| French Food : recipes
French food is wonderful
and fun to make. The traditional French (and we refer to the
generation of age 40 and older) like to sit down to two meals
a day (see our Sunday evening meal!)
. The young French tend to be a bit more casual about the organization
of their meals. However this may be, food is an important subject
in France. The French love to cook and eat and they do it well.
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. A chef at the renowned
Cordon Bleu cooking school told Harriet that his favorite meal
is a simple poulet roti served with potatoes. In our home,
we make classic French food.
We'd like to share a few of our
favorite recipes with you.
|| This painting,
by Arcimboldo is the cover of the menu of La Fleur de Lys, one
of San Francisco's best French restaurants (777 Sutter Street).
The good people there employed Harriet as a French-speaking American
hatcheck girl when she was a recent college graduate and footloose
and fancyfree in San Francisco. Très classe, n'est-ce
- For useful tips on French cooking,
click on tips.
- You want to cook something very simple (but good)
- Or something very tasty (but more complicated)
| Very simple.....
||Very tasty .....
: the best thing about this, other than its taste, is that you're
sure no one has thrown any sugar into it which is what they do
in almost all commercial dressings!
- A simple French vinaigrette
(salad dressing) : One teaspoon mustard (Dijon is best), one
tablespoon wine vinegar, a dash of salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons
of oil. Mix. For more, just continue using the ratio of one vinegar
to three oil!
Ratatouille provençale : a very simple mix of vegetables, ideal
- In a large pot with a few tablespoons
of olive oil, sauté two cut onions, one small green pepper
with a couple of finely cut garlic gloves, two eggplants, four
zucchini, a few tomatoes, all peeled and sliced. Add thyme, parsley,
a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cook gently 30 to 40 minutes. Goes
well with rice or an omelet. Drink rosé wine with it.
There are several "schools" of ratatouille and purists
say you should sauté each vegetable separately. It' s
the result that counts so try it both ways and then decide!
Potato Omelet (this is giving away a real family secret.....).
Great when you have a big group of hungry eaters. Serve with
a fresh green salad (and your own vinaigrette). Read the
history of the potato in France.
- Ingredients for four : 1 kilo
(2 lbs) potatoes, goose fat (1 heaping tablespoon), one clove
of garlic, 6 eggs, milk, parsley, salt, pepper. Buy potatoes
that won't desintegrate. Peel, cut in slices, wash and dry with
a clean cloth. Cover the potatoes and cook very slowly with goose
fat until they are perfectly tender (if you cannot find goose
fat, use bacon grease). Add the eggs which have been beaten with
salt, and pepper, a clove of garlic cut in very small pieces
and a tablespoon of milk. Add fresh parsley. This is a favorite
Rochefort family Saturday night dinner and perfect when unexpected
guests show up. The advantage of this omelet is that other than
being inexpensive, it is absolutely fresh and incredibly expandable.
Even if you thought that there would only be six of you and it
turns out that there are sixteen with more coming, the omelet
is the perfect solution. The only trick is to have plenty of
good fresh eggs and good quality potatoes on hand (as well as
fresh garlic and parsley). Oh yes, and good luck on transferring
the omelette from your (Tefal or non-stick) pan to a serving
dish. Philippe just kind of magically flips it from one to the
other and it looks perfect. Always serve it with a fresh salad
and plenty of red wine. Read French
Toast for more details!
..... When shopping for food, do not hesitate to ask for advice
: how to cook it ? for how long ? what would it be best with
? The butcher or the fishmonger will be happy to answer : he
considers it is part of his job.
Carbonade de boeuf : this is a beef stew cooked in beer
(a recipe from the Northern part of France), perfect for winter
- Brown one pound of sliced onions
in pan with 2 ounces of pork grease ; when transparent, put them
aside ; add one ounce of pork grease and brown the meat in it
(two pounds, blade-bone or silverside of beef) ; when brown,
put the meat aside ; in the pan, add a tablespoon of vinegar
(wine vinegar) and scratch the bottom of the pan with a wooden
spoon ; put in layers half of the onions, the meat sprinkled
with flour, one carrot cut in slices, the rest of the onions
and salt, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, 2 stock cubes ; cover with
beer and cook three hours. Serves 4 to 6. Cover with fresh parsley
on top and serve with potatoes and beer.
Pot au feu traditional (recipe for six) : this is a recipe
for a cold winter evening with family and friends. The trick
of it is to get the meat tender and the vegetables not soggy!
This takes plenty of practice so if you fail the first time around,
just try again. And this is the place to say that OF COURSE the
recipes we give are highly "adjustable".
- Boil 3 pints of water with salt,
pepper, a big onion spiked with 4 cloves. Add 3 lbs beef stew
(silverside or top rib) cut into cubes 2*2*2 inches ; cover and
cook gently for 3 hours or until tender (yes!). An hour before
the end of the cooking, add 1lb carrots, 1/2 lb turnips, 4 leeks,
a branch of celery, parsley, and bay leaf ; 1/2 hour later add
2 lbs potatoes, thyme and big bones with marrow. Serve on a large
plate, with the meat in the center surrounded by the vegetables.
Save the cooking water and use it (strained) with fine vermicelli
pasta for the next day's dinner. Eat the pot-au-feu with
French mustard (strong, the kind that makes your eyes water),
pickles (once again, strong not sweet), coarse-grain salt and
a lot of red wine. And the next day : use the left-over meat
in a meat salad : thin slices of meat with shallots, parsley
Blanquette de Veau
à l'Ancienne (recipe
for four) : this is a recipe for a family dinner on a cold winter
- In one liter of water, boil
one kilo of veal ( tendron de veau : use first quality
meat and don't forget to add one or two bones) ; remove the white
foam that forms at the surface. Add one big carrot, one big onion
spiked with two cloves and a bouquet garni (thyme, bay
leaf, salt, pepper,...). Cook an hour or until tender. In another
pot, boil water and briefly cook young and tender small onions.
In (yet another!) pot, melt and slowly mix butter (2 tbsp) and
flour (3 tbsp) (this is called a Roux Blanc) and slowly
add 3 or 4 glasses of the (strained) water in which you have
boiled the meat . Add dry white wine. Add small mushrooms (champignons
de Paris), the small onions, the meat, pepper, nutmeg, chopped
parsley and cook 15 minutes.
To make additional sauce, strain a few more cups of the cooking
water mixed with two egg yolks and creme fraiche.
Put everything on a big plate : the meat in the center, the vegetables
around it, the sauce on top. Serve with rice and plenty of (dry)
white wine (the same you used for the cooking - we're assuming
you used good wine!). This is a really traditional French dish
and one we adore when it is well done. It can also be just horrible
and many French people associate it with the greyish-looking
blanquettes they had to eat at the cantine (school lunch).
Upcoming recipes : Couscous (mixed meat and vegetables with semolina
: a dish from North-Africa, now one of the favorites of French
cooking), crème caramel, etc ...
DID YOU KNOW THAT....... Some French recipes aren't
all that French ! "French dressing" is a totally unknown
concept in France where vinaigrette is the most frequently used
dressing, Vichyssoise is a XIXth Century recipe and French toast
(Pain perdu) is very rarely offered.
||A Sunday lunch and a Sunday dinner...
|In France, you can buy a pig's head and cook (differently) each part of it !
YOU KNOW THAT.... ? Harriet gives a recipe in each chapter of
: Soupe à l'Oignon,Salade de Boeuf Pot-au-Feu,Vinaigrette,
Clafoutis aux Cerises, Endive Salad, Curly Lettuce Salad with
Duck Gizzards, Crème Caramel, Hart Attack Mayonnaise,
It-Goes-A-Long-Way Rice Salad, Omelette de Pommes de Terre, Chocolate
Mousse, Blanquette de Veau, Pot au feu, Ratatouille, etc...
When you go shopping, you must use metric units : read about it.
DID YOU KNOW
THAT .... ? Enjoying food has always been a strong tradition
in France (Caesar's description of the Gauls showed many of the current
French characteristics, including a love for huge meals!) but the rules
of French eating, serving in courses, heavy sauces, etc. were
only set up during the last century. The French eat certain things
which are very unusual and may be quite horrifying
: click to know more about them !
us and tell us the questions you would like to appear
in this page....If
you enjoyed it, be sure to look for FRENCH FRIED for more on the French
and their food!!
DID YOU KNOW
THAT .... ? There is a French way to eat soft boiled eggs ! You put the egg in an egg cup and chop-off the top, put a little bit of butter with salt and pepper on the yolk and dip a slim slice of buttered bread called "la mouillette" into it. When there is no more yolk, you eat the white with a tea spoon. For kids, it's a little game, for older people, it's a moment of childhood memory.
Sunday meals are surprising
experiences for Americans. The French, unlike the Americans,
are not snackers. They like to sit down to the table for a meal
and generally do so twice a day. They eat in small portions in
courses as opposed to one huge course. If you travel to France
and eat in French restaurants, you should prepare yourself for
Harriet reports : If you are
like me and marry a Frenchman, try to find one who loves to cook.
I was lucky and got a French husband whose greatest pleasure
in life is to peel vegetables, I kid you not, and cook to his
heart's delight. As I write this page, he's in the kitchen cooking
up the cêpes (boletus mushrooms) we bought at the market
this morning. When they get cooked just so, he'll add garlic
and eggs and we'll have a mushroom omelet alongside a salad composed
of thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and boiled potatoes, all
cut up and served with a vinaigrette. For dessert, we're having
a quince and apple compote he has made with the fruit we bought
this morning. Our son, David, 21, will join us - the other, Benjamin,
25, who lives across town, was here at noon when I was the person
making the lunch and we had, to start with, céleri remoulade
and paté de foie, then as the main dish a pork roast with
potatoes, for the cheese course, a nice slice of Cantal, a cheese
from the mountainous Auvergne region my husband's family hails
from, and a homemade apple pie.
Now that I've given you a
couple of examples of some typical week-end meals chez nous,
I can tell you that we don't whip up apple pies every day and
my husband is much too busy during the week to get in the kitchen
and start cooking. During the hectic week, the evening meal is
often a bowl of soup, a piece of ham, followed by cheese, and
yoghurt and/or a fruit. All meals however are sit down meals,
as opposed to "get it out of the fridge." This is because
my husband comes from a very traditional French family and is
used to operating this way. The majority of French families,
especially in the provinces, observe the two meal a day routine.
Some French families, especially in Paris where the pace of life
goes fast, do not. I feel fortunate to have landed in a French
family who have never abandoned the tradition of good food and
|To related pages : tips on food, cheeese, wine,
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Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French.
Order her books :
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
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