I am sitting here with full-on sugar coursing through my veins after spending four hours with 12 other women making and eating every variation of meringues possible. I think I walked home (about 1.5 km) with a glazed look about me, possibly appearing a bit drunk.
One of the benefits of this school is the unbelievable amount of activities they have for parents, some focusing on cuisine. Today’s Demystifying Meringues was very intriguing, not only because meringues are all over Paris but because I didn’t really know much about them and, quite honestly, have never been very drawn to them. My attitude and education have changed immensely.
Our gifted cook, Rachel, invited us into her home and in the course of three hours made a Hazelnut Meringue Cake, Pavlova, and Mango & Passion Fruit Roulade (my favorite). In addition, because you don’t want to waste your egg yolks after using all those egg whites, she made Chocolate & Raspberry pots, chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce and almond cookies (another favorite). And because she wanted to attempt to balance all the sugar, she just whipped up an amazing green salad with an avocado dressing and goat cheese crostini.
Because we were in her home, she had all the tools at her disposal that she would need. We are in a rented apartment and while we have everything necessary for our daily lives, we certainly don’t have the supplies you would if it were your home.
Side note on that: Most of you know I worked at Williams-Sonoma (WS) for over seven years. WS was founded in 1965 by Chuck Williams after he returned from his first trip to France and wanted to introduce America to high-end French cookware. I find that everywhere I encounter anything food or cooking-related here in Paris, I am met with a tool or food item that we carry at Williams-Sonoma and I think to myself, “Why didn’t I buy that when I had the discount?!?!” Even Tom said to me the other day that he would love to have a Nespresso machine. Hello! Could have bought one of those, too! I think I’ll need to talk with Todd about working a holiday season when I return home so I can gobble up all these tools that I either didn’t think I needed or didn’t really know what I would use it for.
I’m finding the entire food world my favorite aspect of our time in Paris so far. Not surprising, I guess, since it’s known for it’s cuisine. But I think my love for the food is not so much the fine-dining experience that so many people love (we haven’t done much of that), but the simplicity of the cooking and eating experience at home. Because I don’t have mixers, food processors, and every size and shape of baking dish and because I don’t want to spend the money to stock my cupboards with all the spices, seasonings, vinegars, sauces and baking ingredients, what you’re left with is pure food and your own creativity.
Now Tom has always been more talented in taking ingredients and turning them into a meal. I’ve been the baker: I like the exactness. But I’m trying to embrace the opportunity to take fresh foods from the market plus simple ingredients and see if I can provide a decent meal for my family.
Yesterday I chopped up potatoes, onions, turnips, carrots, garlic and celery. Add some water, salt and pepper and you have vegetable soup accompanied by a fresh baguette picked up on the way home from school and a side of Italia raisins (grapes). Dinner! I’m making simple salad dressings with oil, soy sauce and sugar. I love adding nuts to my salads. The kids are loving fresh bread and cheeses for a meal.
Last Sunday we had the good fortunate to enjoy a real French meal prepared by our new friends Philippe, Stephan and their four children. (Special shout out to Steve M. for bringing our families together from across the pond). Another example of simple, but delicious food: beautiful tomato tarts for a first course, pork loin and fresh vegetables, a cheese platter third course completed with apple yogurt cake and praline ice cream. Everything (sans the ice cream) was purchased at the market earlier that day. Everything. But the best part came later than night when I received the recipes from Philippe via email. Remember when I mentioned I don’t have the tools to do real baking or cooking? Well, these recipes include directions such as
-mix : a white nature no sugared yoghourt (French pot size) with 3 eggs (keep the pot)
-wash the pot
-add to the mix : 1/2 yoghourt pot of oil, 2 pots of sugar (white or brown), 15 cl of cream, 3 pots of flour
a soup spoon of olive oil on the tomatoes, a coffee spoon of herbes de provence spread all over, a litthe salt and pepper
I love this! I don’t need measuring cups and measuring spoons, just pots and regular spoons! This is simplification in the grandest way!
Tonight for dinner? Squash risotto. Don’t ask me what kind of squash. All I know is it was an enormous squash at the market yesterday, divided and sold in 12 huge pieces. Bright orange. This was accompanied by…you guessed it…a baguette, grapes and bottles of water. Simple, simple, simple.
Tom’s brother, Rob, arrives on Saturday. I’ll let you know how my own Chocolate & Raspberry Pots turn out!