Hello Everyone, Hello from Paris!

This is my first post to Bay Area Bites and I am so excited and honored to be a part of this. I grew up in San Francisco watching KQED from the early days of Sesame Street to the Saturday morning cooking shows that I couldn’t tear myself away from. I am now living in Paris and hope to share with you some insight into the life of an American cooking in France.

There is something magical about Paris. I don’t know if there is a fairy perched atop the Eiffel Tower sprinkling fairy dust upon unsuspecting pietons (pedestrians) but things happen here that would never happen to me in the States. In this particular case, it’s probably because there are no (true) chateaux in the San Francisco Bay Area, but that’s beside the point.

Two weeks ago I was in Munich in the midst of a 4-week whirlwind travel schedule when I received an email from a friend asking me if I wanted to cook a luncheon at Chateau de Villette just outside of Paris and, oh by the way, it’s this Saturday, two days from now! AAAAAK! There was no thinking about it, of course I wanted to cook there! Chateau de Villette is a stunning chateau just outside of Paris and the center of action in The Da Vinci Code.

So I flew back to Paris late the next afternoon, pulling together a menu on the flight home, ran to my local poissoniere (fishmonger) and ordered fish for the next morning, to the boulangerie (bakery) where I ordered bread as well, and to various little epiceries (gourmet stores) such as Hediard and Bon Marché for things I couldn’t buy at the marché (open-air market) tomorrow morning.

Early the next morning, after only a few hours sleep, I ran up to Rue Mouffetard (the very first market in Paris) to the open-air produce vendors for fresh pineapples and asparagus, to the poissoniere to pick up the salmon and to Patisserie Pinaud where Jean-Marc Pinaud greeted me with a resounding “Bon-JOUR Lau-RA!” and 3 crunchy, chewy baguettes traditions graines (traditional whole wheat baguette with various grains sprinkled throughout). I hopped in the car, chateau or bust!

For this meal, I selected some tried and true recipes that I had made at least once before and that were very easy! Ease was key here as my stress and exhaustion level were through the roof! I’m sure I would have sent an EKG machine smoking that morning.

The entree (appetizer) is a variation on a recipe from The New Basics, one of my favorite cookbooks. It calls for green beans but the asparagus looked so good that morning I opted for those plus i didn’t wnat to spend an hour snapping the little ends and strings off. The salmon recipe comes courtesy of my colocotaires (flatmates) and if you follow the recipe, the salmon comes out perfectly every time.

The dessert recipe hails from KQED’s own Jacques Pepin and his new book, Fast Food My Way, where I had the professional privilege of a lifetime to be the back-kitchen chef on the series. Ironically, it was one year ago today that we wrapped taping. So voila le menu (here is the menu) and the recettes (recipes). I hope you try them as they are really delicious and very easy.

Bon appetit et mangia bene!

Asperge Saute avec Noix Epicees et Fromage Bleu
Sauteed Asparagus with Spiced Walnut and Blue Cheese

2 lbs asparagus
1 pkg lardons (thick bacon cut into small chunks)
1 pkg blue cheese
2 pkgs walnuts – toasted with cinnamon, curry, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper

1. toss walnuts in oil and spices and toast
2. snap off tough part of asparagus and use peeler to remove the top layer of the bottom 1/4 of the asparagus
3. saute lardons & pour off most of oil
4. quickly blanch asparagus then saute in lardons to finish cooking
5. toss in crumbled blue cheese, add pepper to taste (a lot of salt in the lardons so no need to salt this) and serve.

Saumons Tropicaux avec Cous-Cous
Tropical Salmon with Cous-Cous

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 cup tropical fruit juice
4 8oz (225 grams) pieces of salmon
1 pkg instant cous-cous
1 small can petits pois avec carottes (small peas with carrots)

1. in a microwave safe bowl, combine soy sauce, honey and juice. warm in microwave for 15-20 seconds to warm the mixture and melt to honey. stir to combine.
2. put salmon in container or zip lock bag, pour in marinade, ensure the salmon is coated with the marinade. Place in fridge and marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour max (any longer and the marinade starts cooking the fish).
3. when you are ready to cook, set oven to broil. take salmon out of the marinade and place on a foil lined sheet pan. put the pan on a shelf about 6 inches away from the heat source. cook for 8 minutes.
4. baste with 1 tbsp of marinade per piece of salmon and cook for 4 more minutes.
5. while the salmon is cooking make the cous-cous according to the directions. Once it has absorbed the water, stir in the peas and carrots and let sit for a few minutes covered to heat through.

Ananas Caramelises de Jacques Pepin avec Pistaches et Rhum
Caramelized Pineapples with Pistachios and Rum

2 small pineapples
6 tbsp butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup orange juice
4 tbsp dark rum
1 cup pistachio nuts, chopped

1. cut off skin from pineapple and, depending on size, cut pineapple into 8 wedges. cut off the core on each wedge.
2. heat butter, brown sugar, juice in skillet over med heat and stir til just moistened.
3. add the pineapple wedges in 1 layer, bring to a boil, cover and cook for 6-7 minutes without stirring.
4. uncover, turn wedges over and continue to cook, uncovered for 6-8 minutes, shaking the pan in the end, until the syrup is a dark thick caramel.
5. turn the wedges again and transfer to serving plates. sprinkle with rum and top with pistachio nuts.

Au revoir de Paris! Laura @ Cucina Testa Rossa

Bonjour de Paris! 15 April,2005Cucina Testa Rossa

  • Suebob

    Beautiful photos of a beautiful meal. I especially love the dessert.

  • Louise Calvin

    Hi Laura – I wish you were in New York to prepare that meal for us in Shelter Island. We would get the salmon at George’s and the asparagus would be fresh from a farm stand on the North Fork. We’d have to fly to Hawaii for the pineapple

  • Anonymous

    It’s quite amazing, the kind of enthusiasm you have for cooking…

    Tasty pictures too…they simply make me drool!!

    Vic, Plant Oils A-Z


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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