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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

When you are running errands in the city – like taking back library books – there’s nothing quite like an impromptu terrace dinner date.

Once we finished our errands, LP was all like, “I’m hungry.” And I was all like, “Me too.” So I decided a tartine (i.e. open-faced sandwich-like thing that’s oh, so French) sounded good. We made our way to L’Epicerie and called it a date. I had an amazing turkey and veggie salad tartine and LP got rillettes de canard. Dang! After our tartines, it was time for ice cream at Toscani.

For the past week I have been making daily visits to Toscani (conveniently around the corner from L’Epicerie). In fact – the woman behind the counter knows me and expects me to over indulge with at least three scoops on a cone. Serious! Tonight, however, I was not able to do it. I could only manage a single scoop. I did find out their opening hours – maybe tomorrow before catching my flight I’ll get a triple scoop.

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It sounds fancy – doesn’t it? Gratin de légumes – it’s really just French for veggie casserole. Funny thing is, casserole is a French word. Weird, I know!

Occasionally (let’s not kid ourselves – 5 nights out of 7), I am uninspired when it comes to dinner and would rather nosh than prepare something. Last night was one of those nights, but I pulled myself together and figured out how I could maximize my time by preparing something hearty that would go to feed us for a few meals…

I found some green beans in the freezer, carrots in the veggie bin of the fridge, a few German potatoes and a head of cauliflower. What do you do with that? If you’ve a few cups of milk and some grated cheese and about 30 minutes of prep time, then you’ve got a meal.

Gratin de légumes:
1/2 head cauliflower – stem included
3-4 carrots
2-3 large potatoes
2 cups frozen green beans
1 onion
2 T butter
2 T flour
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese – I prefer Emmental, but any would do
1 garlic clove cut in half
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit.
Butter a casserole dish and rub one half of the garlic clove all over the dish.

Making the Béchamel sauce (a.k.a. white sauce):
Melt butter in large sauce pan. Whisk in flour bring to boil. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup of milk until the flour mixture is incorporated. Put back on heat and bring to boil. Slowly add the rest of the milk and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. It will thicken and be ready for use. Here’s where you add salt and pepper. I don’t salt because the cheese is salty enough for my taste. You can also make the butter/flour mix with some garlic, but I use garlic at a later step.

While the sauce is simmering prepare your veggies.
Chop cauliflower, carrots and potatoes into bite-sized pieces and parboil in large pot all together for a few minutes. Chop onion, but don’t boil. Toss in the frozen green beans at the end.  Drain veggies. Now you will have steaming hot veggies and steaming hot sauce. Careful not to burn yourself (like I did).

Preparing the dish.
I layer the veggies (here add your onions) and sauce and cheese in the casserole dish until it’s all used up. You can add some cheese to the Béchamel sauce before mixing with the veggies, too. Make sure you save enough cheese left for a generous layer on the top (it’ll get golden brown and crunchy – yum).

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden.

Jim made a couple of Cape Cod-ish drinks for our apéro (which made me feel very adult).

I served it with Bratwurst cooked on the stove top, but it’s good with a green salad or just by itself. The leftovers will feed you and another person for at least two more meals – three if you’re not too much of a gourmand.

I hope you are inspired to make something delicious tonight.

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us and Eiffel Tower

Last week was amazing – it was an orgy of Parisian delights.

One of its forms was in that of a framboise macaron or raspberry macaron from the pâtisserie Rose Cannelle on rue Montmartre. From my days living in Montmartre and taking long walks to the Pompidou or the Latin Quarter with Jim, I came to know this not-so-of-the-beaten-path pâtisserie intimately. From the surrounding restaurants and shops, it’s unassuming but once you’re inside – BAM! – deliciousness all around.

My favorite way to enjoy this is with an espresso. But wait. The gluttony didn’t end with just a single macaron…no.

There’s also the crêpe stand just across the street from the Jussieu metro stop (not the same day as the macaron). The woman who makes them has been at it for over 25 years and at the same location. If you’re wondering what kind I had, well, I had two – one galette au beurre salé (that’s a savory buckwheat crêpe with salted butter and black pepper) and one crêpe caramel au beurre salé (that’s a salted caramel crêpe). Oh yes…delight!

It wasn’t just sweet indulgences either. We were treated like royalty while staying at our friends’ apartment a few nights. We had Portuguese chicken, delicious salad, homemade spicy croûtons, chocolate cake…my body was (is?) in shock. It could have been the champagne or was it the rakia?

All of the overindulgence and under sleeping is the cause for a bit of body fatigue.

So what is the best post-vacation cure? Soup.

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