an alternative to sriracha: harissa

20150531_114407~2Meet harissa. It’s a wonderful substitute for any hot sauce. It’s a dark red chilly paste that is typically used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine.

It is much thicker in consistency than sriracha. You can spread it on bread for a little extra kick or add it to dishes that you want to liven up. Mix it with hummus or use it as a rub on meats. I recently added it to an enchilada dish!

A 5.3oz tube online, is about $7.00. You can purchase it here.

If you live in the Seattle area, Big John’s PFI carries it for much less ($3.00 for a 5.3oz. tube). You can visit their website here.

 

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french butter and why it’s so much better than ours

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I once heard someone say, you can make anything taste better with the 3, “b’s”: butter, bacon and beer. I think this statement might be quite true.

My husband and I had a wonderful breakfast at the Hôtel Ibis in Versailles, France. It was here where I developed my love for French butter. I had spread the golden cream on a warm baguette and became a butter snob.

When I returned from my trip, I tried different types of butter from the grocery store. Somehow, they didn’t taste as rich, creamy and lacked that distinct nuttiness. I thought maybe, I was a little biased and that this bias was affecting how the butter tasted.

Why is French butter so much better?

This particular butter comes from the region of Brittany. It’s also the region where fleur de sel (if salt came in a designer form, this would be it.) is harvested. Because of the famous salt ponds, Breton butter is notable for adding coarse grains of salt in their butter. The dairy cows, where the butter comes from, are fed differently and are specific to making a high butterfat content. The butter is also churned after the cream has been cultured.

I have become VERY picky about butter. My favorite ways to use this butter are in baking, spreading onto bread, or making a browned butter sauce. The salt crystals add a surprise crunch.

This Paysan Breton 250g block of butter is equivalent to a little under 2 sticks of American Butter. Is it really worth $7.25?!… every penny.

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You can buy this butter at the Paris Grocery near Pike Place Market:
1418 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 682-0679

veal stock

I have always been pretty intimidated with classic french recipes like, boeuf bourguignon. I’ve NEVER had the patience to make my own stock.

1.) It leaves the house smelly for days. 2.) It takes many hours to simmer the bones.

Until I found this amazing, little thing called, fond de veau. (pronounced as: fahn-duh-voo).20141029_211023_HDR~2Fond (pronounced as, “fahn”) is the french term for stock. What makes this stock so special? This thing is made from veal. Not beef. Veal. Say it again with me, veal. Just to make sure it sticks, one more time… veal.

Since I have used this, I have noticed a HUGE difference in the depth and flavor of my dishes. Veal stock, instead of beef stock, gives dishes a velvety meat flavor you can’t get with beef. One little container of this stuff gives dishes body, richness and a concentrated flavor of meat. It’ll make your food taste like you slaved away at it for hours.

You can use this stuff for gravies, sauces, or add it to a pot roast you’ve got simmering in the crock-pot. No more canned beef broth, okay?

You can buy it here.