Vive la France! 7 Simple French Recipes Anyone Can Make
The names are fancy, but don’t let that fool you. French food doesn’t have to be overly complicated and can be made at home just like Italian, American, Greek, or whatever style you normally gravitate to. What exactly does “French food” entail for the at-home chef? In an interview with French Food Revolution, Laura Calder — who hosts French Food at Home on the Cooking Channel – said that French food is not always about heavy dishes and old-fashioned methods.
“It’s not as foreign as people think. It’s got a real style, but at the same time they use ingredients that I grew up with: apples, carrots, potatoes, milk, cream, eggs,” Calder said of cooking French at home. “I think that makes it really appealing; you can do something that’s different from, you know, English or American cuisine, but it’s very accessible.” With that in mind, it is time to roll up your sleeves and head to the kitchen. We’ve got seven recipes that are simple to make, wonderful to taste, and of course, French.
1. Roasted Lemon Chicken
Lemon and herbs give Good Housekeeping‘s chicken all the flavor it needs. Tarragon is a mainstay of French cooking; the BBC says that the strong aniseed flavoring in the herb make it perfect for chicken. Fresh has the best flavor, but if that is not available, dried tarragon will work as well.
- 1 (3½-pound) chicken
- 3 lemons
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or softened butter
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove bag with giblets and neck from chicken cavity; discard or reserve for another use. Place chicken, breast side up, on rack in small roasting pan (13 x 9).
From 1 lemon, grate 1 teaspoon peel. Place peel in small bowl; stir in chives, tarragon, and olive oil. With fingertips, gently separate skin from meat on chicken breast. Rub herb mixture on meat under skin. Cut all lemons into quarters. Place quarters from grated lemon inside chicken cavity; reserve remaining lemon quarters. Tie legs together with string. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.
Roast chicken 30 minutes. Add reserved lemon quarters to pan, tossing with juices. Roast chicken 30 minutes longer or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with tip of knife and the temperature on meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
When chicken is done, lift from roasting pan and tilt slightly to allow juices inside cavity to run into roasting pan. Place chicken on platter. With slotted spoon, transfer lemon wedges to platter with chicken. Let chicken stand 10 minutes to allow juices to set for easier carving. Skim and discard fat from pan juices. Serve chicken with roasted lemon wedges and pan juices.
2. French Onion Soup
Popular in restaurants across the country, French onion soup is probably something you have encountered throughout your life. With this recipe from Tyler Florence and Food Network, you can make it at home. Only use a wine you would drink — especially since you’ll have half the bottle left over!
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 4 onions, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup red wine, about ½ bottle
- 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 quarts beef broth
- 1 baguette, sliced
- ½ pound grated Gruyere
Directions: Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste, with salt and pepper.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.
Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with two slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.
3. Pommes De Terre a la Boulangère: Potatoes a la Bakery
Call this dish from Laura Calder via the Cooking Channel “Pommes De Terre a la Boulangère” when you serve it to family, friends, or guests, and it will sound as if you spent hours slaving away with dozens of ingredients. In reality, it is just a few ingredients paired together for a crispy, rich side dish that serves six.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 onions, sliced
- 2 pounds potatoes, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 2 cups beef stock
Directions: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt half the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan, and gently fry the onions until soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Spread half the onions in the bottom of a casserole. Lay a layer of sliced potatoes on top, season with salt and pepper, and scatter with thyme leaves. Build another layer of onions, then a final one of potatoes, and finally pour over the stock. Cover the pan with foil and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed, 2 to 3 hours, removing the foil for the last hour if you like a crisp top.
Soup and salad will never be quite the same after making Bon Appétit’s croque-monsieur on Epicurious. Make this grilled ham and cheese sandwich when you want a break from a plain ham and cheese, or are looking for a little something extra from your usual grilled cheese.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 slices firm white sandwich bread
- 4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
- 4 ounces sliced Gruyère cheese
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- ¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
Directions: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add nutmeg and bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler. Place two bread slices on work surface. Top each with half of ham and sliced Gruyère. Top with remaining bread. Heat heavy large skillet over low heat. Brush sandwiches with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Add to skillet and cook until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to small baking sheet. Spoon sauce, then grated cheese over sandwiches. Broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
5. Bacon and Leek Quiche
According to Food & Wine, quiche was one of Julia Child’s favorite foods. If you want to enjoy this quiche for breakfast, but don’t want to wake up early to get it going, it can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight. Simply warm it in the oven before serving.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water
- 1 pound thickly sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch dice
- 3 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
- salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2½ cups heavy cream or half-and-half
Directions: In a food processor, pulse the 2 1/2 cups of flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and ice water and pulse until the pastry is moistened. Turn the pastry out onto a floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until smooth. Pat the pastry into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a floured surface, roll 1 disk of the pastry to a 12-inch round. Ease the pastry into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom without stretching. Trim the excess and use it to patch any holes. Refrigerate the tart shell for 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pastry.
Line the tart shells with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shells for 30 minutes, just until dry. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake the crusts for about 15 minutes longer, until they are dry and golden. Transfer the tart pans to 2 sturdy baking sheets.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain the bacon, leaving 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the leeks and thyme to the skillet, season with salt and white pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the bacon and cheese.
Divide the bacon-and-leek filling between the tart shells. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the egg yolks and heavy cream. Season lightly with salt and white pepper. Pour the custard into the tart shells and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through for even baking, until puffed and lightly browned. Transfer the quiches to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove the rings, cut the quiches into wedges, and serve.
6. French Apple Cake
Life is a Feast suggests eating this cake for breakfast, dessert, or as a snack — and we don’t see what would stop you. A French apple cake, like this one, will be light and moist with just a touch of vanilla flavoring and plenty of apples. When selecting an apple variety, pick one that is crisp and will retain its flavor during baking so that its presence is easily recognized. Granny Smith apples are a popular choice in other variations of this recipe.
- 6 apples
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1⅓ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Granulated sugar (or cinnamon-sugar) for serving
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease (with more vegetable oil) and flour the bottom and sides of the cake pan, shaking out excess flour. Peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into thick wedges, about 16 or so per apple.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until thickened and pale, about 2 minutes. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat into the egg-sugar mixture in three or four additions, beating after each addition just until blended. Scrape down the sides. The batter should be thick and creamy. Add the oil, the milk, and vanilla, and beat just until well blended. The batter should be thick enough to leave ribbon trails when the beaters are lifted.
Reserve the slices from one apple and then place all of the remaining apple slices in the pan in concentric circles, filling the bottom of the pan from edges to center and then continuing; this might make two layers of apples. Pour the batter onto the apple slices in the cake pan, spreading the batter evenly. Gently lay the reserved apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter and press just to settle into the batter, not submerging them.
Bake the cake in the preheated oven for about 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown and the cake is set in the center. Use a tester to check that no more raw batter remains. If the cake browns too quickly, simply lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of the cake while it continues baking.
7. Dessert Crepes
Crepes can be prepared to be sweet or savory, and these dessert crepes from AllRecipes.com are in the style of the former. With the basic crepe recipe down, you can then move on to your fillings and toppings. You can keep it simple, with fruits and whipped cream, or get creative by adding different sauces and spreads to your crepe. You’ll get eight crepes out of this recipe, so experiment as much or as little as you’d like.
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1⅓ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
Directions: In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, flour, sugar, and salt until smooth. Heat a medium-sized skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Grease pan with a small amount of butter or oil applied with a brush or paper towel. Using a serving spoon or small ladle, spoon about 3 tablespoons crepe batter into hot pan, tilting the pan so that bottom surface is evenly coated. Cook over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.