My slowcooker has been on nonstop these past two weeks, as I've made a daily lunch for Jean-Marc and his stagiaire, or intern. For today's recipe, however, you'll need an oven.....
TODAY'S WORD: le gratin
: a cheese-topped dish (also a dish topped with breadcrumbs)
In addition to being a dish topped with a browned crust, le gratin also refers to the upper crust of society. Another definition has it as "anybody who's anybody." Wikipedia adds:
The etymology of gratin is from the French language in which the word gratter meaning "to scrape" or "to grate" as of the "scrapings" of bread or cheese, and gratiné, from the transitive verb form of the word for crust or skin.
ECOUTEZ/LISTEN to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
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Les oeufs au gratin Ne donnent pas de poussins.
Eggs in a casserole dish don't make chicks.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
"Eggs in a Casserole Dish Don't Make Chicks"
by Kristin Espinasse
I think I've correctly translated today's quote, and yet I still can't make out the meaning. Furthermore, I wonder if the traditional French gratin de courgettes calls for eggs or not....
Marianne had given me the recipe, verbally...but I don't remember her mentioning eggs...which, come to think of it, helps me to understand today's citation: it could be that it's a rhyme, helping cooks to remember whether or not to put an egg into a casserole recipe!
So no eggs in Marianne's gratin. But I feel like adding eggs, so I will... (Does that mean we need to rewrite the popular dicton?)
=> Eggs in a casserole don't make FRENCH chicks.
Being an American chick, I crack three eggs into a bowl, as Smokey observes the scene from the other side of the kitchen window.
Next, I add the contents of a small tub of crème fraîche , or sour cream. I salt and pepper this when a light goes off: noix musçade! A few grates of nutmeg might enhance this dish, just as nutmeg makes potato gratin so good!
In a frying pan, I sauté 4 cut-up zucchini and one chopped onion (yellow), adding more salt and pepper. When the vegetables are soft, I let them cool before mixing in the eggs and cream.
Greasing a casserole dish with butter (or oil), I pour in the zucchini-onion-egg-cream mixture, and top it off with grated gruyère (swiss cheese will work, or name another....).
Because I cook au pifomètre, by guesswork, I'm never sure how hot I'll set the oven. I go for 175C (around 350F) and set the timer for 20 minutes (adding another 10 when a glance through the stove window shows the gratin is not yet golden.
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The zucchini casserole made a delicious Saturday night dinner... and on Day Two, Jackie and her friends, back from clubbing all night near Toulon, happily ate some for lunch. (When a French kid likes my cooking, the recipe gets marked with stars!) On Day Three, Monday, I served the rest of the casserole to Jean-Marc, his stagiare, and me, placing a spatula full of gratin along side a plate of spaghetti and slow-cooked gigot (leg of lamb).
A French woman would never ever mix up food like that. But I am not a French chick. I am an American poussin!
Thanks for reading and for sharing this post.
I have gotten a lot of use out of my slow-cooker and my gratin dishes this week. If you are in the market for one of these and you shop at Amazon, please use one of the highlighted links, above, to enter the store. For your purchases, this word journal will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Some of you commented that Max has really grown up. Our son was 7-years-old when this blog began. He turns 21 in a few months.
Jackie was 5... She is thinking of pursuing her studies in Aix, this fall. And she hopes to move into her brother's apartment (seen here), as he may be moving to another city.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi