Bringing France Home: Five Easy French Recipes to Make Right Now (Part 2)
“This is my invariable advice to people: learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
Thus said Julia Child, one of the most iconic American expatriates in France, and one of the greatest evangelists of French cuisine. Many are those who, inspired by her books and TV shows, embarked on a culinary trip to France at least once in their lifetime, and this writer is no exception. Greatly encouraged by Mrs. Child's advice, and by my family’s enthusiastic response to previous attempts, here I am again compiling a new list of simple French recipes for the uninitiated cook. Dishes reminiscent of a late afternoon snack in a Parisian brasserie, or a seaside dinner on the Côte d’Azur - they are easy enough to make by yourself, or with les enfants, if they're willing. There isn't much else they can do at the moment, anyway.
A bit fancier than the modest grilled cheese, a Croque Monsieur is a classic ham and cheese sandwich. The cheese of choice is Emmental, Gruyère, Beaufort, or Comté, the ham must be boiled or baked, and the preferred bread is brioche-like. The sandwich is then buttered and fried in a pan or baked in an oven. This recipe from Jacques Pépin will show you how to get it on a plate in a matter of minutes.
A big fan of seafood, I wanted to recreate a plate of Moules Marinières that would appease my constant longing for the French Riviera. A fast-food dish à la française, these mussels are quite easy to prepare: all they require is a quick dip in a hot bath, and an accompanying sauce of butter, shallots and white wine. Do not forget the fries: thick-cut and salty, they are the perfect companion for this dish.
Did anyone say fromage? You can’t have a serious French meal without incorporating cheese somehow. This recipe will teach you how to make Tartiflette, a robust and comforting dish from Savoie that layers sautéed potatoes, onions, lardons, and generous slices of Reblochon cheese.
Tartiflette - photo © Marie Muller
Another classic on the North American continent as well as in Europe, French Toast, or pain perdu as the French call it, barely needs any explanation. The twist here is Chef Gordon Ramsay’s addition of buttery, caramelized apples, which elevates this simple dish to something worthy of a celebration - breakfast in bed, anyone?
Anytime you're feeling peckish, give these Sablés Bretons a try. They are buttery and flaky, and they are made, ideally, with high-quality salted butter from Brittany. This one recipe really got mes petits excited to try it. I really hope to find them in the kitchen sometime this week, whipping up surprise cookies for maman. A girl can dream, anyway.
Sablés bretons - photo © Mardi Michels
This interview was first published on the France Today Magazine website.