The year when everything changed — L’année quand tout a changé

I’ve been meaning to tell you about my weakness for anything involving potatoes.

Growing up, my mother prepared râpés de pommes de terre (grated potatoes cooked like small galettes, close to latkes) perhaps once a week, which invariably made my brother and me extremely happy. Because it was food that involved potatoes, and because hers were deliciously crispy, always cooked to perfection. She liked to serve them with a dollop of silky fromage blanc, a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly chopped chives, and a side lettuce tossed in a vinaigrette with piquant. That was dinner during a wintry week day: simple and gorgeous in every way.

I’ve been a lover of that type of comforting food since then. During the winter, that’s what we have for dinner at least once a week.

Sometimes my râpés will make a casual meal, just as we used to eat them at home, and at other times, they’ll dress up our meal, as I prefer to serve them as an appetizer, topped with crème fraiche or mascarpone, a slice of tasty smoked salmon and pear.

While my mother never uses eggs to prepare hers, I use a few — like in this recipe. I also find root vegetables delicious in this dish, and often make new variants following the produce seasonality and my fancy. Here, you’ll see that I used white sweet potato, parsnip and carrot. You’ll thank me for it! It’s a real boost of flavors and vitamins in your plate.

When I prepared these a few days ago, I remember looking at Lulu when she and I sat at the table for lunch. “Je suis sûre qu’elle va aimer,” (I’m sure she’ll love that) I couldn’t help but think.

That didn’t fail.

She took a small piece in one hand and looked at it cautiously at first, as she always does. Then she grabbed another piece delicately with the other hand, before bringing the food to her mouth and looking at me with a smile in her eyes.

It’s a funny thing to admit but the fact that she ate the râpé enthusiastically really made me happy. Enjoying these just like her papa and her maman.

Tomorrow is Christmas. It’s the day when many of you, and us too, will celebrate with family and friends. For us, it’s also the day when last year, our little Lulu was born. The meaning of Christmas has completely changed since then; life has never tasted as sweet since our daughter has been with us.

She is truly the best Christmas gift that we will ever have. What an amazingly rich journey this year will have been! I wonder what 2010 will keep ahead…

Have a wonderful celebration! My best wishes for this end of year and for the next.

And many thanks for being such a fantastic crowd on the other side of the screen! Between the writing of my book and taking care of Lulu, I might not have been as present, but know that every email and comment you wrote was special and meant a lot. Merci !

Joyeux Noël et bonne année à tous !

Root vegetable râpés


(Makes 10 râpés)

You need:

  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 white sweet potato, peeled and finely grated*
  • 2 small eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • Safflower oil, to fry
  • Smoked salmon, to serve
  • Crème fraiche or mascarpone, to serve
  • Slices of pear, to serve
  • *the grated vegetables combined make 1 lb + 4 oz (600 g)


Steps:

  • In a bowl, combine the vegetables with the eggs, parsley, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a few tablespoons of oil on medium to high heat and when warm, add a heaped tablespoon of vegetables. Use the back of a flat spatula to flatten the râpé.
  • Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and then flip on the other side. Cook for 3 more minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Keep them in the oven preheated at 250 F while you keep working.
  • Serve topped with crème fraiche spread on top, a slice of smoked salmon and one of pear. Add salmon roe too, if you like. And enjoy!

72 comments

  1. Mmm your râpés look deliciously crispy and so so good, we call them potato rosti, you have inspired me to make them again soon as we haven’t in too long, not sure I can wait for winter to come first.
    Wishing you the happiest of celebrations Bea, P and Lulu, Merry Christmas and Happy birthday dear sweet Lulu.

  2. Bea, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and also a very happy 1st Birthday to dear Lulu. I feel proud to be sharing the same birthday as such a gorgeous little gourmand!

  3. My best wishes to you and your family, happy birthday to your sweet little Lulu!…It is always a real pleasure to read your posts and travel through your photos and taste your amazing recipes!…Merci pour tout!…

  4. Blessed Christmas Bea, P & Lulu. And hugs to our dear Lulu on her birthday. How time flies.. and how sweet the times had been for you all.

  5. What a lovely post, and the happiness that comes through loud and clear whenever you talk about Lulu always makes me smile. Wishing you all the best in the year to come.

  6. Merry xmas to you and happy bday to little lulu. this dish looks so delicious, i will surely have to make it! I have been following your site for over a year and im so happy for you and your family. your an inspiration for me to have kids:)

  7. Merry Christmas to you, and happy happy birthday to your daughter!
    And thank you for this beautiful blog.
    :)

  8. Wishing you the best this holiday season and for the year ahead.

    Happy to see Lulu growing so well (and so fast)!

    Bisous a vous trois. Un tres tres joyeux Noel et pleins de bonnes chose pour l’annee qui vient.

  9. Such a nice story, of your childhood and Lulu’s. We eat potato pancakes often too, prepared almost the same way. Salmon and sour cream a must. Anyway, have a wonderful Christmas! Can’t wait to hear about the birthday girl’s big day. Very sweet photo of the two of you. One more thing, tell me about the lovely fork in the photo. Such close attention to details always comes through in your photography.

  10. Excellent noël à toute la famille ! les photos sont toujours aussi belles et l’anglais l’emporte sur le français !!!

  11. Joyeux Noël et un bel anniversaire à Lulu !
    J’espère que tu continueras à nous enchanter en 2010… Tu as toujours le verbe et la photo justes pour transmettre les petits et les grands instants du quotidien. Bises !

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  13. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I can’t wait to try these.

  14. Je te souhaite un excellent Noël. Un très bel anniversaire à Lulu. De l’inspiration en 2010.

  15. Oh, we share the same passion for potatoes! :) I made a similar râpés several weeks ago, just a plain ones only from potatoes without eggs, served with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers, I liked it very much. Your version looks even tastier!
    I wish you and your family all the best and a very happy 2010!

  16. Joyeux Noël à vous et votre famille , et un bonne anniversaire à Lulu! :D

  17. What a beautiful post.
    Merry Christmas and a wonderfully sweet New Year to you & your faily.
    Love the spuds!

  18. Those look lovely! Hope you had a merry Christmas and joyeux anniversaire to Lulu!
    Question about the recipe, if you Mom doesn’t use eggs, do they still hold together well?

  19. Une jolie histoire de Noël … qui parle d’enfants, de parents et de transmission … Une jolie recette, aussi … qui pourrait bien, après les agapes des deux jours passés, nous faire replonger dans une cuisine familiale simple mais néanmoins délicieuse !
    Une très bonne fin d’année à la jeune famille
    Bises
    hélène

  20. Serais-tu vosgienne d’origine? Les râpés ont bercé mon enfance. C’était le plat que mon père nous préparait parfois les samedis midis. Et quand c’était le cas, c’était la fête! Merci pour ces souvenirs…

  21. That is a beautiful photo of the two of you! I wholeheartedly agree about life changing when we are offered little miracles.
    We can love with all our heart again:)

  22. Joyeux Noël à toi et à ta famille Béa!
    Que la vie soit toujours aussi belle et heureuse :)

  23. I am happy to know that your life is so tremendously rich. I got really attached to you sharing with us, readers, not only your splendid food creations, but also the private thoughts and cherished moments of your daily life. Thank You and all the best for this Christmas and always.

  24. Winter Holidays as beautiful and quiet, which will fill the soul with joy, confidence, hope and love!

  25. what a wonderful year indeed. hope you had a great christmas bea… crispy root vegetables say it all!

  26. Forcément Noël sera encore et toujours plus magique avec cette double célébation, bon anniversaire à Lulu….

  27. That photo at the end made my heart skip a beat. Such a wonderful shot, so much love packed into one frame. Joy, too. Happy, happy birthday Lulu, happy holidays, and all the best for the coming year.

  28. happy birthday to the little Lulu and Merry Christmas to all your family! and a wonderful, happy, bright New Year :)
    Chiara.

  29. A Christmas child is always a treat! I’m a holiday child too (but a Halloween child) and I used to think that everyone celebrated my birthday with me by dressing up. I bet it’s going to like that for Lulu, everyone sharing happiness!

  30. C’est surement le plus beau des cadeaux de Noel qui existe. Excellentes fetes de fin d’annee a tous les trois.

  31. The dish looks lovely. And what a Christmas blessing for you… Happy Birthday Lulu!

  32. Hi Béatrice –

    Thanks for another year of beautiful food…and congratulations on Lulu’s first birthday. Best wishes from Maine for a happy, healthy and peaceful 2010.

    best, Stephen

  33. You make a simple comfort dish look so elegant!
    I love latkes but never tried it with root vegetables. Great idea! I did make them Southern-ed when I was invited to a Southern food potluck. I added to the potatoes onion, white and jewel sweet potatoes and fried them in bacon fat, butter and oil :), served with sour cream with chopped green onions and crumbled bacon!

  34. Thank you so much everyone for your kind words and birthday wishes for Lulu! She had such a fun day during the party I organized for her ;-) Especially tearing the wrapping paper off and making noise with it! I hope she’ll keep her taste for these foods. Our food!

  35. Joyeux Noël et bon anniversaire à Lulu qui a tout juste 32 ans de moins que moi!! je suis du 25 décembre aussi.
    On aura des images de la fête que tu as préparé?
    bises à vous trois et à l’année prochaine.

  36. For some reason my comment never showed up….

    Trying again: Happy New Year, and belated Bday wishes for Lulu!

    Looking forward to another year of your recipes and beautiful photography…

  37. SaraH, il y aura peut-être des images, oui :-)

    Myrecessionkitchen, she does not use anything instead of the eggs, and yes, they stay together. Potatoes have enough starch for that matter.

  38. Juste un petit message pour vous souhaiter une très belle et gourmande année 2010 et vous remercier de toutes ces belles recettes délicieuses qui mettent les papilles en ébullition …
    à très bientôt
    Laura

  39. très belle année 2010 avec ta jolie petite fille continue à nous faire partager recettes et sublimes photos ! bises

  40. Yeah, I like potatoes as well, in any manner possible.
    Those are called roesti, or I assume they’re more commonly known as that?

  41. Bonjour,

    Je viens de découvrir votre magnifique blog!
    Etant originaire de St Etienne (pays des râpées de pommes de terres!), ce post me plaît particulièrement : les râpées de ma Grand-Mères revisitées à la sauce Noël !

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  43. I made some tonight. Thank you for the inspiration. I’ve had extra potatos around since Christmas. YUM! Perfect winter fare.

  44. These are so amazing. Simply delicious in every way, simple to make, and simply impressive. I just made them this chilly Spanish afternoon and am finishing the last bites with a glass of wine. The only thing, I repeat, ONLY thing, I did differently was substitute thyme for the parsley. Mmmmm…..muy rico!

  45. The year when everything changed — L’année quand tout a changé
    December 24, 2009
    Bonjour, pouvez-vous me donner cette recette en français ??
    Merci.

  46. Hi, your hapiness and your joy are something very relaxing to me and kind of make me forget the rest : i will try some of your recipes which sound very good to me hope to spend a nice time with my plate…
    Siham from Lyon

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  48. Hi Bea, I absolutely love your blog and your new book is on my Xmas list this year :) I just came upon this post and had a question about your mom’s potato pancakes…you mentioned she never uses eggs. My son is egg and dairy allergic and I was hoping you could give me your mom’s recipe??? I would love to make these for my little boy!! Thanks so much and keep up the amazing work. You always inspire me!!!! xoxo

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