Archive for the ‘In My Kitchen’ Category

Measuring Cups

April 8th, 2015

Two cups is the general equivalent of 400 grams, at least when it comes to flour.  The measurements are relatively interchangeable, depending on whether you’re cooking a metric recipe or an American one, but the difference can also be just enough to make sure your cake never quite sets, or your bread turns to brick. […]

 

Two cups is the general equivalent of 400 grams, at least when it comes to flour.  The measurements are relatively interchangeable, depending on whether you’re cooking a metric recipe or an American one, but the difference can also be just enough to make sure your cake never quite sets, or your bread turns to brick.

If we ever move back to France, the first thing I’m hiding in my suitcase is a set of measuring cups.  Ones that will let me still cling to some of my favorite foods in moments of desperation.  Ones that will let me still smell my mother’s zucchini bread rising in the oven; 3 cups of flour, in order to keep the bread just moist enough. Ones that will still let me make waffles from scratch for my family on Saturday mornings; two cups of flour, plus a dash of sour cream and coconut oil.  And ones that will let me still get a sugar high from my chocolate chip cookie recipe that made my husband fall in love with me; 4 cups of flour for a firmness that’s just so and lets them melt in your mouth like butter.  God forbid we cook those on the French system, he won’t know who I am anymore.

It’s funny, my attachment to these little white stacked cups, with their handles and red numbers engraved on the side, because I learned how to cook in France, without them to guide me, yet I feel like I’m not quite at home without them now.

The difference between two cups and 400 grams is what keeps me from finding a home in my mother’s kitchen, and what stops my mother-in-law from inviting me into hers.  It’s a difference that can’t quite be explained, because there’s no way to make it equivalent.  It’s simply what makes me different.  I can copy their recipes, but I can’t quite duplicate them.  There’s always something just a little bit off.

I will always speak just a little different; my children will always speak it too.  Our accent, our cadence, our choice of word order.  None of it is equivalent, yet similar enough.  We are understood, but it is not always correct.  It’s two cups in a recipe that really wanted its 400 grams.  I will always dress just a little bit off, I will always parent slightly outside the lines of their culture and what they expect.  It’s simply me trying to find a balance between my cups and your grams, and knowing that it doesn’t always exist.

According to someone, I will always be holding two cups instead of 400 grams, or grams instead of its’ slightly off equivalent of cups.  Yet if I can learn to take the forthcoming questions and eye-raising with a grain of salt; whether it’s the 99 cent box from the bodega or the lavender fleur de sel at the supermarché that’s a little out of my reach, my cups and I might just be able to make it through, knowing that at least if all else fails, I still have my little white handled safety nets, and those chocolate chips, four cups of flour, and a man who loves me for them every time they melt like butter in his mouth.

I’ll always be working from the wrong side of the system, trying to find the middle ground and which recipes will work there; buy maybe we simply need to expand our palette a bit and steer clear of the cakes that don’t set and the loaves of gluten brick.

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As I’m finishing up my last semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I found out right before the semester started that I was short one English class, so I’ve been able to spend the semester taking a creative non-fiction writing class.  It’s my favorite genre to read, and I think I finally found my writing niche; I can get lost with hours and hours of journaling for the class… This is an excerpt from one of the pieces for class, and it’s the inspiration for a longer piece due in a few weeks that I’m currently working on.  This course ranks high in the top 3 I’ve taken at FIT, and it’s not even related to my major!!  But, I have a feeling it will be related to future projects… My professor is trying to talk me into writing a book about all of our French family experiences, and I have a couple other projects up my sleeve too!

xoxo, Katherine

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A Pavlova Recipe

April 6th, 2015

This was a busy busy weekend!  Passover and Easter fell on the same weekend this year, so it was chock full of good food, good company and good worship.  We started celebrating Passover years ago with some good friends of our and it fast became one of our favorite holidays, and this year we did […]


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This was a busy busy weekend!  Passover and Easter fell on the same weekend this year, so it was chock full of good food, good company and good worship.  We started celebrating Passover years ago with some good friends of our and it fast became one of our favorite holidays, and this year we did an Easter potluck with the same family.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me during Passover prep (we spent the ENTIRE day in the kitchen!) But maybe next year you’ll get a full menu with pictures!  I sat there the whole day remembering back to last year, snuggling with a two week old baby and being a bit more on the fringe of the event.  And here we are one year later; Eaden is walking and almost one, number three is on the way and I worked all day long! It’s amazing how life changes and grows from one year to the next.  A few years back, I started making the dessert for Passover, and it’s such a big hit every year that I thought I’d share the recipe. (I did snap a few pics of this one.)  Have you ever had Pavlova?  It’s so simple to make, incredibly beautiful, and even more delicious and I KNOW you’ll enjoy it!  This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Mini Pavlova recipe in her book “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” (One of my favorite cookbooks!!)  (recipe below)

A Pavlova Recipe from Katherine Bignon

For Easter dessert I think I made 21 crème brûées… And then I ate a leftover one for breakfast this morning!  Maybe, just maybe we’ve had enough sugary goodness for a while… We’re all looking forward to a delicious plate of leftovers tonight though…

 

Passover Pavlova Recipe

Ingredients for Meringue:

8 large egg whites

shake of salt

1 ½ cups sugar

2 teaspoons potato starch

1-2 teaspoons Vanilla extract

2 teaspoons White Wine

*Your meringue will be stiffer, and hold better if you use organic eggs for the egg whites.  The egg whites in organic eggs are thicker and sturdier than in regular eggs, leading to a much better meringue!

Set your oven to 350 degrees

Put the salt and egg whites into a mixer and whisk on high until the egg whites start to hold firm peaks, then slowly add in the sugar.  I usually put the full 1 ½ cups into a small bowl, and then slowly pour it into the mixer while it’s still going on high.  Once you have all the sugar in, your meringue will most likely look like it’s about to take over the entire bowl (I usually mix mine in a KitchenAid Stand Mixer), and it will be nice and stiff and snowy white.  Turn off the mixer, remove the whisk, and add the potato starch, Vanilla, and Wine to the top, then gently fold it into the meringue with a spatula.

Next you’ll need two large cookie sheets.  Line them with parchment paper, and take a large plate (about 10-12” round) and draw a circle of their outline on the paper.  Use a spatula, and put half of the meringue into each circle, spreading it out so it reaches to the edges of your outline.  Use the spatula to shape the edges of the circles up a little, so that there is a slight ridge which will help hold all your berries and cream inside.

Now the meringues are ready to bake! Slide them into the oven and when you do, turn it down to 300 degrees so that the temperature gradually cools a bit as they cook.  Bake them for 30 minutes, and then turn the oven off and let the meringues sit inside for minimum another 30 minutes.  (I like to cook this recipe the night before I need it, and then when I turn the oven off I let them sit in the oven overnight cooling.  This lets the meringues dry out, giving them a crunchy outside and gooey inside, exactly the texture you want for the Pavlova!

Preparing the Pavlova to serve:

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream, whipped

Fruit and Berries: Some of our favorites are strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, plus chopped kiwis and fresh figs.

  *If you put the bowl for your mixer in the freezer an hour or two before you need to whip the cream, your cream will hold better when it’s whipped, and stay cooler longer!  Add a little bit of sugar and vanilla to your cream while it’s whipping and it’ll sweeten it up a bit too.

To assemble: Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the first meringue and place it on a serving dish.  Put half the whipped cream onto the meringue, and smooth it out.  Then cover with berries.  Peel the parchment off the second meringue and layer it on top of the first, then cover with the remaining whipped cream and pile with berries.  Slice, serve and enjoy!

A Recipe for a Delicious Pavlova from Katherine Bignon

Xoxo

Katherine

 

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French Cooking: A Simple Rice Salad

January 20th, 2015

We go back to France every year to visit my family that I lived with over there, and my husband’s family, and one of my favorite parts of the trip every year is the FOOD (I mean, why wouldn’t it be?!), and the way mealtimes are cherished and enjoyed! I learned how to cook when […]


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We go back to France every year to visit my family that I lived with over there, and my husband’s family, and one of my favorite parts of the trip every year is the FOOD (I mean, why wouldn’t it be?!), and the way mealtimes are cherished and enjoyed! I learned how to cook when I lived there, which is probably where my love of all things fresh, and organic/non-gmo comes from, along with mixing foods and seeing what you come up with! (The mom I lived with was a total GENIUS at combining foods!)  And my mother-in-law is an absolutely incredible cook!  I come home every year with a list of all the foods she cooked so that I can add them to my running list of go-to meals for our family.  So, in honor of my venture this year into the French cookbook, (the one passed down in my mother-in-laws family!) I thought I’d share one of the recipes I learned from her.  It’s a simple one, with so many ways to modify and spruce it up, the possibilities are completely endless!  It’s a perfect recipe for those days when you make way too much rice to go with your meal (if you’re like me anyways!) and have a ton leftover in the fridge for the next night…

A Simple Rice Salad

2 cups rice, cooked, chilled or still warm (I LOVE the salad when it’s still warm from the rice!)

3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and diced

1-2 tomatoes, diced

swiss or gouda cheese, diced

ham (or other deli style meat), sliced or diced

Raspberry or Balsalmic Vinegar

Olive oil

Dijon Mustard

Garlic clove

Salt

 

Toss the diced ingredients into the rice, and mix

Dressing: The “official” dressing for this salad is based off of raspberry vinegar, which is something I have been unable to find in the US.  It’s different than raspberry vinaigrette’s, it’s an actual vinegar, that has a lighter flavor than balsamic.  So, if you get lucky and happen to find it, yay!! but the salad also tastes great with Balsalmic!

So, equal parts Raspberry or Balsalmic Vinegar and Oil, and then add an additional dash of the vinegar just to top the flavor off.  (Use olive oil if you want a stronger oil flavor, or avocado or canola oil if you don’t want to taste the flavor as much!)

Add a spoonful of a spicy mustard, a crushed clove of garlic, and some hearty shakes of salt.  Mix it all up, pour over the salad in the desired quantity and enjoy!

This recipe works great as an entire meal in one, or as a side to another dish! And because it’s served warm or chilled, and can be pre-made and sit in the fridge for a day (if you do this, save a little extra dressing to put on it again before you serve to freshen it up), it makes a great picnic meal!  It’s one of our favorite summer beach meals!!

This isn’t a recipe you’ll find when you sit down at a fancy schmancy French restaurant, and if you never venture into a dear friend’s house while you’re in France, you’d probably never see something like this, but it’s a lovely, simple, home cooked meal that is served to us almost every time we go back, and I love it!  Cold mixed salads, of all variations, are the heart and soul of many a family-style sit-down lunch in France.  Imagine this one, or one based on corn filled with shrimp, tomatoes and peppers, or one with a base of tuna with a little rice, cucumbers and tomatoes, all topped with a vinegar dressing and served with baguette on the side and a lovely glass of red wine.  I love that mealtimes in France are something to be cherished!  The whole family sits down together to a fresh cooked meal, for lunch and dinner, and it’s not an “eat as fast as you can and run back to your other stuff” type of experience, it’s a chance in the middle of your day to enjoy food, enjoy conversation, and rest together.  These are the type of memories I want my children to grow up with!

I hope you enjoy the salad, we’re loving it at our house today!

Chopped Tomatoes

Chopped Gouda

We chose to use Gouda for this salad, instead of swiss, I like the flavor a bit more!

Prosciutto

I used prosciutto instead of ham this time

Eggs Chopped Eggs Rice Adding the Ingredients Dressing Pouring the Dressing Simple Rice Salad

Bon Appetit!