Fun fact, being French does not mean you are the most amazing cook in the world. Do you know what good food is? Well, yes. Do you stop and enjoy food the way one enjoys a really good glass of wine or beer? Yes. You do not shovel the food down your throat, you savor. You let the flavors wash over you, BEFORE taking another bit.
Another fun fact:
My mother, born and raised in France does not know how to cook. My father actually taught her how to make pork chops, spaghetti and banana pudding with vanilla wafers. Which by the way is still my favorite, because it reminds me of him.
When I moved to France in late July, I assumed that I could hit the ground running in the cooking department. Now by no means am I a Nigella Lawson but I am pretty good at putting things together. Strangely, I am working harder and more here than I ever did in the States, so having time to cook is EXTREMELY hard. Mind you I used to make everything from scratch in Oregon. I was a champ at putting things together from whatever struck me that day, or following a recipe. But here, I am all thumbs. I go to the grocery store or the Saturday markets feeling overwhelmed and frankly a failure.
There is so much more to live than worrying about making food!
So after a bit of research, rewatching some cooking shows that I love (Nigella Lawson!) I have come up with a few simple things to make, that don’t take too much time.
Things to make during the week
- Sausage with veggies and potatoes (use a sheet pan)
Tried and tested this simple dish is a wonder to create. You don’t even need to worry about going to the butcher shop or the deli counter. In fact, there are a ton of varieties of sausage in the refrigerated section. So, be brave and pick out a pack that you think you may like. Trust that you will like it, trust that nothing is disgusting! If you don’t you will NEVER try anything new. Next up are the veggies. Pick the assortment you like. For me, that is the usual suspects, onions (yellow), red bell pepper, and of course potatoes. I choose red potatoes or sometimes yellow. Mainly because they are softer and I like the mushiness. Toss with your choice of light oil and some seasoning of your choice. Mine is a bit of salt and pepper. I have yet to venture into the spice aisle to find something like garlic power. Be sure to poke holes in the sausages with a fork, a few punctures will do! Then toss into your oven at 180C or 350F. In 45 to 50 minutes you will have a delicious dinner that did not need a lot of mental dedication.
2. Easy chicken soup
I love love chicken soup, now that I know how to make it. You can do a quick google search, mine came from Natashia’s Kitchen. (click here for basic recipe) Even if you are not a huge wine drinker you will love the warm flavors of this soup. It will not only warm your soul but your entire being. It’s like being hugged. (If you do find the soup on delish, make it. I have modified it a bit!) I still use the carrot, onion, the celery, cream (which by the way they do not have in France. So I had to be creative). I use thyme, salt, and pepper and to make it super speedy I use white wine after I cook the onions and carrots. Since the French love roasted chicken, you can find it EVERYWHERE! So, take the cheat and use the chicken. Cut it up, cube it or shred it that is up to you. As for the noodles, I don’t use them but that is a personal choice. This soup only takes about half an hour to make, with chopping and boiling and such. So I would save this recipe for a Friday or if you’re lucky and you don’t work on Mondays, (as some French people), you could make it then.
3. Tortellini soup.
This one I did not come up with but I did modify it a bit. I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. So if you want the OG then click here. I stick with all the ingredients except I sauteed an onion in a bit of butter, and use fresh carrots. Mainly because the bag at Piccard alarmed me. It was HUGE and I don’t have the freezer space. I also used jarred peas. Again, heavy cream is not something that can be found in France but they do have a milk-based sauce cream that you can purchase. I just used a bit of milk, whole milk. You could also use a bit of creme fraiche instead.
Last but not least!
4. salami, baguette, olives, cheese(good cheese) some crab (if you like) and grape tomates
Let’s face it, there are days when you don’t want to cook. This is the night where I usually give the kids chicken nuggets from Piccard and call it in. Instead of ordering I reach into my little fridge and pull out what I have. I usually have salami, olives, cheese and tomatoes. I don’t always have crab but when I do, I eat it with this!
No need to warm it up, no need to do anything but eat! I don’t even use a knife to cut the bread I just rip off a chuck like they do at Panera!
I hope you find these suggestions helpful, even if you are not in the middle of a city that you just moved to and feel completely lost!