My Five Favorite French Summer Recipes — for Now, Anyway!

Well, I’m back from my Spain/France trip. Wow—I basically stayed within a 100-mile radius of Collioure. Didn’t cover a lot of ground but I sure soaked in a lot of France: The Roussillon, to be exact. More on that another time.

Meanwhile, I’m back to my own kitchen here in Amerique profonde, and getting ready to enjoy midsummer produce….as I always say, you can cook like the French wherever you live, as long as you have great ingredients (and a great cookbook…).

I’ve selected five favorite recipes from the archives that showcase produce that’s available right now. Enjoy!

1. Cherry Clafoutis

My supermarket has Bing cherries in spades–and they’re priced as if on a fire sale! Time to take advantage, with summer’s easiest dessert.

Swing those Bing Cherries into a great clafouti. #SoEasy.

Swing those Bing Cherries into a great clafouti. #SoEasy.

 

2. My French Tabbouli

True. The French generally don’t use bulgar in their tabbouli (they use couscous). But I like getting those whole grains. This can easily anchor a fresh summer meal of cured meats and cheeses, by the way!

Tabouleh, olives, cheese, and prosciutto (or other charcuterie) = a fresh and light meal (provided you don't eat too much!).

Tabouleh, olives, cheese, and prosciutto (or other charcuterie) = a fresh and light meal (provided you don’t eat too much!).

 

3. Ratatouille—Of Course!

Every single ingredient in this great dish is in season right now (except maybe tomatoes….the best are yet to come). Take advantage. And if you’re not sure how to serve ratatouille, I’ve got you covered with this post on How to Serve Ratatouille.

Ratatouille....I used my beloved Le Creuset braiser, but a Dutch oven or deep skillet will do.

Ratatouille….I used my beloved Le Creuset braiser, but a Dutch oven or deep skillet will do.

 

4. French Green Bean Salad–Seriously Good

Good heavens, the green beans at the market look heavenly…..I’ve taken a few fist-fulls home and this is what I’ll do with them.

French Green Bean Salad Recipe with Caprese (or, if you flavor it with French herbs, call it Caprice!)

French Green Bean Salad Recipe with Caprese (or, if you flavor it with French herbs, call it Caprice!)

 

5. French Corn and Radish Salad

Yup–it’s sweet-corn season here in Amerique profonde (the only place in America to call it “sweet” corn instead of just “corn.” You see, we have to distinguish it from field corn…..that’s for the barnyard animals.

French Corn Salad!

French Corn Salad!

That’s all for now. As the parade of produce continues to march through summer, I’ll be in touch with more great recipes. Stay tuned–follow me on Facebook to keep track of what’s coming up next.

 

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Update from the Roussillon

"Everything's the same, back in my little town."

“Everything’s the same, back in my little town.”

I have to admit—I admire bloggers who can blog while on vacation. When I’m immersed strangeness and sparkle of where I am, the spell gets broken when I turn to the impersonal feel of the iPad screen.

Alas, it’s time. We’re having a heatwave here in Collioure. The temperature is 89°F, but according to weather.com, it feels like 96°F. It’s humid. And because les vacances scholaires have begun, there are many, many more people here than just last week.

Not that I’m complaining! Fortunately, we have a fabulous studio climatisé (air conditioned–and believe me, climatisé is a word you’ll want to know if you you travel in the south in summer).

And so, chers amis, as the heat of the day intensifies, now’s a good time to stay inside, drink Badoit (a softly sparking mineral water I love) and tell you about a few random things I’m finding.

1. Typical lunch chez moi during the heat wave when I don’t want to cook.

Top plate: Pâté de compagne and mousse de canard. Bottom plate: Jambon de Paris, rosette de Lyon, oeufs-mayo, roasted beet salad, couscous salad, carottes râpées, and (in the center) celeris remoulades. All from the deli (or supermaket).

Top plate: Pâté de compagne and mousse de canard. Bottom plate: Jambon de Paris, rosette de Lyon, oeufs-mayo, roasted beet salad, couscous salad, carottes râpées, and (in the center) celeris remoulades. All from the deli (or supermaket).

 2. Every day, an afternoon coffee or an evening apéritif at Les Templiers, a bar filled with paintings from early 20th-century artists who loved Collioure for its light, and paid the hotel owner in paintings. Picasso stayed here (though these days, they don’t exhibit the Picassos, after one was stolen a while back). Still, the other paintings are engaging testaments to the enduring light and color of this great town.

Mr. Sportcoat (sans sportcoat) at my favorite bar in the world: Les Templiers.

Mr. Sportcoat (sans sportcoat) at my favorite bar in the world: Les Templiers.

 3. My little secret: J’adore French supermarket desserts.

Some are better than others, but the caramel pot-de-crème is divine!

Some are better than others, but the caramel pot-de-crème is divine!

 

4. Strangest thing I’ve seen at the market:

Seriously? Chery Love Show? Please, leave the U.S. out of it! And is it really for kids? I don't get it--at all!

Seriously? Chery Love Show? Please, leave the U.S. out of it! And is it really for kids? I don’t get it–at all!

 

5. And finally!

A bientôt, my friends. Tomorrow, it's off to the mountains (Prades) to cool off (hopefully!).

A bientôt, my friends. Tomorrow, it’s off to the mountains (Prades) to cool off (hopefully!).

 

 

 

 

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She's Back—the Third Printing of The Bonne Femme Cookbook Is Now Available!

 

The kind of simple, everyday French food you'll find in The Bonne Femme Cookbook.

The kind of simple, everyday French food you’ll find in The Bonne Femme Cookbook.

Good heavens. The Bonne Femme Cookbook has been out of stock for a few months now, pending the third printing. Finally, it’s available…and just in time for the season’s weddings and showers, I might add. Find it on Amazon.

What? You don’t know about my book? To give you a taste of what’s inside, here are a few highlights that show what makes this book a little different than many other French cookbooks. In short, it’s about modern simplicity—the French demand a great meal at the end of the day, but—these days—they don’t have any more time to cook than we do. This book shows how they dine well, without spending all day in the kitchen.

1. Les Salads

More than 30 ways to serve fresh vegetables—either before, with, or after your main course. Or as the main course itself.

Just one of the many appetite-rousing ways to kick off dinner, French-style: Endive Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese.

Just one of the many appetite-rousing ways to kick off dinner, French-style: Endive Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese in a light, lemony dressing.

2. Sauté, Deglaze, and Serve

This is, quite possibly, my favorite chapter in the book. Every recipe is a variation on a theme: You sauté the night’s meat in a skillet; then, you make a quick pan sauce by stirring wine into the tasty browned bits left into the skillet. Add a few defining touches–apples, grapes, or olives here, celery root or morels there, and fresh herbs almost everywhere–and there you have it: A 30-minute dinner at its true-to-France best. There are 36 recipes that follow this simple technique.

Use crème fraîche to finish a pan sauce. Unlike sour cream, crème fraîche will not curdle over high heat or when it’s melded into wine. Photo by D.E. Smith

Chicken Calvados: One of 36 recipes in the Sauté-Deglaze-Serve chapter: 30-minute cooking at its true-to-France best.

 3. Stew, Roast, Braise

So many great French recipes call for braising, stewing, or roasting meat, often as a way to turn less-expensive cuts into bold and succulent dishes—from Beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin, to Beef Stew Provençal and Basque-Style Chicken.

Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil Sauce. One of my favorites in the "Stew, Roast, Braise" chapter.

Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil Sauce. One of my favorites in the “Stew, Roast, Braise” chapter.

4. Eggs and Cheese

Omelets, quiches, baked eggs, soufflés, crêpes—seriously, does anyone know how to turn a few eggs into a gratifying meal better than the French? Also learn the ins and outs of serving great French cheeses.

How to serve a great cheese course. Just one of the many topics in the Eggs and Cheese chapter.

How to serve a great cheese course. Just one of the many topics in the Eggs and Cheese chapter.

5. Desserts

While you’ll find a few pastry-shop favorites, most of the recipes reflect the kinds of desserts that the French home cook truly makes for the family and friends—simple upside-down cakes, crêpes, custard-based desserts, clever ice cream combos, and other chic, satisfying ways to end any night’s dinner simply and sweetly.

Chocolate Pound Cake....an update of the classic French "Quatre Quarts."

Chocolate Pound Cake….an update of the classic French “Quatre Quarts.” I love the fact that this rich, moist cake freezes beautifully.

There are many other chapters, of course, including appetizers, soups, casseroles and pasta, side dishes, and sandwiches and savory tarts….

Also note that while my book doesn’t have photographs, it has irresistible French drawings, like these:

One of the illustrations in my book by the wonderful Nishan Akgulian.

One of the illustrations in my book by the wonderful Nishan Akgulian.

Find more information about the book on the About the Book page.

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