Category: French


Pain……perdu, that is.

Alas, no nihonryouri this time. I’ve got outlines for some Jap food blog entries in my head, but right now, I felt like sharing one of my favorite breakfast dishes.

Mainly since I just finished eating it, and I realized that I haven’t updated this bloody thing for two months. Oops.

Anyhow….pain perdu. If you no speaka ze French, it means “lost bread”. As in, bread that’s gone stale, but is still more or less edible. And, if you don’t speak French, it’s pronounced “pan perdue”.

You might be familiar with a dish called “French toast”; if so, then prepare yourself for a revelation – this is pretty much the same thing.

Yes, French toast was invented by the French. Who would have guessed?

Sadly, I didn’t think of taking any pictures until I was finished. Because I was hungry. Because I hadn’t eaten anything since about 1900 hrs on Saturday. BUT, I did have the presence of mind to snap a pic before I snarfed it all down, so that’s something, I guess.

Now that the obligatory bad jokes are out of the way, on with the show.

You will need:

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
6 thick slices of day old French bread (staler bread is fine as long as you can slice it)
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
powdered sugar (optional)

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice. (I’ve found that putting the egg mixture into a large baking dish will make the next couple of steps a lot easier.)
Slice the bread into thick slices, at least 1-inch thick and add to the egg mixture.
Toss the slices until all the mixture has been absorbed into the bread. Depending on how stale the bread is this may take from 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, very lightly brown the slices in the butter and oil for about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes remove, turn over and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes to brown the other side.
After 10 minutes on one side and 5 on the other the custard should be cooked on the inside, and the French toast will be crisp on the outside. If it looks like it needs more time cook it longer, but be careful not to cooked very dark as the egg custard may become bitter.
If desired, sprinkle powered sugar on top before serving.

Obviously, I found this recipe somewhere (online, I think), and adapted it slightly to my own prefences. YMMV.

Enjoy!

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Crepes

Ah, crepes. My first taste ever of French cuisine, way back when I was just a pudgy kid who thought McDonald’s was fine dining.

Believe me, my opinion on that one changed, and fast.

Been making this dish for a number of years, and I have yet to serve it to anyone who didn’t like it. That might change, though – I’m making this for the co-workers as a little Christmas-type gift, and they’re notoriously reluctant to try new things. Then again, they’re also rather fond of most of my creations, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Enjoy!

Crepes

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup & 1 tbsp flour
1 tsp oil
salt

Beat eggs, then add milk, flour and salt. Beat all ingredients until smooth, and let sit for at least one hour before cooking.
Heat a 6 inch frying pan, grease with a few drops of oil, and pour in 2 to 2 1/2 tbsp of batter. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is lightly browned and the top is dry. Turn over and brown the other side. Add a little oil as needed to cook the rest of the batter.

Crepe sauce

2 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp flour
2 cups light cream

In saucepan, melt margarine, then blend in the flour. Cook over low heat, stirring until bubbly. Remove from heat, stir in the cream. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.

Filling

1 can mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups light cream
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
Nutmeg

Cook and stir mushrooms and red pepper in butter until tender. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is bubbly. Slowly stir in chicken broth and cream. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Stir in chicken; heat through.
Heat oven to 350C. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture on each crepe; roll up. Place seam side down in 2 ungreased baking dishes, 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches. Cover with crepe sauce; top with cheese and nutmeg. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

You can also substitute 2 cups chicken broth for 1 cup chicken broth & 1 cup white wine. Gives it a nice flavor.

Tarragon Chicken

So lately I’ve been obsessed with watching the Food Network channel.  I’ve been a fan of the website for some time, but I never paid much attention to the TV version.  What a mistake that was!

One of my (new) favorite celebrity chefs is Laura Calder.  If anyone is unfamiliar with her, she’s a Canadian chef who specializes in French cooking.  Since French is an area I’m not all that great with, I find her ideas to be fascinating.

The fact that she’s a total hottie doesn’t hurt, either.

This is a recipe of Ms. Calder’s that I just made last week.  And, as is my usual process, I took some in to work to get some feedback from my guinea pigs.  The guinea pigs were in total agreement – this one is a keeper!

I made a few modifications to the original recipe, as I tend to cook with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs exclusively.  Ms. Calder suggested using a whole chicken, but Sumo don’t play that.

I also substituted sour cream for the creme fraiche that was called for, as I just didn’t have the time to make creme fraiche myself.  I will, however, use the creme fraiche the next time I make this, just to see how it differs from my version.  I also used more chicken stock than Ms. Calder recommended, as there did not appear to be enough sauce while I was cooking.  All that meant was it took a little longer to reduce.  Turned out juuuuuuust fine.;)

Enjoy!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Lemon juice to taste

Melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over quite high heat. Season the chicken pieces and fry in batches until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Put all the chicken back in the pan, add chicken stock and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm and reduce any leftover juices until sticky. Add the shallot and wine and reduce to a thickish sauce, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and half the tarragon. Boil down again to sauce consistency, 3 to 5 minutes.

Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Put back the chicken pieces, turning to coat, then transfer to a platter. Pour the sauce over, scatter over the remaining tarragon, and serve.