Traditional recipes

French dining: elegance without effort

French dining: elegance without effort


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By Max Shadbolt

I genuinely believe that elegance can be achieved without too much effort. Be it in fashion, the way one composes oneself, or the way one eats, I believe in elegance without effort. There is no country, in my mind, that epitomises this more than France, a terrace in the South of which I am currently sitting on as I write. I am at an hotel that my family have been coming to for three generations, and according to them (granted this is after a long lunch) the food has never changed. Why is this? Because the French believe in ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. I’m not sure what the direct translation of that would be but I’m sure someone will pass it along at some point.

There is a lot one can say about the French. Being an Historian there is an awful lot one can say about the French, but what I will focus on is ‘elegance without effort’. Take the menu from today, for example: beautiful, fresh seafood (I’m by the sea so can virtually see my main course when I’m having my early-morning dip) fresh veg, beautiful herbs and, for pud, fruit that is virtually still growing on the plate. There is nothing on the menu that makes my year ten French vocabulary strain at the lead – one just simply knows that it will be fresh, beautiful and will make your taste buds party like the Irish on Paddy’s Day.

My lunch for today: mussels – a long way from the scarily-named meals of cordon bleu and haute cuisine – simply served in a gorgeous meunière sauce avec creme (it had an actual name but it’s been a particularly long lunch), and a plate of chips (‘frites’ for those of you not associated with the language of Napoleon and that footballer who keeps head-butting people). Now don’t get me wrong, I adore the odd fine dining experience as much as the next French bloke, but can you honestly beat beautifully-prepared mussels in a hot, creamy broth with a few pieces of warm crusty bread for dipping? I don’t think so… And if you can then you either don’t like mussels or you don’t like cream; either way, this dish isn’t for you. But it’s the simplicity of the thing. From a country that do beaches that would make Constable turn in his East Anglian grave, and hill sides that would make Michelangelo blush, the French just do simplicity so well and with so much elegance. I have forgiven them for Napoleon, I will eventually forgive them for the way they serve Tea, but something I will never forgive them for is the way that they take fantastically simple cooking and make it sublime. The Brits have spent a millennia trying to make the Yorkshire Pud look sublime, and yet, nothing! We can learn a lot from the French; maybe not how to conduct warfare or how to look after one’s monarchy, but we can certainly take away ‘elegance without effort’ as the basis for our culinary expansion.

Vive la France – I never thought I’d say that…


11 Classic French Dishes to Master

Are you new to French cuisine? Does the language intimidate you and make the recipes seem out of reach? Let's take the mystery out of French cooking and learn how to make a few classic dishes.

French cooking is filled with flavor and there are a few basic recipes that every beginner should know. Many of those fancy restaurant recipes are simply variations on these and as you become more comfortable with crepes, tarts, and bisques, you'll discover just how easy they are.


25 French Dishes that are Better than a Vacation in Paris

I am sure that you are planning on celebrating by cooking some amazing French dishes, so I did the work for you and curated some of the best French recipes from the internet.

But the deal is: you gotta make them all! ?

So buckle up ’cause this is a one way journey to Paris. Au revoir!

1) Boeuf Bourguignon

There’s nothing more comforting and luscious than Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French beef stew made with red wine, pearl onions, mushrooms and bacon. Once you try it, this dish is guaranteed to become a regular on your menu!

2) Coq Au Vin

A simplified version of the classic red wine chicken stew from Burgundy. Imagine: Coq au Vin could be your new weeknight go-to meal.

3) Potatoes Dauphinoise

Out of all the ways to cook potato, this is one of the best. Potato + cream + cheese with a hint of garlic and thyme. Seriously, what could be better than that?

4) Cassoulet

Susan, from The View From Great Island, took Cassoulet back to its simpler roots in an easy recipe that can be made from start to finish in an hour. So no more excuses not to make this classic French casserole!

5) Lamb Chops with a Cognac Dijon Cream Sauce

Romantic dinner? Trying to impress your boss? These Lamb Chops will do. You will want to lick the Cognac Dijon Cream Sauce out of your plate! Tres Magnifique!

6) Chicken Cordon Bleu

All the flavor and sophistication from a classic Chicken Cordon Bleu in a healthier baked version. I’m drooling just by thinking of it!

7) Quiche Lorraine

Nagi took Quiche Lorraine to a whole new level by making a hash brown crust. You will never think of going out for brunch again when you can make this at home!

8) Croque Monsieur

The world’s finest sandwich is nothing more than a grilled ham and cheese. What makes it so special? Velvety béchamel sauce oozing out all over the place. It is mind blowing, really!

9) Croque Madame

What if we could take a Croque Monsieur and add a fried egg on top? We can! And that is called Croque Madame.

10) Jambon-Beurre

The best things in life are simple like this Jambon-Beurre sandwich. It is nothing more than a good baguette topped with European butter and great quality ham. It will be love at first bite, I guarantee!

11) Croissants

Who doesn’t love buttery croissants? They might be a labor of love and take a few days to make, but the reward? The most gorgeous and flaky croissants you’ve ever had. I say do it!

12) Lyonnaise Salad

French bistro meets comfort food! This traditional Lyonnaise Salad, made of frisée lettuce, tossed in a warm and delicious vinaigrette and topped with crispy bacon and a poached egg. Because, yes, salads get to be indulgent too! And don’t forget to get that classic Instagram video of the egg yolk streaming all over the greens.

13) Concombre a la Menthe

Real French food is simple, uncomplicated, and incredibly delicious. Just like this salad made of sliced cucumbers and mint with a fuss-free yogurt dressing.

14) French Lentils with Dijon Vinaigrette

This recipe is vegan, simple to prepare, and bursting with flavor. When shopping for the ingredients, look for French lentils, which are much smaller and a little darker than regular green lentils.

15) Gougeres

The classic French cheese puffs are always a hit! How could they not? They are made with Gruyère cheese! ?

16) Palmiers

These adorable cookies called Palmiers, or Elephant Ears, are a simple French pastry filled with sugar. You could also add some cinnamon for a slightly spiced version!

17) Caneles

To make these, you are going to need a canele pan. But since they are incredibly addictive and scrumptious, I am sure you will be getting a lot of use out of your pan.

18) Cherry Clafoutis

If you can get your hands on fresh cherries, you HAVE TO make a Cherry Clafoutis! A classic and delicious French dessert that can also be served for brunch. If cherries are not in season, you can make this with many other fruits, like apples or figs, for example.

19) French Coconut Pie

This French Coconut Pie consists of a crackly, sugary crust filled with wonderfully gooey vanilla and coconut. It is so sinfully good that it really ought to be illegal!

20) Passion Fruit and Lemon Meringue Tartlets

How cute are these tartlets? They are filled with a passion fruit curd and topped with a fluffy, marshmallow-like meringue. Are you drooling already? Because I am!

21) Pear Tart

This deliciously sweet and savory Pear Tart is topped with goat cheese and then drizzled with sweet honey and finished with a sprinkle of fresh rosemary and black pepper. Absolutely delicious!

22) Strawberry Fraisier with Lillet Chiffon Cake

This Strawberry Fraisier consists of a light chiffon cake flavored with Lillet blanc, fresh strawberries, and a sliceable pastry cream stabilized with gelatin. Isn’t it stunning?

23) Poire Avec Orange

A lovely version of poached pears, which is probably one of the core desserts of French cuisine. Amanda’s version is light, simple, and bursting with a mimicked marmalade flavor that is simply to die for!

24) Profiteroles

Pate a choux pastry filled with ice cream and drenched in warm chocolate sauce. Who could say no to anything covered in chocolate?

25) Mousse au Chocolat

The ultimate French dessert is definitely Mousse au Chocolat, or Chocolate Mousse. Simple yet sophisticated, airy as a cloud but also rich and intense. Everybody should know how to make a killer mousse!

posted by Olivia Mesquita on July 14, 2016 (updated July 12, 2019)


French recipes

Discover our classic French-inspired recipes. Choose from fluffy soufflés, vibrant vegetable ratatouille, dainty macarons, crêpes, French omelettes and more.

Blood orange & dark chocolate madeleines

Best enjoyed fresh from the oven, these delicate madeleines dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with blood orange powder make a delectable dessert

Steak haché with pommes frites & cheat’s Béarnaise sauce

A classic French recipe of bun-less burger & chips, that can be found in every brasserie and bistro. Kids will love it and it's easy to create together at home

French toast

Eggy bread, pain perdu or French toast – this classic breakfast dish has plenty of names and just as many options for toppings. We like it with fresh berries

Macarons

Edd Kimber, champion of BBC's Great British Bake Off, shares his expert knowledge for baking picture-perfect macarons

Baked ratatouille & goat’s cheese

Transform ratatouille into a bake with a layer of cheese sauce and you won't look back. It makes a great late summer dish and delivers three of your 5-a-day

Croissants

James Martin shares his recipe for this French patisserie classic. It involves some ambitious pastry work, but the end results are worth it

Classic crêpes

This basic batter recipe for crêpes and pancakes is a versatile foundation for either sweet or savoury fillings

Coq au vin

We've made this classic French chicken casserole a little lighter than the traditional version, but it still has a rich, deep flavour

Ultimate French omelette

The omelette is one of the most fundamental dishes in any cook's arsenal, and this recipe will teach you how to get it right every time

Tarte tatin

Dark and sticky caramel, sweet apples and crisp pastry combine to make this heavenly French dessert. And with Raymond Blanc's recipe, you can make it perfectly every time

Three-cheese soufflés

With a double layer of goat's cheese and a coating of cream, these bistro-style bakes are authentically rich


French recipes

Discover our classic French-inspired recipes. Choose from fluffy soufflés, vibrant vegetable ratatouille, dainty macarons, crêpes, French omelettes and more.

Blood orange & dark chocolate madeleines

Best enjoyed fresh from the oven, these delicate madeleines dipped in dark chocolate and dusted with blood orange powder make a delectable dessert

Steak haché with pommes frites & cheat’s Béarnaise sauce

A classic French recipe of bun-less burger & chips, that can be found in every brasserie and bistro. Kids will love it and it's easy to create together at home

French toast

Eggy bread, pain perdu or French toast – this classic breakfast dish has plenty of names and just as many options for toppings. We like it with fresh berries

Macarons

Edd Kimber, champion of BBC's Great British Bake Off, shares his expert knowledge for baking picture-perfect macarons

Baked ratatouille & goat’s cheese

Transform ratatouille into a bake with a layer of cheese sauce and you won't look back. It makes a great late summer dish and delivers three of your 5-a-day

Croissants

James Martin shares his recipe for this French patisserie classic. It involves some ambitious pastry work, but the end results are worth it

Classic crêpes

This basic batter recipe for crêpes and pancakes is a versatile foundation for either sweet or savoury fillings

Coq au vin

We've made this classic French chicken casserole a little lighter than the traditional version, but it still has a rich, deep flavour

Ultimate French omelette

The omelette is one of the most fundamental dishes in any cook's arsenal, and this recipe will teach you how to get it right every time

Tarte tatin

Dark and sticky caramel, sweet apples and crisp pastry combine to make this heavenly French dessert. And with Raymond Blanc's recipe, you can make it perfectly every time

Three-cheese soufflés

With a double layer of goat's cheese and a coating of cream, these bistro-style bakes are authentically rich


Opt for Backless Stools

In a French flat, square footage is often at a premium. Backless, streamlined stools such as these can be tucked away under a counter, promoting the flow of foot traffic and preserving unrestricted sightlines between the living room and the kitchen.


GRATIN DAUPHINOISE

Potatoes, one of the cheapest ingredients at any time of year, get the royal treatment when seasoned with cream, a touch of cheese and herbs, and baked to perfection. A welcome addition at any table, from casual backyard barbecues to fancy dinner parties, this gratin dauphinoise recipe pairs nicely with a lighter side of vegetables or market lettuces to balance the potatoes' creamy richness.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

7 / 16


20 Of The Most Stylish Rooms In Paris

These gorgeous rooms have a certain je ne sais quoi that will leave you craving a French vacation.

Oh, to live in Paris. In a city with historic architecture and cute cafes around every corner, the only thing that could possibly top it all are those effortlessly elegant interiors.

With everything from beautiful antiques to rich textiles and loads of global influences, let these 20 gorgeous rooms in Paris fill your daydreams (and be sure to follow these French interior design rules for chic style every day).

An adventurous Californian's dream pied-à-terre on the Seine contains a spirited mix of Parisian élan, exuberant color, and audacious whimsy. The master bedroom&rsquos sitting area has a view of the Panthéon the 17th-century French desk is from Galerie Sylvain Lévy-Alban, the 18th-century chairs are in a Travers fabric, the curtains are in a Veraseta fabric, the carpet is from Stark, and the gilded-bronze Pinocchio sculpture is by Hubert Le Gall.

In his Paris apartment, designer Christopher Noto gives free rein to his love of Asian furniture, artifacts, and handicrafts, without shortchanging classic French style. The circa-1910 dining table is English, the Louis XV&ndashstyle linen-covered chairs are trimmed with ribbon by Houlès with a Jim Thompson silk on the backs, the marble fireplace is original to the apartment, and the painting dates from the late 17th or early 18th century.

In the library of a socialite's Paris apartment, the sofa is upholstered in a cotton damask, the armchair is covered in a silk velvet and the slipper chair is based on a Mongiardino design the desk is Louis XV, the chandelier is Louis XIV and the 19th century rug is Persian.

In the living room of a Middle Eastern princess' apartment, which was designed by Jean-Louis Deniot, a sofa by Collection Pierre is upholstered in a Brochier fabric trimmed with ribbons by Samuel & Sons lamps by Paul Evans flank a glass wall sculpture by Christophe Gaignon, the cocktail tables are custom designs, and the walls are painted in Paint Library's Eucalyptus.

For his second home in the City of Light, fashion star Andrew Gn devised a soothing retreat to express his passion for collecting. A set of chairs by Carlo di Carli surrounds a dining table by Gio Ponti, a painting by Jonathan Saiz hangs above a 1950s rosewood console by Ico Parisi, and the lamp is by Les Dalo the walls are painted in a pale gray by Guittet.

For a client's classic Parisian apartment, designer Jean-Louis Deniot balances urban sophistication with 18th-century decor. The living room&rsquos custom sofa is in a Dedar damask, the pillows are in Nobilis velvets and an African wax print fabric, the Directoire armchair is covered in a Kirkby Design canvas, and the gilded console is Louis XVI the Gaetano Sciolari chandelier is from the 1960s and the Moroccan rug and painted-steel wall sculpture are all custom.

This modern dining area sits in a historic Parisian apartment that was gutted and renovated to the owner's liking. The Eros marble dining table is by Angelo Mangiarotti, and the Seagull chairs and light fixture are by Arne Jacobsen.

This dreamy French living room of designer Jean-Louis Deniot's Paris apartment evokes the outdoors with its sky-inspired walls and ceiling. The living room's Cubist lamp is from the 1930s, and the rug is custom made.

This bold sitting area of São Paulo&ndashbased decorator Sig Bergamin's Paris pied-à-terre combines color, texture, and pattern in one cohesive, stylish space. The armchair by Carlo Colombo and a 1970s French desk are paired with a Biedermeier chair the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball's Brinjal.

The living room in a 19th-century Parisian apartment screams glamour with its ornate detailing and gilded accents. The daybed is upholstered in a Lelievre velvet, the 1930s cocktail table was found at the Drouot auction house, and the gilt-wood mirror and marble fireplace are original to the apartment.

The kitchen in designer Cordelia de Castellane's French home is accented by wine-red cabinets and airy windows. Plastic reproduction Henry Massonnet Tam Tam stools set the tone in the room.

The guest bedroom in Bryan Adam's Paris home fits perfectly with the basement's rustic stone-and-plaster ceiling and walls. The bench was a flea-market find, and the bedding and pillows are by Calvin Klein Home.

Nothing screams Paris quite like the combination of black and white stripes with antique-inspired metallics in this apartment in the City of Lights. The master bath's nickel-and-brass tub is 19th century, and the chair is by Honoré Paris from Galerie Yves Gastou the wall stripes are painted.

In the worldly library of an apartment in Paris's 7th arrondissement, the 18th-century desk is English, the armchair is from Westenholz Antiques, and the desk lamp was made from a Ming vase the Italian mirror dates to the early 1700s, the Japanese wood deity is from the Heian period, and the curtains are of a Ralph Lauren Home striped cotton.


30 Easy French Recipes

What&aposs more French than a crepe? Especially a ham & cheese one. Make this simple, five-ingredient French sandwich for breakfast, lunch or quick snack.

Easy Coq au Vin

Traditional French dinner, made easy. Tip: double the recipe&aposs ingredients to make enough to serve at a dinner party. It&aposll be a hit!

Blini with Red Caviar

Wow your guests with this snazzy app.

Classic French Omelet

Photography by Christopher Testani

The French keep their omelets very simple—just eggs, salt & pepper and herbs. It doesn&apost need anything else to be totally delish!

French Profiteroles

This classic Parisian dessert is a petite but satisfying after-dinner sweet.

Green Bean & Shallot Salad

Make this quintessential French side dish to accompany any main chicken or meat. The beans are coated in a vinegar, Worcestershire, paprika and mustard mix, so they&aposre sure to be more flavorful than any plain old green bean dish.


Boiled Cow’s Head (Tête de Veau)

“For me, eating calf’s head is a must in Lyon—even for breakfast,” says chef Daniel Boulud about this Lyonnaise specialty. “It brings back memories of family gatherings and special occasions. We used to raise and slaughter our own calves growing up.” Instead of tackling the butchery on your own, have your butcher do the heavy lifting for you: Ask for the meat, tongue, and brain to be separated from the skull, but leave the skin on because, as Boulud says, “it’s not tête de veau without the skin.” Get the recipe for Boiled Cow’s Head (Tête de Veau) » Helen Cathcart

Dinner Party Menu

At 4:30 P.M. on most afternoons, Erin French prints out dinner menus at the Lost Kitchen. The prix-fixe tasting, which patrons drive for hours to experience, includes eight to ten courses that have come together just moments before and are “driven by the season, availability, and weather,” she says. In summer, that can mean fried squash blossoms with ricotta and herbs, buttered and roasted hake with cherry tomatoes and capers, and chamomile creme brulee, all prepared by French in the restored mill that houses her gem of a restaurant, in the rural town of Freedom, Maine. The space is as intimate and welcoming as the food, with wide-plank floors, eight tables, an open kitchen, low lighting and music, and flowers everywhere. “Attention to detail is the biggest deal to me,” says the self-taught chef. “I want whoever comes into this space to feel loved.”

That impulse to nourish and nurture has guided French her whole life. After learning to cook in her parents’ diner in nearby Knox, she went to college with plans for medical school. But with the birth of her son when she was 21, she rerouted to Maine, where she eventually returned to the food business as a caterer in Belfast. At 30, heeding “a burning desire to have something of my own,” she began a supper club in her apartment called the Lost Kitchen, which she and her then-husband grew into an actual restaurant -- and a big hit. But in 2013, French lost the business in a tough divorce and started over, moving in with her parents in Freedom. There, she cobbled together enough money to buy an Airstream trailer, and drove it around doing pop-up dinners in barns, greenhouses, and orchards. One day, while scouting Freedom’s former grist mill as a pop-up location, she realized what she’d found: a new home for the Lost Kitchen.

Now in its third season, the restaurant is open four nights a week from May through New Year’s Eve, and books up quickly when the reservation line opens in early April. (Its fame is poised to spread even further when a cookbook featuring recipes and photos of the mill is published next spring.) French employs a dozen women, many of whom also supply produce from their own farms. Since liquor licenses aren’t available in Freedom, French’s mother, Deanna, runs a wine shop in the basement. The group’s camaraderie spills over into their personal time, which means plenty of dinner parties on nights off. In the summer, French loves to combine simple grilled meat or seafood with salads and vegetables and then add special touches. “Maybe it’s burger night, or a big pile of mussels, or a clam boil,” she says. “But I will light candles and lay out vintage plates and good napkins.” The final detail: a few colorful wild bouquets from the garden. “To me, they represent girl power,” French says. “They make everything feel warm and inviting.”



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