Tag: france

The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

French cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, as evidenced by this easy recipe for this classic soup.

I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought in Paris more than 20 years ago.  I got it in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens: one of my favorite spots for coffee and a walk.

It’s written by French chef Paul Bocuse and it’s called “French Home Cooking.” It has the best French Onion Soup recipe: one that takes about an hour or less to make.

Don’t worry about making your own beef stock. Just buy your favorite store brand. Although you don’t need individual soup crocks it’s fun to have them and you can probably pick up some cheap at a dollar store or on eBay.

French Onion Soup From A Master Chef

January 30, 2014
: 1 hr
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Butter (2 ounces)
  • Onions (About two medium, peeled and sliced into circles)
  • Flour (About one ounce)
  • Beef Stock (or bouillon or even water. I’ve never used water but Mr. Bocuse says it works) (About 2 1/2 pints)
  • French Bread (Two slices per serving, toasted)
  • Gruyere Cheese (About 3 1/2 ounces grated)
  • Pepper (To taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (About an ounce)
  • Port (optional) (About 1/4 cup)
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan on top of the stove.
  • Step 2 Add onions, breaking them into rings. Cook until lightly brown or just starting to turn lightly brown.
  • Step 3 Stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn’t stick.
  • Step 4 When flour starts to turn brown add the beef stock and stir constantly. Cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in (optional) port about half-way through.
  • Step 5 In a soup tureen or in separate french onion soup crocks create two or three layers of the following: bread, cheese, pepper and sliver of butter.
  • Step 6 Add soup. Then top it off with breadcrumbs and more cheese.
  • Step 7 Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and breadcrumbs have browned. Serve immediately.

(Photo courtesy of Kojach via Flickr.)

 

Tomatoes Stuffed With Pasta Salad

Tomatoes Stuffed With Pasta Salad

Here’s another recipe from La Zucca Magica, an Italian vegetarian restaurant in Nice. We had another version of this stuffed tomato when we ate there last month that was equally as delicious and had curry in it. I couldn’t find that recipe online and don’t think I’d do a good job of recreating it either.

I found this recipe from the restaurant on the New York Times site. I used four very large tomatoes but still had too much stuffing left over, which wasn’t a bad thing. It was great to eat all by itself outside the tomato too.

This was a great second course in a three course dinner I recently served that included a first course of cantaloupe gazpacho with crispy prosciutto and a third course of chard stuffed with risotto and mozzarella.

Mangia! Or should I say Bon Appetit!

Tomatoes Stuffed with Pasta Salad

August 8, 2012
: 45 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for baking dish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons small black olives (nicoise), pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, preferably salt-packed (rinsed with warm water)
  • 12 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 or 3 marjoram or oregano leaves, or a pinch of dried
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove top third of each tomato.
  • Step 2 Scoop out some flesh and chop it, along with the top third. Salt inside of tomatoes and turn them upside down while you proceed.
  • Step 3 Cook yellow pepper in a tablespoon of oil with half the garlic, until soft. Break spaghetti into little bits and cook in salted boiling water just until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Step 4 Mix together the chopped tomato, cooked pepper, spaghetti and all other ingredients except mozzarella.
  • Step 5 Stuff tomatoes, first with cheese, then with tomato mixture.
  • Step 6 Put in an oiled baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes, or until hot. Serve hot or warm.
Meal Plan: Blending French, Italian, Old and New in Southern France

Meal Plan: Blending French, Italian, Old and New in Southern France

(Above: Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.)

Nice is in Southern France, near the Italian border, and so the cuisine there is a mixture of Italian and French. On our first visit we ate well and were able to pick up some great recipes: some that blend both cuisines and some that take classics and make them new.

Aerial view of the beach in Nice
(The French Riviera in Nice is a great summer spot with many wonderful flavors to explore.)

Three of these recipes we got from our favorite restaurant there, La Zucca Magica: a vegetarian restaurant with dishes so rich, no one missed the meat. Unfortunately, that restaurant has closed but I still have very fond memories of one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

 

Man sitting on a bench overlooking the port in Nice.
(La Zucca Magica, aka the Magic Pumpkin, was located near the port.)

 


Meal Plan: Mostly Vegetarian

When we got back, we had several dinner parties, including one with this meal plan:

 

First course: Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto. (Recreated from Le Comptoir in Nice)

A bowl of orange cantaloupe soup.

 

Second course: Tomato Stuffed With Pasta Salad. (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)

Tomato stuffed with pasta

 

Third course: Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella. (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)

Stuffed swiss chard.

 

If you want to have a completely vegetarian dinner, you can either omit the prosciutto in the first course or you can serve this dish instead: Patata Ball in Tomato Sauce (just substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth in this recipe). (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)

potatoes in tomato sauce

 

And for dessert you could serve this tried-and-true classic that has been enjoyed in Provence for many generations: La Tourte De Blettes.(From a recipe card purchased in the market in St. Remy.)

A slice of pie
(La Tourte De Blettes translates to Swiss Chard Pie, but don’t let that fool you. It is sweet and can be served as both an entree and a dessert.)

 

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto

(Above: My recreation of a sweet and savory soup I was served in Nice.)

Our trip to southern France last week was inspiring, causing me to want to recreate several memorable meals we had in Nice.

This recipe was inspired by lunch at Le Comptoir where I was served a cold, gazpacho soup made from cantaloupe.

Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto is often served as an appetizer but I’ve often thought it a bit clumsy to eat. You either have to pick it up with your fingers or use a fork and knife to cut through the slippery meat.

This recipe blends the two complementary flavors together and delivers the sweet, savory blend easily to your mouth via a soup spoon.

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto

July 28, 2012
: 30 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Cantaloupe (1 very large melon, or 2 small ones, peeled and cubed)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Shallots (1 tablespoon, minced)
  • Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
  • Sherry cooking wine/vinegar (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (preferably Kosher, 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Prosciutto (1/4 pound, thinly sliced)
  • Olive oil (2 teaspoons)
  • Fresh mint (4 teaspoons, chopped)
  • Black pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (one for each bowl of soup).
Directions
  • Step 1 Place first six ingredients in a blender and process until smooth (don’t overdo it). You’ll need to do this in batches. Place in freezer to chill while prosciutto cooks.
  • Step 2 Heal olive oil in a frying pan and cook prosciutto strips until crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn over as necessary. Drain on paper towels.
  • Step 3 Ladle soup into bowls. Place sun-dried tomato in center. Place four strips of prosciutto coming out of the tomato like the rays of the sun. Sprinkle a little mint and pepper over the top of the soup. Serve cold.