French Recipes

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Crepe Cake with Butterscotch Cream Recipe

Mille Crêpe, also known as Gâteau de Crêpe, is a multi-layered cake made out of crêpes. I spread layers of butterscotch buttercream in between each crêpe and topped the cake with thinly-sliced candied apples. This is quite time-consuming to make in miniature versions, but you can always make large crêpes and cut the cake into slices as you would with regular buttercream cakes.

I made the cake in honor of La chandeleur (Candlemas), which is celebrated on February 2nd. It's originally a Christian tradition that celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple and also marks the end of the Epiphany season (Kings' galettes are made). I don't exactly know how crêpes became part of the French celebration of La Chandeleur, but I do know that they are an integral part of the festivities. There is a legend that says that on the day of La Chandeleur, if you're able to flip a crêpe and make it land properly (without it being wrinkled) in the pan without dropping it on the floor, you'll have a prosperous year. Originally,  prosperity referred to a bumper crop of grain, but with fewer and fewer people farming for a living, over time it's come to imply general wealth. In a way it's an enduring testament to the agrarian culture of yore. That culture has survived in other ways too; in fact the saying avoir beaucoup de blé, which literally means "To have a lot of wheat", is slang for "being wealthy".

If you want to practice, prepare the crêpe batter a couple of days in advance, cook a few, and try to flip them. It may not fill your pocketbook, but it's a great way to fill your tummy.


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Salsify in Butter with Capers Recipe

Salsify in Butter with Capers

01.26.10 by Jackie

Salsify in butter is a very simple yet tasty dish. I blanch the salsify and then sauté them in butter. A little lemon and some capers balance out the flavor. I garnish the dish with curly parsley for color and voilà, a delicious 5-minute side dish is ready.

This dish reminds me of the lunch meals from the cafeteria of my elementary school in France. It was usually served au gratin, but that's another recipe. Before you start thinking that my school served incredibly gourmet food, you should know that while salsify may not be very familiar to many in the US, in France it's down right common. The flavor and texture is similar to leeks or white asparagus, but less fibrous. It's one of my favorite vegetables, and if you give it a try, you'll fall in love with it as well. Given that this it takes about 5 minutes to prepare this recipe, you have no excuse!


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Veal Scallopini with Garlic Cream Sauce (Escalope de Veau Marsala) Recipe

If you're looking for Valentine's Day dinner menu ideas, Escalope de Veau, sauce au vin Marsala should definitely be on your list. Veal steaks are slightly pounded, dredged in flour and pan-seared until golden. The real key to this dish is the rich and creamy garlic sauce made with Marsala wine. I know, garlic on Valentine's Day seems odd. But food that tastes great will set the mood, and what doesn't taste better with garlic?

I paired the veal with ratatouille, but if you'd prefer a starch, mashed sweet potatoes would make a great choice. The most important thing when preparing a romantic meal is to keep it simple. You don't want to spend the entire evening in the kitchen! Veal scallopini is a safe bet, brings the "wow" factor, and is delicious to boot.

** Note: I've gotten some questions about the thickness of the meat. In France, escalope de veau is usually at least 1-inch thick. I think that Americans are more familiar with the Italian version of the dish where the veal is pounded very thin.


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Strawberry Mint Milano Cookies (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies) Recipe

February 14th is nearly on its way, and the color of these delicious strawberry-mint thin, crisp butter cookies is reminiscent of Valentine's Day. I'm planning a super romantic dinner for Lulu. I was home alone today, so I took the opportunity to start testing out some of the dishes to make a perfect Valentine's Day dinner.

Pink was the theme color I was looking for. I couldn't find strawberry-flavored white chocolate at the store, so I substituted pink-colored mint chocolate apeels and bought some strawberry extract. The sandwich cookies freeze well, so I stacked and stored them for Valentine's Day.

Unfortunately, after taste-testing the cookies I realized I forgot to make them heart-shaped! I was a little bummed out. If you're planning on making these cookies for your sweetie, draw hearts on the other side of the parchment paper with a pencil, and pipe the cookie batter along the line of the heart. Oh well, I'm sure Lulu won't mind!

** Note: The strawberry mint Milanos are pictured with tuile cookies.


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Ratatouille Recipe

Ratatouille

01.21.10 by Jackie

For most, the name of this dish evokes dreams of animated rodents scurrying around a Parisian restaurant kitchen. In reality though, ratatouille is a French stewed vegetable dish from the seaside city of Nice. I make my version with zucchini (courgette in French), eggplant (aubergine), olives, capers, bell peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes.  With the exception of the tomatoes, everything is fresh. I prefer canned tomatoes in this dish because they tend to be sweeter (especially during the winter season).

Given the abundance of fresh vegetables, this dish would be perfect for the summer. In fact, I make it often when the vegetables in my garden ripen. I also like it in the winter though, because it's excellent comfort food. The flavor of the veggies marries wonderfully with the herbs and spices. My family always ends up fighting over the "broth" at the bottom of the bowl.

Ratatouille can be eaten with just about anything. Crusty bread and rice are common options, but my personal favorite delivery device is a savory crêpe. However it makes it to your mouth though, you'll be happy it did!


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