French Archive

Thursday, December 28, 2006

coq au vin

brown-braised baby onions

Despite it being an amateurish cliché, blaming your mother and all, I have to insist because it’s completely her fault that that anything less than Julia Child’s coq au vin with brown-braised baby onions and sautéed mushrooms on Tuesday night would be inedible, cruel beyond comparison. You see, she is the one who after reading the post about my unending obsession with Paris and French food, bought me My Life in France, which is akin to putting a loaded, I don’t know — egg beater? in my infatuated hands. I am but 75 pages into the book and I’m ready (and not for the first time) to book my one-way ticket. If nothing else, I plan to hold my breath or at least cut off bacon-and-meat kitchen dallies until my husband sends me to the Cordon Bleu.

The book speaks to me, though. Julia, like myself, was newly-married when she went to Paris and not entirely sure what she wanted to do when she grew up. She fell in love with the French approach to food — making chicken taste more “chickeny,” I believe she said — and had the time to experiment. In case the volume on this site doesn’t clue you in, so do I, and more importantly, I did on Tuesday, bestowed on me by my wonderful corporate overlords in the form of an additional day off.

coq au vin

Of course, being a bit more lazy and recalcitrant that our heroine, I lollygagged in front of the television eating a soggy bowl of Shredded Wheat until nearly 3 p.m. before finally getting up the energy to walk four blocks to the store, thus beginning a dish at nearly 5 p.m. that took many hours to make. But my oh my; it’s not that I should be surprised that a dish of chicken cooked in a sauce of bacon, red wine, beef stock and butter would be outstanding, but I didn’t think my husband would declare it the best chicken dish he’d ever eaten, because that boy, he eats a lot of chicken. (He later abridged this to say that my chicken marsala is his favorite, but I think he’s wrong.)

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, December 17, 2006

short ribs bourguignon

short ribs bourguignon

Living in a 660 square foot apartment makes in impossible for us to host Thanksgiving dinner, which is too bad because you just know I’ve got that meal all planned out in my head, from the cornbread-chorizo stuffing to the turkey recipe and root vegetable gratin, ready and waiting for the day we get a dining room table! (Also, a dining room. Details.) We also can’t host the major Jewish holidays or but when we asked for the less-popular or significant Hanukah, we were deemed acceptable hosts so long as we don’t poison anyone, so for the second year now, we’ve run with it.

potato latkes

We started with basic potato latkes last night, another Food & Wine recipe from the latke-vodka party feature. (I had made the zucchini latke the day before.) After reading countless articles and blog entries about the glories of deep-frying in peanut oil — it’s supposed to be lighter, have a less-greasy after-effect and a very high smoking point — I used it for the fritters this year, draining them on layers of paper towels and now consider myself converted, too. Although potato pancakes are not deep-fried per se, you need a good slick of it in the pan to get that golden brown, crispy effect so there are many rules that carry over, such as the need for a very hot pan. Despite it’s declining popularity, I’m still partial to non-stick when I cook fritters, at least for the time being as I love the guarantee that they’ll slide right out of the pan even if they land in a oil-free spot as our stove is perennially unleveled.

presents!

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

onion soup

onion soup

We could speak about the meaning of life vis-a-vis non-consequential/deontological theories, apodictic transformation schemata, the incoherence of exemplification, metaphysical realism, Cartesian interactive dualism, revised non-reactive dualism, postmodernist grammatology and dicey dichotomies. But we would still be left with Nietzsche’s preposterous mustache, which instills great anguish and skepticism in the brain, which leads (as it did in his case) to utter madness. I suggest we go to Paris instead. — The Principles of Uncertainty

It’s really not news to anyone, but I have an unhealthy obsession with Paris. I would move there in a second. I want to live in a place where flavor, history and culture of food is more important than the policing of it; where the old buildings aren’t torn down to make room for the new and the granite counter-topped and where I would never eat hundreds and hundreds of dollars in medical fees and be told I should be glad to have insurance at all. Making pastries, bread, cheese the very old way and other exhausting endeavors are considered honorable professions and I know, I know I only see Paris through rose-colored glasses but this is the unending gift of getting engaged there, two years ago today.

Also, ahem, this lovely husband.

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, August 26, 2006

moules à la marinière

moules mariniere

In the two years since I’ve rejoined the meat-eating world after a 15-year absence, I’ve re-immersed in, I’d like to think, a considerable range of flesh. There’s been more chicken than you can shake a drumstick at (sorry, couldn’t resist), turkey, pork, beef and even some new things at tablecloth-ed restaurants like duck and quail. But, I’ve sorely lacked in my embracing of les fruit de la mer and this constantly mocks me on my journey to become the kind of eater that embraces everything edible. (I heard Ruth Reichl say a few weeks ago that the only food she simply will not eat is honey. Just one thing! And it’s honey!)

My issues with seafood are more than an aversion; they’re a reaction. It’s the type of nonsensical thing better explained in a Psychology 101 textbook than a food blog, but it basically unravels like this: I see a spectacular presentation of seafood on a menu or my husband’s plate and I yearn for it, but when a single fork-speared bite gets within an inch of my mouth, I go into bloodhound mode, finding some otherwise undetectable unpalatable “fishiness” and I abruptly panic. It’s such a strong, specific and illogical reaction – to not take a bite of something that appeals to you – I’ve said to my husband (an avid eater of smoked, boiled, broiled, breaded, fried, poached, shelled and de-shelled seafood of every color and shape) on more than one occasion that I wish I could just go to a hypnotist to help me “snap out of it.” He thinks I am kidding; I am not. Never doubt a woman quoting Moonstruck.

baked pommes frites

Continued after the jump »


css.php