Cherry Clafoutis

One of the first books that made me fall in love with France and French cuisine was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table,…

One of the first books that made me fall in love with France and French cuisine was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table, laden with good food and plenty of local wine. It made me want to go and be a part of it all. In fact, there are two empty seats at that table, and I’d like one of them.

Cherry clafoutis recipe

Unlike a lot of chef books, this isn’t “aspirational” cooking, that is, pictures and recipes of foods that you could never hope to make. I recently got a book by a much-admired chef and I wanted to share a recipe. But there was only one recipe in the book that could be made in less than a day, and each recipe had at least one ingredient that I had no idea where I would get it. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the book a lot and his restaurant looks amazing, but it didn’t make me want to run to the kitchen. So I admired the book, and the food, from afar.

Cherry clafoutis recipe

There are so many pictures in Chef Vergé’s book that made me flash back to my past, decades ago, when I was learning more about French cuisine while cooking in Northern California, which shares a similar climate – and ingredients – with Provence. He had dubbed it “Cuisine of the Sun.” The much-loved chef recently passed away and I revisited the book, to relive what excited me about French cuisine, way-back-when.

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Chanceux

The other day, for some reason, the subject about the “decline of French cuisine” which had been much-discussed and debated about subject a decade ago, came up. At the time, books were written about it, a Time magazine cover featured a sad mime bemoaning the end of French culture, newspapers wrote articles bemoaning faltering bistros and wondering ‘‘Who could save French cuisine?’, and French television…

The other day, for some reason, the subject about the “decline of French cuisine” which had been much-discussed and debated about subject a decade ago, came up. At the time, books were written about it, a Time magazine cover featured a sad mime bemoaning the end of French culture, newspapers wrote articles bemoaning faltering bistros and wondering ‘‘Who could save French cuisine?’, and French television reporters rifled through the garbage of esteemed bistros and restaurants to show empty packages of pre-prepared and frozen foods that likely had been served to customers. The future of French cuisine was a subject of international interest.

People asked me to chime in on it, too. It was a rather loaded subject because there were a lot of issues surrounding any “decline,” but it was also hard to define – “What is French cuisine?” Yes, it’s Duck confit, Hachis Parmentier, œufs mayonnaise, éclairs, and Paris-Brest, but the new generation of cooks began recasting the focus of food in France, putting the quality and diversity of the ingredients first, and supporting local producers while taking cues from the various regions and cultures in France (which has always been the foundation of French cooking), rather than sticking to a codified script.

So I was excited when Chanceux opened in my neighborhood recently. I’d met Thomas Lehoux a few years ago, and featured him in Drinking French because he decided to improve the reputation of French coffee (another hotly-contested issue) and opened Belleville Brûlerie, a small-scale coffee roasting company that he founded in Paris with his business partners.

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Poule au pot

  King Henry IV of France promised “a chicken in every pot every Sunday” to the French back in the 17th century and things haven’t changed much since then. Chicken remains a classic French Sunday meal, as the lines for roast chickens prove at the markets and butcher shops on the weekends will attest to. People in France eat chicken on other days of the…

 

King Henry IV of France promised “a chicken in every pot every Sunday” to the French back in the 17th century and things haven’t changed much since then. Chicken remains a classic French Sunday meal, as the lines for roast chickens prove at the markets and butcher shops on the weekends will attest to.

People in France eat chicken on other days of the week but some consider it a second-place meat and for years beef was seen as the most luxurious and healthy choice. My first housecleaner told me that I needed to eat beef on more than one occasion, to be healthy. In recent years beef consumption has been falling in France, but I often choose chicken over beef, which Romain teases me about, saying it’s très américan to order it so often at restaurants, and sometimes call me le chicken man. But when I made this Poule au pot for him recently (at home, so he was happy), he said it was the best he’s ever had. And as you can tell, he’s a tough customer.

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Canistrelli

The last two cookies I’ve made on this site have been American-style, i.e.; on the larger side, with lots of flavors and other stuff going on. I like those, but I also like “quiet” European cookies, which are often simple, sometimes somewhat plain (like French sablés, or butter cookies), that let you focus on one or two flavors. Canistrelli fit that profile. Originally from Corsica,…

The last two cookies I’ve made on this site have been American-style, i.e.; on the larger side, with lots of flavors and other stuff going on. I like those, but I also like “quiet” European cookies, which are often simple, sometimes somewhat plain (like French sablés, or butter cookies), that let you focus on one or two flavors. Canistrelli fit that profile. Originally from Corsica, Canistrelli are flavored with anise and made with wine, and sometimes chestnut flour, which gives them a husky taste, but it’s not easy to find unless you live in Corsica.

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Bostock

One of the lesser-known French pastries is Bostock. Perhaps it’s the funny name that doesn’t sound very French, as pain au chocolat or chausson aux pommes do, that’s been keeping it out of the spotlight. True, the name does sound like a Swiss bouillon mix and although I’ve read it’s from Normandy, I haven’t found any conclusive evidence of that. But wherever it’s from, the…

One of the lesser-known French pastries is Bostock. Perhaps it’s the funny name that doesn’t sound very French, as pain au chocolat or chausson aux pommes do, that’s been keeping it out of the spotlight. True, the name does sound like a Swiss bouillon mix and although I’ve read it’s from Normandy, I haven’t found any conclusive evidence of that. But wherever it’s from, the good thing about Bostock is that it’s one of the easiest desserts to make and doesn’t require rolling out any pastry, spending a day making brioche, or rely on any fancy techniques. It’s one of my very favorite things to eat.

Bostock was likely invented to use up leftover brioche that bakeries had on hand after they closed their doors. Bakers everywhere are naturally thrifty and this is a clever way to use up leftover bread, whether it be brioche, challah, or any firm-textured white bread, such as pain de mie.

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