This post was originally posted in July of 2018! Although Independence Day was yesterday, many people will still have the day off today. So, there is no reason not to keep the celebration going with a great American traditional meal!
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Hey guys! Alicia here with more recipes from my ancestry. This month I decided to do American food, as in The United States of America. My ancestors have been here for a long time from many other countries throughout Europe. It's been difficult to find purely American foods, because the great thing about this country is it's a melting pot of people and cultures. And in fact today we have a meal that is an blend of foods from other countries, that when together makes a quintessential American meal.
Hamburgers, Fries, and a Milkshake
Hamburgers, wereminced Hamburg beef steaks made in Hamburg, Germany. They were usually very expensive. When Germans came to the USA, they made a version of the Hamburg steak here. These steaks were passed out to factory workers during the Industrial revolution, but proved difficult to eat standing up. This was until one chef put the patty between to slices of bread. This popularized the hamburger across the country. And I'm so glad!
I love hamburgers. To make mine, I usually just make a patty with ground beef (80/20 or higher). Sometimes I mix in spices like pepper, garlic, thyme, or onion powder. Then as I put them on the charcoal grill, I salt them. When they're cooked through, and just about done, I add a slice of cheese. Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Swiss...to me all cheese has a place on a burger, it just depends on what else you're topping it with. For our burgers this time we used cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and onion. All on a lightly grilled sesame seed bun. It was so delicious. I don't have a recipe for you because hamburgers are the perfect food to experiment with. There are so many delicious combinations. The bacon cheeseburger like we made is an American classic, But I also love Swiss cheese and sautéed onions.
To go with hamburgers, the classic way here in the USA is with French Fries. While named French fries, they're actually from Belgium! During World War I, American soldiers in Belgium tried these delicious fried potatoes (that date back to the 1600's in Belgium). Because of the language spoken in that part of the country, the soldiers called them French Fries and the name has stuck (except for that very brief moment in time where we changed it to Freedom Fries in one of the most hilarious forms of animosity between countries). Fries are eaten all over the world now and in different ways. In Canada they use them to make Poutine. In the UK they're called chips and eaten with fried fish. No matter how you eat them, they are delicious.
To make my fries I peel russet potatoes, and then slice them into long thin rectangular prisms (not exactly since the potatoes are round). Then I soak them in water or blanch them. I feel like this helps them to get plump up and be crispy when they are done frying (instead of soggy). I fry them in my 10 inch frying pan with about an inch of oil. As soon as they come out of the oil I put them on a plate with a paper towel and salt them. You can also bake them, just coat them in oil and salt first.
To finish off the meal, is a milkshake! From my research it seems milkshakes are an American invention. Now we don't always have milkshakes with fries and burgers or even for dinner. Usually it's an after dinner treat! But we made an exception for this meal. Milkshakes are easy to make. Get your favorite ice cream, put it in a blender, add some milk and blend it up. It's so so simple and so delicious! You can make it as liquid as you want. We like to be able to drink ours through a straw but many people eat theirs with a spoon. Sorry I don't have a good picture of our milkshake. We drank it too fast.
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It's Lindsey, and I'm back with another French recipe for the sixth day of Christmas, a quiche for Six Geese a Laying! Now of course, the song says six geese a laying, but don't worry, this recipe calls for regular chicken eggs.
Obviously, while I was living in France I ate a lot of quiche. Quiche is such a quick and simple meal, and you can spruce it up any way you like! This quiche recipe is very basic and just calls for spinach, but you could easily add anything else you'd like to it. For example, it would be very easy for you to chop up some onion and toss it in to this quiche recipe. Or you could fry up some bacon and chop it up and sprinkle it into the filling once it is in the crust. You could also slice up zucchini and place them on the bottom of the crust and pour the egg filling over the top for a nice Quiche Courgette (courgette is the French word for zucchini.)
A word on the crust. When I was in France you could pie pre-made crusts and would be labeled pate brisee or pate feuillette. Pate brisee is what they use for quiche. As I did some research into how you make pate brisee, I realized it was very similar to our basic pie crust. They usually make it with butter, but as you know, we make our pie crust with shortening and it works just as well.
So here it is, my basic French Quiche recipe, you are going to love it!
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On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Three French Hens, and so I made a pot of coq au vin!
Here is your language lesson for the day. Coq is actually the French word for rooster. Coq au vin directly translates as "rooster in wine." But it is hard to find a rooster to cook these days, so really any chicken will do.
However, for our 12 days of Christmas recipes, the third day calls for Three French Hens, so I knew we would have to make a French dish, and Coq au Vin is just perfect for the season! It is warm and comforting.
You serve this Instant Pot Coq au Vin atop a bed of mashed potatoes. Does anything sound more wonderful on a cold winter day?
When I was tasked with doing a coq au vin recipe I knew I wanted to use my Instant Pot! I got it as a gift from my husband for my birthday, and I love it! Not only does everything cook faster in an Instant Pot, but it really cuts down on dishes! For this Instant Pot Coq au Vin you use the saute function and the pressure cook function.
A word on the wine used. We are not wine drinkers in this house. Or alcohol drinkers at all. Red wine is a central feature of coq au vin (remember vin= wine) but I didn't want to buy an expensive bottle of wine for one dish. I used Holland House Red cooking wine which is much less expensive. You could also use grape juice if you really don't want to use alcohol at all (the alcohol cooks out, but you do you. No judgement here!) then grape juice would work, but it is probably a little sweeter so you would likely want to adjust your grape juice/chicken broth ratio so your coq au vin sauce won't be too sweet.
I think you are really going to enjoy this Instant Pot Coq au Vin. We devoured it! Merry 3rd day of Christmas!
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My son baked some focaccia Bread, and then his SIL did as well. The pictures looked so delicious. I had never made focaccia bread myself and decided to give it a try. I have a number of herbs that I have been growing and this was the perfect opportunity to use them in a new way.
Focaccia Bread is very easy to make and is a lot of fun! You really get to put your hands in the dough. The outcome is so delicious because the olive oil is definitely the star of the show. In addition, there are so many topping choices that a variety of flavors are possible if you are making more than one loaf. Wouldn’t that be nice on a luncheon table? Many people use focaccia for sandwiches or for pizza, and of course, just to eat all by itself.
As I mentioned, focaccia bread is very easy to make. My first attempt came out so good! I was nervous because there was so much olive oil! But, when it came out of the oven that was all incorporated into a bread that was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The olive oil and the herbs with that sprinkle of salt were an explosion of flavor in my mouth.
One tip to get the most flavor from the herbs is to make sure that they are coated with the olive oil. I watched some Italian You Tubers who gave that suggestion. I guess the oil helps to bring out the flavor and convey it to the bread dough. So, you will notice in the recipe that I soaked my herbs in the olive oil that I used in the bread dough and also drizzled over the bread.
Another tip is about the kneading technique for this bread. Not everyone does this method, but a number of bakers do and I decided to try it. It is the stretching and pulling method. I like it because the dough is pretty sticky and needs to be in order to get the texture that you want in focaccia bread. With the stretch and pull method of kneading, you are elongating the gluten without adding too much flour to the mix as you would with a regular kneading method. Here is how you do it:
My final tip pertains to dimpling the top of the bread. Focaccia is supposed to have lots of lumps, bumps and crannies where the oil and toppings can gather. Adding the dimples also keeps the bread from rising too quickly. Focaccia is a flat bread and this is a way of keeping it that way! Putting water on your fingers helps them not to stick in the dough. Then, use those fingers to push into the dough to form the dimples. It is the fun part of making this bread! Don’t be afraid to push in until you feel the bottom of the pan.
My recipe is a conglomeration of various recipes and videos that I watched as I tried to glean information about making focaccia. Some of the videos weren’t even in English! But, my main source was probably from Immaculate Bites who also gave me the instruction to infuse the oil with the herb flavor, although she did it differently than I did. You may want to go to her site to see how she did it. She used her machine to do the kneading and didn’t do the stretching and pulling method, so you can choose to do it whichever way you prefer. Focaccia seems to be a hands on bread though. Many people mixed all of it by hand from start to finish! But, here is the recipe that I ended up adapting to my preferences. I hope you enjoy it!
One last tip! Focaccia Bread tastes the very best when it is still warm on the first day it is made, so have some friends over or get all of your kids to the table and eat it all up! You can warm up the leftovers in the microwave, but I still think the first moments after it cools slightly out of the oven is the best time to gobble it down!
Other Bread Recipes you may enjoy!
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!