Tarte Tatin

One of the most famous French tarts is the upside-down apple tart that according to legend was created by mistake by the Tatin sisters in the 1880s. Baking the cake upside-down helps to keep the crust crispy. The other success factor is the combination of apples with caramel. It sure is delicious and not that hard to make — the tricky part is turning it at the end.

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A few weeks ago I made a very simple Tatin cheat using store-bought puff pastry but without turning the tart. Many recipes for Tarte Tatin use store-bought puff pastry, but I’m quite sure that the Tatin sisters used more simple pastry so instead I made pastry dough from scratch. Here’s my version. You will need an oven-proof flat pan with a diameter of 28 cm (11″). Continue reading “Tarte Tatin”

Rabbit Sous-Vide with Mustard Sauce (Lapin à la Dijonnaise)

Stéphane from My French Heaven always has wonderful photos on his blog and recipes that are as simple as they are tasty. His recent post about his version of the French classic rabbit in mustard sauce was all the inspiration I needed to make my own sous-vide version.

Continue reading “Rabbit Sous-Vide with Mustard Sauce (Lapin à la Dijonnaise)”

Tian Provençal

When I saw Richard McGary’s vegetable tian, I knew I’d prepare one too. A tian is actually named after the traditional earthenware dish they are made in. There are vegetable tians, meat tians, and fish tians. I wanted to prepare a tian as a side dish, and so I chose a very traditional tian provençal with eggplant, zucchini, and tomato. Don’t let the simplicity fool you: this tian bursts with flavor anyway thanks to the slow roasting and the herbes de provence. I do not own an actual tian from Provence. For presentation purposes I opted to make single serving mini tians using small ovenproof dishes, but that did mean that it was more difficult to neatly arrange the sliced vegetables. Continue reading “Tian Provençal”

Jambon Persillé (Ham Hock Terrine)

Burgundy (Bourgogne) is a region in France that is famous for its wine and its food. Three years ago we went there for a few days to discover the wine region and purchased some nice wines. When tasting white wines, often a appetizer called jambon persillé was served with it and I remember it was a good pairing. And so it was not hard to decide what kind of appetizer from Burgundy I was going to make for the Burgundian evenings I organised. Continue reading “Jambon Persillé (Ham Hock Terrine)”

Pressure-Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon

Although I purchased my pressure cooker for making stocks, I thought it would be nice to try making a pressure-cooked stew as well. Pressure cookers are known as “fast cookers” (or actually “fast cooking pan”, “snelkookpan”) in Dutch, and in this case it is true because stewing beef in a pressure cooker only takes 20 minutes instead of 3 hours. Stating it like that is cheating a bit, because after those 20 minutes you need to wait for about half an hour for the pressure to go down. But still, it still means that you only have to start cooking 75 minutes or so before you’re having boeuf bourguignon and that is kind of nice. Continue reading “Pressure-Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon”

Burgundian Fish Stew (Pôchouse Bourguignonne)

Burgundy (Bourgogne) is a region in France that is famous for its wine and its food. Three years ago we went there for a few days to discover the wine region and purchased some nice wines. Most Burgundian wines are at their best between 5 and 10 years from the harvest, and since the wines we purchased were mostly from 2007 and 2008 it is time to start drinking them. And so it’s a good occasion to organize some Burgundian evenings to share the wines with our friends and enjoy them with some good Burgundian food.

White burgundy is often paired with lobster, but since Burgundy is far from the sea there are no traditional Burgundian dishes with lobster. To cook a nice dish to be paired with Burgundian whites, I had to come up with something using freshwater fish. Pôchouse is a traditional freshwater fish stew that is prepared with eel, bass, pike, and tench. The fish is poached in aligoté (white wine from Burgundy) and served with a cream sauce. Continue reading “Burgundian Fish Stew (Pôchouse Bourguignonne)”

Coq au Vin Sous-Vide

Coq au Vin was ‘invented’ to turn a tough old rooster into a feast. Nowadays it is hard to find such tough old roosters, and most Coq au Vin is made with chickens that have only lived to be about six weeks old. They do not really require to be simmered for a long time in red wine to become edible, and have a lot less flavor. Coq au Vin is still good anyway. If you are looking for a good Coq au Vin recipe for regular chicken, click here.

After I had discovered a type of free range chicken that is allowed to grow more slowly and thus develop more flavor, which reminded me of my grandmother’s chicken, I was curious how it would work when served as Coq au Vin. My parents were coming over for dinner and they had dropped some hints that they were curious about the “kip van tante Ali” I had found. And so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and prepare that type of chicken sous-vide, served as Coq au Vin. Continue reading “Coq au Vin Sous-Vide”

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is a prime example of classic French cooking. It is a lot of work, but worth it. “Coq” is French for rooster, and in times when people still ate roosters they were old and thus so tough that they needed to be stewed in wine to make them edible. Nowadays most chicken only gets to live about 6 weeks, so it is not needed to cook it like that anymore. But the flavor of the classic dish is so good that people keep making it anyway. Those old roosters had a lot of flavor, so this dish will benefit from using an older chicken like the one I discovered recently.

I have looked at various recipes online, most of them in French, and noted that they are all very similar. Chicken is browned, covered in red wine and stock, and then stewed until tender. It is served with sautéed mushrooms and braised pearl onions. Since Julia Child has been very important for introducing French cuisine to America, I thought it would be nice to follow her recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She made some adaptations to ingredients available in America, for instance she cooks the chicken only for a short time (because young chickens don’t need that long) and she blanches the bacon before using it (I think this is because bacon in America was — or still is? — too salty).

I believe the key success factors for a good Coq au Vin are: the quality of the wine, the quality of the chicken, the quality of the chicken stock, and cooking the onions and mushrooms separately and only adding them at the end. This will allow the mushrooms and onions to keep their own flavor. If you’ve never made braised onions before, I bet you’ll like them so much that you will make them again. Braised onions are very tender, flavorful, and sweet, and very different from raw or sautéed onions. Continue reading “Coq au Vin”

Quiche Lorraine (Quiche Alsacienne)

A quiche is a savory pie with a custard-based filling. Lorraine is a region in north-east France that has mixed German-French history and is called Lothringen in German. The word “quiche” comes from German “Küchen” (pie). According to wikipedia there are three types of quiche: Lorraine: with bacon (lardons) only, Vosgienne: with bacon and cheese, and Alsacienne: with bacon, onions and cheese. There is even a “Syndicat National de Défense et de Promotion de l’Authentique Quiche Lorraine” (National Society for the Protection and Promotion of the Authentic Quiche Lorraine) that says that an authentic Quiche Lorraine may only contain shortcrust pastry, egg, bacon, crême fraîche, pepper … Continue reading Quiche Lorraine (Quiche Alsacienne)

Sole Meunière

The best way to prepare really fresh sole is to simply fry it in butter. In French this is called Sole Meunière. Of course it is much easier to fry the sole perfectly in clarified butter than in regular butter, so I decided to celebrate my first batch of clarified butter by making sole meunière. This recipe is remarkably simple, but if you have fresh sole it will also be remarkably delicious! Ask your fish monger to make the sole ready for pan-frying. This means removing the head and and cleaning it, as well as removing the skin. Season the … Continue reading Sole Meunière

Boeuf Bourguignon à la Conor

I had not made Boeuf Bourguignon in a long time, but was inspired by Conor’s post to make it again. As Conor rightly points out, there is no such thing as an official recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon. The only mandatory ingredients are beef (boeuf is indeed French for beef…) and red Burgundy wine. Conor’s recipe looked OK and since he seems to know what he’s writing about I decided to follow his recipe, including using pancetta even though that’s not very French (but I like pancetta better than bacon). I was not disappointed because it turned out delicious and my husband … Continue reading Boeuf Bourguignon à la Conor