French Flavours

I’ve been in France for just over a month now and there are two words which fairly much sum up my time here: crepes and waffles. I haven’t even been near a croissant or baguette but that’s probably because I was too busy smothering the first two things I mentioned in Nutella to think about anything else.

It’s not like I live off sugar and pastries all the time – I wish I could – but it just so happened that February was my birthday month as well as V-day so it would be rude not to celebrate with chocolate! France is a country with super wonderful food and the photos below show a wee snapshot into my first month here!

Two days in the Alliance Française Academy and there was a ‘goûter de crêpes’ (crepe tasting). I easily found room in my stomach for about 6 or 7 crepes and as it was my birthday that day, I was also treated to an embarrassingly loud chorus of Happy Birthday in the school’s dining room. Worth it!

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I spent one weekend in a nearby town famous for its castles, Carcassonne, and even though it was small it was beautiful. It’s also a great destination for the Zombie Apocolypse FYI!

From our hotel window, you looked right onto the largest castle in the centre of the town. We were also just a short 10 minute walk from all the bars, restaurants and cafes the town had to offer.

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Here’s a peek into what we ate over the weekend. I would go back in the morning to eat it all over again – SO good!

STARTERS

Charcuterie – French style

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Salmon Salad with Avocado

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Pate with Salsa and Toasted Bread

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MAINS

The famous ‘Cassoulet’ – sausages, duck and butter beans, a must-try!

We ate two of these each – it was yum!!

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Chicken Stuffed with Foie Gras – courtesy of ‘Le 37’ in Carcassonne –

FABULOUS!

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Steak with a Potato and Herb Mix

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DESSERTS

Chocolate Fondant

To die for!

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Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream

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You can have as many delicious restaurant desserts as you like but nothing will ever beat the taste of banana and Nutella crepes and waffles. Luckily, France has an abundance of the latter! 😀

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To sum up, if you don’t like foie gras, your food options are cut short in most places but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a gym membership to do some damage control with the sheer quantity of bakeries and pastries here!

Salmon Cakes with Chickpeas and Lentils

Things have been a bit hectic around the place this week hence the delay in this post but it was for a good reason as I was flat out studying, working AND training for the Spartan Race which we did in Barcelona at the weekend. If you have never done one, you have to try it – to sum up, it was AWESOME!!

Moving on to a meal I made a couple of weeks ago and which I loved so much I ate for dinner and lunch for at least two days straight. Salmon cakes.

Fishcakes are typically made with potatoes or so I hear. I have never made them with potatoes and this time was no different. I don’t use them, mainly because the thought of washing, peeling, cooking and mashing them sounds like more work than I am willing to put into a dinner for one. So, I came up with this recipe which is quite quick to make and turns out really delicious if you are willing to get your hands a little messy!

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets (boneless)

250g chickpeas

250g lentils

Handful of spinach leaves

1 clove of garlic

Parsley

1 egg

1 tblsp greek yoghurt (optional)

Handful of grapes (optional)

***

Method

 The first thing I did was cut the skin off of the salmon fillets. I made sure to buy salmon without any bones because it’s safer and much less hassle when it comes to preparation time. If you just have normal salmon, make sure to get all the bones out before you start, or even better, use cold smoked salmon!

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Cut the salmon into small chunks and then season with any herbs or spices you like really. I love the parsley and garlic herb mix I buy here, it gets sprinkled over almost all of my meals. I then put in a couple more garlic cloves becauseI love it too much. Between putting garlic and vinegar on all my food, sometimes I feel bad for the people who have to eat with (or near) me.

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In a separate bowl, pour about 250g of chickpeas and 250g of lentils (about half a jar each) and mush them up with a fork or potato masher. It is easier to do this if you put them in the microwave for a minute or two so they are slightly warm first.

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Roughly chop up some fresh spinach leaves and mix them with the salmon chunks.  I think for the next time I would leave the spinach out of the mixture and instead when serving, place the fishcakes on a bed of spinach. Mostly because it would be easier to handle and I think would look much better in the end.

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Into the salmon and spinach, break an egg…

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…and then incorporate the mixture of chickpeas and lentils and mix together really well with your hands.

Heat up a large frying pan with a little bit of olive oil or butter and leave on a medium-high heat.

Sprinkle a good dusting of flour onto a plate and after forming small patties with your hands from the mixture, dip both sides into the flour and shake off any excess flour before placing them in the frying pan.

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This mixture should make between 6 and 8 cakes depending on how large you make them. I found that they are most delicious with a good helping of Greek yoghurt on the side and some grapes (seedless red grapes in my case).

Let me know in the comments what you usually serve with your fish dishes – I’m always looking for new toppings and sides to go with! 😀