Sunday, February 21, 2010

...the perfect apres-snow meal: Tartiflette...

Big day in the life of Lauren: first day 'avec raquettes'. Or something like that... I went snowshoeing today! Straight up the Jura at Monts Jura in Crozet. It was beautiful, but quite the challenge. I wish I had a photo of how far we went! I had absolutely NO idea.

The photos show you the view from the top of our journey (they don't do justice!) If you look at the bottom photo close enough, you can see from the left: Lake Geneva with the Jet D'Eau, Mont Blanc and the French Alps, Le Saleve (dark mountain in front of the white ones), all the little villages between Geneva and Crozet... pretty incredible.

After burning all those calories (believe me it was a TON!) We came home and made Tartiflette. This is an amazing regional dish to the Savoie Region of Switzerland and France. For your enjoyment, I've included the recipe. You can substitute the cheeses if unable to find the one the recipe calls for, but if you have a Whole Foods nearby, you should be able to find Reblochon there.


Potatoes to fill a small gratin pan
1 medium onion
200 grams (6 ounces) of smoke and salt cured pork in any combination: poitrine fumé or the best smoked bacon you can find, smoked bacon plus salt cured Savoie ham or Southern style country cured ham. Just get what’s the best cured pork available to you.
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons fat: butter or duck fat
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup crème fraiche epaisse or heavy whipping cream if you don't have creme fraiche
1/2 cup dry white Savoie type wine (this is how I discovered my love for Sauvignon Blanc!)
1/2 of a Reblochon de Savoie
Fresh parsley
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices.
- Roughly chop the onion.
- Heat the duck fat in a heavy skillet and add the onions, bacon and ham, and sauté gently for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes.
- Add the wine, give the potatoes a stir, cover, season with salt and pepper as desired, and let simmer and steam in the wine for 10 minutes more.
- Grease the gratin pan with duck fat, crush the garlic clove, and rub the garlic clove all over the inner surface of the pan.
- Reserve the remaining garlic for another use (the vinaigrette for the accompanying salad, for example).
- Add the crème fraiche to the potato onion bacon mixure, and transfer it to the gratin pan.
- Slice the Reblochon in half with a sharp knife flat wise, and place the two pieces on top of the potatoes, rind side up.
- Place into the very hot oven and bake for 10 minutes at 250C or 550F
- Turn the heat down to 200C / 400F and bake 10 more minutes
- Turn off the oven, and leave the dish in the oven without opening it for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with a salad, crusty bread, and the the wine you cooked with.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

...a powerful force...

This was a while ago, but I have to confess that the biggest force moving me back to France after Christmas was knowing my dear friend, Hannah, would be here to join me shortly after I returned.
I wanted to share a few photos and fun times we had while she was here. She's such a gem. When I think of Hannah, I think of this amazing, nourishing salve you might put on an open wound or dry, calloused skin - only use this salve on your heart. She's so good at getting to the core of a situation and for seeing it for what it truly is. Hannah is someone who knows the possibilities life holds and takes the appropriate actions to make these things happen. Needless to say, we didn't have any trouble logging more adventures to the collection we already have to look back on.
This was a good one: We headed up to Zurich to an exhibit of preserved corpses - sounds morbid, and perhaps it was a little... but it was so very fascinating. (Read more on BODY WORLDS here.) We were frazzled and trying to get from the train station to the exhibit center when we found the tram we needed, but couldn't for the life of us figure out how to get the tickets. As we got on the tram I whispered to Hannah to be inconspicuous. We're on the tram for maybe a minute when she says in her not-so-inside voice: "We don't have tickets!" O gosh, Hannah. Way to be inconspicuous.
Our trainride back from Zurich was pretty exciting, if I do say. We weren't confident we'd be able to pack in dinner before our ride back so we waltzed down to Migros (the shopping market) and bought rice cakes, smoked salmon, and Boursin cheese! We settled into our spots on the train and before we could even take our first bite, the older men sitting across from us on the train were oogleing and aweing over our dinner... turns out we traded them two Heinekens for our little apéritifs. These men were pretty hilarious and by the end, as you can see, they were spilling out their Dutch and taking claim on my camera. They kept us laughing the whole ride through!
We spent Saturday morning at my beloved market, preparing for our week of over indulgence! (We had so much fun cooking!) We made gnocci, quinoa and black bean stuffed peppers, tartiflette... I'm pretty sure we could have continued but there were so many other things we had to see and do! (Walk the dog, explore the Reformation Museum, go to Montreux...)
This is a photo of the last time I had a bottle of my most very favorite wine -- after this, I couldn't find it ANYWHERE!
It always seems there's more to share, but simply not enough time to share it! Perhaps later, but by then I'm sure there will be more thoughts or stories to tell... until then.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ah, so looking forward to being home!

I can't wait for:
-Aidan time
-meeting Nolan (the soon-to-be newest addition in the Hanson family!)
-Mexican food
-adventures with my girls
-midnight runs to hy-vee
-internet that works
-a phone
-time with loved ones
-black beans
-peanut butter
-the ablity to talk to strangers
-English bookstores
-unlimited time with my family
-road trips
-SUMMER 2010
-access to the rec center