La Farce Américaine

This Novembre, mon chéri and I hosted Thanksgiving. This wasn’t my first Thanksgiving abroad; however, this was my first time hosting Thanksgiving. We prepared the entire meal, which was Américain with a French touch. One of the plats was La Farce Américaine, known as Stuffing/Dressing in the US. It was a hit with the French!

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*This plat was for 6 people.

Les Ingrédients:

  • 1 1/2 baguettes (day old is better than fresh)
  • 2 carottes
  • 2 cloves of l’ail, or garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 1/2 cups of pot veau)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup l’huile d’olive, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of herbes de Provence (with thyme and lavander)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of aneth, or dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon of ground rose pepper (black pepper will also work)
  • 2 large eggs

Les Consignes (directions):

First, start by pre-heating the oven to about 250 degrees F. Then, cut the baguettes into small, 1 inch squares. Put them on a non-stick baking sheet (or cover the baking sheet with foil or parchment paper to prevent the bread from sticking).

Second, put the baking sheet in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (or until the bread is slightly crispy).

Third, while the baguette pieces are in the oven, start greasing a casserole (or baking) dish. Then, set aside.

Fourth, melt the butter in a medium-sized pot.

Fifth, peel the carottes, shallots, and l’ail. Then, cut the them into small dices. Put them into the pot with the melted butter. Stir on medium heat until the vegetables start to brown. Then, add 1 bouillon cube.

Sixth, when the baguette pieces are finished, put the pieces into a large mixing bowl.

Seventh, add the vegetables (including the sauce) to the large mixing bowl with the baguette pieces. Fold the bread into the vegetables-sauce. Then, stir in the l’huile d’olive, bouillon cube, all of the seasonings, and 2 eggs until the mixture is combined.

Eighth, pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Then, cover loosely with foil and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes. After about 45 minutes, bake uncovered for about 10 minutes (or until the top is browned). Once La Farce Américaine is finished, bon appétit!♦

**This dish can be served immediately or it can be made 1 day in advance (just re-heat in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the baguette pieces are warm and crispy).

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Taboulé

Aujourd’hui, I finally tried a recette that I’ve been yearning to attempt ever since I took that first forkful of Mamie‘s recette.

It was a breezy, clear summer evening with the sun starting its descent into dreamland. We watched the sunset at Parc de la Torse. At Parc de la Torse, mon chéri and I made ourselves comfortable among the 20 or so American and Canadian study abroad students and their French host families. It was the last pot-luck pic-nic before most of these students were to return back to the US. His grandma, Mamie, loaded a paper plate full of home-made goodies and handed it to me. Needless to say, I was in heaven. I took a bite of her version of Taboulé and I was hooked. I’ve had other store-bought versions; however, as with everything Mamie makes, her version was by far the best.  I was determined to try the recette.

It took a couple of months before I dared to try it. I put it off for so long because I thought it would be very time consuming. Thankfully, I was wrong. In fact, the recette took about 25 minutes. Taboulé is a very convenient dish because it can be simple or complex. It’s a dish that enables the chef to use ingrédients he/she already has available (which is good if you don’t have a lot of time or money to buy tons of ingrédients) or to buy ingrédients. Also, there’s usually enough for 4 meals. A relaxed liste d’ingrédients  + 4 meals = on budget for this happy AIXpat.

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*In general, I cook for 2 – unless otherwise noted.

Les ingrédients:

  • 1 poivron rouge, or red pepper
  • 1 poivron vert, or green pepper
  • 1 echalote, or shallot (you can substitute 1 oignon)
  • 2 cloves of l’ail, or garlic
  • 1 cup of menthe, or mint
  • 1 tomate
  • 1 can of petit pois, or peas
  • 1 carotte
  • 1 concombre
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 2 table spoons d’huile d’olive, or olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon de sel, or salt
  • ½ teaspoon d’aneth, or dillweed
  • ½ teaspoon de poivre, or ground pepper (black pepper or white pepper work fine)
  • 2 tablespoons of jus de citron, or lemon juice
  • 150-200 grams of couscous

Les Consignes (directions):

First, start by filling a pot with couscous and water. If you are using couscous from a box, follow the instructions on the box. It usually takes couscous about 5 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when you use a fork to see if it moves easily or if it sticks together. The latter one signifies that it’s not quite done yet, while the first one tells you that it’s done.

Second, while the couscous is cooking, start dicing the vegetables and then place them in another pot. Put huile d’olive in the same pot. Cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes or until they start becoming a little bit soft. *Note: it is important that you choose vegetables that pair well together. Also, I used what I found in the fridge, but you don’t have to use that many vegetables. The two most important things are: the couscous and the menthe.

Third, once the couscous is finished, place it in a large mixing bowl.

Lastly, once the vegetables are finished, place them in the same mixing bowl as the couscous. Then, add the sel, poivre, aneth, and jus de citron. Mix well. After it’s been mixed, place in the refrigerator for about 3 hours to let the juices mix into the couscous. After that, bon appétit!

**For added protein, dice turkey, chicken, or porc. Then, cook it. Once it’s finished mix it in with the couscous and the vegetables. ♦

Raïta au melon et au concombre

Aujourd’hui, I tried a recette for a raïta, an Indian sauce consisting of yogurt and vegetables/fruit, to complement côtelettes d’agneau au cari, aka lamb chops with curry. This recette is called Raïta au melon et au concombre. The recette took about 20 minutes to complete. I made it while the côtelettes d’agneau au cari was in the Cocotte Minute, or pressure cooker.

You might be wondering why I chose an Indian sauce – I’m in France, after-all. So, why not choose a more French-like sauce. Well, similarly to American cuisine, French cuisine also borrows meal ideas from outside the country. This just might be the most important cultural lesson Ever: the US is not the only “melting pot” in the world. In fact, Marseille, was deemed the cultural center of Europe in 2013. And, judging by the faces of the locals as well as the unofficial and official quartier names, it still holds this title. With the variety of people living in France, there’s bound to be a swap in ideas. In fact, I nabbed this recette from a French citoyen, or citizen, not from a citoyen of Inde, or India.

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*In general, I cook for 2 – unless otherwise noted.

Les ingrédients:

  • ½ melon, or cantaloupe (melon miel, or musk melon, will also work)
  • ½ concombre, or cucumber
  • 125g (or 1 individual cup) of yaourt nature 2%, or 2% plain yogurt (the percentage doesn’t really matter, but I used 2%)
  • échalote, or shallot (the échalote offers a better flavor than a purple onion, but a purple onion is better than no onion)
  • 1 tablespoon of coriandre fraîche, or chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon de sel, or salt
  • ½ teaspoon de poivre, or ground pepper (black pepper or white pepper work fine)
  • ½ teaspoon d’aneth, or dill weed

Les Consignes (directions):

First, remove all of the seeds from the melon. Then, remove the skin. I used a sharp knife to cut the melon into long, thin slices before removing the skin. I found this to be the easiest and less messy way to remove the skin. This recette only calls for ½ of the melon, so, if you’re not sure about what to do with the other ½, then you can save it for dessert.

Second, peel the échalote. 

Third, cut the melon, concombre, and échalote into small cubes and then mix them together in a bowl.

Fourth, add the yaourt nature to the fruit and vegetable mixture. Mix them together.

Fifth, chop the coriandre fraîche and then add it to the bowl. Mix.

Lastly, add the sel, poivre, and aneth to the bowl and mix. Then, serve.

Who knew that melon with vegetables and yaourt would taste so good? I had my doubts at first, but, I’m so glad I tried this recette!

**This recette is great because there will be left-over sauce. As the Aixoises, or French Aix locals, tell me, some portion of all of the recettes used in the south always incorporate a “left-over”. Mon chéri and I used this sauce with côtelettes d’agneau for one meal, and then had left-over sauce for 2 additional meals. We paired this sauce with des pâtes, or noodles, and then again with riz, or rice. It complemented both; however, I preferred it paired with the riz. That stereotype about French meals including small portion sizes is wrong. Very wrong. Especially since we weren’t the only couple to have had left-overs for 2 additional meals. ♦

Côtelettes d’agneau au cari

Aujourd’hui, I tried another “new” recette. That is to say, I tried a recette that I’ve never attempted before. It’s called, Côtelettes d’agneau au cari, aka lamb chops with curry. The recette took about 45 minutes to complete.

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*In general, I cook for 2 – unless otherwise noted.

Les ingrédients:

  • 4 lamb chops (4 were more than enough to feed 2 people)
  • 2 table spoons d’huile d’olive, or olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons de poudre de cari, or curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon de sel, or salt
  • ½ teaspoon de poivre, or ground pepper (black pepper or white pepper work fine)

Les Consignes (directions):

First, put 1 table spoon d’huile d’olive in a Cocotte Minute, or pressure cooker. If you don’t have a Cocotte Minute, a pot with a lid will also work.

Second, mix 1 table spoon d’huile d’olive, 1.5 teaspoons de poudre de cari, ½ teaspoon de sel, and ½ teaspoon de poivre in a bowl. Then, add the côtelettes d’agneau and mix well. Make sure the seasoning covers the côtelettes d’agneau.

Lastly, put the côtelettes d’agneau in the Cocotte Minute. Cook for about 15 minutes (based on côtelettes d’agneau from the fridge) or until the côtelettes d’agneau are no longer red on the outside and the juices are light pink. If you prefer your lamb well done, then cook it until the juices are clear. This website offers the ‘safe-to-eat’ temperatures of meat including côtelettes d’agneau: http://www.beefandlamb.com.au/Learn/Cooking_tips/Preparation_tips/How_to_tell_when_meat_is_ready_or_done. theAIXpatAIXperience is not affiliated with this website.

**A sauce that goes well with côtelettes d’agneau, or lamb chops is Raïta, an Indian sauce consisting of yogurt and vegetables/fruit. See raïta au melon et au concombre for the recette for the Raïta that I paired with these côtelettes d’agneau.

I pride myself on making recettes work on a budget; however, when I decided to switch up the meat and try this recette….well, I was in for a not-so-pleasant surprise. Who knew côtelettes d’agneau would be This expensive? I went to the local butcherie, which is cheaper than the supermarché, to buy 4 côtelettes d’agneau (had I been rich, I probably would’ve left with 8 côtelettes d’agneau); they rang up at 12€. On the surface, that’s not a bad price for côtelettes d’agneau; however, it’s not exactly the price an assistant de langue should be paying for meat for 1 meal. I felt only slightly guilty for this expenditure because it exceeded my expectations. This was my first time cooking côtelettes d’agneau, so, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Who knew that côtelettes d’agneau are incredibly easy to cook? Needless to say, those côtelettes d’agneau were worth 12€; however, I won’t be buying l’agneau, or lamb again for a while… For assistants de langue or others on a tight budget, this recette is a great once-a-month luxury. ♦

Poitrine de dinde rôtie aux pommes

The experience of being an AIXpat is exactly like the process of learning a foreign language: it’s fun, exhilarating, and, at times, frustrating. But, with the country’s culture at your fingertips, you have the freedom to fire up the cuisinière, or stove, and sauté your way through those frustrations. In fact, there’s no better way to find cultural acceptance than through the culture’s cuisine. So, why not try and mélange language acquisition with cooking?

Unfortunately, every language learner does not have the chance to experience the culture first-hand; however, every language learner can participate in cultural experiences through cuisine. Recipes hold insight into the culture, so, in this fashion, everyone can participate in cuisine culture whether or not there’s a fromagerie nearby. All you need is the recette, or recipe, and access to les ingrédients, or access to similar ingredients. According to Mamie*, it’s not always the exact ingredients that matter; “it’s the effort put forth into creating the dish and the outcome of the product that count the most.” This idea of ingrédient substitution is one of the cool things about most Provençal recettes – in fact, it dates back to the Provençal peasants who would create dishes using what was available at certain moments. So, roll up your shirt sleeves, break out the cutting board and knife, and get chopping! 

*Mamie is the grandma (and native Aixoise) of mon cheri.

On Friday’s, this blog will serve as a link between French cuisine and French language. I’ve found that learning the language is a lot more fun when food is involved, so, I’m sharing this bit of fun with you. S’il vous plaît, feel free to post comments of your own opinions and advice from creating the same recipe.

*In general, I cook for 2 – unless otherwise noted.

Aujourd’hui, I tried a “new” recette. That is to say, I tried a recette that I’ve never attempted before. It’s called, Poitrine de dinde rôtie aux pommes, aka roasted turkey breast in an apple-béchamel sauce. The recette took about 1.5 hours to complete.

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Les ingrédients:

  • 2 turkey breasts
  • 1 oignon, minced (I used a red oignon, but a yellow oignon would also work)
  • ½ paquet de lardon (½ the package of lardon, or 2 slices of bacon, each slice cut into smaller pieces)
  • 1 medium-sized pomme, or Apple (I prefer the flavor of Golden Delicious Apples, so, I used 1 Golden Delicious apple, but any brand of Apple will work)
  • 2 cloves of l’ail, or garlic
  • 1 can (or 200 grams) of petit pois, or peas
  • 2 teaspoons of sel, or salt
  • 2 teaspoons of poivre, or pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of persil, or parsley
  • 2 teaspoons of aneth, or dill weed
  • 3 table spoons of farine, or flour
  • 1 ¼ cups of lait, or milk
  • 1 chicken flavored bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • ½ cup of huile d’olive, or olive oil

Les Consignes (directions):

*Pre-heat the oven to 375F (190C).

First, put 1 teaspoon of sel, 1 teaspoon of poivre, 1 teaspoon of persil, and 1 teaspoon of aneth into a small bowl. Then, season the turkey breasts by putting them into the same bowl and mix. Make sure the seasonings cover both turkey breasts.

Second, pour ½ cup of huile d’olive into a pan on the stove (add more huile d’olive if necessary). Turn on the stove to about medium heat. Then, chop or mince 2 cloves of l’ail. Put the 2 cloves of l’ail into the pan. Then, put the seasoned turkey into the pan. Brown both sides of the turkey.

Third, once the turkey breasts are browned, remove them from the pan with a pair of tongs or a spatula. Place the turkey breast into an oven safe pot or casserole dish. Then, place the dish into the oven for about 25 minutes.

While the turkey breasts are in the oven, make the sauce.

To make the sauce:

First, mince or chop the oignon. Then, sauté  the oignon in the pan with the huile d’olive and l’ail. 

Second, when the oignon is starting to look translucent, then add the lardons (or bacon).

Third, cut the entire pomme into slices (toss the core with the seeds in the trash or feed it to the pigeons). When the lardons are tender, then add the slices of pomme into the pan.

Fourth, when the pomme starts to become soft, then add the lait and the bouillon cube. Stir until the bouillon is mixed into the milk.

Fifth, mix in the farine – a little bit at a time. Make sure that there aren’t any bumps of farine.

Sixth, once the farine has mixed into the lait and bouillon, then add the petit pois. Mix the petit pois with the ingrédients in the pan.

Lastly, as the petit pois become tender, add the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of sel, 1 teaspoon of poivre, 1 teaspoon of persil, and 1 teaspoon of aneth into the pan. Then mix for 30 seconds.

When the turkey breasts are finished cooking in the oven, use tongs or a spatula to put them onto separate plates. Pour the sauce onto each turkey breast and serve warm with a morsel of baguette.

*If you don’t have turkey breasts (or any form of thinly sliced turkey), then you can use porc; however, I have not yet tried this recipe with porc. Another substitution is with pasta. I had left-over sauce, so I mixed the sauce with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses for a macaroni-style dish. ♦

What did you like about this recipe? Did you try it with porc instead of turkey breasts?