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).