Saturday, January 30, 2010

French Dinner Deux

Is it possible to cook French on a budget? The answer is: Oui!

I did not want to go out shopping for too many groceries for French Night. At the end of the month, it's usually the end of our finances too. I rummaged through my fridge to see what I had and planned a simple, but still tasty French menu.

I marinated the chicken legs with rosemary, oregano, thyme, minced garlic & olive oil for two hours in the fridge. Baked it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hr. 20 mins. I love the smell and taste of fresh herbs. The French are known for utilizing their local herbs to enhance the food.

For the side dish, I baked a Vegetable Tian (recipe by Barefoot Contessa). I served dinner with real French Baguette not the one from Sams.......... and what would dinner be without French wine?

I bought a bottle of French Press simply because....well.....the Eiffel Tower! To my surprise I quite enjoyed this wine. Smooth and easy to drink. I might just keep the label.
To finish off all the goodness last evening, I served Ile Flottante (floating island) also by the Barefoot Contessa. Rich, sweet, frothy, creamy, crunchy floating island that I wouldn't mind diving into daily. But I am watching my mid-drift.......

Every time we dine on French food, the anticipation of going to Paris to experience the authentic cuisine increases. We are in the process of finding the largest Piggy Bank online to start saving for our trip, which we estimated would cost at least $10K to got to Europe with 3 kids and stay for 3 weeks. Estimated time of departure, 2 years. Paris in the Fall!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Les Choristes

Last night, I checked out a French movie from the library called Les Choristes (The Chorus). It's a movie about a man named Clement Mathieu, who takes a job as a prefect at a troubled school for boys. He uses his music, that he had neglected for years, to form a Chorus out of an unruly bunch of kids, at a school with a strict and overbearing headmaster. The outcome is miraculous and changes the pupil's lives forever.

My husband and I were both so enthralled in the movie from the get go. It was such an inspirational story and a story about looking past what is evident to most. We are all born with flaws and shortcomings and living lives as a result of our environment. It takes special people that can look at our true essence and approach us with kindness, humility, and love to break down our barriers.

Please see this movie. You will not be disappointed.

This is a recording of me saying a line out of the movie in French, which means "Thank you sir Mathieu." I loved it so much because it's a tongue twister, but so eloquently French. Let me know how I did. I will find myself calling everyone Monsieur Mathieu when I visit Paris, because it is the only phrase I learned.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baeckeofe & Wine

Saturday, I wanted to cook a French meal, since my French is struggling. I called my husband at work to declare that he would arrive home to a plate of Baeckeofe.

"A plate of what?", he asked.


"Alright, here's the deal honey.....if you're going to get all French on me, we need to get on board together. Can you hire a tutor to come to the house and teach all of us the language, so you don't drive me insane with your new project?"

"I would love to," I squealed.

I have a wonderful group of friends and family that humor me with my crazy ideas, especially when food is involved.

I am reading a book called Au Revoir To All That by Michael Steinberger that investigates the down spiral of French cuisine, wine, cheeses, and the disappearance of bistros & brasseries. One of my fave French blogs called Paris Breakfasts mentions the book as well, so stop by and say Bonjour.

In the introduction, he reminisces about eating at Au Crocodile in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France where he has baeckeofe (a traditional Alsatian stew made of potatoes, onions, carrots, leeks, and several different meats). He was so impressed with Chef Jung's version of baeckeofe, that I found myself drooling on page one just reading about it.

"I must cook that", I thought.

I will Google the recipe. (Click on the recipe for the recipe). Please visit the metric conversions site for those of you, like me, that have no idea how many grams are in a pound.

It's a labor of love that begins a day before. First by marinating the ingredients in Alsatian Riesling ($14/bottle). It was painful to watch it all go in the pot and not have a glass myself. I squeezed a drop out of the bottle, felt much better after that. I definitely belong in France.....

After it marinates for 24 hours, you layer the bottom of a casserole dish with sliced potatoes. Then fill it in with the marinated vegetables and meats.

And finish it with one more layer of potatoes on top before covering it with a lid. I cooked it covered for 4 hours infusing my home with the heavenly smells of the garlic, onions, and herbs in this dish.

I served it with some "baguette" from Sam's Club (I realize that's blasphemy), a side of greens with Dijon vinaigrette, and a glass of Fat husband thought I was making a reference to him that night, but I assured him I wasn't.

The meat was so tender and the Alsatian Riesling was wonderful to dip your "baguette" into. We ate and ate until we popped.

My children were a bit taken back by the "pork feet" in the dish and all the onions.

"Mom, will you be cooking French a lot?" they despairingly inquired with their uni brows.

"Just once a week. Did you like it?"

"The meat was fine, but all that other stuff was weird."

They instantly fell in love with French cuisine when I placed the Chocolate Lava Cake with a scoop of ice cream on their plates.
After dinner, we talked about our future plans for Paris. Mostly about boutiques and restaurants.

I haven't given up on the language. I still practice my "word-of-the-day" and I know how to say "Where is the toilet?" a definite must!

Au revoir...'Til next time........

Friday, January 22, 2010

French Giveaway

How could you not love blogging? It allows you to enter giveaways. Free stuff! I am especially excited this morning because, the giveaway at Joyously Living Life is for an Emile Henry Pink Pie Dish. Made in France.....ooooohhhhh lala........

So hop on over and enter for your chance to win. I really want to win it but if I can help someone else bring a little French into their lives, I will be just as content.

Au revoir. Til next time.....and good luck!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

Did I really think that I could learn French by listening to a CD? Why....yes, I did! Do I still believe that? Absolutely NOT.

There are so many silent n's and h's and slurred r's and nasal em's and om's. The French lady on audio speaks a lot faster than I am capable of repeating. I rewinded and rewinded and my tongue got tangled. Maybe I should begin my French immersion in the patisserie. I am much more fluent in creme brulee......

Well, point taken today. I must sign up for French lessons with a teacher. One that can correct my botched French, time and time again. One with a lot of patience. At my age, picking up a new language is like trying to go clubbing with my girlfriends until 4 AM. It can be done, but not with a lot of grace.

I know I can visit my beloved Paris in English, but I really really want to speak "the language of love." It would make me sound more sophisticated, more French.

Bonsoir, mesdames et messieurs!

Paris, Here I Come....Kids And All

I started this blog to document my attempts at becoming "French" before going to Paris. I cannot afford to go at this very moment, but I fantasize about the day that I can.

Paris had everything that I love. Food, pastries, fashion, the Eiffel Tower, and a romance language that I will attempt to speak myself. I am planning on doing an Eliza Doolittle transformation. Remember My Fair Lady? That's me. A girl from the mountains who will strive to speak French, dress French, eat French, and live French, to see if I can fool the French when I go to Paris.

I have all of my French cassetts in place, books, fashion catalogues, cookbooks, home decor books, etc. I will do all the research necessary to immerse myself in the French culture here in the United States. I am so excited! Maybe a bit of a mid-life crisis or being a stay-at-home mom for 7 years, not quite sure. I just wanted to take on a new challenge.

Au revoir! VKU5F8D3G63E 'Til next time...........