Easy Regional French Recipes

Flognarde Aux Pommes

serves 6-8

This recipe is based on Julia Child’s recipe for Cherry Clafoutis in Mastering
the Art of French Cooking; v. 1
.(Knopf, 1883.) This baked
custard originated in central France’s
Limousin region and eventually
became popular throughout the country. 
The name Clafoutis refers only to the dish when it contains cherries; if
any other fruit is used it is considered a flognarde. 

Because it goes from the stovetop to the oven, it is absolutely vital to
have a baking dish that is both deep and able to handle high, direct heat.  I prefer to use an All-Clad stainless steel gratin
pan, but a cast iron skillet or a heavy-bottomed, medium sized sauté pan will
work as well. 

1-1/4 cups low fat milk
1-1/3 cup sugar
3 large AA eggs

1 Tbsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2-3 medium Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/3 cup sugar
powdered sugar

In a food processor or blender, combine the milk, one cup of sugar, eggs,
almond extract, salt and flour.  Let it
rest for 15 minutes.  Place a lightly
buttered 6-to 8-cup, stovetop-safe baking dish over medium heat and let it warm
just until the butter begins to melt slightly. 
As if you were making a pancake, pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter
onto the surface of the dish.  Tilt the
sides of the dish if necessary to get the entire surface covered with the
batter.  Cook until the batter just sets.
 Remove from the heat and place the apples,
curved side up, on top of the cooked batter. 
Sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar.  Pour the remaining batter over the apples.  Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes to an
hour.  The top will be brown and slightly
cracked, and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve
immediately.

 

Aioli Monstre

Serves 6 to 8

 

This is a recipe based on Richard Olney’s version of aioli,
published in Simple French Food (Wiley, 1992).  It is
adapted from a more traditional recipe which calls for more than twice the
garlic called for here-you can certainly up the ante if you wish, but be sure
your guests are ready and willing to partake. 
Enthusiasts insist that this dish be made by hand in a mortar and pestle
as it is in Provence, and I agree
that the consistency is more silken.  You
can make it in a food processor if you wish, however.    

 

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp. sea salt

1-2 large AA egg yolks at room temperature, whisked well

1-2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (a mellow Greek or French is
ideal), plus more if needed

Juice of 1 small lemon

1 tsp. lukewarm water, plus more as needed

 

Crush the garlic with the sea salt until a rough paste forms.  Add the whisked eggs.  Beat the eggs and salt-garlic paste together
with the pestle until slightly thickened. 
While turning the ingredients around the mortar with the pestle, slowly
add olive oil by drops: begin with about a tablespoon’s worth and then follow
with another dribble, also about a tablespoon’s worth.  When it is well incorporated, add two more
tablespoons in a slow, steady stream until it is well mixed.  At this point it should begin to get a little
thick.  Do not stop mixing while adding
the oil; this will break the emulsion that is being created.  Add the lemon juice and about a teaspoon of
the lukewarm water.  Continue to add
olive oil while mixing continuously. 
After every quarter cup of oil or so, add a touch more water to thin out
the mixture. 

 

If the aioli breaks, empty out the ingredients and add 1
more egg yolk to the empty mortar.  Add a
few drops of lemon juice, and add the broken aioli, spoonful by spoonful, back
to this mixture while stirring with the pestle.

 

Serve aioli with the following accompaniments:

 

Boiled red potatoes, chilled and sliced in half

Blanched green beans

Peeled raw carrots, celery and radishes

Hard-boiled eggs, chilled and quartered

Boiled artichokes, trimmed and halved

Assorted cured meats

Pickled cucumbers and onions

 

Olives Dijonnaise

Serves 6-8

 

The Gallo-Roman spice route that once passed through Dijon not only
picked up and distributed the native spicy mustard seed, but dropped
off some flavors along the way.  Cumin, fennel, coriander and chiles
are all seasonings that were inherited from France’s robust trade with
the east.  France came by oranges in the same manner, and they’re still a common ingredient in southern dishes.  This recipe was inspired by a visit to Jim Drohman’s Le
Pichet
in downtown Seattle.  I got to work the pantry station for one
night and came home with a lifetime’s worth of ideas.  I think it is fine to use whatever olives you
like for this recipe, but I suggest you try to find picholine and nicoise
olives to add to the mix: they’re authentically French, and totally
delicious.  Serve them cold if you
prefer, but warm is really the best way to savor these olives.

 

3 cups mixed olives, pit in

1 Tbsp. “fruity” extra-virgin olive oil, preferably French
or Greek

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp.  each coriander cumin and mustard seed

½  tsp. chile flake

2 strips orange zest, pith removed

 

Drain olives well. 
Wrap olives in a heavy cloth towel and gently pound them with a heavy
pan or the flat side of a meat mallet to break the olives’ skin.  Do not remove pits.  In a skillet over low heat, toast coriander,
cumin, mustard seed and chile flake until just fragrant.  With a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder,
process seeds gently until just crushed-do not pulverize. Warm the olive oil in
a wide skillet on low heat.  Add garlic
and orange zest and heat until fragrant. 
Add olives and herbs and stir well to coat.  Let the olives heat through until they are
warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. 
Remove from heat and serve immediately or let cool, store in a container
and refrigerate. 

 

Sole Meuniere

Serves 2

 

Though this dish is fairly ubiquitous throughout France, it is sometimes considered a specialty of northern France.  The featured ingredient is sole, and typically only Dover sole is used.  Anyone who’s been across the channel knows that Normandy is just across the water a tad from Dover’s white cliffs.  A traditional sole meuniere is usually prepared whole, bone
and skin on, and filleted at the table for guests.  This requires some deft handwork, a really
fancy pan, and plenty of patience.  It is
one of the most remarkable dishes in the French canon, not just for its
presentation but for its simplicity.  If
you read her biography (or saw the movie) you’ll recognize this dish as the one
that turned Julia Child from someone who “just ate” into someone who fell in
love with an entire cuisine.  Still, the
difficulty of executing it in a home kitchen is a little daunting.  This recipe is one that I watched Ina Garten
make on her wonderful show, The Barefoot Contessa.  I have followed it almost exactly as it was
published on the Food Network’s website and in her book, Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavors from Basic Ingredients (Potter, 2008), because it’s completely flawless and
built for the home cook.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. Kosher salt and

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 fresh skinless sole fillets

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)

1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. and have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready.

Combine the flour, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large shallow
plate. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat until it
starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and
place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2
minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the
other side. While the second side cooks, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 3
tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish filets on the
ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in
the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 2 fillets. When
they’re done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with
the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

 

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