Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meals are our garden... & a Boursin, pea & ham clafoutis



























I was having this conversation recently with a friend, we were talking about moods. Indeed with the unpredictability of life, the overload of “priorities”, the exhaustion, I have found it challenging to find the time and focus for the self-care required to feel level and in harmony with myself.  In short, I get moody. I feel up, I feel down, the sea inside seems to constantly be rocking the boat, and I often long for more smooth sailing.

Then I realized I do have one safe harbor, a place and time where I am (mostly) able to leave the moodiness at the door, and be at peace, for the duration of a meal: our table. 

As I was trying to describe it to my friend and to myself, it occurred to me that our meals are a kind of peaceful garden we enter two or three times a day. Away from the chaos of the world and modern lives, as we sit down together, we open a thick wooden gate and step into a haven, an oasis, a lovely garden, made only for our enjoyment of each other, of ourselves, of the senses, of the present moment.  In this sense, our meals nourish much more than our bodies.  There’s definitely something of a sacred ritual about it.

When I’m down, I must remember to feel gratitude for this garden in our lives. It sure helps to know I always come back to it, no matter what storms I’m facing elsewhere. When all is said and done, these will be the moments I value the most.

Through the blog, I encounter more and more people, and moms in particular, who do not just want their family to “eat healthy”, but are seeking something more profound than that, something they often sense or perceive in the French or European food culture. A positive association to food, a way of life even. And I think what they want is that vision of the family meal.
But for it to work, there has to be a sort of unwritten, tacit “contract” between family members, a common family vision and understanding of the meal as a special place and time.

Sometimes in families, everyone is not on the same page. Real life gets in the way, and depending on their relationship to food growing up, some might view the meal as something to get over with, an obligation of sorts, a waste of time even.

And perhaps a way to change that, is to start a family conversation, and share a vision of the meal as something different, as something more than just eating, as that – and get ready for some MAJOR corniness here and a potential spike in blood sugar ;-) -  “magical garden of togetherness” (I am laughing as I write this, it sounds so corny!! I couldn’t resist!)

But seriously, however you word it, whatever metaphor works for your family, what I’m saying is: meals are an opportunity for connection, and those can be hard to come by in our busy lives. If everyone in the family starts to think of meals as such, you may just... have yourself a garden.





I brought back from France this lovely little cookbook of "Mini-Cocottes" recipes, from which I'll be sharing a lot more very soon. This one was so easy and tasty, makes for a lovely lunch. And it's also one a toddler or child can help make, by rinsing the peas, whisking the boursin and eggs/cream/milk together, washing the endives, cutting up the ham with hands or child-safe knife.

Wishing you a wonderful, flavorful week :-)




















































Boursin, ham & pea clafoutis (with endive salad)

Adapted from A chacun sa petite Cocotte by José Maréchal

Yields 4-5 ramekins depending on size

Prep: 15 mn
Cook: 25-40 (varies greatly on size and thickness of ramekins)

Age for babies: 10-12 months because of the eggs.

2 1/2 oz Boursin cheese
1 egg yolk
4 eggs
1/2 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
3 or 4 slices of ham
1 cup of peas (I used frozen)
1/2 tsp salt & pepper

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the boursin with the yolk. Then add the eggs, one by one. Then add the flour, the heavy cream, and the milk, little by little. Add salt and pepper, and set aside in the fridge.

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

Cut up the ham in small pieces. Run the frozen peas under cool water for a couple of minutes. Toss together with the ham.

Place the empty ramekins in a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water so the water reaches about halfway up the ramekins.

Place the ham & peas at the bottom of the ramekins. Pour the boursin/milk mixture on top, and bake for about 25 minutes. (Note that cooking time varies greatly depending on thickness and height of the ramekins. A knife should come out clean and the top should be golden when done.)

We served them with a simple endive salad: wash and cut up the endives, discarding the tough foot of it. Add whatever fresh herbs you have on hand (parsley, dill, cilantro...) A walnut vinaigrette goes great with it: 1 part red wine vinegar, 2 1/2 parts olive, 1/2 part walnut oil, a dash of mustard, salt and pepper. Blue cheese crumbs or walnuts could also complement it nicely.


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4 comments:

  1. I just received 4 mini-cocottes for Christmas this year. I look forward to more recipes I can use them for! Unfortunately this one won't work (sigh), no eggs for Jacob! Too bad as it looks delicious.

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  2. Beautiful! I can't wait to try this one! Would it be possible to make in one dish rather than several ramekins?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sarika, yes, I don't see why not, but you'll have to experiment with cooking time depending on the size of your baking dish. Thanks for coming by :-)

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  3. What a great recipe!!! I have many mini-cocottes, and I can't wait to see more recipes from your blog.

    Btw, I am so glad I met you at Leela & Aran's workshop because it led me to your lovely blog here. :)

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