Tuesday, January 20, 2009

je vais tres bien, merci!

we all know that french cuisine is pretty much where it's at. book after book i come across french techniques and dishes that likely taste as beautiful as they sound. the two very best restaurants i ate at in san francisco were french bistros.

portage parmentier, bifteck saute au beurre, puree de pommes de terre a l'ail, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin. don't all of those sound absolutely amazing? they probably taste wonderful but i have no idea what they are!

well, that is not entirely true. i can use the ol' context clues and photographs and descriptions help as well. but that isn't good enough. i want to KNOW what all of these dishes are just by reading the name.

so, i signed up for a french class. beginning french 101.

so far i can tell you who i am, (je m'appelle erratic epicurean), how i'm doing (je vais tres bien, merci!) and what time it is (il est neuf heure moins le quart).

whew. learning french is difficult. a friend suggested i practice speaking it with fluidity and to avoid sounding guttural. i told her i was guttural by nature but i'd do my best.

now onto something that isn't french but rather italian. spaghetti and meatballs. well, maybe that is more an american spin a la chef boyardee but i'm rolling with it.

i've been eating a lot of spaghetti. why? it is cheap. very cheap. i can cook up some noodles and make my sauce from scratch for less that $5 and eat it all week. do i enjoy doing this all the time? no. of course not. but frugality is climbing higher and higher up on my list of priorities.

so, spaghetti it is. i thought to spice things up a little i'd make some meatballs. mmmmm. i had some ground beef and i picked up some ground pork as well.

some saturday mornings i tune into america's test kitchen on PBS and i learned a little trick regarding moist, delicious hamburgers. i thought i would employ it with meatballs and after surfing the interwebs for a few recipes i discovered that several others were onto this trick - milk.

i mixed up about 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. breadcrumbs and put it aside while i chopped some onions and parsley. i added the chopped veggies, the meat and some salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the thick milky bread mix. then i rolled lil' meatballs.

some recipes fried the meatballs on the stove top in a lil' oil and others baked them in the oven. i decided to try both ways.

i quickly learned that like all frying this caused a mess. a mess i did not feel like dealing with. i stuck the remaining meatballs in the oven.

i made my sauce - you've seen it before - and added about 7 or 8 meatballs to it once they had cooked about 30 minutes in the oven. i kept them in the sauce on low for about 10 more minutes.

then i boiled some acme brand angel hair pasta and toasted a lil' bread and voila!


Xenia said...

Tes boulettes paraissent savoreuses.
(Your meatballs look tasty.)

the erratic epicurean said...

whoa! impressive! man, i have along way to go with this french thing!

a minor victory last night though - i can now count all the way to 30 with no problems! woohoo!

Virginia Dressler said...

here's the extent of my French:

Parle vous anglais?

That got me by OK in Paris, though the French aren't too crazy about you after you get that out in an American accent! I gave up French for the more gutteral Spanish. Keep it in mind! Spanish cuisine is awesome!

Lemme know if you try out the portage parmentier. You should do it in honor of your home county! : )

the erratic epicurean said...

maybe portage parmentier a la julia child for the next twin peaks night??

Viper said...

Now, this a classic "eating well when you're broke as hell" entry. Those meatballs look deelish!