This week, the French Fridays with Dorie crew is participating in Food Revolution Day, led by Mardi of eat. live. travel. write.
Our assignment this time around is to share something we’ve learned from Dorie Greenspan during our more than four years working through Around My French Table. It’s a theme nicely in keeping with Food Revolution Day’s emphasis on food education.
As Mardi explained:
Friday May 15th 2015 is the fourth annual Food Revolution Day – a day of global action created by Jamie Oliver and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to engage and inspire people of all ages to learn about food and how to cook it.
This year, Food Revolution Day is a global campaign to put compulsory food education back on the school curriculum. Jamie passionately believes that by educating children about food and cooking in a fun and engaging way, we can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives, for themselves and their future families. Dorie agrees – last year when I was chatting with her about food education, she said: “I would love to see a generation that can cook and wants to cook for themselves and others. The world would be a better place.”
It’s difficult to choose a recipe or technique that stands out from our experiences over the course of the group, only because we’ve learned so much.
We’ve tackled elegant French desserts that turned out to be easy, thanks to Dorie’s talent for instructions: Floating Islands.
We’ve learned that all you need for complex flavours and a hearty meal are a sturdy pot and a plump chicken: Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux.
We’ve used the simplest methods to create satisfying suppers: Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote.
We’ve got foolproof doughs almost by heart, allowing us to elevate everything from breakfast to cocktail fare: Gerard’s Mustard Tart.
We’ve overcome our skepticism of unfamiliar flavour combinations and found new favourites: Orange & Olive Salad.
We’ve filled our pantries with many more spices, herbs, condiments, and other ingredients than we’d imagined possible: Chopped Liver with quatre épices.
But most of all, we’ve expanded our cooking and eating horizons, as though we were a class of students led by Dorie’s steady hand. Many of our participants were already confident in the kitchen, while others were gaining confidence as we progressed, but there has always been something to learn from Dorie and from each other.
This is at the heart of healthy, happy eating – exploring new techniques and flavours, while building a foundation of everyday skills that can be applied to whatever you might find in the pantry or the markets. We’ve eaten richly and well along the way, but also with the kind of variety and substance that healthy bodies require.
The dish I’ve made this week is emblematic of a lot of what’s been wonderful about working through Around My French Table. It’s a classic French dish; full of nutritious ingredients; as elegant as you’d like it to be; and easily made affordable or luxe, as required. Dorie’s instructions ensure you’ll make the most of the ingredients and it’s another of the book’s many reminders that even the simplest of meals can be full of flavour.
The beauty of a composed salad is that you can alter it to suit all diners’ needs. In this case, I made a plateful with tuna, egg, and anchovies for me, then left them off for Kevin. There are many lessons in this recipe for young cooks, too. Hard-boiling eggs, blanching green beans, making vinagrette – but especially taking a look at what you’ve got in the refrigerator and pantry, then making a satisfying meal from it.
This revolution must certainly start there.
You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s thoughts on Food Revolution Day and all we’ve learned from Dorie, here: Food Revolution Day. And you can find the rest of the Doristas’ posts on Salade Niçoise, here.