I am NOT Julia Child, nor can I claim that I know how to cook French food! However, I can claim that I LOVE EATING FRENCH FOOD! So, what is my favorite recipe to make? This month…
Alsace’s traditional Tarte Flambée
You can smell the heavenly smoked scent of ham/bacon and the baking of bread in the streets of Strasbourg throughout winter. This delicious and easy to make recipe is often accompanied by salad.
To get started, you can either buy a pizza dough and lay out very thin, or make your own. The secrete to tarte flambée is the thinness of the dough.
- 1 dough
- 1/2 cup of crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup of fromage blanc- you can use whipped light cream cheese as a substitute
- 1/4 cup of smoked bacon or ham (known as de lardons) cut up into small pieces (as thin as 1/4 of an inch )
- 1 large onion, thinly slices
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- Pepper and salt for taste
Just like a pizza, roll out the dough , but make it very thin. Spread the whipped light cream cheese very gently. Top it with sliced onion and then the smoked bacon or ham. Arrange it in such a way you cover the cream cheese with onion and bacon. Bake it at 400 degree for about 8 to 10 minutes. Bon appétit.
Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef)
The quintessential of classic French cuisine. This was the first dish I made after coming back from my 8 week sabbatical! Yes, yes, very ambitious, but I was so excited about learning it that I just didn’t care! I have modified it a bit to make it easier. Since then this wonderful dish has become a winter regular of my house!
- 1/8 pound thick-sliced bacon (I did 1 slice only for the smoky flavor as I don’t like bacon!)
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup brandy
- 1 (4-inch) piece of celery
- 4 fresh parsley, 4 fresh thyme sprigs ,2 bay leaves (French)
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2/3 of a (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (preferably Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône)…the other 3rd for sipping while you are cooking!
- 1/2 pound small (1 1/2-inch) boiling onions or pearl onions
- 1/2 pound of small white mushrooms
- 1/2 of pound of small yellow fingerling potatoes peeled boiled (not completely you want it in tact so you can then toss it in plenty of butter later)
This is how I make my version!
- Cut your beef into small chunks, pad dry it, then sauté it for 2-3 minute each side, put the beef into a pot and pour almost all your wine (minus 3 tbs) over it. Add the brandy. Pour the remaining wine into your frying pan to deglaze your pan and get every bit of the beef broth out and add it to the pot.
- Refrigerate it overnight. The next day….
- Make a bouquet with your herbs and tuck in the garlic cloves, tie it with kitchen string and place it in the pot. Chop the onions and add it.
- Cook the bacon and add it to the pot along with the tomato paste. Cook on low heat for 2 hours (or until meet is tender and you can smell the heavenly scent).
- Cut up the carrots, along with the pearl onions and mushrooms. Add it to the pot about 30 minutes before it is ready so they won’t be mushy.
- Boil the potatoes and just before it is done, set it aside. Toss it in butter and sprinkle the parsley on top right before youa re ready.
Serve it with red wine, and a warm delicious baguette. Bon appétit.
Tips and tricks :
- Wine, beef, and time is what makes this dish so delicious. Good wine, beef and ample time to marry the two is what you will need.
- If you aren’t sure on how to make this dish then just watch Julia Child’s instructions on Youtub!
Bûche de Noël
Wow, the year is coming to an end and holidays are upon us! What a great year it has been. 5 groups and 8 weeks in France! Looking forward to 2019 as I plan to spend 3 weeks taking cooking and baking classes in France. So, to end the year, I am going to share a classic, bûche de Noël!
If you follow this recipe you can have your very own homemade bûche de Noël!
Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
- 4 eggs
- 140g powder sugar
- 100g of flour
- 75g of milk
- 250 g of dark or milk melted chocolat
- 200g of butter
- Powder sugar for decoration
- Raspberries and mint leafs for decoration
- 2 Tbs of Raspberry liquor
Pre-heat the oven to 350.
Start by separating the 4 eggs, beat in the powder sugar into the egg yolks and then the butter, beat it until it is smooth and creamy. Set aside and whip the egg whites until it is fluffy like meringue.
Fold it into the egg yolk slowly, be patient and do maybe two scoops at a time. Alternate between scoops of egg white and flour. Use a wooden spoon and fold in the flour and egg white gently.
Use a rectangular cookie sheet, cover it with parchment paper, pour in the batter slowly and even it out. Bake it for 15 minutes, golden color, and check as necessary. DO NOT over bake it as rolling the cake will break it.
For filling, use a non stick sauce pan to mix the 1/2 of the milk with the chocolate (best to use chips) and melt on low heat. Stir frequently to avoid clumping or burning of the mixture. The mixture should be creamy and substantial (not thin and not too thick).
Let the cake cool down slightly, flip it over and peel off the parchment without breaking the cake. Brush the raspberry liquor evenly to give the cake a bit more moisture before rolling it.
Turn over the cake and then spread the chocolate mix evenly across. Using your fingers slowly and very gently roll the cake three or four times. Save 2 Tbsp. of the chocolate mix for drizzling/decoration.
Use toothpicks to keep the ends together while the chocolate mixtures glues the cake. Use a shaker to evenly decorate it with powder sugar. Add the raspberries to create a festive look.
Happy holidays and Bon appétit!
Beets and Goat Cheese Salad
As winter rolls around, sometimes it is great to eat a fresh winter salad, simple, colorful, and tasty. This inexpensive and easy to make salad will brighten your table and delight your guests.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
- 4 cooked beets sliced thinly (as seen in the photo) and equal size
- 1/2 cup of mixed and chopped fresh herbs, best to use Chives, Dill, and Parsley
- 1 cup of fresh goat cheese
- 1/3 of a cup of white cheese or light cream cheese
- Salt to taste
- Slivered almonds
- Mixed greens
Mix the chopped herbs into the white cheese, add salt, then fold it all into the fresh goat cheese. Take a spoon and spread it over each slice of beets. Layer the slices of beets and cheese as shown.
Garnish with almonds and the mixed green. Bon appétit.
Pie Saladier de Provence
Summer in Provence provides the best fresh produce so you can make the most delicious and colorful salads. However, one of my favorites is Pie Saladier (pee saladier), not very attractive looking, but heavenly delicious and simple to make.
You need a pastry butter dough or make your own (it is a simple one to one recipe of butter, flour, egg and a dash of salt). Thereafter, all you need are sautéed White Onions in Butter. Top your dough add olives and anchovies. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes to give it the golden look. Slice like pizza and serve with salad!
Miam Miam= Yum Yum
December 2017 – Cheers for the New Year (Poire au Vin)
What better way to celebrate the holidays and welcome the new year with a perfect winter desert! So, here you go, one of my all time favorite and easiest desert to make, Poached Pear in rich delicious Bordeaux (Medoc) wine!
- 4 small firm Pears, peeled
- 2 cups of Bordeaux wine
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 Vanilla bean (split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 4 Cinnamon stick
- 2 Star of Anise
- mix the wine with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon stick and the star of Anise
- place in small but deep pot
- place over the stove on low heat and add the peeled pear standing up
- make sure the pears submerged in the wine, if not don’t be afraid to add more wine (up to 1 more cup, after that increase the sugar by 1/4 a cup and add 1 more vailla bean, cinnamon stick and star of anise
- Simmer for about 30 minutes, turning the pear 2 or three times, or until the pear is soft (enough where you can still use a knife to slice the pear)
- Let it sit for couple of hours, turning the pear every 15 minutes
- Place in the fridge overnight, turning the pear several times until ready to serve
Pour into a shallow bowl and garnish with a Cinnamon stick and 1/2 star of anise. Serve chilled. Bon appétit.
Tarte aux Pommes
Making great Apple Tart it all depends on your pastry base, and of course French butter. The Tarte aux pommes a l’Alsacienne takes it one step further and adds the heavenly Crème Fraise! So, let’s stick with the easiest way to make this delicious French delight and just in time for holidays!
- 1/2 package of pastry dough, or 1/2 pkg of frozen pastry sheet
- 2 lbs. of medium Granny Smith apples (6 or 8)
- 1/2 cup sugar (3/4 if you want it sweeter), divided in half
- 1 fresh vanilla bean or 1 Tbs. of vanilla extract
- 1/4 of cup of President butter, melted
- 1 tbs. of lemon zest and 3 tbs. of fresh juice
- Preheat the oven to 375. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, brush 2 Tbs. of butter for that French butter flavor.
- Lay puff-pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and roll it out gently. Poke it a few times with fork. Roll the edges (add some more butter) and place in the over for about 20 minutes or until golden. Let the pastry cool down.
- Core, peel and slice the apples, add the juice and the lemon zest. If using vanilla bean, slit it open and with the edge of your knife extract all the seeds and paste. Add 1/2 of sugar and mix well.
- Arrange the apple slice on to the pastry, slightly overlapping. Brush apples with melted butter. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
Bake it for another 25 minutes. Serve it warm. Bon appétit.
Soupe à l’oignon! Bien Sûr
Although French Onion Soup dates back to the Roman times, the Parisians modernized it in the 18th century by using butter to caramelize onion and deglaze the pan many times. Today, we can make this delicious soup easily with just a few ingredients.
Serving for 4-6
- 6 tablespoons President’s Butter
- 6 large sweet white or yellow onions, sliced to 1/2 thickness
- 4 cloves garlic either pressed or chopped
- 2 tbsp.. salt
- 2 cups water, plus extra
- 1/2 cup of Bordeaux wine
- 3 cups beef broth (you can sauté 2 lbs. of beef chunks and deglaze the pan twice with 1 1/2 cups of water each time)
- 1 cup of chicken broth (sauté 1 lbs. of chicken and deglaze it once with 1 cup of water)
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme bouquet, or 2 Tbsp. of dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- baguette slices cut 1/2″ thick (1 per bowl).
- 1 1/2 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
Tip: use the President Butter from Brittany for all your French cooking!
Use a large pot 6-8 quarts, cast-iron pot would be great. Put the pot on medium heat, add the butter and as soon as it melts add the slices of onions until it is amber and transparent and somewhat caramelized.
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Slice the baguette about 2 inches tick, then place it on cookie sheet in the over to dry it completely. You can keep the bread in the oven for a good 30 minutes without burning it.Add the beef and chicken broth to the onions. Raise the heat to med high to bring the soup to a simmer.
Reduce the heat and add the wine, have a sip why not! Add the herb, salt and pepper to your liking.
Preheat the broiler/grill. Portion the soup into bowls, float the bread on top, cover with the cheese. Broil/grill until the cheese is melted and nicely browned. Serve immediately with a glass of Bordeaux wine. Bon appétit.
Salade de Chevere Chaud
As fall begins and cool weather rolls in, cooking in the kitchen becomes a bit easier. Another favorite of mine is Goat Cheese salad! The French take their goat chees very seriously and Rocamadour offers such delicious goat cheese, but any aged cheese (2-3 months) would do.
Ingredients for 2 servings:
- Your favorite sourdough bread slices a toasted in the oven to produce a crunchy texture
- 2 goat cheese medallions
- Butter lettuce washed and gently separated by hand
- Aged red wine balsamic vinaigrette
- Provence Olive oil is ideal
- Basil- optional
The cheese should be like a brie with skin, put it in between the toast, wrap it in foil, place it in the preheated oven at 375 for about 3-5 minutes (can’t be melted but a bit soft and warm). Make the salad while the chees is in the oven. Place the warm chees and slices of toast on the salad, dribble the dressing and serve! Delicioux!
Gratin de Courgettes
Summer is celebrated with delicious colors at the local markets all over France. So many dishes to choose from with all the colors of rainbow! My favorite is the simple, fast and delicious Gratin de Courgettes (Zucchini gratin). Serve it with salad, crunchy baguette and a delicious white wine! Bon appétit.
Ingredients- Serving for 4
- 4 large zucchini
- 3 medium sweet or white onions
- 1/2 cup of grated Gruyere chees
- 1/4 cup crème fraiche
- 2 Tablespoon of Butter
- Salt and Pepper to your liking
Start by slicing the zucchini, not too thin as it will be mushy. Mix the egg, cream and graded cheese. Add the butter plus a tad of oil at the bottom of a baking pan. Layer the zucchini slices, top with a spread of the cheese/egg and cream mix. Repeat until you finish. Top it with some more cheese. Preheat the oven for 20 minutes at 375. Bake is for 20 minutes or until top is golden. Sprinkle some thyme if desired.
Crème à la fraise
With Spring and Summer around the corner, what could be better than a simple easy to make delicious strawberry mousse with real Crème Fraiche!
Ingredients for 4 serving:
- 1.1 pound of delicious, sweet, red medium to small size strawberries. Organic is ideal and small is great, as it gives you more of the real strawberry flavor.
- 1/2 coup of sugar, you can use a bit less if you like.
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup Crème Fraiche
- a few springs of fresh mint
- Wash and clean the strawberries, remove the stems. Set aside about 4 or 5 for decoration.
- Use a mixer to chop or puree (up to you, but don’t make it into chunky pieces) the strawberries.
- Add the juice of the lemon and the sugar. Mix it again.
- Fold in the Crème Fraiche slowly.
- Place the mousse in your favorite serving dish, mine is a glass cup with stem to show off the color!
- Refrigerate for couple of hours or overnight if you wish (make sure to cover it).
- Cut up the remaining strawberries to sprinkle on top, add a mint leaf and et Voilà!
Bon appétit! Yummy.
Tip: If you buy this brand, you are almost and I say almost, eating the real authentic French Crème Fraiche. Yummy.
Galette du Breton
I must say Galette du Breton, or as we know it Crepes, is one of my all times favorite recipes because it is easy and very French!
Here is my first recipe I like to share with you:
- 6 Tbs of buckwheat flour (will probably make 2 large galette)
- 3/4 cup of milk (you can also use water if you like)
- 1 Tbs of salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbs of melted butter (really good butter like imported President butter from France or Irish butter) on low temperature
- 1 over easy fried eggs (Optional 1 per galette)
- ham/Salmon/Veggies etc. your choice (1–2 slices per galette)
3 tbsp grated Swiss cheese (per galette)
- 1 Tbs of cream (optional)
Instructions- SO EASY:
- Beat the eggs until fluffy, add the buckwheat/salt/ water/milk slowing and mix it. It should be runny and unlike a pancake. Add the heavenly butter and cream.
- Either cook it right away or leave it out for 3 hours!
- Use a Crepe pan if you have one, if not a 10 or 12 inch non stick round pan. Butter the pan and keep the heat on low medium. Pour small amount of the into the pan (it should be thin and cover the pan- see picture below). .
- Add the cheese, ham and fold the Galett’s corner to make a square/triangle.
NOTE: You can flip it after it is semi cooked, maybe a minute or two, or just add the filling without flipping it
Optional: Fry an egg in another pan add a bit of salt, then slide it over the folded Galette. Bon appétit.
Tradition of Cheese – Le Fromage
From Normandy, the Alps and all the way south to the Island of Corsica, the French produce some of the best cheeses in the world. To understand the French, you need to learn about their food, wine and of course cheese!
Cheese is the center of any 3 or 5 course meals and sometimes the main meal! In US, we don’t get the delicious raw cheese, but pasteurized. Nevertheless, if you get imported cheese from France you are still in good company.
- For a 3 course meal up to 4 cheese selection is sufficient.
- For a 5 course meal you can do up to 7 variety!
What to choose?
Fine French restaurants, like Le Grand Vefour, have about 30-30 variety they offer their guest and often include soft, medium and hard cheeses from:
How to serve the cheese?
There is an art to this, flavor! Always start serving the cheese clockwise, with the mildest and work your way to the most pungent. For example; start with a mild Comte/Chaource or Beaufort, followed by a delicious goat, then a Saint-Nectaire or Munster, end it with a sheep Roquefort or a heavenly Camembert (or both)!
Remember the bread and wine. For bread, do a variety of wheat/seeds/baguette. For wine (that is an entire site of its own), if you can serve a delicious Sauterne and if not choose an aromatic sauvignon blanc.