Last month I came across a naan pizza recipe while looking for new ways to cook my boring potatoes. It looked very good and tasty yet quite fast and easy to make.
I was also intrigued by the “naan bread” that I first confounded with pita Mellark.
I went straight to the store looking for this Asian bread I never heard about before and found it litteraly next to pita on the bread shelf. Though they both look relatively similar, naan bread is puffier, which is perfect to get the soft and chewy pizza crust I like.
I bought garlic and coriander naan for this recipe, but plain naan bread is also perfectly fine. I would just add some chopped garlic before putting the mini pizzas in the oven because I would miss the condiment’s savory and the bad breath.
For the topping I first put a layer of grated cheese followed successively by slices of potatoes, red onions and cherry tomatoes.
Making very thin slices of potatoes allows them to cook more quickly and evenly, which is important to prevent the other ingredients from burning.
I season with salt, pepper and herbs and drizzle about two spoons of olive oil on each pizza.
I put them in a preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (180°C / 356°F) depending on how fast the potatoes cook.
After this successful first attempt at making mini pizzas I tried a few variations of topping including vegetarian mincemeat, sweet chili sauce or raw tomatoes slices.
I love cooking au gratin because putting grated cheese everywhere just makes things smell, taste and look better to me.
Potatoes gratin is my favorite and it’s perfect to face a cold winter day. Naturally, this is the first dish I cooked when the flat’s oven got repaired last month.
Here are the ingredients I used to make it as simple and student-budget-friendly as possible:
You just need enough butter to grease the casserole dish and to add on top of the gratin before putting it in the preheated oven (200°C / 392°F). Use as many potatoes as your dish and your belly can contain. They have to be washed and peeled.
I usually cut them in half vertically then into thin slices to facilitate the water, cream or sauce absorption. If you wanted to use chunks of potatoes instead for any reason, you would have to parboil them beforehand.
This potatoes gratin basically consists of successive layers of potatoes slices/chunks, cream and cheese until you reach the top of the dish.
I start with a layer of potatoes “fish scales” and add some creme fraiche right on top of it.
Then I add some salt, pepper, and some spices I have in the cupboard. Last time it was ground ginger and cinnamon.
The third layer is made of grated cheese. I used grated cheddar for this one but you can use any other cheese, depending on your preference. If the cheese you want to use is already salty, be careful on the seasoning from the previous step.
Just restart and repeat the layering process until the dish is full or you have nothing more to put in it.
I never know whether to end with a layer of potatoes or a layer of grated cheese. This time it was potatoes, so I added some butter to melt on top and prevent them from drying. I put the dish in the oven for about 30 minutes.
This time I took it out from the oven a bit late and the gratin was a bit burnt on top but still fine.
If the outside is cooked and the inside is still liquid because of the melted creme fraiche and cheese, you can let it cool down for some time. It took me about half a hour to get a more solid consistency.
The Douaumont ossuary, built within the Verdun Battlefield.
Back to France, we took a couple of days to visit Verdun, one of the main battlefields during the First World War.
On the 28th we went to Gien, a city built around the Loire, which is the longest river in France. This is the kind of cities I like, maybe because on the continent, the river is the closest link I have to the sea I miss so much.
The day after we drove to my partner’s birthplace in Issoire, then on the 30th we split up for a few days at Clermont-Ferrand where I took the train to Bourg-en-Bresse, to my cousin’s place.
We are meant to meet again in Lyon tomorrow, for a few more days, the last of the holidays.
The sign says “Bicycles are not allowed to be parked”.
The journey from Vittel to Strasbourg was a long one, but the landscape of the eastern border of France was worth seeing. We officially reached Germany on the Bridge of Europe but we only realized it after seeing a « Polizei » car. It didn’t take much more time to get to our first destination, Karlsruhe, as the german highways don’t have any speed limitations.
I was so excited to be in Germany that I didn’t think about looking for a place to sleep, which was a real pain because of Christmas Day.
Luckily, we found one late in the night after eating a vegetarian pizza.
The next morning, we drove to the beautiful Heidelberg, on the river Neckar, and visited its castle.
We spent the night a few kilometers away in Mannheim where we also tasted some delightful Turkish pastry.
On December 27th, we decided to go back to France, after a quick stop at Saarbrücken.
Your feet aren’t touching the actual ground, yet you see the landscape scroll on both sides.
The bus travel from London to Paris was 10 hour long and included a ferry trip from the port of Dover in England to Calais in France. I arrived at Quai de Bercy around 6 on the morning exhausted and starving, but so were most of the other passengers.
However my tiredness quickly faded to the excitement of discovering a new city, thanks to the beautiful sight of The Seine at dawn, as I was walking to the tube station. I took a nap at a friend’s place later in the morning.
We went together to the Pompidou Centre where we spent hours visiting the galleries. I was particularly enthusiastic to finally see with my own almond eyes some iconic artist’s works such as Beuys’, Malevitch’s and the unmissable Duchamp’s Urinoir.
The next day, on December 20th, I went to Soissons by train and stayed at a relative’s for a few days. This small town was quite the antithesis of the busy capital city I was in the day before, which was perfect to rest before my return to Paris on December 23rd.
Back to Paris, I met a friend from high school with whom I cleared some of my tourist goals: Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Christmas market and les Champs-Elysées. My partner arrived in France the next day. We made a quick stop at Notre-Dame then spent most of the day on the road leading to Vittel.
Vittel is a town in the east of France where mineral water is bottled under the brand of the same name and it’s also where my partner grew up. The streets were emptied by the Christmas holiday, giving us more freedom to wander, like ghosts in an abandoned town. We went to the woods to recover from the previous trip.
Yesterday, we crossed the boundary between France and Germany.