mercredi, septembre 27, 2006

Lemon-Cream Chicken and Peking, France

click to enlarge

OK, so this post is going to be very food heavy. So let me preface this whole thing by saying that I actually did a lot today that did not include food, but it was a lot of uninteresting crap: spent most of work fixing things and frantically helping teachers set up their virtual classroom sites in time for the new quarter next monday, left work late and hit Darty to finally buy a proper 230V-110V transformer for my hair clipper, bought some DVD-Rs to archive some of my material on my laptop to make room for Traktor (I'm also considering eventually getting an external drive), and I eventually got dinner. I also finally got Traktor set up on my laptop, but I'm going to blog about it tomorrow, when I've had a chance to play with it for a bit.

My first bit of food-related blogging actually has to do with something I made tuesday night, after I had already written up my blog post for the day. On the way home, I bought a blanc de poulet (that is, 2 chicken breasts still attached to each other). Once dinner time came around, I took the last two onions of a rather cheap batch I had bought 2 weeks ago, peeled off the soggy layers, and then french-cut them. I heated up a fair bit of butter in a pan, tossed in the onions, and covered them to make them sweat out their juices and render a liquid base. When they were getting dry and beginning to brown, I added a bit of tandoori mix, some mace, some cinnamon and some cracked pepper (my ghetto-garam masala). In the meanwhile, I had separated and trimmed the chicken breasts, and sliced them into finger-sized stir-fry strips. I tossed the chicken on top of the onions, added a sprinkling of salt, and then squeezed an entire lemon over the whole thing. A quick mix to coat, and then cover on medium heat. After about 20 minutes (with occasional mixing), the chicken was thorougly cooked and the mixture had surredered a fair bit of liquid. I took the whole thing off the heat and mixed in all of my remaining crème fraîche from my previous culinary adventures (about 3/4 cup, I think). I was curious to see if the crème fraîche would curdle with the acidity of the lemon juice, but it held together and created a creamy sauce that was surprisingly good. Good enough that I'm going to make it again in a few weeks and write down the recipe. Next time, I think I might use some rosemary from the garden rather than my masala mix. Mind you, I'm also very fond of making chicken in an apple/pear glaze with chinese 5-spice and hot peppers, and I wonder what that would taste like with a mountain of crème fraîche.

click to enlarge

And now, back to today. After getting home rather late, with a sinkful of dirty dishes (see paragraph above) and a full night of data-backup ahead of me, I decided that tonight would be the night that I try take-out food in Paris. Of course, I've ordered sandwiches to go all over Paris, but I've always made dinner at home (except for those wonderful few days when Val was in town, buying dinner). At around 9pm (standard dinner time in Paris) I headed over to a Chinese restaurant called Auberge de Pékin (Peking Inn). It was just on the other side of the porte des Lilas, with a very small and very kitschy façade. The interior had mirrored walls with day-glo landscapes taken from blue-willow china sets and the ceilings were underlit with pink lights. When I asked for the take out menu, the woman at the bar gave me a large, bound menu and left me to think. When she came back, I ordered some hot and sour soup, lemon chicken, and curry fried rice. She asked me if I would like a coke or a beer, and I began to refuse, thinking I would have something at home. Realizing that I didn't, I took the beer...but the price of my order didn't go up. When she saw my look of confusion, the hostess explained that the beer/coke was free as part of the take-out order. Then, as I sat down to wait for my food, she poured me a little champagne-flute full of crème de menthe and pear juice (surprisingly tasty) and a little basket of deep fried shrimp crackers (always tasty). I've never ordered cheap Chinese take-out from a restaurant that gives me free beer, snacks and an apéritif while I wait. Even if their food was horrible, all of these little gestures guaranteed at least two return visits from me.

In the end, the food was variable. The hot and sour soup was delicious. The lemon chicken had a great texture, but was too bitter (too much pith from the lemon). The curried rice was just mediocre: inoffensive, but also unexciting. The beer (Kronenberg) was execrable. For approximately 14€ ($17.80USD) for about half the portions I would get in the States or Canada, it wasn't exactly the best value I've ever had. On the other hand, they gave me shrimp crackers...

2 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Ahh, the butter-based goodness of frying! Only you would make onions "sweat out your juices"...

And behold -- I can post from my beta account! Ye gods.

LMGM a dit…

Mmm. butter. Life must suck for the lactose-intolerant/vegan in this city. Everything has a base of butter. Actually, a wheat gluten allergy would also be debilitating here. On the other hand, there's always fresh fruit and veggies available...