March 2009

We went out to brunch to celebrate me turning a year older. While I am always in the prowl for something new, the first meal of the day is one I don’t like to gamble with, the food has to be great and the coffee strong and bold.

On any given Sunday, you will find us at Cafe Patachou, or its sister restaurant, Petit Chou. On this given Sunday, this is exactly where we headed…. however this was the Sunday when I wandered out of “my usual” and met my new lady-friend – Croque Madame.

Croque Madame at Petit Chou

Croque Madame at Petit Chou

I am close to finishing Julia Child’s, My Life In France. With every word, I have sensed being right there with Julia. Having had limited exposure to French food has kept me from being able to make the connection to the food she so pasionately writes about; that was until my encounter with the Croque Madame.

A Croque Monsieur is a traditional ham and cheese sandwich, adorned with a creamy bechamel sauce. Top that with a fried egg, and you have a Croque Madame. One of the things I loved the most about this sandwich, was the light, yet rich in flavor French style bread. The proportions of bread to ham and cheese, in this case gruyere, we just perfect. The bechamel was creamy and provided the perfect amount of moisture required by a sandwich designed to eat with a fork and a knife.

And what else did I learn while at Petit Chou? That its Clay Terrace location will start serving dinner on April 8th. Even better, a few days ago I got the chance to sit down with Martha Hoover, owner of Cafe Patachou and get some great insights into her food philosophy and even got a sneak preview into the dinner menu. Check back next Sunday for the full scoop on that, and some mouth watering photographs!

p.s. in case you wonder what “my usual” is – Omelet of the Day, egg whites only w/ toast. Yes, I couldn’t have deviated more in the calorie spectrum. But it was soooo worth it!


We are in a seafood kick around here; I just haven’t blogged about it as I am still on catch up mode after taking time off to enjoy the beach and pay a visit to Mickey Mouse.

Saucy Shrimp Stack

Saucy Shrimp Stack

You can most definitely serve this shrimp over a bed of soft creamy polenta; but at least in my mind, that is a cold weather dish. The mercury hit 59 today in Indianapolis; and my polenta recipe morphed into tasty poleta squares. I also like the convenience of making the squares ahead of time, and keeping them in the fridge for a couple of quick meals later on this week.

Ingredients – Polenta:
2 cups of water
12 ounces fat free half and half
1 teas salt
1 1/3 cup polenta style cornmeal
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Ingredients – Shrimp Sauce:
1 TB olive oil
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 TB chopped olives
2 TB tomato paste
pinch of red pepper flakes
splash of white wine
pinch of saffron
splash of chicken broth
16 pieces large shrimp (20 – 25 ct)

1. In a 2 qt saucepot bring the water and milk to a rapid boil.
2. Add polents in a steady stream as you continue to whisk the mixture.
3. Add the parmesan cheese and continue whisking.
4. Cook for an additional three minutes.
5. Pour mixture in a loaf pan that has been coated with olive oil. Let polenta cool and then put in the fridge for at least one hour.
6. While polenta cools, add olive oil to a medium sized skillet and bring to heat.
7. Add onions and garlic and cook for two minutes. Add bacon, roasted red peppers, olives, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and wine. Cook for an additional three minutes in medium heat.
8. Add saffron, chicken broth and shrimp. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes, till shrimp turns to pink.
9. While shrimp cooks, unmold the polenta and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Grilled in a lightly oiled grill pan.
10. Stack the polenta squares and shrimp. Start with a polenta square, then the shrimp sauce, and repeat.