pan and make a wish while turning the crepe. (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/flipping-mad-ten-surprising-pancake-691954#ixzz34u01HqdU )

Not being a very crepe fan, I tried making a recipe from http://www.bbc.food.com. I tweaked it a bit by adding 1 table spoon of semolina to the batter to give a nutritious and crunchy texture. I used only 1 egg, instead of 2. Make some caramel sauce to drizzle over, if you wish.

Dessert crepes with fruit and nuts

Dessert crepes with fruit and nuts

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon semolina (optional)
 1 teaspoon white sugar
pinch of teaspoon salt
1 egg
 2 cups milk (add slowly to desired consistency) 
2 tablespoons butter, melted
For filling
8-10 pine nuts or sliced toasted almonds
1 banana sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
caramel sauce or Hershey’s chocolate sauce
OR
my tropical version: mango slices and mango ice cream
OR
strawberries and fresh cream
making caramel

making caramel

Method:
  1. Sift together flour, sugar, semolina and salt; set aside in one bowl. In another large bowl, beat egg and milk together with an electric mixer. Beat in flour mixture until smooth. stir in melted butter.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop 1 ladle of the batter onto the griddle. Tip and rotate pan to spread batter as thinly as possible. When one side is brown, toss over to other side and cook. Remove and keep aside. Make all crepes and stock on each other.
  3. Fill each crepe with sliced banana ( strawberry, orange butter sauce). Fold over into quarter. Dust with cinnamon powder and icing sugar.
  4. Scatter some pine nuts or toasted almonds. Put a dollop of fresh cream and decorate with strawberry. Serve hot or cold.

A tropical twist to the traditional French strawberry and cream: Add a dollop of mango ice cream and decorate with fresh mango pieces.  Be creative, be kitchen friendly. Crepe fillings are so versatile.

Banana crepe and mango ice cream crepe.

Banana crepe and mango ice cream crepe

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Colourful silk strands…extra.

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/extra-extra/

Colourful silk strands…extra

Colour is everywhere around us – in nature, in everyday materials. Different colours are associated with different moods – red for love, yellow spells sunshine. Specific occasions demand specific colour dress- black gowns for graduation, green or red on happy occasions, red and pink for traditional Indian wedding, white for shimmering bridal gowns and so on….

On a visit to a saree loom in the small town of Narayanpet, near Hyderabad, I saw colourful, shining strands of dyed silk threads. Upon drying they would be put on a spool and used on the weaving loom. Beautiful sarees in contrast colours are then woven.

Gorgeous blue and yellow strands made an eye-catching moment.

But wait…why was this extra...green? 

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And the weaver had refused to move it aside, when I requested him to. 

Maybe it was shot for this specific post …Extra, extra.

 

 

 

 

Hooray! My blog received the 2000 th viewer today!

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Hooray! My blog received the 2000 th viewer today!

Dear readers (and fellow bloggers),

My blog primarily began as a wish to create some meaningful pastime for myself and a trip down memory lane. Filled with a desire to learn new things, acquire new skills and to over come technological apprehensions, I set on my journey last year.

Hooray! Today I received my 2000 th viewer. One from UAE.

Thank you EACH one of you! Without your support, my achievement would mean very little. YOU make the difference.

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.

– Napoleon Hill

 

A French Affair – Baskets, Bread and Cheese

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A French Affair – Baskets, Bread and Cheese

Once on a trip to France, I noticed how indispensable the shopping basket was for the French. Whether on the streets of Paris, with a baguette tucked into the oval basket, or brimming with fresh vegetables and fruits in a tote, those classic French-style baskets were definitely part of daily life. A French love affair with the basket, bread and cheese, isn’t it ?

In the quaint town of Blois, on a summer morning, I stumbled upon the country market. Following women carrying totes I admired the strong, durable leather straps . Made of palm leaves or straw, the baskets are very durable and eco-friendly. I walked the narrow, cobbled streets leading down from the majestic chateaux towards the mighty river Loire. And behold! there was the weekly market, buzzing with activity. The colour of fresh fruits and the lively chatter of French customers made this weekly market a great place to experience.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, from 7am to noon, the street became epi-centre of the town. Men and women, tourists and locals, young and old, made a bee line to catch the freshest and best produce. Wait! I almost began counting the number of shopping baskets, and admiring the  shapes too!

Original french market basket.Courtesy: vintage holidays

Original french market basket.Courtesy: vintage holidays

Oooh, la la Madame, ne touche pas’ retorted the street vendor, re-arranging the wicker – woven baskets at his stall, near the street entrance. I was in no mood to buy one. Behind me, through the narrow street corners, rose the majestic chateaux de Blois. Adjacent stone buildings with tall turrets, were remnants of the grandiose life style of the aristocrats who often spent summer in Blois.

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Makeshift tables laid out displays of meat, fish, eggs. Colourful vegetables and seasonal fruits were as if, painted in the brightest colours. They caught the morning rays that shone brilliantly on them. Protecting the produce from the sun, large brown and blue awnings hung fluttering overhead. Some vendors quickly gulped down strong, black coffee or nibbled on fresh bread to energize themselves ahead of the busy shopping time.

Bonjour, savant?’ greeted men and women as they met friends. Shopping is a social affair at a French market. Small town people know each other better than in big cities. Clutching baskets in hand, greeting with a quick traditional French kiss on the cheek, they settled into conversation. Time stopped.

Woven shopping bags

Straw or palm leaf shopping baskets

Finding a bread stall is not difficult, choosing the right bread is!

The market had more than a dozen vendors selling bread or pain, as it’s called in French. A lady vendor explained the 4 basic ingredients for baking: flour, yeast, water and salt. Thanks to the creative French bakers – we now have as many varieties of French bread as their regions!

Take the baguette – it’s a long stick-like crusty bread. When horizontally cut into a slice, it eaten with cheese or soup. Often one finds hungry people heading home from work, tearing a piece to nibble along the way. Or just make a quick sandwich, like this vendor. Stuff fresh greens, cheese, ham or tuna into a pre-cut baguette and voila! A meal on the go.

I settled for the healthy Boule – a large, round, crusty bread made with 6 grain cereals .’Slice small portions as you need, store in a paper bag, for a day or two’ suggested the lady. ‘ Did you bake these yourself ?’ I inquired.  ‘Oui Madam’ yes she said, it’s family run business. French are very particular about the choice of bakery or boulangerie. ‘My father was a traditional farm baker, but I attended bread baking classes in the city’ said the lady. ‘We learn the history of French bread, importance and measurements of products, and packaging and storing bread.’

Did you know that, shortage of bread in the Revolution of 1700’s caused street riots? The rich and wealthy ate wheat and white bread, the poor ate flatter loaves with less cereals. Today multi-grain is replacing white flour, towards a healthy choice.

There’s special bread for dessert. Don’t just put jam or honey on the baguette! Choose from Pain au chocolat, almond croissant, sweet buns filled with cream and raspberry, orange loaf, banana bread, brioche, pain au noix studded with walnuts or head to the nearest boulangerie.

Like the French, I too was particular. I stood for 15 minutes to get this loaf sliced. 

For more :http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/breadstuffs/bread-glossary2.asp

Machine sliced fresh bread

Machine sliced fresh bread

 

Move on to cheese stalls. A 1000 varieties ?Only in France is this possible. There is one cheese for every year. (un fromage par jour de l’année). Did the number of cheese stalls exceed that of bread, I wondered.

French prefer local cheese to industrial mass production. People discuss ‘what and where’ the cows have eaten. Often when buying cheese, the vendor would offer a small slice to taste, as if it’s bait. Unable to stand the strong smell of Blue Gruyère cheese offered, I hesitated. ‘Try it’ said the lady, ‘c’est frais’. I bit through the texture. Amazing softness! The cheese was so salty. Yet, I bought 4 varieties of fresh cheese, that would make a perfect French style dessert for my lazy picnic by the river Loire.

Cutting cheese is an art. With a special knife, gloves worn on hand, the lady placed the cheese on a wooden board. Meticulously she cut a wedge – from middle to the rind ensuring every customer gets soft and firm bits.

French cheese comes in hard and soft varieties. Milk from cow, ewe, and goat is processed, aged and flavoured and packed. Like bread, cheese forms an integral part of food culture. An old French proverb says ‘a meal without cheese is like an eyeless beauty’ (Un repas sans fromage est une belle à qui il manque un œil. Brillat-Savarin). A platter of cheese will generally have 5-7 varieties. At the end of the meal , chesse and fresh fruit like grapes, kiwi, strawberry are served. ‘It would be funny to have cheese for breakfast’ said the vendor. ‘The French don’t do that.’

Popular French cheese is: Emmenthal, Camembert de Normandie, Roquefort, Le Vieux Lille, Le Munster, Le Cantal, Brie, Le Mariolle and regional products.

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Now, wasn’t that a lovely way to understand French culture? A great way to spend a summer morning as a tourist too. No, shopping basket for me –  my cloth bag would suffice. Pushing in fresh lettuce, crunchy cucumbers and sweet seasonal strawberry, I took one last view of the sounds and colours of this weekly market.

For who knows? If you don’t visit Blois on Saturday…the market would be in another town.

Avoir Blois, avoir Paris, avoir France.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me about a town market you have visited. Or the food of that region. 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer