Wintertime is synonymous with soup time. So far this year I’ve been making a decent amount of chicken noodle and thai coconut curry, as it’s easy to make a big pot and have some leftovers for my lunch and/or a quick dinner after yoga. But, I figured it was time to expand the soup repertoire and explore some additional recipes.
One of the cookbooks we brought over from the US is America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook. In short, this book is pretty amazing. I’ll wager I make at least two to three different meals from this cookbook each week. The best part is that they take the recipes and cull them down to perfect portions for two people (sometimes, though, I double the recipe…like for brownies or a tasty soup) with no leftovers. They’re also all about finding the best ways to get maximum flavor in a short amount of time, which means lots of easy weeknight meals. Who can argue with that?
One downside, though, that Jim and I often joke about is that many of the ingredients are made for the American cook, not an expatriate living in France. As such, I make substitutions and modifications to most recipes here and there. I’m happy to report (so far) none really seem to make too much of a difference (though, since it’s the first time making a lot of these…who knows).
As I was paging through the soup section, I came across a chicken chowder. Yum, I thought…I bet that’d be even better if I made it a Rhode Island inspired French Chicken Chowder. Why you ask? Because my favorite clam chowder is from La Forge restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island. If you haven’t been, it’s delicious. What makes it so delicious? Dill. Period. I’m somewhat convinced dill is one of the most amazing herbs around, especially when combined with potatoes. Then it’d be French because I’d substitute the bacon for some jambon. Mmm. I also substituted a red bell pepper (meh) for some celery. So, out with the bacon for jambon, out with the bell pepper for celery, out with the parsley for dill, and double the potatoes and carrots.
Since I was making this soup on a Monday my favorite bakery in Marché Victor Hugo was not open. I figured I’d pick up a baguette elsewhere on my way home from picking up some carrots and potatoes at the supermarket. Then I thought, I wonder what sort of bread recipes are in Cooking for Two. My eyes stopped at simple drop biscuits. Immediately, I knew I had to make some dill biscuits to accompany my dill soup.
Biscuits are not a thing in France, which is both sad and surprising (though Jim and I both had one of the best biscuits of our lives at David Toutain in Paris last October). I scanned through the recipe wondering how many substitutions I’d have to make due to French ingredients. Flour (OK), baking powder & baking soda (OK), sugar (yes), salt (obviously), buttermilk (problem), butter (easy). Great, only a buttermilk substitution stood between me and making biscuits at home. I remembered from my American biscuit making days from my Jack Daniels Cookbook that sour cream (plus a little milk to thin it) makes amazing biscuits and serves as a great substitution. Unfortunately, sour cream isn’t really a thing here. But créme fraîche is! I made a direct substitution and just kept adding milk until the batter looked about right/felt sticky and yet dry enough to form biscuits. Then I added SO MUCH dill.
I have to admit, they were extremely tasty biscuits. Reminded me a little bit of a KFC biscuit. So tasty, in fact, I made them again (without the dill) the next day for sausage and biscuits. Still good without the dill, but my preference would be with the herbs and of course with a pinch of sea salt on top (my addition to nearly all savory baked goods…it really does make them sing).
If you’re in the mood for a comforting Monday night meal, this will definitely do the trick and not take more than an hour of cooking and prep time. All in all, delicious!
3 Comments Add yours
I’ve found that milk and an acid (white distilled vinegar or lemon juice) are a good replacement for buttermilk here. You drop the acid in the milk and it immediately starts to curdle. It’s weird. Also, I actually have seen buttermilk at the big grocery store, I think it’s called “lait ribot” but I never need an entire container.
Biscuits are not a thing here in France. The KFC did not have them, I was extremely disappointed.
Interesting – I’ve never tried the vinegar/lemon juice option. Back in the states I always used sour cream because it seems Buttermilk is only sold in 1L or half gallon jugs (who on earth ever needs that much buttermilk). I think I found some that came in a pint once and felt like I’d won the jackpot. The créme fraîche worked well, so I might stick with that as it’s easy to find/easy to add. But, I think I will be on the lookout for actual “lait ribot” the next time I’m in the big Monoprix.
Wait – the KFC doesn’t have biscuits? Do the French eat baguettes with fried chicken? Please tell me more about this – I’m fascinated!
Next time I meet you in the AM, I’ll make you/bring you some biscuits…