Month: October 2012

Swedish mushroom salad

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Possibly it would sound oddly but the Swedish mushroom salad is a typical Hungarian starter. We don’t know anything about its origin but in Hungary it has been known and beloved for at least eighty years. On parties, big events it is always one of the most popular starter on the cold buffet table. I have a colleague from Stockholm and once when I mentioned that we adore the Swedish mushroom salad he claimed that he had never heard of it. -And do you know the Swedish Budapest cake?- he asked me in return.-What? I’ve never heard of it!- But it might work as the cake of Napoleon which is for us a Russian cream cake, and the Hungarian French salad called in Belgium and Germany salad Rousse-Russian salad etc… Before you would get totally confused, here is the recipe of an excellent cold starter!

Ingredients: 250 g mushroom, butter and oil mixture for cooking, 1 onion, 1 can of tomato, salt, pepper, bay leaf, a pinch of sugar, 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Chop the onion, mushrooms and cut into very thin slices. Soaté the onion in oil and butter mixture, then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, add pinch of sugar, sprinkle with lemon juice. Cook until mushrooms release its juice, then add the tomato sauce. Simmer for a few minutes everything together, then taste it, if it’s necessary add more salt. After to discarding the bay leaves put into fridge and serve well chilled.

Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve in the kitchen

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The two great personalities of the French cinema who were  both married to the Ukranian film director Roger Vadim and  have had many love affairs also share the passion for excellent food.

“Le Bardot”

She was the sex symbol of the 60-s, brought up in a rich family but at age of 17 thanks to (later no thanks) her first husband, Roger Vadim, she turned her back on the life of the aristocrats and became a movie star. While it enabled her to become internationally famous, it also carried with it annoyances. It was not anything for her to have “fans” enter her house or wander around the grounds of her home in St Tropez (Cote D’Azur), the hopes of getting a glimpse of her or to take something that belonged to her. Paparazzi constantly hounded her with their cameras. People even have taken advantage of her generosity but in exchange for that they became openly agressive, (threw snowballs in her face, a nurse in a hospital attacked her with a fork, she still keeps the scars), so no wonder when at age of forthy she couldn’t stand the vexations anymore (committed suicides several times) left the spotlight and went on to become a leading spokesperson for animal rights. She started the “Foundation Brigitte Bardot” dedicated solely to that cause. She even donated her property in St. Tropez the “La Madrague” to the purpose. Her work in that realm is, perhaps, far greater than any film she could have made.

As far as the food is concerned BB still likes cooking for herself, (at age of 78), and eats with great pleasure. In September when I tried to follow the footsteps of BB in St- Tropez I popped in her favourite restaurant, La Ponche in order to make pictures of the interieur and of the menu. Alongside the Mediterranean cuisine I found an amazing diversity of dishes from India, Thailand, Lebanon, Japan and Morocco as well but nobody could tell me what was or is BB’s favorite food. But later, in the tourist office I discovered an interesting issue of the local St-Tropez magazine and for my great joy the September issue was devoted to celebrities who have ever put their feet in the streets of St Tropez. Among others I’ve also found Brigitte Bardot’s favorite dish the Tabbouleh Salad. According to the paper the recipe and story was told by celebrity chef Frédéric van Coppernolle, whose grandmother cared and cooked for Bardot at her home in St.-Tropez.

 In 1980 at age 15, Van Coppernolle (Belgian) was sent to live with his grandmother on Bardot’s estate while his parents were battling a terrible divorce. Bardot had already been a staunch animal rights advocate so she had been a vegetarian for long time. Van Coppernolle became his grandmother’s sous chef and helped her prep various vegetarian dishes such as onion tarts, ratatouille, pizzas and vegetable-and-cheese quiches for Bardot as well as feed Bardot’s 13 dogs and 40 cats special home cooked meals. His grandmother’s tabbouleh was a favorite of Bardot’s. They never corrected her by explaining it was actually a couscous because she was supposedly a bit feisty. Instead, they kept the peace and just let her call it tabbouleh! (Couscous is made of pasta, while tabbouleh is cracked bulgur wheat).

Since its ingredients are very similar to a traditional tabbouleh salad, I’m certain you could substitute bulgur for the couscous if you’d prefer not to eat pasta. Last week I tried out the salad at home and it was delicious!


Ingredients: 2 cups fine bulgur, 2 cups boiling water, 1 bunch green onion, sliced finely, 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped finely, 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped finely, 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 lemons, juice of, 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, salt and pepper, 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions: Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand 5 to 10 minutes, then fluff grains with a wooden spoon. Add onions, parsley, mint, and tomatoes and mix well. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Mix thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator and toss once again before serving.

Catherine Deneuve, “the most lovely woman in the world”

When BB met her ex-husband’s new girlfriend on the set of “La Bride Sur Le Cou” directed by him, the personality of Catherine Deneuve had also captured her:” …behind Vadim lingered a 17-year-old brunette who dressed like me had her hair made like me. Her name was Catherine Deneuve. She had a certain air of a namby-pamby, that was back then unbearable”.

Although raised Catholic, Catherine Deneuve began to defy convention at an early age. In 1961, the 17-year-old starlet, left home and moved in with Ukranian director Roger Vadim, who at 33 was twice divorced and almost twice her age. He was also her mentor, and directed her in Le vice et la vertu (1963). On June 18, 1963, she gave birth to their son, Christian Vadim, she was only 19. Within a month after that, the relationship was over and they broke off contact (he had five wives included Jane Fonda and four children, and died in 2000). After an other failure marriage to a British photographer Catherine Deneuve has shunned the idea of marriage ever since. But this didn’t mean that she got no tangled up in love affairs. Meanwhile she played a married woman who works as a part-time prostitute every afternoon in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece (La belle de jour) she began an intense relationship with the world famous Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. On May 28, 1972, she gave birth to the daughter of his (Chiara), at the age of 28. However the relationship with Mastroianni ended in 1975, but the two remained friends up until his death (from pancreatic cancer on December 19, 1996), with Deneuve present at his bedside.

Deneuve has had many magnificent works: Truffaut’s Last metro (1980), as a stage actress in Nazi-occupied Paris, was a career milestone and won her a César Award for Best Actress. Deneuve’s third foray into Hollywood came in 1983, when she starred in Tony Scott’s The hunger (1983) as a stylish, seductive bisexual vampire living in Manhattan who sets out in search of new blood. The film became a cult classic, and her erotic love scene with Susan Sarandon unintentionally made Deneuve a lesbian icon, so much that she would later have to threaten legal action to stop the lesbian magazine Curve from using “Deneuve” as the original title. In 1985, her status as a beauty icon was cemented when her profile was chosen as the model for Marianne, (BB was also) the symbol of the French Republic seen on French coins and stamps.
In private life the Grand Dame of French cinema prefers the French cuisine and eating well: “I could have never been a model in the way actresses today are expected to be; I have never been thin enough because I love a wonderful meal at the end of the day with a good burgundy. I try to be careful but I am not American- she told in an interview- so that I am not always worrying about calories and working out. I have no fear of aging until I am able to work. My mother turned 100 this year (in 2012). She lives alone in Paris; very independent and she is quite incredible. She has a very good head; she still plays bridge, she still wins. So longevity may be in my genes but I don’t know if I will live to be 100 because I have not had the same lifestyle as my mother (she has never smoked but I do)”. Catherine’s favorite:

Carbonnade with olives

This beef stew is known for its Mediterranean touch, combination of olives, onions and bay leaves. Any olives would be a good choice here. As with most stews, the dish will taste even better a day after it’s made.

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 pounds beef flatiron or blade steaks, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, about 3 inches wide, Salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups thickly sliced onions, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, chopped parsley, for garnish croquette, 12 black or green olives (be careful with the salt)

In an enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, (3 minutes per side). Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Add the onions to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated. Return the meat to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender. Uncover and transfer the meat to a bowl. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and croquette or pommes duchesse. 
























How will my Halloween coctail buffet look like?

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Don’t let the junior set have all the fun on All Hallow’s Eve. Grown-ups should have a wicked good time too. With that in mind, I ‘ll skip the tricks and ‘ll go straight for the treats with a sophisticated party for 20. As a macabre twist on the usual costume attire, why not ask guests to come in the outfit they’d like to be buried in? Then strategically I’ll scatter some rubber spiders and snakes and ‘ll serve up orange satin cosmos and devilishly tasty buffet. I hope my guests will be positively bewitched.

The menu

Orange snacks: toasted orange pecans, black and orange caviar toasts, sweet potato chips

Coctail buffet: mustard-crusted mini lamb chops, autumn salad, wild rice with almonds, artichokes and grapes

Dessert: mini carrot cupcakes and of course funny Halloween candies

Setting the scene- the décor: of course orange palette. Near the front door, I’ll create a lantern garden to welcome guests by dangling paper lanterns on fishing line at multiple levels. I ‘ll clear away unnecessary furniture. I’ll make bouquets of rust and mango coloured calla lilies for instance, the stems with raffia, I will scatter orange votive holders.

The menu: I’ll set out bowls of chocolate espresso beans, orange M&M, candied mango, orange pecans, sweet potato chips, and a tray of toasts points with créme fraiche and black and red caviar. I’l set up a self serve bar. The buffet menu will include ready-made tamales, so that guests can simply untie the husks and eat the filling topped with some ready made salsa. I think my mini lamb chops, wild rice and the autumn salad will be also easy to eat.

The music: Michael Jackson Thriller CD, Siouxsie&the Banshees, the Cramps and Bauhaus (Bela Lugosi’s Dead) The Monster Mash, I put a spell on you (my fav film was Beth Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker from the Hocus pocus) Dusty Springfield’s Spooky

Recipes-Mustard crusted mini lamb chops for 20

Ingredients: 5 cups fresh bread crumbs, 1/2 cup mixed chopped parsley, thyme, oregano, 5 large cloves of garlic, minced, 10 racks (6-7 bones) baby lamb chops, trimmed, salt and pepper, 5 tbsp olive oil, 5 tbsp unsalted butter, 10 tbsp mustard

Heat oven 450 F. In bowl combine bread crumbs, herbs, garlic. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in skillet over medium heat. Workingin batches add oil and butter as necessary, sear racks on all sides, let sit 4-5 min. Spread 1 tbsp mustard on each, press bread crumb coating over meaty side of lamb. Roast on baking sheet 15-18 min. for medium -rare. Let sit 5-10 min. before carving.

Wild rice with almonds, atrichokes and grapes

10 tbsp unsalted butter, divided, 4 1/2 cups wild rice, 6 1/4 cups chicken broth, 3 cans artichoke hearts, drained and diced, 3 cups small, seedless, green grapes, 1 1/2 cups toasted silvered almonds, salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet melt 5 tbs butter over medium-high heat. Add rice, toss to coat. Add broth, increase heat and bring to oil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered, 50 min. or until rice is cooked through and liquid is gone. Meanwhile heat remaining butter in separate large skillet over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and grapes, sauté until hot. Add to rice along with almonds. Season with salt and pepper, stir well.

Mini carrot cupcakes for 12

Ingredients: 2 oz white chocolate, 1 pkg cream cheesem 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 tbsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tbsp orange extract, 4 cups confectioner sugar, 2 tbsp heavy cream, 2 eggs, 11/2 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 cups shredded carrots, (pineapple) 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ginger

Heat oven to 350 F. In small saucepan melt white chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In bowl beat together cream cheese and butter. mix in white chocolate, 1 tsp vanilla extract and all orange extract. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar. mix in heavy cream. In large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar and mix in oil and 1 tsp of vanilla. fold in carrots and pineapple. In separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg  and ginger. Mix flour mixture into carrot mixture. transfer to greased muffin cups and bake 25 min. Cool completely before topping with icing. Garnish with plastic spiders.

Much ado about the Tenderloin of Brasov

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Brașov is not only a beautiful medieval city in Romania (which is located in the central part of the country, about 166 km north of Bucharest) but also the name of a delicious and easy to prepare Hungarian dish the Tenderloin of Brasov. It might originate from the Transylvania region but how did it earn its name it is still a mystery however I have found some assumptions:

1st: The recipe was found out in 1948 by Nándor Gróf, who was the cook of a restaurant car, on the Budapest-Brasov advanced train line (Garlic, pepper, potato variant, pork.)

The 2d version: György Dózsa, a master cook claimed it referring to a 19th century cook book, that the food originates from Brasov, and in fact it is a garlic cattle stew (a potato variant, garlic one fried a porcupine on bacon from beef.)

The 3d: the most authentic source is a book by Sándor Csáky: 20st century’s culinary art, according to it the original recipe of the Tenderloin of Brasov was made of a steak, and was invented by an unknown cook. (tomato-mushroom variant with red wine and with egg barley).

Gyula Pető’s book the Cooking knowledge, does not deal with its origin just simply gives his recipe (Tenderloin, smoked bacon, garlic, cooked potato variant.)

According to Endre Papp’s statement, (a profi cook) he claims to be the creator of the dish that he prepared onto a food innovation competition on 17 of September 1950. He gave it the name Tenderloin of Brasov because the memory of Trianon (painful lost for the Hungarians) lived on in his memory strongly yet. (Bacon, tenderloin, bulbous, tomato, green pepper variant with green peas, with a fried, potato roasted.)

According to the Old Buda (the historical part of Budapest) variant, the recipe was invented by the wife of a pub’s owner called Weiss, as the dish was specially made for a carpenter, certain Károly Brassóy’s birthday thus the plate was named after him (his family name was Brassóy written with a -y) (Marjoram, bulbous from pork, egg barley with garnish).

The recipe

The tenderloin of Brasov is considered to be kind of a traditional dishes of Hungary such as Chilli con carne in Mexico. Of course there are different variations from region to region but in most parts of Hungary it is made with lard-bacon, minced meat, onion, marjoram, and garlic are also common additions to the basic recipe. The special and unusual twist is the peas

 Brasov with peas (the classic version)


  • 60 ounces pork tenderloin or lean thighs
  • 10 ounces smoked bacon
  • 20 g onion
  • 40 grams of peas
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed marjoram
  • One hot spicy paprika
  • pepper, salt, red pepper

Wash and dry the meat with a kitchen papertowel, and cut it into two to three inch cubes. Chop onions and garlic. Fry the bacon with the onion and garlic, simmer together everything. Add meat and spices, and then let them cook. You can always add water if necessary.

When the meat is tender, pour the peas. Depending on what do you use canned or fresh peas, simmer until the beans are tender. Serve with French fries or potato purée.

The Romanian and Hungarian names are both derived from the Turkic word barasu, meaning “white water”, in Romanian with a Slavic suffix -ov but in Hungarian it is just pronounced Brassó-Brashow.

Crime night in Miss Marples’s style with good food

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I feel sort of it that the old-fashioned detective stories used to have some intimate atmosphere, more than the nowadays popular stonehard, realistic bestseller novels such as Henning Mankell’s (he became world-famous with the book Kurt Wallander & the TV sequel Wallander) or Stieg Larsson’s (Milleneum). Of course it beyond possibility to set them against each other since the different characters, eras etc. But there is indeed some charm in an Agatha Christie’s novel where the aged women in peaked shoes, waddling with their umbrella or sit in a comfy armchair with a knitting needle pretending not to hear and not to know anything meanwhile they are always ready to solve a crime. The situations are more funny than bloody seroius. On the other hand in black humor there is no deficiency, because Agatha Christie’s characters in the beginning of the novels seem normal but later on they go through in a strange metamorphose, for the most part they become criminals, amidst a shocking chaos, but the glamour, the twinkling always remain in the background, so much as the love. Not by any chance that Agatha Christie’s two famous detectives became classics: the perfectly egoistic Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the aged spinster Miss Marple..

The crime night dinner

On a chilly evening of November when people’s mood is usually spleenish, a well organized thema party with Miss Marples or with Hercule Poirot (or both) might help to cheer up everybody’s mood. We may delight our friends with a cunning puzzle or with a play, whereby we may not only tease the brains but also entice the gums with a memorable menu.

The menu

Overture: Sherry brandy or Martini. We may hand over a letter together with the brandy, we outline the crime story shortly and we hand out the roles. Menu: for a starter we serve a delicate Pumpkin soup, with crisp bacon on the top of it, then we continue with the beef Wellington (the idea was borrowed from English detective stories) “alongside with some victims” and with the Yorkshire pudding. Finale: get the clue to the crime, unveil the murderer with the dessert (trifle) and with a digestive swill. 

Setting the scene

Send invitations (on one side a cutting from a newspaper about movie or crime and on the other side with the text) and ask guests to dress a bit glamourously.

Décor: accented with old-fashioned crystal pieces, like vases, candlesticks, ice buckets and coupe style champagne glasses. Don’t forget to entertain the guests with some music (some film music or dub from one og an Agatha Christie’s classic) When the case is closed wish good night to the victims and the survivors.

The menu

Pumpkin soup Ingredients: 1 small Hokkaido pumpkin, 2 small potatoes, 2 carrots, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 leek, fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, curry, carraway seed, garam massala, salt and pepper to taste, oli or butter for sauté, 1 stock of vegetable bouillon

Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and leek, ginger, garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin, potato, and stock and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend in batches. Return soup to pan, stir through cream and reheat gently. Season and add a little more nutmeg if desired. Fry bacon or lard in a pan until crisps. To serve sprinkle some pumpkin oil over soup and add 1 tablespoon of balsamico vinaigrette.

The English classic Beef Wellington coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. A whole tenderloin may be wrapped and baked, and then sliced for serving, or the tenderloin may be sliced into individual portions prior to wrapping and baking. Many spices may be added to enhance the flavour; some examples are curry, any grilling mix, or ginger.

Ingredients: 1 lb beef tenderloin fillet, salt and pepper, olive oil, 1 lb mushrooms, 4 thin slices ham (Parmaham or prosciutto, 2 Tbsp yellow mustard, 7 ounces puff pastry defrost, 2 egg yolks beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.

2. Filets are often irregular in shape, if yours are use a piece of kitchen twine to tie them into a round. 3. Season filets generously with salt and pepper.

4. Pre-heat a medium (10-inch) non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl in pan to melt. 5. Cook filets on both sides for about 3 minutes until well-browned, then brown the edges. Allow filets to cool, then wrap in plastic and chill for at least a couple of hours.

In the meantime make the duxelles:chop finely the mushrooms in a food processor. Scrape mushrooms out into a clean, cotton towel. Twist towel around mushrooms and wring out as much liquid as you can over the sink. Heat a large (10-inch) non-stick skillet over a burner set between medium and medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon butter and swirl to melt and avoid burning. Add mushrooms, shallots, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and thyme.Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms appear dry and are beginning to brown; about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon of butter, and, when melted, the sherry or wine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vermouth has evaporated. Remove from heat and cool.

6. Heat oven to 400F. Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water (egg wash).

7. Wrap the filets in puff pastry according to the steps outlined in the photo tutorial for Individual Beef Wellingtons. Brush with egg wash, and bake in center of oven until golden brown; about 30 minutes.

Trifle made from thick custard, fruit, sponge cake, fruit juice or jelly, and whipped cream. The ingredients are usually arranged in layers.

La Quenelle and a salad Lyonnaise

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My culinary experiences in France have come to my mind many times in spite of the fact that one month has already passed since I returned from my three weeks summer holidays.
At Les Chandelles’s (Candlelight)
When the evening of 15th of September we were walking in Vieux-Lyon in order to discover the beauty of the city, after one hour shopping around we got hungry, so it was just a godsend, that at the entrance of the restaurant Les Chandelles, a waiter stopped us, saying that they’d made a special offer all of their menus (10% cheaper) just for that very evening. We checked the menu and after discovering the quenelle I’ve already decided to stay there. Namely I knew that Lyon and Nantua are most famous for their quenelles de brochet mousseline (pike quenelles), often served with cream sauce (Nantua sauce) and run under the salamander grill. To cut my story short in Lyon, the ancestral home of Les Quenelles I’ve had the pleasure of trying them! And I have to say, it was the best version I’ve ever tasted. The flavor was rich, the quenelles were so light in texture, puffed and tender, ship-shape, like clouds on the sea (see my picture).
What is the quenelle?
A quenelle is a dumpling made of a mixture of creamed fish (usually from pike), chicken or meat, sometimes combined with breadcrumbs, with a light egg binding. It can also be served vegetarian, or “nature”. It is usually poached. Formerly, quenelles were often used as a garnish in haute cuisine; but today, they are served on their own. By the way quenelle means dumpling and may also refer to a food item made into an oval or egg shape, such as ice cream, sorbet, or mashed potato quenelles. This usage derives from the original shape of the egg-and-meat quenelle. The most difficult part making the quenelle is the preparation of the pike which has many small bones, so passing it through a tamis is an expeditious way of removing them.

The recipe

Ingredients: 500 ml water, 10 g butter, 2 dashes of salt, 400 g flour, 12 eggs, green olives, mushrooms (optional), 500 g minced fish, beef or chicken

Recipe (for 8 persons): Mince or chop 500 g of pike fillet, strain in a colander covered with a cloth. Let this rest in a cold place for 12 hours.

Boil 20 ml of milk add 30 g of melted butter, 10 g salt 2 g pepper and 125g flour.

Mix thoroughly, using a wooden spatula, until the mixture is smooth and does not adhere to the walls.

Cover the preparation and let it set.

Mix the preparation for 2 minutes, add the pike flesh. Mix again.

Break 6 eggs in a bowl add 100 g of butter, then the preparation mix. Let the mixture set for 1 day.

Separate the mix into 120 g pieces, hand-roll them on a floured tabletop. Poach the pieces for 12 min in lightly salted water.

Place them in a gratin dish and cover them with Nantua sauce.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Enjoy whilst warm.

Similar items such as quenelle are found in many cultures. The Romans are believed to have introduced this type of food to Western Europe. The word quenelle is derived from the German Knödel (noodle or dumpling).

Salad Lyonnaise

That was my hors-d’oeuvre and I have to say that it tasted thousand miles better than the famous salad Nicoise in Nice! Here is the recipe “with love” from Lyon:

Ingredients: 1 salad Lollo bionda or rosso, 1 red onion, 150 g bacon-lard, 1 tbs wine or sherry vinaigrette, 1 tbs mustard, 1 egg for each person, 1 tbs oil, bread for making croutons

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan, then add the bacon and onion or garlic. Sizzle for about 15 mins until the bacon is crisp and brown, then scoop it out with a slotted spoon into a bowl, leaving the onion and bacon fat in the pan. Throw the bread into the pan and toss in the bacon fat, adding the remaining oil if the pan is dry. Fry the croutons for 5 minutes on a low heat, tossing occasionally until golden and crisp, then remove pan from heat.

While the croutons are frying, make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, mustard and 1 tbsp water in a small bowl. Add the olive oil gradually to make a thick dressing, season it, then set aside. Cut away and keep the lighter lettuce leaves and wash if needed, discarding any of the tough outer leaves.

When all of your ingredients are ready, bring a pan of water to a gentle boil and add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into small bowls then gently lower into the water and poach for 3 mins exactly. Line a plate with kitchen paper and use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs onto the plate.

To serve: Pile the salad high into the middle of two plates and arrange the remaining croutons and lardons around the side of the plates with the shallot rings. Drizzle the rest of the dressing around the outside and, just before serving, top each plate of salad with an egg.

PS: The Week of Taste Festival (La semaine du Gout) takes place in Lyon between 17- 23 of October!

October is mussel month in Belgium

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In Belgium, in the Netherlands, and in France, the months with “R” in them are called the mussel months, when mussels are usually consumed with French fries or bread. In Belgium, mussels are served with fresh herbs and flavorful vegetables in a stock of butter and white wine. Frites and Belgian beer sometimes are accompaniments. In the Netherlands, mussels are usually served fried in batter or breadcrumbs, particularly at take-out food outlets. However in France, the Éclade des Moules is the most popular dish with mussels and can be found along the beaches of the Bay of Biscay.

Believe me if you want to eat the best sea food in Europe, go to Brussels! There is a strip of about 30 restaurants in the well-known tourist area (at the Impasse le Fidelité), each with special seafoods such as mussels, lobster, shrimps, prawns etc. All the waiters wait outside (and speak about 10 different languages) and try to get you to come in. The food is quite cheap (19 euro’s). At the end of September when I was in Belgium I could hardly wait to enjoy a black pot of full with mussels outside on the street (they had heaters to keep the customers warm). At this time my favorite dish was the mussels in a white sauce. It was excellent. My husband though had flounder or salmon or some kind of fish with some sort of a honey-bourbon sauce and honestly, when I took a bite of it, my mouth collapsed as if I’d just swallowed an orgasm pill and I experienced true euphoria. So anyone who likes seafood or food in general must go to Brussels!

How to prepare the mussel

Mussels can be smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried in butter. As with all shellfish, except shrimp, mussels should be checked to ensure they are still alive just before they are cooked; enzymes quickly break down the meat and make them unpalatable after dying. A simple criterion is that live mussels, when in the air, will shut tightly when disturbed. Open, unresponsive mussels are dead, and must be discarded. Unusually heavy, wild caught, closed mussels may be discarded as they may contain only mud or sand. (They can be tested by slightly opening the shell halves.)

A thorough rinse in water and removal of “the beard” is suggested. Mussel shells usually open when cooked, revealing the cooked soft parts.


Mussels “simple”

This classic recipe for French steamed mussels is bathed in white wine, butter and garlic. It’s both easy and quick, but like all such recipes, the quality of the ingredients matters a lot. Buy the best mussels and good sweet butter and use a white wine you’d drink yourself. Figure on a pound of mussels per person for a main course; This recipe serves for two.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 2 lb live mussels, 1 T unsalted butter, 3/4 cup white wine, 2 chopped scallions or 1 chopped shallot, 2 chopped green garlic shoots or 2 cloves chopped garlic


Scrub and remove the beards of the mussels. The “beard” is the fibrous hairy thing hanging from one side of the tasty bivalve. Pull it off with a side-to-side motion.

In case you are wondering, a mussel is alive if it reacts. Its shell should be closed. If it is open, sit the mussel for a bit. It may close when you are not looking.

Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large, wide-bottomed pot with a lid; I use a Dutch oven. Saute the shallot or green onion until it is soft but not browned. Add the garlic cloves if using — if you are using green garlic, leave it out for now.

Add the white wine (you can use any decent white), and bring it to a boil. Add the mussels in one layer if possible.

Cover the pot and let the mussels steam for 3-8 minutes. After three minutes, check the mussels; many should be open. You want them all open, but some will do this faster than others.

As soon as most of the mussels are open, turn off the heat and toss in the green garlic, if using. Cover for a minute while you prepare bowls and plates.

Spoon out plenty of mussels and broth, which should be briny enough to not need any more salt. Throw out any mussels that did not open.

Serve with crusty bread, more white wine — and an extra bowl for the shells.

Mussels with garlic and white wine

Ingredients for 10 people: 4 kg mussels (approximately 10 mussels per person), 250 g soft butter, 10 cloves garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon parsley, salt and pepper, lemon grass, chives 

The day before:
Stew mussels in a bit of butter with onions, celery stalks, finely chopped leeks and parsley, carrot. Then flavor with herbs: thyme, bay leaves, lemon grass, chives. Cook the mussels for 5 minutes and moisten with white wine. When the mussels are cooked remove them from the shell, place the largest shells aside.
Make the garlic butter: Mix the softened butter with the garlic pesto and parsley, season with salt. Insert a mussel in each shell and fill with this considerably savoury butter. Preparation the day itself; put the mussels in the oven for a few minutes and serve them hot with brown bread.

Mussels with garlic butter and cheese

Ingredients for 4 persons: 1 clove of garlic, 2 ts of finely chopped parsley, 75 g butter, salt and pepper, 48 fresh jumbo mussels, 2 dl of white wine, 150 g grated cheese, 1 bouillon stock

First prepare the spicy butter: peel and squeeze the garlics, add butter to it, flavor with salt. Clean mussels. Cook for five minutes in a pot filled with the white wine and the fis or other bouillon. Stir it regularly. Get rid of the shells and sieve the bouillon through a colander. Divide mussels into four plates, place some butter on the top then betsrew each plate with some grated cheese or put the bread in the oven with the grated cheese on top. When the cheese is melted place the bread on the top of the garlicy mussels.

Mussel soup with estragon and tomato

Ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic, 200g mirepoix (see on the picture above, the mixture of finelly chopped celery, carrot and leek), ½ kg mussels, 2g lemon zest, thyme, leek, carrot, 1tbs ketchup, oil, 300ml milk, ½ dl pastis, 500ml cream, saffron, shiso, 1 tomato, 1tbs or fresh estragon, 2 fresh tomatoes, onion, white wine

Stew mirepox in oil. Add fresh tomatoes. Pour over Pastis and let it simmer. Add mussels to dish and let them cook. Pour over one gulp of white wine and flambé, flavor with thyme then let it simmer for 5 minutes. Sieve the soup put aside mussels then prepare the sauce with the tomato, ketchup, cream, saffron and estragon. Serve with white onion rings, lemon confitur and decorate with some julienned carrot and fresh tomato slices.

Mussels in saffron sauce

Ingredients: 2 kgs of mussels, few saffron threads, knob of butter, bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic, 2 dl liquid of mussels, parsley, 2 dl cream, 2 stalks of celery, 1 shallot, thyme, 1 tomato, 1 onion, 1 dl white wine


Melt a knob of butter in a pot and make the mussels in a classical way. Stewed celery and onion and add thyme and bay leaf.

Add the mussels, season well with salt and pepper, pour a little white wine and leave to cook for 5 minutes under the lid.

Keep the mussels warm under cover and take 2 dl liquid of the mussel for the sauce. Scoop the mussel liquid into a pot and add the white wine. Let the liquid to reduce by half. Add chopped shallot and garlic, and put a few strands saffron. Pour over the cream and cook until reduced by half. Serve in hot.

There are several restaurant in Belgium devoted only for mussels and it is said that some of them know 40 ways of making excellent mussel dishes. Here are some varieties from the menucard of Vital restaurant:
Mussel pot of “Bonne Femme”, meaning mussels are prepared with white wine and cream,
Mussel Provençal: vegetables such as tomato and garlic and Spanish bell pepper are essentials
Mussels in the Pot: with white wine
Mexican way: with hot cajun pepper
Mussels with Pastis, 
Mussels with White beer (tripple Westmalle),
Mussels with Mustard and Cream sauce,
Mussels with Curry and with White beer 

I lived like a Tropezien in St Tropez!

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The story of three hotels in St Tropez that created turbulences for couple of decades

Each year five million visitors are enchanted by the beauty of St Tropez, a small village at the Cote D’Azur. Maybe because the village cultivates a unique way of life. More notably St Tropez is where light hearted spirit, simplicity and freedom prevail. Art de vivre as the French people say, whether you are keen on cultural events, water sports, shopping, (by the way it is a paradise for fashion lovers the best brands, extravagant, sensual boutiques are all) night life and partying-St Tropez offers the best.

At the end of September, when I was in St Tropez, my intention was to reveal the success of three cultic hotels: La Hotel Ponche, L’Escale and Villa Romana. At the same time I also wanted to learn more about the myth of the village.

When I was heading for the Hotel La Ponche (it was the first on my list) I came across with a photo exhibition: St Tropez and the stars by Daniel Angeli. His pictures were so striking, (mostly taken in the 60s and 70s) so I couldn’t resist to stop there and to take a look at them. Mostly snapshot portraits, revealing the soul of the 20th century, a salute to the golden years of cinema and the elite. Later on I realized that, that studying first Angeli’s photos were the best warming-up for the interview with the proprietor of the legendary Hotel the La Ponche as Agnelli’s photos came alive by listening the stories of madam Simone Duckstein.

Hotel de la Ponche in the 60s

The Hotel de La Ponche (located in downtown of St Tropez) is probably the most intimate hotel in St Tropez, and the only four stars of the Rriviera, was born of a simply fisherman’ bar. -“In the early 60s when St Tropez became the centre of the world, -paradise for young and beautiful and later famous people- thus they needed a cosy-hidden nest where they could enjoy life to the fullest”.- began Ms Duckstein the story-telling. „It’s annoying when people say that St Tropez is not the place anymore like was before, it’s not entirely true. There are the lights and the sea, there are always extraordinary people and the sweet way of life remained unchanged. Since the only thing that has disappeared perhaps is the simplicity in communication that created a bridge between people of all backgrounds. Today’s society is individualistic, the mobile phone has replaced writing while in the past, people had to talk to another to meet. -”Oh but in the sixties I met many famous people”-she sighed a big nostalgically then she continued- “such as Francoise Sagan and her group Jacques Malraux, Juliette Greco etc did. Sun, speed, parties and humour!- that was Francoise’s motto, the carefree attitude of the era, a French way of art. They regarded the hotel de La Ponche as a family boarding home. Everybody loved Francoise!”- broke Simone Duckstein into a smile remembering to her.- “She was very charming, generous, exquisitely polite and insomniac.” And I knew the Bardot family as well. Madam Bardot, Brigitte’s mother came on the Blue Train, had her breakfasts at the hotel with her two daughters Brigitte and Milanou. Later The Bardots had bought a family house on Rue de la Misericorde. Couple of years later was very fascinating to see again BB, when And God Created Woman Roger Vadim’s film many scenes were shot in the old town, and she changed her clothes in our hotel. Half nude but totally innocent, my other clients were stunned by the presence of the world’s most beautiful woman. And BB was the gist in our Tropicana club as well, once when she was with Sacha Distel, BB was singing, Sacha Distel played on his guitar and the whole Riviera could hear their band”.

L’Escale and the 70s

In the 70s Hotel L’Escale became the festive heart of St Tropez. Felix Giraud, who managed the Escale in that time (died in his early 90s), was a pioneer in terms of partying, maybe the greatest character of St Tropez. He started by working in the torpedo factory, he operated his first business in St Maxime, in addition later he had opened un unpretenious bar called the Esquinade which quickly became the place where people had to be, to be seen with the royalty, singers, heirs, and American stars. The gathering place of celebrities. Everything was decided there at 6 pm. The aperitif with rowsof people in front of the bar, elegant women in long dresses, pretty girls back from the beach, fishermen, tourists or passing byers… The Aston Martins and Ferraris were neatly parked in front of the door. Maybe because in that time there were no musicians, the mood was very „love and peace”, of an infinitive sweetness, no dress code and no social barriers. Being young, smiley and beautiful that was the only passport imposed to access the most private parties in villas or yachts. The tables were booked from one year to another. I have a funny story about Richard Burton who was a heavy drinker and therefore man of moods. So he came only once to France. His boat moored in the harbour of St Tropez. He dined at L’Escale. Then next day he set sail annoyed by the fact that he couldn’t watch his favorite English channel! At the same time Onassis booked his table for the whole summer at L’Escale. Prince Rainer, Romy Schneider, Gianni Agnelli, the good looking Italian heir of the Fiat empire was always accompanied by beautiful blondes here. And all these people mixed with one another in all simplicity, drinking Pimm’s” -said Beatrice Mangins hotel proprietor of the L’ Escale with a big pride.

La Villa Romana and the 90s, password: Live like a Tropezien!

In May 1996 when Luc Fournier bought Mina Siri’s pizzeria, -the place was once very popular in the eighties,- first he changed the furniture, then he discovered the lush of the vegetation and flowers in the garden and became inspired by the Florentine style-thus he created a place under the name of Villa Romana. With the mingle of ancient frescoes, crystal chandeliers and modern baroque furniture a visual revolution was born. Not miracle, that the famous stars discovered it soon. Heirs of the elite, actors, pretty girls gather in this place for crazy nights. Nowadays sometimes people come here for just a dinner because Villa Romana has a great restaurant. Besides of this there is no deficiency in the delights: Playmates in bikinis parading between tables, the champagne flows. Billioners are frequent visitors for instance Kevin Spacey, George Clooney, Paris Hilton, Bruce Willis. No jet setter worthy of the will miss the date in 2016 the 20st anniversary of the Villa Romana!-said with a huge smile Luc Fournier.

The exhibition of St Tropez and the stars was created in 2011 and first was shown at Paris.  It has been presented in Sidney, Melbourne, Paris, Milan and will be in Moscow, New Delhi, Bombay, Brisbone, Buenos Aires, New York, Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco.

This slideshow requires JavaScript. website proposes unique and exclusive photos taken by paparazzis, photographers who have witnessed times when stars offered rare, now legendary moments commencing a tour around the world’s capitals.

Lecho, the Hungarian ratatouille

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The autumn is here, in Hungary there is a saying: it’s lecho time. It means that it is the perfect time of preserving the famous Hungarian dish the Lecho.

This excellent food, -in English is Lecho, (pronounced “LETCH-oh”) and in Hungarian it’s Lecsó- is an originally Hungarian vegetable ratatouille which contains peppers and tomato, onion, lard, salt, (sugar optional) and ground paprika as a basic recipe. In northern Hungary, the onions and peppers are usually sautéed in lard or bacon fat, while in the south sunflower oil is more commonly used. Lecho, like its French semi-counterpart ratatouille, often stands alone as a lunch dish or dinner, in which case is often consumed with bread. 

There is a large variety of the way of the cooking of the lecho, however the base of all a mixture of tomatoes and peppers (sweet and hot as well), onions, a fair amount of red paprika powder and sometimes garlic. To make the perfect lecho base, one must render the lard from the smoked bacon (if that is used instead of oil), and sautée the onion slices until they become slightly brownish. Next the pepper slices must be added and fried until crisp. Then a very important step comes you have to add the tomatoes because, if tomatoes added at the beginning, they would soak the onions and the peppers. At the end of cooking the lecho must be thickened with the beaten eggs (one for each person).

Lecho variations

One type of lecho is made with potatoes, another with cooked rice or egg barley (called tarhonya, a kind of large Hungarian couscous) but most commonly lecho is eaten with a slice of fresh bread and pickles. It is also possible to make lecho with green tomatoes, and to serve the warm dish with sour cream. Some non- vegetarian recipes are prepared with delicious sausages (called “kolbász” such as lecsókolbász, made specifically for this purpose, or Debrecener sausage, sausage from the city of Debrecen) bacon or smoked pork chops. I also like to rich a pork dish with lecho. Whenever I serve it, my friends can’t stop praising it because of its unique taste (or alongside with a beef or Eszterhazy steak it’s also yammy).

It’s widely known in Hungary that the best lecsó is made over an open fire in a “bogrács” (a cauldron), which we can say it is a Hungarian style BBQ. In Hungary the dish is very popular therefore even has its own festivals, in Zsámbok and Vác. (near Budapest)

It is also considered to be traditional food in Czech, Slovak and Polish cuisine and is also very common in Austria and Israel. In Germany, lecho is referred to as Letscho and often used as the primary ingredient of a sauce that is used with many different meals. It is usually made of tomatoes, peppers, and onions among other regional additions.

In Poland, leczo is usually made from red pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, onion and garlic, sausage, and spiced with powdered chilli pepper. Leczo should be served hot and spicy. It probably came to Poland from Hungary.