What is the mystique of the French without French food? Few cultures identify so profoundly with their cuisine as the French. You might consider some of their basics a bit outlandish, like Cuisses au grenouille or escargots, but for the most part, I think what sets French cooking to the next level is the use of whole ingredients, fresh produce, and butter. Lots of butter. The french never skimp on the butter (nor do they ever use skim or low-fat products!)
I put together a list of some of my favourite French dishes, most of which I discovered while on the continent. None of these are particularly difficult to make, or fussy. I’ve actually included the little cheats I use to make these super easy. But trust me, they all taste amazing!
Before I go into it, a little personal note – I’ll be taking a few weeks off from my regular posting, as I am moving house! I feel like I move too much, and I know it’s an all-consuming project for about a month and I haven’t the time I usually do to write. Check back in a couple of weeks as I will be back at it in full force. And if you don’t want to miss anything, sign up for my monthly newsletter, which will be coming out as always at the end of the month! I will be sharing my recipe for the most exquisite, grown-up Tarte aux fraises you’ve ever tasted, as well as my monthly book recommendation.
Also, I’m still working on my illustrations, like the one above. If you want to see more of my art, check out my Instagram cordykellydoodles.
Coq au vin
A classic, and perfect on a chilly day. This velvety stew cooks up easily, but you’ll want to set some time aside to make sure it has enough time to simmer. You’ll also want to set some wine aside, as this requires quite a bit! As with many ragouts, it is also delicious (maybe even more so?) the next day. I served over couscous, but works well with potatoes!
Find this recipe at one of my favourite food bloggers, Once Upon a Chef.
Pork tenderloin with sauce poivrade
I was surprised to find this recipe with a blogger that focuses on recipes for a tight budget, Frugal Hausfrau. Pork tenderloin is so elegant, it’s hard to remember it’s also quite affordable. The pepper sauce is delicious, and it’s a bit sneaky because while it looks like you spent the day in the kitchen, you can actually knock this one out in less than an hour – meaning it cooks up on weekdays too!
You won’t regret this one, find it here.
This became another really easy recipe to whip up because I am such a cheater and buy premade crusts! I have been very open from the beginning that I have no dough game, and I don’t even waste my time knowing I’ll just screw it up. But this recipe does include easy instructions for the dough if you are braver and more talented than me in the kitchen.
The actually filling on this galette is mouth-watering, alliums cooked up in butter and flavoured with Dijon and parmesan. It is so perfectly French, and so perfectly easy to make! Find it at Epicurious Triple-Threat Galette.
This impressive dish was adapted from one of my favourite French food bloggers, Chocolate and Zucchini. It is so easy to make and looks gorgeous! It is essentially an alfredo beet sauce over pasta.
2 beets, peeled and chopped into pieces
1 cup whipping cream
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 lb of pasta
Peel your beets and put them raw into a blender with cream and garlic, salt and cumin. Blend until a consistent pink sauce is formed.
Boil water and make pasta al dente. After draining the water, add in the beet cream sauce, stirring over low heat to warm.
Serve with flaked almonds and parmesan. I also enjoy a healthy dose of pepper with this one!
I never liked French beans until I moved to Geneva, and now I can’t get enough of them! It’s easy to screw them up, I think, though. I never buy the canned stuff, only fresh. And they can be overcooked way too easily, and I personally do not enjoy mushy limp beans. But I have discovered a recipe which keeps beans crisps and overloaded with flavour!
1 lb green beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 tbsp lemon juice
First, put washed beans in a microwave-safe pan, and add ½ cup of water. Then microwave for 8 minutes. Careful when you take them out, they are piping hot!
Warm olive oil over medium-high heat, then add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Then add in the green beans, and fry for 2 minutes. Next, add the chicken broth and lemon juice. Let cook for approximately 5 minutes, turning the beans to ensure they’re coated. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Nothing is simpler, or more effective, to show off beautiful seasonal fruit than baking it up in a custardy dessert. It looks beautiful and turns out in minutes. One of the ingredients this clafouti calls for is crème fraiche: something that is readily available in European grocery stores, but harder to find here in North America. You might have to pop into a specialty store to find it. Or, if that’s difficult, try substituting mascarpone cheese (avoid sour cream if possible, as it has a tendency to curdle when baked). I like to go the extra mile to find the crème fraiche, because it adds something really special to this dish.
Find this memorable clafouti recipe at Martha Stewart.
Gâteau à Yaourt
This is a very well-known dessert in France, and often the first recipe French children are taught in the kitchen. It’s called a no-measure cake because, for the most part, all you need is a small yogurt pot to do your measurements eg. 3 pots of flour, 2 pots of sugar and 1 pot of yogurt … It is also light, moist and delicious. The kids all loved this one, even without any icing. One little four-year-old who has never enjoyed cake in her life couldn’t get enough of it!
There are many versions of this unequivocally French dish, any online search can help you find it. I used this one found at Dels Cooking Twist.
I’m off to carry around heavy boxes, but I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. Don’t forget to check out the newsletter coming out at the end of the month! My most special recipes are saved for subscribers!