Previous recipes from this year
Lotte à l’armoricaine (June 2015)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 2 lbs (1 kg) of monkfish, cleaned by your fishmonger and cut into large pieces
- 1 medium can of peeled tomatoes
- 1 T tomato paste
- 4 shallots
- 1 clove garlic
- 12 small pearl onions
- 1 c (20 cl) dry white wine
- 1/4 c (5 cl) cognac
- 1½ T (20 g) butter
- 2 T of peanut oil
- a “dosette” of saffron (those little plastic containers)
- a bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf)
- 1/3 c (70 g) of lobster bisque
- a pinch of Cayenne pepper or a dash of tabasco
- 1 t salt, pepper to taste
- 1 full T of crème fraîche
- Peel and dice the shallots. Peel and press the garlic clove. Peel
the pearl onions. Open the can of tomatoes and cut them up. Dilute the tomato paste in the white wine.
- In a cast iron pot, heat the butter and oil and cook the monkfish over
medium-high heat until it starts to turn golden. Add the cognac and light it (flamber). When the flames have gone out, remove the fish to a serving plate. Turn down the heat, put
the shallots and all the other ingredients - except the crème fraîche - into the pot, salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.
- Place the monkfish into the sauce, add the saffron, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. If the sauce is too liquid, add a little bit of cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and at the last minute, blend in the crème fraîche.
with rice or steamed/baked potatoes.
Serve with a dry white wine, if possible the same as used in the recipe.
La Poule au Pot Béarnaise (November 2013)
Prep time: 30 min
Cooking time: 2½ -3 hrs
For 6 hearty eaters
- a fat stewing chicken, about 5 lbs, ready to cook, and with its giblets if possible.
- 7 oz (200 gr) of Bayonne ham or prosciutto
- 7 oz (200 gr) of stale bread
- 7 fl oz (20 cl) of milk
- 2 onions
- 1 garlic clove
- 8 springs of flat parsley
- 2 eggs
- 8 carrots
- 4 turnips
- 4 leeks
- 1 small celery branch
- 2 cloves
- 1 bouquet garni (1sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf and 4 sprigs flat parsley)
- salt and pepper
- stale country bread, sliced
- Soak the bread in the milk and tear it into small pieces. Chop up the ham and the giblets (liver, heart,
gizzard), as well as one onion, the garlic and the parsley. Mix it all together with the bread and then work in one whole egg plus one egg yolk and add salt and pepper.
- Stuff the
chicken with the mixture and truss it.
- Put the chicken in a big Dutch oven and cover it with cold water. Bring it to a full boil and then skim off any foam. Lower the heat, add salt,
cover partially and let simmer for an hour.
- Meanwhile, peel and wash the vegetables - carrots, turnips, leeks and celery. Peel the second onion and stick the cloves in it. Add all
the vegetables and the bouquet garni into the Dutch oven with the chicken after it’s been cooking for an hour. Let simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, until tender.
- Place a few slices of
stale country bread in the oven to dry while you take the chicken and vegetables out of the Dutch oven. Keep them warm.
- Strain the bouillon and pour it in a soup tureen over the
dried bread slices.
- Carve the chicken up, being careful to remove the stuffing whole. Dispose the chicken on a warm serving plate. Slice the stuffing and put it in the middle. Place
the vegetables around the chicken. Serve hot.
Accompany with a strong red wine, but without too much tannin.
P.S. The idea of the stale country bread is to have crouton-like bread. Thus the
drying in the oven. It's similar to French onion soup.
Poivrons grillés (August 2013)
- bell peppers (any color, but red is the sweetest)
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- sea salt
- Brush the outside of the peppers with olive oil. Char the peppers over an open flame so that the skin
blisters. It will take about 10 minutes. A grill is handy here, but you can use a gas stove; it just makes a holy mess to clean up.
- When the peppers have cooled, remove the skin. It
should slip right off. One trick is to put a cover over the peppers while they cool, so the steam makes the skin easier to remove.
- Cut the peppers open and remove the stem, seeds and
filaments. Cut into long strips.
- Place in a bowl and dress with some olive oil and a dribble of balsamic vinegar, plus salt to taste. You can add some freshly-ground pepper if you
want, and even some crushed garlic if you're feeling particularly Mediterranean.
And there you have it. A perfect accompaniment, especially on a hot day, for either grilled fish or meat. And
in well under a half-hour, depending on your peeling skills. You can prepare it ahead of time and then go for a swim until it’s time to fire up the barbecue!
TIP: If you don’t finish all the roasted peppers, you can chop the left-overs
up and spread them on toasted slices of Italian or French bread to make bruschetta. Or turn them into an easy, inexpensive and delicious salad dressing. Just run them through the blender
with 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar and a bit of freshly-ground pepper. Voilà!
Sauces: Mayonnaise, Aïoli and others (July 2013)
Pressed for time, we spend inordinate amounts of money to make our lives “easier”. But sometimes
it's both healthier and more economical to make something yourself.
Mayonnaise, for instance. Rather than buy a tube or jar of the phony stuff, full of
industrial junk, why not make it yourself? You already have everything you need right there in your home. And it will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. So make more than you
need and just keep it refrigerated. Everyone will notice the difference, believe me.
This recipe comes from French chef Pierre Franey.
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 1 T white-wine vinegar
- salt & pepper
- 1 c vegetable oil
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
Combine the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Stir with a wire whisk or a mixer.
Add the oil in a thin stream while beating briskly. When the oil is incorporated, add the lemon juice and blend in well.
Yield: 1 c
Once you’ve got this down, you can go inventive, adding curry powder to taste for a yellow, Indian
subcontinent flavor. Or to accompany cold fish, especially salmon, try adding spinach to make a green mayonnaise (2 c mayonnaise + 1 t Dijon mustard + ½ c finely minced, very well drained
cooked spinach + 2 T minced fines herbs).
Tartare (for fish and cold meats):
- 5 small gherkin or dill pickles, minced
- 1 T capers (chopped, if they are big)
- 1 T minced fresh fines herbes (any blend of the following herbs, chopped up fine: chives, tarragon, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, fennel, chervil and celery)
- 2 c mayonnaise
Blend all the ingredients into the mayonnaise using a wooden spoon or wire whisk.
Again, working from a mayonnaise, add minced fresh tarragon and shallots plus freshly ground pepper, all to
And then there's aïoli (pronounced aye-oh-lee), the Provençal answer to mayonnaise. Well, the Provençal
answer to just about anything really. It's all about the garlic (see quote above) and it makes things delicious.
- 15 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 eggs
- 3 c (75 cl) olive oil
- Peel and crush the garlic.
- Add one raw egg yolk, 1 boiled egg yolk, 3 pinches of salt.
- Then, using
a mixer, start beating them together, adding the olive oil almost drop by drop. When it starts to “take” (i.e. look like mayonnaise), you can go a bit faster.
Very important: For this magic to work, all the ingredients must be at the same temperature, which usually
means ambient temperature because that's easier. That obviously holds for mayonnaise as well.
If the aïoli starts to go bad, don't worry. In a separate small bowl, mix together 1 clove of garlic, 1 raw
egg yolk and a pinch of salt. Slowly beat them into the aïoli.
If it ends up being too stiff, thin it a bit by adding 1 or 2 tsp of warm water.
“Okay,” you'll say, “that's a LOT of aïoli! Don't you have a smaller
recipe?” Well, yes. This version by J-B Reboul allows you to make just what you need, depending on the number of guests. It uses the same ingredients, with the addition of some
lemon juice. He makes it the traditional way, with a pestle and mortar. But I've changed it a bit so you can make it with a mixer.
- 1 egg yolk, raw
- olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- warm water
- Use 2 garlic cloves per person. Peel and crush them. Add a pinch of salt, the raw egg yolk, and then start
pouring the olive oil in very slowly with the mixer on low. The aïoli should become thick. When you've poured in the equivalent of about 3 or 4 T of oil, add the juice of one
lemon and 1 tsp of warm water. Continue to add the oil little by little and when the aïoli is very thick again, add a few drops of water. Otherwise it will appear to “melt”
and the oil will separate.
- Aïoli for 7 or 8 people will take a little over 2 c (½ l) of olive oil.
- If, in spite of all this, the aïoli separates, break a second egg yolk into an
empty bowl along with a few drops of lemon juice, and then add in the “bad” aïoli spoonful by spoonful, stirring constantly with the mixer. (If you want to use Reboul’s
traditional mortar-and-pestle method, that also works.)
OR you could just take some of that mayonnaise you made and add crushed garlic and a few drops of lemon juice
if you’re really pressed for time. It might not be quite aïoli but it’ll be close.
Now that you know how to make mayonnaise and aïoli, how about some rouille (roo-yah)? Again, this comes from
Provence and is often used in fish stews or soups. The main difference is the addition of hot red peppers. That can be done easily with either tabasco (quantity to be decided by taste) or
spicy paprika or piment d’espelette (although technically, that might make it Basque). Some people add a dash of powdered saffron, if only for the color.
The recipe I have calls for an aîoli to which you add a pinch each of mild paprika, hot paprika (this is where
the espelette comes in) and powdered saffron.
Then mix well.
And there you have it: enough sauces to make it through the summer. Here in France,
we’re not having one yet, but hope springs eternal.
Gâteau fraisier (June 2013)
- 7 eggs
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 c sifted all-purpose flour
- ½ c clarified unsalted butter
- Break the eggs into a large bowl, lightly mix in the sugar using a fork. Then place the bowl over simmering
water and beat with a whisk until it feels hot to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat with an egg beater for about 15 minutes until it has cooled completely and has tripled in
volume. It should form a ribbon when falling from a spoon. Beat in the vanilla.
- Gently fold in the flour, alternating with the melted but cooled clarified butter, adding a little or
each at a time.
- Immediately pour into two pre-greased 9" round cake pans and cook in a preheated 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back if you touch
it lightly in the center
- As soon as you take the cakes out of the oven, turn them out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool.
NOTE: Clarified butter is butter that has been melted
over a very low heat until it separates, the particles sink to the bottom and foam stops rising to the surface. Skim off the foam as it is formed. Once melted, strain it through an
extremely fine sieve or cheesecloth doubled over. It should be allowed to cool until lukewarm before being used for the cake. If you want a short-cut, you can melt the butter in the
microwave and I won’t tell anyone.
- 2.1 c (½ l) milk
- 4-5 egg yolks (depending on size of egg)
- 1 vanilla bean
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 c (2.8 oz / 80 g) of sugar
- 2.6 T (1.4 oz / 40 g) of flour + 2 T (30 g) of cornstarch
- 14 T (7 oz / 200 g) of butter
- Slit the vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise and heat it in the milk. Don’t bring the milk to a
- Cream the egg yolks and the sugar until uniformly mixed. (If you beat it too much you’ll get too much air into it and the crème mousseline will lose its color.)
- Sift the flour and cornstarch together. Little by little whisk them into the egg/sugar mixture.
- After removing the vanilla bean, whisk in half of the milk, but don’t let it get too foamy. Beat until the consistency is uniform. The crème will have started to thicken a bit.
- Pour the crème into the saucepan with the remaining milk and bring it slowly to a boil, whisking it constantly (and throughout the entire saucepan). It will continue to thicken.
- Cut up half the butter and add it in while the crème is still warm. Let it all cool.
- While the crème is cooling, work the remaining half of the butter with a fork or metal spatula until it’s smooth and creamy.
- When the butter and the crème have reached about the same temperature, whisk them together and let it all finish cooling.
You’re ready to assemble the fraisier now.
Here’s where your creativity comes in. However, there’s one golden rule: there must be something
between the two layers of cake. It can be just the crème or crème with sliced strawberries. I suggest the latter because a plain génoise can be dry. Besides, it’s more festive that way.
Then you move on to the sides, which you frost with the crème mousseline.
And then you stick some strawberry slices upright into the crème, or half-strawberries if they’ll stay in place.
Lastly, frost the top. Then you can make any design you
want with the strawberries, sliced or halved or whole. You can cover the entire top of the cake or only part. You can even add some other fresh fruits for color. And maybe some tiny mint
leaves. The goal is to make the fraisier look so good that you have to hide it until the dessert course.
TIP: Never ever cut the top off the strawberries until after they’ve been washed. If you do, water gets
in and it spoils the taste. And dry them well before you start the decorating.
Although it’s in French, there are photos with this website which will show you the making of the crème mousseline: http://chefsimon.com/creme-mousseline.html.
Asperges au parmesan et morilles
- green asparagus (5 or 6 per person)
- small morels (as many as your budget can afford)
- 2 T butter
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 c veal stock
- 2 T heavy cream
- parmesan, preferably shaved, otherwise grated
- salt & fresh-ground pepper
- Trim the asparagus, removing any side leaves and tough bottoms. Cook them for 4 minutes in boiling salted
water. Then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. When they’ve cooled, shave back the very bottom inch to let the lighter color inside show.
- While the asparagus is
boiling, wash the morels and dry them on some paper towels. Cut off any hard ends, but as little as possible.
- Sauté some thinly sliced shallots in butter. Add the morels and heat
them through. Add the veal stock (or chicken if you have none) and some freshly ground pepper. Reduce by half, stirring from time to time (about 5 min). Add the heavy cream and blend it
- While the sauce is reducing, sauté the asparagus in a butter/olive oil mix, just until it begins to color.
- Dress each plate by fanning out the asparagus, or even in a star
formation, trimmed ends meeting. Sprinkle the shaved parmesan over them. Place some morels on top and between the asparagus spears. Pour a bit of the veal/cream sauce on the
asparagus tips and serve immediately.
Preparation time: 5 min
Cooking time: 15 min max
Serve with a white wine from the Jura or Alsace region.
NOTE: I don’t put extra salt on the asparagus once it’s cooked because
I find the stock and the parmesan add enough saltiness as it is.
Bouillabaisse (April 2013)
- 3 leeks, whites only, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 t each of chopped fresh savory, thyme and rosemary (or ½ t dried)
- 3 cloves garlic, mashed
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 2 T butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 2 lbs fish bones and heads
- 2 c dry white wine
Fish and marinade:
- 2 lbs of strong-flavored fish
- 2 lbs of mild, delicate fish
- 1 lb eel (optional, except in Marseilles)
- salt & freshly-ground pepper
- 1 packet of saffron threads (or 1 t ground saffron)
- 1/4 t each of ground thyme, savory and rosemary
- 1 t anise liqueur (could be Pernod or similar aperitif)
- 1/4 c olive oil
Rest of ingredients:
- 2 T olive oil
- ½ t orange rind, chopped and dried (or about a 2" piece)
- 1/4 c tomato paste, 1½ c peeled, diced tomatoes, or 4 ripe tomatoes in season
- 1 medium boiled potato
- 1/4 c canned red pepper
- 3 garlic cloves
- tabasco to taste
- If you’re making your own fish stock, heat the oil and butter in a stockpot (enamelware is better than
aluminum for this). Add in the leeks, onions, celery, carrots and herbs. Cook slowly until the vegetables are tender but not browned. Add the bay leaf and parsley. Cover with 2 quarts of
water and the white wine . Then add the fish bones, bring to a boil and let cook over high heat for 30 minutes at a slow boil. (You’ll need no salt or pepper at this stage.) Strain
through a fine sieve and set aside until you’re ready to finish the dish. You can even put it, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. Otherwise, bring the equivalent amount of
store-bought stock to a boil.
- Place the fish, cut into 2"-thick pieces, in a deep bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the saffron, herbs and anise, then the olive
oil. Stir and place in the refrigerate to marinate for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Peel, seed and drain the tomatoes if they’re in season, then puree them in a food
processor. Otherwise use the canned tomatoes, drained, or else the easiest: the tomato paste.
- When you’re ready to finish up the dish, heat 2 T of olive oil, and then add the
strong-flavored fish and the marinade. Let simmer for a minute or two, then add the stock, orange rind and tomatoes, stir and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered on high for 5 minutes. Add in
the delicate fish and boil 10 minutes more. (I marinated them in two separate bowls, so I could easily tell them apart.)
- To serve up, place slices of stale French-type bread or
croutons in the bottom of a soup tureen or individual soup dishes and ladle the bouillabaisse over the top. Accompany with a rouille sauce which you can buy in a specialty shop, or else
blend all four ingredients above in a food processor until smooth, if necessary adding bit by bit just enough olive oil to obtain a mayonnaise-like consistency.
Accompany with a chilled rosé from Provence
Note: Everyone thinks that bouillabaisse is a big deal to make, but it really doesn’t take much prep
time. I opted for the tomato paste and also used the orange rind cut into strips, which I fished out (pun intended) before serving, and a native of Marseille told me it was “just
like at home”. So there are shortcuts you can use to make things easier. If you get the fish market to cut the fish up for you, if you make the fish stock the previous day or if you
buy a good fish stock (try it first before you start the recipe), if you can find a jar of rouille . . . it takes amazingly little time. Good, flavorful stock and fresh fish of different
sorts are the keys here. I made the stock myself and it took only 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cooking time. The fish took 10 minutes for the marinade and then just sat
overnight in the fridge. The final bit took no prep time and only 25 minutes cooking time. It was pretty painless. Of course, I cheated and used a prepared rouille that I had, but even if
I’d made it, it would have taken just 5 minutes maximum in the food processor, plus the time to boil the potato in advance. So don’t be discouraged by the number of
ingredients or the reputation of this dish. The result is colorful, hearty and delicious.
(Ground saffron loses its flavor quickly and sometimes is cut with turmeric, so
it has less flavor in that form. Buy the little plastic packets of saffron threads, which are far better. 1 gram equals about ½ teaspoon, so I used the entire packet.)
Oeuf cocotte (March 2013)
- 1 egg, as fresh as possible
- salt & freshly-ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
- Butter the inside of a ramekin.
Crack an egg into the ramekin, being careful not to break the yolk.
- Place the ramekin on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for about 10 minutes, or until the yolk is set and
the white has solidified.. (Some people like to sit the ramekins in a bit of water and use a bain-marie style cooking; in this case, they’ll cook a bit faster.)
- Because the ramekin retains heat, the egg will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, so it’s better to undercook it slightly.
- Sprinkle with salt (fleur de sel is best) and freshly-ground pepper and serve.
For children, who love to play with their food, you can serve this with some mouillettes,
bread “soldiers” that can be dipped in the egg.
And for added color, sprinkle some cut chives or parsley over the top. Or a splash of paprika.
In the following variations, place the ingredients in the bottom of the ramekin (even up the sides for sliced
meats or asparagus) and crack the egg over the top, then add a bit of any cream (heavy, half-and-half, or even skimmed milk). In all these cases, the procedure is the same, but cooking
time may be a minute or so longer due to the added ingredients:
Italian: minced tomato, grated parmesan & minced basil
Tyrolean: slice of tomato, small slice of
Provençal: minced tomato, goat’s cheese (in pieces or whole), with chives when serving
Greek: spinach, feta cheese
Forestière: sautéed mushrooms, small cubes
Basque: minced and sautéed bell pepper, a pinch of piment d’espelette*
Printanière: cooked asparagus spears
*Piment d’espelette is made from small red peppers from the Basque country. Not particularly hot (4/10), but very flavorful, it can be replaced by hot paprika or New Mexico red chile powder. But if you’re planning to try other Basque recipes, such as piperade or chicken basquaise, you might want to splurge and buy a bit.
Garbure (February 2013)
- 11 oz dried navy beans
- 3 medium potatoes (preferably red potatoes)
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 small to medium turnips
- 3 medium onions
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only
- 1 celery stalk
- ½ green cabbage, inner leaves
- 2 cloves
- 3 T duck fat (otherwise olive oil)
- 2 t coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 thick slices of garlic sausage (saucisson aîl), cubed
- 2 duck confit thighs (or cooked chicken)
- 4 thick-cut slices of pork belly (ventrêche), in small cubes
- 1 thick slice of cooked ham, cut into large cubes
- 3 slices thick-cut unsmoked bacon, minced
- 3 T Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 thick slices country bread, toasted
- 4 slices sheep cheese
- piment d’espelette or hot paprika
- The night before: Cover the beans in cold water and let them soak in the refrigerator overnight. When
you’re ready to make the soup, drain the beans and rinse them. Remove any skins or stones.
- Cutting up the vegetables is important because it affects how they cook down. The
carrots and the celery should be diced small (½" square) while the turnips, onions and potatoes can be bigger (1" cubes). The leeks should be cut diagonally into 1" long
pieces and the cabbage into 1" wide strips.
- Heat the duck fat (or olive oil) until it’s sizzling. Add in the turnips, carrots, onions and celery and cook until
they’re soft but not colored. Add the potatoes and cabbage. Sweat them for 5-6 minutes but don’t brown. Add the leeks and cloves. Stir. Then add the beans and cook for another
5-6 minutes. Cover with water, add 2 t coarse salt (the meats will be salted already) and some fresh-ground black pepper. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 3
- Let the soup cool until you’re ready to eat. If the soup is meant for the next day, put it in the refrigerator overnight.
- When it’s time to eat, reheat the
- When it’s hot, add the garlic, parsley and bacon into the soup. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Then add in the rest of the meats and let it all simmer for 15 minutes.
the garbure into a festive soup tureen. Toast the bread and top with sheep cheese while still warm. Sprinkle piment d’espelette on the toasts and in the soup.
Serve piping hot, accompanied by a full-bodied red wine. Why not a Madiran, which
comes from the region?
Quiche lorraine (January 2012)
- 8" pastry shell
- 3-4 oz lean medium-thick bacon (6-8 slices), diced
- 3 eggs + 1 yolk
- 2 c heavy cream (or half-and-half)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- While you’re preparing the filling, line the bottom of the
shell with aluminum foil and pour in a layer of dry beans. This will keep it from puckering. Bake in the middle of the oven at 400°F (200°C) for 8-9 minutes, then remove the beans and
foil, prick the bottom and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- In the meantime, brown the diced bacon lightly. When it’s brown and the pastry shell is cooked, sprinkle
the bacon evenly into the bottom of the shell.
- Beat the eggs, the cream and the seasonings together until they’re well blended. Pour into the pre-cooked pastry over the bacon.
Don’t fill it more than 3/4, to allow for puffing.
- Set in the upper third of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until it has puffed up and browned. A knife should come out
clean when inserted into the center of the quiche, but the custard should still move a bit.
Accompany with a salad, some French baguette and a cold white wine, with fruit for dessert.
(It’s also good cold, which makes it a delicious, low-fuss leftover.)
P.S. If you need a bigger quiche to serve 6-8, use a 10" shell and increase the ingredients by ½.
P.P.S. You can precook the shell ahead of time and refrigerate the filling. Half an hour ahead of time, put it
P.P.P.S. For party needs, you can make these as tartlets (probably 6). Keep an eye
on the cooking time, as they may cook faster, given their small size.