Sunday, October 2, 2016

Crottins de Chavignol Chauds en Salade - Hot Baked Goat Cheese with Greens

One of our daughter's favorite dishes is hot baked Crottins de Chavignol served on a piece of toast along a plain salade verte. Crottins are small round-shape goat hard cheese. The most famous ones come from Chavignol - a small village near Sancerre in the Loire Valley. 
France (and Europe) being very strict as to protecting regional products and savoir-faire,  the crottins can only be called Crottins de Chavignol is they are actually coming from the Chavignol area.  They are protected by what we call an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) which is a French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for winescheesesbutters, and other agricultural products that come from certain terroirsOther areas in France produce crottins  de chèvre - they are just not labeled "de  Chavignol". 
We grew up eating crottins de chèvre chauds either as an appetizer or a lunch/dinner entree  They are an easy-to-choose-easy-to-make affordable dish that pleases most cheese lovers. For those of you who have traveled to France, they are generally on many casual restaurants, served on a slice of toasted Pain Poilâne (or any other pain de campagne if pain Poilâne is not available.)
Unfortunately, this is one of the dishes I hardly make in the US. Much to my family's regret. Reason? Price of the crottins. In France, you could purchase crottins de chèvre for less than 1 euro each (2 euros if you want them organic or de Chavignol), while in the US, I find them at at least $5/piece for locally-made cheese. What is an affordable entree in France become luxury across the Atlantic! 
We therefore serve them on special occasions only (or when they go on sale, which is to say... rarely.) 
As a result, whenever we go to France, our daughter makes sure to eat a lot of them, always volunteering to help prepare them whenever she can! I think that if we were not living in an apartment building in the center of Philadelphia, she would try to get a goat to make her own crottins! If you have access to crottins where you live, please try to make this salad. You would not be disappointed! Bon Appétit!

- 1 (or half) a crottin per person
- 1 (or half) of wholewheat bread
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Thyme/Rosemary (optional)

  • Put the crottin on a slice of bread with rosemary/thyme on top
  • Pour some olive oil on the crottin and the bread
  • Bake in the oven under the High Grill for 5 minutes (or more depending on the power of your oven; you want the crottins to start melting but the bread should not be burnt)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tarte au thon de l'été

Don't ask me what I did these past few months.... I did cook a lot but never managed to bring it to this blog. My apologies! Fortunately, Summer being in full swing, we all have a little bit more time to cook and experiment.
My nephew from Marseille came to spend the month of July with us in Philadephia to attend a ballet camp. Since our children were in France for their Summer-long vacances and that my husband joined them, C. and I ended up spending most of July together. Apparently, he was worried that spending time with his gluten-free vegan aunt, he was going to eat "des graines" everyday! My worry was that because of him spending time in the US, he would fall victim to the double-frappuccinos, supersized French fries and other double-cheeseburgers!!! At the end, it was a balance of easy-to-eat French and US food. We had vegan and beef hamburgers, blue corn tortilla chips (a lot!) and haricots verts (beaucoup), salade verte and Sweet Potatoes Fries....
One evening, C. suggested to make this Tarte au thon that my sister-in-law and many of my friends cook in France this time of year. We used the Marmiton recipe (for those of you who want the French version) and C. found it very tasty. I will definitively make it again for our family when they are all back from France. Until then, I would encourage you to try it! Served with a salade verte, it makes the easiest Summer dinner.
Bon Appétit!

 - 1 pie dough (in France, people tend to use the puff pastry one; since I don't always have some handy, I generally make a pâte brisée)
- 2 cans of tuna (in water, no salt added)
- 2 small tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 eggs
- 20 cl light cream
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Swiss cheese (optional)

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • Lay the dough in a deep pie dish.
  • Spread the mustard
  • Spread the tuna
  • Slice the tomatoes and lay on top of the tuna
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the creme fraiche and milk
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour the batter onto the tomatoes and tuna
  • Add the cheese if using some
  • Cook in the oven for 40 minutes

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tarte aux Mendiants & New Year Resolutions

Bonne Année! (I know, I know,  I am late.... but you see, in France, it is acceptable to wish people une Bonne Année!  until the end of January.... so I still within a reasonable timeframe!)

New Year is synonymous with resolutions... but there is nothing more difficult that trying to stick with them! Working for Wharton, I have come to reallly enjoy the research behind how people make  decisions (fascinating or depressing depending on how you want to look at it!). I particularly like Katherine Milkman's advice for making decision around new resolutions (published last year in the New York Times but still relevant) which she calls "bundling": i.e. allowing yourself to watch trash TV (if that's what you like to do but feel that you are wasting your time when you watch it) only if you are on the treadmill (which is what your resolution is all about.) (I know that January is the month when gym have the highest enrollment; I now wonder whether this is when Netflix has the hightest demand for "chick movies"...)

So no - I generally don't make resolutions... except that this year, I decided that I was going to get back to this blog more often than (argh!) once every six months! (I also have other things I would like to work on, but I'll write about them in other posts!)
What I decided is to cook a new dish every week-end.  Partly because I need to increase the pool of recipes I cook and partly because I like the challenge of learning new recipes...
Two weeks ago, I made Butter Chicken, which was a success among our family, which also means that I have to do it again to get a good picture to put on this blog... Last week, I made black-eye peas fritters - they were such a success that they disappeared before I could take a picture! While the Butter Chicken is a little time consuming and not that healthy (think cream and, well, yes, butter in no small quantity), the fritters are a piece-of-cake once you have soaked the peas....
As I try new dishes, I will try to engage our two children more as they have indicated that they wanted to cook with me more often. Perfect bundle: cook for our family while spending more time with them and learning new recipes! I might ask them to choose the recipe so that they end up cooking something they find (more) appealing!

As we were discussing this (and in a way, William was complaining noticing that menus don't change that much (read:I don't cook enough meat or dishes that simmer on the stove for hours)), our daugther asked him what he would cook if he had to cook everyday for a week (assuming that I had not prepared dishes in advance (as I always do when I travel); and he could not rely on frozen food nor take-out). His menu was something like: couscous, lasagnes, cassoulet, salade landaise, hachis Parmentier, choucroute, duck confit! Well, if it weren't for the lack of balance of this diet (our daughter did mention to him that the quantity of greens was really minimal!!), I would take him on the offer of cooking for a week or more just to be "off duty". That would be a great resolution on his part, n'est-ce-pas? I just don't know with what he could bundle it with because he is not the type of person who can do two things at the same time... Except that if he asks our children for help, he would end up spending time with them and that, as we all know, has no price!

Despite all this, I will have to credit him with making Spaghetti a la Carbonara last weekend (bacon, cream, grated cheese -  William's tastes, just there) but also with this impressing dessert he made for his cousins and uncle during our Christmas break in Canada. Note that this is one of the richest and sweetest desserts I have ever seen (William's tastes just there again!)  The type that makes most people sign up for a gym membership the very same night - and if they are bundling, would catch up with at least one full season of a TV serie on their first session!

As for my cooking resolution, a friend of mine just gave me a new cooking book with Asian recipes - so I now have plenty of recipes to try, hopefully with the children as sous-chefs! Be prepared!

The recipe for the Tarte aux Mendiants is from Cuisine et Vins de France and can be found here (in French).