Posts from the ‘French Food’ category

Cooking Class in Paris

On my 2008 trip to Paris, I took a cooking class at A World in a Pan. The most exciting part for me was that it took place in the chef’s own kitchen at her apartment, located in the 16th arrondissement, directly above a restaurant.

Chef Laura Neulat spoke English well, and we chatted easily in her living room, until the other participants arrived. Incredibly, they were three American ladies from Kansas City, where I lived at the time, and they were also staying at my same hotel (the one with the teeny, tiny elevator)! Quelle coïncidence!

Our luncheon was a typical 3-course French menu: cheese souflée, chicken in mushroom sauce, and a simple apple tart. We began making it in reverse order, dessert first, since it took the longest to cook.

la tarte aux pommes – apple tart

 

The petite kitchen was surprisingly functional! I took mental notes (and a few discreet photos) of her essential tools and how she maximized her small space for efficiency. At her direction, we crowded around a little table and began peeling, slicing, and grating. It was tight, but cozy. Chef Laura bustled back and forth between the stove and our table, giving excellent tips and instructions. I kept peeking out the window through the wrought iron balcony, feeling delighted with the experience of being in a real French person’s home!

Next we began the chicken recipe. Chef Laura explained how she purchased only the freshest produce and free-range chicken from the market, and the best cheese and cream from the fromagerie. She was very much into organic food and clean eating, as most French people seem to be. They love knowing the story of where their food comes from.

Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons - Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons – Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

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Suprêmes de Volailles aux Champignons – Chicken in Mushroom Sauce Recipe

Sounds fancy, right?  But it’s surprisingly simple – just brown some chicken breasts, mushrooms, and bacon, and make a quick sauce.

Sautéeing mushrooms, onions, and bacon.

Sautéeing mushrooms, onions, and bacon.

Now for my true confession: I’m a much better baker than a cook, especially when it comes to meat.  My problem is overcooking it, because I’m paranoid of raw chicken.  Some tips I learned from Mastering the Art of French cooking are helping.  Julia says:

“attention must be exercised… even a minute too much can toughen the meat and make it dry… its point of doneness is easily determined as it cooks. Press the top of it with your finger; if it is still soft and yields slightly to the touch, it is not yet done. As soon as the flesh springs back with gentle resilience, it is ready. If there is no springiness, it is overcooked.”  –Julia Child from Mastering

Attention. That’s my Achilles heel! I always get distracted while I’m cooking – doing laundry, reading mail, watching a cooking show…

I also learned from Mastering that a sûpreme is the boneless breast of chicken, before it’s cooked, as opposed to the phrase I’d previously known, blanc de poulet, which means white-meat chicken after it’s cooked. As in, meat removed from a roasted chicken.

I’d figured this out from grocery shopping in France, trying to find luncheon meat for sandwiches: blanc de poulet (sliced chicken) and blanc de dinde (sliced turkey). And even though volaille means “poultry,” suprême de volaille appears to only mean chicken breast. Turkey isn’t that common in France, and I guess it’s too big to consider cooking the breasts by themselves.

Whew! Lots of background info… now on to the yummy recipe. It comes from the Paris cooking class I took in 2008. Next time I make it, I’ll post more detailed photos.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

Suprêmes de Volailles aux Champignons - Chicken in Mushroom Sauce Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced (or sweet onion)
  • ½ lb. button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast per person
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup light crême fraîche (or sour cream)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (we used a Sauvignon)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the mushrooms in a frying pan over medium-high heat and let them render their water.
  2. When there is no more water, add the bacon and shallot; stir well and let cook one minute.
  3. Add the crème, stir well, and let boil one minute. (If using sour cream, skip this step!)
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Set sauce aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a larger frying pan over medium heat (don't use a non-stick skillet, or it won't brown).
  6. Add the chicken and cook 5 minutes on one side, 4 minutes on the other side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  7. Add the wine to the hot skillet to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned remains in the pan and stirring them into the wine.
  8. Simmer until the wine is reduced ¼, add the chicken and mushroom mixture, followed by sour cream (if using); stir to combine and warm through (do not boil).
  9. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.

If you aren’t familiar with crème fraîche, it’s similar to sour cream, but not the same.  You can easily make your own with this tutorial, or you can wait and add the sour cream to the sauce, at the very last minute. Don’t boil or simmer sour cream in the sauce, since it will curdle.

Bon appétit!

Vocabulaire

l’échalote…shallot
le champignon…mushroom
le bacon….bacon
la suprême de volaille…chicken breast
la crème fraîche…similar to sour cream
le vin….wine
le sel…salt
le poivre…pepper

 

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Tarte aux Pommes – French Apple Tart Recipe

Who can resist the flaky crust and comforting aroma of apples and cinnamon in this classic French dessert?

La tarte aux pommes

La tarte aux pommes – French apple tart

The recipe and photo come from the Paris cooking class I took at A World in a Pan.  The next time I make it, I will take new, detailed photos.

As a general rule, Chef Laura advises to use twice as much flour as butter for tart dough. I highly recommend having a kitchen scale for precise baking. If you don’t have one to weigh your flour, a cup of all-purpose flour usually weighs 5 ounces. I like the stovetop method much better than cutting the butter into flour. It just seems easier.

The French (as most Europeans) use much less sugar and spices (like cinnamon) in their desserts than Americans do. So you might want to add a pinch of sugar to the pastry dough. Depending how tart your apples are, you might also want to toss the sliced apples in additional sugar and cinnamon, before placing them on the crust. Bon appétit!

Tarte aux Pommes
 
Ingredients
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 8 oz. flour (approx 1-3/4 cups)
  • 3 apples
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. apple or apricot jelly (or honey)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Make the pastry dough by melting the butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  3. Add water and flour, stirring firmly with a wooden spoon until smooth; let cool.
  4. Roll dough very thinly between sheets of parchment paper; place dough flat on lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Peel and slice the apples thinly.
  7. Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl.
  8. Remove pastry from oven, sprinkle it with flour mixture.
  9. Place the apples on the pastry, overlapping slightly, in neat rows or a circular pattern.
  10. Sprinkle cinnamon over apples.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and "paint" the apples with warmed jelly or honey, for a finished shine. Serve warm or cold.

Vocabulaire


la pomme….apple
la tarte….pie
le buerre….butter
l’eau (fem.)…..water
la farine….flour
la cannelle….cinnamon
le sucre…..sugar
la confiture….jam/jelly

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Clafoutis – Easy French Dessert

If you can make pancakes, you can make this easy French dessert recipe! Don’t let the fact that this recipe comes from Julia Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking frighten you. There is nothing scary about these 7 ingredients, and it’s versatile as a tasty breakfast, snack, or dessert.

Start by assembling all your ingredients and measuring them out. This step is called mise en place in French, and it’s very important! Notice the recipe says to use half the sugar called for in the batter. The rest will be used to sweeten the fruit itself. Continue reading…

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Soufflé au Fromage – Cheese Soufflé Recipe

For your next cooking project, why not try a soufflé? It’s really not as hard as you may expect, and the kids will love seeing how tall it “grows.” The word soufflé means blown or puffed, and it comes from the verb souffler, to blow. Making a soufflé is like watching a balloon inflate, but without the worry of it popping unexpectedly!

There are all kinds of savory soufflés, made with salmon or other seafood, spinach, or cheese. These are eaten as an entrée (appetizer) or as a light lunch or dinner, with a salad. You can also make a chocolate soufflé for dessert.

The three basic steps of making a soufflé are:

  1. Make a simple white sauce with butter, flour, and milk; add cheese or other flavoring.
  2. Separate some eggs and beat the egg whites until tall and fluffy.
  3. Mix the two parts together gently and bake it until puffy and golden brown.

Doesn’t that sound pretty easy? This is another one of the recipes I learned from the cooking class I took in Paris.

I had always wanted to make this, but I had heard it was really tricky to keep them from falling. It’s really not – you just have to be ready to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven. In other words, “You wait for the soufflé, the soufflé doesn’t wait for you!”

 

Et voilà! A lovely first course for a meal.

Bon appétit!

Soufflé au Fromage - Cheese Soufflé Recipe
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ lb emmental cheese (or good Swiss cheese)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Grate the cheese and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan; whisk in the flour until smooth.
  4. Stir in the milk slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and let cool (do not add cheese yet).
  5. Separate the eggs; beat the egg whites and salt in a mixer or bowl until firm.
  6. Add the cheese, egg yolks, and crème fraîche to the white sauce; stir until blended.
  7. Add ⅓ of the egg whites to the cheese mixture; fold in until combined. Gently fold in remaining whites.
  8. Butter and flour small ramekins or ovenproof dishes; fill ¾ full with cheese mixture.
  9. Place ramekins in a large ovenproof pan; pour boiling water into pan to reach halfway up the sides of ramekins.
  10. Bake 10 minutes until golden brown. Season to taste.

 

 

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The Little Paris Kitchen {Cookbook Review}

This book has some very kid-friendly recipes along with a few hoity-toity ones I probably won’t make, but still find interesting to look at. Overall, a lovely book with lots of French words and pretty photos. 120 recipes. Click the product image for more info.

Croque-madame muffins made with bread, eggs, ham, Swiss cheese, and béchamel sauce

Croque-madame muffins made with bread, eggs, ham, Swiss cheese, and béchamel sauce

Now here are two of my favorite recipes from the book that she did on her BBC show. I love how she takes a classic French dish, then puts a fresh spin on it. Like these Croque-Madame Muffins! The sandwich is nice, but these are so fun to make! The kids will love rolling the bread and sprinkling ingredients in.

I’m always a francophile first and foremost, but on a secondary level, I’m super keen on those Brits, too! This book and show marries the best of both worlds for me. I’ve even been known to make my boys endure an English tea party or two!

croque-madame muffins tea party

Real men DO eat finger sandwiches, scones, and croque-madame muffins!

These little madeleines she makes are so delicate and moist! Even without the lemon curd. Serious yummmmm, or as the French say, “Miam miam!” I get a huge kick out of her accent and using words like “whisker” for whisk.

I bet you want to drop everything and go watch the rest of her videos, don’t you? I love/hate when I binge-watch shows like that! Just don’t forget to get your copy of the cookbook by clicking on the image above. (:

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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Mastering the Art of French Cooking {Cookbook Review}

I am a huge Julia Child fan! If you love food, you simply must own this informative and entertaining book, written for all “servantless American cooks.” I’ve made several recipes from the book (some are posted here) and find it full of so many tips for ingredients and techniques.

I love the master recipes with many flavor variations, which helps you feel more creative in the kitchen. Whenever I find French recipes on Pinterest or elsewhere, I always compare them to what Julia’s take on them was.

It’s a tasty way to learn French food vocabulary, too, because all recipes include the equivalent French recipe names and some French cooking terms. Click product photo for more information.

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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Rendez-vous with France {Book Review}


This is a simply adorable book – a perfect gift for any Francophile. Everyone I show it to wants to keep it! It’s part travel guide, part small dictionary, with tips and cultural explanations. The small size is easy to take with you on the go. Charming watercolor illustrations for common words/phrases, grouped by subject: traveling, shopping, eating out, time, money, seasons, etc. 152 full-color pages. (Click the image for more info.)

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click any items below and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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My Favorite French Dictionary

Learning French


This is not your typical dictionary! It contains hundreds of full-color photos with both the French and English word. Over 6,000 objects and phrases are grouped by theme: family members, school, rooms in a house, articles of clothing, parts of the body, animals, toys, foods (my favorite!), sports, etc. It’s just plain fun to look through, perfect for self-teaching! You will still need a good “regular” dictionary for formal study, but this highly recommended for just getting started. 360 pages. (Click the image for more info.)

This page contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission when you click the image link and purchase on Amazon. This helps offset my site expenses, so I can create fun, informative, and free content. I only recommend things I personally use and love with all my Frenchy heart. Merci for your support!

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