Beginnings

RECIPES:   GRILLED PORK CHOPS   |   SAUTÉED CUMIN CARROTS   |   GARLIC POTATO PURÉE

The beginning of the beginning was set in Bahia, Brazil, land of happiness and sunshine. Until I decided to move back to France, “land of turtlenecks and pastries”. I had studied there for a few months, had been dreaming of coming back, and didn’t question my grandmother when she encouraged me to go for it. And so I began my “career” of bachelor home cooking, in a small chambre de bonne (maid’s chamber) in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, close to Saint-Germain-des-Prés. “Small” – it was a tiny, barely livable space with a twin bed, a desk, a 1970’s electric stove, my guitar, and a sink. What redeemed the rent was the neighborhood, with its variety of cafés, restaurants, and shops on rue du Cherche-Midi, and a nice view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the horizon.

Ornement trois

As a young intern with a limited budget, I discovered the local farmers’ markets as a way to get amazing fresh produce, which led to eating healthy (getting a break from the good ol’ 4 euro sandwich grec’s) and cheap. Not to be a hater, but very different from what I grew up with in L.A., going to get a Pastrami sandwich in what used to be a farmer’s market but is now a mall  – although those are good, to be fair. During my time in Paris, I spent quite a few Sunday mornings in different markets around town. Some, being located in pricy areas like the boulevard Raspail, offer more varieties of foie gras and expensive mushrooms, but others, like the Bastille market, or the Saint-Ouen one, are also a great spot to flanner (wander) and exchange recipes with other market-goers. An old lady was once delighted to tell me how to make veal paupiettes with tomato rice.

Green peppers on local market | Infinite bellyEggplants on local market | Infinite belly

With more markets than I had shirts, I could not resist the temptation of getting fresh pasta, girolles, and veggies to grill in my pitiful but charming Ratatouillesque hole-in-the-wall. I don’t have any food pictures from that era, and even if I did, I’m not sure I would post them. Let’s just say it was a period of apprenticeship. I had to look up YouTube videos on how to cut an onion, how to cook rice, etc… But after a few botched attempts (cooking for myself made for less embarrassment at failure), I began making things that actually tasted good. And the desire to write about this and share recipes and post pictures comes from the fact that making your own food is so much better in so many ways – dietary, ethically, lifestyle, politically – and is not that hard to do.

Feuille

Later on, living with Adélaïde, who’d always cooked around her parents and her indefatigable grandmother, made me enjoy preparing and sharing meals even more. As we started out cooking together in our first apartment’s 16 squared foot kitchenette, we could barely stand without risking to stab each other. If I wanted to open the fridge door, she had to go to the living-room. Making dinner for a couple of friends required advanced engineering skills. So when we moved into this house and got a kitchen that’s almost the size of our old place, our desire to cook and experiment new recipes exploded.

Grilled pork chops, garlic purée & sautéed cumin carrots | Infinite belly

Wild flowers | Infinite belly


Grilled pork chops, garlic potato purée
& sautéed cumin carrots | Serves 2


The pork:

  • 2 good quality pork chops (take them out of the fridge 20 min before cooking)
  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • fleur de sel & black pepper
  1. Heat up the pan until its starts smoking. Add the oil and the pork chops which you will have previously salted. Cook evenly on each side, turning the meat every minute, until well colored. If you’re not sure the chops are fully cooked, make a small incision with a knife. The meat shouldn’t be pink.
  2. 30 seconds before you’re done, add the chopped garlic.
  3. Off the heat, grind black pepper and serve.

Grilled pork chops, garlic purée & sautéed cumin carrots | Infinite belly

Couverts horizontal

The cumin carrots:

  • 4 carrots (app. 200g)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • olive oil and / or butter
  • fleur de sel
  • coarse sea salt for the boiling water
  • cold water & ice cubes for blanching
  1. Peel the carrots and cut them in half lengthwise. Keep some of the green for a nicer presentation.
  2. Blanch the vegetables: in a pot, bring salted water to a boil and add the carrots. Boil for 4-5 minutes. The carrots will start to lighten in color. Drain and immediately immerse in a bowl of icy water. This will fixate their beautiful color.
  3. Heat up a pan with olive oil and lightly sauté the carrots with salt and ground cumin until golden.
  4. When almost ready, you can add a small quantity of butter to melt in the pan and coat the carrots.

Grilled pork chops & cumin carrots | Infinite belly

Hâchoir

The purée:

  • 4 medium-sized potatoes (app. 450g)
  • 50g salted butter
  • 250ml crème fraîche
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (optional), smashed
  • 1 shallot
  • fleur de sel & black pepper
  • coarse sea salt for the boiling water
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • chives, chopped
  1. In a pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook the whole, unpeeled, washed potatoes for 20-25 minutes until tender. If they are very large, you can cut them in half so that they cook quicker. Use a fork to check they are tender all the way through. If you prefer, you can peel the potatoes but keeping the skin will enhance the flavors and give the purée a more rustic texture. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, start mashing the potatoes with a fork or a masher. Add the butter, the cream, the thinly chopped shallot and the raw smashed garlic (use a garlic press or crusher to get the best garlic flavor in this dish). Mix well.
  3. Season with the ground nutmeg, fleur de sel and black pepper.
  4. Add the chopped chives at the last minute and mix again. Save some chives to sprinkle on top for presentation.

Note: If you have a stand mixer (e.g. Kitchen Aid), you can put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix on slow to medium speed with the paddle.

Chopped chives | Infinite belly

Garlic potato purée | Infinite bellyAnd if you have purée leftovers, you can shape it into a baking sheet of your choice (we used a silicon muffin baking sheet), sprinkle with breadcrumbs & parmesan cheese and bake for 10-15 min on medium-heat until the top becomes crispy and the purée “muffins” are easy to remove from the mold.

Potato purée makeover | Infinite belly Potato purée makeovers | Infinite belly


Serve with a flavorful chilled artisanal blonde beer. We had Anchor Steams!

Vintage candle holders | Infinite bellyVintage glass | Infinite belly

Logotype medalion


 

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