Saturday, November 12, 2011

French Fiesta

It’s been a busy, let’s-travel-the-world-via-our-taste-buds kinda week in the kitchen.

And really, is there anything better than that? I think that food is such an important element of discovering a culture, so pulling together different dinners this week has practically been like studying or reading a geography book.

Okay, not quite. But still. It’s been so tasty.

I started close to home with a Tex-Mex/Americana sampling. Our menu went a little something like this:

These photos were taken pre-roasting, before the skin blistered and the the garlic and onion pieces melted and all the juices mixed together to become the base of the most heavenly homemade enchilada sauce of all time.

Here’s a little math for you to remember. Tex-Mex enchiladas + French cheese = the best culture smash-up ever. I followed this recipe, more or less. The biggest change I made was adding chicken.

This was supposed to be a black bean salsa, and I was supposed to use a truck-load of cilantro (aka, my favorite herb/spice/, ever). Unfortunately, after circling Carrefour approximately 32 times with my little shopping cart, I still couldn’t find either one. So I went with les haricots rouges, and added a squeeze of lime and a dusting of cumin powder to stand in the gap.

Guacamole is such a personal thing that I can’t even begin to give you a “recipe.” Basically, throw in whatever you like with a squeeze of lime and some salt. Avocados soak that stuff up, and there’s absolutely nothing better than tortilla chips and guacamole. Except queso, of course, but I don’t think the French are ready to go there yet. 

Baby steps!

And finally, the piece de resistance.

Not exactly Tex-Mex, but Americana? Oh, yes! We ate this Oatmeal-Crunch Apple Pie for dessert with whipped topping, for breakfast with coffee, and for a snack with espresso. This pie is so, so good…and surprise! It’s healthy, too. The homemade crust is flaky even though the butter is reduced, the crunchy oatmeal/walnut topping tastes like a decadent strudel, and the scent of baked cinnamon and brown sugar apples wafting through your kitchen smells way more authentic than any Glade plug-in ever could.

Wednesday was Italian night.

I went with a recipe I’ve used before and loved. It’s probably the easiest spaghetti and meatball recipe out there, but your boyfriend’s family will never know it if you make this for them. Rachael Ray is really a goddess when it comes to the whole 30-minute meal thing, and this spaghetti recipe is no exception. It looks good, and it tastes incredible. The sauce is to die for with all the basil and garlic, and the meal pairs perfectly with butter garlic bread and a Caesar salad. Make this for whoever you’re trying to impress with your culinary skills. They’ll never know how easy it is!

And finally, Thursday took us to Greece (more or less). By more or less, I mean the sauce I made for our salmon had Greek yogurt and chopped cucumbers in it, so I feel justified in making the association. I followed this recipe exactly, with two tiny exceptions: I added a little Dijon mustard into the rub for the fish, and threw some sliced tomatoes into the sauce as well. I needed to French-ify it a little, you know?

Okay, so this picture’s from the myrecipes website. But I swear mine looked just like it…

Food is just such an experience here. I went to the market in Italy on Friday and we picked up buckets of handmade stuffed pasta, gorgeous veggies wrapped in brown paper bags, fresh meats, colorful fruits…it’s stunning, and after you cook it, you’re really able to see the connection between the food you’re eating and the place it comes from in the ground.

Do you ever “travel” in the kitchen? What’s your favorite meal to prepare? Share your recipes with me, if you’d like. I’m always looking for things to try!

Headed to northern France for a few days. Back soon, mes amis!

bisous, xox

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