Paris in July is coming to a close and I saved the best for last - food! When I signed up to participate in this month-long dip into all things French, I joked that my French food knowledge was limited to cafe-au-lait, croissants and pie a la mode. However, as I searched for recipes, I discovered that we eat more French food than we realized.
Haricots Vert a la Creme are simply green beans in a white sauce (bechamel) just like my mom and grandma made each summer when we had fresh beans from the garden.
Pommes de Terre Sautees would be called "fried potatoes" at our house though, technically, they are sauteed. Saute - To cook over high heat in a small amount of fat in a sauté pan or skillet. I also add onion. Pate a Choux is the dough for creme puff shells. I once made over 300 shells for a graduation reception (we stuffed them with a variety of fillings - savory and sweet), so I'm very familiar with that recipe.
Creme Patissiereis a basic custard like I use to fill the Pate a Choux or as the base for coconut- or banana-cream pie. For my attempts at trying some new French recipes, I got ideas from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Ina Garten's Food Network specieal, Barefoot in Paris. My goal was to find recipes that were not too expensive (fillet mignon), too time-consuming (cassoulet) or that did not require too much oven time on a 100 degree day. Here is what we sampled:
Ratatoulle- Eggplant casserole with tomatoes, onions, peppers and zucchini. Great summer dish to use all the fresh ingredients from your garden. We didn't raise eggplant or zucchini, so I had to get some help from the grocer, but still delicious. (Recipe can be found on page 504 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol.1) Julia suggests that, as the casserole is "strongly flavored" it best accompanies plain roast or chicken. We paired it with...
Biftek Hache' a la Lyonnaise - Ground beef with onions and herbs. Would most likely be called "hamburger steak" in an American diner. Hamburger is mixed with sauteed onions, egg and seasoning, shaped into patties, dusted with flour, sauteed, and served with a sauce made from the pan drippings and either beef stock or wine. (MTAOFC, Vol. 1, p. 301) Roti de Porc Poele(casserole-roasted pork) served with Sauce Moutarde a la Normande (mustard sauce with cream). Again, the meat is traditional - a pork roast, lightly seasoned, browned first then finished in the oven. (Yes, I caved and let the oven run for two hours. Fortunately we were having a slightly cooler day.) The adventure was in the sauce which consists of the meat juices, vinegar, cream, mustard and butter. Once the cream is added, the sauce is simmered for about 8 minutes. I think I let the temperature get a bit too high and the cream separated, making for a strange-looking sauce, but the flavor was still ok. Actually, we were disappointed that there wasn't more flavor to the sauce. The mustard didn't come through very well. (MTAOFC, Vol. 1, p. 382) Crepes with Creme Patissiere and fresh berries. Yum! That's all, just yum! And my favorite (well, except the crepes, duh!): Herb-baked Eggs (Recipe from Ina Garten)
1/4 t. chopped thyme
1/4 t. chopped rosemary
1/4 t. chopped garlic
1 T. chopped 1 T. parmesan cheese
Combine and set aside. 6 eggs - yolks left whole, divided into two bowls (3 eggs per serving) In bottom of individual ramekins (approximately 6" across), place 1 t. butter and a splash of cream (adjust to your tastes). Place under broiler for about 3 minutes or until it becomes bubbly and brown. Remove from oven and gently slide three eggs into each ramekin and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1/2 of herb mixture onto each serving. Return to broiler for about 5 minutes, until egg whites are just set. Serve with toasted baguette. The size of the dish you use is key to the success of this recipe. The ramekins I have are slightly too small, which means it took longer for the egg whites to cook, which meant the yolks began to set. The idea is for the yolks to still be runny. The eggs were still De-Lish!, but not quite what they should have been. Guess I'll just have to run to Target for some larger dishes! I hate when that happens!