Showing posts with label frugal french dishes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugal french dishes. Show all posts

31 August 2012

Frugal French Friday: Easy Ratatouille

It's ratatouille time! It's ratatouille time!

Who doesn't love this classic Niçoise dish, made with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes? It's great with pasta, rice, a baguette and even an omelet. I've paired it with potatoes, too.

It requires some preparation, but once the slicing and dicing is over, this stove-top version is done in one hour.

Which was great for me. Because I'm finishing up some projects at the office and tying up loose ends, I'm short of time just now.

That does not stop me from eating well and eating locally. I'm proud to say that 99 percent of this dish was made with locally-grown ingredients. Olive oil is not produced in northern Wisconsin or Upper Michigan.

The vegetables come from the farm market and the herbs and one of the peppers are from my own garden. Generally I prefer to serve my ratatouille over rice from the Camargue, but I had none so I served it as a side dish with this tarte.

If you read French, you may find this link fun to read. Here's another ratatouille option, and yet another one that I absolutely adore and drool on my keyboard every time I look at it. Here is another beautiful post that has the same effect on me.

Cost: The total cost of this dish was approximately $8, since I bought everything at the farm market. I managed four servings out of it so that's only $2 per person per meal. Serving it over rice adds only pennies. Ratatouille is one of the best bargains around, and it's comfort food, too.

Wine pairing: A Cotes de Rhone or a Roija are generally recommended with ratatouille.

29 May 2007

Cooking in Paris: Onion-Cheese Soup

In 2007, we rented an apartment in Paris to save money on food. It was as simple as that.

Besides, I thought cooking in Paris might be a heady experience. I was right.

Part of that is due to the bottle of wine my husband opens about 7 p.m. as I head for the kitchen. The other part is the cheese.

I’ve been saving cheese rinds for nearly a week now, with the idea of making some sort of cheese-y soup to go with baguettes from area bakeries.

I opened my cheese rind bag the other day. Here’s what I had: Rind from Comte and St. Paulin cheeses, purchased at FranPrix and Leader Price, respectively.

(My game plan was to try budget-priced cheeses to see if I liked them before purchasing higher-priced versions from a fromagerie. Being from Wisconsin, I can live on cheese, so buying a lot of it presents no problems.)

I bought the creamy St. Paulin on a whim, because St. Paulin-Louiseville is the area of Canada where my great-grandmother, called Mémere, was born and raised.

Then at an Ed store in the 18th (an upscale Ed, more or less), I found a chevre from the Poitou-Charentes area, where Memere’s ancestors originated. It, too, had a rind.

I melted the rinds in a saucepan over low heat, first adding about a tablespoon of unsalted butter and then about 1/3 cup cream.

This is the result of that experiment, made with what I had on hand:

Three-Cheese Onion Soup
  • about 1 cup cheese rinds from Comte, St. Paulin and chevre
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 3-4 sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • dash extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 2 onion-garlic bouillon cubes
  • 2-3 cups hot water
  • 2 teaspoons Provencal sauce
  • dash herbes de Provence
Chop cheese rinds into small pieces and set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add cheese and cream. Maintain medium-low heat until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, slice onions and mince garlic; combine with olive oil and butter in medium stockpot. Heat water and drop in soup cubes; stir until cubes melt.

When onions have begun to turn golden brown, add water and herbes. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes. Add melted cheese and allow flavors to marry over medium heat for about 15 minutes. You may want to fish out any large pieces of rind still left.

Serve with salad and a baguette. (You may not be able to find Provençal sauce locally. Same with the bouillon cubes. Vegetable bouillon and tomato sauce would do.)

I made this with budget-priced cheeses, and it was fantastic. I think it was the best soup I’ve ever made (she said modestly).

We paired it with a rosé from Provence. Maybe not the perfect choice but not bad at all.

Honestly, you cannot go wrong with food here.