Sunday, November 2, 2008

American Toast? Hell no...

Who said French toast was an American food anyway?  Pain perdu, French for "lost bread" can be equally enjoyed here in Paris.  Of course, only Americans it seems enjoy it for breakfast, but who cares?

Last night I restrained myself from eating the entire baguette and saved some for this morning.  Slightly stale and unappealing to eat, I sliced the demi-baguette into about half inch slices.  This bread would not be lost!  

Then I whipped up a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt to soak the slices in.  After soaking the slices in the liquid for a few minutes, it was time to Frenchify the toast.  In a liberally buttered skillet (think Paula Deen), I placed each slice until it was a golden-ishy brown, and then popped it in the oven to finish up with a sprinkle of salt on top to make the crust that much sweeter.

The final touch was a brown sugar and cinnamon butter that I stirred together while the toast hung out in the oven.  Once the toast was was all warm and delicious, I dabbed a dollop of the sweet butter on top of each morsel of bread where it began to melt and dribble all over the plate.  It tasted familiar, yet decidedly French. I’m convinced it was the butter.  It’s just better here!

French toast in France – what a novel idea.  

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Dear Sweet Pumpkin...

I needed a fix, and I needed it now.  But Paris was not serving up pumpkin pie–ANYWHERE.  So I took matters into my own hands.  I printed some recipes, approximated some measurements, and took the plunge.

The hardest part (well, not really hard) was finding canned pumpkin.  Thanks to Bon Marché, one of the classy department stores in Paris, I was able to find a section in the gourmet grocery dedicated to the USA and its products.  I didn’t recognize any of the brands, b

ut I found canned pumpkin for about 3 Euros all the same.  Naturally I bought 3 cans.

The pie was surprisingly easy to make.  I used a few different recipes to accommodate changes in ingredients (example, there is no evaporated milk here, just a much sweeter condensed milk).  But I mixed the eggs, sugars, milks, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin together until it was a creamy consistency.

The next hurdle was the crust, since Paris doesn’t sell pie shells like they do in the US.  I had to go buy a metal pie tin (reusable at least!).  Then I bought a rolled-up tart shell that you lay into the pie pan.  I filled it up with the mixture, gave the crust a quick egg wash, and popped it in my Celsius oven.  Thank you, Google for converting 350 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius.

The result was a delicious-looking golden pie and an apartment perfumed with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Amazing!  The next morning, I toted the pie through the Parisian metro where I received all sorts of stares of confusion.  Pie, in the metro?  What can this mean?

I arrived safely at work where my French colleagues were eager to try this odd pastry.  The results were unanimous.  By 10AM the pan was nearly empty, but for a small morsel for the work study student.  It was sweet, but surprisingly pumpkin-tasting, unlike any pie I had tried in the States, and dare I say, better than any I had tried in the states!  Cut back on the sugar, people, it’s a PUMPKIN pie, after all! 

Fall is here!

Bienvenue a Paris!

My how four weeks can go by without an update! We’ll let the photos do the talking to see how my Parisian cooking has fared so far.  The grocery bill has been tight, and the cooking space dismally small, but I think there have been some successes overall. Take a look!
Chicken nuggets anyone?  You don't need to go to McDonald's for these delights.  And carrots cooked in butter and brown sugar make it seem almost healthy!  The mustard is a mix of dijon and pure honey, giving you a real honey mustard that's spicy and sweet at the same time.
Pasta tossed with chicken and dried basil is simple and economic.  I like to throw some butter and a splash of olive oil to keep the pasta from drying out while in the pan.
This was a winner.  Homemade tomatoe sauce with lentils -- just stew some canned tomatoes with a dash of tomato paste and the spices of your choice.
You see, there isn't a whole lot of room.  But I make it work.

And there's always a baguette somewhere in the house.
This is one of my favorite.  Coucous is a regular in the kitchen, boiled with some chicken boullion. But the chicken is this dish's star.  Cooked with sun dried tomatoes and onions in olive oil, it's a taste of Italy with the flufffy and soft couscous.
This dish was sinfully simple.  It even looks easy.  It's just some scrambled eggs alongside penne and carrots.  Not surprising, but suprisingly filling.
I slaved over a pot of tomato sauce all night.  I added green olives, onions, carrots, and eventually lentils over some penne.  The sauce tasted better than anything out of a jar.  

This one was really savory.  I made some couscous with carrots (because both are extremely cheap) served up with sautéed sausage and onions.  The perfect meal after a day at work.