Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Open Door to a French Fridge

I don't know about you, but just like I'm curious to learn more about what other cultures eat for breakfast, I'm also eager to discover what a simple "no brainer" dinner is in these same cultures. What do the Italians make, on those nights when you don't feel like cooking much? What about the Chinese? The Moroccans? I know that for Thomas Keller, it's Progresso Lentil Soup. Anyway, you get my point. 

Because that's a passion of mine -to find out more about food cultures around the world-, I get excited when people ask me about French people.

Let me open the door to mon frigo (or my fridge) for you... Here are a list of staple ingredients I always keep in my fridge / cabinets, for those lazy nights:

  • Good quality jambon (ham). I stay away from pre-packaged ham. I go to the deli and usually buy Madrange or Le Cochon d'Or. 
  • Smoked salmon (and I usually always keep fresh lemons to squeeze on top)
  • Parmesan cheese and shredded cheese like Gruyere. And I always try to have at least one or two types of cheese to eat. I vary and try new things: Manchego, Crottin de Chavignol, any new cheddar cheese that tickles my fancy...
  • Avocados
  • Store bought pastry dough, for last minute quiches.
  • Potatoes
  • Lots of frozen vegetables (I buy the Bonduelle brand and/or the Central Market brand).
  • Butter (European style, it makes a difference in the taste and it's worth the price)
  • Cornichons
  • Fresh pasta and dry pasta, rice (I vary between Jasmine, Basmati but right now I also have the boil-in-a-bag kind for very last minute), couscous and orzo.I always keep peanut butter on hand (since living in America).
  • Eggs (Yes I know it's considered a staple, but see what I do with them below)
  • I like to keep a saucisson in the fridge sometimes too but I only do it occasionally. This thing goes way too fast...

So here are a few dinner ideas that I make on these lazy nights:

  • Croque-monsieur: it's nothing more than a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Some people add Bechamel sauce on top of it, I usually don't. I've tried it with and it's not bad either. I absolutely love croque-monsieurs!!! 
  • A bowl of pasta with butter, salt, pepper and grated Gruyere cheese.
  • A simple omelet with nothing in it, served with a salad (omelets in France are considered dinner food). I like to splash my omelet with vinegar... 
  • Grated carrots seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil, with a hard boiled egg and a tomato.
  • A bowl of dehydrated soup that I bring back from France (supermarkets have a wide variety of flavors that I really enjoy) . My favorite is the cauliflower cream.
I'm curious to know what YOUR secret weapon is on these lazy nights... What do you do? 


Jodi said...

I LOVE cornichons! Thanks for opening your fridge to us...I'm motivated to buy more cheese. On lazy nights I tend to do pasta with olive oil, salt and pepper, grated cheese, and maybe some steamed vegetables thrown in. I've also been known to have cereal with soy milk and veggies. If I'm feeling extra comfort-foodie, it's a crunchy peanut butter sandwich on toasted bread with honey. Omlettes are always a great lazy dinner food and I love a fresh salad with olive oil, vinegar, and an egg over medium on top!

memorablecontent said...

my favorite anytime/breakfast food is miso soup... and honey and peanut butter sandwiches on toasted multi-grain bread.

lucie said...

Chinese breakfast hey? Well, a real Chinese breakfast can consist of a variety of things really... If I am staying at my mother-in law, then I'll have some left overs, usually vegetables, meat, fish or even shrimps. It can also be accompanied by a bowl of porridge [sort of couscous in water with sweet dates, peanuts]. If we are eating out, then we could go for dumplings, mantou [steam bread], noodles, huge stuffed pancakes freshly made under your very eyes [eggs, green onions, spicy sauce, shredded carrots or other veggies, onion 'bing' [bread like a naan]... I am only giving you a tiny list because it really depends on where you live in China!! Here in HK for instance, the must on a Sunday morning are Dim Sum, and you can see how important a ritual it is by standing outside any restaurant serving these and be prepared to queue for HOURS. Best to go on a Saturday morning honestly... But could not really describe 'dim sum' for there are just so many of them, it's like miniature food that you select from a very long list [if the restaurant is serious about it] so you just have to try it out! All these must be washed out with tons of tea, so basically, take your time, HK people are a bit like French people on Sunday mornings, they love to slow it down and they usually bring the entire family with them [from grandma to baby]. I said it was like a 'ritual', it's a family ritual, truly it is. But my favourite has to be a good Northern style breakfast, because I am so hungry in the mornings, that I could eat and eat and eat... plus it's more focused on salty foods, the south is well-known for its sweeter delicacies. Hope this helps ;-D
BTW, love the new blog!

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

On lazy night, stir-fries of whatever is on hand, quick pasta dishes and sautee chops or chicken with couscous and seasonal veggies come to the rescue.

On really lazy nights, it's homemade pizza (the dough needs to rise for 45 minutes, but it only takes 3 minutes to make with my Cuisinart). And the toppings are endless so it's very flexible.

I generally save omelettes - which I love too - for lunch, with a huge salad.


Mary Ann said...

I was down to a few staples last week which resulted in cubed eggplant with oregano over pasta.

Parsec said...

I agree: you can't go wrong with a good croque-monsieur! I usually bake them in the oven until the Gruyère on top is bubbling...