Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris


Back in 2014 we experienced the magnificence of this treasured Cathedral. For those who will not be able to experience the same, here is our little story set against the majesty of beauty, artistry, faith and hope.


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The Vespers Service at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris 

When in Paris…sometimes not having a plan and just showing up can lead to a wonderful surprise. It was sunset when we passed by the main entrance to Cathédrale Notre-Dame, taking casual notice of the movement of people congregating toward the doors. Since it was the end of the day, we thought it was somewhat unusual, so we wandered in to see for ourselves. As we drew closer to the main altar we realized that a mass would soon begin and so we too settled in, all gazing and full of anticipation. We expected to participate in a traditional service but were rather treated to the vespers service, a sunset evening prayer. Vespers opens with the singing or chanting of the words (in French) and continues throughout the ceremony, interchanging between the priest and the choir. Understanding the French language is not necessary. Simply behold and listen. You won’t soon forget the spectacular beauty of this moving and very special celebration.
 
Today, the cathédrale is a sparkling crowned jewel, as well as a collective symbol of faith’s bright energy, hope never-ending and indomitable will. Badly damaged during the French Revolution, the cathédrale and many of it’s treasures were either destroyed or plundered. The statues of the biblical kings of Judah (erroneously thought to be the kings of France), located on the facade of the cathédrale, were beheaded. The great bells were broken and melted, sparing only the great bell Emmanuel. Sadly, the cathédrale came to be used as a warehouse for the storage of food. In 1829, the great French poet and novelist, Victor Hugo began writing Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), largely in part to create public awareness about the invaluable importance of the cathédrale he so admired. His novel was published in 1831 and was met with enormous success, thus leading to the monument’s salvation and major restoration, undertaken in 1845 and lasting 20 years.
 
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Long considered an artistic masterpiece of Gothic architecture with stained-glass rosette windows, towers and gargoyles, the cathédrale is the most popular French monument visited by 13 million people each year. By ascending the 387 steps in the South Tower, you can enjoy a 360° panoramic view of Paris. Requiring less stamina, is a visit to the archaeological crypt which was built to protect the ruins and elements from successive buildings, discovered during the excavations in 1965. Access to the cathédrale is open and free of charge every day of the year, during opening hours. Visit their website for directions, opening hours, services, concerts and events.
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Chicken Tenderloins and Fresh Green Beans

Filets de Poulet et Haricots Verts Frais

Serves 2

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Welcome springtime and the return of the outdoor farmers’ markets where you can find fresh green beans (haricot verts) and beautiful bouquets of fresh herbs. Starting with the best ingredients and perfect for the work-week rush, try this simple chicken and vegetable recipe when you’re craving a healthy homestyle dinner with some snap and crunch! 


INGREDIENTS

3-4  boneless chicken tenderloins

1 lb fresh green beans (haricots verts)

2 large carrots

1 celery branch

1/2 sweet onion

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsps butter

1 tbsp unbleached flour

1 egg

1/2 fresh lemon or lime

1 small branch of fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsps Marsala wine

a few fresh sprigs of cilantro or parsley (optional)

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PREPARATION

•• Wash the chicken tenderloins under water and remove the center tendon, if desired and set aside. •• Snap off both ends of the green beans and wash thoroughly. •• Peel, wash and cut the carrots into bâtonnets. •• Cut one branch of celery and half of a sweet onion into small dices. •• Crunch one garlic clove using the flat surface of your chef’s knife. •• Finely chop the rosemary and set aside. •• In a medium mixing bowl combine 1 tbsp of flour, 1 egg, crunched garlic, finely chopped rosemary, the juice of a halved lemon or lime and salt and pepper to taste. •• Add the chicken tenderloins to the mixture and allow to soak and throughly coat. •• Prepare the green beans by steaming for 3 minutes, taking care not to overcook or diminish the vibrant shade of green. •• Set the green beans aside in a colander. •• In a large sauté pan, combine 1 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsps of butter along with the diced celery and sweet onion. •• Allow the celery and onions to sweat until lightly golden. •• Add the evenly coated tenderloins and separately arrange the carrots around the chicken, cooking for 3-5 minutes over a low to medium heat. •• Once the chicken appears golden, immediately flip each tenderloin to the other side, using a spatula. •• Reduce down the heat to low and mouiller with chicken or vegetable stock and 2 tbsps of Marsala wine. •• Continue to cook over a low heat for approximately 5-6 minutes. •• Strain the green beans through the colander then dress onto a serving plate, creating a square blanket of green beans. •• Arrange the tenderloins over the green beans but retain the sauce in the pan. •• Over a low heat, allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for approximately 2 minutes or until a desired consistency. •• Drizzle the sauce over the top of the chicken tenderloins and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and parsley. ••

•• Voilà! ••


 

Penne with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

Penne au Fromage de Chèvre et aux Champignons

Serves 4

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The Skinny on Spelt

For those who are gluten sensitive, could there be such a thing as “good gluten”? Apparently yes, and it’s found in the ancient species of wheat known as “spelt”. After overindulging every morning on croissants and baguette still warm from the oven of our favorite corner Boulanger in France, we soon began to experience symptoms of a sensitivity. At the top of our list of possible culprits, we suspected our digestive dilemma was most likely brought about by our self-inflicted gluten overload. As with determining any food allergy or sensitivity, we began by restriction and re-introduction of all gluten-containing products. In understanding the triggers, we learned that gluten in and of itself is not a villain. In fact, spelt is a type of wheat that contains gluten, but hasn’t changed since ancient times…therefore no hybridization or genetic modification, and no added or modified gluten content to make gluten-containing products more appealing. Spelt remains a fragile wheat that breaks down in the cooking and baking process, thus making it easier to digest. However, spelt is not safe for those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.


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INGREDIENTS

5-7 oz spelt penne according to your appetite

1 cup frozen peas

1 cooked beetroot

1 tbsp olive oil

5 oz fresh button mushrooms

2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, unseparated

salt and pepper to taste

3 1/2 oz fresh goat cheese

2 pints almond cream

mixed salad greens

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PREPARATION

•• Fill a pasta pot with cold water and a dash of salt. •• Bring to a boil and add the frozen peas, cooking for 1-2 minutes. •• Using a slotted spoon, remove the peas from the boiling water and then add the penne, cooking the pasta al dente, according to directions. •• Rinse the penne in cold water, drain and set aside in the colander. •• Prepare the cooked beetroot by removing the outer skin with a peeler or with a small sharp knife, under running cold water. •• Since the beetroot has been cooked, the skin will fall away with ease. •• Clean, dry and arrange a bedding of mixed salad greens on a serving dish. •• Prepare the mushrooms, by snapping the stems off, using your fingers. •• Clean and pat dry using a clean kitchen cloth. •• Thinly slice the mushrooms and set aside. •• In a non stick frying pan, add one tbsp of olive oil over a medium-high heat. •• Once the olive oil begins to smoke, add the mushrooms and two garlic cloves, unpeeled and unseparated. •• Sauté the mushrooms over a medium high heat, stirring frequently. •• When the mushrooms take on a golden appearance, remove from the heat and discard the garlic cloves. •• Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. •• In a saucepan over a low heat, crumble the goat cheese and gradually add 2 pints of almond cream, stirring lightly until you achieve a smooth and creamy consistency. •• Add the penne and moisturize over a low heat for a minute or two, gently folding in the peas. •• Place the penne over a bedding of mixed salad greens. •• Add the sautéed mushrooms then grate the beetroot over the top, to your preference. •• Enjoy this delicious dish with a glass of chilled Côtes de Provence Rosé and observe the beautiful color transformation as the creme sauce mixes with the shades of red from the beetroot. ••

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•• Super ••


 

French Onion Soup

Soupe à l’oignon

Serves 2

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No matter what the season, anytime is a good time for French Onion Soup! 


INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet onion

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp finely cut leek

1 tbsp butter

1tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp of unbleached flour or spelt flour

1 quart of vegetable stock or chicken stock substitute 

1/2 cup Marsala wine

8 slices of French baguette

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

salt and pepper to taste

2 oven-safe soup bowls

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PREPARATION

•• Begin by peeling the sweet onion and garlic clove. •• Cut the onion into dice shapes of approximately 1/8”. •• Crunch the garlic clove with the flat side of your chef knife. •• Thoroughly wash the leek and remove the green leaves. •• Cut the leek stem vertically in half and then finely slice into half circle shapes of approximately 1/8”. •• In a heated sauté pan, combine 1 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp butter over a low/medium heat. •• When the butter begins to bubble, add the onion, garlic and leeks. •• Cover and allow the mixture to sweat and caramelize. •• So as not to burn, stay on it and stir occasionally. •• When you observe a golden brown hue, taste test. •• The mixture of the ingredients should embody a sweet flavor which forms the basis for your onion soup. •• Sprinkle 1 tbsp of the flour of your choice into the onion mixture, folding gently until all of the flour has been well absorbed. •• Using a large ladle, gradually add 1 quart of vegetable stock, gently mixing in, using a wooden spoon. •• Once the texture of the soup appears smooth, gradually add more stock, repeating the same process until all of the liquid has been added.

•• Preheat your oven to 350°.•• 

•• Add 1/2 cup of Marsala wine to the soup and salt and pepper to taste. •• Cover and cook over a low/medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. •• During this time, cut the baguette into thick slices. •• In order to prevent the baguette from becoming soggy, lightly grill the slices, taking care not to burn. •• If desired, rub a garlic clove over the surfaces of the slices before grilling. •• Once the onion soup is ready, pour into individual, oven-safe soup bowls. •• Layer each bowl of onion soup with four slices of grilled baguette, covering the tops entirely. •• Generously sprinkle grated Gruyère cheese over the baguette, as desired. •• Place the soup bowls on a baking sheet and into your preheated oven of 350°. •• Cook the soups for approximately 15 minutes or until you observe the soup bubbling up from the surface of the golden and evenly melted Gruyère cheese. •• For a deeper grilled cheese effect, remove from the oven and place on a grill for a few minutes. •• Your onion soup will be bubbling hot, so take extra care when removing the baking sheet from the oven.•• 

•• Fantastique •• 


 

Simply Colcannon

A Traditionally Irish Dish

Serves 2

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Similar to our earlier version of Colcannon with leeks, this recipe is steeped in Irish culinary tradition and saves time in the kitchen without sacrificing taste! 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!


INGREDIENTS

1/2 head of Savoy cabbage

3 large red potatoes

1/2 large sweet onion 

1 clove garlic 

1 tbsp olive oil

4 ounces butter (preferably salted Kerrygold)

salt and pepper to taste

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PREPARATION

•• Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks of 2-1/2 inches. •• Place the potatoes into a bowl of cold water and rinse until the water runs clear, eliminating the starch. •• Strain and place the potatoes in a large pan with cold water and salt to taste. •• Over a medium heat bring the potatoes to a full boil for approximately 15-20 minutes. •• To test the readiness of the potatoes, take a small cutting knife and pierce random pieces then hold the knife upwards. •• When the potato falls from the knife back into the water, the potato is ready. •• Note that the potatoes should be cooked to softness and not mush, in preparation for a purée. •• To prepare the cabbage, cut in one half and reserve the other half for future use. •• Cut the cabbage into portions of approximately 1 inch thickness and then into smaller bite size portions. •• Place in a colander and rinse throughly, taking care to remove any excess sand. •• Peel half of the sweet onion and a garlic clove. •• Slice and dice into small pieces. •• Using the flat of your knife, crunch the garlic with a pinch of salt. •• In a pre-warmed sauté pan over a medium heat, combine 1 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tsp of butter. •• Once you have observed slight bubbling, add the onion and crunched garlic. •• Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the mixture to sweat, bringing forth the sweetness of the onions. •• Cook the mixture slowly to avoid burning, stirring occasionally until you observe a golden hue. •• When the onions are ready, add the cabbage into the sauté pan along with 2 tbsps of butter and 3 tbsps of water. •• Let the cabbage steam down slowly until tender, but not mushy. •• Purée the potatoes, using a hand-held masher. •• Combine 5 tbsps of butter with the potatoes along with 3 tbsps of half and half. •• Salt and pepper to taste. •• Purée the potatoes to a chunky consistency, avoiding smoothness. •• Mix the potato purée into the sauté pan of cabbage, gently folding the potato purée into the mixture. •• Top with butter and serve piping hot.••

•• Delicious! ••