When I think about classic culinary techniques, French cuisine is in the forefront of my thoughts. After all, we always hear and read the phrase “classically French trained chef.” When I think about preparing dinner for my family during the week, French cuisine doesn’t always jump out first unless I’m making a quiche. We often think of French food as fussy, time consuming and not conducive to weeknight meals.
In comes Michel Roux, Jr. with The French Kitchen: 200 Recipes from the Master of French Cooking to demystify French cooking. In his opening line he states “In a French home, the kitchen is the heart and soul of the house.” I believe that is true for any home where a cook resides. “Food in France has always been about much more than mere sustenance,” Roux states. The French are about technique, details and presentation. In The French Kitchen he delivers his favorite recipes – classic recipes for us to hone our skills to bring the cooking of France into our homes wherever they may be.
The title is organized as follows Soup, Terrines and pâtés, Eggs and cheese, Fish and shellfish, Chicken, duck and game birds, Meat, Vegetables and salads, Desserts, Bread and croissants and, finally, Stocks and sauces. The book is a veritable at-home French cooking course.
The recipes are varied in level of complexity and time commitment. The novice can start slow without being discouraged and the experienced cook can dive in and be challenged. Most experienced cooks enjoy books that challenge our abilities and hone our skills – I do. I don’t need another recipe for baked chicken but a recipe for Baton Royal – stuffed butter rolls filled with tender chicken cubes and truffles – come to mama.
The chapter on soups may be the most approachable for busy or beginning cooks. The recipes have relatively short lists of ingredients and are big on flavor. Beer Soup with Cheese and Ham Kebabs, Cream of Carrot, Garlic and Sage Soup and a Lyonnaise Onion Soup all look incredibly easy and delicious. The weekend might be the time to try some of the more labor intensive dishes in other chapters such as Chicken with Crayfish and Fried Eggs, Bread Charlotte with Confit Duck or Braised Shoulder of Wild Boar with Peppered Cassis Sauce. The braised shoulder looks spectacular and I will be trying it with a pork shoulder in lieu of wild boar as I haven’t seen that in the meat department here in Colorado.
The French Kitchen is worth the cost of the book if only for the Desserts and Bread and croissants chapters. From Pear and Almond Tart, Chocolate Marquise, Layered Butter Yeast Cake, Floating Islands with Strawberry Compote – to Brioche and Croissants – you will not be disappointed.
I chose to make the Petits Pots de Crème because I’ve never made them before. Crème brûlée, yes, custards, yes, but pots de crème, never. These little cups of deliciousness were so easy to make and according to my son – “the best dessert ever.” I forgot to cover them until midway – but they turned out fine, just took a few extra minutes to bake. Even my husband, who is not a crème type person (he grew up with the can you had to shake to top your sundae) loved these little gems. I did make the Chantilly cream which is cream, powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla. I just ordered myself some fancy pots to make this next time – but for now my cute little Pyrex ramekins did the job.
The French Kitchen is a beautiful book – one that serious cooks need on their shelves. Special thanks to Michel Roux, Jr. and Weldon Owen for allowing us to share this recipe with our readers.
- 3 free-range eggs
- 4 free-range egg yolks
- 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
- 220ml (1 cup) milk
- 220ml (1 cup light) single cream
- 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
- 170g (6 oz) of bitter chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/ Gas 4 (350 degrees). Whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar until pale. Bring the milk and cream to the boil with the vanilla pod and seeds. If making chocolate versions, stir in the bitter chocolate now. If you would like to make some of each type, divide the mixture in half at this stage and add 85g of chocolate to one half.
- Then pour this on to the egg mixture and whisk well. Pass the custard through a sieve and pour it into little pots or cups. Carefully remove all the froth from the tops and put on the lids (you can use foil if you don’t have lids, just puncture a little hole in them).
- Place the pots in an ovenproof dish and pour in enough hot water to reach about a third of the way up the sides of the dish. Bake in the oven for about 30 mins or until set, depending on the size. Smaller pots won’t take quite as long. Traditionally these simple little sweets are served just as they are, but if you want to dress them up, pipe a little rosette of Chantilly cream on top.
Editor’s note: This recipe is printed courtesy of the publisher. The author of this review received a copy of the cookbook, The French Kitchen. No other compensation was received from the publisher. Links to the cookbook are affiliate links.
Many thanks to the publisher Weldon Owen who is sponsoring one copy of this wonderful cookbook for a giveaway, open to US residents only. Please check out the book on Amazon and leave a comment on the post – What recipe from The French Kitchen would you try first? – to enter. The rafflecopter has several options for earning more chances to win! The more you do, the better your chances. No purchase necessary. The winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond in 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.
Enter the Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Weekday Supper recipes are great for when life gets busy! It’s easy to find them. Search the #WeekdaySupper hashtag across social media or click here for more on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Weekday Supper Pinterest board for plenty more ideas and inspiration.