Cotriade, a Breton fish stew, is my French Fridays with Dorie choice this week.
Ciopinno. Bouillabaisse. Cotriade.
Odds are that you recognize two out of three of these fish stews. Cotriade, maybe not. Ciopinno was created by Italian fishermen who had migrated to San Francisco in the mid-1800’s. It’s a tomato broth stew loaded with fish sourced from the Pacific Ocean. When you visit the City by the Bay, it’s a must-try.
But if you’re in Marseille, walk over to the old port where their world-famous Bouillabaisse, a Provençal fish stew, is the speciality. What sets traditional Bouillabaisse apart from others is the Provençal herbs and spices used in its broth with an assortment of bony Mediterranean fish. Cotriade, my French Fridays recipe choice this week, is a traditional, coastal fish soup originating from the French province of Brittany. It’s the staple that Breton fishermen made aboard their boats while at sea for days or, maybe, weeks. The secret (and, filling) ingredient here is potatoes. In Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook, she entitles this recipe, Simplest Breton Fish Soup.
The mussels are put into the fish mixture at the last 2-4 minutes. Discard any closed mussels before serving.
After a 1,053-mile road trip to California this past week, I arrived safely in Cambria, picked up keys to my rental house and literally dropped my bags in the garage. Then I dashed eastward to Templeton where I found all the necessary Cotriade ingredients at Trader Joe’s and Pier 46 Seafood. (Not mentioning that it was an additional 50-mile roundtrip – food blogger-journalist-deadline – a crazy combo.)
Although their are only two main ingredients added to the broth, fish and potatoes, the onions, shallots, garlic cloves, celery and leeks add flavor and depth. A Bouquet Garni, salt and pepper, are all the spices you need but I also added saffron. Love that aroma and taste. What Dorie suggests also is a red or white wine-based vinaigrette to drizzle over the fish before it’s served. Unique, delicious with the drizzle and a wonderful first-night dinner.
It is traditional with this dish, which Dorie calls Simplest Breton Fish Soup, to bring the kettle to the table and ladle the soup into bowls which have a toasted baguette slice already at the bottom.
Although I’ve been vacationing in Cambria with my family for the past eight years, this is only my second winter here. Cambria is a drowsy, quaint seaside village of 6,000 people, primarily retirees, located on the spectacular central coast and sitting among a native stand of Monterey pines. If you want excitement, stimulation and élan, if you will, Cambria’s probably not for you.
It’s a good choice for me, perhaps, and here’s why. Cambria is everything that Aspen is not. Two years ago when I had the responsibility of recreating my Life, the realization was I better get it right. Me being me, and, that’s not always good, I gave myself a year to do it. That deadline thing, you know. Two years later, I’m still tweaking, the plusses, minuses, the want-to-do’s, forget-that’s and what-was-I-thinking’s?
I love Colorado and the whole crazy, invigorating and challenging Life I lead there. Aspen is home and friends and organizational commitments and social activities. I visualize Cambria, amusing as it may seem to you, as a sabbatical, retreat, time-out and rest. A period to be selfish with my own time and be quiet. Do you get that? It’s almost anti-American to want to be alone, isn’t it? Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading my blog as I take you along on my winter adventure. Solitude does not translate to boring, I promise.
French Fridays with Dorie is an international group cooking it’s way through Around My French Table. To see what my colleagues made this week, go here. If you want a copy of this week’s recipe, Simplest Breton Fish Soup, go here.
Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce and Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots
This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe choice is the dessert Paris-Brest, a celebratory creamy puff ring made from light pastry dough called pâte à choux. Already this sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It was created in 1891 to honor the Union Des Audax Français, an amateur bicycle race that is still peddling strong today.
Paris-Brest is a crowd-pleaser, promising to produce ou’s and ah’s from anyone who worships at the altar of caramelized almonds, vanilla pastry cream and Crème Anglaise. That’s why I decided to save this masterpiece to bake for my spandex-clad biking buddies when I return to Colorado this spring.
INSTEAD, TRY THIS MENU
Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots. The carrots are dirty-fresh from Cambria’s Friday Farmers Market.
Instead I took advantage of the Central Coast’s largesse and made Savory Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce and Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots. For me, it’s make-cup week. The recipes were made in 2011 before I joined FFWD. Dorie always delivers delicious. These two sweet/savory combos were a perfect light dinner to enjoy while watching the Grammy’s.
These little guys are fresh and tasty sea scallops.
The Caramel-Orange Sauce is a sweetheart of a compliment to the scallops.
When I visited Pier 46 Seafood to buy scallops, my fishmongerette, Amber, suggested small scallops rather than the large called for in this recipe. The prep and cooking time are the same. Here’s a tip. Dorie’s simplistic technique for the caramel sauce is one to commit to your memory bank. About those carrots? When you start with carrots just pulled from the earth, adding just a spice or two and chicken broth, there’s very little to say but thank you, Mother Nature.
I stopped by the Hearst Ranch Winery in nearby San Simeon to pick up wine for this menu. Ryan, who was working at the tasting bar, urged me to try their award-winning Three Sisters Cuvée red wine, a mixture of Grenache and Syrah grapes. It slide down easily.
ADAPTING TO ANY KITCHEN, STEP-by-STEP
If there is one question nagging at you after reading my three recent posts from Cambria, I suspect it would be, “How does that woman turn out this amazing food while working out of a rental kitchen?”
Here’s the answer, a how-to on cooking in strange spaces. My only criteria when renting a winter house in Cambria was that it be by the ocean and have a gas range. Because of a calendar snafu, my Realtors found me two houses by the ocean with gas ranges. One house for 5 weeks and the house I wanted for 8. If nothing else, I’m all about flexibility.
Traveling Tools: mandoline, electric grill, dutch oven, frittata pan, scales, Valentine molds, knives, juicer and. springform pan. Food Processor hidden from view..
While on-the-road most cooks know what equipment they must own, what they can live with and what, if necessary, can be purchased. This is what I packed: 1) ten cookbooks including Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Jerusalem, Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, Pereman’s Smitten Kitchen and CanalHouse Cooks Every Day; 2) Pensey’s spices; 3) my chef’s and paring knives; 4) equipment ranging from my food processor to a Wagner Magnalite cast aluminum pot; and 5) a 4-quart crockpot, acquired here.
Just as important as what I lugged from Colorado is what happened after my arrival. The house is lovely but the kitchen wasn’t feeling that love. Disarray is the word. First I scrubbed and scoured. Then I organized. I don’t mind grease and spills but I insist they be my grease and spills. After this thorough once-over and a trip to Trader Joe’s, my rental kitchen was ready-to-roll.
Having found ten cutting boards in my rental kitchen, I’m thinking of holding a garage sale.
What is insane about this particular kitchen is what’s here and what isn’t. There are 10 cutting boards. (I plead guilty to sometimes exaggerating so I snapped a photo. Count ’em.) It’s taken me three weeks to find potholders but during that hunt I counted 36 dishtowels. Although this is wine country, I only have two red wine glasses and six white, all with various logos. There is no paring knife but several huge plastic bowls (I’m thinking pretzels). Several pieces of the Crate & Barrel dinnerware are chipped or cracked. I’ve relegated them to the garage. I couldn’t set a table for six but since I’m not here to party, I don’t care.
As for the by the ocean requirement, I have no complaint!
These gorgeous strawberries are finally showing up at our local farmers markets.
If you would like to see the spectacular Paris-Brest created by my colleagues, go here. To find the recipes for scallops, Dorie’s caramel sauce and carrots, go here and here. French Fridays with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s “Around my French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours.”
This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe choice is Moules Marinière. It proved to be the perfect anchor to my celebratory feast after settling into my new California digs.
Living in the Colorado Rockies is a privilege, my idea of paradise. But it’s that 4-month window of snow, cold temps and icy footpaths that, well, leaves me cold. I learned to ski at Snowmass Mountain in the late ‘70s and buckled up my last boot in the late ‘90s when my knees began sassing back at me. This month, after two loopy falls on the ice, I escaped in search of a winter paradise. My first stop was Cambria, a drowsy, seaside village of 6,000 people located on the spectacular central coast and plopped among a native stand of Monterey pines.
It’s a good choice and here’s why. To my thinking, winter shows off Cambria at its finest. It’s off-season, that fleeting moment when locals reclaim their community. Think quiet, quaint and a well-kept secret. But here’s the thing, what surrounds this tiny town is just flat-out noisy in the friendliest of ways. Besides a number of migrating species, elephant seals, whales, birds and butterflies, there’s a castle to visit and an ocean to enjoy.
The end of the trail at Harmony Headlands and my favorite spot for a picnic lunch
Added perks are the vineyards, olive tree farms, goats (think chèvre) and farmers markets. These aren’t the vineyards of boxed wine and Two-Buck Chuck. In fact Wine Enthusiast magazine just named the surrounding Paso Robles area as the 2013 Wine Region of the Year. In all the World! More than 200 wineries here plant and pick over 40 wine grape varieties. It’s also reasonable to assume that marching in lock step with these wine producers is a food culture of innovative chefs offering seasonal, farm and ocean-to-table cuisine. For a food writer like me, I’ve landed in an edible feast of experiences.
This olive oil ranch is located in Paso Robles.
In a salute to where I landed, I made this week’s FFWD menu a true farm & ocean – to table meal. My two-pounds of mussels came from Pier 46 Seafood, my favorite fishmonger located in nearby Templeton. To make the mussels, I used Pasolivo Olive Oil made with olives grown on their Paso Robles ranch’s 45 acres of trees.
Emptying Sarah’s baguette basket at Hoppe’s Bakery. (Sarah has applied to Colorado University’s doctoral program in political science and is nervously waiting to hear from Boulder.) Note the time. It is 8:20 a.m.
The best baguettes on the central coast are made at Hoppe’s Bakery in picturesque Cayugos, a 15-mile trip and soooooo worth the 20-minute drive. If you stop by at 8am, the baguettes will be warm, the coffee, piping hot, and the almond croissants……… well, you know. I bought out Sarah’s basket and delivered two of those beauties, wonderfully warm, to my Realtors, Heidi and Janet. Since those two ladies were already having a prickly morning, the baguettes were welcomed.
Pour moi. An almond croissant. And, yes, I hung out at Hoppe’s, chatted with Sarah and ate the whole thing.
For wine, I turned to my favorite vineyard at historic Halter Ranch, and chose, at their suggestion, a fruity-tasting Sauvignon Blanc. Besides pouring superb wine, I am partial to Halter Ranch wines because of its owner, Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss-born, billionaire businessman who donates generously to various conservation efforts in the Rockies. He also walks the walk at the 960-acre Ranch with its state-of-the art and environmentally-sensitive winery.
Halter Ranch’s state-of-the-art winery. Photo by Halter Ranch
There is no downside to this meal. Chop an onion, 2 shallots and 4 garlic cloves and throw into a Dutch oven filled with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Toss some salt and pepper into the pot and soften the mixture for 3-5 minutes until it glistens. Pour in a cup of dry white wine with a chicken bouillon cube, springs of thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and lemon zest strips. In another 3 minutes add 2 pounds of mussels. After bringing this to a boil, cover the pot and steam for another 3 minutes or so, until the mussels are opened. Serve immediately with a hot baguette and toasty french fries (mine are from the local Trader Joe’s.)
Two pounds of mussels, scrubbed, debearded and ready to steam.
A tip or two. I cranked up the broth’s flavoring by doubling Dorie’s suggested ingredients portions. What I used for my 2 pounds of mussels, she used for 4 pounds. Also, try this when eating Moules Marinère. Break the shell at its hinge and use one half as a scoop to detach the mussel and spoon it in your mouth. Really, no utensils are needed. As Dorie mentions, “You’re talking about an elbows-on-the-table meal and messy fingers.”
To see how these mussels opened for my colleagues, go to our group link here. For this week’s recipe, go here. French Friday’s with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s “Around my French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours.”
Since I needed to do some research work at both the Reagan and Nixon Presidential Libraries, I took a break from packing boxes to spend a week in sunny California. My first stop, Cambria. Seven years ago I came nose-to-proboscis with migrating elephant seals who spend the Winter on the Central Callie Coast and I haven’t missed a opportunity to visit them every year since.
This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe choice is Chicken Diable breasts but the organic chicken thighs in my freezer suggested I make a minor change to the recipe. Which, I did.
This classic dish, a perfect choice for Sunday night’s dinner while watching the Academy Awards, also yielded enough leftovers to keep my engine running during my drive to California last Monday. I needed to do research at both the Reagan and Nixon Presidential Libraries and could combine that work with a short stop in Cambria, visiting Colorado friends who had set up camp there for the Winter.
Before you comment that I seem to serve Trader Joe’s baked french fries with every meal, please understand that I’m trying to empty my freezer by mid-March. Admittedly, I stowed a few too many bags of french fries in my freezer. I showed no restraint regarding the delicious sauce. (The devil made me do it.) This was a perfect meal for Oscar night although I thought Naomi Watts deserved the Best Actress Award for “The Impossible” and I was pulling for “Lincoln” or “Life of Pi” for Best Picture.
“Diable is the French word for devil,” Dorie says, “and when you see it on the menu you can be pretty sure that the dish includes mustard, usually a strong Dijon mustard which is about as hot as condiments in the French kitchen get.”
I exchanged chicken breasts for thighs, pounding them lightly before sauteing them in a pan with olive oil and butter. If you prefer beef, try a filet mignon.
Like many of Dorie’s recipes, she’s taken a traditional French dish and turned it into simple without losing any of its taste. I pounded chicken cutlets lightly before slipping them into a large skillet, coated with butter and olive oil, to sauté. Then I transferred them to a 200 degree oven for warmth before making the sauce.
After lightly browning the chicken cutlets for about 4 minutes on each side, I transferred them to a pan, covered them with foil and slipped them into a 200 degree oven.
Using the same skillet I softened finely chopped shallots, garlic and seasonings before adding the dry white wine and heavy cream. After the sauce reached a boil, I added mustard and Worcestershire sauce and stirred to blend. Once the sauce was seasoned correctly, I removed the chicken from the oven, plated it and poured the mustard sauce over the top. It was delicious.
We took many hikes into the surrounding hills and along the Central coastline. Because of the wonderfully warm and sunny weather, the flowers are starting to burst into bloom. Hottentot Fig, more commonly known as Ice Plant, Carpobrotus edulis, Ice Plant family. Photo by Ruth Frey
For my trip west the next day, I cut the remaining Chicken Thighs Diable into long strips and packed them into Tupperware. Along with a few carrots and celery sticks, they provided a flavorful and protein-filled treat for the drive.
California Brown Pelican
If you’d like to try Dorie’s very tasty recipe, go here. To see what others thought about this week’s recipe, go to our French Fridays with Dorie link.