A Taste of France

This past year, my stepdaughters Nicole and Alyssa were part of a French foreign exchange program. In April, we hosted two lovely girls from France for two weeks, and in June, our girls traveled to France where they stayed with the families of the same girls. They also had four wonderful days in Paris. Needless to say, they had an amazing time experiencing the culture (who wouldn’t?), and they particularly loved the French cuisine.

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Une salade avec une tarte à l’oignon 

(Salad and onion tart)

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Une crêpe avec les oeufs, les champignons, et du fromage

(egg, mushroom, and cheese crêpe)

One of their favorite French dishes was crêpes. They ate them often (especially Alyssa), and brought the basic crêpe recipe home with them. Together, the girls made a yummy French meal for us similar to what they experienced with their French families……and the best part was that they cleaned it all up too, and there was a lot to clean. Mon Dieu!!

Here is a basic crêpe batter:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup milk or half & half

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

*** If you prefer a gluten free crêpe, Trader Joe’s carries a great gluten free all purpose flour that works well too.

Mix the liquid and dry ingredients separately, then whisk them together in one bowl, breaking up any lumps.  Warm a pan, then add a pat of butter to melt. Ladle or pour batter into the pan and allow it to spread thin. It will look like a large pancake. When it’s golden brown, gently flip.  The first crêpe will probably be your trial so you can adjust the heat accordingly. Since crêpes should be paper thin, you may need to add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of milk to the batter to thin it out a bit more.  Fill and gently wrap. Serve with a side salad or fresh fruit salad, and voilà.

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Crêpes are a wonderfully versatile food – they can be savory or sweet. You can fill them with just about anything you have on hand.  If you want more of a dessert crêpe, simply add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of sugar to the batter.  Our crêpes were stuffed with fresh scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and onions. Our dessert crêpes were filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries.  A little whipped cream would have been a perfect touch, but alas, we didn’t have any at the time.

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Une crêpe pour le dessert

(a dessert crêpe)

We are definitely going to add crêpes to our repertoire of back to school meals. If you’re short on time, you can make the batter in advance and refrigerate it overnight.

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For some great crêpe recipes, check out this link.

http://www.brit.co/creperoundup/

Bon Appetit!

~May

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Happy Hour Friday- Sangria

Hi everyone!  It’s time for Happy Hour Friday again and we would like to share another summer favorite with you. Today’s cocktail is Sangria. Originally from Spain and Portugal, ‘Sangria has become a popular cocktail, particularly during the summer months.  It’s a drink that’s mixed with a wonderful blend of seasonal fruits which also makes it a very versatile cocktail, and while traditionally made using red wine it can also be made using white wine.

This Sangria recipe has turned into a favorite.  A little warning is that it is a sneaky drink and before you know it you are feeling its effects.  The recipe is from the Pioneer Woman but have fun playing with different combinations of wine and liquors and fruits.  You really cannot go wrong.

Sangria Recipe

1.5 liters of red wine such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir, chilled.  (Cabernet and merlot leads to bit heavier drink)

1.5 liters of dry white wine such as chardonnay, sauuvignon blanc or pinot grigio, chilled

1 cup of orange or citrus flavored rum

1 cup of orange or citrus flavored vodka

A mixture of fruit of choice (we like citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges, also grapes, apples or pineapple)

1 cup white sugar dissolved in 1 cup of warm water

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 Ingredients.  Since there were only 3 of us I only did one bottle of each wine and 1/2 cup of the other liquors.

Place the fruit in a large vat. Pour in the red wine, white wine, citrus rum and citrus vodka. Next, to add a subtle sweetness, dissolve the sugar in 1 cup water and add it to the mix. Stir well, then cover and refrigerate for several hours, giving the fruit and liquids time to meld. Serve in glasses over ice, and have tongs nearby so guests can help themselves to the fruit. (Recipe from Food Network see link http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/sangria-recipe.html

IMG_0671Fruit mixture

We love to pair the Sangria with a wonderful goat cheese marinara appetizer reminiscent of Spanish tapas.  The recipe is quick and easy and oh so good.

 

Goat Cheese Appetizer

8 oz. goat cheese

2 cups marinara (If I have fresh tomatoes I make my own, otherwise a chunky style in a jar works great)

1/3 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In the shallow baking dish, press goat cheese up to the edges.  Spoon in the two cups of marinara, bringing it to the edges then bake for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with a sliced baguette for dipping.

Ingredients for Goat Cheese AppetizerIngredients for Goat Cheese Appetizer

Goat Cheese Appetizer

The finished product

Sangria feast

Our Happy Hour Feast!

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What we looked like after drinking our Sangria (not really we are just really bad at taking selfies!!)

Have a great weekend!!!!  It’s going to be hot in Chicago this weekend so a little chill refreshment is going to be in order.  –May and June

Summer Quinoa Salad

The dog days of summer have arrived, and the last place we want to be is in the kitchen.  May and June have come up with a great quinoa salad recipe that’s perfect on a hot day, it’s super easy and can be made ahead of time.

1 cup quinoa

1 cup cherry tomatoes (quartered)

1 cup chopped green beans (fresh)

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup sliced green onions

4 large leaves fresh basil, sliced thin

1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese to top (optional)

Combine quinoa and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and continue cooking until all the water is absorbed.  In a medium bowl, combine cooked quinoa, tomatoes, green beans, green onion and walnuts until well mixed.  In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic until well blended. Pour over quinoa mixture, add chopped basil and toss until well blended.  Season with salt and pepper.  It’s best if refrigerated at least 30 minutes before serving.

* If you want a non-vegetarian meal, simply grill some chicken breasts, then cube or shred into salad

 

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The beauty about this salad is it’s versatility.  You can make it with just about anything you have in your fridge.  During the colder months, we like to use dried cranberries, walnuts, and roasted and cubed butternut squash.  Let us know if you come up with an extra yummy variation.

Enjoy the last day of July and have a great weekend.

May and June