Saturday, July 30, 2011

La cuisine française

Paris in July is coming to a close and I saved the best for last - food!  When I signed up to participate in this month-long dip into all things French, I joked that my French food knowledge was limited to cafe-au-lait, croissants and pie a la mode.  Howeveras I searched for recipes, I discovered that we eat more French food than we realized.

Haricots Vert a la Creme are simply green beans in a white sauce (bechamel) just like my mom and grandma made each summer when we had fresh beans from the garden.

Pommes de Terre Sautees would be called "fried potatoes" at our house though, technically, they are sauteed.  Saute - To cook over high heat in a small amount of fat in a sauté pan or skillet.  I also add onion.

Pate a Choux is the dough for creme puff shells.  I once made over 300 shells for a graduation reception (we stuffed them with a variety of fillings - savory and sweet), so I'm very familiar with that recipe.

Creme Patissiere 
is a basic custard like I use to fill the Pate a Choux or as the base for coconut- or banana-cream pie.

For my attempts at trying some new French recipes, I got ideas from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking  and Ina Garten's Food Network specieal, Barefoot in Paris.  My goal was to find recipes that were not too expensive (fillet mignon), too time-consuming (cassoulet) or that did not require too much oven time on a 100 degree day.  Here is what we sampled:

Ratatoulle - Eggplant casserole with tomatoes, onions, peppers and zucchini.  Great summer dish to use all the fresh ingredients from your garden.  We didn't raise eggplant or zucchini, so I had to get some help from the grocer, but still delicious.  (Recipe can be found on page 504 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol.1)  Julia suggests that, as the casserole is "strongly flavored" it best accompanies plain roast or chicken.  We paired it with...

Biftek Hache' a la Lyonnaise - Ground beef with onions and herbs.  Would most likely be called "hamburger steak" in an American diner.  Hamburger is mixed with sauteed onions, egg and seasoning, shaped into patties, dusted with flour, sauteed, and served with a sauce made from the pan drippings and either beef stock or wine.  (MTAOFC, Vol. 1, p. 301)

Roti de Porc Poele (casserole-roasted pork) served with Sauce Moutarde a la Normande (mustard sauce with cream).  Again, the meat is traditional - a pork roast, lightly seasoned, browned first then finished in the oven. (Yes, I caved and let the oven run for two hours.  Fortunately we were having a slightly cooler day.) The adventure was in the sauce which consists of the meat juices, vinegar, cream, mustard and butter.  Once the cream is added, the sauce is simmered for about 8 minutes.  I think I let the temperature get a bit too high and the cream separated, making for a strange-looking sauce, but the flavor was still ok.  Actually, we were disappointed that there wasn't more flavor to the sauce.  The mustard didn't come through very well.  (MTAOFC, Vol. 1, p. 382)

Crepes with Creme Patissiere and fresh berries.  Yum!  That's all, just yum!

And my favorite (well, except the crepes, duh!):

Herb-baked Eggs 
(Recipe from Ina Garten)

1/4 t. chopped thyme
1/4 t. chopped rosemary

1/4 t. chopped garlic
1 T. chopped 1 T. parmesan cheese
Combine and set aside.

6 eggs - yolks left whole, divided into two bowls (3 eggs per serving)

In bottom of individual ramekins (approximately 6" across), place 1 t. butter and a splash of cream (adjust to your tastes).  Place under broiler for about 3 minutes or until it becomes bubbly and brown.

Remove from oven and gently slide three eggs into each ramekin and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle 1/2 of herb mixture onto each serving.  Return to broiler for about 5 minutes, until egg whites are just set.  Serve with toasted baguette.

The size of the dish you use is key to the success of this recipe.  The ramekins I have are slightly too small, which means it took longer for the egg whites to cook, which meant the yolks began to set.  The idea is for the yolks to still be runny.  The eggs were still De-Lish!, but not quite what they should have been.  Guess I'll just have to run to Target for some larger dishes!  I hate when that happens!

This post is part of Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Paris in July is a month-long event sponsored by Tamara @ Thyme for Tea and Karen @ BookBath

Comments were accidently deleted and have been reconstructed as best I could.  


  1. by Annie @ButteryBooks
    Great post! I love Ratatoulle! I've never attempted to baked eggs in ramekins. I'll give your recipe a try!

  2. by TheBookGirl
    I love all things egg, so I am anxious to try your baked eggs recipe. I am off to measure my ramekins to see if they are the right size :)

  3. Pommes de terre are always my fave!
    by Nan

  4. by Beth(bookaholicmom)
    These all sound like great French recipes. I think they all sound good. The Ratatouille sounds really good.

  5. by caite
    Biftek Hache'a la Lyonnaise sounds so much nicer than hamburger steak. Would be excellent with some Pommes de Terre Sautees!

  6. by Rikki
    What a great selection of French food and dishes! I love Ratatouille and there are so many various recipes for it out there (my fav comes from Ottolenghi by far. It is cooked and then baked in the oven).

  7. by Joy Weese Moll
    What a fun exploration of French cooking! Very cool that you knew more than you thought! I made ratatouille for Bastille Day using Julia Child's recipe from The Way to Cook.

  8. Ah the food!!! As I eat my way through France right now I feel the kg's rising - but how can I say no? Yesterday I tried the local Occitane dish le boef en Daube - miam!!! Each day I have another pastry and always a glass of champagne or the local Rose.... Food is so important to the French. Thanks heaps for the review

  9. Oh I love everything eggy -- yummmmm.