When I studied abroad in France, I lived with a host family. The French word for host family is famille d’accueil, literally “welcome family”. My host family took this role very seriously. The day I arrived, they threw a huge party and invited all their friends to come meet their awkward, sleep deprived, jet-lagged American daughter. From the moment I was picked up from the airport, I was woven seamlessly into their family, participating in every meal and family event, voting on selections for movie night and my favorite- baby sitting.
One day, my host mom asked me to help my four year old host brother to make a quiche. I agreed, expecting to do most of the work while he helped mix or find spices. I was terribly wrong. Upon entering the kitchen, Nils asked me to turn on the oven and dice an onion for him- he’s not allowed to touch the oven or knives. I happily complied. He looked over my shoulder as I prepared the onion. “Those pieces look big, maybe you should mince it?”. I raised an eyebrow. What four year old knows the word for mince? He was lucky I knew the word for mince. He went back to discussing the plot of Ice Age 4, and I returned to my onion.
A French classic meets American impatience in a chocolatey match made in heaven. Or a blender.
I love chocolate. I love French things. I could eat chocolate mousse by the pint. And I was not in the mood to make mousse the proper old fashioned way. I winged it, and tried making mousse in the blender. The results were delicious. I still prefer my traditional recipe, but this one is great to whip up when you a need a dessert to impress, but have no time.
I love vegetables. I was the kid who happily ate broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and as an adult, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more vegetables in our diet. This is easier in the summer, when farmer’s markets pop up around the city and I can buy fresh beautiful vegetables for a competitive price. Sometimes I even get vegetables for free! My in-laws have a very prolific zucchini plant, and as much as they love to cook, they can’t keep up. I was happy to take a couple of zucchini off their hands.
Zucchini (or in French, courgette) is a versatile ingredient. I have oodles of delicious recipes that use zucchini. But when my father-in-law handed me those beautiful zucchini, all I could think was ratatouille.