Should I start with the story of how I ventured out on my own today, and purchased enough ingredients for two delicious meals? (Gluten Free French Onion Soup and Braised Endive w/ Apples & Bleu Cheese- see recipes below) or how I asked for eau mineral avec gas, when the waiter asked me how I wanted my steak done?
I may be able to make myself understood in the food department, but I still have a long way to go in terms of actually understanding what is said to me! C’est la vie! Two days in, and we’ve experienced sunshine, snow, sleet, and rain. The kitchen divas in training have been real troopers and have logged at least twelve miles of walking over the last two days. Once again, I’m such a proud mommy! The mini experiences are too vast to number, and I’m still crummy about taking pictures on our adventures out and about. Hopefully, as I get to know some of the vendors in this neighborhood, I’ll be able to post some cool food pics, but in the meantime, you’ll have to be content with a few anecdotes.
First off, being gluten free in Paris is far from a death sentence. In fact, I was thrilled to discover that on my market street (Rue Montorgueil) I can even get fresh gluten free bread! Now, after eating a few gluten free loaves around town over the last few days, I do think the French are behind the curve when it comes to gluten free bread- but I can see why- it’s not really their thing. I’ve had better fresh gluten-free bread in the states, and am still working on a GF sourdough-ish of my own that I like to think, when perfected, would make any Parisian smile. The Parisians take their bread very seriously- so much so, that as I wandered down the snowy street this morning in search of today’s meals, I noticed a woman leaving a boulangerie clutching a freshly baked, still warm loaf to her chest and smiling beatifically as if she was holding a baby!
We’ve eaten three meals out- and I’ve had no issues at all being gluten-free. I won’t go into that here, I’ll save all the restaurant reviews for a later post. I can say though, that in spite of the foul weather, I LOVE Paris! I always felt I was a New Yorker, but I think I can say unequivocally, after visiting here a few times in the winter, that if I could live anywhere in the world, it would be next to a market street in Paris. I do appreciate that everything here is done with an artistic eye. There’s an understanding here that food is as much as an art as music, or dance, or paintings. As an artist with experience in multiple disciplines, I respond to that.
On that note, enjoy a few visual highlights of The Adventuresome Kitchen’s first few days here, and a few very quick and easy recipes. Groceries, by and large, are very affordable, although, finding ingredients that you need is another story. I accept that perhaps, I’m just looking in the wrong place- for instance, where does one find chicken stock? I ended up using vegetable bouillon for my onion soup- with surprisingly delicious results. But that was only because chicken stock was not on the shelves at the mini grocery store, nor did I see it at the meat vendor…. If anyone knows how to ask for it, and where to find it, by all means let me know.. The same for lardon… I know that lardon is the closest thing to bacon the French have, but I didn’t see it at the meat vendor’s…. I did, however, purchase something that had it been cured, would have been bacon, and the butcher behind the counter looked at me like I had three heads when I asked for one tiny slice, totaling 0.41 Euro. And so what I hoped would be endive with bacon, was endive with pork. Still heavenly, but not what I had intended.. But, that’s part of the adventure, right? Cooking with new ingredients, less cookware, etc… and in the process, learning a thing or two! For instance, the oven in the petite apartment is too small for the jelly roll pan I brought. And now, I have to visit E. Dehillerin tomorrow to purchase something appropriate…. oh so sad (she says with a twinkle in her eye) and yet- if I’m bold, another adventure awaits! More to come, and in the meantime, enjoy the recipes below!
Braised Endive with Bacon, Apples, Shallots and Bleu Cheese
2 endive, sliced in half, lengthwise
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 thick slice bacon (or uncured pork if bacon is not available)
3 shallots, diced finely
1/2 golden apple, diced
1 1/2 tbs sherry vinegar
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
Preheat the oven to broil. Slice endive in half lengthwise, and brush both sides with olive oil. Place face down on a broiling pan covered in parchment. Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until outer layer of endive has begun to carmelize and brown. Meanwhile, in a separate pan on the stove, sautee bacon (or pork) over medium until well cooked and beginning to crisp. Add shallots and stir briefly, allowing to saute until shallots are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, and pull from the heat. Add the apples and gently stir.
Remove the endive from broiler, and with a pair of tongs, flip the pieces over so that the cut side is face up. Replace in the broiler for another 2-3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the broiler. Spoon the bacon/shallot/apple over each endive, and crumble about 2 tablespoons of bleu cheese over each half. Replace in the broiler, and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the bleu cheese is bubbling. Remove and serve promptly.
Golden Onion Soup
6 medium onions (white or yellow)
4 tbs butter (unsalted- if using salted, omit salt initially, and adjust for taste)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs sorghum flour
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock (for traditional onion soup use beef stock)
1/2 tsp pepper
4 slices gluten-free bread
2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
Finely slice the onions lengthwise. Meanwhile, warm a stock pot over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions. Cook until the onions have begun to change color- at least 20-30 minutes. The longer you cook the onions, the darker they will become and the darker your soup will be.
While the onions are cooking down, turn the oven on to broil. Take the slices of bread and place them on a parchment covered broiling pan. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of gruyere cheese onto each slice, spreading evenly. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and brown.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the sorghum over the onions and stir until sorghum has turned golden brown, and is beginning to stick to the bottom of the stock pot. Deglaze with the white wine. Stir until everything that has been sticking to the bottom of the pan has been removed. Add the two cups of vegetable stock and stir to incorporate the ingredients. Add the pepper, and if needed, more salt to taste. Cover and allow to heat through.
When you are ready to serve, ladle soup into the bowls, and float a piece of the toasted bread in each dish. Traditionally this is achieved by placing the soup in ovenproof ramekins, and broiling all at once. If you don’t have oven proof ramekins, this method will achieve the same result.