Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welcome to the French Culinary Institute of Our House

Who doesn't like yeasty, fried dough covered in powdered sugar? No one. So Fiona and I decided to make beignets, the glorified doughnut of the French. Here's the recipe, which we followed almost EXACTLY.

1. Pour one cup of warm milk in a large bowl.
 2. Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of powdered yeast, and 1 tablespoon of flour.
Fiona learned how to correctly measure dry ingredients from Laura. Obviously.
 3. Once the yeast starts to bubble up, add in 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, 4 cups of flour (we used 3 cups of all-purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat), and just under 1/2 cup of sugar. I always use less sugar than any given recipe calls for. Mostly because I enjoy breaking the rules.

Mix well and knead for five minutes. Eight-year-old daughters are really good at kneading beignet dough.

Don't you just want to kiss it? Or is that weird? Never mind.
 It's supposed to then be refrigerated for 6-8 hours. We just left ours in the fridge overnight.
4. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 2 inch squares. Let rise for about an hour.
Laura did this step. You can tell, can't you?
5. Fry the dough in canola oil.
 6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This photo makes me laugh, not only because of Fiona and Laura's shenanigans, but because Cyd, in the background, is LICKING THE COUNTER!
On Saturday, I made an old favorite, the decadent Croque Monsieur. I can't tell you for sure if this is really an authentic French recipe, but it was tasty. When we had this sandwich as kids, in France, it was basically a grilled ham and Swiss sandwich, with extra Swiss cheese on the top that was then broiled. This recipe includes a béchamel sauce, so it's obviously superior.

If you want to make this yourself, you may want to google a real recipe, because this one is, well, vague and unscientific. Here is how I think it went down.

1. Make a roux. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk for a couple of minutes.

2. Add 2 cups of milk and whisk until thickened.
2. Add 1 cup of Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Heat until melted and season to taste.

Voila, your béchamel is done.

3. Spread some Dijon mustard on bread. I used the sandwich bread we had, but in real French life, you should use some heartier, better bread, like brioche, or something similar. I'm not perfect, people.
4. Add sliced ham and Gruyère to your sandwich.
5. Fry it up in some more butter. (Hi, Julia.)
6. Top with additional cheese.
7. And then ladle on the béchamel sauce.
8. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.  Then, stick it under the broiler until brown.
Hello, holy cheesy goodness. 

And now, don't mind me as I dump some photos from this weekend that have nothing to do with French food. 

I loved how the light was coming in at that moment. 

So I kinda made everyone pass through the light so I could capture them. They humored me, because they're nice.

It's too early to be roasting chestnuts. Most of them were rock solid, not even ripe enough to eat. Dammit.

Oh, and I also made a delicious and very easy leek and asparagus soup, topped with goat cheese. But you're tired of reading recipes. I can see it in your eyes. Allow me this, at least:



  1. this.
    your blog makes me happy and hopeful.
    thanks for being awesome and having an awesome family.

    1. You're nice. And I'm glad to make you happy and hopeful.