Caramelized Onion “Camemburgers”

Food, Food Photography, France, Recipes

Life in our 193 square foot apartment seems ages ago, even though we’ve only been in our new home for less than a month. Or for me, just one week…

Last month, living in that tiny flat, Paris felt like an extended vacation. Now, in a slightly larger space, and with Heidi asleep next to me on the couch as I write, Paris feels like home.

On those nights where we felt somewhat displaced and homesick, what helped us to feel rooted were the meals we cooked in that little apartment almost each night. With a kitchen smaller than most people’s pantries, and a fridge similar to what you’d find in a college student’s dorm room, daily trips to the market were required, but honestly, that was half the fun. Each day I would walk around the corner to the organic market, or one block over to Rue Montorgueil, one of Paris’ best market streets. When I wanted something that felt a bit more familiar, I would walk just a bit further to the British grocery store, Marks & Spencer, a place that felt much like Trader Joe’s, and sells the most wonderful flavors of crisps (the cornish cruncher cheddar and pickled onion, and the chicken mustard and worcester sauce crisps are where it’s at).

IMG_1088.jpgWorking with just two small burners, a microwave, and a toaster, I couldn’t get fancy with what I cooked, but each night that we ate at home, we ate well. With meals like French onion soup, bangers and mash, pot roast, pasta bolognese, and I kid you not, one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life, we didn’t go hungry. For dessert, we’d drink wine and eat chocolate, or enjoy a treat from one of the incredible patisseries nearby. Who needs to bake when you live in Paris?

Heidi and I returned to Paris a week ago today, but unfortunately, I came down with a horrible cold from all of my recent traveling, so while I now have a larger kitchen to cook in, I haven’t yet had much time to play. I made ratatouille earlier this week, and a delectable, buttery quiche the night after that, but since then, it’s been homemade chicken noodle soup and cup after cup of hot tea. Tonight, I think i’ll move on to a spicy curry, and then as soon as I feel 100%, these “camemburgers” will definitely find a place on our dinner menu.

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A play on the word hamburger and camembert, the hubs thought calling these burgers “camemburgers ” would be appropriate and cute, and I fully agree. Rich and gooey, these burgers melt in your mouth, and definitely require the crunch of a cornichon and deserve to be washed down by a good red wine. Though we try and limit how often we eat red meat, we ate these guys twice last month, and I can’t wait to get over this cold so I can fully appreciate another one soon.

Cornichons, which are basically just little baby pickles, should be available in your local grocery store, and are for sure available at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods if you have one nearby. If you can’t find camembert cheese, or find the flavor too strong, brie cheese would work wonderfully as a replacement. And while we love a good strong camembert, for this particular recipe, I recommend a milder one as the strong flavor could overpower the taste of the caramelized onions, which no one wants to miss. If you do use a strong camembert, cut off the rind before melting the cheese on your burger.

Caramelized Onion Camemburgers

Yields two burgers 

1 lb ground beef

Brioche buns*

Camembert cheese (or brie if you prefer a milder flavor – see note above)

Cornichons

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

Butter

Mayonnaise

Dijon mustard

Sugar

S&P

Melt a pat of butter in the bottom of skillet over moderately low heat. Add the onion, and stir until your onion slices are well coated in butter. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to very low and let the onions steep for about 10-15 minutes.

After about 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly, and stir in a pinch of salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for about 30-40 minutes, until they have turned an even, light golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare your burgers by forming two patties and sprinkling each with salt and pepper. Next, add a little butter to a skillet and cook your patties until they reach your desired doneness. For this recipe, I like the burgers to still be a bit pink. I believe our burgers were probably cooked to medium. Before you pull your burgers from the heat, top them with a couple of slices of cheese, and cover the skillet so your cheese can quickly melt. If your onions have finished caramelizing, you can top your patty with onions before adding the cheese to help everything nicely meld together. Otherwise, you can add your onions later.

Once your patties have finished cooking and your onions are done caramelizing, it’s time to assemble your burgers. Spread both buns with a bit of mayonnaise, and one side with a little dijon mustard. Add your burger patty, your caramelized onions (if you haven’t already), and a few cornichons. You can either slice your cornichons in half (long ways) or add them whole. The cornichons we buy here are rather small, and we love the acidity and crunch that they add, so we don’t bother cutting ours.

Serve with some herb seasoned fries and fry sauce (we love sautéed garlic and herbs mixed with mayonnaise) and a bottle of red wine (really, most reds will go great with this, but we particularly love a good Pinot Noir or Côtes du Rhône) and bon appetit!

*Sure, you could use regular buns, but really, I don’t recommend it. I used regular buns the first time I made this recipe and the burgers were good, however, the second time I made them, with brioche buns, they were GREAT. 

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Bonjour From Paris

Culture, France, Photography, Travel

When so much has happened since your last blog post, it’s really hard to just dive right into a new one. Even with the best intentions to write about our travels, share tasty recipes, and update you on other fun life updates, my schedule the last few years hasn’t really allowed me to do so. However, I expect that to change over the course of this next year.

Since it’d be impossible to cover everything that’s happened since January 7th, 2017 (the date of my last blog post) in just one post, let’s just jump ahead to the biggest news of all…

Two weeks ago yesterday, the hubs and I MOVED TO FRANCE.

That’s right. From Fayetteville, to Boston, to Austin, to PARIS, we’ve made our biggest move yet, and it has been a whirlwind of a process as well as a total dream come true.

In short, in May Jacob was awarded a grant to fund dissertation research for his PhD, and since most of the manuscripts he needs to study are here in France, fast forward four months, and here we are; two excited expats with just a few suitcases of belongings living in a 193 square foot apartment smack dab in the middle of the city…

The process to get us here hasn’t always been easy and many tough decisions had to be made along the way, like giving up a great job, leaving behind friends and family, and temporarily saying goodbye to our best girl, Heidi (the dog). However, this is only one small chapter of our lives (we’ll return to Austin August 2018) and we couldn’t be more excited to be here.

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Since arriving our time has been filled with long walks, buttery croissants, endless baguettes, cheap (but delicious) French wine, amazing ethnic foods (of all kinds), riverside picnics, beautiful sights everywhere we look, museums, churches, leisurely reads in the parks, lovely fall temperatures… the list could go on and on. But also, let’s not to forget about stressful apartment hunting, language barriers, lots of work for the hubs, sleepless nights on an uncomfortable pullout couch, homesickness, missing our girl terribly, and SO MUCH cigarette smoke.

Really though, the few negative asides, being here so far really has been a dream. While we long to be reunited with our girl (she’ll arrive in just a few weeks!) and to move into a space a little bigger than what we’re in now (We’re moving into a more permanent space in October that’s a whopping 484 square feet!) I say to myself at least five times a day “What!? I live here?!” because being here truly is surreal.

I look forward to the adventures we’ll go on this next year, the memories we will make, and blogging about it along the way. It’s good to be back.

Until next time, mes amis!


In a city like Paris, there’s literally always something to take a picture of. With that said, I have unfortunately missed the opportunity for some really great photos these last couple of weeks, simply because I don’t carry my camera with me 24/7. HOWEVER, there is one thing I do always have on me, and that’s my phone. For live updates, funny crisis moments, and more beautiful Parisian sights, be sure to follow me on Instagram, @jndoss. 

Je T’aime, Paris

Culture, Food, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

IMG_1948For as long as I can remember, I have loved all things Paris. I can’t recall what started this obsession, but when I was 13 years old, I decided to paint my room hot pink, decorating my walls with Parisian icons. During holidays, I’d always receive French-related gifts, and I started studying the language in junior high. I’d often stay after class, learning from my teacher how to travel abroad. She taught me about the art of overnight trains, and how to choose a good hostel. All tips which came in handy this summer.

When we first decided that we were to visit Europe, there was no question about adding Paris to our itinerary. In fact, it was the first guidebook that I bought, and the first place that I planned. The hubs and I spent many nights dining on cheese, baguettes, and bottles of wine, watching favorite French films, looking forward to the arrival of our trip.

Arriving in Paris, I was a bit nervous. What if this city that I had perfected in my mind, failed to meet my standards? What if the people really were as rude as I had heard they were? What if the Eiffel Tower wasn’t really all that magical? Or if the the Louvre was just another tourist trap? I was terrified of disappointment…

When we arrived, I cried. A lot. I cried after eating lunch that our host family so beautifully prepared. I cried because their house was so perfectly French. I cried when I first spotted the Eiffel Tower. I cried during our picnic on the Champs de Mars. I cried when I drank too much wine, and I nearly cried when I ate my first chocolate croissant. Paris was everything that I had ever hoped it would be, and so much more.

Each day started with fresh bread from the local bakery, and a mean shot of espresso. We’d walk to the train in the morning, passing locals on their way to work. We’d wait on the platform for the subway, next to French lovers always in a tight embrace. I’d try to read a bit of the morning paper, and study our itinerary preparing for our day to come. We filled our time with museums and markets, and almost always stopped in the park for an afternoon nap.

We hung out with Monet at the Musée d’Orsay and the Gargoyles at Notre Dame. We strolled the Champs-Élysées and dined at the foot at the Arc de Triomphe. We walked along the Seine, shopping for antique books. We scaled the Eiffiel Tower, all 674 steps. We imagined that we were royalty in the halls of Versailles, and explored the king’s chapel, La Sainte-Chapelle.

The people were lovely, despite what I’ve always heard. A simple, “Bonjour! Comment allez-vous?,” to start a conversation always seemed to do the trick. I was obsessed with the Haussmann architecture that dominated the streets, and even more obsessed with the food, or at least the passion that went into each meal. I looked forward to meal times and the events that they were. We ate duck, and quiche, and full sticks of butter. We had stinky cheese, and souffles, and the most perfect of tarts. We sipped French wines and a green chartreuse, and fell in love with the French way of life.

Our three days there were much too short. Even my skeptical hubs fell for this romantic city that I’ve long lusted for. It’s nice to know that my French obsession wasn’t just a phase. I loved it when I was 13, and I love it even more today. I spend meal times scouring through my French cookbooks and swooning over my new Flame Le Creuset. At night, I study the language and plot how to one day live in France. I’m constantly listening to “I Love Paris! Classic Gypsy Swing and French Accordion Jazz” on repeat and longing for the day that I can return to find my own favorite little French cafe.

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IMG_7076 collage2IMG_2538jacobIMG_2079 versaillesIMG_2407 IMG_2427 eiffeltower jacobjennparis collageeiffelnightWhere is it that you dream to go?

Hello From Germany

Culture, Food, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

It’s hard to believe that 10 days have passed since we left the states. Our days have been filled with museums, monuments, and lots of great food. We’ve seen some of the world’s best artwork and architecture, and have dined on some of the most delicious cuisines. We are becoming professional picnickers, and our settings never disappoint. We are getting this whole train travel thing down, and are in awe everywhere we go.

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London was grand, and felt much like home. We adapted very quickly, and were sad to leave so soon. We spent time with friends, old and new. We enjoyed the pub culture, and we even didn’t mind the warm, flat beer. London was great, but it’s Paris that stole my heart.

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There’s really just too much to say when it comes to Paris. Best saved for another day. The architecture had me at first glance. The people were not at all what I expected. And the food! The way the French appreciate their food is admirable and respectable. I long to live a bit more like the French in my eating…
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After an exhausting week in the city, we are now relaxing in the countryside of Germany. We’ve explored castle ruins, drank fine wines, cruised a mighty river, and walked town walls. I feel like we’ve left the real world and entered a fairytale.

Tomorrow we are off to Munich, and on Monday, we will be sleeping 4,500 feet high in the Swiss Alps. Three days after that, and our two week journey in Italy begins. Our trip has been a dream thus far. I’ll hate to see it end. Updates soon!