Saturday, April 15, 2017

Critters

pigeon
I started looking through my photos from the January and March trips to France (yet once again) and found an theme:  critters.  I did not realize I had so many until I started looking for them.  Of course, what would it be like in Paris without pigeons?  Bertrand, our guide par excellence, said that you can be fined for feeding them in parks.  I threaten my students with horrible punishments if they do it.  They are very annoying.  (The pigeons, not the kids.) But I decided to start with a picture of one anyway.
I love lions on the other hand.  At the Musee d’Orsay–
The lion is the symbol of Arles–
How about seven three swans a-swimming in the Seine?
swans in Seine
Or “un loup qui voit?” In the courtyard at Les Invalides, there is an interesting critter carved up high.  Supposedly, Louvois, the minister of war under Louis XIV, who later was in charge of buildings, asked if he could sign his name somewhere in the Invalides.  Louis said no, so the cunning Louvois commissioned this lucarne:–
louvoit
Loup (wolf) + voit (sees) = Louvois (same pronunciation).  Clever, non?
How about a salamander in the Opéra Garnier?  I don’t know… the more I look at it, the less it looks like a salamander.  A gila monster?
salamander opera
Another one?  Spotted while walking along the Seine (on what used to be a busy expressway that it now a pedestrian walkway thanks to Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris)–
salamander2
The fountain at St. Michel–
St Michel
Dog lover?  The French sure love them.  Canines can follow their owners almost anywhere (not museums as I found out while living there in 2008).  Suggestion: always look where you are stepping.
At the market–
market dog
In a diorama-type scene about the building of Notre Dame–
creche dog
In the Marriage at Cana painting at the Louvre (the largest painting in the museum, opposite Mona)–
A dog was here- evidence near the Eiffel– at least I hope it was a dog and not a loup
pawprint
How about the mythical critters atop Notre Dame cathedral, seen from the bell tower walkway?
This guy is my favorite…
ND5
A whimsical elephant at Beaubourg/Centre Pompidou– (in the summer he squirts water)
elephant
No montage would be complete with a king on a horse– Louis XIII in Place des Vosges
king on horse
A former horse butcher shop in the Marais–
chevaux marais
The window of the Disney Store on the Champs-Élysées–
belle bete
The rooster is the symbol of France (dates back to the days of Gaul)– Le Coq Sportif shop:
le coq sportif
A black cat in Montmartre (always makes me think of Lautrec’s Chat Noir)–
montmartre black cat
Back to the Marriage at Cana
cat
Death by snakebite at the Musée d’Orsay (my title, not the real one)–
snake arm
I am very fond of les flamants roses
flamants
I prefer looking at them in the Camargue, though–
A cicada in the window in Arles (music to my ears in the summer)–
arles cicada
A piggy spotted in Arles as well–
arles pig
Also spotted in Arles… in town above one of the buildings–
arles critter
Can’t leave out the bulls and cows–
Nor the lambs in the Christmas crèche (santons from Arles) at Notre Dame–
creche lambs
The huntress and her buddy in the park in Senlis–
senlis huntress
And last but not least, can you find the pet bunny seen in the rooftop garden of a home in Aigues Mortes?
bunny in AM
And my 2017 group of “critters” who made the trip an unforgettable one–
group
Today’s recipes are brought on by my longing for lemon after my friend Mme M posted a photo of lemon cookies on Facebook last week.
lemon tree
I love lemon anything.  Daughter-in-law loves Chicken Piccata and I must confess that I had never made it before last week when she, Son #1, and Granddaughter came for dinner. Easy!  No idea why I didn’t discover this dish sooner.
Chicken Piccata
Serves 4
  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 pound total), or 4-8 chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine (such as a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brined capers
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
Slice the chicken breast halves horizontally. If the breast pieces you are working with are large, you may want to cut them each into two pieces. If the pieces are still a bit thick, put them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them to 1/4-inch thickness.
Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces in water. Dredge them thoroughly in the flour mixture, until well coated.
Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate. Cook the other breasts in the same manner, remove from pan. Keep them warm in a 225°F oven while you prepare the sauce.
Add the chicken stock or white wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half.
Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley, if you wish.
lemon cookies
Lemon Cookies
adapted from Chef in Training
makes 4 dozen (depending on the size, of course!)
For the cookies:
1 c. butter, softened
1-1/4 c. granulated sugar (next time I might use only 1 cup)
1 egg, room temperature
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest (one med. sized lemon gave me enough juice and zest)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon flavoring (I wanted them very lemony)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
Glaze:
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (a bit more in case glaze is too thick and needs to be thinned)
1 Tbsp. milk (a bit more can be used to thin the glaze if it is too thick)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
To make cookies:
Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In large bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and beat well.  Add lemon juice, zest, lemon flavoring, and vanilla and mix until well blended.
In a small bowl, whisk together salt, baking powder and flour.  Add to butter-sugar mixture until well incorporated.
Roll or scoop (I use a small melon baller) cookies into 1-inch balls.  Place on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350˚F for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Combine glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until smooth.  Drizzle or spread as much or as little as you would like over the still warm cookies.
Bon appétit, mes amis.  I hope you enjoyed the menagerie!  Happy Easter!  Joyeuses Pâques!  Or just Happy Spring!

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