All posts filed under: France


Salad Niçoise

There’s nothing like a mid-winter picnic, especially if Salad Niçoise is part of the equation. The other day my daughter asked if we could eat dinner outside. It was sunny, the temperature in the mid-sixties. My answer? Most definitely. We bundled up – each in a cozy sweater – and set up our colorful spread on the scraggly winter landscape. For the Salad Niçoise, I took my inspiration from Julia Child and piled on delicately steamed French beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and everything deliciously funky: Tuna, olives, capers and a few anchovies (for salty chew). A handful of crackers with cheese completed dinner (though a hunk of crusty bread would be nice, too). My husband flashed us all back to his “Mr Picky” days as he struggled to down one solitary anchovy. He did the work but remains unconvinced of their merits. My daughter escaped the challenge since she’s a self-proclaimed vegetarian, focusing her efforts instead on the vegetables and cheese (for protein). As for myself, I ate everything. While we enjoyed our meal, the sun sunk behind our neighbors’ rooftop (taking the warmth with …

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Kir Impérial

In honor of Valentine’s Day – and being one month away from the release of my new memoir (Eeee!!) – I went to the “way back” machine and dug up what I consider to be the most romantic of all French drinks: a Kir Impérial. There are only two things you need to know about Kir Impérial. #1 It bubbles. #2. It tastes like love. But… since I’m a front row kind of gal… The Story Behind Kir Once upon a time the Kir was actually called “vin blanc cassis” – which just means “white wine currants.” According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France. It mixed two of the region’s best drinks: an Aligoté wine (dry white wine) and cassis (black currant liqueur). After World War II everything changed. A priest, who helped 5,000 people escape a prisoners of war camp, was knighted and elected as the mayor of Dijon. He always served vin blanc de cassis during official meetings and celebrations, in part because there was a red wine shortage. His name was – you guessed it – Felix …

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French Around the World Lunch

Ava’s French Lunch

One of my favorite food memories from France was going out for couscous with my guardians. I was a wide-eyed teenager, happy to sit around a fragrant pot of stewed veggies and eat until my stomach ballooned. My favorite part was how the broth saturated the couscous, forming an unctuous gravy. The strong North African influence not only made its way into the restaurants  of Paris, but also into the home cooking – as I soon learned, couscous also makes a great base for ratatouille. Today I’ve combined my basic ratatouille recipe with plain couscous for Ava’s Around the World Lunch. Since ratatouille is often served room temperature, no microwaves will be needed at lunchtime. Perfect! To complete the meal? A miniature wheel of Brie and the cutest little pear you ever saw are shameless appeals to my daughter’s preference for anything “cute” (Which worked perfectly – I hear they were the first things to disappear at lunchtime). Tips: While Brie is one of the more mild French cheeses, sensitive eaters may want to swap the brie for a wedge of “Laughing Cow” …

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French Omelet

Makes 1 omelet I cracked a mighty big smile when I read that omelets are all over Africa, especially in former French colonies. When I attended the Culinary Institute of America I learned from our Drill-Sargent chef how to make a perfect French omelet, as tidy as a neatly folded blanket. For my final exam I had to make one in less than 90 seconds. In fact, I had to plate it and walk it across the kitchen to the chef in less than 90 seconds. As if that wasn’t hard enough, we lost marks if the golden blanket was soiled with any flecks of brown or – like a Victorian showing her ankle, was crass enough to reveal any filling. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do it, but after making several dozen I figured it out. Here are my tips from the trenches: – Have everything you need out on the counters, ready to go (eggs, filling, topping, plate, paper towel) – Get your pan very hot. The eggs …

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Monday Meal Review: France

THE SCENE I didn’t tell Ava on purpose. I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face. When I opened the front door she squealed and jerked her body to the side. She pitter-pattered her feet up and down in a “wobble-wiggle-squat” move, her bulky diaper-butt leading the way. This was her happy dance, like I’d never seen it before. She got so excited she actually fell over. She popped right back up, her tiny body shaking in a hysterical giggle-fit, and toddled out onto our front stoop in her stocking feet. Her arms were open and raised up in the frosty air. “Anya, Anya!” she shouted. There, getting out of the car, was her old friend Sanya (they’ve known each other since they were just a few months old), coming for our French Global Table Adventure. Ava spent the next ten minutes running around the house, shouting in high-pitched, giddy baby-babble, grabbing toys and presenting them to Sanya. She even grabbed the cat, grunting as she tried to lift it across the slippery …

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Grapefruit and Ginger Tart

Celebrate late winter with this French-inspired, bright citrus tart, featuring grapefruit and ginger flavored pastry cream on top of a spicy gingersnap crust. The candied ginger garnish is the exclamation point to this perky citrus dessert. I created this dessert for a contest on Food52. The flavor was so good – tart and sweet and gingery – I thought I’d share it with you here, during French week. I came up with this happy combination while playing around with a classic French citrus tart recipe in “The Cordon Bleu at Home.” The result is a far cry from tradition. While the flavor combination is unusual, the ginger and grapefruit really complement each other. Even Mr. Picky gave it rave reviews, exclaiming “I could eat the whole thing.” As you know, that’s a pretty good review, coming from him. SERVES 6-8 For the Grapefruit & Ginger Pastry Cream: 1 cup strained, fresh grapefruit juice 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger 3 egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon flour 1 tablespoon corn starch 1 teaspoon brandy (optional) butter, as needed For the garnish: 1 teaspoon finely …

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Serves 4 When I was little, mom made ratatouille all the time. We ate it hot in the winter and cold in the summer, but always with loads of garlic. She’s half Italian, half Hungarian so – naturally – I figured ratatouille was a dish from our own, personal heritage.Later, when I moved to France, ratatouille turned up everywhere. Who knew? Ratatouille is French, French, French. Most popular in the south of France, around Nice (one of the hotspots for rich and famous folk, on the French Riviera), ratatouille means “to toss food together.” They key to great flavor is browning the veggies. With summer on the horizon, I dream about grilling each ingredient and tossing together into a ratatouille inspired salad. Ingredients: 1/3-1/4 cup olive oil (as desired) 1 large onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, cut in 1″ pieces 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in 1″pieces 6 cloves garlic, sliced 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, sliced into rounds 1 small eggplant – about 1 1/2 pounds – cubed 4 roma tomatoes, chopped 1/4 tsp chopped fresh …

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Chocolate, Espresso & Vanilla Pots de Crème

Makes 8 individual desserts Some days are so good – so deliriously happy, happy, happy – that I cannot limit myself to just one dessert to celebrate, even if it is a fabulously good French one… Today is such a day because, when I told Ava “I love you,” she smiled big and lovingly, and gave me…. two… thumbs… up. She only just learned how to give a thumbs up yesterday, so I’m feeling pretty special right about now. In honor of her cuteness, we’re going with a sampler style celebration – 3 different flavors – perfect for parties, potlucks, or elegant dinners. The key to a good pot de creme isn’t a thick, creamy interior. In fact, despite the name, the dessert doesn’t even have to contain cream. It can be as delicate as a custard, which this is most definitely. Our version is an adaptation from Le Cordon Bleu at Home. Ingredients: 3 cups milk 1/4 cup heavy cream 3/4 cup sugar 1 vanilla bean, scraped 3 eggs 3 egg yolks 1 tsp vanilla …

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French Onion Soup | Teardrop Onion Soup

Serves 4 Do you need a good cry? Today is the day. Paris can handle your tears. Trust me, I know. All you have to do is make a pot of French Onion Soup. By the time you slurp your last sip, and crunch on the last of the cheesy crouton, you will be renewed. After my brother died everything hurt. The thing was, as bad as it felt, I didn’t really know how bad I was hurting. I tried to ignore it. To keep going. I didn’t want to look my grief in the face. It was an ugly, unwieldy monster. If I allowed myself feel the pain and actually let the tears out, I felt weak. On my brother’s birthday, the first one that came up after he died, I decided to wear all black. I was going to face the pain. I hadn’t even made it half way down the stairs when my foster mom called up to me. “Little girls don’t wear all black. Go change your clothes.” She had the thankless job …

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To like or to love, that is the question.

Do you want to tell someone you love them in French? “Je t’aime.” Do you want to tell someone you like them in French? “Je t’aime.” It gets confusing when you’re a geeked out adolescent, trying not to sound too eager when talking about the cute guy in your class. It matters less when talking about food. Or family. In fact, the French language has an important message for all of us. We shouldn’t just love our loved ones. We should like them, too. Makes sense to me.

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On dealing with nudity, hazelnut praline, and life in France – David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz lives a food-lover’s dream in Paris. His site is full of personal stories, incredible recipes, impromptu foodie tours, and insight into the blogging world. His gorgeous photography will make you hungry for brown bread ice cream, salted butter caramels, and strawberries turned into frozen yogurt. And that’s just the beginning. With David you can pick your poison. Want candied bacon ice cream? You’re in luck – he’s posted a recipe for it. Too tame? How about a scoop of absinthe ice cream? With recipes like that, you can imagine that he has a great sense of humor – which, I promise you, he does. As the accomplished author of The Sweet Life in Paris, Ready for Dessert, The Great Book of Chocolate, and more (check out his online store to see all his titles) – I thought you would enjoy hearing his thoughts on food, travel, and cooking. 1. What advice to you have for someone just learning to cook “foreign” food? Get advice from the locals. When I moved to France, I had no …

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Artisan French Bread (or diary of a bread-aholic)

Makes about 3 loaves My toes curled when I took my first bite of French bread – a baguette, still warm from the oven. Even years later – hundreds of baguettes later – I could not understand how my French friend, Julie, was able to restrict herself to one slice with dinner. Her entire family was that way – they’d had good bread their entire lives. I was unable to be so moderate. Entire baguettes could disappear into my belly in an afternoon. I gained 15 pounds living in Paris, around the skinniest girls in the world. In college I wrote a hundred pages all about the history of artisan bread in France. I was obsessed. The good news is I learned how to make pretty awesome bread at home. It takes 3 days, but each step is easy. There are two things which make French bread so amazing. 1) Flavor: Mixing the yeast with a little flour and water ahead of time gives a big flavor boost. This is called a poolish or preferment. Slow and cool yeast …

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