Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Щи: Russian Cabbage Soup with a Cookeo


With the return of cold weather, one of the recipes I've been making the most with my Cookeo Connect is that staple of Russian cuisine, щи ("shchi"). Making it with the Cookeo cuts nearly an hour off of the cooking time, for a result that I think should rival any Russian babushka's (not that I'd put money on that!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a head of cabbage
  • ~600g of pork on the bone (I buy the meat marked "à mijoter" in our French supermarket)
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1-2 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • Herbs & spices: plenty of room for improvisation here but the basic approach would be a bay leaf or two, basil, oregano, and black pepper
  • Sour cream

Preparation

Cook meat in ingredient mode on the cookeo, choosing meat on the bone and entering the weight, but adding way more water than indicated in order to have broth for the soup. I skip the frying phase by hitting the exit button to go straight into pressure cooking mode*, which with the preheating time will take about 15-20 minutes in all. While that's going, peel and chop up the onion and carrots and fry them in a frying pan. Chop up the cabbage and potatoes.

(*Alternatively, one could use the frying phase to fry the onions and carrots, remove them, and then put the meat in as above, but this would require more overall prep time since you'd have to have the onions and carrots ready beforehand. But, that would be the way to do it if you didn't want to dirty a skillet and do everything with the Cookeo alone.)

Remove the meat from the broth and put in the cabbage, fried onions and carrots, and herbs and spices. Cook them in manual mode for about 6 minutes, while they are cooking, remove fat and bone from meat and chop the latter into small bite-sized pieces. When the Cookeo has finished cooking the vegetables, return the meat pieces into the soup.

Serve with a spoonful of sour cream. Enjoy!

Posted by jon at 6:55 PM in Food 
 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Cooking with Bluetooth


For the past week I've been having fun with my newest toy, a very French marriage of technology and cuisine, the Cookeo Connect. This is a kitchen appliance that performs six different types of cooking, and promises to let you to make all kinds of recipes with considerable ease and rapidity, in particular otherwise tricky French classics like blanquette de veau, coq au vin, carbonade flamande, etc.

That much is also true for the base model Cookeo. The top-of-the line Cookeo Connect, however, adds an unexpected ingredient to the recipe: Bluetooth!

All models have a colour screen and database of recipes, (which one can select for 2, 4, or 6 people, with the quantities and cooking times adjusted automatically), which guide one step by step through making whatever one decides to make.

The bluetooth-enabled version takes this accompaniment a step further, allowing you via an Android or iOS app to select and follow recipes directly on your tablet. (It even sends notifications when it's finished cooking!)

While I had some doubts about this being a pointless gimmick, I ended up caving in on getting the Bluetooth model, as much out of curiosity as anything else. I'm glad I did!

The app actually has a lot of advantages: there are full-colour photos illustrating each step of the recipe (the screen on the Cookeo only shows text), and the database of recipes is larger and expandable—new recipes can be uploaded from the app onto the Cookeo. There's also an integrated shopping list function, and it's easier to browse the recipes by looking at their photos on an iPad than reading a list of names on the tiny Cookeo screen, or via the robust search function (which lets you filter not only by ingredients or type of dish but also by themes like "summer" or "Valentine's Day").

The best part of the app, though, is simply the fact that there are user ratings and comments with each recipe. It actually makes a cookbook way better to have notes from lots of people, not only to see whether the recipe works as advertised but also for little tips like "my kids love this one" or "adding one more can of tomato paste to this chili than the recipe indicates makes it way better".

As for the Cookeo's actual usefulness as a kitchen appliance, it does deliver. It is an optional extra, certainly, since in essence it's needed for steaming fish or vegetables and as a pressure cooker, and those aren't kitchen necessities (although someone living in a studio apartment might use it as a stove, too). Cooking times are shockingly fast (to produce meat that melts in your mouth), and the recipes are really good. Clean up is also very fast—versus the stove-top pressure cooker we used previously, it saves me a lot of time. (Enough that time I can cook on weeknights and still get the kids to bed on time, which I couldn't have done with the old cooker.)

That said, it's not magic, and there's not much it can do to cut down on preparation time. So, with the need to chop vegetables and what-not, and the sequential nature of the recipes, it's not about to displace the microwave. But it is, if I'm being honest, one of those things I half-expected to consider a waste of money after spending some time with it (even though it came recommended by others), and am glad to report that nothing could be farther from the truth. Now let's just hope that the reliability is solid!

The film below (in French), shows the Cookeo in action and what the app looks like.

Posted by jon at 11:30 PM in Food 
 

Friday, 17 October 2008

American Cooking in France: Beef Pot Pie

I feel bad putting up another pie recipe so soon after the last two, but although I have written up a few more varied recipes, I don't have pictures of anything else on hand. So this one is going up in the mean time.

Anyway, encouraged by my success with cooking a chicken pot pie, I did decide to try making a beef one, which came out great!

Ingredients

Dough:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup corn flour
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Filling:
  • 2 cups diced beef, like they sell for making bœuf bourguignon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1-2 cups mixed frozen vegetables

Preparation

Prepare the dough: 1. In a big bowl, mix flour, corn flour, parsley, and salt. 2. Chop up margarine and incorporate with a pastry blender until you have pea-sized crumbs. 3. A tablespoon or so at a time, whisk in ice water with a fork until the dough starts to hold together. 4. Form into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling:1. Brown beef in a skillet 2. Dissolve bouillon cube in boiling water 3. Add water and bouillon mixture to beef and stir in flour and vegetables.

Prepare the pie: 1. Grease a pie dish. 2. Roll out the larger ball of dough on a flour-covered surface until it is bigger than the pie dish with some room to spare. 3. Wrapping the dough around the rolling pin, transfer it to the pie dish and get it in place. 4. Pour the filling into the pie. 5. Roll out the smaller ball for the covering, and place it on top of the pie in the same way. 6. Fold the edges of the top crust over the bottom crust and press with fingers all the way around (removing any extra crust as you go). 7. Cut four slits in the pie to allow steam to escape. 8. Bake at 220° C for 45 minutes. (If the cooking dough expands to close your slits, poke them open again with a knife.)

And there you have it, beef pot pie!

Posted by jon at 7:45 PM in Food 
 

Thursday, 11 September 2008

American Cooking in France: Beer Can Chicken

This was inspired by a blog post explaining how to use a whole chicken, which is really something I wouldn't have thought myself capable of, but turns out to be pretty easy! Of course, taking this shortcut deprives you of the best part of cooking a whole chicken (the stuffing!), but it makes up for it by being extremely easy to prepare. I think we'll be buying a lot less skinned and de-boned chicken from now on!

The recipe here is pretty much the same as what is explained in the original blog post, but I'm writing it out just to have more exact details down for me to refer to next time.

Ingredients

  • One whole chicken
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • One can of beer
  • A clove or two of garlic, crushed

Preparation

1. Rub the chicken all over with oil, salt, and pepper. 2. Drink half the beer, and plunk in the garlic cloves (the first time I made this I cut the top off the can completely, but I found that this risks getting bits of metal in your food! Instead now I cut a couple of slits across and fold the inside top of the can inward) 3. Stick the beer can in the chicken (leave the end sticking out, since you'll need to be able to get a good grip with tongs or pliers to pull it out later). 4. Put the chicken in a pan (to catch drippings), positioning it in such a way that all the beer doesn't spill out. (Most recipes will tell you to sit the chicken up vertically on the can; I've found that as it cooks it tends to fall over so I just prop it up on the edge of the drip pan, but maybe if you're well-equipped with skewers you can rig it to sit up.) 5. Cook at 175° C for 2 hours. 6. Remove the extremely hot beer can with tongs or pliers without burning yourself. 7. Serve with rice or potatoes and vegetables.

The chicken should be moist and delicious thanks to having cooked with a boiling beer can inside, and the beer and garlic infuse the meat with delicious flavour. Save all the leftover meat for pot pies, and use any leftover bones, skin, etc. to make stock (described in the the original article), which can be frozen in ice-cube trays to leave easy doses for making sauces and the like later on.

I still take a lot of convenience shortcuts in my cooking, but it is rewarding to fully use the whole animal like this! (Plus although there is a lot of cooking time, the actual preparation of the bird only takes about five minutes.)

Posted by jon at 7:12 AM in Food 
 

Saturday, 23 May 2009

American Cooking in France: Chicken Parmesan

Sometimes coming up with a recipe is as simple as remembering that something exists. Chicken parmesan is one of my go-to dishes when eating out in the States; if nothing else on the menu screams out to be tried, I know that by ordering that I will always get a meal that I enjoy. But for whatever reason, it never even occured to me that I could make it at home. That is, until I ended up living in France and suddenly realised that I hadn't had chicken parmesan in ages.

The recipe below is aimed at being easy to make and using the most economical ingredients possible. Indeed, I like this dish enough that I don't need to get fancy with it to enjoy every bite, and by keeping it simple like this, it is one of the most frugal recipes I have as well as being one of the easiest and tastiest.

Ingredients

  • 4 breaded turkey breasts, frozen*
  • 1 can spaghetti sauce
  • 600g fork-friendly pasta (like those spring-shaped ones)
  • 1 cup grated emmental cheese

* I substitute turkey for chicken because my grocery store sells breaded turkey breasts in bulk, so buy buying a bunch of them and freezing them I save a lot of money on the meat. And I don't have to bread them myself.

Preparation

1. Cook the pasta. 2. Defrost the poultry in the microwave, then cook in a skillet while preheating the oven to 200° C. 3. In an oven dish, spread out the pasta along the bottom. Layer the poultry over that, then pour the sauce over the whole, and finally sprinkle the cheese over all. 4. Put in the oven until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. (My oven has a "gratin" setting that I use to get the browning effect, but this isn't a requirement.)

This is fairly vague as recipes go, but that is because this is a forgiving dish: as long as the key elements of pasta, sauce, meat, and cheese are all there, there is a lot of room for varying to taste!

Posted by jon at 11:55 PM in Food 
 

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

American Cooking in France: Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pies are a great example of an American dish that I miss not being able to get in France. When I was in college, frozen chicken pot pies were, along with ramen and pizza, what kept me alive. With no frozen chicken pot pies here to be had, I have had to make them myself. Luckily, this is not too hard (especially if you cut corners and settle for a one-crust pie—although for this article I was feeling inspired and went with a two-crust pie), and provides an excellent use for left-over cooked chicken (which I have a lot of every time I make beer can chicken). I always have frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer, as well as frozen chicken stock, so this is pretty easy to whip together.

I found a great recipe for making an easy chicken pot pie online, with pictures showing every step of the way. However, he uses biscuit dough for the top crust, which is easy to pick up in any American supermarket, but I don't think there is anything similar over here. So I had to make my own pie crust. This ended up taking a while and making a lot of dirty dishes, but apart from that it isn't particularly difficult and I had fun with it. So, with the caveat that this is definitely a "weekend" type of endeavour, on to the recipe!

Ingredients

Dough:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup corn flour
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Filling:
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into chunks
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 bouillon cube (e.g. kubor)
  • 1-2 cups mixed frozen vegetables

(I actually omitted the bouillon cube thinking my stock would add enough flavour, but the sauce was too bland, so next time I plan to add one; I may have to further fine-tune the seasoning yet.)

Preparation

Prepare the dough: 1. In a big bowl, mix flour, corn flour, and salt. 2. Chop up margarine and incorporate with a pastry blender until you have pea-sized crumbs. 3. A tablespoon or so at a time, whisk in ice water with a fork until the dough starts to hold together. 4. Form into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling: 1. Melt margarine. 2. Add broth and bouillon cube. 3. Add milk. 4. And chicken and vegetables. I recommend using a frying pan that is about the same size as your pie dish, this makes it easier to eyeball whether you're making too much filling or not.

Prepare the pie: 1. Grease a pie dish. 2. Roll out the larger ball of dough on a flour-covered surface until it is bigger than the pie dish with some room to spare. 3. Wrapping the dough around the rolling pin, transfer it to the pie dish and get it in place. 4. Pour the filling into the pie. 5. Roll out the smaller ball for the covering, and place it on top of the pie in the same way. 6. Fold the edges of the top crust over the bottom crust and press with fingers all the way around (removing any extra crust as you go). 7. Cut four slits in the pie to allow steam to escape (or use a pie bird if you're fancy). 8. Bake at 220° C for 45 minutes. (If the cooking dough expands to close your slits, poke them open again with a knife.)

And there you have it, home-made chicken pot pie! It's a bit of work but a good use for leftover chicken, and since it's a complete meal in itself there's nothing else to make.

Posted by jon at 12:01 AM in Food 
 

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

American Cooking in France: Egg Nog

Nothing was missing more from the holidays in France for me than Egg Nog. I used to drink gallons of this stuff back in America, but it's unknown here. Well I don't know what took me so long, but finally this year it occurred to me to see whether I couldn't make my own Egg Nog myself. The good news? It is a success! I now have Egg Nog in France, and it's pretty darn easy to make.

The bad news? Now that I actually know what's in Egg Nog, I'm a little more hesitant to drink it by the gallon!

There are a lot of Egg Nog recipes on the web, most of which are more involved than this one, which I used as my reference; there are a lot of the more elaborate recipes on that same site, though. I went for ease of preparation with my choice of recipe, because my consumption of Egg Nog has always been more about quantity than quality. Below I have modified the proportions a bit on the recipe I linked to, in order to fit in with what works well with French milk bottles.

Ingredients

  • 1L milk "démi-écremé"
  • 7 eggs
  • 3-4 tsp nutmeg ("muscadet" in French)
  • 8 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp vanilla extract

Preparation

Before beginning, make sure you have something to store the completed Egg Nog with (I use an old water bottle with a funnel). In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, adding bit-by-bit sugar and milk, finally adding vanilla and nutmeg, and beating thouroughly. Put all in bottle and chill for at least three hours. Serve with a dash of armagnac.

The result is as good as any store-bought Egg Nog I would've had in the States—the only challenge is, that whereas before Egg Nog for me was just the embodiment of the taste of holiday cheer, now one has to drive the notion out of one's mind that one is drinking little more than a mixture of milk and raw eggs! It's good enough stuff that I think I will still be able to enjoy it; but all the same I may reduce my consumption rather more than I would have back in the days when I didn't know what exactly "Egg Nog" contained!

Posted by jon at 12:04 AM in Food 
 

Friday, 5 September 2008

American Cooking in France: Macaroni and Cheese

This is easy to make. It's silly, but for the longest time I lamented not having Kraft macaroni and cheese in France, when in fact it's very easy to just make it yourself. A little more time consuming, granted, but if you make extra and freeze some you can make it go a long way.

The only tricky part, being in France, is what kind of cheese to use. We have hundreds of kinds of cheese in the supermarket but no cheddar and no "American" (let alone Velveeta!), so I had to come up with an appropriate substitute. (For those in the US, I used the Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Good Eats as the basis for my experimentations.) Luckily I got it right on the first try, and the result looks and tastes just like Macaroni and cheese is supposed to look!

Ingredients:

  • 500g elbow pasta or similar
  • Half a bottle of milk
  • 50g-75g margarine
  • 200-300g of mimolette
  • Optionally, a little comté

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Grate the cheese (mimolette is fine, but if you would've used sharp cheddar you might add in a little comté. Heat the milk and margarine, and stir in the grated cheese until it melts.

Put the pasta in an oven dish (or two), and pour the cheese mixture on top. Stir a bit, then top with a little more grated cheese. Put in a preheated oven at 175° C for 30 min., and voilà! Makes great leftovers and can be frozen.

Posted by jon at 6:49 PM in Food 
 

Monday, 24 November 2008

American Cooking in France: Meatballs Chasseur

This recipe was inspired by the dehydrated sauce packets I saw in the supermarket, which included a sauce chasseur ("hunter's sauce") that I knew from French cooking, but thought would go great with meatballs. I was very pleased with the result, which tastes American, although I'm not sure what "American cooking" dish this comes closest to, in the traditional sense. So I'm dubbing it "Meatballs Chasseur" :-)


Ingredients

  • 400g ground beef
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (chapelure)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 packet of sauce chasseur
  • A couple cubes of frozen chicken stock

Preparation

Mix together the beef, onion, garlic, and bread crumbs, and form into meatballs (ranging in size from a golf-ball to a large egg). Brown in a skillet with oil, then drain. Add 300-400 ml water and the sauce mix, and stir. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Posted by jon at 7:07 AM in Food 
 

Saturday, 25 October 2008

American Cooking in France: Meatloaf

Nothing says "gourmet cooking" like a good meatloaf. Ok, maybe not! But it is darn good food, easy to make, and makes plenty of leftovers, so I'm happy to make it anyway. Even if my French wife thinks we're just eating hamburgers without the bun :-)

There's nothing too France-specific about meatloaf, since its most exotic ingredient, ketchup, is as prevalent here as it is in the US, and of course beef is universal (except in certain parts of India, I guess). The main substitution I did to the recipe I started from was to use emmental for the cheese, which would be like using Swiss cheese in the US. The result could have come straight from a Southern diner.

Ingredients

  • 800g ground beef
  • A half cup or so of bread crumbs ("chapelure" in French)
  • Ketchup
  • Grated emmental
  • An onion, minced

Preparation

1. Mix together the beef, bread crumbs, and onion, and form into a flat rectangle. 2. In the rectangle, put the cheese, then roll up the beef around it and seal all around. 3. Flip it into the baking pan so that the seam is pointing down, then drizzle ketchup along the top. 4. Bake at 175° C for 40 minutes, then sprinkle more emmental on the top and bake for five more minutes. 5. Triumph!

Posted by jon at 9:06 AM in Food 
 

Friday, 3 July 2009

American Cooking in France: My American Market

No self-respecting blog with a series of articles called American Cooking in France would be complete if it neglected to mention My American Market, an online grocery store for expats. Root beer, Lucky Charms, Jell-O: they've got all kinds of things that you just can't easily find in Europe.

Not only that, but they have a contest going on right now for bloggers :-)

My American Market:

Are you struggling to satisfy your cravings because you are:

- Embarrassed to ask your family and friends for one more favor?

- Fed up with products that melted or broke during the transatlantic trip?

- Worn out from having to rush around Paris, search for parking spaces and drive in traffic?

- Frustrated from having to wait until your next trip or someone’s visit?

- Tired of bringing back heavy suitcases from your trip to the US?

Then, My American Market has been designed for you: it is a hassle-free online store for your American food and beverage staples.

My American Market’s best features:

Selection

One of the largest assortments of American food and treats

in stock and ready to be shipped.

Convenience

Open 24/7, My American Market is there whenever the cravings get you!

Easy to order

My American Market online store is very user-friendly.

Find and order your favorite products in just a few clicks.

Fast Delivery

Your order will be processed within the next business day.

Your shipment will be securely packaged and sent via La Poste Colissimo.

In France, it will be delivered to your door within 2 business days.

Secure

My American Market uses a 128bit SSL encrypted checkout system.

You can choose to process your payment online, on the phone or by check.

Community-oriented

Get connected with Europe's American community and friends.

Great customer service

The American way, period!


It is time you do something about your cravings!

Visit us today: www.MyAmericanMarket.com

and enter coupon code “BLOG21” to get a 10% discount on your order (shipping costs not included).

Posted by jon at 12:02 AM in Food 
 

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

American Cooking in France: Potatoes au gratin

As promised in my Sunday roast article, here is the recipe I use for potatoes au gratin.

This came about from a sudden need to use up a lot of spuds that I had bought for baked potatoes, but that had begun to sprout in the cupboard. We used to bake our au gratin potatoes with a pre-mixed canned version that we were perfectly happy with, but this was a good way to use up a lot of potatoes quickly, and was pretty easy to make. After discovering how easy it was to just make these from scratch, and at lower cost than buying the canned ones no less, from now on I think I'll always be making my au gratin potatoes myself.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups grated emmental
  • 3 tbsp. crème fraîche (similar to sour cream)
  • 50 ml butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in milk and crème fraîche. (I'm thinking that putting some chives or parsley in at this point would be good too, but I haven't tried that yet.) In a baking pan, mix potatoes and about a cup's worth of the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Pour in milk and butter mix, and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 200° C for 1 1/2 hours.

Although you can serve these out of the oven, the longer the dish can sit together the better it will taste, since the potatoes have more time to suck up the flavour of the sauce, making this an example of a dish that tastes better as leftovers. (The ultimate example of this phenomenon, of course, is Shepherd's Pie.)

Posted by jon at 5:55 AM in Food 
 

Sunday, 21 September 2008

American Cooking in France: Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is a big winner in my book because it's a complete meal in itself and you can make a lot of it at once—it's actually better as leftovers (the flavours have more time to blend). It also uses lots of Worcestershire sauce, something that French cooking, for all its many qualities, is sorely lacking. So having a good shepherd's pie from time to time is a great way to assert your Anglo-Saxon heritage as well :-)

Ingredients

  • 400g ground beef
  • 1-2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 3 cups instant mashed potatoes (= 1 sachet 4 personnes)
  • 1 cup grated emmental
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Paprika

Preparation

Brown beef, drain. Add liberal amounts of oregano, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in vegetables (still frozen) and half of the emmental. Set aside. Prepare mashed potatoes according to package instructions, and mix in remaining emmental. Preheat oven to 200° C. In a baking pan, pour in meat and vegetable mixture, then top with mashed potato mixture. Sprinkle papirka on top for colour. Cook for 25 minutes.

The original recipe I used back home used Cambell's cheddar cheese soup, where you mixed in half the can in with the beef, and half with the potatoes. That really made the potatoes a lot better with this dish, but I haven't found a good substitute for it in France. Still, the recipe as given is pretty good too.

Posted by jon at 2:55 PM in Food 
 

Monday, 20 April 2009

American Cooking in France: Sunday Roast

Sunday roast is really more British cooking than American, but the lines of what consitutes American cuisine are pretty vague anyway. And as this is my own adaptation of the meal, and since I am an American, that automatically makes it American cooking, if you want to get technical about it!

The Menu

The menu consists of roast beef, au gratin potatoes, and Yorkshire puddings. It would probably be healthier to replace the au gratin potatoes with roast vegetables like in the picture, but I haven't gotten around to figuring out roast vegetables yet. At any rate I'm going to put the au gratin potatoes in a separate article to keep this one from being too long, so here we need only concern ourselves with the roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, and the gravy.

Roast Beef

Unfortunately, Emilie likes her beef to be cooked to at least medium, which ruins roast beef but she won't eat it if it's too red. So I try to shoot for a medium rare centre and give her the end pieces, but if you are not as constrained as I am, I recommend shortening the cooking time on this somewhat.

Ingredients
  • 1 nice piece of roast beef, around 800g or so
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Thyme
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
Preparation

Preheat oven to 230°C. Chop the onion into slices and line the bottom of the roasting pan with them, and set the meat on top (this makes the gravy better). Dice the garlic cloves into tiny bits. Cut a few slots in the top of the roast beef, spaced a couple inches apart, and stuff the garlic into these slots. Sprinkle with thyme and rub down with the olive oil. Put in oven for 17 minutes, then lower temperature to 190° C. Bake for 15 minutes more for every 450g of meat, monitoring the temperature at centre; when it gets to 140°F (yes, my meat thermometer has Fahrenheit and my oven has Celcius) it's done. Remove and cover with tin foil for at least a few minutes before slicing.

Yorkshire pudding

Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 ml milk
  • 60 ml flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil
Preparation

Put oil in bottom of 4 slots in a muffin tin and put in in the oven while the roast is cooking to get hot.  Beat eggs thouroughly, and then add in milk and slowly incorporate flour. Season. Heat oven to 230° (the roast is probably still cooking, I alternate removing and putting it back in the hotter oven if it needs a little more time). Carefully but quickly remove the very hot oven tin (taking especial care not to touch or spill any of the boiling hot oil) and pour in batter so that each slot is half full, and quickly return tin to oven. Bake about 15 minutes, until pudding tops are golden brown.

Gravy

Ingredients
  • Drippings from roast beef (above)
  • 1/2 cube beef bouillon, disolved (these are the French rectangular cubes)
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
Preparation

Pour drippings into a bowl or gravy boat (optionally removing the onions if you don't want them). Pour in beef bouillon. Whisk in flour to thicken to desired consistency.

This recipe makes enough roast beef and gravy for six servings, but enough Yorkshire pudding for two, because the puddings can't be used as leftovers (they should be eaten immediately out of the oven), whereas the roast beef makes excellent leftovers and can also be frozen.

Posted by jon at 6:51 AM in Food 
 

Monday, 22 February 2010

American Cooking in France: Vegetarian Food

If there is one thing that one quickly comes to realise in France, it is that food here is sacrosanct. Not only do the French attach a very high importance to food, and its quality, in their lives, but this obsession works its way into nearly every facet of French life, from traditions, to employment law (hello two hour lunch breaks!), to the day to day rhythm of life.

One of the most shocking things to me about first coming here as an exchange student was the way that this also translated to a fierce opposition to vegetarianism (and kosher diets, and teetotalers, and any other deviation from the normal (i.e. "correct") way of eating food). The same sentiment that has sitcom chefs tipping over tables when an uncouth American wants to put ketchup on a steak also comes through with other deviancies from accepted practice. Sometimes this makes for a humorous anecdote, like when my mom tried to order an omelette, from a Parisian café that had them on the menu, in the morning (omelettes are only for lunch and dinner in France). Even though they had the eggs and mom was saying that that was what she wanted, she had to insist two or three times before the waiter agreed to let her order one ("mais, c'est le matin!")—and even then he made it clear that what she was doing was definitely wrong, in his opinion. This is not a country where the customer is always right, especially when there's food at stake.

At other times, though, like when a vegetarian comes to the country, the French hostility to their diet makes me cringe a bit. Gay marriage and topless women on the beach are fine here, but they draw the line at not having meat with your main course.

That is the general backdrop of the situation here, although, especially in Paris, vegetarians can thrive just fine. But they do have to put up with a hostility that, coming from a North American context, can be quite shocking. (Lest the reader think I am exagerating, when I arrived as an exchange student my "Welcome to France" orientation book had a very short rubric on vegetarianism: "Vegetarianism is not practised in France. Adapt."

I am not a vegetarian and have no desire to ever become one, but I am trying to reduce my consumption of red meat to around once a week or so, and to eat more fresh vegetables, and now during Lent I am taking the time to put some extra effort into this. So this has led me to pursue some vegetarian recipes online, and (as one who likes to cook a lot on Sunday and live off leftovers during the week), this Roasted vegetable and grain gratin provides an excellent template for vegetarian casseroles that can be modified in all sorts of simple ways to give a great variety—by switching out the grain, vegetable mix, sauce, and/or cheese selections it has almost limitless possibilities! Since French supermarkets have such a wonderful selection of interesting vegetables, I'm going to enjoy experimenting with some of the variations in the months ahead.

Posted by jon at 11:50 PM in Food 
 
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Non enim id agimus ut exerceatur vox, sed ut exerceat.