Classic French Recipe: sauteed potatoes with persillade

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I have an unapologetic addiction to potatoes in all their forms, and one of my favourite dishes is simple sautéed potatoes, but I had never made them with a persillade before. I don’t know why, as it doesn’t get more ‘classic French recipe’ than potatoes and parsley.

Before you start worrying about how complicated this recipe is likely to be, let’s look at what ‘persillade’ actually means. It comes from the French word for parsley, ‘persil’, and in its most classic form it is a simple mixture of parsley and garlic. There are a few other ingredients you can add depending on what dish it means to complement. Its freshness and crunch lends itself well not just to potatoes, but also to fish, meat and vegetables.

French recipe for Sautéed Potatoes with Persillade

Ingredients

1 kg waxy potatoes, cut into 2 cm pieces

2 tbsp vegetable oil

300 g smoked bacon lardons (optional)

25 g butter

For the Persillade

Small pack of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp/1 sprig tarragon leaves, chopped

1 echallion/banana shallot (or 2 small round ones), finely chopped

2  garlic cloves, crushed

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes so they are nearly cooked. Drain and leave in the colander for a minute to steam out.
  2. Mix all the persillade ingredients together in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the lardons and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until they are slightly caramelised. Add the potatoes, then the butter.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly until they turn golden brown. Spoon out any excess fat and stir in the persillade. Adjust the seasoning for taste and eat!

We had roast chicken with our sautéed potatoes with persillade but you can serve them as a side dish to just about anything. Bon appétit!

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My 2016 Blogging Resolutions

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I don’t do New Year resolutions because they are usually make-believe aspirations to be someone other than myself, especially when it comes to ‘be healthier’. Stepping into the new year doesn’t magically grant new fully formed habits, or I should be the fittest woman in the whole of England! Ah well. At least, that’s how it is for me.

So this is less a list of New Year resolutions and more a contemplation of the things I hope to achieve this year but can’t quite bind or guilt myself into doing at all cost as they will be subject to last-minute changes should Real Life events demand it – namely because my priority right now is to find a new job, restart my business studies, continue to research setting up my own business and all the other life things I do (did I tell you I directed a choir over Christmas? It was a hit, so I might be doing more of the same in 2016). Yeah, all these things. I know many people who are seemingly able to juggle a million things and still maintain their stability of mind; I’m not one of them. Yet, one has to make plans, and here’s my attempt:

  • Actually plan my blog posts and improve the regularity of my posting schedule: Posting schedule, ha! In four years of blogging, I am still an impulsive writer who, like yesterday when I was penning this, just wakes up and decides to write something off the cuff without any prior planning. It’s awful. It’s not sustainable and is a rookie mistake, nay, a blogging crime I need to remedy as soon as possible. This is especially true in light of the success I had in October when I joined the Write 31 Days challenge and planned and delivered 31 consecutive posts. It brought my entire life to a stand-still and I am definitely not planning to do it again in 2016 but it was a good exercise. With life as it is currently, I have no hope of posting anything unless I sit down and plan ahead. So there, this year I want to plan ahead at least a little.
  • Move the blog from wordpress.com to a self-hosted platform: I am determined to do it this year. I have done my research and I feel I have a decent idea of what’s involved. I’ve already decided on my hosting provider and I just need to press the ‘buy’ button. It’s not expensive and I have enough technical know-how to do it myself; in fact, it is something I need and want to do to consolidate my CV. Website support and social media are two areas that I really want to grow in for my long-term plans of becoming a virtual assistant, and this blogging malarkey, whilst very much a hobby, is also a great way to test things out without the risk of messing about someone else’s work. I don’t know when it will be ready to launch but surely some time this year.
  • Branding: moving to self-hosted blogging, I will have more flexibility with regards to the look of the blog. But I’m stuck, and I need to spend some time thinking about what I want, especially the logo and colour scheme. I know that the navy blue/white/red combo makes sense in light of the French theme of the blog, but it’s so boring! Seriously, I want some teal and aqua and purple and silver and raspberry red, but that makes no sense whatsoever so yeah, I need help. And a logo that doesn’t look like it’s been drawn by a 3-year-old, maybe with a frog in it. I don’t know! I usually can tell what works and what doesn’t when I see other people’s websites but I have no such objective distance with my own and I am not an ‘ideas’ person. I may need some help…

And that’s it! I’m really motivated about learning more about the technical aspects of blogging, and once I’ve actually planned something, maybe the quality of what you read will be less ‘I put this together last night after 2 glasses of wine’ and more ‘depth! Fascination! Shock and awe!’. Or not.

French Christmas posts round-up

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I bought the special Radio Times Christmas TV schedule yesterday and had a moment’s panic because it means the Christmas countdown is on and I’ve not bought Badgerman’s present yet, or decided on a Christmas menu (French-inspired of course), and I really should get going on all these things. Add to this my deluded intention to get the girls to do some Christmas craft for the house (mainly snowflakes and stars), bake some house-shaped cakes for them to decorate in the gorgeous silicone molds I got gifted years ago and have yet to use, and make some chocolate truffles for our neighbours and Little Girl’s teachers. All this and I intend to enjoy myself too! Ah well, something’s got to give, and I suspect it’s the decorations that will get the cut.

I’ve had a crazy schedule of late despite my course being on hold due to a financial cock-up (don’t ask), between Luciole’s absolute refusal to go to bed and sleep through (up to an hour to get her down and up twice most nights), making gift tags for a craft stall I was holding at our local Christmas Fayre and learning choir parts for a little impromptu Christmas choir I am getting ready to perform at my church’s Christmas services on the 20th. Still, I love Christmas and didn’t want to post nothing so I’m doing a little round-up of past posts I’ve written. Enjoy!

French and British Christmas traditions

The Mysterious Tradition of Weepy Christmas Adverts

French Christmas Eve Traditions

A Christmas poem

Time for new Christmas traditions

3 Ways I know Christmas is coming

Christmas Food

Christmas Day Menu, Franco-British Style

Raspberry and Lychee Chocolate Log

Christmas Music Favourites

The funniest Christmas song for all the wrong reasons

The worst Christmas song

Musical Christmas Cheer (or not)

My favourite Christmas carol

Christmas Crafts (well, only one)

A Christmas Advent Calendar for non-crafty types

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The Mysterious Tradition of Weepy Christmas adverts

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Around this time of year, Britain gets taken over by a slightly bizarre (to me) early Christmas tradition. Major supermarkets and popular department stores have an unofficial competition for most soppy, heart-strings-pulling, commercially near-irrelevant, cuteness-overload Christmas advert.

John Lewis opens the flood gates everywhere and is always a strong contender for ‘Best Christmas Ad’, if there ever was such a thing.


And this year, the rightful heir to the Best Christmas Ad trophy might well be supermarket Sainsbury’s with its Christmas disaster tale as experienced by Mog the Cat.

This year, I would say these two are the main contenders but you might well disagree!

For more of the amazing Christmas ads British stores have given us this year, visit Mumsnet’s helpful 2015 round-up.

 

Meal Planning Tips + Free Templates!

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I have been meaning to post on the topic of meal planning for a while. It’s a very practical tool that I am passionate about, and my aim today is to show how I plan meals to save money on food shopping. It’s not rocket science and it’s not original, but it works. I will also be sharing the two templates I use on a weekly basis to do this, to be used by anyone without having to create a whole system from scratch.

First, a bit of background: I started meal planning out of necessity. About two years ago, I was at home with the kids and not contributing financially to our household, and we were struggling to live within our means without touching our overdraft. I had never pre-planned what we ate before and Badgerman and I are both naturally willing to spend a bit more on higher quality meat and fair trade items, which are not particularly cheap options. An Etsy shop of fancy little sewing projects was never going to be on the cards so I had to find alternate ways to save.

I was struggling to see how I would do it, and yet, since implementing a simple meal planning system, I have been able to cut our food budget by about a quarter by being intentional about the way I shop and plan meals.

Online Shopping

The first thing I did was to start shopping online. Again, necessity. I had a newborn and no car, no way was I going to try to do a weekly shop by foot! Thankfully, most UK supermarkets have an online delivery service nowadays, and you can either collect in store or get your shopping delivered to your home for a small fee. The added bonus, actually make that the main attraction, is that the stress of shopping with small children is taken out of the equation altogether, and that has had an immediate effect on quality of life. I seriously could weep at how grateful I am for online shopping. Obviously I still occasionally shop in store but I try to do it on my own rather than take the children if I can help it, and it’s almost fun!

Meal Planning Tips

Planning meals doesn’t have to be stressful. Most weeks, it only takes me 30 minutes from start to finish to plan and shop for a week’s worth of meals. For this to work, you do need to have a system in place. It took me about a year to implement purely because I lacked motivation, rather than because it was massively time-consuming. Once I sat down and decided I was going to do this, it only really took a few evenings to be up and running.

The first thing I recommend is having a pre-written shopping checklist. My mum has been using one for years and I could see how helpful it was so I basically just updated her list to suit my shopping habits. It is much easier to run through such a list than to hope you will remember everything. Ideally, I would have the list on the fridge for easy access so it can be filled as we run out of items; alas, it seems that even in plain view, it is surrounded by a (selective) invisibility shield. For now, I’ve given up hope that it will be filled in by anyone but me.

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And so, here’s the first template! I’ve made the list in Word document so it can easily be amended to fit personal preferences: Shopping List Template

The second thing I recommend is creating a list of go-to recipes. I went on Pinterest looking for menu planning ideas and found amazing homemade meal planning boards. I even toyed with the idea of making one for five minutes before deciding it was too much faff. But you can see the Pinterest board I compiled right here!

The main idea I got from looking at these boards is that it is much easier to plan ahead for a week or two with a visual aid so I decided to create individual recipe cards that would include the list of all the ingredients required to make the dish.

This is really easy to do:

  1. Create a label template in Microsoft Word.
  2. Compile a list of recipes used on a regular basis, plus any special occasion recipes, and write down the list of ingredients against the title (see picture below).
  3. Colour code: it looks more attractive and helps visualise the week better. There are endless combinations, but I went with blue for fish, green for meat-free dishes, red for red meat, orange for all other meats (pork, poultry, etc) and purple for special occasions.
  4. Print the pages and fold in the middle so that each recipe card has the recipe title on one side and the list of ingredients on the other. This way, you don’t need to forage into recipe books to figure out what you need to buy. You can just take your box of cards, pull out the recipes you fancy making that week and fill out your shopping list there and then.
  5. Laminate and cut to size.

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If I think I won’t remember which recipe book it comes from, I make a note of it on the card with the page number. Every so often, I add a recipe to the template and print the latest page.

Here is the Recipe Labels Template; it is ready to amend with your own recipes.

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So there you go! I hope this is a useful post, and don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments section.