vendredi 15 mars 2013

Frenchandparfait.com!

My poor non French people!
This is the last post here... From now on, I'll tell you French food stories directly there:
Frenchandparfait.com
Tell me what you think of the new website!
Bisous

Cecile

samedi 2 mars 2013

Give them (pineapple) cake!

My dear, poor, non-French people,

As a good, French and perfect girl, I went back home for Christmas this year. 
I wanted to see my family and friends, eat some real good French food of course, but this time I also thought I was on a mission: I had to crack the French and perfect women code for you guys...
What makes us so special? I'm still amazed at the number of books and movies on the subject.

So I spent a few days in Paris, thinking my best friends would have the answer. 
Here they were, running in heels for the next subway while listening to a philosophical radio podcast and texting their "Jules" to pick the kids at the kindergarten because they were going to be stuck in the editing room to finish the documentary they had just directed, trying to find some time to have a glass of Saint Véran with me in between two ballet classes.
So what made them perfect, I asked? "I don't know, you tell me, I have no time for that!"

By the time I took the train to visit my grand-mother in the Loire valley, I was completely desperate.
Then mamie Georgine had me sit at her kitchen table, cooked me dinner, and brought me this.



A simple. Good. Pineapple cake.

My grand mother Georgine is 84, and very, very active. She walks all the time, at least an hour a day, cooks, gardens, cheats at Scrabble and takes care of her "petits vieux", the older people who live in her street. Talk about a French and perfect woman! 
Just like my girlfriends in Paris, my grandmother never has the time for anything. She never had: she used to be a farmer, waking up at dawn to milk the cows, running all day rain or shine to take care of the vineyard or the hens, meanwhile raising three kids, with almost no money at all.


So how did she do it? And still does?
By making it simple.
That's her secret.
No fuss, just plain, good, and easy stuff.
Why bother trying sophisticated things which takes too much time and almost always end up being strange tasting if not totally bland?


She just takes what's in the fridge and in the pantry, and makes a quick, delicious meal that will allow her to spend quality time with the friends and/or family visiting her.

Like this perfect pineapple cake.

7 oz flour

6 tbsp Sunflower oil or 3 oz butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

6 oz creme fraiche (or crema mexicana)

3 tea spoon baking powder

1 can of sliced pineapple



Preheat the oven at 300F


  • Whip the eggs with the sugar and a pinch of salt
  • Add the oil, the cream, and the flour
  • Mix very well the batter
  • Pour into a buttered round cake pan.
  • Add the slices of pineapple on top of the batter
  • Put in the oven for 45 minutes


When the cake is done, warm the juice of the can in a pan with 6 tablespoons sugar, and pour it all over the cake.

That's all!


Now you can sit down, chat with whoever is lucky to be at your table, and enjoy being the French and perfect woman you are!

Meanwhile my grand mother must be walking somewhere near the Loire trying to find great wild mushrooms for tonight's dinner, or arguing with my father who doesn't want her to drive 200 miles alone to go to her cousin's 80th birthday party.
Mais quoi! That's the way she is and that's also why I think she is just perfect!

Merci mamie!

Bon appétit les amis



jeudi 14 février 2013

Stop the gachis! Eat some hachis!

My dear, poor, non French people,

I'm so sorry. Désolée, vraiment. But once again, I have to tell you that we French people are superior... You know me, I don't like to brag... It's not my fault if French people always know better! 
Take recycling for example. I find it funny to see all the media attention nowadays on waste and how to not put everything in the garbage bin. Rien de nouveau sous le soleil! (Nothing's new under the sun):  French cooks have been doing it for ages.

My grand-mother Georgine (84 going on 85 and still cooking) is the perfect example. When you've been a farmer all your life, you know how precious a "fruit of the earth" is: you don't throw easily a vegetable you gave time and sweat to make it grow... Especially when you get the miserable wages a retiree farmers' widdow get in France.
"Je jette rien", she always says...  From the water to the leftovers, she never throws anything. I guess she would be very proud of this recipe: stop the gâchis (the waste), eat some Hachis!


Le Hachis Parmentier

Ingrédients

2 pounds Meat
2 pounds Potatoes
1 cup milk
4,5 oz of butter
A pinch of grated cheese
Salt, pepper, and Nutmeg




 




Many French delicacies are actually re-use from leftovers. Hachis Parmentier is one of them: for this one I used the Boeuf Bourguignon leftover I had from last video recipe. But you can also use ground beef meet, or duck confit for example...

This recipe bears the name Parmentier in honour of a great French man: Antoine-Augustin Parmentier.
Right before the French Revolution, this pharmacist discovered the way to prevent the numerous famines that were so recurringly happening in the country: to grow and eat potatoes.

At that time, people were totally disgusted with this strange root that was only fed to the pigs. It was even forbidden to grow any at some point, because it was believed potatoes could cause leprosy!
But Antoine-Augustin Parmentier discovered that it was of a great help to fight disentry, and went on a fight to make it legal and developped all over France.
After many years of lobbying, he managed to convince Louis the XVIth (yes, the one we beheaded, but that's another story). 
But nobody wanted to eat potatoes.
Food for pigs? Non merci!
So they changed its name into "Pomme de terre" : apple of the earth, so romantic!
But non. 
Toujours non... 
So they asked the king to set up a new "potato trend", by wearing a potato flower "à sa boutonnière", at his buttonhole.
So if the King said it, did the French follow? 
Non non non!
They had rather die of hunger than eat it..




And that's when Parmentier showed that he had genius.

He asked the King for a small piece of land North of Paris. He grew potatoes there, and surrounded the field by armed guards, as if what they were protecting was very valuable... 
Parisians grew suddenly very interested in this precious plant, and started to steal it at night when the guards were not looking...

Et voilà!

That's how the love between France and Potato started, and how French Fries were born...






La recette
Preheat the oven at 350°F
Grind the leftover meat of the bourguignon
Boil the potatoes for at least 20 minutes, then peel them and mash them with milk and butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Spread a layer of potato purée in a large casserole dish, then spread the meat
Then spread the rest of the purée on the meat. Add some grated cheese, and hop, au four! To the oven.
Cook for at least 45 minutes.
Et voila!



Now have a piece of this delicious French comfort food... Isn't it great to recycle? Merci encore Mr Parmentier!



Bon appétit les amis!


Cécile



PS: 
If you happen to go to Paris, you should visit the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Not because you're a strange and morbid Goth, or a big Jim Morisson fan (Yes, he is buried there, even if some pretend that the casket was smaller than he was): but to go to Mister Parmentier's tomb. 
Notice the wild flowers all around. The gardeners of the cemetery never touch them: they are potato flowers planted by fans all over the world who want to pay him an hommage.

jeudi 24 janvier 2013

Un bonjour de Lyon: Salad for you my friends!

My dear, poor, non French people, 

Ever thought there could be magic in a salad? 
I mean not in that terrible all-washed no-cheese no-croutons no-life "Iceberg" you've been looking at every day at noon, now that you've decided you are going to lose the few pounds that separate you from being "the real you" (or may I say, the real boring you?).

I'm talking vraie salade.
I myself used to hate it. As a kid we would only eat salad after the entree, with a lot of vinegar, and I really didn't care for this sour sour sour moment.

And then I discovered the Salade Lyonnaise

La Salade Lyonnaise

Ingrédients

1 salad. Mâche. Dandelions. Frisee. Or even Aragula.

1 egg per person

8 oz sliced bacon (lardons)

3 slices of bread (the older the best)

Mustard. Organic Canola Oil.
Red Vinegar



I hope you poor non-French people know that Lyon, this great French city in the South East of France, is a great place for food. It's by many considered as the capital of gastronomy... 



That's where the French pope of gastronomy lives, Paul Bocuse. An incredible chef who was at the head of a French Revolution: La Nouvelle Cuisine, in the 60's. A real "bon-vivant", who very proudly tells how he's been living with three women at the same time for years... Oh la la, le coq français! But a great chef avant tout. As I'm writing, the best chefs of the world are competing in Lyon to get the best award in the world: le Bocuse d'Or.



I've lived and studied (well tried to) in Lyon, and the least I can say is that it's not only a place for high-end pricey restaurants. It's just a place of amazing food.
The market in itself is "une tuerie" (a killing... like it kills you because it's so good). And the little traditional restaurants "les bouchons" are to die for.

My favorite bouchon, le Café des fédérations

Charcuterie, (Yes, Jesus is a sausage in Lyon), Cheese (St Marcellin je t'aime), and amazing dishes: Quenelles de brochet (pike fish dumplings), Tablier de sapeur (soldier's apron, an amazing dish with tripes), or Cervelle de Canut
(litteraly "Silk workers brains"... actually fromage blanc with shallots and chives)... Aïe Aïe Aïe!



I learned to live and to cook in Lyon. My boyfriend at the time was coming from a family of restaurateurs, and I will always remember his step-father, the moustachy-grumpy-but-friendly Bruno, complaining about how "people didn't know how to make a proper Salade Lyonnaise" any more.
Well I don't know if Bruno would aprove of this one, but this is how I make it.

La recette


Slice the bacon into lardons
(just as I explain in the video)
Cut the bread in small croutons, of about the same size as the lardons.
On a very very hot and non-sticky pan, pour the lardons. When they begin to sweat, add the croutons. 
Let them dance together for as long as they need to caramelize.
Meanwhile put a pan of water to a boil
Add red winegar
Break your egg in a bowl, and gently slide it in the boiling water.
Use your spoon to gather  all the white around the egg, and cook them all for 3 minutes.
Make a vinaigrette (1tsp mustard +1 tsp red wine vinegar + salt + pepper+ 2 tbsp oil)

Mix it with the frisee (or whatever salad you have), add the lardons and the croutons, then the egg...

Et voila!


Bon appétit les amis!!


Cécile

PS: 
Promise I'll give you a list of my favorite places in Lyon if you happen to go there! 
Working on a brand new French and perfect website for bientôt!

mardi 15 janvier 2013

A good year and a good soup!

My dear, poor, non French people

Comment ça va?
I'm so happy to write to you again after these terrible Christmas holidays. 
Oh, don't misunderstand me, I have loved going back to France to see my family and friends. But excusez-moi, there's too much good food there! After days and hours of family banquets, foie-gras get-togethers, chocolate éclairs snacks and other "you definitely should take the vol-au-vent AND the tête-de-veau: after all you never get it there", I am so glad to be back THERE, in California! Finies les tentations! 

That's when I get to tell you about the most important Holiday tradition in France. 
It's not Bûche de Noël, it's not marrons glacés nor Chapon roti... (Although all these great dishes are compulsory in any Christmas dinner or NYE Reveillon).

It is crise de foie.
Crise de foie, or litterary "liver crisis" is another part of the French paradox. 
No other country or culture IN THE WORLD suffers from this sickness which only appears once in the year.
Tv news and newspapers make their headlines with it every premier de l'an, the first day of the year... And you can be sure that it's the first thing your butcher or your pharmacist would want to know when you come back from the holidays: "Vous l'avez eue?

So what is it about crise de foie?
It's not a stomachache, it's not a hangover, it's both and it's none... 
Thousands of doctors have tried to convince the French people that it actually doesn't really exist... It's just that we ate and drunk too much during the holiday season. 

But you know how we are. 
We French people like to stand for what we believe.
So we may have a little crise de foi (faith crisis, disbelief) from time to time,  but will always believe in crise de foie
(how strange my mother tongue is... Foie is liver and foi is faith...)
Anyhow, I just wanted to give you my little tip to get better after too much stomach pleasure...
It's not "detox" or raw or anything, it's just good and soothing.




La soupe au chou-fleur


Ingrédients

1 cauliflower
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of water
1 star anise pod
1 tbsp Tumeric and or Curry





 
 Wash the cauliflower, cut the green parts
Put in in a pan with the chicken broth and the water
Add the star anise pod.
Put to a boil, and then let it gently cook (on medium) for at least 20 minutes
When the vegetable seems soft (and cooked) enough, mix it
Add the turmeric and/or curry.

Et voilà!

A soup very light in calories but full of récomfort, just for you and your crise de foie les amis!

Bonne année! et Bon appétit!


PS: it's not Cauliflower soup, but you should know that Cabbage soup is a huge pop-culture thing in France... A hit movie from the 70's pretended that the smell of it was able to attract aliens and their UFO's...
La soupe aux choux, with Louis de Funes and Jacques Villeret








jeudi 20 décembre 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon les amis!

My poor non-French people,

It's my pleasure to share with you the new French and Parfait recipe...
Boeuf Bourguignon!
Hope you'll like it beaucoup beaucoup!







Ingredients

1 onion
1 pound beef roast or oxtail or beef cheeks (or all)
4 oz lardons (sliced bacon)
2 carrots, 1 turnip, 2 parsnips
AND A BOTTLE OF RED WINE !


What to do...
Stir the oinion and the lardons, and add the beef
Make sure all the cubes brown on each side
Then add the wine
Salt, pepper, some Laurel…
Put on sim for at least 3 hours…



Et Voilà !

dimanche 16 décembre 2012

Remembrance of recipes past... Pain d'épice

My dear, poor, non French people,

Remember the good old time when you spent hours next to the mailbox (the real one, not you average hotmail-yahoo-gmail electronic version) waiting for a letter of your dear chéri? And then reading it again and again trying to figure out what he actually meant by "I like soccer and you too"?

Where are all those letters now? 

I wonder how kids today will have a reminder of their first love letters... 
That's what I thought a few months ago when I was sorting out old drawers at my mother's house. All those silly post cards and pink note-letters suddenly confronted me to the funny, romantic, and a little bit too dreamy 10 year-old me. Trop bizarre! And that's when I found it. Written on a pink cardboard, with a very cautious hand. My first recipe.


Pain d'épices (du cahier de Mamie)


Ingrédients


1 cup sugar

1 cup honey

1 cup water or milk

4 cups flour

1 tbsp baking soda






I remember exactly when I wrote it. Another day of summer vacation. Sun, public swimming-pool, bike in the woods... and boredom. I was back at my grand-mother's farm and didn't know what to do. 

She herself was more than busy as usual, in between the garden and the hens and the rabbits and the dinner to prepare. "Why don't you look in the recipe notebook and see what you can do?"



How I loved her recipe notebook! 
She had started it during World War II, when she was just une jeune fille en fleurs, a 20 year old mademoiselle. It was full of handwritten recipes copied from other friends notebooks, or cut out from the local newspaper. 
That day I decided to start my own collection. And copied her famous pain d'épice recipe.



Her gingerbread was awesome. So so simple. 
It's basically milk and honey and flour and c'est tout (that's all). Which makes it very very different from the anglo-saxon version of it. 
No spices for a cake called "Spices bread" (pain d'épices)! I know it's strange, but who cares when it's good!



She would bake one every wednesday, for me to have as a snack after the Ballet class. I would always share it with my friends, who loved it. So much that 15 years later, when my friend Stéphanie called me to invite me to her wedding, she asked for just one gift: la recette du pain d'épice de mamie Laurence. This recipe...


I still like to have it as a post work-out treat, but it's also great for a winter breakfast. Slice it and spread butter and you forget about cold feet and running nose! 

La Recette 

Put the milk (or the water, but really, milk is better) to a boil, 
and then mix it with honey and sugar.

Add slowly the flour and the baking soda. 
 Mix it well.

Grease a pan in butter and pour the mix

Bake for one hour at 200F



The pain d'épices is great the next day, and even the following days.

Bon appétit les amis!




PS: I have to talk to you about my favorite processed pain d'épices: "Prosper" de Vandame. I can still see my little brother spreading tons on Nutella on it for his "4 heures" (litteraly 4pm, the time French kids were supposed to have their afternoon snack). And we loved their ad, a remake of a song of Maurice Chevalier, Prosper.