Friday, November 21, 2014

Flirting with French makes New York Times bestseller list!

I'll get back to French and France in a moment, but first I want to share the exciting news that Flirting with French, written by the same idiot who authors this blog, has debuted on the New York Times bestseller list for Travel books at #11. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that I've stopped promoting it entirely. Buy your holiday gift copies now, and maybe we can nudge it up to #10, so I get the listing with the capsule description, instead of just the title in the Sunday Times Book Review! Let me help you out.

Click here to buy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oeil of the tiger

We take a break this morning from my French language and culture discussions to report on a breaking news story from France: what was first reported to be a tiger is stalking the outskirts of Paris -- and no one knows where it came from.

Sighted first near Disneyland Paris, sending cat bait Mickey and Minnie scurrying for cover, Inspector Clouseau has been tracking it westward, meaning that by the time you read this, it could be climbing the Eiffel Tower.

The BBC is now saying it's not a tiger at all, but some other grand chat, although Le Monde is still calling it un tigre, perhaps to avoid using the unfortunate phrase grande chatte. (And if I have to explain that to not to ask.)

In any event, it's a welcome diversion from France's other problems: the re-emergence of Sarkozy, crippling unemployment, and the ability of the dough-faced president to attract glamorous women. Bonne chance avec votre tigre, mes amis!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Win a copy of "Flirting with French"

The French Word-a-Day website is offering a free copy of Flirting with French to the reader who wins the "name your favorite food" contest. In that spirit, I'm repeating my recipe for Pommes Anna, a fantastic and easy potato dish, which deserves to be better known (and more widely eaten) in this country:

Pommes Anna

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes (approx 1-1/2 pounds or slightly less)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, clarified*
Salt (coarse Kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper to taste (about ¾ teas salt and ½ teas pepper in all)

1.     Preheat oven to 450 F and start the clarified butter, as below.
2.     Peel potatoes and slice thinly (the thinner the better – no more than 1/16 inch) on a mandolin or V-slicer.
3.     Spray the bottom of a 6-inch, nonstick sauté pan with cooking spray, then spoon in 2 teaspoons of the clarified butter, and swirl to coat.
4.     Place a layer of potatoes slices in the pan, overlapping the edges by a third to a half, so that no pan surface is showing. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle on about a teaspoon of the butter.
5.     Repeat building layers in the same manner until you’ve run out of potatoes, then drizzle with any remaining butter.
6.     Cover pan tightly with foil, sear on high heat (that’s on an electric burner; for gas you may need to dial it back a notch) for 90 seconds. No more, no less.
7.     Place in center of oven, and bake for 35 minutes.
8.     Remove foil, reduce oven temperature to 400, and bake about another 15 minutes. The potatoes are done when pierced easily with a knife, and edges are brown and pulling away from the pan.
9.     Remove from oven and invert onto a platter (like an upside-down cake)
10.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. (Do not omit this step – the flavors develop and the texture improves as it sits).
11.  Cut into wedges, like a pie, and serve.

* To clarify butter, melt in smallest saucepan you have, and allow to simmer gently for a couple of minutes until white solids form on surface. Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, then, using a teaspoon, skim off and discard the solids.