You wouldn’t imagine the craziness that happens in the expat community in France come Thanksgiving. The big questions: Where to find pumpkin puree and a Turkey!?
Turkey aka dinde is actually pretty popular in France, but not the whole bird. I read a funny article the other day about a family that had ordered a turkey from their local farmer and instead of a turkey they got a note apologizing that the turkey population hadn’t faired that well this fall and he hoped they would be ok with a pheasant. Another story talked about a butcher that meticulously sewed on pieces of skin to the turkeys he had because they had come to him without all of their skin in tact. But that’s just gross. shudder
Let’s just say if you’re looking for a whole turkey- it’s difficult to find at a reasonable price. Then there’s the question of cooking it. Most people here have mini ovens that look a lot like toaster ovens. They’re great for small casseroles, a couple trays of cookies (more like several trays at 5 cookies a sheet), or even a quick slice of toast if you don’t have a toaster, but turkeys, well, I’m not really sure how that would fit.
How to solve both of these truly important questions! Well- turkey breast and legs of course instead of a whole turkey & bribe a friend from the US to bring over canned Libby’s pumpkin puree (Thanks Jen!)! et voila! Problem solved!
The usual bunch got together minus two awesome peeps, Tina and Vincent, but plus another awesome person- Ian of the Baking Chin. We had a pretty early Thanksgiving (Nov. 10), because one of us was going to the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade on Thanksgiving… JEALOUS!!!!
Un petit apéro or two.. to start. :-) Jess, you know the way to my heart! Poinsettias made with some bubbly, Cointreau, and cranberry juice.
While we made a pumpkin pie- using the recipe off the can of course. Seriously the only way to go. Ian made the pie crust from scratch and… by memory. Me = impressed.
Then there was the heat up shuffle before we all sat down to eat! Four things in the oven at once, gravy on the stove, mashed potatoes in the microwave!
Our amazing menu included:
Pain de Compagne & All American Dinner Rolls
Turkey Breasts wrapped in Bacon & Turkey Legs
Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with a Honey/Dijon Sauce
Now I’ve never had English stuffing before and it was delicious!! It’s so different from the stuffing I’m used to in the States. A lot more like meatloaf made with bread crumbs, sage, English sausages and several other things. Baked in the oven and then sliced.
I made my family’s stuffing passed down from my grandmother. It’s unique in that it uses both cornbread and biscuits, lots of sage, sausage, celery/onions/garlic, and eggs to bind. A lot more crumbly than an English stuffing and oh my goodness, heaven. I can’t believe I actually used to avoid this at Thanksgiving in the past!! I made both the cornbread (with polenta because corn meal is difficult to find) and buttermilk biscuits from scratch after an intense day of shopping with Jenni and Tina. haha!! Then combined it all into the awesomeness that is stuffing.
Jess made the turkey, gravy, and green bean casserole- from scratch. No canned condensed soup here!! Here’s the recipe she used from Martha Stewart. It was a-mazing!!! Just a few changes to the recipe: zucchini instead of mushrooms, a little bit of gouda, and some crispy store-bought onions for the top. yum!
I refused to think about the 8K I was running the next day. Full plate! Pile it up! nom!
Holy moly everything was amazing. I think we all had seconds and thirds. Then after a walk around the neighborhood we came back for pie! and a discussion about whipped cream in a can (creme chantilly) or as it was written on the can “creme gourmande”! And oh drank more wine and cider. Then we couldn’t walk but that’s what Thanksgiving’s are made of. :-D
Just a couple more days until Thanksgiving in the States! Maybe I’ll post my Grandma’s stuffing recipe? :-D
Yesterday in the theme of November/Movember me and my friends ran a 8K in Paris called Les Bacchantes. The only requirement (well besides hopefully finishing the race) was to wear a “stache”. haha!
Found one at a Halloween store! And got a surprise mustache for Jenni… bahahaha – which knowing me should have been pretty easy to guess.
We met bright and early (8:30) chez moi! and then after securely fastening our mustaches on, we headed out to the race! We’d celebrated Thanksgiving the day before and boy that was resting in our stomachs. oh and I had a scary blood shot eye. haha!
Jenni- sporting the… wait for it…. Western mustache I picked out for her. haha! If only there were handlebars too..
A couple warm up laps at the metro, some weird looks, and trying on some accents to match our staches- mine ended up Russian for a bit and then there was Tina’s meatball comments. ..
We also decided that we wanted to be referred to as the “Three Mustacheers.”
We made it to the start and met up with the Frenchman and his friend! Who took a much better photo of us then my one handed attempts earlier in the day.
We’re ready!! Nope- warm up first! A little dancing, stretching and good to go! On y va!
The course was beautiful!! It started at Avenue Foch close to the Arc de Triumphe (we could see it in the distance) and then went through the woods called Bois de Boulogne that border the left side of Paris. The leaves are changing so just imagine running through the woods with bright reds and yellows and you’re there. :-) Pretty!
The race was fast! So fast that my mustache blew off in the first 2K. 47 minutes for us at a 9:40 min/mile pace. Woot! Go team!
After was- cake, tea, soup and then the usual oranges, apples, Goo chews and water. tehe! Then some post-race pics at the Eiffel, because why ever not!
After showers at my place we headed to lunch at a cafe down the street with the Frenchman and his friends. Tina was apparently drunk off of one glass of white wine. haha! There might have been mention of a bird sculpture and a very hard to pronounce word- janvier! I promise I’m saying it correctly now.. maybe? haha! Loved the mix of languages! The red wine was delicious! Bon choix! The liver.. errr not bad but not awesome? Very chewy? We decided to try frogs legs next. haha! So pretty much an awesome day start to finish. :-)
We had Mexican Fiesta #2 gosh about a month and a half ago? Or something like that? And I can’t believe I’m just now posting some pics!
After a very successful first Mexican Fiesta, there was way too much recipe exchanging and #2 just had to happen ASAP. How could it not when you’re drooling over a Carnitas recipe and a new margarita recipe happens to pop up!
oh and quite a feast we had- This was the start of three tacos for me after a ridiculous amount of amazing guacamole.
I love tacos! oh and margaritas!~lots of margaritas!
Jess had made the carnitas the day before (holy guacamole they were amazing!!!) and stewed a pot of black beans – one of the most difficult things to find here in France. oh I miss the days where I can have a couple cans of black beans on hand for any Mexican adventures that happen to come my way.
The raclette nachos made another appearance and were devoured along with an entire liter of salsa.
oh and we can’t forget the corn tortillas!! There is one place in Paris where you can order fresh tortillas and avoid the packaged one’s in the store with an expiration date 6 months from the time you buy them (scary..). It’s called Tortilleria Mil Amores. Orders have to be in by Friday afternoon, pick up is just on Saturday for a couple of hours in a hole in the wall apartment.
Just look at these beauties!
I made guacamole. My fav!!
The Essentials for Guacamole:
avocados (2 is good for about 2-3 people)
Taste as you go (oh darn…) and adjust the amounts to suit how you like it! Some peeps love a ton of lime juice or a ridiculous amount of cilantro. We didn’t have jalapenos so we added some salsa to add a little kick/extra flavor.
oh yes, and there was passion fruit raspberry tart for dessert not because it’s Mexican but because half of us are pastry chefs. ;-) One of the gorgeous chefs with the tart crust we cooled outside on the patio.
Mexican Fiesta #3 –> Pronto! I want to make enchiladas!
My absolute favorite brownie recipe has made it across the ocean. I’ve made it twice here and soon there after my friends have made it several times- one a reported three times in one week.
Yes, it is that good.
To find the original recipe in cups and teaspoons head over this way.
These are ooey gooey fantastically awesome. The secret- the browned butter. It adds the right amount of nuttiness, richness, and caramel flavor to the brownies.
Here’s some pics my British friend Jenni took who has now made these ahem 6 times sent me:
Beurre Noisette Brownies
142g unsalted butter cut into cubes
96g cocoa powder
pinch of dried vanilla or a “glug” of liquid vanilla
10 ml water
2g sea salt
2 large eggs
45g all-purpose flour
100-125g pecans (or walnuts), toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius/325 F, and line the inside of an 8×8 square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving 2-inch overhangs and pressing the foil tightly to the sides of the pan. (If you like spray the aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, though I didn’t find this necessary.)
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring often. The butter will first melt, then foam, then form more clear bubbles. Once the butter has only bubbles (and no foam) and there are browned bits at the bottom of the pan, remove the butter from the heat. Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and 10ml water. Let the mixture sit for about 4-5 minutes to cool, then mix in the eggs one at a time, beating quickly after each addition. Once the chocolate mixture looks relatively smooth, mix in the flour, and then beat well for a few minutes. Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking.
Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean – if there is still a tiny bit of moist batter at the very bottom that is ok. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.