France’s little winter secret: Tartiflette

Tartiflette , a French Winter Classic. A Beautiful Journey

When I hear about French cuisine the first dishes that pop into mind are snails, and frogs legs, croissants and chocolate mouse, ratatoulle and bouliabaise…no one every said anything about tartiflette. Until I moved to France that is, and suddenly, winter couldn’t come sooner as an excuse to enjoy the first tartiflette of the year (or a tartiflette pizza, tartiflette moules, tartiflette anything).

Real Frenchies don’t eat croissants and snails everyday, but they are proud of their local specialties and eat seasonally. And the reputation that French cooking has for super complicated impossibly butter dishes, not quite true either. Spring and summer bring on the barbecued meats and fresh salads and winter offers their unending abundance of simple, creamy, gooey cheese dishes. Tartiflette is at the top of the simple winter dish list.

Like a French interpretation of a baked potato (swimming in cheese sauce with bacon!) it is far from being a dish that you have to go to the Cordon Bleu to master. With the right ingredients, an oven, and a nice crusty baguette you’ll have typical french meal to impress with your friends with or to keep warm with while that polar vortex makes its way out. Serve with fresh green salad to balance out the gooey wonder, and Enjoy!

Making Tartiflette, a French Winter Classic. A Beautiful Journey

Tartiflette via Marmiton.org (France’s go-to recipe website)

240 grams Reblochon cheese (washed) **If you can’t find Reblochon cheese,  try using Brie or Camembert for a similar taste.

5-6 potatoes, peeled and sliced

3/4 cup bacon, cut into small pieces

One large onion, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cup dry white wine (Apremont or a dry Savoie wine, if possible), and 1-2 cloves garlic crushed

How to Make Tartiflette, a French Winter Classic. A Beautiful Journey

Directions

1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until al dente.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, add about 1 tablespoon of oil or butter to a large pan and saute the onions until golden (add garlic option here). Add the bacon and brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add potatoes to the onion and bacon pan (add optional wine here!) season with salt and pepper to taste and saute for about 15 minutes.

4. Transfer the potato mix into a casserole dish.

5. Cut the reblochon in half, making two discs of cheese, and place the cheese over the potato mix. (I used 1 1/2 discs, and saved the rest of the cheese to devour tomorrow with a fresh baguette.)

6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden. These will have melted into the whole dish and be gooey and bubbling.

Tartiflette, a French Winter Classic. A Beautiful Journey

Serve with a green salad and crusty baguette and enjoy this easy, classic French winter favorite for a warm dinner while watching the Winter Games in Sochi! Let me know what you think!

Besos, Dianne

The little things in 2014

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Hey friends! Happiest 2014 to you all, even if it is a little late! I‘ve been a bit under the weather since Christmas. A stomach bug attacked the house and Christmas dinner ended up being chicken soup and sofa time for the whole family. No appetite at Christmas is such a bummer! I’ve been recovering on and off for the past three weeks, and finally I’m feeling back to normal and back to blogging. How were your holidays?

While I’m not much of a January resolution maker, I’m starting 2014 full of optimism and making a few goals to reach this year. It’s going to be a year full of big and exciting changes, lots of planning and ideas, and of course travels. I’m determined to live this new year in every moment despite what exciting plans may be on the horizon. I’m still going to go for clean and healthy eating (so excited to try out my new cookbooks Meatless and It’s all Good now that my appetite is back!) balanced with a healthy dose of gluttonous French fare. I can’t wait to cross a few more French treats off my to do list like the buttery Paris Brest, a Burgundy Cremant tasting, and Pain Perdu – real French toast. Visits to a few more French chateaus, bright markets, and tiny villages are in store, and I’ll be on the hunt for some French antiques to fill my home.  But most of all, this year is going to be all about enjoying the little things. In life (and travel!) thats what really matters, enjoying a calm glass of wine, taking in a big breathe of cool winter air, seeing your own city with new eyes, or buying a bunch of fresh flowers for the house. So, here’s to enjoying the little things, home or abroad, that will make life so big this year!

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What are your goals or resolutions for the new year?

Can’t wait to continue this Beautiful Journey in 2014! Thanks for joining me!

Besos, Dianne

Galette des Rois

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Feliz Día de los Reyes! Happy Kings’ Day!
      The first time I heard of today’s holiday was way back in elementary school when one year the Reyes decided to make the trip all the way up to snowy Michigan to leave my sister and I Precious Moments dolls. I remember my mom telling us that in the Hispanic world it’s a very special day with presents for the kids. I was sold. Unfortunately, the reyes never returned to Michigan, so I had to wait until a trip to Mexico to celebrate Reyes again. A friend invited me to share a meal and the Rosca de Reyes sweet bread with his family. Although there were no gifts involved, the special cake with the little baby Jesus tucked somewhere inside was pretty fun. But, Reyes really came to life when I moved to Spain. My first year in Santiago de Compostela  I was out and about in the city on the evening of January 5th, when suddenly the streets were filled with kids and the shop owners started checking their watches-everyone was waiting for the three kings to make their big entrance into town. The parade that ensued involved very excited kids, loads of candy thrown into the streets, and the magic post man who delivers the kids letters to the Kings. Total culture shock for me. When did these guy become more popular than Santa?! The morning of January 6th the streets were alive with kids on scooters and bikes, laughing with gusto while enjoying their new toys.

This year we’ve made our way back to France just after the new year, returning to the real world abruptly with the first days back full day of classes. But, the kings did make a special early stop at our place with a little pressie for me and one for Diego too,  and all the bakeries are selling their gorgeous Galette des Rois (King’s Tart) complete with a crown.

Although in France there are no presents and no King parades in the streets, the galette is a sweet way to remember the epiphany. The galette des rois is a sweet tart traditionally filled with an almond paste called frangipane, made extra special because tucked somewhere between its sweet layers is a little porcelain  fève (usually a little toy, they had the cutest little Tintin and Hobbit fèves at Carrefour). When serving the galette, the youngest in the family is given the job of deciding who gets each piece-from under the table with eyes closed so there is no cheating! If the fève is in your piece, the crown is yours and you are the king or queen for the day. Families and friends will be celebrating all this week, and even all this month. We’ll be sure to share galette to share with friends this week as a welcome back after the holidays. Who’ll get the fève?

Besos, Dianne

(Photos via  Le Marmite de Gaston  and  Epicuria)