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Friday Feature:

Alexandra Deloye Laclef

As I am quarantined in Arizona, I have yet to meet Alexandra, but I look forward to meeting her in person back in Minnesota. For now I am enjoying her Cookbook: Easy Frenchy Recipes for Electric Pressure Cookers”. In addition to sharing her culinary delights, she shares so many travel tips with us today. (Anything Underlined in Bold will take you to a link to learn more!)

Where did you grow up in France?

I grew up in Senlis, 40 miles north of Paris and then in Le Touquet, on the Channel coast.

I studied in Lille, in the North of France, a beautiful and very active city with a lot of students.

Since I married a French & British guy from the Loire Valley, I now spend most of summer time in this beautiful area full of history.

What is there to see and do in your area?

Northern France had been popular with the movie « Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis ». People are very welcoming. When I go to Lille, I love walking in the city ( you can do most of the city walking), having a beer on the Grand’Place, eating a « Merveilleux » ( meringue cake) or some chocolates at « Le Chat Bleu », buying some books at the biggest bookstore in Northern France and doing some shopping.

There are many museums to visit in this area : La Piscine à Roubaix , a museum about mines ... Did you know that you can Le Louvre Museum is also in Northern France ?!

If you go to the Loire Valley and love history, go to one of the best amusement parks in the world which received many awards, Le Puy du Fou. The shows are incredible !

What are the regional specialties in your hometown?

Northern France is well known for Moules-Frites (Mussels and french fries), Carbonnade Flamande (Flemish stew) and beer ! You can find some of these recipes in my book !

Do you have favorite restaurants you want to share?

In Minneapolis :

- Restaurant : Cavé Vin, Minneapolis

- Home chef and catering : Valerie's French Kitchen

In France :

- Le Logis de Pompois : a very traditional and authentic restaurant in a gorgeous mansion . I love the fact that all the people who work there have special needs and they all do an amazing job !

- Unique restaurant : you book a table and you and your friends are the only guests ! The Chef Jeremy Dumay takes care of you with an incredible menu.

Do you have a favorite family recipe you would like to share?

Rice and ham cake. When I was a little girl my mother often prepared this and it was a big hit with my best friend who nicknamed it, “Mrs. Deloye’s cake”. Several years later, I cooked this recipe for my boyfriend who also fell in love with it and later became my husband!

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 shallot

  • 2 cups white rice

  • 4 ½ cups chicken broth (or 4 ½ cups of water with 1 crumbled chicken stock cube)

  • Salt

  • 1 lb. mozzarella (2 balls)

  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese

  • 1 ½ tsp. turmeric or 1 pinch of saffron

  • 7 oz. ham (7 slices)

  • A round or springform cake pan

  • 1 trivet

This recipe is made for an Electric Pressure Cooker, but you can also use a sauté pan to cook the rice. It will take a bit longer!

Select the Sauté mode on the pressure cooker and heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil.

Peel and mince the shallot, add it in the inner pot and let cook for 1 minute, while stirring.

Pour 2 cups of white rice in the inner pot.

Let cook for 2 minutes while stirring regularly.

Add 4 ½ cups chicken broth (or 4 ½ cups of hot water with 1 crumbled chicken stock cube) and stir.

Add some salt.

Close and lock the lid. Be sure the pressure release valve is closed.

Cancel the last cooking mode.

Select the Pressure cook / Manual mode and set the cooking time for 5 minutes at high pressure.

During this time, slice 1 lb. (2 balls) of mozzarella.

Preheat the oven on 400 °F.

Let the pressure quickly release with the venting button. Natural release is preferred.

Add 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 ½ tsp. of turmeric or 1 pinch of saffron and mix with the rice, until smooth.

In a baking pan, spread half of the rice, then add half of mozzarella on the rice.

Cover all the mozzarella with ham, then add a new layer of mozzarella and cover with the rice.

Put it in the oven and let cook 20 minutes until the cheese is melted.

What do you do now?

We moved to the USA 5 years ago when the facility we both used to work in France was shutting down. My husband had the opportunity to pursue his job in MN instead of France.

Our kids were very young and we thought it would be a thrilling experience to go to the USA. It was our first expatriation experience and we had been very lucky to land in MN!

Now, I am a mobility consultant and I help French people moving from France to the USA, providing cultural trainings for example

As a foodie, I also published a book with all my favorite French recipes I used to do with my Instant Pot!

When you go back to France, what is a “must” for you - see, do or eat!

Seeing the sea, walking on the beach, going to the market, eat saucisson, fresh coquilles St Jacques, pastries (religieuses au chocolat, Paris Brest, …), doing some shopping and enjoying family and friends !

Do you have any other advice or travel tips for Americans going to France?

Plan all the places you want to visit (and restaurants!) and don’t be afraid to discover less popular places! There are so many things and places to visit!

If you want to visit Paris, August is the best moment (not too crowded).

Merci, Alexandra! You can find her book here:

The French version is “My French Popote”, also available on Amazon:

People can also follow me on my Facebook Page “Easy Frenchy Recipes for Electric Pressure Cookers”, where I post some recipes of my book and also new recipes !

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