13 French recipes with Western twists
Want to cook like Julia Child? Get out your whisk! Here are 13 French recipes to master
As she recounted in her memoir My Life in France, it was "perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley... I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth... The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter... It was a morsel of perfection... It was the most exciting meal of my life."
In short, you should make this. It's unexpectedly easy: You'll spend 15 minutes cooking and feel like Julia Child at the end.
Recipe: Sole Meunière
To help, here is the precise but easy process that will have you whisking up a perfect soufflé in half an hour.
Let it puff up in the oven, golden and gorgeous, while you nonchalantly sip a glass of wine (Viognier is a particularly good pairing with the dish's eggy soul). Now you know you can make anything.
Recipe: Classic Cheese Soufflé
This recipe was inspired by a dish at Château Loudenne in Bordeaux, served near the big stone fireplace in the harvesters' cozy dining room.
Tip: Choose farmed Mediterranean or Penn Cove mussels from the West Coast of the U.S. if you find them. They're larger and meatier than the traditional blue mussel.
Recipe: Curry Mussels with Oven Frites
Choux pastry is just butter, water, flour, sugar, and eggs. There isn't even any tricky whisking. If you can make brownies from a box, you can do this.
Once you stir everything together, you're golden. Bake the rounds, whip the cream, and stack with layers of jam for an impressive dessert in about an hour.
Recipe: Cream Puff Gateau
Make it your Sunday supper tradition, with a sub-90-minute cook time that keeps it real.
Creamy, buttery potatoes and meaty mushrooms mix with bacon, a couple handfuls of thyme, and unpeeled garlic cloves (your fantasy French grandmother would want the dish to be rustic).
After you're done, squeeze the golden garlic onto slices of levain for nothing that resembles "garlic bread."
Recipe: Grandmother's Chicken
The Western twist? A thick lump of sweet crab meat. Take it a step further with a slice or two of avocado.
It makes a special brunch, but don't stop there. With a green salad, these beautiful Benedicts also make a superb light supper.
Recipe: Crab Eggs Benedict
In half an hour, you can whip out a pastry treat that rivals the finest pâtisserie (thank you, grocery store frozen section).
The subtle cardamom ― substitute cinnamon if you're not a fan ― adds an elevating note of exotic spice.
Of course, you could always raise it up a key, find even punchier flavors to make your irresistible beef stew more bewitching. You could, for instance, supplement your boeuf with smoked paprika, chipotle chile powder, hardwood-smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles, and an extra bottle of wine.
Then you'd be making this Smoky Beef Stew with Blue Cheese and Chives ― and saying how much more you like it than a regular old beef stew.
But there are syllables you recognize: blanc (white), a velvety cream sauce. Veau (veal), tender and meaty. Together: A dinner like you imagine yourself eating in your French farmhouse. Sensual, rich, sophisticated. But not fussy.
You can make it in a slow cooker and turn it into a weeknight treat. As long as you promise to eat it with a baguette.
Recipe: Blanquette de Veau
Recipe: Apple Galette
This preparation is extra special because of the slightly sweet, ginger-spiked sauce and the way the silkiness of the foie gras contrasts with the toast's delicate crunch.
The pronunciation may be tricky, but the technique is not: Skip the whisk in favor of assembling the thick custard in a blender, then pour over the summer's favorite fruits.
Our version features apricots, pluots, or plums steeped in sweet wine. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Recipe: Summer Fruit Clafouti
Your secret weapons: A nonstick skillet and a precise technique. It's worth practicing till you get it right, and we give you the instructions you need to create le petit déjeuner of your dreams.
Now, all you need to do is figure out how to fill it. Camembert and thinly sliced leeks? A handful of shredded gruyère? Crumbles of chèvre and sliced red peppers? Once you've passed this test, the possibilities are endless.
Recipe: Folded Cheese Omelet