french

post47 // paris market tour

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hiya friends!! bienvenue à mon tour aux marché parisien. (welcome to my paris market tour). last week our chefs at le cordon bleu took us on a three-hour walk through the saint-charles market, which happens to be right around the corner from school! this market is open on tuesdays and fridays from 7am to 2:30pm. if you come to paris you’ll find that many of the markets are open on specific days of the week, so you have to plan your market tours accordingly! thankfully chef was watching out for us and already had some cheesemongers and farmers awaiting our arrival.

*i’ll be referring to chef throughout the post! if you want a visual, here’s chef kerdranvat! he’s one of my cuisine chefs and we get along great due to our shared irish heritage. he comes from brittany in the north of france and was thrilled with all the produce from brittany on our tour!

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we began the market tour with fruits and vegetables! don’t they look so tasty? all the produce here that i’ve eaten has been exceptionally fresh and i think (along with other reasons) it’s because markets like these are so popular! at school, our ingredients come fresh from farms and at home, my host mom shops reguarly at this very market. a local food movement in the flesh! but that truly is paris. just 20 miles outside the city you’ll find real farms that make me feel like i’m in the middle of america.

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chef k was very excited to show off the mushrooms as they are in peak season this very second! you can see the regular white buttons in the photo above, along with the chanterelle mushrooms. should i go mushroom foraging this weekend??

next stop: cheese!! ohhhh the cheese. a tent we came across offered such cool variations on their cheeses like nut fillings and herb coloring. i learned that now is the best time to eat fromage de chevre (goat cheese) and this has helped me finish two packs of goat cheese this week! all for seasonality purposes, of course.

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our group befriended a cheesemonger and she had some fun showing off her crème fraîche. her cheese comes from normandy which is famous for this cream so chef k was very, very excited. when in normandy, make sure you eat crème fraîche.

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next came the butcher. these days i’ve been feeling like a butcher myself as i’ve been chopping off chicken heads, trimming veal fat, and taking out pork bones all day long! i have a very long way to go in this department so it was awesome to see a true butcher at work. what was interesting about this stand at the market was that there wasn’t a speck of food waste. every part of the meat was on display. gizzards? yes. heads? yup. tongues? oh yeah! blood? wrapped in a sausage casing — that’s what blood sausage is!

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after a nice tasting of brain cheese and blood sausage (i’m not kidding!! it was good), we moved onto oysters and fish! this tent at the market was extremely busy so we had a feeling the seafood was fresh. chef k tested the waters and cracked open an oyster. very fresh indeed!

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just before the market, our class made two recipes with fish, one being a sole fillet braised in fish stock and white wine and the other a breaded whiting fish with tartar sauce. if you’re on the lookout for some fish recipes, remind me to share these with you!

after a great walking tour, chef k treated us to an 11am cheese and meat plate, wine, and a dessert plate with espresso. i felt like a queen! c’est la vie français.

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i hope you enjoyed my virtual paris market tour! i’ve had some recipes bubbling that i’ll be cooking up for next week’s post. stay tuned!


this week’s other stuff!


all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post 38 // french crêpes

good morning to you! or afternoon, or evening — just the time of the day you happen to be reading this. you’re in luck because whatever time it is, it’s time for a crêpe.

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crêpes have never been a routine meal of mine. i’m usually eating their cousins (a.k.a. pancakes and dutch babies), which i have more confidence in cooking. my memories of crêpes are special though, associated with château montebello, a hotel in quebec that my family used to drive 12 hours to each new years eve. the endless hot chocolates and crêpes at the hotel made up for the “when are we there yet” and often nauseating car rides for my brothers and i. year after year, crêpes with maple syrup were reason enough to go back.

since those days at montebello, i haven’t spent much time eating crêpes. until now! just two months ago i was invited over to my friend stella’s apartment, which she shares with her sister sarah. sarah is a francophile and has lived in france on-and-off over the years. she has a wonderful host mother from paris, who was visiting new york at the time. given my impending move to france for the year, the sisters thought that i should meet sarah’s host mum and experience a true french crêpe.

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aside from learning so much about paris, i learned how to make (and eat) many french crêpes that night. fast forward two months and sarah is now living with my family for the summer in washington, d.c. (her own american homestay of sorts!). within her first week here, crêpe ingredients were added to our grocery list.

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crêpes are an anytime meal. while we made these ham, egg, and cheese crêpes for dinner, they could just as well be your breakfast or lunch. the batter itself is simple, as sarah says, “think 4-4-2: four eggs, four cups of milk, and 2 cups of flour.” a bit of salt and vegetable oil added complete the batter and next is just the fillings. both sarah and sofie, her parisian host mum, cooked off the entire crêpe batter, kept the cakes warm, and then prepared the fillings right before serving. this is the best way to ensure your crêpe comes out hot. the batter will be much thinner than a normal pancake batter, so don’t be afraid if it looks runny! sarah describes that the consistency is best when it coats a wooden spoon upon lifting, but still drips back into the batter bowl.

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once you’ve cooked off all your crêpe batter and have a stack of eager cakes waiting to be filled, it’s time to load on the toppings. a couple good tips for fillings are to keep them thinly sliced so that they don’t overwhelm the crêpe, another being to spread your crêpe with sour cream (for flavor!) before adding the fillings. if working with uncooked eggs, cover your pan so that the egg can cook off while the rest of the toppings are melting together.

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folding the crêpe together at the end is a simple envelope fold. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal. by this time, your egg yolk will have burst and it is seriously time to sit down and eat your crêpe.

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very soon, i’m sure you’ll be reading about all the different types of crêpes i’ll be trying in france. until then, i’ll be working on my own crêpe-making skills.

au revoir!

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p.s. this week’s other stuff!!!

i’ll admit to singing this with the windows down very loudly this past weekend. one of my favorites

obsessed with this account and their shop in greenpoint, bk

the drink of my summer (recipe comin’ soon to foodstuffs!)


french crêpes

makes 12 crêpes

fixings

4 eggs

4 cups milk

2 cups flour (all-purpose is fine)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (+ more for coating the pan)

1 teaspoon salt

sour cream

toppings: parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, nutella, powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc.

special tools

a medium-sized fry pan

instructions

  1. mix the milk, flour, eggs, and salt together to form your batter. heat the fry pan over medium-high heat. prepare any toppings such as slicing or shaving the cheeses.
  2. pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan and move it around so that the entire pan is coated in a thin layer. let warm until the bottom side turns lightly brown. turn and repeat. take the crêpe off the burner and let it rest on a nearby plate. repeat until you’ve baked off all the crêpe batter.
  3. you can eat your crêpes now as is with sweet toppings but if you are looking for a more savory crêpe, keep your fry pan warm and add a crêpe back to it.
  4. top crêpe with a thin layer of sour cream. add your egg immediately to the center of the crêpe. as the egg begins to cook, add other toppings around it. cover pan until the egg cooks off and other toppings have melted.
  5. fold the crêpe in an envelope manner, as i described above. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal.
  6. serve immediately and enjoy!