vendredi 26 octobre 2012

Vive la saucisse !

My poor non French people,

You can't know how hard it is for a Parisienne to live in California like I do. 
Imagine, living in a place where everybody is smiling all the time! Where people actually say hello and "have a good day" in the shops or at the restaurant! I was so shocked when I first moved to LA that I thought people were actually making fun of me and were laughing in my back. Why couldn't they just groan and look depressed as any good and sensible Français would ?

But there's worse here.
The weather.
Sun sun sun! Always sun! Quelle horreur !
How can a decent human being live without rain? There are so many incredible meals you can't have if the weather is good...

That's why I clapped my hands and beamed with joie when the sky suddenly turned gray last week.
Another great occasion to watch Les Parapluies de Cherbourg!
And... to cook Saucisse de Morteau. 


Saucisse de Morteau aux Lentilles du Puy


1 saucisse de Morteau
8 oz bacon
1 sliced oinion
1 onion on which you nail 4 cloves
3 carotts
1 cup lentilles du Puy
2 cups water
Laurel, Thyme, salt and pepper

Saucisse de Morteau is a smoked pork sausage which is made in Franche Comté, in the East of France. 
Actually, a real Saucisse de Morteau has to be made in Morteau or in its area. There's a protection on the name, as there are Appelation d'Origine Controlée for Bourgogne or Beaujolais. 

You don't mess with the Morteau: it has to be smoked with a special wood in special traditional houses. And people coming from Franche Comté venerate it as a national treasure. 
Take my friend Deborah for example: whenever you invite her, she comes with her saucisse. It's odd, but it's good!

It's very hard to find a real Morteau Sausage in the US (unless Deborah comes to visit you from France, of course), but I'm so happy I've found a very good one made here.

Now the other magical element of this recipe, is a little bit easier to find. 
Des lentilles, oui, mais des lentilles du Puy! These green lentils come from l'Auvergne, in South Center France. These French and perfect vegetables are loved by chefs and nutritionists aussi because of their great taste and healthy gifts. It's full of protein, fibers, and minerals. Et c'est bon !


La recette

Dice the onion, and cut the bacon in petits lardons.

Have them sweat for a while in a big pot, with some olive oil and/or butter.

When they are soft and melting like the heart of a teenage girl, add the diced carrots.

Make sure they have time to meet and chat a little, and then introduce them all to their new friends, the lentils.

Pour them in the pot, add enough water to cover them all

Salt, pepper, 3 leaves of laurel, the oinion and the cloves

Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for 30 minutes.

Then add the sausage. (make small holes in it with your fork before so it doesn't explode)

Cover, let sim for 30 minutes... and Enjoy!

Allez, bon appétit les amis!

Ok, it's not very light, but it's a great healthy source of energy!
Did you know that there was actually a Saucisse de Morteau on the Tour de France, last year? It even passed the peloton! 
See Lance, why didn't you just have Morteau for breakfast...

dimanche 21 octobre 2012

Chicken Tagine les amis !

My poor non French people,

It’s hard to admit for a French and perfect patriot like me, but I owe you to tell  the vérité, the entire vérité, and just the vérité…

Sometimes the best French food is not French.

Well… It’s French… In the way that millions of Français cook it on a regular basis and consider it part of their cultural heritage. 
But it wasn’t developed in the strict Hexagon formed by our borders.
Like Tagine for exemple.

Tagine de poulet


4 chicken breast or thighs or mixed. 
(Or half a cut chicken) 
1 diced Onion 
1 diced garlic clove 
1 tbsp diced fresh ginger
2 tbsp Ras el Hanout
1 cup chicken broth
3 Carrots
2 Zucchinis
1 eggplant

Tajine or Tagine, is a North African tradition, but it’s on the top list of French people favorite dishes. Pourquoi ? Well because a huge part of our population comes from Maghreb. 
There are second, third generation of families who immigrated in France when there was a lack of hands to work in the factories (Yes, I’m told that such a time has really existed, as incroyable as it now seems). 
There are also descendants of French people who lived in North Africa before the independence. They're called the pieds noirs, litteraly black feet. Don't ask me why, I've got one at home and I can guarantee he has nice and clean (and white) feet.

Tagine is also the name of the pot in which you cook it.

This one belongs to my friend Gaelle.
She’s French, and lives in LA like me, but her mom was born in Morocco. 

When she came to visit her daughter a few months ago, the first thing she did was to cook this dish and invite all her friends to taste it.

Miam miam !

Dice the onion, let it sweat in olive oil in a cast iron pan (or a tagine if you have one)

Add the chicken, make sure the skin slowly changes color, and then add the sliced vegetables. 

There are many combinations you can use (small peas and artichoke, preserved lemon and olives, almonds and prunes, dates...). 

But there's only one ingredient wich will always make the difference:

it's the magical 
Ras el Hanout.

This is one of my most precious secret weapon. 

Whenever I go to France, I always come back with this very special blend I buy at the market in Capbreton, where my brother lives. 

This is the yellow one, with cilantro, turmeric, caraway seed, fennel, red hot chili peppers, cumin, garlic.

Ras el Hanout means "top of the shelf", because it's the best spices you can find in a grocery store. If you can't find any in your poor, non French supermarket, I guess you can try and make your own blend, like any north african housewife does at home...

Spray the magic and take a good breath. 

I'm sure if you close well your eyes, you can walk straight in the narrow streets of the Kasbah of Algiers

Or heading to a Shishah bar in the Goutte d'or in Paris.

Add enough chicken broth to cover the vegetables. Cover the pot.
Set to low, or even sim, for 1 hour.

Now, pour yourself a thé à la menthe or an Orangina,  
You have 60 minutes to listen to Enrico Macias and pretend you're a pied noir nostalgic of Constantine...

Or imagine you're a young beur (a French guy whose parents were immigrants...) who doesn't want to leave his projects apartment for the summer and go to the traditional holidays with his family in Algeria, like this song from parisian band 113...

Lé le la!

And when you're ready,

Serve with some couscous you will cook with the broth remaining in the tagine.


Bon appétit les amis!!!