France

Restaurant Review: La Galette Berichonne

10 April 2013

Fordland, MO is not exactly the culinary capital of the world. That’s why I was surprised to hear rave reviews about a French restaurant in Fordland called La Galette Berichonne. With a Gallic sense of skepticism, I decided to try it for myself.

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First Impressions. The building itself is modest but decorated with little French touches. Each meal came with a house salad and homemade vinaigrette and an abundance of freshly-made bread. All food is made from scratch using local ingredients whenever possible and the quality is reflected in the great taste of each dish.

The Menu. La Galette Berichonne is a bakery/cafe so the menu includes lots of pastries and sandwiches. A chalkboard lists the hot entrees, which change on a regular basis. Everything on the board looked good to me so I peeked into the open kitchen and asked the chef for his recommendation: he suggested the Seafood Croustade and I was favorably impressed with the result (see below for pictures).

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Seafood Croustade

Spinach quiche

Spinach quiche

Lamb

Lamb

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Fellow diners after a great meal (notice the open kitchen in the background)

Fellow diners after a great meal (notice the open kitchen in the background)

The Verdict. What a surprise to find authentic French fare (though in American-sized portions) prepared by a genuine French chef at very decent prices in the heart of nowhere! This restaurant is a real jewel.

Casual lunch? Date night? This restaurant would fit any occasion and any budget. One suggestion: call before you go. They are open different days for different meals, and even offer a once-a-month 7-course evening dinner for those who reserve well in advance. Chef Parny offers some culinary classes as well.

Why Fordland, MO? So why did Chef Roland Parny choose Fordland, a town of 684 situated 20 miles east of Springfield, for his restaurant? Apparently this part of Missouri is similar to Le Berry, the region of central France where Parny grew up. “Berichonne” means “from Le Berry” and “Galette Berichonne” is a savory stuffed pastry typical of Le Berry.

Bon appétit!

French Onion Soup

8 January 2012

 

French Onion Soup

I recently read on the cover of a magazine that January is “soup month.” Sounds good to me! There’s nothing as soothing on a cold day as a hot cup of homemade soup. Here’s a favorite recipe from our family vaults.

INGREDIENTS

2-3 cups sliced onions

2 TBS butter

4-5 cups water

1 cup white cooking wine

2 bouillon cubes

Salt, pepper to taste

Cubed French bread (day-old, crusty bread works best)

Grated Swiss cheese

DIRECTIONS

Brown onions in butter. Add water, wine, bouillon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer until onions are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Put cubes of bread into individual oven-proof serving bowls and sprinkle with a little grated cheese. Pour soup into each bowl and top with a generous additional amount of grated cheese.  Place the bowls under the broiler until  cheese is brown and crispy. Serves 4-5 people.

Bon Appétit! 

This Holiday Season, Eat the European Way

22 November 2011

When it comes to overeating, holiday potlucks and buffets are the ultimate danger zone. The temptation of a buffet, of course, is to taste everything. Keeping in mind these two steps (practiced for centuries by Europeans and gourmets) can help you navigate the buffet minefield and come away from parties satisfied, yet without the customary side dish of guilt.

STEP ONE: APPLY 3 BASIC GASTRONOMIC PRINCIPLES

1.      Enjoy with your eyes first. Appreciating the presentation of a dish (actually looking at your food and admiring it) enhances the taste of the food.

2.      Savor each bite. Savor first with your nose by noticing the smell of the food, then with your palate. Vocalizing your appreciation of the food’s qualities will guide your taste buds into noticing each subtle flavor and texture.

3.      Take your time. Don’t rush! Pause when you are intent in conversation to avoid mindless eating. Enjoy the atmosphere around you and breathe deeply as you dine.

 

STEP TWO: APPROACH THE MEAL AS A SERIES OF SMALL COURSES

If the event is casual enough, get up frequently from the table and return to the buffet for each “course.” For example:

1. Salad and Soup. By beginning with a soup and salad, your stomach starts filling up so the “I’m full” signal gets relayed sooner to your brain. Some tips to remember at the salad bar:

  • Start with a solid base of leafy greens
  • Add real veggies on top
  • Go for a rainbow of dark, bright colors
  • Avoid croutons and bacon bits
  • Clear dressings (simple vinaigrettes, for example) generally have fewer calories than creamy dressings (like ranch and thousand island)
  • Clear soups generally have fewer calories than creamy soups

2. Main Dish. Help yourself to a small portion of one entrée (beef, fish, chicken, pork) and two small sides – you can even have one small portion of bread. Or sample small portions (silver dollar size) of several entrees and sides, but only enough to fill a small plate, not a dinner plate. The key emphasis should be on moderation and the key word should be “small.”

3. Cheese and Fruit. Indulge in a few bites of cheese with crackers, and have as much fruit as you desire. The goal is for you to start feeling full around this point to avoid the grandfather of all pitfalls: dessert!

4. Dessert. By the time you get to this course, if you’ve focused on the presentation, smell and taste of your food and gotten up between courses to walk around, you should be filling up. Do a dessert sampler (1 ½ bites of anything that looks good to you or 1 small slice/portion of your favorite dessert; no ice cream unless that’s your whole dessert). Enjoy with coffee or other hot drink.

If you follow these steps, you’ll leave the buffet full but not stuffed. You’ll have exercised self-control but not lost any dining pleasure. You’ll be constantly amazed by the Lord’s creativity when it comes to food, with such a variety of colors, textures, flavors and smells. As the Psalmist wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

Day Dreams

8 November 2011

Today was a rainy one in the Ozarks, and my mind kept wandering from my work. I found myself thinking, “If I could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would I be?”

The answer: the luxurious Hotel George V in Paris, just off the Champs-Elysees.

Hotel George V

I’ve never been to the George V — and at over $1,000 per night for the cheapest room, I’m not likely ever to do so — but it’s a popular place among the world’s “Who’s Who” and it’s been featured in a lot of movies. All in all, not a bad choice for a day dream if you ask me.

Bedroom

Doesn’t it look fabulous? After checking into my room (and looking over all its amenities), I’d empty my suitcase and put everything away in the armoires and drawers. Or do they provide a valet, I wonder? That mission accomplished, I would amble down to the pool and have a nice leisurely swim in the indoor pool.

The Pool

I wouldn’t stay too long because I wouldn’t want to be late to my appointment at the spa. That would be my next stop. Let them massage away all those toxins and stressors! Thoroughly pampered and relaxed, I’d head back to my room and do some reading on the balcony overlooking the rooftops of Paris.

The Gallery

But then comes the toughest decision I’ve had to make all day: where to have dinner. Should I dine in style at Le Cinq, the Michelin-starred main restaurant? Or perhaps in the Gallery, one of the best places in all of Paris for people watching? Or call for room service and enjoy a candlelit dinner on the balcony? Tough choices.

Le Cinq

I think I’ll go with Le Cinq for tonight, and maybe have an after-dinner coffee in the Gallery. I’ll save in-room dining for breakfast, right before I check out and discover that a mysterious stranger has paid for my bill. *Sigh*

French Madeleines

30 October 2011

Madeleines

Delicate and delicious, French madeleines are little shell-shaped tea cakes that pair perfectly with coffee or tea. Madeleines [mad-uh-LEHN] were a favorite childhood treat of mine. Even store-bought ones were great; I could eat them by the bagful. The lemon zest gives them a subtle citrusy flavor that reminds me of lemon poppy seed muffins without the poppyseed.

Note: You’ll need a special madeleine pan that can be purchased at most kitchen specialty stores for under $10.

Madeleine Pan

Madeleine Recipe from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar

a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan

Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Perfect with Tea

Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it’s brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.

While the melted butter is cooling, use the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to butter the pans. Dust with flour.

Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick – you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume – approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).

Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture. Only stirring enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 -3/4 full.

Bake the madeleines for 12 – 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines.

Super Simple Crepe Recipe

27 September 2011

After searching for years, I’ve finally found a simple but tasty crepe recipe that I can just throw together whenever I have a crepe craving. I used to be discouraged by the fact that it takes years of practicing fancy wrist maneuvers to make the perfect crepe, but fortunately a crepe of any shape and size tastes equally delicious. Crepes can be savory or sweet, depending on what you put inside. In France, there’s a whole gamut of crepes and “galettes” with a different recipe for every filling but this simplified recipe allows for maximum flexibility and will work as well for a fast, easy dinner as for a wonderful dessert.

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup water

2 TBS butter, melted

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

    1. Combine first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add in dry ingredients, whipping until smooth.
    2. Lightly oil a griddle or crepe pan and heat to medium-high.
    3. Holding the griddle off the heat, use a ¼ cup measure to scoop out batter onto the griddle. Immediately tilt the pan in a circular motion so the batter spreads over the surface.
    4. Cook for a minute or two, monitoring the surfaces and edges of the crepe. Flip the crepe with a spatula when edges start to curl and “bubbles” have formed over most of the surface.
    5. Cook for about a half minute to a minute on the other side, then set aside and repeat for the next crepe.

Nat’s Notes:

  • Crepes are best served hot right off the griddle — but in a pinch they can be reheated for a few seconds in the microwave.
  • To serve crepes, fold them either in triangles, or “enchilada style,” or if there’s a bunch of filling, fold up the sides so that the crepe looks like an overweight man in a jacket that’s too small for him.
  • Try a savory ham and cheese crepe. Heat griddle to medium and stick already-made crepe back in the pan. Quickly add pieces of ham, grated Swiss cheese and a dollop of sour cream, fold up the crepe with a spatula and heat under cheese has melted.
  • Try a sweet crepe with your choice of “healthy” fillings like (a) powdered sugar, (b) Nutella, (c) Nutella and banana, (d) granulated sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, (e) jam or preserves, (f) vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce. Yum!

Salade Niçoise

8 September 2011

Salade Nicoise

The Salade Niçoise [nee-SWAHZ] originated in Nice, a Mediterranean city in Southern France. So it’s probably no surprise that it’s infused with subtle reminders of Provence and the sea. There are dozens of ways to make this salad, so the information below should be used more as a guideline than as a recipe. Adapt the ingredients in creative ways according to your personal taste — but do at least try the anchovies! Serves two.

Ingredients

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 TBS minced shallot

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 TBS fresh parsley, minced

2 cups mixed young greens (or any salad leaves, liked Boston lettuce), washed and hand-torn into large pieces

2 small waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold), boiled, peeled, cut into wedges

1 hard-boiled egg, cut into wedges

1 cup cooked green beans (can be from a can, in a pinch)

1 large tomato, cut into wedges

1 can (8 oz) oil-packed tuna, drained

6 oil-cured olives (preferably niçoise, but Kalamata would work)

6 anchovy fillets

 

Directions

In a small bowl, make vinaigrette by combining vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper and whisking together while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Toss the potatoes in the vinaigrette until coated. Arrange a bed of lettuce in a couple of shallow bowls or on a platter. Divide up the ingredients and add potatoes, egg, green beans, tomato wedges to the bed of lettuce. Top with tuna, olives, and anchovies. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on top of salad and pass around the rest. Voila! Bon appétit!

PrayerWalk Paris — Walk 1 (Sneak Peek)

7 September 2011

Notre Dame, ParisThe Historic Heart of Paris

Ile de la Cité & Ile St. Louis

Summary of Area

It is thought that Paris began around 250 BC as a primitive Celtic fishing village on Ile de la Cité, a little island in the middle of the Seine. Ile St. Louis, the other island in the Seine, is tree-lined and picturesque these days but was a swampy pastureland prior to development efforts in the 17th century. Today, Ile St. Louis houses one of the most exclusive residential neighborhoods of Paris. Enjoy centuries of natural and man-made history as you walk from the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame to King Louis IX’s intimate royal chapel, Sainte-Chapelle.

Key Facts

      • Starting Point: Point Zéro (metro: St. Michel; Cité)
      • Finishing Point: Palais de Justice (metro: Cité)
      • Days to Avoid: None
      • Length of Walk: 1 mile 1/2
      • Time Needed: 3 hours

1. Point Zéro

Point Zéro (also Kilomètre Zéro) is a circular bronze plaque on the ground about 30 yards from the central doorway of Notre-Dame that marks the geographical center of Paris. It is also the spot from which all highway distances in France are measured. The equestrian statue to the right as you face the church is of Charlemagne (“Charles the Great”), known as the first Holy Roman Emperor. Catholicism was the “politically correct” religion of the French people until the Revolution in 1789.

 

2. Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Free admission; church open daily; hours vary depending on day of the week: 8:00 am-6:45 pm weekdays, 8:00 am-7:45 pm weekends. Free English tours available. Visit early in the morning when the cathedral is at its brightest and least crowded. Free organ concert on Sunday afternoons. Website: www.notredamedeparis.fr

It took 170 years to create the Gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame de Paris, with its flying buttresses, rose windows of stained glass, 295-ft spire, two massive towers and host of gargoyles. The colorful windows were designed to tell Bible stories in pictorial form to an illiterate populace.

Kings and emperors were crowned and blessed in Notre-Dame. It was here in December 1804 that Napoleon took the imperial crown out of the hands of Pope Pius VII and laid it on his own head, as depicted by Jacques-Louis David in his painting Coronation of Napoleon, which now hangs in the Louvre.

Notre-Dame is designed in the shape of a Christian cross, with the altar where the crossbeam intersects. The cathedral can hold up to 10,000 people and often does so when hosting classical music concerts. The South Rose Window depicts Christ in the center, surrounded by virgins, saints, and his twelve apostles while the North Rose Window pictures the Virgin encircled by figures from the Old Testament.

Prayer Points:

  • For the warmth of the Gospel to envelop Parisians who have only known the coldness of an impersonal religion.
  • That a genuine, transforming encounter with Christ would replace ritual and religiosity.
  • That the complete story of Christ would be preached: that the hope of his resurrection might replace the sadness of his death.
  • That the spiritual walls of stone and gates of iron that have separated a “religious” people from their Savior since the Middle Ages would be broken down.

Point to Ponder: Sitting in one of the hundreds of wooden chairs in the nave, feel the coldness of the stone and how far away God seems among the gilt and statuary. This is the god of millions of Parisians: a distant, cold and impersonal deity.

Take a Break: The café directly to your right as you exit the cathedral is a wonderful place to sit and reflect on what you’ve just seen. It’s called Aux Tours de Notre-Dame and though pricey – as are all cafés in Paris – you can enjoy a good cup of coffee and a sweet snack that will help you through the rest of your sightseeing. And you’ll need energy, especially if you plan on climbing to the top of the towers. This side street is a great place to buy postcards, too.

Tip: Candles in Churches. In visiting the many churches of Paris, you may be tempted to buy some candles to burn. Before you do, consider that – though they look pretty – Catholics consider candles an integral part of their sacred ritual of praying to saints and to Mary.

3. Towers of Notre-Dame

Visitor Information – Admission: €8 adults, €5 ages 18-26 (must meet certain conditions) and seniors, children under 18 are free. Tower entrance covered by museum pass but no bypass line for pass holders. Open daily 9:30 am-7:30 pm, with seasonal variations. To avoid crowds, arrive before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm.

To get to the top of the towers of Notre-Dame, you must climb 387 spiral stone steps that get narrower as you get closer to the top. The reward for such painful labor is a breathtaking view of Paris. The towers are 246 feet high and the main bell, called the “Emmanuel” was last rung in 1944 to celebrate the liberation of France.

Gargoyle Fact: As you look out over Paris, notice the eerie stone creatures that are also gazing down on the city and have been doing so for centuries. These gargoyles are meant to represent souls caught between heaven and earth. Their main practical function, however, is as rain spouts.

Take a Break: Square Jean XXIII, behind the cathedral, is a delightful place to eat a picnic lunch, to read, or to watch people.

4. Ile St. Louis

Charming, enchanting, and picturesque, Ile St. Louis is quintessential Paris. Among the attractions of this quaint little island are the 17th century hôtels, cafés, chic restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques that line its main street, St.-Louis-en-l’Ile. The wealthy and the famous have resided here for centuries. The best way to view this tiny island may be to wander through the streets without any specific trajectory.

Lines at Berthillon can stretch around the block

Tip: There’s a post office here that may be a convenient place to buy stamps for your postcards. Ask for stamps for the United States:“Des timbres pour les Etats-Unis, s’il vous plait”. Show them your postcards so they know what the stamps are for. Try your French but they will probably respond to you in English.

Take a Break: Berthillon, an ice cream parlor on Ile St. Louis, is famous for having the best ice cream in Paris. Their selection includes over 70 varieties. Order a single-scoop (“Un cornet seul”) or a double (“Un cornet double”). Note that eating ice cream in-house is usually more expensive than ordering to go. Berthillon, 29-31 rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 75004; Open Wed-Sun 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Closed Mon, Tue, and August.

French Profiteroles — My Favorite Dessert Ever!

16 April 2011

In France, our special occasions were celebrated with ice-cream-filled profiteroles, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with sparkler candles. For years, I’d wanted to make this dessert like my mom had, but dreaded the time and effort that would go into making it. Turns out, yes, there are a lot of steps, but it’s actually surprisingly simple (and amazingly delicious)!

Profiteroles

This recipe is from www.joyofbaking.com.

INGREDIENTS

Choux Pastry

Choux Pastry

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp granulated white sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup (4 TBS) unsalted butter

1/2 cup water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Egg Wash Glaze

1 large egg

Pinch of salt

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 TBS unsalted butter

1/2 TBS cognac or brandy (optional)

Filling

Vanilla Ice Cream 

DIRECTIONS

Choux Pastry: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Baked Choux

In a bowl sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon or spatula, quickly add the flour mixture. Return to heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about a minute or two). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat on low speed a minute or two to release the steam from the dough. Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick sticky paste. Spoon or pipe 12 mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing them a couple of inches apart. Beat together the egg and salt for the glaze. With a pastry brush, gently brush the glaze on the tops of the dough.

"Choux" or Cream Puff

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for a further 30 or 40 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are dry inside. Turn the oven off and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. (The puffs can be frozen. Defrost the puffs and then reheat in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until crisp. Cool before filling with ice cream.)

Chocolate Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur. Use immediately. (The ganache can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.)

To assemble: Split the pastry shells in half, fill the bottom halves of the shells with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and replace the top. Drizzle each profiterole liberally with warm chocolate ganache. Serve immediately. 

Enjoy!

Nat’s Notes:

  • As a substitute for parchment paper, which I did not have on hand, I used paper cupcake liners.
  • Make sure that your oven is hot before baking the choux: a hot oven helps create the hollow inside that profiteroles need.
  • Be sure to cook the choux until they are no longer moist inside. Take one out towards end of baking time to test.
  • If a little moisture is left, simply scoop it out before filling with ice cream and covering with drizzle.
  • For variety, try filling with chocolate, coffee, or pistachio ice cream

Lentils and Love

22 March 2011

I wish I could attach a “scratch-n-sniff” plug-in so you could get a whiff of the heavenly aroma wafting through our kitchen right now.

Mom and I are making lentil soup. Athough this may not sound very exciting, we are cooking up memories to last a lifetime. The windows are open for the first time this season, letting in the fresh spring breeze, birds are chirping cheerfully, our Korean neighbor is kneeling over her vegetable garden, and I’m enjoying learning from my mother how to fix this simple and delicious dish.

As the lentils simmer on the stove, I’ve been thumbing through the 456-page tome on French cooking that I received yesterday and came across this beautiful quotation by Chef Henri Faugeron:

“If the science of nutrition is an act of the mind, the art of nourishing one’s neighbor is above all an act of love.”

An example is given of a prominent French chef of the early 1900s whose friend, author Marcel Proust, often came to dine. The chef would fix grand meals for the writer in exchange for one of his fabulous stories. And once, when Proust was out of sorts and had no appetite, the chef made it his mission to entice him by making a special omelet stuffed with fresh, minced truffles cooked in cream sauce. It worked: Proust devoured the meal and was full of gratitude towards his friend.

What a wonderful concept! Food as a way of sharing love with a friend, a neighbor, a loved one. Those of us who love cooking sharing with those who do not or have not. Those who love eating filling our hearts with contentment as we watch them taking pleasure in the food we’ve prepared.

How blessed we are. Every day we have the opportunity to share this little act of love with one another.

Lord, help me cherish today. Help me to be thankful for a nose that can smell, a palate that can taste, ears that can hear, eyes that can see, and a mind and hands that can work together to make something nutritious to eat and to share.

(Click here to see our French lentil recipe)

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