Posts Tagged ‘french food’

Brillat-Savarin: Een kaas voor levensgenieters

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Koolhydraten zijn tegenwoordig taboe; eet u er teveel van dan wordt u (in willekeurige volgorde) dik, snel oud, lui en ziek. Tenminste, dat zeggen de ‘deskundigen’. Geen prettige gedachte als ik wachtend op mijn beurt bij mijn bakker in Frankrijk sta. Want ik moet bekennen dat het meestal niet blijft bij een eenzame croissant. Een knapperig stokbrood is bijna onvermijdelijk; voor later bij een heerlijk stuk kaas.
Lang voor Atkins dat deed had Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) ook al de oorlog verklaard aan koolhydraten. In 1825 publiceerde hij een van de meest toonaangevende culinaire meesterwerken ooit, de Physiologie du goût. Op een wetenschappelijke manier en vol aforismen die soms nog steeds bekend zijn (“Zeg me wat u eet en ik zal zeggen wie u bent”), beschreef Brillat-Savarin (behalve gourmand ook jurist en politicus) de kunst van het eten en het effect van voedsel op ons lichaam. Het boek, dat een paar maanden voor zijn dood verscheen werd een regelrecht succes en is in 1987 zelfs naar het Nederlands vertaald door Wina en Han Born.
In zijn boek verafschuwde hij bloem en zetmeel en beschreef meerdere voorbeelden van mensen met obesitas, allemaal verzot op aardappels, brood, rijst en suiker. Dit wetende is het vreemd dat een met rumstroop doordrenkte taart vol koolhydraten, de Gâteau Savarin, naar hem vernoemd is.
Dat een weelderig lekkere (doch zeer vette) kaas ook zijn naam draagt, begrijp ik wel. Over kaas was Brillat-Savarin namelijk zeer te spreken: “Un repas sans fromage est une belle à laquelle il manque un oeil” (Een maaltijd zonder kaas is als een schone zonder oog) en “Le fromage est le complément d’un bon repas et le supplément d’un mauvais” (Kaas vult een goede maaltijd aan en vult aan na een slechte maaltijd).
De geschiedenis van de Brillat-Savarin kaas, die voor maar liefst uit 75% vet in de droge stof bestaat, gaat terug naar het einde van de 19e eeuw. Hij heette toen ‘Excelisor’ of ‘Délice des gourmets’ en werd voor het eerst gemaakt in Forges-les-Eaux in de Seine-Maritieme, Normandië. Zijn huidige naam kreeg de kaas pas rond 1930 van Henri Androuët, een beroemde Maître Fromager uit Parijs. Behalve in Normandië wordt de kaas tegenwoordig ook in de Île-de-France en de Bourgogne geproduceerd.
Jong smaakt deze witschimmelkaas (in het Frans, een fromage à croûte fleurie) lichtzuur en mild; je proeft noten en misschien een zweempje truffel. Gerijpt wordt hij iets zouter en pittiger. Het is een romige, smeerbare en bijna boterige tripel crème kaas, wat betekent dat er tijdens de bereiding room aan de melk wordt toegevoegd. Heel toepasselijk wordt hij soms de foie gras onder de kazen genoemd. Een kaas die je naar mijn mening verplicht met brood eet, ondanks de waarschuwingen van Monsieur Brillat-Savarin en de hedendaagse angst voor koolhydraten. Want laten we vooral niet vergeten wat hij ook schreef: “Les animaux se repaissent; l’homme mange. L’homme d’esprit seul sait manger.” (Dieren voeden zich, de mens eet. Alleen de intelligente mens weet hoe hij eet.) Met andere woorden: proef en geniet! Met mate mag alles dus tot slot dit ondeugende advies: serveer bij de Brillat-Savarin kaas behalve goed brood een glas champagne en wat zoete dadels en je hebt een waar feestmaal.

Gepubliceerd in En Route najaar 2015
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Hachis Parmentier

fullsizerender-17Welcome to 2017, a new year in which I hope to continue bringing you recipes that will inspire you to get in the kitchen and make memories at your table! We had a restful and peaceful Christmas filled with copious amounts of love and good food — and oh was the food really good! From the three-course lunch at our favorite French restaurant, Bel Ami, which kicked off our vacation, to my husband’s traditional shrimp cocktail with whiskey (the best EVER!), to the lunch I had in Amsterdam with my teenage daughter at Dragon City, a Chinese restaurant she picked out which turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise! Authentic, well prepared food and great service. The Hong Kong milk tea (my first!) was ridiculously good!
As we were taking down the tree on Sunday and packing up yet another year of memories, I told Hans that as of Monday, we would be back to sensible eating. Though truth be told: breakfasts and lunches are like something straight out of a health food book, yet I can t seem to stop thinking about making French winter classics such as cassoulet, choucroute and tartiflette. After all, we’re smack in the middle of winter!
On Monday we had salmon with cauliflower mash and peas, but yesterday all I wanted was a hearty hachis parmentier, a warming dish of a meat filling topped with mashed potato which is similar to a cottage pie (usually made with beef) or shepherd’s pie (made with lamb). All of these recipes were traditionally made with the previous day’s leftovers. My recipe is made with lean beef (hey!) and topped with a mash made of mostly celeriac which is lower in carbs than potatoes and has a lovely earthy taste. Maybe not that bad after all? Ah well, perhaps we should just focus on enjoying the foods that go with the seasons. I’ll bring out the lighter fare when nature tells me it’s time to do so — and for now, that’s still a few months away!
Happy new year and I hope you enjoy my first recipe of 2017!
PS: Here’s a little video of the finished, steaming, dish!

Hachis Parmentier
Serves 4

  • 500g peeled celeriac, chopped into medium chunks
  • 200g peeled potatoes, chopped into medium chunks
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, needles finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 500g lean ground beef
  • 3 tbsps tomato puree
  • 3 tbsps red wine
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fleur de sel & freshly cracked pepper
  • 1tbsp flour
  • 100ml hot beef stock
  • 2 tsps Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsps crème fraîche
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • butter, to top the mash with

Preheat the oven to 180C, lightly grease a round 22cm oven dish with a little oil and place the dish on an oven tray covered with aluminum foil. Boil the celeriac and potatoes. Heat a little oil in a casserole and gently sauté the onion, carrot, garlic and rosemary for about 7 minutes. Increase the heat, add the beef and brown it well (about 5 minutes). Add the tomato puree, wine, sugar, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. Stir in the flour followed by the stock. Allow the dish to cook for about 8 more minutes. Drain the celeriac and potatoes, add the mustard, crème fraîche, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mash, leaving it rather chunky. Transfer the meat sauce to the oven dish and top with the mash. Run the prongs of a fork through the mash and top with slivers of butter and an extra grinding of fresh pepper. Bake for 25 minutes. Place the dish under a hot grill for a final 5-8 minutes and serve with a green salad and mustardy vinaigrette.

Haddock with Herbed Crème Fraîche Sauce

haddockI was very excited to find a small tub of Crème Fraîche d’Isigny Sainte-Mère at my local supermarket yesterday. My heart began to flutter, and I smiled like a kid at Christmas as I quickly grabbed that only jar and tucked it safely into my basket. It’s funny how I can get more excited about a tub of cream than a new pair of shoes.
For those who aren’t familiar, this is the mother of all creams. It has a velvety texture and a rich, slightly tart flavor. Once you’ve tried this crème fraîche, all others will just not cut it anymore.
So what did I make? A beautiful fish dish of line-caught Icelandic haddock served with steamed new potatoes and a silky, herbed crème fraîche sauce! Here’s the recipe!

Haddock with Herbed Crème Fraîche Sauce
Serves 4

  • 4 haddock fillets (approx. 150g each)
  • 3 tbsps flour
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 large knobs of good quality butter (it will make a difference, trust me!)
  • 1 tbsp mild olive oil
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 3 rounded tbsps  Crème Fraîche d’Isigny
  • 3 tbsps chopped chives
  • 2 tbsps chopped flat leaf parsley

Dry the haddock fillets with kitchen paper and slash them on the skin a few times. Flour and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Once the butter is melted and bubbling a little, add the fillets skin-side down and allow to cook for 3 minutes. Flip them over and give them another 3 minutes. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and keep warm. Add the wine to the pan, scraping up all the bits at the bottom. Leave to bubble for a few minutes. Stir in the cream and herbs and allow to bubble for a few more minutes. Plate the fillets and divide the herbed cream sauce over them.

 

Souvenirs de France

Returning home after vacation is never a joyous occasion. Not only because I have to leave my beautiful France behind, or because the two-day trip is exhausting (for some reason, the trip to France less so), but because unpacking, cleaning and piles of laundry await. I am always very intent on making sure everything gets going the moment we walk through the door — never in a million years, no matter how tired I am, could I leave the mess until the next day. That would just make it harder, in my opinion.
There is a best part about coming home, however — unpacking all my French souvenirs! Each item is carefully given a new spot in my kitchen and as I put everything away, I am already dreaming about what I will make, because yes, most of my souvenirs are the edible kind — or the drinkable. Have a look below and see what I took home with me this year!
PS: Not shown: a Caudalie face mask (love that brand!), Les Carnets de Julie: Un voyage gourmand en 140 recettes, and a beautiful bag which was a present from my hubby!

creme anglaise

Yes, yes. I can make this myself, but I have a soft spot for Alsa. The pretty packaging gets me every time!

fondant

Same comment as above. I haven’t tried this mix, but the photo sure looks appetizing!

galettes

The first time I purchased these cookies! I suddenly remembered them at our last stop at a French supermarket in Le Mans and immediately put them in my basket. Why are they so special? Well, these St Michel cookies were served at the local café in Duras this year, Café de la Paix, aka Chez Régine. Edible memories!

condiments

Bouquet garni, pink peppercorns, a mix of Guerande salt and piment d’Espelette (this should be heavenly on a steak!), and a few jars of Amora mustard, which my husband adores.

pudding

Vanilla flan mix. Yep, the retro packaging did it again for me.

alsa

This French baking powder has been a staple at my house for years. You guessed right — the packaging wooed me to begin with. I couldn’t imagine baking without that little Alsatian lady!

sausage

Duck sausage from René Pujol! Beacuse the southwest of France is duck country, and because I LOVE duck. 🙂 PS: I used to bring back tins of confit de canard, but now they’re imported by my local supermarket. Yeah!

confituredelait

My daughter loves this as a special treat on her Sunday croissant — and I can’t say I disagree with her. This stuff is nothing but creamy, sweet goodness! It’s also wonderful on crêpes! I am a big fan of the Reflets de France brand, too.

stock

Call me crazy, but I think the French version of the everday Maggi chicken stock cube is richer than the one I sometimes buy here. Or maybe it’s that special memory of making a chicken casserole on a cold night in Bourgogne years ago. We had arrived late in the afternoon at our lovely farmhouse, and I wanted to make a comforting chicken dinner. While Hans lit the fireplace, I cooked chicken in mustard cream sauce with these cubes. Of course, homemade is better, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! Oh, and the herb and olive oil cubes are a new for me. I bought them because they’re made with my favorite olive oil.

garlic

French violet garlic from the Tarn. Because the garlic is tied so beautifully and because those fat cloves are major morsels of flavor!

armagnac

Every once in a while, I love to end a Saturday dinner with my husband (or a dinner party) with a small cup of coffee and an Armagnac. I sometimes order this perfect combo after a dinner out in France. I am not a fan of strong drinks, so this is one tasty exception for me!

oil

Puget olive oil has been another staple at my house for years. I always stock up when I go to France. This one brings memories of cooking summer meals way up high in the mountains of the Ardeche. It was the first time I tried this oil, and I’ve loved it ever since.

pate

I came across these little pots of pâté from Lucien Georgelin at the local Duras supermarket. They had a huge crate not far from the entrance filled with a wide variety of flavors. I’ve never tried any of them, but check out the ones I got: Mediterranean pâté with chicken and lemon, Parisian pâté with ham and mushrooms, and Charentais pâté with champagne de Cognac!

mags

French magazine, for inspiration and to improve my French language skills!

wine

LOTS of wine (I still have a few boxes put away because there was no space on my rack). Most of them are from Duras, a few from Bergerac and some from Cahors. We like to make two wine trips per year: the summer wine haul comes from the southwest and the winter one comes from Bourgogne. Each bottle is saved for Saturday dinner. It’s like taking my taste buds back to the places I love!

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Most of my plates and cutlery come from French antique markets and vide-greniers. They have so much more charm than anything you can buy at a shop. In fact, I’m having my morning coffee from a French bowl right now! I bought these lovely plates from the yearly brocante market in Gensac a few weeks ago. All were purchased from kind, stylish French ladies who were very happy to pass them on to me.

 

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