Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving with a French Twist

Last July a free local newspaper magazine called "Neighbors" liked my idea about editing healthy and natural recipes and it started to edit my recipes.
Every month I am very pleased when seeing my own editorial and recipes edited in this nice and informative paper.
It was a big surprise when Diane Simone the owner and Chef Editor of this paper decided to use my pictures and column to illustrate the paper front page of her magazine.

A Touch of French
By: Celine

Our first Thanksgiving feast was 15 years ago, in Murrieta at our best friends? house: Jocelyne and Fabrice. We flied from Newark to California on Thanksgiving day.
It was really a cold and chilly day in New York and once we arrived in South California the weather was so wonderful and warm!
We arrived just on time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Our friends? inviting house was full of American/ French families and friends and everybody helped already for the preparation of this sumptuous meal .
First of all, I loved all the food served (but never tasted before): Turkey with cranberry sauce, corn bread, yams, Pumpkin pie?etc and I loved the idea about this very special time to reconnect with family and friends.
I loved also the decoration all the pumpkins, the colorful Autumn leaves displayed on the table, the dishes used for the meal, everything was beautiful!
Of course we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in France so it was a complete discovery.
I love this wonderful American tradition.
Every year now I try to do a mix of French and traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
Here is 2 Thanksgiving dishes with a French Twist.
These recipes have been kids tested. The cauliflower/ potato gratin was devoured in 5 minutes. Kids love Béchamel sauce. In fact I am using it a lot. Served on top of vegetables this is always delicious. So if your kids do not like vegetables you can try to serve with béchamel.
As for the dessert my son who likes only chocolate desserts asked 3 times for the Crème Caramel, this creamy, smooth and silky is lighter that the traditional Pumpkin pie even after a huge Thanksgiving meal!
For further information about my Cooking Classes, Catering and Personal Chef services send an e-mail to or contact Neighbors newspaper.

Cauliflower and potatoes Gratin
Serves 6

2 1/2 cups milk
3 potatoes peeled and cut in small pieces
1 small bay leaf
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets (about 7 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 generous cup finely grated Gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
4 gratings of fresh nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter a 1 1/2 quart gratin dish and set it aside.
Make the béchamel sauce. In medium sauce pan, heat the milk and bay leaf to just below the boiling point. Set aside. In another medium pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, and then sift in the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, until it lightens in color, about 2 minutes ( until you can smell almost sweet cookies).Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. While the sauce simmers, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add the Potatoes. Cook until tender add cauliflowers florets and cook additional 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Arrange the cauliflower, florets-side up and potatoes, in the buttered gratin dish.
Strain the sauce and season it with a teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and to taste. Whisk in the cheese, 1 tablespoon of the butter, until smooth, taking care not to over mix. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower.
Bake until the top of the cauliflower gratin is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Pumpkin Crème Caramel
Serves 8

For the caramel base:
3/4 cup super fine sugar
3 tablespoons water
For the flan:
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spices
1 1/2 cups Organic pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
7 oz Sweetened Condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the caramel base:
1. Melt sugar ( ½ cup) with water in your cake pan and place it on the stove top over medium ?low heat,( 5 minutes) until the sugar has melted and become a golden brown liquid, remove the pan from the stove. Coat the pan entirely with the syrup and set aside.
For the flan:
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and cream until lightly boiling. Meanwhile , in a large bowl, beat the eggs, add remaining sugar ( ½ cup), the salt, and the vanilla and beat until blended. Mix the Pumpkin puree with condensed milk and add it to the eggs mixture. Blend well. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into egg/ pumpkin mixture while stirring continuously.
Then place the caramel-lined cake pan in a deep baking pan that can receive your cake pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan up to the rim. Pour water into the deep baking pan halfway up the sides of the cake pan
Bake for 1 hour or until the flan is set.
Cool until room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day before serving.
Before serving run a sharp knife around the edge of the flan and invert onto a platter making sure that the caramel runs down the top and sides.
Bon Appetit!

Since these recipes have been "Public" some of my friends and clients asked me to duplicate the Pumpkin Creme Caramel, this is always a hit!
I invite you to try this delicious and healthy recipe for the Holidays Season!