Gratin & Traditional French zucchini casserole
Sobriety does not equal Foolproof entertaining

Why The French Won't Give You The (Entire) Recipe

Delicious sorrel soup - with a swirl of Pesto in Bed. Recipe follows.

TODAY'S WORD: oseille (f)

    : sorrel (a plant)

Oseille is also slang for "cash", or "dough". To comment on this word, go here.

to Jean-Marc read these French words:
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Frotter une feuille de Rumex (l'oseille) sur une peau piquée par les orties ou les insectes supprime les démangeaisons.
To stop itching, rub Rumex (sorrel, dock) leaf on skin stung by nettle or insects.

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"Sorrel Soup and a Sundae"

    by Kristin Espinasse

Have you ever made tapenade or gratin de courgettes or French yogurt cake and wondered if quelque chose was missing? Well something probably was! The question is: did the French person who gave you the recipe intend any culinary deceit?

I wonder about these things, too, as I work in my garden cleaning up the patch of oseille. Tossing aside a dozen torn or bitten leaves it suddenly occurs to me I could put them to good use - in soup! But before heading off to the kitchen, I take the opportunity to show off an exceptional part of my garden (this tidied up area being l'exception!).

For the photo, I summon my mannequin, Smokey. At 5ft3--and a half--inches tall (on his tiptoes), Smokey is too short to strut down the fashion runways in Paris, but he is Top Dog here in the countryside. Now if only he would behave as a professional model would, by striking a pose! Instead, Smokey sees my photographer gestures as an invitation to wrestle!

I respond, trying to pin my dog down for a selfie. After 5 minutes I'm out of breath, I've lost my hat, and my face is scratched. Smokey is ready for round 2!  

Eventually I get a photo to post at Instagram, and another I can use at the end of this post. (Which reminds me to speed up this story or you will never get a recipe out of me--just like you won't get one from a French person. And you'll soon learn why....) 

Back in the kitchen, I put a swirl of olive oil into a small saucepan (just me eating today, so "petite soupe"). I take a lump of butter, using it to spread the oil across the pan, before putting the lump back in the butter dish.

Next, I sauté half a chopped yellow onion in this butter-oil mixture. I toss in the French sorrel (about one-half cup), leaving on the stalks. (Push the leaves around the pan, along with the onions,  for five minutes...)

I go and get the leftover cooked potatoes in the fridge... and rejoice seeing the sauce. I'd forgotten they were cooked with the roasted chicken. Good flavoring for my soup! 

I add the potatoes and sauce to the pan and chop down the former with the help of my wooden spatula...

Next, a bouillon cube.... (chicken, beef, or vegetable--I can't see which as I've tossed the box!)

Now's time to add sour cream. Only we don't have any.... Milk will work even better, as we need to add volume to this soup (enough to get a bowl or two for my lunch!). The milk will also help to cool down the "potage" in time to use the immersion blender to mix it up....

*    *    *

Now, I believe those are the ingredients I have used for this Sorrel soup -- along with salt and pepper to taste... and a grind or two of garlic flakes (oh, and the salt was herbal salt... part herbs, part salt....). But if for some reason your soup doesn't come out just right... then you will know the answer to today's question: Why The French Won't Give You The Entire Recipe

Because they have forgotten an ingredient or two!

*    *    *

The soup was so delicious that, after finishing two bowls, I went and licked the pan clean. It was also so satisfying that I didn't think to complete the meal with bread or cheese. This meant that 2 hours later, while on the way to the health food store, I pulled over and ate a cheeseburger, fries and a sundae at McDonald's. "Which makes your mom a hypocrite!" I admitted to my daughter, who sat facing me in the fast food booth.

"Oh, but it is sooo good!" Jackie said, encouraging me to dip my greasy fries into my chocolate sundae--which seemed like a perfectly good idea to me.

 *    *    *

   What do you think, Smokey?

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