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!


1 onion
1 pound beef roast or oxtail or beef cheeks (or all)
4 oz lardons (sliced bacon)
2 carrots, 1 turnip, 2 parsnips

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)


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.


dimanche 9 décembre 2012

Cook Faisan like a real peasant (Pheasant au vin)

My dear, poor, non French people,

Let me tell you: it's never funny to be the turkey of the stuffing. 
I guess that would be the litteral translation of "Etre le dindon de la farce", a popular French saying that means "being the laughing stock". 

Why do American people are so concerned about it ? The stuffing I mean. That what amazed me most last month as I was enjoying my first real Thanksgiving. Even a gourmet like me had never seen people fight over what should or should not be put inside an animal...Très très bizarre!

The whole ceremony is actually very exotic for a poor French girl like me. I guess I felt the same thing as an American girl in front of the Eiffel Tower: I thought I was in a movie! Loved it.
I tried to think of a similar celebration back in France, and it suddenly reminded me of family fall tradition. Le déjeuner de la chasse, chez tatate Giselle. And faisan.

Le faisan au vin


1 pheasant

1 bottle of red wine

1 onion or 2 shalots

3 cloves

4 carrots

1 pound brussel sprouts

1/2 pound mushrooms

It's every 3rd sunday of September. And always at my grand-aunt's farm.
The opening day of the hunt lunch is never to be missed in my family.
Tatate Giselle is still hosting it every year, even is she's more than 80 years old now. Et le menu? Still the same..

Crudités first, with the incredible mayonnaise de tatate Giselle (made from scratch with fresh eggs from the farm, a creamy, thick, golden mayonnaise I still dream of). 
Then Bouchées à la Reine (savoury Vol au vent with sweetbread, please remind me to cook and write the recipe very soon!) 
And a game meat dish: hoar, doe, or pheasant.
And who has the more make up on? The male, on the right!

Pheasant is really a natural part of the diet in the area of France I come from.
There are plenty of woods and forests in Sologne, and they are rich in wild animals.
As it's only 100 miles south of Paris, the area has always been a holiday destination for kings, princes, and then rich families who came for a good hunt.
But the French Revolution changed it all by allowing peasants like my ancestors to also hunt, in communal woods, and I guess that's what my family celebrate every year.
The guys (and some girls of my generation, but not me, I had rather read!) would go hunting in the morning and try to come back with some trophy (they would tease each other all year long about it... but my mom always said that it was more a walk in the woods...)

This bird has nothing to do with lazy farm raised animals like hens, gooses... or turkey. It's most of the time in the wilderness, and is therefore less fatty and more muscular. It can be very dry if not prepared well, that's why I like better to have it marinate in wine 24 hours. 

La recette

Peel an onion and put 4 cloves in it

Peel the carrots and cut them in two

Put the onion, carrots and pheasant in a large bowl and pour the bottle of wine

Add salt, pepper, and some laurel and let marinate for at least 24 hours.

Then heat a cast iron pan, or just a regular cooking pot.

Brown the bird in a little bit of olive oil.

Add the marinated wine and carrots, and maybe some other herbs like thyme.

Put to a boil and then set down to low or sim, and let it slowly bubble its way, something like 2 or 3 hours.

Add the trimmed Brussel sprouts and the mushrooms 20 minutes before serving.

Et voilà!

As you can see, this recipe is very similar to the very traditional Coq au vin.
Strangely I find it easier to find a pheasant here in LA than a rooster ( at the 3rd and Fairfax Farmer's Market), but you can do exactly the same recipe with a male chicken...

Bon appétit les amis!