Category Archives: Family

(french) food revolution day 2014 {ffwd}

food revolution day

Today is Food Revolution Day 2014, spearheaded by chef Jamie Oliver. This year’s theme is to “get kids excited about food”. Cooking is a life skill that in a time of many food issues, including obesity, poor nutrition, and eating too much processed food, give people much more control over what they eat. It’s like the old proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. Cooking follows the same premise.

A person can learn to cook any time, but learning as a kid will get them excited about food for life. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard or elaborate, and there is nothing more satisfying than taking basic ingredients and transforming them into something to eat. It can be as simple as cooking vegetables or only slightly more involved like baking or making pancakes. Cooking teaches kids about the science of cooking, and pleasure of enjoying the fruits of your own labor, and, importantly, the joy of sharing food with others.

For French Fridays with Dorie, our approach to observing Food Revolution Day this year is to choose a recipe from Around My French Table, the book we are working our way through, that we think every kid should know how to cook. The book is filled with a wide assortment of recipes, many of them quite simple for any level of cook. I paged through the book making notes on what I thought a kid should know how to cook and came up with this list.

I’m a childless adult with limited daily interaction with today’ youth, so I wasn’t sure about my judgment. I was guessing about things I would have liked to make when I was young which was very focused on baking. As a sanity check, I asked my almost-13-year-old niece Maggie to give me her list. It wasn’t possible for us to then cook together, but I was interested in what recipes in the book got her excited.

So, no cooking (or pictures) for me this Food Revolution Day, but here are our lists of “must know how to make” recipes from Around My French Table.

Betsy

  • Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux: My #1 favorite recipe in AMFT. EVERYONE should know how to make this one.
  • Cheez-it-ish Crackers: Much healthier to make your own snacks.
  • Christine’s Simple Party Soups: Almost as easy as opening a can, and much tastier. Also a great template for making your own version with a favorite vegetable and spice.
  • Potato-Chip Tortilla: It’s fun to use potato chips in a main dish.
  • Cinnamon-Crunch chicken: It’s fun to be able to make a quick dinner with cookies!
  • Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse: Again another favorite that’s impressive but not hard to make.

Maggie

  • Celery-celery soup
  • CafĂ© salle pleyel hamburger
  • Boeuf a la ficelle
  • Coconut lemongrass braised pork
  • Scallops with caramel orange sauce
  • Long & slow apples
  • Olive oil ice cream
  • Bubble top brioches

 

What a revelation! First of all, our lists had no overlap. Maggie’s palette was much more sophisticated than mine was at her age. I was always an adventurous eater, but the available ingredients back then was much more limited. Also, she didn’t pick any quick-to-satisfy baked goods. None of the cookies or cakes that would have called to me. I was impressed with her choices.

To see what choices the other Doristas made, check out their Food Revolution Day 2014 links here.

Now, go get excited about food!

leeks vinaigrette with mimosa {ffwd}

Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa

Spring is in full force, both outside my window and, courtesy of this week’s French Fridays recipe, in my kitchen. Leeks vinaigrette with mimosa is an easy salad with a perky mustard dressing that says, out with the heavy fare of winter, and in with lighter foods.

The recipe calls for baby leeks, but they were nowhere to be found around here. I used a bunch of the smallest leeks I could find, though they were still pretty large. The leeks are partially split in order to wash out the dirt between the layers, then tied back together (out of kitchen string like I was? Use some white thread instead) before simmering in water until tender. For my medium-sized leeks, this took about half an hour.

Tied Leeks

While the leeks cook, there’s plenty of time to make a hard-boiled egg and the aforementioned perky dressing which includes the fancy touches of sherry vinegar and walnut oil.

We have an ongoing discussion in my house on the best way to make a hard-boiled egg. Does one boil the water before adding the egg or does one start the egg in cold water? There’s also the question of whether to cook the egg in boiling water or to to just let it sit in the boiled water. Opinions in cookbooks and the internet are all over the map. The method I’ve settled on is to start the egg in cold water, bring it to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for a certain amount of time depending on the size of the egg (15 minutes for a large egg) before cooling the egg in an ice bath. What’s your favorite way? I’m curious.

After the leeks are tender and dried off with a kitchen towel, they are sliced into thick (1-inch) slices, doused in the vinaigrette and topped with grated hard-boiled egg, which mimics the fringy fluffy mimosa flower.

Mimosa flower (photo from Wikipedia)

This was a delicious side dish, which I served somewhere between warm and room temperature. I was indifferent to the egg garnish. It was pretty, given that the cooked leeks weren’t the most attractive color, but the taste of the egg didn’t come through to me.

Though enjoying this in the warmer weather, I could imagine serving this when winter is dragging me down to remind me that spring will come some day.

If you’d like to know what my Dorista friends thought of their leeks, you can check their links here. The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Since I lost my mother in 2007, Mother’s Day is an odd day for me. Though I have fabulous special “mother figures” to honor in my life (a stepmother, a mother-in-law, and an aunt extraordinaire), I now feel something missing. Being childless, I’m not anyone’s mother either. I’ve taken to thinking of Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate all the women in my life, family or friends, independent of motherhood, because these are relationships that enrich my days. So, from me to you, Happy Mother’s Day to all!

My Mom and Me (at her wedding in 1984)

My Mom and Me (at her wedding in 1984)