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Ratatouille & St. Germain Champagne

I was inspired to make a French dish to honor Bastille Day, but truth be told, I really don’t need a reason.  French cuisine is among my favorite types food to cook and with the celebration of the French storming the bastille, it was the perfect opportunity to revisit a summertime fav, Ratatouille.

I like to research multiple recipes and pick and choose from amongst them for the ingredients and cooking techniques that I think would make the dish phenomenal.  I’ve been following Melissa Clark of the New York Times, she authors the food section, “The New Essentials of French Cooking” and has written many cookbooks.  She breaks down the history of ratatouille and points out that this dish does not have a set recipe or precise technique.  I appreciate that because she provided the framework as I went about reviewing other recipes.  I used a combination of her wisdom, Julia Child’s process and Bruno Albouze’s authenticity, he is French born and raised.  He added the extra kick of charring the peppers for the sauce.  I think this only adds to what Julia says in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, and I quote, “Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen…”  The sauce turned out soooo good, you could just eat it alone, like a gazpacho…which I did.  There was more than enough sauce for the casserole,  one-third cup  was reserved pour moi.  #cookperk

Besides the rich flavor of this dish, when prepared as a casserole, the presentation is as beautiful as it is delicious.  I used a mandolin to slice perfect 1/16th –inch rounds for the squash and zucchini; however, it didn’t work so well for the eggplant and tomatoes.  I had to resort to my knife skills, which can use some sharpening, but it turned out lovely none-the-less.

And, of course every celebratory meal deserves its own signature cocktail.  What better choice than an elegant sparkly.  The French invented the effervescence we have all come to associate with raising a glass. St. Germain Champagne, served up, rises to the occassion.

The presentation is gorgeous and is perfect for any summer get together or revolution.

Viva La France!

Side Note: Always hold your flute by the stem.  More than looking sophisticated, you reserve the chill of the beverage.  Otherwise, the heat emanating from your hand warms the beverage…who wants body temperature champagne on a hot summer’s day?…No one.  Pinkies up!

Cooking Playlist:

RECIPES:

RATATOUILLE & ST. GERMAIN CHAMPAGNE

Serves 6 to 8

Recipe adapted from Bruno Albouze

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter and olive (each)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, charred, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, charred, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves

SLICED VEGGIES

  • 2 yellow squash, sliced into 1/16” rounds
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced into 1/16th-rounds
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, sliced into 1/16th-rounds
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16th-rounds

SEASONING

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to tasted

ST. GERMAIN CHAMPAGNE

  • 2 parts Champagne
  • 1 part St. Germain
  • chilled flute
  • garnish with lavender

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Roast peppers over a flame and put them into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, let them steam for about 15 minutes; then peel peppers
  • Meanwhile prepare the mire poix, chop carrots, celery and onion
  • Slice zucchini, squash, eggplant and tomatoes into1/16th inch rounds
  • Open the peppers, take the seeds and ribs out and chopped them
  • Sautee the mire poix on high heat for about 10 minutes; add garlic and cook for about 3 more minutes then stir in the roasted peppers
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and herbe de Provence and cook down for about 20 minutes
  • Puree with basil, then put the mixture back into the pan
  • Arrange a strip of alternating slice of tomato, squash, zucchini and eggplant; add salt, pepper and the olive oil, garlic, thyme seasoning; cover with foil
  • Bake for 3-hours at 280 degrees
  • Right before serving, uncover and bake for another 45 minutes at 350 degrees

The “double” cookings  give the vegetable and herbs new verve when they are combined and cooked again (Melissa Clark)

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The Telltale Kitchen (cafelamour.me; alovecafe; gina’skitchen, spellbindingcuisine) reveals traditions, beliefs, myths and secrets of food and cooking.

 

Seductively Delicious


“Cook To Bang” by Spencer Walker

Cookbook Review

 05-23-2015 Cook To Bang - Cookbook Review - Asparagus SoupAlthough the recipes in “Cook To Bang” by Spencer Walker are “engineered to be delicious and seductive”, this cookbook is more than just a collection of recipes with ingredients thought to be aphrodisiacs.  This well written, funny, singles guide to cooking for romance offers intellectual advice in the art of seduction as well as in the art of cooking.  We are all familiar with the phrase “it’s not what you do, but how you do it”.  In this book, the title, “Cook To Bang” is used as an expression of the “how”.  For example, Spencer says that “you can be subtle and still move mountains…that is what Cook To Bang is all about.”   It’s about being subtle in your pursuit to seduce your dinner guest.  Indeed he refers to cooking to bang as an art, a crude art, “you must become a manipulative bastard to get what you want.”  As much as I hate to agree with him, I understand where he’s coming from.  It’s unfortunate that such a wonderful art form, such as expressing love through the kitchen can be considered manipulation, but it is true that when you strike the emotional love/food cord the warm fuzzies can overtake you.  A release of dopamine overcomes one with feel-good sensations making you, the cook, an attractive culinary Casanova.  Spencer calls it sexual power.  Another important point that he makes about cooking to bang is to spoil yourself, but to be sure to spoil your captive too.  Placing your attention on the one you desire allows you to cater to their preferences, this makes one feel appreciated, which generally will allow the cook favor with the diner.  However, Spencer warns against over doing it, “overdoing it will lead to waning interests.”  K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sexy), dear friends.

I tested his “Tap That Ass-paragus Soup” recipe and his “Stiffly Stuffed Avocado”.  A fancy soup and salad combo that healthfully feeds the libido and that is perfect for “lunch”.  The phallic asparagus is thought to invoke lust by its shape alone; however true, the folic acid found in asparagus nurtures both05-23-2015 Cook To Bang - Cookbook Review - Stuffed Avocado II male and females sex organs. Aphrodite’s sea pets were born to impart sensuality.  One of her knowing earthly representatives, Madame du Berry, a legendary seductress, served shrimp dipped in champagne sauce as a dish of seduction to her lovers.  And for the vitamin E loaded avocado, this teste shaped veggie assists the body in producing testosterone and estrogen which circulate in the bloodstream and stimulate sexual responses like clitoral swelling.  It’s safe to say that Spencer took his time engineering his recipes with these key aphrodisiacs.  This leads me to his last bit of cooking to bang advice, “anything worth accomplishing takes patience and planning”.

Practicing the art of seduction through cooking is about expressing your sensual desire and love for another through cooking with foods that excite passion and cater to the pleasure principle of the desired.  “Cook To Bang” guides you in one manner by which this can be done.

Sensuously yours,

Honey L’Amour

RECIPE

♥ = love stimulant ♥♥ = sexual desire stimulant

“STIFFLY STUFFED AVOCADO”

½ pound shrimp, cooked, tail removed and sliced down middle ♥♥
1 egg, hardboiled and chopped
½ red onion, diced
1 radish, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
½ red pepper, diced
½ lime
1 tablespoon mayo
1 avocado, split lengthwise
Salt and pepper to taste
2 handfuls butter lettuce
DIRECTIONSMix the shrimp, egg, onion, radish, celery, jalapeno, and red pepper.  Squeeze ¼ of the lime juice into the mixture and mix in the mayo.  Remove avocado halves from their shell, stuff them with the shrimp mixture, place over a bed of lettuce.

Let the Good Times Roll!


 

02-16-2015 Let the Good Times Roll

“Laissez les bon temps roulez” is going down in NOLA for Fat Tuesday!  The carnival of Mardi Gras is a hedonistic celebration of merrymaking before the start of a 40-day cleansing fast. Pre-Christian, this is the time of year that ushers in a new season, Spring.  This feast marks the last hurrah of Winter and is another opportunity to feed the insatiable libido.  The Cajun and Creole people of New Orleans, Louisiana are revered for throwing the best Mardi Gras party in the United States and are famous for their cuisine.  It is an infusion of French, African, Caribbean, and Spanish influences that make for the tantalizing flavors of this region.  Perfect for a seduction supper.  The key spice that ignites an aphrodisiac fire in this sensational cuisine is cayenne pepper.  It gets the heart pumping, pores sweating and blood flowing towards the genitals.  Sounds like a party to me.  Let the good times roll!

Bonne santé,

Honey L’Amour

RECIPES

 = love stimulant ♥♥ = sexual desire stimulant

DIRTY RICE

People from down south are reputed to be highly sexed and uninhibited in grinding anywhere and anytime. For this reason, it is nick named, “The Dirty”. You can get a little taste of what it must be like in this recipe. Serves 5   

 

INGREDIENTS SPICES
1 pound ground beef 1 teaspoon black pepper ♥♥
1 pound spicy sausage 2 teaspoons salt
½ pound chicken giblets 2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins (worchestershire sauce)
½ cup scallions, diced 2 bay leaves
½ cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
¼ cup parsley, diced
¼ cup pepper, diced
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon garlic, diced
1 can (15 ounce) cream of mushroom soup
Chicken broth
White rice, long grain

*Justin Wilson’s recipe

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, combine the ground beef, sausage, chicken giblets, shallots, onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley, garlic, black pepper, salt, Lea & Perrins, and butter and let it cook for 4 hours, stir periodically. Add the cream of mushroom soup and cooked white rice (use the chicken broth to prepare rice), stir and let it cook for additional 10 minutes to marry all of the flavors. Be sure to take out the bay leaves before adding the soup and rice.  

BLACKENED SEA BASS

Mythology has contributed strongly to the marriage of seafood as a love inducing food.  As legend has it, sea creatures are infused with the sexual energy of the goddess of love who was born of the sea, as such the high dopamine count will make you feel sexy.  This sea bass dressed in the Creole spices of lust and passion are sure to awaken hot lovemaking that is long lasting. 

INGREDIENTS SPICES
4 Sea Bass fillets ♥♥ 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ♥♥
1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon ground black pepper ♥♥
½ lemon, juiced 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano

 COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Combine spices
  • Season each fillet so that both sides are liberally coated
  • Allow fish to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature prior to cooking
  • In a large skillet, over medium-high heat add the olive oil and butter and cook the fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and transfer to plates

HUSH PUPPY LOVE BISCUITS

Mostly a companion at fish fries that aide to the sensual nature sea creatures. These hush puppies are infused with sexuality, shaped to match the storehouse of the male life force.

 

INGREDIENTS SPICES
1 cup corn meal ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper ♥♥
¾ cup flour 1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons onion, minced ½ teaspoon sugar
4 green onions, thinly sliced
½ jalapeño, minced ♥♥
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter milk
Canola oil for deep frying

 COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat oil to 320 degrees F.
  • Using a tablespoon or melon ball scoop, spoon 1 inch balls of batter in the hot oil
  • Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping so that both sides brown.

Bon Appetite!