Sunday, January 31, 2010

Banana Bread with Walnuts

Unlike my husband (and now my children) who have a sweet tooth, I am happy with savory. As my husband would say, the only dessert I would help myself for a second serving is Galette des Rois. Yes, I know, it's great not ideal to have a second serving of anything in the first place... but hey, that's OK because it's not like we eat Galette des Rois every day. Remember, it's a seasonal dessert!!
Since I started this blog, I have had to bake more to include dessert recipes... My children and husband are delighted.... and as a way to compensate for the extra sugar in the house, I have stopped purchasing cookies from the supermarket. On days when no homemade sweets are available, we fall back on Nutella on toast for the children' 4pm snack. And fruits for dessert for lunch and dinner.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is one of the dishes French people would cook for a Sunday lunch. There is something about Sunday lunch in France. It's a traditional family meal cooked with fresh ingredients bought at the Farmers' market on Saturday or Sunday (and more recently at the supermarket). It's a little bit formal : people tend to get their China out of the closet; nice tablecloth and napkins; a nice comforting four-course meal that lasts at least one hour. Classic main dish include poulet grillé (roasted chicken),  gigot d'agneau (lamb leg), rôti de boeuf (roast beef), rôti de veau (veal roast), boeuf bourguignon, choucroute, sole meunière, etc... basically, any dish that deserves a little bit of preparation and cooking time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Breakfast is my favorite meal...I remember a story my friend S. told me a few years ago. She was trying to sell her apartment in Paris. One day, a woman came in to visit, went straight to the kitchen and said, that she was not interested because "la cuisine n'est pas à l'est" (the kitchen window was not facing East)! We all have our priorities when it comes to an apartment location and layout but I found that her comment was a little bit pretentious (considering the beautiful place it was). Then, I thought about it more and realized that she had a point. How nice is it to be able to enjoy  breakfast, flipping through the pages of the newspaper with the sun shinning through the window? Or best, on a terrasse with a beautiful view of the ocean on a beautiful sunny morning with no kidsLe rêve, non?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brown Rice and Beans

A few years ago, my friend M. told me about the book "Why French Women don't get fat" by Mireille Guiliano. Intrigued by the title, I checked out the book from the library (yes, I am big library fan) and read it. I was not too impressed by the recipes (sorry, I can't cook with Champagne on a regular basis) but two advices she had stick with me, mostly because they were relevant to the way I eat growing up and try to implement it with my family today...
1) Don't snack (or if you have to, snack on healthy food)
2) You can eat everything as long as it in moderation.

Since I already talked about snacks in a previous post, I am going to talk about how I apply the "moderation".  Busy as we are, we don't necessary have the time too cook from scratch everyday. We also want to please our children with food they enjoy eating but that is not nutritious such as French fries, ice cream, cookies, etc.
I believe there is nothing wrong in offering such food to our children as long as it is in moderation, which means : not everyday and in small portions.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quiche Lorraine

When I was living in San Francisco, I realized that one of the many differences in the French vs. American diet is oh, don't get me started how we eat eggs. Americans eat a lot of eggs... and so do French people (the latest statistics show that Americans eat about 255 eggs/year vs. 248 in France). However, it seems that Americans eat more of them. One evidence of that is packaging! In the US, it's very difficult to purchase eggs by the half-dozen (6 eggs). When they first introduced organic eggs, those were the only ones you could purchase by 6. Now that organic eggs have a larger market share, it has become even harder to purchase them by 6. A dozen is what you get! In France, you purchase eggs by the demie-douzaine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mustard-breaded Turkey Breast

We don't go out much to eat. Not that I don't like eating out : on the contrary (but who does not?)... but you see, I enjoy sitting down for a meal and having a proper conversation with my husband and children. A conversation that is not interrupted by rugby-player-like catches, water floods, or just the usual "fais attention, prend ta fourchette, non pas les doigts dans la sauce". And even if my children behave, the idea of having to rush through my meal because, let's face it, 40 minutes of good behavior is what we can expect from young children, takes away the fun. I'd rather stay home and have a nice glass of wine with cheese while my children decide to clean the bathroom floor with a full bag of wipes sleep.
Besides, when we go out,  I am really appalled by the limitation of the children's menu. It invariably offers:  macaroni & cheese, grilled sandwich, chicken nuggets, hot-dog or/and pizza. Why? Tell me why?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shredded Carrots Salad - Carottes rapées

Before we start, let's focus on a few useful French food-menu words:
When French say une entrée, Americans say an appetizer. When French say le plat principal, Americans say entrée. I don't know why a main dish is called  "entrée" in the US...Could it be a size issue? Because the French entrées are so small that they are just regarded as a way to tease the Americans' appetite ... and that the real-size things only start with the main dish? Maybe... Anyway, just keep that in mind as you read the following...

With the French having the habit to eat a three-course menu (entrée-plat-dessert) or a four-course menu (entrée-plat-fromage-dessert), you have to be creative when it comes to preparing l'entrée. If you want things to be easy and healthy, you opt for crudités: a salad of raw vegetables (carrots, cucumber, celery roots, red cabbage, tomatoes, avocados, etc.) However culturally, a salade de cruditées has come to encompass a few cooked vegetables as well such as beets, corn kernels, artichoke hearts or palm hearts! Why? Allez savoir...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nutella Cupcakes

French people don't eat much peanut butter, if any!!! I know, it seems strange to think that a product so ubiquitous in the U.S. and so part of the American Culinary Culture has made it to France but did not make it in France (and is definitively not made in France). We now have bagels, we have cookies, we have brownies, we even have Starbucks coffee shops... but hardly any peanut butter. And NO peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that's for sure! Instead of peanut butter, we have Nutella.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Bites..... ..Cauliflower and Red Lentils Puree

As I said in my post on lentils, lentils are very good for you...Lentils are really healthy: they are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, and folate. They are also fat-free and high in proteins. Besides, they are affordable, hence a great dish to serve to your family. You should definitively add them to your monthly diet (if not already!).
While we mostly eat French Blue Lentils at home, I have come to purchase red lentils (lentilles corail, in French) to add them in vegetable soups. Red lentils cook very fast and, therefore, don't "hold" as well as green or blue lentils and the few times I have tried not to overcook them, I failed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry

My friend HW from Toronto (but originally from China) was visiting over the Holidays. Since we live far from our relatives, it's always a treat when friends and family come all the way to Philadelphia to visit us. Because, no matter how cool Facebook is, it's really not the same to catch up with old friends around a cup of hot chocolate (or for that matter hot tea or just plain hot water!!)....
HW loves French food and we tried to cook French cuisine as much as we could.  One evening, I don't know what I was thinking (she is Chinese!) but I decided to cook a chicken stir fry. As usual with me, one ingredient triggers one full recipe. My husband had bought snow peas (petits-pois mange-tout in French because you eat it all (tout), pod included) at the market and they were sitting in the fridge... so I decided to do something about them before they went bad. And I thought about chicken stir fry, or rather, my recipe of chicken stir fry.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gratin of Baked Winter Vegetables

It all started because as I am trying to work on this blog and grow it, I have been reading a lot of food-related blogs looking for new ideas... One of the blogs I read, What's for Lunch Honey, has beautiful pictures and recipes. Her author, Meeta also organizes monthly mingles that are hosted by different blog-hosts each month. This month mingle, hosted by Sudeshna from Cook like a Bong, was about "Winter Vegetables and Fruits" . I thought that I could try to participate as long as I would stay focused on the purpose of my blog: healthy and easy cooking for the entire family. This mingle was a good way to try to do something different, yet easy and healthy, from what I have been cooking lately. I was therefore not going to make some ultra-fancy dishes with ingredients only a hyper-specialized supermarket would carry... Instead, I just decided to make an adapted version of a very traditional French dish that was perfect for the freezing temperatures outside: a Gratin Dauphinois (baked potatoes). It's a totally adapted version because real Gratin Dauphinois only calls for potatoes and no cheese.

La Galette des Rois

January 6th was Epiphany, a Christian feast day that celebrates the visit of the three Wise Kings to Jesus. Despite its Christian heritage, Epiphany, in France really means Galette des Rois or Kings Cake.  
Galette des Rois is a traditional dessert in which a trinket (la fève) is hidden. The person who gets it becomes King/Queen of the Day! The traditional galette des rois is made of puffs pastry dough with a almond-cream filling. More recently, any kind of fillings have been seen for the galette: apple, pistachio or even chocolate... but the truth is that the original remains the best as far as I am concerned. In Southern France, they eat a Brioche des Rois (with pearl sugar sprinkled on it) but I'm sure that you can now find galettes des rois.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Apple, Rhubarb and Banana Compote

As I already said in a previous post, we eat a lot of home-made apple sauce in our family. Somehow, I can't pass a good bargain on apples, even if the apples don't look really nice. As long as they are worm-free and look tasty, I'll take any and turn them into apple sauce. Because, plain apple sauce can become a little bit boring when eaten too often, I usually try to use other fruits to mix in with the apples. Rhubarb is another favorite after quinces.
Rhubarb is one of these strange plants which leaves are poisonous (well, if you were willing to eat approximately 10 pounds of them!!!) while the stalks are used for cooking. Rhubarb is very easy to grow in a garden. The reason I know that is that both my grand-mother and my mother were/is growing it with no care. There is a plant in the back of my parents' backyard, close to the natural compost pile.Since nobody tends to the rhubarb, the compost must be working because the rhubarb plant grows very well, as if on steroids!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Yesterday With My Children We Made.... Chouquettes (Sweet Cream Puffs)

All right, the New Year is here and with it a new list of good resolutions and you decided, that as usual for a change, you were going to forget them tomorrow keep them! Maybe, just maybe, I could try to make you cook all a little bit more from scratch, feed new flavors and new textures to your children. And even maybe cook with them so that they get more exposed to what they are being offered. That would be a great thing to add (and keep) on your list, n'est-ce-pas?