The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

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Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Look out, Jean-Robert

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for biscotti that I successfully made for a supper club that a friend of mine recently started. We meet again a couple of weeks ago, each charged with making something French this time (I’m happy to report that no one showed up wearing a beret). I think it was our best meal yet. I made a French leek pie as a side dish and it was cheesy and delicious. (It was also one of about six recipes that came up on allrecipes.com when I checked “dinner,” “French,” “vegetarian” and ready in less than an hour. Hey, I’m a busy girl.) Appetizers included baked brie with apricot preserves and a couple of salads, including a pear salad with creamy gorgonzola dressing, which paired (ha) fantastically with a fruity Riesling. The main dish was pasta shells with tilapia (rather than the halibut the recipe calls for) with Cajun seasoning and oven-roasted ratatouille. Sorry I didn’t take pictures—that seems to be what every other self-respecting food blogger is doing these days.

Anyway, here are the recipes in case you’re in the mood for (sort of) French food yourself. I also highly recommend this whole different-country-themed supper club concept, if you’re feeling even more adventurous. I think we decided on Indian food next – I’ll be sure to report back.

Pear salad with creamy gorgonzola dressing
1 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/3 cup plain yogurt (fat-free, if you like)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup honey
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil

Bagged salad mix (with bitter lettuce like radicchio or chicory)
Three pears, sliced

Add dressing to salad and toss well. Top with toasted walnuts and chopped green onions (optional) and serve.

French leek pie
1 9-inch refrigerated pie crust
2 teaspoons butter
3 leeks, chopped
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup light cream
1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (I bought an 8-ounce block and it was more than enough)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in leeks; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream and cheese, and warm through. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until custard is set and golden on top. Allow to sit 10 minutes before cutting pie into wedges.

Pasta shells with halibut and oven-roasted ratatouille
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1-pound eggplant, unpeeled, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 small zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, flattened
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (dried herb mixture available at specialty foods stores and some supermarkets)
1 12-ounce halibut fillet
2 cups medium-size pasta shells

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread next 5 ingredients on sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of sheet. Place fish in center of sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until just opaque in center, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot. Add roasted vegetables and enough reserved pasta cooking water to pasta to moisten; toss. Cut fish into 1/2-inch pieces; add to pasta and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.

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at 2:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry, with the breakup of his restaurant group and the nasty divorce fight with Martin Wade, Jean-Robert has enough to worry about right now.

at 8:08 AM Blogger JKNEPFLE said...

I'm curious how the "custard" sets without eggs. Was it pretty runny?

at 8:37 AM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

I noticed the same thing about the custard...what holds it together?

at 11:29 AM Blogger Lauren Bishop said...

It was a tad on the runny side (more so when I over-reheated a slice the next day). Not sure what exactly holds it together...good question!

at 4:14 PM Anonymous Joe Ramos said...

Jean-Robert has nothing to worry about with this pedestrian attempt at French food. That pie is definitely missing something (eggs?). I can't imagine cheese & leeks lending all the body to the pie--gross! Something needs to help bind the moisture from the cooked leeks, as well as lighten & pull everything together. And the pasta? No thanks.

at 9:11 AM Anonymous Sam said...

Oh goodness, you mean we're not really giving Jean-Robert a run for his money? All 6 of us who generally have no knowledge of cooking? Darn.

Pedestrian- are you kidding me? Of course it's pedestrian. We're not chefs. We don't claim to be. A simple 'hey, maybe eggs would be a good thing to add' would have been sufficient, moreso than your elitist holier-than-thou response.

at 9:46 AM Anonymous Heather w said...

I was there - it rocked the house - the leek pie was the best and the pear salad - yummy yummy in my tummy tummy - and the host - well he rocks it out too!

at 10:05 AM Blogger Lauren Bishop said...

We weren't the only ones who liked the egg-free leek pie:


As for the pasta, our host actually left that part out of the recipe and we didn't miss it.

at 10:21 AM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

As a chemical engineering by degree, I am just curious how things work. I hope I didn't seem critical!

Now can someone tell me where to find liquid nitrogen? I want to make ice cream using that technique: http://www.ed.sc.edu/ipd/high/icecream-nitrogen.pdf

at 11:37 AM Blogger Lauren Bishop said...

It wasn't you who sounded critical, Cin Twin! :) Can't help you on the liquid nitrogen, but maybe someone else can...

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