Bonjour and Bienvenue!
Updated: May 25, 2020
Like many, my love for cooking was inspired by my mom, Wendy. She always spoiled our little family and dinner guests with simple, but delicious recipes (my friends particularly loved coming over after a late night out to find Wendy’s Chocolate Bread Pudding waiting for us on the stovetop!). Plates were always filled with seconds and when praised for whatever was served, Mom always responded, ‘Oh, it’s nothing’ (which I have since learned is not always true). This inspired my food philosophy that cooking at home should not be overly complicated or too fussy, but should make people want more.
For my 18th birthday, my Mom gave me the ultimate gift – a binder full of photocopies of all her favorite recipes. But it wasn’t until I met Frédéric (Fred), my (now) husband, 13 years ago while living in Tunisia that I finally put that binder to good use – cooking for others is much more rewarding.
I’m American (from Boston, with New Jersey, California, Arizona roots), but my husband is French and we have been living in Paris for the past 10 years. Cooking-wise, this has been a blessing, and often a headache. I can’t find a lot of ingredients for my favorite ‘American’ recipes and so I have worked hard to find good substitutes and always have a suitcase full of canned goods/spices/etc. when I come back from visiting the States (canned chilis, ranch dip packets, bacon and Pam are all frequent flyers). Plus, I am constantly using my Converter app to go back and forth between French and American measurements.
But, I have also been inspired by the incredible products and recipes I am constantly finding here – seasonal produce at local markets, amazing cheeses, rich sauces. Here, we don’t have to worry about pesticides and antibiotics in meats and produce like we do in the US and for such a small country, it always amazes me how each region in France has such distinct specialties and culinary traditions.
I have always loved learning about new cultures and cooking has been my way of sharing my culture with others and of introducing lots of French recipes to my parents. ‘Dinner parties’ or ‘apéros dinatoires’ (a French trend of get-togethers with cocktails/champagne and lots of hearty hors oeuvres) are big in France and we love hosting. I do Thanksgiving every year and invite new friends to share my traditions with and luckily, our friends in France have been eager to try different 'American' specialties. Friends here often ask me, ‘What IS American food?’ Oftentimes, the stereotype is that American food consists of hotdogs, burgers and fries and cheesecake – all washed down with a giant Coke of course. And while those are all part of our culinary repertoire, our country, and therefore our food, is also a melting pot of cultures. I cook (and will include recipes for) some of those stereotypical American recipes, but also recipes that reflect my experiences (US, North Africa, France, etc.) and what we love to eat.
However, it has been very interesting, and often surprising, to see which recipes our French friends particularly love. Most notably, my Lemon Love Cheesecake is the reason I decided to write this blog. I have passed on the translated version of this recipe to over a dozen of our French friends and have been asked to make it for nearly every barbeque, birthday, dinner party we’ve been invited to (my friend’s daughter even asked me to make it for her 6th birthday party!).
My original binder from my Mom has now become 4 (not including my library of cookbooks) as I am constantly printing recipes I find online or cutting out ones from American and French cooking magazines. But, I tweak, add to or try to simplify every recipe I find.
Practicing social distancing and being under lockdown from Covid-19 gave me the perfect opportunity to finally share some of our favorite recipes with you, wherever you may be!
Through this blog, I hope to share recipes with you that: - Are very tasty without being too complicated or fussy - I have tested and re-tested with the help of my very willing guinea pig(s) - Add a little French flair to some American classics or make some French recipes more accessible - Provide substitutions for ingredients that might be difficult to find - Have a choice of measurements so you don’t need to constantly be looking up conversions - Can be made without professional equipment or a huge kitchen (ever seen a typical Parisian kitchen?!)
Recipes range from very healthy to gluttonous – different occasions call for different needs. I have a French friend who is adamant that ‘light’ ingredients do not belong in dessert recipes. I disagree – sometimes, lighter versions of ingredients can even make both sweet and savory recipes better. BUT, sometimes lighter substitutions simply do not work. When that’s the case, I’ll let you know.
In terms of presentation, I know the saying ‘you eat with your eyes first,’ but I eat with my mouth. Yes, I appreciate pretty food, but I only do recipes that TASTE great and, well, if they look nice too, it’s an added bonus. I’ll point out recipes that are visually impressive versus ones that are more rustic and should be reserved for friends that are not so judgmental.
On that note, another disclaimer. I am not a professional photographer nor do I have the fancy equipment to make me seem like one. I can only promise to do my best.
Under the Food in France tab, I will include information about where to find certain ingredients in France and a list of restaurants and culinary spots we have particularly enjoyed in and around Paris as well as places we have visited across France. These are just my (our) personal experiences – I know very well that everyone has their own tastes and preferences.
After all that blabbing, let’s get cooking!