If you have basic cooking skills, you can master a few easy French recipes. Impress your friends and family with some traditional French foods that do not require special techniques or a lot of preparation time. Impress your friends and family with these delicious - and fairly simple to prepare - dishes.
Simple Recipes for Classic French Dishes
Profiteroles (Cream Puffs)
Though people are sometimes intimidated at the thought of making cream puffs, these fancy French pastries are surprisingly easy to make.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a 2 to 3 quart heavy saucepan, heat water and butter and bring to a rolling boil.
- Stir in the flour and reduce the heat to low.
- Beat vigorously for about 1 minute with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball that follows the spoon around the pan. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Move the dough to a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon beat in the eggs one at a time. Be sure each egg is mixed in thoroughly before adding the next egg.
- Drop slightly less than 1/4 cup at a time on an ungreased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool for about half an hour before filling.
- Fill with ice cream, pudding, whipped cream, or custard. As an option, you can top with powdered sugar, chocolate syrup, or chocolate ganache.
Escargots dans les Chapeaux des Champignons (Snails in Mushroom Caps)
Snails or escargots are a French delicacy that can be quite simple to prepare. You may be able find canned snails in the gourmet section of your local supermarket. If you cannot find canned snails locally, they can be ordered from online gourmet food outlets and Amazon.
- 1 can of snails packed without shells (7.2 or 7.75 ounce size), drained and placed in cold water
- 3/4 cup butter (you can substitute extra virgin olive oil for part of the butter)
- 20 large white mushrooms, cleaned and with stems removed
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon all-purpose flour
- Black pepper or lemon pepper mixture to taste
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 - 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep snails in cold water for approximately 5 minutes to remove the 'canned' taste.
- Dry mushrooms on paper towels.
- In a skillet, melt butter (and oil if using).
- Sauté mushrooms and snails in butter over medium heat until mushrooms begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
- In a small bowl, whisk together wine, cream, garlic, and flour until there are no lumps.
- Remove mushrooms from the skillet and place them stem side up in an 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish.
- Place a snail in each mushroom.
- Add wine and cream mixture to the skillet.
- While stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
- Pour the sauce over the snails and mushrooms.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Place in preheated oven for approximately ten to fifteen minutes. Parmesan will be golden when the snails are ready to serve.
- If you like, sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Note: If you want to prepare escargots for family or friends who are not familiar with this dish, consider serving them as an appetizer rather than a main dish. Then, if they aren't an instant hit, other menu items will be available.
Tasty French Starters
- Vinaigrette à la Moutarde (Mustard Vinaigrette) - Once you've made this simple "French" dressing for your salad, you may never buy vinaigrette at the grocery store again. This tart dressing features wine vinegar, lemon juice, ground pepper, olive oil, and garlic. Once you've crushed the garlic and ground the pepper, you can whip it with a wire whisk or with a hand blender. Vary the spices and add herbs to create variations on this vinaigrette. Keep it covered in the refrigerator for several days.
- Salade Nicoise (Salade Niçoise) - Although Salad Nicoise is a salad, it is so hearty that it can be served as a main dish. It consists of tuna, cooked green beans, tomato, cooked small potatoes or potato pieces, and hard-boiled egg (topped with anchovies) arranged on a bed of lettuce or other salad greens. You can use canned tuna from your pantry, or you can grill fresh tuna for this delicious salad. If you do not like tuna, you can use other fish or you can substitute shredded cooked chicken for the fish. This is a popular dish during warm weather.
- Soup aux Oignons (Onion Soup) - French onion soup is very popular in the United States. It consists of onions cooked until they are caramelized, then further cooked in beef broth until very tender. White wine is then added to the mixture, and the soup is brought to serving temperature. This soup tastes great served with a slice of toasted French bread and melted gruyere or Swiss cheese.
Hearty French Meat Dishes
- Hiver Cassoulet (Winter Cassoulet) - Cassoulet is a hearty one-dish meal that consists of beans cooked in a casserole with sausage, winter vegetables such as carrots and parsnips, plus tomato. It is usually seasoned with thyme.
- Jambon et Le Chou-fleur au Gratin (Cauliflower and Ham Gratin) - This is another one dish meal, similar to potatoes au gratin. Cauliflower and ham are baked in a cheese sauce and served as a main dish. It could also be used as a side dish at a potluck or other communal meal.
- Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Bourguignon) - Beef Bourguignon is a traditional beef stew. The beef is braised and then slow cooked with the other ingredients. Pearl onions and mushrooms are added to the dish a short while before it is served. Accompanied by a salad and French bread, this stew is sure to satisfy even the big eaters in your family. This is a recipe where a slow cooker could be used once the beef is browned and the ingredients are combined.
- Bacon et Quiche aux Poireaux et Lardons (Bacon and Leek Quiche) - This delightful quiche can be simplified by using one of the excellent frozen pie crusts available in your supermarket. The slightly sweet flavor of the sautéed leeks is complemented by the saltiness of the bacon and the sharpness or the gruyere cheese. Similar to this dish is the ever-popular Quiche Lorraine.
Simple French Seafood Dish
- Moules au Pesto (Mussels With Pesto) - In this dish, cleaned mussels are quickly steamed with their shells on. Pesto is stirred into the cooking liquid where it creates a delicious broth. Serve this dish with plenty of crusty French bread to sop up the irresistible broth.
Versatile French Vegetable Dish
- Ratatouille - This tasty vegetable stew can be used as a main dish or as an appetizer and it can be prepared in a slow cooker. It is especially welcome during the hot summer months when its ingredients are both ripe and abundant. It consists of eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and tomato. It is seasoned with garlic and with a bay leaf. It is also delicious when served chilled.
Simple French Dessert
- Tarte de Pommes a la Normande (French Apple Tart) - This apple tart makes a wonderful dessert with coffee. While none of the preparation steps are difficult, you can save some time by using a prepared pie crust for this tart, although it will not be quite as rich as the traditional crust. Apples are arranged a single layer deep in an attractive pattern on the crust and then baked without a top crust. You can substitute pears for the apples in this recipe.
Prepare an Elegant French Meal at Home
Surprise your family with some of your French restaurant favorites. You can enjoy elegant food at home, whether it is for a special celebration or a family dinner. Or, you can prepare some of these dishes, such as salad Nicoise, a quiche, or a vegetarian main dish like ratatouille for lunch or supper. Try these dishes one at time before planning a meal that consists entirely of French dishes so that you'll know how they turn out and what items complement each other.