Archive for the French Category

I’m Back!

Posted in American, Dessert, French with tags , , , on September 13, 2011 by Cooking For Mark

Dear blog.  You may think I have deserted you, and I would not blame you if you did.  I left without an explanation, without a glimmer of hope that I would return.  But I am back – for good. I promise I will never leave you ever again. Will you take me back?

In my attempts to win you back,  here is a little sneaksy of what I have been up to. Regrettably, some of my favorite dishes I have made I did not take pictures of.  But fear not, I will make them again and will start posting soon.


For the cake I used Julia Child’s Chocolate Almond Cake.  I was very disappointed with the cake. It was dry and tasteless. But, the cherry filling made with red wine and oranges was fantastic, as well as the chocolate frosting.


Orgasm in your mouth! Buttery dough covered with mustard, parmesan, and herbs topped with sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes – topped with mozzarella and basil. Make this before tomato season ends!


Simple yet amazing.


First attempt at beef bourguignon. It was absolutely fantastic! The brandy with the bacon and red wine make the most delicious sauce to cover the perfectly tender beef.


Pan fried gnocchi with a bit of garlic, tossed with lemon pasta, cherry tomatoes with a bit of white wine and olive oil. Finish off with little mozzarella balls and fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar. The perfect summer pasta.


Perfectly cooked Northwest wild-caught salmon. Oven-baked tortilla bowl filled with southwest salad with a creamy cilantro dressing.

Croque-Monsieur Veggie Panini

Posted in French, Italian with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Like a lot of people, I had never heard of croque-monsieurs until the recent box office hit “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep. For those of you who still don’t know what i’m talking about, I’ll save you a wikipedia visit. A croque-mosieur is a french version of a ham and cheese sandwich–but much, much better. After making a regular ham and cheese sandwich (using good cheese, as the French do), the french also add a creamy, cheesy béchamel sauce on top and bake it until the cheese melts all over the sandwich. As you can imagine, after a croque-monsieur, a regular sandwich will never be the same.

Similar things can be said about the Italian panini. Which sandwich is better? I don’t like to play favorites, so I decided to combine the two and have the best of both worlds: a grilled veggie sandwich smothered with hot bubbly cheese…yum!

This panini was made by using whatever I had on hand, and it was still extremely tasty. Inside the panini I used pesto and artichoke spread, grilled zucchini, purple potatoes, red onion, tomatoes, spinach and gouda cheese. I grilled the panini and added the creamy cheesy béchamel sauce, made with mozzarella, parmesan and blue cheese. The only thing that could have made this panini better would be to add feta cheese inside. Definitively next time.

I served this with a light summer salad made with tomatoes, strawberries, grapefruit, avocado and mint. The dressing was balsamic vinegar with a bit of olive oil. Perfect company to the perfect sandwich.

Panini Ingredients:

  • Your favorite bread
  • Spread: pesto and artichoke tappenade
  • Veggies: zucchini, purple potato, tomato, red onion, spinach
  • Cheese: gruyere, but feta would have been delicious!
  • Bechamel sauce (below)

Step 1 Directions: Slice veggies and cook. Spread pesto to one bread, and artichoke tappenade on the other. Top with veggies and cheese. Place sandwich on panini maker or on grill.

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. cheese (I used mozzarella, but you can use provolone, swiss, gruyere, fontina, etc)
  • Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg
  • Optional: I also added a bit of blue cheese which added a lot of great flavor

Step 2 Directions: melt butter, add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add milk and cheese. Cook until cheese melts and sauce thickens.

Step 3 Directions: Turn on oven to 450 degrees. Add bechamele sauce to top of panini and top with a bit of shredded cheese. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on broiler and bake for another 3-4 minutes. Serve with a light side salad.

Panini Veggies

Assembling the Paninis….

Grilled Panini…

Croque-Monsieur Veggie Panini

Flops: Cherry Clafoutis

Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, French with tags , , , , on July 26, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Looking at this picture might make your tummy rumble and trigger a craving for something similar. But, we must learn, and come to accept, that even though something looks exquisite does not mean it will taste so. This is one of those instances. I made this French Cherry Clafoutis after reading about one in a blog. The origin of this recipe? Julia Childs. Reliable? I thought so. My respects to Julia, but this recipe was terrible. It was way too sweet, bland, and soggy. Could I have done something wrong? It may be possible, but the simplicity and ease of the recipe tells me otherwise. I wish I could try a good clafoutis, just to know what it is suppose to taste like. So if anyone knows of an extraordinary clafoutis recipe, please let me know. Because honestly, this clafoutis is haunting me.

Update: I have found a clafoutis recipe that has the components to be the real thing, from a real french cook. Check out The French Press clafouti recipe here.  I am going to give it another try sometimes soon. To be continued…