Hey guys welcome to another island territory, but for once it is not sitting in the warm waters of the Caribbean or South Pacific; instead it is just south of Newfoundland, Canada in the Atlantic Ocean. St. Pierre and Miquelon is a sovereign state of France which is situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is an archipelago consisting of eight islands, only two of which are inhabited. It has an interesting history of being the location where alcohol was smuggled into the US during the 1920s. The islands even have its own time zone which is 30 minutes ahead of Newfoundland.
This quaint territory has some local seafood flare, however French food is the most common cuisine found here. I found a more traditional recipe native to the island versus France itself to use for tonight’s dinner. Although the salad didn’t sound appealing to me I told myself I needed to branch out and stomp judging things before I tried it. The recipes can be found here.
So that is what I did, I jumped into these recipes with an open mind. It was simple cooking that didn’t take much time, the cream taking the most of my time. I did sample the salad dressing, it was delish!
So we weren’t fans of this one.. the cod and cream was decent but nothing spectacular and the crab/fruit salad did not do a thing for me. Cold crab meat with fruit and veggies just didn’t make sense for me and I had a difficult time with the texture. Ian did better than me, but he also didn’t care for it. That being said we rated it 5/10. I don’t know if there is another recipe I can do for this territory, but maybe another French dish will do? 😉
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the bonus recipe for France! I decided to find a recipe that originates from my ancestors are from- Nantes, France. Apparently this cake is very popular in this region and is where rum soaked cake became “a thing.”
To soften dried, hard biscuits the French decided to try soaking them in rum- sounds like a good two for one deal. Over time rum soaked cake was created and this recipe was born. I used this recipe and made my own ground almond into a mostly powdery substance, but chunks of almonds remained- I feel like this gave the cake a nice texture!
The cake doesn’t require a lot of ingredients and was pretty easy to make. I did have to bake my cake a little longer than what the recipe recommended, however I did use caution and tin foil the bottom of my spring form pan knowing it will leak butter once it gets hot enough.
Once you remove it from the oven you will want to brush the remaining rum syrup on the cake BUT NOT TOO MUCH as this makes the cake strong. 😬 When the cake is done cooling you can whip up the icing pretty quickly. Be gentle when icing the cake as it can easily crumble with too much pressure.
We thought the cake had a nice flavor, but the rum was not subtle.. If you like a boozy dessert or rum in general this would be up your alley. I’m contemplating eating more, however don’t want a cake hangover.
That concludes our week in France! We will be trying new flavors next week that don’t use quite as much butter as France does.
Bonjour! We are ending the week with a lesser known dish that honors the mighty shrimp. This incredibly easy and flavorful dish can be whipped up in less than 45 minutes. All you need is shrimp, shallots, white wine, cognac (or similar brandy), lemon juice, heavy cream and LOTS of butter!
The beurre blanc sauce originates along the Loire Valley region of France. It’s comprised of a wonderful balance of acidic and rich flavors that transforms the simple shrimp to a creamy decadence.
As you probably guessed the cooking of shrimp in cognac brandy originated in Cognac, France. This added a nice sharpness to help contrast the sauce. I served this with toasted baguette and salad. Ian discovered leftover risotto paired well also.
We rated this final dish 7/10, although it left we feeling surprisingly full! We enjoyed the buttery sauce and found it was essential to dip the baguette in leftover sauce on the plate. This is a nice, straight forward meal that can be made during the week or a lazy weekend!
Day 2 of French cooking brings us to Ratatouille, a vegan dish that reminds me think of the Disney Pixar movie. In the movie, this was the dish that was served to Ego the harsh food critic and ultimately thawed his ice cold heart. I will admit I did play this movie while I was prepping the vegetables and it made me feel like a kid again!
Ratatouille hails from the providential region of Nice dating back to the 18th century. The name ratatouille is made up of the two French words rata (chunky stew) and touiller (toss up food). This is yet another modest peasant dish that has been elevated to a fine dinning experience. This meal often consisted of the farmers leftover harvest and can be made from using various different vegetables. I went by this recipe which used the more typical eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, potato, and red pepper. This is then placed on top of a tomato sauce and can be served with fish, meat, or rice.
After you have used your mandolin or sliced each vegetable very finely you start to assemble your ratatouille.
Voila! What a piece of art! I topped it off with salt and pepper before covering it to cook in the oven for almost an hour. When it was done cooking I served it with risotto!
We thought it was a nice vegetarian option and liked how with every bite you could taste each vegetable. Next time I would use more sauce. We rated the dish 6.5/10, a nice healthy option for dinner 😋
It is an exciting week here at The Messy Aprons- we have arrived in France! I absolutely love French food (and wine) and can not wait to try cooking some classic French dishes. Before I dive into today’s meal I want to talk about a little more about France.
France is part of Western Europe and actually is the largest European country. It also is the most popular place to travel in the world, Paris being a top destination. France is well known for its top notch wine and cuisine along with incredible historic museums and culture. There are several French inventions that we use on a daily basis such as the stethoscope, braille, pasteurization, food preservation/tin cans, and sewing machines to name a few. Above is a picture of a medieval castle complete with water mote in Nantes, France. Nantes is were my ancestors originate from and I have a special dish dedicated to that region to finish our week!
Calling Julie and Julia fans- I channeled my inner Julia Child today when making her adored Beef Bourguignon! I definitely watched the movie the night prior to get me in the right spirit! This hearty beef stew originates in the province of Bourgogne, France where wine and beef are high quality. This dish dates back to medieval times as a common peasant food. They would combine tougher pieces of beef with vegetables cooking for long periods of time in order to save meat that may had gone to waste. Fast forward to the 1960s when Julia Child put her own spin on the dish. This recipe can be found here and to watch Julia make it herself you can find the video here. Since I don’t own a Dutch oven I opted to slow cook mine on high (this is around 300 degrees depending on your model/make) for the same amount of time.
Boeuf Bourguignon is a timely process that consists of slow cooking dried beef (key step!) that has been browned in butter then bathed in a red wine sauce.
Shallots and mushrooms are prepared separately and added into the dish once the slow cooking is complete. The red wine is an important element which brings a rich flavor to the meal. You better believe your kitchen is going to smell like a slice of French heaven by the time you’re done!
I referenced Julia’s video and recipe to get a better understanding of how to process each aspect of the meal. Julia suggests slitting the bottom of each shallot of making a small “x” prior to cooking them so they will stay whole. I simmered mine in beef stock as the recipe suggested.
As for the mushrooms I followed Julia’s video once again, taking care to wash and dry the mushrooms as she does. I will admit I am not a mushroom fan, but I was hopeful that the lovely wine sauce would help distract me from the texture.
I served my stew with a French baguette, side salad, and a glass of that red wine (obviously!). It was so savory and delicious, each part of the stew melting in our mouths!
The red wine brought a unique yet very appreciated flavor and it was well seasoned. I have to admit I did not like mushrooms, but after having this meal my mind has been changed. I mean how could something taste bad after being sautéed in butter?
We rated this dish 8.25/10 and I would definitely make it again! Next we will try another peasant dish.. the well known ratatouille!