Le Gratin Dauphinois – Cooking Experiment #4

December 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

One of the common challenge that vegetarians face is eating out. You have to always make sure that there is a vegetarian dish on the menu (an overly priced salad for instance) if you want to spend some good time with your friends. When invited over a dinner you have to tell the hosts in advance that they will have to do some extra cooking for the herbivorous human being they invited to their house. I had a similar problem this weekend when I was invited for a late Thanksgiving Dinner.

The theme was Thanksgiving, definitely there was turkey sitting in the middle of table. But I couldn’t tell the hosts this time because this time the guests cooked some traditional Thanksgiving dishes and bought them to the venue. Now how am I supposed to let the twenty guests know that I don’t eat meat or fish ad they will have to cook something special, and I only know half of them. For sure not a good idea. But I wanted to go to this dinner and see my friends and discover the American tradition of Thanksgiving.

I came up with a slightly better idea. I cooked Gratin Dauphinois but a little more so that I can eat more of it with possibly some salad and sweet potato purée which I knew will be on the menu. And of course, there was no scarcity of desserts. Everything went according to the plan except that when I went to take a second helping of my gratin, it was all gone! I should have been happy as people really liked it and in a way I was. So I ate more desserts to fuel my stomach and thus fulfilled the Thanksgiving tradition of getting food coma the next morning.

Turning to the recipe now, which is quite simple. As for the photos, they are not at all good because I couldn’t serve the dish before taking it to the hosts’ house and there I was too busy catching up with friends to even consider photographing and showing off that I made a delicious gratin.

Cooking Le Gratin Dauphinois for Six Servings

What do we need?

  • 1.5 kgs Potatoes
  • 50 cl Full Cream
  • 5-6 tbsps Full Cream Milk
  • 100 gms grated Cheese (Emmental, Comte or Gruyère)
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter

Here’s how to cook the gratin

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices of 5 mm thickness(not too fine and not too thick).
  2. Take an oven dish and rub the garlic clove all over. (If you like garlic, you can also boil it with the cream).
  3. Butter up the base of the oven dish well.
  4. Pre-heat the oven at 200-220 degree Celsius.
  5. Start placing the potato slices until you get a layer. Pour the cream and add salt and pepper. Continuing layering and pouring cream until the potato slices finish.
  6. On the top most layer pour the milk. Cover well the dish with aluminium foil.
  7. Put the dish it the oven for at least one and a half hour.
  8. Remove the foil and check whether the potatoes are soft and the cream has cooked up well. If not, then cook for a few minutes more.
  9. Spread the cheese on top and put the uncovered dish again in the oven until the top layer becomes golden brown and crispy.

And voilà, the gratin is ready for serving as a side dish or a main, as you wish to gorge on this yummy dish.

It was hard to not eat it right at that moment.

It was hard to not eat it right at that moment.

Without the cheese layer on top, this is the traditional way of making le gratin dauphinois. A healthier version would be with other vegetables like carrots, courgettes, bell-peppers or whatever your imagination lets you think of.

Bon appétit!


Almost Christmas

December 7, 2013 § 1 Comment

By each year Christmas decorations are put up earlier than ever. And as Missoco said next year they might as well start in summers. So, by those standards my Christmas post is late but for me it is rightly timed. It is always the month of December that ushers in fun-filled Christmas days with Christmas Markets, decorations all over the city and pretty much everything red, green and white.

It seems that everyone is waiting for Christmas to come fast and open gifts with family and friends. Paris during Christmas is a dream come true. It is wonderful because of the happiness daze caused by chocolates and everything which has a bit of sugar. To officially kick off my Christmas month I spent almost ten hours today and the cherry of the cake is not anywhere near the finish.

Having an extra early dance class helped with the waking up part. And next, joined by Missoco, I went to La Cartonnerie (12 rue Degeurry Paris 11) for a Christmas Market where twenty-eight French artists/designers put up lots of creative things on the display. My best picks are the vintage lace jewellery from KDYAK, masculine scented candles from Maison Moustache inspired by different districts of Paris, London and New York and a new way to discover books by Exploratology. And if you want to catch up with your friends around cute cupcakes and tea, there is Marine Is Cooking. But of course I didn’t spend ten hours just  talking with Missoco (well yeah most of it, which also made us miss our metro stop by a few stations). We girls meant business today.

A bit of sugar!

A bit of sugar!

Missoco took me to discover Christmas decoration and gifts shops near Place de la Madeleine. At Sia, I couldn’t stop taking photos of the beautiful and different decorations. Then we went to La Chaise Longue which is a famous French gift-shop chain. I liked all the stuff in the Parisiennes range and I am sure of buying the dinner set.

Cute Figurines At Sia

Cute Figurines At Sia

Parisiennes Dinner Set at La Chaise Longue

Parisiennes Dinner Set at La Chaise Longue

On our way around the Madeleine Square we quickly managed to peak at the irresistible chocolate Christmas tree in Patrick Roger‘s Chocolate shop display.

Chocolate Eclair is always a good idea.

Chocolate Eclair is always a good idea.

To finish of our day in Christmas style, Missoco treated me with the éclairs at Fauchon. It was delicious and perfect way to relish the end of a wonderful day. Now I am ready to sip on some hot chocolate and go to bed to prepare for my very first Thanksgiving (it is never late to say thanks) Dinner tomorrow for which I am going to cook a French dish. The next post will be a cooking experiment.

Before I make any 2014 resolutions, I have made things to do before Christmas list which includes ice-skating at Hotel de Ville, visit Louvre (yes I haven’t done that until now) and start running. Long shot but worth every try.

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?”Dr. Seuss

(I am so glad not to have missed my deadline of writing a weekly post just by forty-five minutes.)

Do not go gentle into that good night

November 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

Fiona posted this on Facebook and I am happy to have read this poem tonight. I am not that old but every night surrounded by same thoughts of making the next day better. This poem inspires me never to give up.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet


Rice Cutlets with Mint Sauce and Chickpeas Curry – Cooking Experiment #3

November 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

When stressed, I start organizing stuff ranging from my files on the computer, to closet, kitchen cabinet, etc. Organization is great to calm down but it takes a lot of time and is never finished for a person like me. What’s the next best stress buster? Cooking, and cooking along with some music. I take a lot of time and pleasure even with simple recipes. The result is that I eat good food and I relax enough to get back to work.

This weekend I decided not to go out except for my dance class. I invited a few friends to share their November travel stories over dinner. On the menu we had Rice Cutlets, Mint Sauce and Chickpeas Curry.

Rice Cutlets and Chickpeas Curry

Rice Cutlets and Chickpeas Curry

Cooking Rice Cutlets with Mint Sauce and Chickpeas Curry for Four People

For Rice Cutlets we need

  • 250 gms boiled Rice
  • 100 gms diced Vegetables (Bell-Peppers, Onions, Green Beans,…)
  • 100 gms Tofu Cubes
  • 2 tbsps Corn flour
  • Oil to shallow fry
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For Mint Sauce we need

  • 100 gms Mint leaves
  • 100 gms Coriander leaves
  • 1 – 2 Onions
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • 1 Lemon
  • Green Chilli
  • Salt
  • Water

For Chickpeas Curry we need

  • 300 gms boiled Chickpeas
  • 250 gms fresh Tomato Purée
  • 3-4 Onions
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • 2 tbsps Cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tbsps Coriander Powder
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tbsps Oil

The long list of ingredients is over. Here’s how we cook the meal.

We start with Mint Sauce to warm up

  1. Chop onions, garlic cloves, ginger and green chilly into small chunks. To these add mint and coriander leaves. Use a mixer to make a paste of the above ingredients, be careful with water such that the consistency of paste is not lost.
  2. Add salt and lemon juice.

This sauce can be stored in refrigerator for a week. Mint gives a bitter taste and to counter it we need some sour flavours. Instead of lemon we can use sour tomatoes or yoghurt (for non vegan version) to add the sour taste.

Let’s start some real cooking with Rice Cutlets

  1. Take boiled rice, finely chopped vegetables, salt and pepper and mix them well in a large bowl. Once mixed add corn flour and put the bowl in refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will simplify the process of shaping cutlets.
  2. Meanwhile heat some oil for shallow frying in a pan.
  3. Take out the bowl with rice. Make a patty with handful of rice and put a cube of tofu in the centre. Shape the cutlet as you wish.
  4. Fry the cutlets (2-4 at a time) at medium heat until both sides turn golden brown.

Tofu can be replaced with Mozzarella or Ricotta cheese. This has been easy until now and I haven’t forgotten any ingredients.

How to cook the Chickpeas Curry? It’s easy!

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds when hot. Put it to medium flame.
  2. Cut onions and green chilli into thin rings. Cut ginger into small pieces. Add all these to the pan and fry them until onions turn golden.
  3. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Let the spices cook for 2-3 minutes and do not let them burn.
  4. Add tomato purée and chickpeas. Mix well and cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes or until you can’t resist the delicious odour.
My happy meal!

My happy meal!

Cooking on medium heat, as my mother says, is very important. High heat often burns the food and always breaks down the food nutrients. Cooking must always be done with patience (except when you are a student and pasta with tomato sauce is your meal at least two times a day).

The background music for this cooking experiment was OneRepublic Spotify Playlist and I loved their Good Life song.

Have a great weekend!

Un soir du bonheur

November 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

I love my life! This was the phrase I kept repeating on Thursday evening in bed which explains the title of this post (an evening of happiness).

I have to thank Iva from IvaParis for organising the second Fashion Night at Les Nguyen (12 rue Saint-Paul Paris 4). Proudly sporting my IvaParis Ambassador badge I arrived at Saint-Paul to meet up with Missoco. Together we marched to the shop where we met Han Nguyen, the amazing person behind the French brand. The theme for the evening was how to stay feminine during winter and Han’s creations matched that perfectly.

The happy girl's accessory!

The happy girl’s accessory!

Han creates original dresses inspired from 30s and 50s with fitted waist and skirts just above the knees. These are perfect for working girls that do not shy away from feminine styles. I went in jeans and sneakers (and so for thinking before going out) as it was cold. What went on during that evening was a complete transformation. I was pampered and I loved it. Iva made us try a few clothes along with accessories. While giggling all the time we posed for photos. I felt like a princess (precisely Cinderella as I posed sans my sneakers) while trying out the beautiful dresses and learned a lot about what styles and cuts suit me well.

As an engineer I am mostly surrounded by men both at school and work. It is practical to wear jeans and pants and preferable to keep feminine dressing for parties. But I don’t like this practice, I love colors and dresses. European winter makes it difficult to be feminine in cold weather but Han’s creations are made from 100% natural fabrics like wool, cotton and bamboo each one for different weather. As I was busy being pampered during the evening, I didn’t take any photos. So, I am borrowing the photos from Iva’s interview with Han.

Pink is not my color but this is my favorite skirt!

Pink is not my color but this is my favorite skirt!

Iva is soon going to organise some workshops for personal styling. And if you like fun girly parties along with discovering the styles made for you, do not hesitate to register here.

Before wrapping up the night, Missoco and I went to the garden store Truffat (85 quai de la gare Paris 13) for some early Christmas shopping. The store was open from 8 pm well until 11 pm with some nice discounts, interesting workshops and free-flowing champagne (the reason behind my post party happiness). We parted as happy souls with some cute Christmas tree decorations. Une soirée inoubliable (an unforgettable evening)!

Christmas will be soon here!

Christmas will be soon here!

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  • About Me

    A girl needs to get back to her passion for writing. What’s better than blogging with a goal of at least one blog per week!

    So, here I am to share my experiences of the lovely life I have lived for a couple of years in this beautiful city of lights called Paris. What am I going to write about? I am not sure but there will be posts on being a Parisian vegetarian, pleasures of cooking, expatriate life, nostalgic moments, some engineering and well lots of random stuff I feel like writing about.

    You can write to me at mllepolip@gmail.com

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