Coq au vin (December 2012)
- one stewing chicken (or alternatively, a roaster), cut up into pieces
- 2 T butter
- 1 T peanut oil
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 T flour
- 1 bottle (75 cl) of good red wine, preferably full-bodied
- 75 cl of brown stock, preferably veal
- salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 large sprig of fresh thyme (or 1/4 t dried)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves
- 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ c of port wine
- 1/4 cup of blood (or cornstarch as needed to thicken)
- 1 T crème fraîche (or sour cream) (optional)
- 1 slice of foie gras (optional)
- In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, melt the butter with the oil added in to keep the butter from turning
dark. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and then sauté them until they’re golden brown on all sides. Set them aside on a platter.
- In the same butter-and-oil, add the carrots
and onions. Cook until the onions are golden, then add the flour, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and the brown stock. Bring to a boil as you whisk. Add the nutmeg, as well
as more salt and pepper, to taste.
- Put the chicken pieces back in the pot, along with the thyme, bay leaf, cloves and garlic. Add in the port. Simmer 40-60 min, or until the chicken
is tender. Cooking time will vary with the age of the chicken.
- Remove the chicken and keep it warm in the serving bowl. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing the vegetables
to extract all their juices. Put the sauce back on the burner and add the blood (or cornstarch), whisking energetically. (If you’re using cornstarch, first dilute 1 T in 2 T warm
water to avoid lumps.) Bring the sauce back to a boil.
- Remove from the burner and whisk in the crème fraîche. Then add the foie gras cut into small pieces and whisk until totally
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, decorate with parsley and serve immediately.
Serve with something (s)mashed/pureed: potatoes, chesnuts, celeryroot, carrots, any/all of the above. Accompany
with a young, full-bodied burgundy, beaujolais or côtes du rhône.
N.B. I know there’s some discussion about foie gras, so if you’re violently opposed to it,
you can leave it out. But it does add another rich layer of taste to this dish.
And obviously, unless you live out in the country near a pig or cattle farm, you
won’t be getting fresh pig’s or calf’s blood. Even in Paris, that might be a problem. As blood doesn’t come packaged industrially, just leave it out. What it does
is to thicken the sauce. So you can either reduce the sauce or add just a bit of cornstarch. It needs to end up thick enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly.
Flammekueche (November 2012)
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into thin rounds
- ½ c crème fraîche, (or heavy cream)
- ½ c fromage blanc (ricotta or low-fat cream cheese)
- 4 pinches nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- 6 oz thick-cut slab bacon, chopped or cut into matchsticks
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230 °C)
- Heat 1 T of the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over low
heat, stirring, until golden brown (about 5 min). Let cool a bit.
- Combine the crème fraîche, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooled onion.
- Heat the remaining
oil in the skillet and fry the bacon until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Oil a 14 x 16 inch baking sheet. Roll the dough until it’s
slightly smaller than the baking sheet. Place it on the sheet and spread the onion mixture over the dough, leaving a very small raised rim all the way around, then dot with the
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tart is lightly browned. Serve immediately.
The dough is just a pizza dough. To make this easy dish even easier if you’re
running late or just don’t feel like being Julia Child-ish, you can use a ready-made pizza dough. Be sure to roll it out very thin and in a rectangle.
Mushrooms can be
substituted for the bacon, if you want a vegetarian version, and Munster cheese for the usual fromage blanc.
Accompany with a crisp green salad and serve with beer or a fruity white wine.
NOTE: If you can’t find crème fraîche, you can make your own by
combining 1 cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons buttermilk, stir, cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or until it has become very thick. Refrigerate
and it will become even thicker. It can be used for lots of other recipes, such as pepper steaks (steaks au poivre) or veal scallops with mushrooms (veau à la normande).
Chevreuil sauce grand veneur (October 2012)
The 4-lb saddle of venison needs to marinate for 24 hours, so be sure to plan backwards in time.
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 6 peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 shallots, minced
- 2 parsley sprigs
- ½ t dried thyme
- 1 t dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- a little coarse salt
- 2 c dry red wine
- 2 T cognac
Mix all the ingredients together and let the 4-lb saddle of venison marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
After you take the venison out of the marinade, keep it to be added to the sauce poivrade, which is the
Sauce poivrade: (makes about 2 ½ c)
- 1 t vegetable or olive oil
- 2 T butter
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
- 1 parsley sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ t dried thyme
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- pinch of salt
- 6 peppercorns, crushed
- ½ c wine vinegar
- 1 t flour
- 1 t cornstarch
- ½ c dry red wine
- 2 c veal stock
- 2 T cognac
Heat the oil and butter together in a saucepan. Add the carrot, onion and parsley. Sauté gently until the
vegetables are tender. Add the bay leaf, thyme, tomato paste, garlic clove, pinch of salt, crushed peppercorns and vinegar. Simmer gently until the vinegar has evaporated. Remove the bay
leaf and stir in the flour and cornstarch. Mix well with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Finally, add the wine and veal stock. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until it’s rich
and medium-thick. Strain before using and add the cognac.
You can make this the previous day and keep it in the refrigerator. But be sure to warm it thoroughly before
adding it in with the rest.
Now let’s bring it all together, with the other ingredients:
- 3 T peanut oil
- 3 T butter
- 4 lb saddle of venison (or boar, or even pork roast, with as much fat as
- 1 c crème fraîche or heavy cream
- 2 T red currant jelly
- 2 c sauce poivrade, thoroughly heated
- 1 t cornstarch
- 3 T cognac
- Remove the saddle from the marinade and dry it carefully. Heat the oil & butter and brown the saddle on
all sides. Transfer it to a preheated 375°F oven and roast for 30 min.
- Strain the marinade and add it to the heated sauce poivrade. Reduce over high heat to about half its
- Just before serving time, return the sauce poivrade to a boil. Mix the cornstarch into the cognac thoroughly, then add it in, along with the red currant jelly and heavy cream. Stir with a wooden spoon and simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
- Carve the meat, coat it with the sauce grand veneur,
pouring any extra into a gravyboat. Serve with puree of chestnuts. Or as an alternative, pureed celery root or even mashed potatoes.
Accompany with a full-bodied red wine, preferably a burgundy, or perhaps a cahors.
Poires épicées au vin rouge (September 2012)
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 40 min
Ingredients (for 4):
- 4 large Bartlett pears, or 8 small (2 per person)
- 1 bottle of good red wine (75 cl)
- 7 oz (200 g) sugar
- 1 T honey
- the zest of 1 orange
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cloves
- 4 black peppercorns
- a pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- To prepare the syrup for poaching the pears, bring the wine to a boil with the
spices, zest, honey, vanilla and sugar.
- Meanwhile, peel the pears. You can leave them whole or cut them in quarters, removing the seeds. If you leave them whole, be sure to keep the
- When the wine boils, lower the heat. Delicately slip the peeled pears into the wine. Cover and simmer until they feel tender when stuck with a knife (20-30 min).
the pears and set them aside.
- Reduce the syrup until it thickens and starts to coat a wooden spoon. Filter it and pour it over the pears.
- Serve chilled.
Loup au fenouil (August 2012)
Sea bass is a delicately flavored fish so it should please even those who don’t
like "fishy fish" such as sardines, herring, even tuna or salmon. That’s why the fennel is added: to zip its blandness up a bit. Famous French chef Raymond Oliver calls it
insipid and says it doesn’t need to be scaled; just gutted. To each his own. The fishmonger will prepare it for you anyway, unless you fish it out of the Mediterranean all by
yourself, in which case you’re on your own.
Chef Oliver grills it over dry fennel sticks. Good luck finding any of those. Luckily, he also suggests
stuffing the fish with fennel fronds before broiling it, which is how I’ve always found it served in French restaurants.
Whichever way you do it -
outside on the grill or inside under the broiler - a three-pound sea bass will take 20 minutes to grill, 10 minutes per side. Couldn’t be easier.
it up right away with simple melted butter over the top, or else flambé it with some cognac, or better yet anisette, if you have it. The licorice-y taste will accentuate the fennel.
Accompany it with a green salad sprinkled with sliced black olives, some crusty French baguette and a crisp white wine and you’ll see what August on the Riviera is all about.
Céleri rémoulade (July 2012)
- celeriac (1 lb = 3-3½ c cut)
- ½ c lemon juice + 1 T
- ½ c olive oil
- 3 T Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- fresh or dried green herbs
- Peel the celeriac, removing any eyes, then cut into thin julienne strips. You can use the large holes of your
grater to go faster, or the adequate fixture on your food processor to go even faster. Put the celeriac into a bowl and sprinkle with ½ t of salt and ½ c lemon juice. Toss well and let
sit for 15 minutes. Rinse, drain and pat dry.
- While the celeriac is resting, make the rémoulade sauce by blending together the mustard, ½ t of salt and a good pinch of freshly ground pepper (white will look better, but black is also fine). Very gradually beat in the oil as for a mayonnaise until it is creamy. Lastly blend in 1 T of lemon juice. This can go fast with a food processor or mixer, otherwise use a metal whisk and good biceps.
- Mix the celeriac and the sauce together well and put into the refrigerator (min 15 minutes but you can cover
it and leave it to macerate overnight as well).
- Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped green herbs: 1 T fresh chervil,
parsley, and/or tarragon (or 1/4 t if dried herbs).
Sole dieppoise (June 2012)
- 2-lb sole, in fillets
- ½ lb cooked shrimp
- 2 carrots, minced
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 T peanut oil
- 2 T butter
- trimmings from the sole + shrimp shells
- 1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, parsley)
- 1½ c dry white wine
- 2½ c water
- 2 T butter
- 2 T flour
- 2 c fish stock
- 1 c heavy cream
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 c dry white wine
- 1 c fish stock
- 2 T fine dry bread crumbs
If you’re making the stock yourself:
- Shell the shrimp and save the shells.
- Cook the carrots and onion slowly in the hot oil and butter until
they’re soft. Add the sole and shrimp trimmings, bouquet garni, wine and water and let simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl so you can
use it in the sauce.
Otherwise, just follow the instructions on the ready-made stock package.
For the sauce:
- Melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, stirring constantly.
- Gradually stir in 2 cups
of the fish stock until the sauce is thick and smooth. Reduce it slightly and stir in the cream. Reduce some more until it thickens slightly, then beat with a wire whisk until the sauce
is very smooth. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Now put it all together:
- Place the sole into a buttered baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and remaining fish
stock. Cover with a sheet of generously buttered parchment or brown paper. Cook in a preheated 350°F oven for about 12 minutes.
- Drain off the pan juices and use them to thin the
sauce, if necessary. Pour the sauce over the fish and arrange the shrimp around the sole. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and brown quickly under the broiler. Serve very hot.
Accompany with a dry white wine.
Asperges (May 2012)
How to cook asparagus:
Green and white asparagus are cooked the same way. And according to Julia Child, the best way is "the
French way". She said she tried them all. This is her method:
- Use a paring knife to peel off the outer skin. Holding the spear with the tip toward you, use a paring knife
to shave off the outer skin of the butt end so the green flesh is visible, then shave less deep as you work toward the tender part near the tip. Also shave off any scales that are below
the tip. Wash in a basin of cold water and then drain.
- Line up the asparagus tips in bunches about 3½" in diameter and tie them together with cooking string a bit below the tips
and again about 2/3 of the way down the stem. Cut off the butt ends to make the spears about the same length.
- Bring salted water to a boil in a pot wide enough to hold the asparagus
horizontally. After laying the bundles in the water, bring it back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until you can easily stick a knife into the thick end (about 12-15
min). Lift the bundles out with 2 forks, one snagging each string. Hold them up to drain, then put them on a towel. Cut the string immediately and go on to the next bundle. Make sure the
asparagus is not overcooked but is well-drained.
- Cooked asparagus will stay warm for 20 minutes if left covered with the towel. If you’ve made it ahead to be served cold, let
it stand in one layer only.
Six fat spears are a good portion per person.
- Vinaigrette: Stir ½-1 t Dijon mustard into 2 T of vinegar until well blended. Add salt and freshly ground
pepper. Then slowly pour in 6 T of olive oil, stirring until entirely blended and somewhat thickened. The right proportion is 1 part vinegar to 3-4 parts oil. Makes about ½ c of vinaigrette. You can add some minced or dried herbs if you want: parsley, chives, tarragon, basil. You could also use lemon juice instead of vinegar.
- Mayonnaise: Homemade mayonnaise is so much better than store-bought! With a good food processor, it’s not hard, and any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days. Put 1 egg and 2 egg yolks in the processor and beat for 1 minute. Without turning the machine off, add 1 T of wine vinegar or lemon juice, ½ t salt and 1/4 t of Dijon mustard and beat for another half minute. DO NOT STOP BEATING as you start pouring in 1 c of olive oil very slowly; the oil should be at room temperature. As soon as it starts to thicken, "the crisis is over" as Julia puts it. Then thin the mixture with another T of vinegar or lemon juice, and only then continue with the remaining 1 c of oil. Mix until it has thickened. Correct for consistency and seasoning.
Épaule d'agneau boulangère (April 2012)
- 2½ -3 lb shoulder of lamb, bone removed
- olive oil
- 2/3 c of white wine
- 5 large firm potatoes (Yukon gold are good)
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- few sprigs of rosemary
- salt and ground black pepper
- The night before the meal, slice the cloves of garlic into smallish pieces and insert them into little
incisions made in the lamb. Then massage it with olive oil (shades of Julia Child) and finally sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper and the rosemary. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and
put in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you’re ready to roast the lamb, preheat the oven to 450° F (230°C).
- Peel the potatoes and slice them crosswise, somewhat thin. (If
you do this in advance, cover the potatoes with water until you’re ready to cook them.) Also slice the onions somewhat thin.
- Spread some olive oil in the bottom of a roasting
pan and then spread the potatoes evenly. Spread the onions on top of the potatoes. Pour the wine over the potatoes and onions. Salt and pepper both. Unwrap the lamb, lay it flat on the
top and put it in the oven on the middle rack.
- After 15 minutes, lower the oven to 350°F (175°C). Continue to roast for 10-12 minutes per pound for medium-rare (the preferred French
way) or 13-15 minutes per pound for well-done (which to me makes the meat dry and much less interesting). If it’s getting too dark at any point, cover with aluminum foil for the
rest of the oven time.
- Remove the lamb for cutting and let it sit while you put the vegetables in a serving dish. Use a bit more white wine to scrape up all the browned bits and
drippings for gravy, thickening with a bit of cornstarch, if necessary.
Serves 4-6, depending on appetite.
Accompany with a simple salad with vinaigrette dressing (made with walnut oil, if possible) and garnished with
walnuts halves and crumbled roquefort.
A cabernet sauvignon is perfect for this delicate meat.
Harengs pommes à l’huile (March 2012)
- 8 herring filets (can be fresh or smoked)
- 1 c milk (if desalting)
- 2 onions, medium-sized
- 2-3 T olive oil
- 1 lb redskin potatoes
- 2 T wine vinegar
- 8 T olive oil
- 1 t strong mustard
- pinch of coriander seed (optional)
- freshly-ground pepper.
- Remember: If you’re using salted herring, you’ll need to desalt them overnight in a cup of milk
plus a cup of water.
- Peel the onions and cut them into thin rings . Soak them in cold water for an hour to make them less strong. (Or you could use the red variety, which is
- If you’ve desalted the herring, dry them off with paper towels. Dry off the onion as well, and separate the rings. Put the herring and onion rings in alternating
layers in a bowl. Pour the olive oil over both.
- Wash the potatoes and boil them in salted water for about half an hour, or until cooked but still firm. Drain and peel them, cut them
into large pieces and put them into a serving bowl.
- Mix the mustard into the vinegar. Add the salt, pepper, optional coriander seed and olive oil and mix well. Pour it over the
potatoes, toss lightly and serve while still warm, along with the herring.
Accompany with a crisp dry white wine.
Cassoulet( February 2012)
- 1 lb of dried white beans
- 1½ lb lamb shoulder, cut into large pieces
- 4 Toulouse sausages (or kielbasa or Italian sweet sausage)
- ½ lb garlic sausage (chicken can be used), sliced into thick rounds
- ½ lb pork rind, cut into small pieces (optional)
- 3 T of goose fat (or olive oil)
- about 3 c of stock (beef or chicken, according to choice of meats)
- 1 large onion, studded with 2 cloves
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 T tomato paste
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Soak the beans overnight in cold water.
- On the day of the meal, brown the meats in goose fat or olive
oil, starting with the lamb, then adding the rest. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Strain the beans. Add them over the browned meats and almost cover with
stock. (Use beef for a traditional cassoulet or chicken if you’re going pork-free.) Mix in the tomato paste, bouquet garni and onion. Cover and let simmer until the beans are tender
- Remove the bouquet garni and onion and serve.
If you’re going very French - and you can find it - add 4 pieces of confit de canard - preserved duck - to the beans when you put all the ingredients together.)
You can cook the cassoulet over a burner or start it there and finish it in the oven at 350°F (180°C), but in
either case you’ll need a heavy enameled casserole. If you’re finishing it in the oven, you can sprinkle breadcrumbs over the entire top and drizzle some olive oil, which
would make it a cassoulet de Toulouse. You can also add up to 4 peeled carrots along with the onion.
Accompany with a strong-bodied red wine, for instance a Cahors or a Corbières.
As this is a hearty meal, it stands alone. You could serve a plain green salad
afterward. And if there’s any dessert, I’d suggest just fresh fruit, or maybe a fruit salad.
Bouchées aux fruits de mer (January 2012)
N.B. The seafood in this recipe is mussels, small shrimp, and calamari. If you have a last minute situation, you can use frozen, especially as I already use frozen puff
- 1 lb (450 g) seafood
- 4 oz (100 g) small mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can lobster bisque
- 2 T butter + some more to sautée the mushrooms
- 1 T flour
- 1 T cognac
- If using frozen seafood, defrost it in advance.
- If the puff pastry shells are frozen, follow the
instructions on the box so that they are ready when the seafood filling is done. If they’re not frozen, just heat them until they’re golden.
- Meanwhile, lightly sautée the
mushrooms in butter but don’t let them color more than just golden.
- Then poach them, along with the seafood, in the lobster bisque for 5 minutes. Strain them, retaining the
- Melt 2 T of butter. Add 1 T of flour and cook for 1 min, stirring well. Add in enough of the lobster bisque to make a thick sauce. Stir in the cognac and a pinch of nutmeg
and simmer for 3 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste.
-Remove the top of the puff pastry shells and fill them with the seafood mix. If you have some left over, serve a bit on the side.
Accompany with a dry white wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon or even champagne.