Liberté, egalité, fraternité: Happy (almost) Bastille Day! Sunday (July 14th) marks the anniversary of France's national holiday, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which began the French Revolution. While Parisians celebrate with fireworks and parades, I'll be starting my day off on the right foot with a pain au chocolat and a café au lait (and ending it with a glass of Burgundy or Beaujolais, no doubt). I thought it'd be fun to entice you with a number of pastry fun facts. Do you know much about these buttery baked goods, or are you just good at enjoying them? Find out when you take this quiz!
I like to think of pate sucrée — a slightly sweet, shortbread-like tart dough — as a blank canvas for whatever flights of flavor fancy are dancing through my head at that moment. Sometimes that means a deep, dark pool of chocolate ganache complemented by a slick of raspberry jam. Other times, lemon curd and a cap of marshmallow-soft meringue. But, more often than not, my tartlets get the classical patisserie treatment: a dollop of vanilla pastry cream and a crown of berries or sliced stone fruit. In that vein, consider this no-fail recipe a building block for whatever whimsical pastry creations come to mind.
French cookery need not take hours or involve persnickety techniques. Keep reading for five fuss-free options. We promise: these fast and easy dinners are ready nearly as fast as one can say "oui."
Similar in style to a classic brie or camembert, but milder than its cousins, Fromager d' Affinois ($18 per pound) is a crowd-pleaser and perfect starter cheese for even the most aggressive brie denouncers. Made in France from cow's milk, this wedge is buttery, velvety, rich, and milky-sweet — almost reminiscent of unsweetened whipped or clotted cream.
Keep reading to learn more about why we love Fromager d'Affinois.
Take your love of cooking eggs to the next level by trying your hand at a classic French omelet. If you've never had one before, the difference between a French version and its American counterpart is simple: the French version is rolled, and thanks to a light hand and a shorter cooking time, it also has an oozy custard interior.
The basic recipe — which is little more than eggs cooked in butter with salt, pepper, and a garnish of chives — is so elemental that perfect execution is key. Learn how to make these fluffy, silky eggs when you watch our video, then print out the recipe and give it a try on your own.
Did you ever think you could re-create a meal by a three-starred Michelin chef at home? Many of France native Anne-Sophie Pic's recipes are not for the home chef — unless one has some molecular gastronomy essentials handy — but her sea bass is comparatively straightforward, though admittedly not a fast and easy weeknight affair. Anne-Sophie left her usual station at her three-starred restaurant Maison Pic in the French town of Valence to take the helm at Electrolux's Chef's Kitchen at the Cannes Film Festival.
A table full of journalists was able to break from the cinema excitement at Cannes to sample Sophie's creations, which were also served at Wednesday night's opening gala. The party welcomed 650 guests for dinner, including members of this year's jury, like Nicole Kidman and head juror Steven Spielberg. With instructions on how to re-create the complex entrée, now Nicole and Steven (and you) can take a bit of elegant French fare home to the US.
Combine thick batons of slab bacon, or lardons, runny-yolked poached eggs, a sprinkling of minced shallot, and frilly frisée, and it's no surprise that the resulting salad is salty, sharp, and satisfying. Even better, salade Lyonnaise, as it's known in France, is gloriously versatile. It can serve as an elegant yet easy first course to a classic French meal or satiate on its own with the addition of an extra poached egg and a smattering of croutons or a hunk of baguette to mop up any extra dressing.
For a splendid and not-too-fussy meal, start with the salad at hand and a glass of crisp white wine, and pair it with lemon and lavender roast chicken, moules à la marinière, or a bloody rare New York strip steak. Either way, make certain to try out this can't-miss recipe.
We've got a partnership with the recipe, equipment, and product testing gurus at America's Test Kitchen. They'll be sharing some of their time-tested recipes and technical expertise with us weekly. Here, the simple baguette is adapted for the home oven.
When we set out to create a simple baguette recipe that could be prepared in a home kitchen, the test kitchen was divided. Everyone agreed that it should have a deep golden crust and an open, airy texture. Where we parted ways was on the question of whether you could actually create an outstanding baguette at home in a regular oven. Some were skeptical, but we were determined.
During the development process, we did find that there were just some things that couldn’t be simplified. First, to get the right flavor we needed to use a sponge. This mixture of flour, water, and yeast develops a full range of unique flavors that improves the longer it sits. We also had to put in some work to find the best oven temperature. Unlike many other rustic breads, baguettes cannot be baked in a super-hot oven, or else they form a crust before fully expanding. Putting baguettes in a 500-degree oven and then immediately lowering the oven to 425 degrees gave us a perfectly crisp crust and moist crumb—and won over the skeptics.
See the baguette recipe, as well as step-by-step instructions when you read on.
Whether you call them oeufs en cocotte or coddled eggs — both are correct — one thing's for certain: these gently cooked eggs are exceptionally simple to prepare, are great for a crowd, and are sure to impress with their natural beauty. When baked in a water bath, eggs cook reliably, and are easy to scale up or down according to how many mouths you have to feed.
They're easy to cater to one's tastes, whether you prefer your eggs barely licked by heat with seductively runny yolks oozing forth, or are more of the fudgy-centered hard-boiled egg persuasion. Just adjust the cook time accordingly (directions are given according to my preference, runny yolks). Additionally, while coddled eggs shine in their simplest, stripped-down form, they can easily be jazzed up with any assortment of toppings. Here I added a dash of color and fresh flavor with a sprinkling of minced parsley. Alternatively, try a drizzle of zesty pesto, a sprinkling of gruyère, parmesan, cheddar, or fontina, or a dash or two of hot sauce. Even better, set out a toppings bar for your brunch guests to garnish according to their proclivities.
Those who are passionate about potatoes au gratin seem to fall into two camps: those who prepare the dish with cheese, and those who skip it, insisting that cream, when reduced properly, imbues the dish with umami-packed cheesy goodness. Now, I'd like to say that I fall into the latter purist camp, but let's be real: as delightful as cream is, it will never hold the same place in my heart as a hearty helping of tangy-twangy Gruyère cheese. This version reflects that.
Cooked to perfection at high heat, this très Francais side is comfort food, elevated. It rounds out near any manner of meals wonderfully. Or, if you're feeling truly indulgent, make it the star of a meal, supplemented by a crisp green salad — your secret's safe with me.