Read these 24 Public Service site: French Cuisine (Tips) Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about French Cuisine tips and hundreds of other topics.
French civet generally is a dish made of hare, red wine and the sauce of the animal's blood. However, it's possible to cook a simpler dish using rabbit marinated in wine, garlic and peppercorns. The recipe preparation is rather complex - the ingredient list alone can give you an idea:
1 Carrot, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
2 Whole cloves of garlic
1 Bouquet garni *
1 pt Dry red wine
3 tb Cognac
1 tb Vegetable oil
3 oz Butter + 1 oz melted butter
3 tb Flour
2 lb red or white potatoes
36 Pickling onions
1 tb Sugar
5 oz Green bacon **
1 tb Olive oil
8 oz large mushrooms
3 white bread crusts
3 tb Chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
* Bouquet garni consists of herbs including parsley, thyme, and bay leaf that are put into a cheesecloth bag to infuse flavor to the cooking stock
** Green bacon is unsmoked bacon, a rather old term still used in French cooking
"The baguette symbolizes France." --Steven Kaplan, 1700-1775. I live in Marseilles and baguette are considered as much a part of Parisian everyday life as the Eiffel Tower. Notwithstanding, at six o'clock in the morning, at noon, at four PM - you cant help seeing people carrying baguettes fresh from bakeries, many tearing a piece off and eating as they rush to their meals, many biting right from the tow foot long crusty loafs. Not many of them seem to be overweight, by the way.
Here are a couple of tips how to tell a good baguette from not-so-good. The first thing to look at is its crust. It should be crispy, dry, and well browned. Other signs of a good baguette unfortunately you can see only after you buy and look inside. Are there enough holes? Is the soft interior (mie) creamy? Don' buy anymore from that bakery if you found too little holes and/or white flesh.
Château means "castle" in French. When used in connection with wines, Château is always followed by the specific name of the winery.
Côte means "side" and indicates the a slope where the grapes were cultivated and harvested. Different slops in specific areas can produce different qualities of wines on different years of harvest.
Fricassée is French stew of poultry, game, or seafood, which are first fried in butter, then stewed with mushrooms, white wine, egg yolks, heavy cream, and vegetables. For example, a basic Chicken Fricassée recipe calls for:
1 oz butter
2 tb flour
3 cups chicken bouillon or stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 parsley sprigs
1/2 lb mushrooms
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt, black pepper
Fish Fricassée ingredients:
500g fish fillet
250ml white wine
500ml beef broth
3 leek leaves
Salt, coriander, pepper, Liebstoeckl, Oregano
Fricassée of Clams Instructions:
Clean one pint clams, finely chop hard portions and reserve soft portions. Melt two tablespoons butter, add chopped clams, two tablespoons flour, and pour on gradually one-third cup cream. Strain sauce, add soft part of clams, cook one minute, season with salt and cayenne, and add yolk of one egg slightly beaten.
There are above 400 sorts of cheese in France. They can be made of caw, goat, or sheep milk, with or with pasteurization -- but more often than not, without. This means that the milk was not heated over 37°C. "This way, it keeps all its properties, although lose certain pathogenic bacteria which can prove dangerous for human beings", the International Cheese Institute explains.
The milk used to make pasteurised cheese is heated up to 72°C, for 20 to 30 seconds, which kill any harmful bacteria. Then, a pure culture of lactic bacteria are added. "Is it a crime to take the main bacteria out of milk and to replace them by others, which are selected and standardised in laboratories? Is it a good thing to add to this milk other synthetic ingredients?" asked Pierre Androuet, a famous creamery owner in Paris, long time ago. His question has not been answered yet.
Some say French cooking is about extremes. Some say French cooking is about traditions. You can also hear that French cuisine is about expensive restaurants or - about food prepared in the farmhouses, from native vegetables, fruits, herbs, local cheeses, milk and cream, breads baked from wheat or ray with olives, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and endless varieties of herbs.
Herbs are being used in all dishes and their use is quite opposite to using hot spices. The list is long - basil, tarragon, rosemary, fennel, chives, savory, oregano, chervil, thyme, sage, parsley, marjoram, etc.
Tip: if you would like to learn how to use herbs at their full potential, consider the book by Georgeanne Brennan "The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook. Fresh and Savory Recipes from the Mediterranean Garden". It can br found at amazon.com.
Bouillabaisse (from bouillir, to boil and abaisser, to reduce - together meaning 'to reduce by evaporation') is a traditional French fish stew or thick soup originating from Marseilles. The most distinguishing characteristic of a bouillabaisse is the unique flavoring derived from saffron, fennel seeds, and orange zest. A famous French food writer, Curnonsky, called bouillabaisse soupe d'or, 'soup of gold.' The preparation time is 1.5 to 2 hours and instructions are very complex . Cooking require special kitchen utensils but here's the list of ingredients to give you an idea of the dish.
3 red mullet, descaled
450g/1lb of monkfish fillet
1 x 900g/2lb sea bass, descaled
12 raw large tiger prawns
5 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
1 bulb fennel, finely chopped (reserve the tops)
675g/1½lb tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp tomato purée
1 small bunch freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 strips orange peel
500ml/1pt fish stock
2L/3½pt bottle mineral water
1 tsp saffron stamens
2 tbsp pernod, or similar
French Toast is just a bread slice dipped in egg and milk and fried; topped with sugar or fruit or syrup. Ironically, French toast is popular as a breakfast main course in North America. It is also popular in China. However, it cant compete with croissants for French breakfast. Here's one of the recipes, anyway.
French Toast Recipe
1 loaf bread, unsliced
6 large eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Mix eggs, milk, sugar, extract and nutmeg together with mixer.
2. Slice bread in thick slices, thoroughly dip into mixture coating well, spray griddle with butter spray and brown on both sides, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.
Pasta is often used in French quisine. There's even an opinion that the French (Provencale) way of eating pasta influenced Italiands. Here's one of the recipes.
1 tbsp.vegetable oil
3 yellow onions, sliced
3 green bell peppers, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 zucchini, diced into medium pieces
3 yellow summer squash, diced into medium pieces
4 tomatoes, diced into large pieces
1 tsp. dried basil, or to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz. uncooked pasta
Heat oil in large skillet; saute onions, bell peppers and garlic, about 2 minutes; add zucchini and squash; saute 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, and cream; cook over low heat until thickened.
Cook pasta. Drain. Spoon vegetable mixture on top.
This cheese dish is served hot and made of:
2.5 oz Swiss cheese, grated.
1 oz butter
3/4 o] flour
9 fl oz milk
4 eggs, beaten
salt, pepper & grated nutmeg
Prepare the bechamel: melt the butter and pour the flour in it, constantly stirring. Gradually add milk until well blended. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper; remove from heat.
Add the grated cheese and eggs constantly stirring. Pour the mixture equally into the 4 souffle leaving 1/4 of the cup free.
Bake at 350* F for about 25 minutes until golden brown, without opening the oven door.
'Herbes de Provence' is a mix of aromatic dried plants native to Southern region of France, the Provence. The mixture traditionally contains rosemary, marjoram, basil, savory and thyme, sometimes lavender. Thyme dominates the flavor and can be found in breads, meats, seafood, or pates. Here's a simple recipe calling for Herbes de Provence.
1 whole chicken
4 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups any vegetables, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Combine 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt; rub over chicken. Toss vegetables in a large bowl with oil, Herbes de Provence, garlic salt and black pepper. Arrange vegetables around chicken in a baking pan. Bake at 375 F for 1.5 hours.
If you were to attend a 16th century court banquet in France, you might be served Blancmange -- a thick dish of rice boiled in almond milk, with pureed chicken, toped with fried pork fat, and sprinkled with sugar. By the way, sugar was a common spice in main dishes until some 100 years later.
And here's how you cook Blancmange now: no rice, chicken, pork fat - sugar is left though.
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar or honey
White of 2 eggs
A few grains of salt
1. Put the milk into a double boiler, and when it is boiling hot, add the sugar.
2. Blend the cornstarch with a little cold milk, and pour gradually into the hot milk, stirring constantly.
3. Cover, and let cook 15 minutes over a good fire.
4. Add a sprinkle of salt to the whites, and beat them stiff.
5. Flavor with vanilla and over these pour the hot mixture gradually, and fold together.
6. Turn into individual wetted molds, or into a large mold, and let cool.
7. Turn out, and serve with cream, or with a custard sauce made from the yolks.
Gratin is a way of combining foods with cream, milk, béchamel sauce, or tomato sauce. It is baked until set with cheese and bread crumbs forming a crust on top. A gratin is different from casserole only because a special oval, shallow dish is used.
An example is potatoes, apples and pears casserole.
4 large potatoes, sliced
3 onions, sliced
3 unpeeled apples, sliced
3 peeled pears, sliced
3/4 cup butter
2 cups broth
1 cup bread crumbs
Melt 1/2 of the butter in a pan, add the onions and cook until soft. Separately, sauté potatoes in the rest of butter; add the pears, salt and pepper. Combine the vegetables in a casserole. Pour stock to cover, than add bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 F. for 1.5 hours. The stock should be absorbed but the dish should not be over-dried.
Researchers from University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK, compared the Southern French (Mediterranean) diet with the current British diet.
Overall the Southern French diet was healthier than British diet. UK dieters ate less fruit and vegetables, fish and poultry, and more sweets and chocolates, cakes, pastries, biscuits, and puddings. Interestingly, women had healthier diets in both countries.
9-inch chocolate layer cake
8 oz White fondant (icing)
2 lb Semi-sweet chocolate
2 c Whipping cream
- Cut cake into two layers and place one layer in a 9 inch springform pan.
- In a double boiler, melt chocolate and fondant.
- Heat 1/2 cup cream to lukewarm. Beat the remaining chilled cream; set aside.
- Combine warm cream with fondant and melted chocolate.
- Stir until ingredients are evenly blended.
- Beat the soft chocolate mixture and gradually fold in the whipped cream.
- Spoon one-half of the creamy chocolate mixture over cake.
- Top with second layer of cake.
- Refrigerate the cake for 8 to 12 hours.
2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
2 green apples, sliced
4 medium pears, sliced
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
In a heavy skillet, sauté apples in melted butter 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add pears and sauté another 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and sauté until tender. Serve hot or cooled, with vanilla, pistachio nut, or chocolate-mint ice cream.
French cuisine in Provence is very distinctive due to Mediterranean influence: recipes are spicier and seafood is being used more often. Provencal cooking uses very little of regular diary, instead goat cheeses are dominant. Garlic, olive oil, olives and "herbes de Provenceare" are the leitmotif.
Most of the salads are big enough to be a meal. Only the smallest salads on menus, a "salade verte" (lettuce) "salade mixte" (lettuce and tomatoes) is intended only as an appetizers. Lettuce salads with white goat cheese are served hot on toast or croutons.
Soupe de Poissons (fish soup) served steaming hot in a tureen can be rather expensive but it's worth the price. Other seafood dishes in Provence include but of course are not limited to:
Filet de Loup de Mer - sea bass is pan-seared skin side down until blackened. Served over a mushroom, garlic and parsley with a basil pesto.
Rougets grilles au Pastis - red mullet with an anise sauce served with baked garlic cloves.
Moules Marinieres - mussels steamed in dry white wine and onion, lemon, butter, parsley, and pepper.
What do we call French fries? Potatoes that have been cut into strips, soaked in cold water, blotted dry, then deep-fried. But did you know that the French call them *pomme frites* and deny the French origine of this McDonald's pride? The Belgians, on the other hand, consider pomme frites a national treasure.
Brioche is a rich yeast leavened roll made with lots of eggs or/and egg yolk and butter, is often served warm and can be stuffed. The crust is glazed before baking.
1/4 C. warm whipping cream (plus 2 T.cold)
1/2 t. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 C. flour
1 t. salt
3 eggs at room temperature
1/2 C. butter, melted and cooled
2 egg yolks
2 T. whipping cream
Combine cream and sugar; add yeast. Let it stand in a warm place until bubbly.
Put yeast mixture and all remaining ingredients in food processor and process 10 seconds. On a floured surface, knead by hand.
Transfer to a buttered bowl; cover with plastic; set aside until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide into 12 large and 12 small balls. Place large balls in 12 buttered brioche tins. Put a small ball in each large one, gently press.
Whisk together egg yolks and cream. Brush 5 minutes later with the glaze glaze. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce oven heat to 350°F.; bake until golden brown.
To stuff, remove the small ball and put in the pit some chicken or turkey salad or just about anything else, then top with the small ball.
Bisque is a thick cream soup usually containing seafood. It is often based on purees of vegetables and crustaceans and is traditionally thickened with rice and finished with cream. Here's a recipe calling for clams.
30 large clams, chopped, juices reserved
3 large onions, chopped
3 large garlic cloves
2 oz. butter, melted
1 tsp. saffron
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
6 medium. tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 c. dry white wine
1 cup rice
2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
In large pan, saute onions, garlic, saffron and thyme with the butter until transparent. Add tomatoes, wine and rice. Cover and simmer for one hour. Strain liquid into large saucepan. Place clam/tomato/rice mixture into blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in milk and cream, Tabasco and salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped thyme.
Alsace is bordered on the east by Germany and has long been a favorite tourist destination for Germans. Some restaurant there offer Lyon and Provence dishes but Alsatians have their own cuisine. As Germans, Alsatian cooks often use sauerkraut, goose liver, home-made noodle 'Spatzle', etc.
An interesting Alsatian Holiday recipe is Cherry Soup cooked for the Christmas Eve. It is made of 1 lb pitted cherries, 3 tbsp. butter, 1 tbsp. flour, 1 small wineglass of Kirsch liquer, and 4 cups water.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and warm water constantly whisking. Add the cherries and the kirsch and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry slices of bread in butter; place in the bottom of a tureen; pour the soup over and serve hot.
French vineyards started 2,600 years ago. The top of the line applies to French most expensive wines from precisely specified regions and with the rigid control including: variety of grapes, density and size of vines, alcohol level, and the method of cultivating and vinification.
The method of cultivating and vinification includes the choices of:
- the vineyard terrain
- date of harvest
- type of container for fermentation
- temperature of fermentation
- fermentation period
- type of container in which the wine matures
- age of wine
If you stop by the salt shelves in a regular French supermarket you'll probably be confused by the overwhelming number of brands, most of them being sea salts. You can find sea salt boxes picturing meats separately from poultry, fish separately from shrimp or crabs.
Sea salt is considered healthier than table salt, since it lacks artificial chemicals used in processing. True or not, gourmets think of sea salt taste as being superior to ordinary table salt, which tastes just what it is - simple sodium chloride.
It is advised to use anywhere but especially in salads to make lettuce and other vegetables crisper or in poultry or fish to "crust" the skin.
Provençal herbs are native to the Provence region of southern France. The mixture traditionally contains rosemary, marjoram, basil, savory and thyme. Typically thyme dominates the taste produced by the herb mixture.
It is mostly used for grilled foods and vegetable stews. The mixture can be mixed with cooking oil prior to cooking.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|