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Hello, and welcome to My Kitchen and I. Every year I choose a cuisine to explore. This year, it's the year of the Snake! And I'll be continuing to cook mostly Asian foods, particularly Chinese dishes. Have I finally found the best cuisine in the world? Come explore and cook with me and let's find out. Please feel free to share your stories and comment on anything you see here, and thanks so much for visiting. Hope you enjoy the Year of the Snake in food!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From Paris with Love — Saumon avec Sainte Nectaire

Le Tour Eiffel














Monday I cooked breakfast and lunches for the week, a task I usually have finished on Saturday, so Tuesday found me doing a task I usually have done well before Sunday — writing this blog.

Everything has been a ker fuffel since I came back from Paris. My schedules just don't wanta sync  up any more. It's like I need a vacation just to get over vacation. Does that happen to anyone else after vacation?

Paris has always had a reputation for its food, so I had some fairly high expectations. Of course, knowing that it was a fateful fish dinner that famously lured Julia Child into the world of French cooking, I made sure my first real meal was fish as well.





It was perfect. A white slice of succulence resting on a colorful bed of sauteed vegetables, topped with a dark green splash of basil pesto.

Fish was in fact perfect every single time I ordered it in France, and so, when I wasn't sure what to get, I would seek out the "poisson." Pronounced like this: pwahsoh(n).  The 'n' is almost, but not quite, silent.

Poisson in its many varieties never disappointed me in France, and I could only wish that my poisson would be so perfect every single time. It's usually good enough. But not perfect! What's the secret?

Of course I bought  French cookbooks in hopes of finding that out.

The bottom cookbook was used, and the sort I thought a French housewife might own. Indeed, once I got home with it, I found a page marked by an envelope addressed to Madame and Monsieur Bernard, living at Avenue Franklin Roosevelt.  How about that?

The other is a food tour of France, full of beautiful pictures, lots of history and culture.

These look like fun, but neither has a macaron recipe. And so I fear the purchase of French cookbooks is far from finit!

Another food that was always good in France was of course the cheese. You can't hardly go wrong with a French cheese can you? My favorite "fromage" — say it like this: Froh-Mahj and roll the 'r' just slightly — was called Sainte Nectaire. Here's a slice.


I first had this wonderful cheese at a restaurant in Montmartre, just around the bend on this charming street. We took pictures here until the sun began to set and it became too dark. Then we continued walking down the hill, curious to see what lay beyond.

I didn't get a photo of the restaurant — I'm sorry about that — but it took me by such surprise, I didn't even think to snap a picture. Just imagine a glow of warm yellow light surrounding a little gingerbread type house painted pink, trimmed with green shutters and pretty flowers. That should be fairly close.

We took an outdoor table nestled up against the restaurant and ordered plates of escargot, duck, cheese and salad, as well as a little champagne. At the end of this fabulous meal, a waiter asked how everything was. I told him, in French of course, that it was the best meal I'd had in France so far, and that I really loved the cheese.

"Je doit trouver plus de cette fromage," I said. My best French for, I MUST find more of this cheese!

He smiled, took the plate and left to get the bill.

Or so I thought.

Presently he had returned, but instead of the bill, a plate of fresh-sliced Saint Nectaire suddenly
appeared before my eyes, along with a fresh basket of bread!

"What's this? Pour moi?"

I hadn't meant to order additional cheese right then — I couldn't have eaten another bite at the moment if I had tried — but I also wondered if he'd mistaken my comment as making an additional order on an already too expensive tab! Quel dommage!

But no, it was a gift. From a Frenchman to an American no less. Now who says the French are unfriendly and don't like Americans? Not me. I can't talk of the unfriendliness of the French at all. In fact, I found friendly French people just about every where I went.

So as you might have already guessed, this time there won't be an Asian recipe. In honor of that memorable little restaurant where I discovered wonderful French food and wonderful French people, this week's recipe instead features two of my favorite foods from France.

St. Nectaire and le poisson.

Bon Appetit!

Saumon avec Saint Nectaire

Saint Nectaire is traditionally unpasteurized, but I did find a pasteurized version at the airport which I could bring home with me. If you can't find a Sainte Nectaire where you live, try any soft cheese with a mild taste. Maybe brie would be a good option?

Take as many salmon fillets as you like or will fit in your pan and place them above some green onion and minced garlic just so. I used about one green onion and one garlic clove per fillet, scattering them evenly along the bottom of the pan.


Take a 40 gram slice of sainte nectaire cheese per fillet and mix it in a food processor with two eggs for every 4 to 6 fillets. Mix in a couple tablespoons of wine per filet. Spread the mixture on top of your fillets.


Bake at 400 degrees centigrade for about 20 minutes. The last five minutes of cooking take the fish out and pour the juices into a sauce pan. Add some liquid creme fraiche and reduce. Pour the reduction over the fish filets. Grind some fresh pepper over the filets and serve.



These amounts are a bit approximate. The original recipe from the official St. Nectaire site doesn't mention what to do when with the wine, and the original measurements were a little too dry. There was no liquid to add to the creme fraiche! So these are the measurements I would try the next time I make this otherwise excellent dish.


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