Working long hours and raising children at the same time didn't leave me long hours to prepare meals every day. I also tried to limit my grocery shopping to once a week–on Saturday like everyone else! I'd make a menu plan for the week, prepare my shopping list accordingly (I even had an order-form like sheet I printed with the computer, with product categories arranging in the order of the aisles in my regular supermarket), and shop around noon, when most people were at lunch.

The Meal Plan

The meal plan varied a little, but weeks tended to have the same pattern, dictated by practicality.

  • Fish for dinner on Saturday or lunch on Sunday – while it was freshest (shopping Saturday noon, remember?).
  • Home-made pizza for dinner on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was the time of week when I could take a couple of hours to make the dough. The dough was my job, but my daughters did most of the topping, including what combinations to try (or re-use); one of our favorite toppings was slices of suçuk, a Turkish dry sausage. We tried various bread dough recipes for the crust.
    1. Pita Bread from the LA Times cookbook (p.374)
    2. Pain de campagne – recipe probably derived from one on a package of the flour.
    3. Other variations on the recipes listed above, with some of the wheat flour (usually about a third, I think) replaced by buckwheat flour, corn flour (not corn meal), or oatmeal.
    4. English Muffin Bread (with less milk or it's too gooey) from a Fleischmann's yeast recipe.
  • Monday (and left-overs Wednesday) chicken, since poultry spoils the next-fastest after fish.
  • Tuesday (and left-overs Thursday) some other meat, or marinated duck, or a casserole.
  • Friday : time to dig into the freezer for fish sticks, potato puffs and creamed spinach.

Other Key Considerations

In addition to the shopping and freshness concerns noted above, recipe selection was influenced by several other practical considerations.

  • Recipes had to use only basic or “commodity” ingredients, no pre-mixed ingredients I couldn't find in France (and which might no longer be available in the U.S., for that matter).
  • Things I could marinate or otherwise semi-prepare ahead and then just pop in the oven or broiler (which doesn't take long) were often convenient because preparation time was not all bunched at the moment I got home from work.
  • Finally, no mammals. Although this was not the case for several years prior, around 1997 I decided to avoid eating mammals; BSE and scrapie were around (and H5N1 wasn't, yet), and I'd heard how smart (and genetically similar to humans) pigs are, so I decided to stick to fish, seafood, birds (including red-meaty ones like duck and ostrich), snails, frogs, etc. I found that several recipes for other meats could be nicely adapted to duck and turkey.

The Recipes

Note on Units of Measure

These recipes come from cookbooks in American, British (Imperial?) and French units of measure. I've tried to give the recipes in metric units with some consistency, but have skipped some of the conversions to speed the transcription, notably leaving some 'C', 'Tb', and 'tsp'. One difficulty in converting is that American recipes may (and often do) measure some ingredients like powders (flour, sugar) by volume whereas French recipes measure them by weight, and densities take time to look up.

Cups and Spoons

Cup, abreviated 'C', is a measure of fluid (or powder) volume, 8 fluid ounces (fl.oz.). A cup is half a pint, and a pint of water weighs one pound; one pound is 454 grams (at standard temperature and pressure). Hence, one fluid ounce of water weighs just under 57 grams.

A tablespoon, abreviated 'Tb', is half a fluid ounce; a cup is 16 Tb.

A teaspoon, abreviated 'tsp', is one third of a tablespoon; there are therefore 48 tsp per C.

For easy mental arithmetic (at a cost of under 5% error), one may take a cup as 240 gm rather than 227 gm: 240 gm is easy to divide by 2, 3, 4, 8 (and 6, but that almost never comes up). I have mainly used 60ml for quarter cups and 80ml for third cups, and provided volume quantities rather than weights for powders.

Table 1: using 240 ml per cup
Cup Fl. Oz. Tb tsp :-: ml cl dl
1 8 16 48 240 24 2,4
\frac{1}{2} 4 8 24 120 12 1,2
\frac{1}{3} 2\frac{2}{3} 5\frac{1}{3} 16 80 8 0,8
\frac{1}{4} 2 4 12 60 6 0,6

For spoonsful, I've also used the approximation of 5ml per tsp, 15ml per Tb, rather than the 14ml per Tb and 4\frac{2}{3}ml per tsp corresponding more closely to 227ml/C.

Verres et cuillères

While many French recipes benefit from metric measures of volume (and powders by metric weight), very often one encounters volumes measured as “1/2 verre d'huile”, “une cuillerée de farine”, “une tasse de crème”, “2 morceaux de sucre.” I've generally taken a “verre” as half a cup, that is 120-125ml. I've also taken spoons to be Tb or tsp, whichever seems most appropriate, and not rounded. I'm not sure what I've done with “tasse” or whether it has appeared in any of the recipes I've here transcribed. A “morceau de sucre” would be a tsp, wouldn't it? I have made no attempt to standardize measures of bay leaves, cloves of garlic, or even to specify size of eggs, which may matter.


  • Spicy Baked Chicken – from Madhur Jaffrey (p.71),
    • requires marinating three hours or more,
    • cooks in 45 minutes.
    • Can be less spicy (to taste) by varying the amount of cayenne (down to zero, even).
  • Pollo à la Vinagreta – from B. Hansen
    • very little work (cut up chicken, slice an onion, peel and slice a few tomatoes)
    • cooks in about an hour.
  • Stewed Chicken and Dumplings – from Better Homes and Gardens, but there is an alternative composition based on “Poule au pot” (which is in turn based on “Pot au feu”) from Tante Marie. Dumplings are optional, but we like them.
  • Stir-fry Chicken –based on a couple of recipes in Time-Life Chinese Cooking, this is a “general” recipe with options: snow peas or bean sprouts, mushrooms, too, or not.
  • Chicken Marengo/Chasseur – a composite, since the two are very similar (what is the difference?) derived from recipes in five books.
  • Chicken Couscous – a chicken-only version of another recipe that included other meats, notably lamb.
  • Roasted Turkey Leg – an adaptation of a recipe for leg of lamb; makes a very nice, moist, tender roast.
  • Thai Chicken Curry – from an American cookbook, this is not very authentic –Bechamel sauce? 1) but we love it. Once the set-up is done (Bechamel, blanched broccoli, cut-up chicken or turkey) it cooks in a couple of minutes.
  • Civet de Canard – a recipe for marinated and slow-cooked rabbit which works very well for duck. I did make it with rabbit, once, soon after arriving in Alsace. Step one was to cut up the rabbit, which was skinned but still very recognizably a rabbit, as my wife chanted “here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail…”

Egg dishes

This fits nicely between poultry and casseroles since the eggs in question are chicken (⊃ poultry) eggs2), and in many cases I used them as almost one-dish meals accompanied by a salad.

  • Joe's Special – according to the L.A. Times cookbook. I stopped making this since it requires beef (but maybe it would work with minced duck breast: not sure whether I ever tried, though).
  • Quiche – from a variety of sources. In fact, this is a general chose-your-filling recipe. I know I experimented with making quiche based on a cheese cake recipe (leaving out the sugar) but I'm not sure I found (and noted) an acceptable one.
  • Ramequin forestière – from Julia Child's TV show cookbook. When I made this recently, I was told “you never made that for us!” so maybe it should not be in this collection. But I'm sure I made it at least a couple of times for Sunday lunch or brunch, and it is worth having at hand. Advantages compared to similar dishes:
    • vs. soufflé: simpler to prepare (no separating eggs and beating whites, folding in) and can be oven-ready (refridgerated) hours in advance
    • vs. quiche: no crust to prepare and partially cook (but a béchamel sauce to thicken)
  • Impossible Vegetable Pie – not made often (I didn't often have frozen broccoli on hand).
  • Comparison – an analytic table3) profiling quiche, ramequin, soufflé and impossible vegetable pie side by side.

Casseroles and One-dish meals

  • Macaroni Casserole – a classic American dish,
    • adapted to use a Bechamel instead of canned cream soup.
    • cut up hot-dogs (poultry hot dogs) replace “canned luncheon meat,” too.
  • French-toasted tuna salad sandwiches – not strictly-speaking a one-dish meal, these are yummy and filling and practically a meal; a little cucumber salad, for instance, completes the meal.
  • Frozen spinach with potatoes –with cooked mussels added. Really.
  • Hopping John – this is a red herring, of sorts: I didn't start cooking this until after the nest emptied, but I've cooked it often enough since – and served it to issue during visits – that it's included.

Fish and Seafood

  • Broiled marinated salmon fillets – probably close to a weekly meal, although we had periods with stir-fried white fish, too. Very easy.
  • St Jacques aux endives et citron vert– from Fredy Girardet'sLa Cuisine Spontanée”. Possibly the only recipe I've ever used from this book, which is a shame since they look delicious (perhaps a tad expensive, he likes to use fine ingredients). I've read many, and learned from its presentation of each recipe : list of ingredients, “Mise en place” (getting “set up”, which may include peeling, paring, cutting, making a sauce…), “Cuisson et finitions” (cooking and final touches), “Présentation” (how to serve).
  • <del>Ray</del>Skate (or scallops) with Sauterne sauce – a recipe learned during a week of morning cooking lessons4) at the Hotel du Golf (Arcs 1800) in 1983.
  • Red Snapper Veraacruz Style – works equally well with other firm fish filets, such as Tilapia and Nile perch. Simple tomato sauce with onion, garlic, bay, olives and capers.


  • Frozen spinach with potatoes – another recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery :
    • simple and little work (pre-boiling the spinach–which is actually not frozen when served :-) – and cutting up potatoes ).
    • Moreover, I've found variations using cauliflower instead of potato, other greens (Swiss chard, kale) instead of spinach, and adding cooked mussels (to make it a one-dish meal) quite satisfactory.
    • The main difficulty may be procuring asafoetida.
  • All vegetables – Parisian potatoes, Vichy carrots, even red cabbage with apples or chestnuts seem to me variations on a basic paradigm.

Cakes and Desserts

  • Pumpkin pie – There are a lot of recipes for pumpkin pie, from the ones on the boxes of pumpkin pie spice to the “impossible pies” that don't need a crust–they form their own. This one, from “Out of Kentucky Kitchens”, is not as dense as many tend to be; it is, one might say, a pumpkin custard pie. Nice for breakfast.
  • Buttermilk Pie – I'd had custard pies, but never even heard of buttermilk pie until I came across this recipe, also from “Out of Kentucky Kitchens.”
  • The Perfect Chocolate Cake – I came across this recipe in a McCall's Magazine in 1975 or 1976. It makes a great birthday cake, but serve thin slices, it is very rich. Another thing I like about it is that it only calls for simple ingredients, no mixes or dairy substitutes. It tastes as good made with cake flour (about the only flour available in France) but doesn't rise nearly as tall as when made with American all-purpose flour (more gluten).

Drinks and Sippages

1) anyone who has traveled in Thailand realizes that dairy products are very, very rare there, so a milk-and-butter based sauce is very unlikely
2) bird fruit!
3) I love making them in case you hadn't noticed yet
4) we'd show up at the kitchen door at 9:00, learn to prepare new dishes, then have them for lunch–the restaurant did not open until the evening!
recipes.txt · Dernière modification: 2013/04/28 18:45 par suitable
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