November 30, 2010

How To.... Make French Thanksgiving!

I celebrated Thanksgiving with FBF and his mom last Wednesday. I did it a day early because I work all day on Thursdays, and I wanted enough time to cook everything!

I am at an advantage in that I brought American measurement utilities with me (cups and teaspoons/tablespoons). I also counted some things in grams.

Here are the recipes for Le Stuffing, La Purée Americaine, and Les Hauricots Verts:

Le Stuffing:

This recipe came from my gradmother, who used to add cooked giblets and liver from the turkey and then stuff the bird (being vegetarian, this didn't sound appealing to me)! As I didn’t have a Turkey to give the stuffing moisture, I added a bouillon cube (France’s version of broth) and water until it was at the proper consistency, ¼ cup at a time.

- one loaf of two-to-three day old bread (to make 9 cups bread cubes)
- ¼ cup (50 grams) of butter (grams were easier as they were pre-marked on the stick of butter)
- ¾ cup minced onions
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp sage
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 buillon cube (légumes et huile d’olive)*
- water*

The magic bouillon cube!

1. Cut the bread into strips, and then into cubes about one inch squared. They don’t have to be exact! Just tiny little squares.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
3. Add onions. Cook until tender (about 10 minutes).
4. Add salt, sage, pepper, celery, and bread to the onions.
5. Stir until all ingredients are mixed well.
*6. Add bouillon cube.
*7. Add water until the stuffing is at the consistency you want (I added ¾ cup).
8. Heat well without browning, stirring frequently.

*optional! But it looked super dry to me so I improvised.

La Purée Americaine (Twice Mashed Potatoes):

My mom’s recipe for twice mashed potatoes calls for cream cheese and sour cream, two things that do not exist in France. With the help of google, I found substitute ingredients. I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream and I used Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese. This one turned out the worse. While it was still delicious, it did not taste like my mother’s mashed potatoes. It was a lot cheesier.

EDIT (23/11/11) : They now have cream cheese in France! Now that's something to be thankful for.

Viola le receitte (Here’s the recipe):

- 6 potatoes
- 200g Neufchatel cheese cream cheese
- ½ pint plain yogurt (don’t get vanilla yogurt!)
- butter
- a dash of paprika

1. Peel and chop potatoes. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until soft.
2. Mash the potatoes.
3. Add the Neufchatel and yogurt. Whip well.
4. Put into a greased casserole.
5. Dot with butter and paprika.
6. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).

Les Hauricots Verts (Green Bean Casserole):

- cream of mushroom soup (see recipe below)
- fried onions (see recipe below)
- 18 oz (500 grams) canned green beans
- 2/3 cups milk

1. Place ingredients into 1.5 quart (1 liter) casserole.
2. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for 30-35 minutes, or until hot.

As you can see, my mother’s recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup. This soup does not exist in France and therefore would be impossible to find in a can. Instead, I made homemade cream of mushroom soup first.

Crème du Champaignon (Cream of Mushroom Soup)

- 5 cups (350 grams) sliced mushrooms (I used mushrooms de Paris)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 ½ cups (335 ml) water
- 1 bouillon cube
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons buter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- ¼ tablespoon salt
- ¼ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 250 ml crème fraiche (fresh cream)

1. In a large saucepan, put in water and the bouillon cube. Cook the mushrooms, onions, and thyme until tender (about 15 minutes).
2. In blender or food process (or mixer if you’re in France), puree the mixture. Set aside.
3. In saucepan, melt the butter.
4. Add the flour, whisking/stirring frequently, until smooth.
5. Add the salt, pepper, and crème fraîche.
6. Add the vegetable puree.
7. Stirring constantly, bring the soup to a boil and cook until thickened.

Another unavailable ingredient, despite having “French” in the name, is the French fried onions that typically go in green bean casserole. Instead, I simply fried some onions myself. They weren’t quite as good as the ones from the states, but I left them on long enough to get brown and a little bit crunchy.

Les Oignons Français (French Friend Onions)

- 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
- a pinch of salt
- a pinch of pepper
- a pinch of thyme
- olive oil

1. Pour in olive oil to lightly cover the pan.
2. Add salt, pepper, and thyme.
3. On medium heat, cook the onions in the pan until brown and starting to get crispy (about 15 minutes).

Viola! Now you are all set to celebrate Thanksgiving in France!


  1. I love your recipes! And grandma would be very proud of your stuffing, Laura!

  2. Thanks Mom! We need to make real mashed potatoes over Christmas, though.

  3. Thanks for the recipes! :) I found that fromage a tartiner nature is a great substitute for cream cheese! I think I will make some of these!

  4. You're welcome Katie! Thanks for the suggestion of fromage a tartiner nature, I will definitely use that next time as neufchatel was a little tooo cheesey in my opinion.

    Let me know how yours turn out!


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