Recipes from Angers –
Since I am writing about living in Angers, France for my National Novel Writing Month topic, I thought that I would share recipes for foods that I enjoyed while I was there. Since I was a student, I primarily at at cafes when we ate out. Pizzas, sandwiches, and crepes were very popular with us students. I am not going to even try to find a satisfactory pizza recipe, because you need a brick oven!
I practically lived off of croque madame’s while I was there! Here are recipes for both the croque monsieur and croque madame. The first is a simple one, and the second is a little more complicated, with a Mornay sauce!
CROQUE MONSIEUR – CROQUE MADAME from The French Food and Cook
Croque Monsieur (“Crunch Mister”) and Croque Madame (“Crunch Missis”) are very traditional snacks in France. They are very simple to make and very good. So, what are the classical recipes?
A Croque Monsieur is made of sandwich bread, ham and cheese. Butter a slice of sandwich bread, add a slice of ham then a slice of semi-soft cheese (Gruyere is traditional) and finally cover with another slice of sandwich bread. Put in oven for 10 minutes and serve right away (the bread will toast and the cheese will melt).
– For a croque-madame, just add an egg on the bread. (Note: I am always wary of the cooking time of an egg on top of the sandwich. I usually fry the egg on the side!)
Concerning the meaning of the name, the verb “croquer” means to crunch. It is difficult to say why “monsieur” or “madame”, for monsieur, probably because workers were asking for a fast and hot dish in bars and cafés.
Croque Monsieur From The Paris Café Cookbook By Daniel Young
At most Paris cafes, the Croque Monsieur is no longer prepared as a square sandwich but rather as a one-sided tartine made with a large single slice of bread from a round loaf. To make a croque madame, top a monsieur with an egg. This recipe makes 4 servings.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
2 1/4 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups (about 3/4 pound) grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup light-colored beer
4 slices French country bread (large round loaf)
4 slices ham
1. Start by making the Mornay sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, and mix briskly with a whisk for 2 minutes.
2. Still over low heat, add 2 cups of the milk, continuing to whisk briskly. When the sauce comes to a boil, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Add 1/2 cup of the Gruyere to complete the Mornay. Remove from the heat, and let cool.
4. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and the beer in a bowl. Add the remaining Gruyere to this liquid. Let soak for 2 minutes, then drain.
5. Top each slice of bread first with a slice of ham and then liberally with the Mornay sauce. Sprinkle with the soaked Gruyere, and cook in a toaster oven or under a broiler until golden brown.
Since Angers is near to Bretagne, crepes restaurants and stands were very common. You could make a galette, or savory dinner crepe your main course, with a salad, and for dessert, you would have a choice of dessert crepes with chocolate, custard, or jam.
BASIC “GALETTE” BATTER RECIPE
This batter is still used to make salty galettes with a very specific flour called “farine de blé noir” (buckwheat flour) This is the oldest tradition which makes delightful galettes.
Use regular wheat flour if you can’t find this one!
250 gr [9 oz] buckwheat flour
1/2 liter [17 fl oz] water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Method: Put the flour and salt in a salad bowl and put the oil and the (whole) egg in. Turn slowly with a wooden spoon to begin to incorporate the water, bit after bit. Turn gently until the flour has disappeared ; turn very sharply so as to eliminate the lumps and obtain an homogeneous mixture. Finish pouring the water slowly while turning. Let the batter sit for at least one hour before cooking.
To prepare a crepe:
Turn the batter once more. Heat a non-stick pan and put a small chunk of butter in it. Swirl the pan to distribute the melting butter (the pan must be hot enough to hear the butter fry but not so hot that the butter should get brown!). Pour a small ladle of batter into the middle of the pan, swirling it to distribute the batter evenly (this is the important trick!). Cook until golden brown. To serve, turn the galette upside down and put the stuffing on the golden side. The stuffing will heat and melt while the other side of the galette is getting brown. Slide the galette in a large plate, fold it in half and serve it right away (or reserve in an oven plate which you will heat a couple minutes before serving). Repeat for each galette.
GALETTE PARISIENNE (Parisian Galette)
1. Prepare a batter as explained above; preheat the oven to 150C/300F if needed.
2. Grate some Swiss cheese (about 30 gr [1 oz. or more] per galette) and cut ham slices into small pieces (about 1 slice per galette).
3. Let the ham and cheese heat in the pan as explained above and generously season with pepper when ready…
4. If you wish, add some tomatoes, or add a broken egg (it will cook just a bit in the pan, this is really good !!).
5. Serve on a bed of lettuce…
BASIC CREPE BATTER RECIPE
Use this for any crepe making. There are variations with flavorings as well.
200 gr [7 oz] flour
1/2 liter [17 fl oz] milk
25 gr [1 oz] melted butter
2 pinches salt
(for sweet crepes, add 3 Tbsp. caster sugar and 1 Tbsp. of rum)
Method: Put the flour, salt (and sugar) in a salad bowl, and put the (whole) egg in. Turn with a wooden spoon and add the melted butter. Turn with a spoon gently until you have incorporated all the flour (add some milk if you need but just enough). Now that the batter is soft but not liquid you have to mix it very sharply so as to eliminate the lumps and obtain an smooth mixture. Finish pouring the milk slowly while turning. Let the batter sit for at least one hour before cooking.
To prepare a crepe:
Mix the batter again. Cook as for the galette above. The only difference is that you won’t add the fillings while it is in the pan. Cook until golden brown, then turn the crepe upside-down and cook the other side the same way. Put it on a large plate, stuff it and fold it into 4, or roll it. Do that again for each crepe.
Fill the crepes with sweet specialties like marmelade or jam, Nutella chocolate spread, honey, caster or icing sugar, etc. You can also serve the crepes by themselves and offer
the different possible fillings on the table…
I loved cheeses and pates and would often go to a charcuterie (deli/butcher) or fromagerie (cheese shop) and pick up cold cuts and pate or cheese (Camembert was a favorite). Then I would go to a boulangerie (bread store) and pick up a crusty loaf of bread and have a picnic! I was also a fan of candies and pastries, but won’t include those recipes right now. Too complicated.
My favorite desserts were those with ice cream – and they were readily available at most cafes. I loved the Poires Belle-Helene and the Peches Melba!
Peach Melba from News 10 Midday
Sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
French vanilla ice cream
Slice of pound cake or sponge cake
Toasted almonds, sliced
DIRECTIONS: Heat butter and brown sugar. Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon, and add sliced peaches. Layer raspberry puree and ice cream, and pour peaches over them. Finish with whipped cream and toasted almonds.
Poires Belle Hélène from About.com
Pears poached in vanilla syrup, served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. This classic French dessert made its first appearance in restaurants along the Grands Boulevards of Paris in 1865. It owes its name to Hélène, the Queen of Sparta, the principal personnage in the Offenbach operetta, “La Belle Hélène”.
For the pears:
6 firm pears
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean
For the chocolate sauce:
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon brandy
To Serve: vanilla ice cream
1. Cut one of the lemons in half. Peel a pear, leaving stem intact and rub immediately with the cut lemon.
2. Working from the bottom, scoop out the seeds and membrane using a vegetable peeler. Repeat with remaining pears.
3. Pare the zest from the other lemon and then squeeze out the juice.
4. Cut the vanilla bean in half. Combine the water, vanilla bean, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan.
5. Heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved, then bring it to a boil.
6. Remove the pan from the heat; add the whole pears. Cut a piece of parchment paper the same diameter of the saucepan. Dampen it and place it on top of the pears to keep them submerged while poaching.
7. Simmer the pears over low heat until tender. About 25-35 minutes, depending on ripeness. Let the pears cool in the poaching liquid.
8. Combine the water and chocolate in a saucepan and melt over low heat until smooth. (P.S. this is probably a chef no-no, but I always melt my chocolate in the microwave.)
8. Remove from heat and stir in the brandy. Keep the sauce warm.
Drain the pears well and place one in the center of each of 6 chilled serving plates. Arrange 3 or 5 small scoops of ice cream around the pears. Gently spoon the chocolate sauce over the pears and serve. Pass remaining chocolate sauce.
Note to self: Try this recipe for Gratin de fruits rouges (berries gratin). Sounds delicious!