7 Easy to Make French Appetizers

An appetizer, according to encarta dictionary, is a small dish of food served at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the appetite; hence the name. In French cuisine, every part of dinner is essential. But if you ask my opinion, I think appetizers might be the most important part, since they sort of prep people for the rest of the meal. Now here are seven easy-to-make French appetizers.

1. Tranches au Fromage (Cheese Toast)

Recipe: epicurious.com
Who doesn’t love toast?! It’s one of the yummiest and easiest foods that you can prepare. And this recipe has cheese and mustard, which are both equally delicious. Plus, this recipe requires only a few minutes to prepare, which makes it doubly amazing. Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering, black bread is another term for rye bread. So yes, the ingredients are easy to find, the instructions are easy to follow, and the end product is pretty delicious. More cheese toast, anyone?

2. Tarte au Fromage (Cheese Tart)

Recipe: frenchfood.about.com
This is another deliciously excellent cheese appetizer. It might take a bit longer than most to prepare, but you wouldn’t regret making it. And yes, it is very easy to prepare. There are no complicated processes or cooking techniques needed. You just need to set the dough for a couple of hours. But other than that, it’s a breeze to prepare.

3. Seafood Fondue

Recipe: cdkitchen.com
I’ve always found fondue recipes cute and fun. And this recipe let’s you see that fondue is not just fun to eat, it is also fun to prepare. Seriously, the whole thing is reminiscent of when you were a little girl playing chef with your little pots, pans, and stove. Who said preparing appetizers has to be all business, right?

 

8 Classic French Foods

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by anything from France. The country just sounds so beautiful and stylish with its lovely people, romantic language, grand historic buildings, and high fashion. And of course, let us not forget about the food! Some aficionados say that there’s just something about French cuisine that’s so delectable that it gets you hooked. In fact, many people from around the world have come to love French foods, whether they be main courses or desserts. Now, here are eight classic French foods that have grown quite popular today.

1. Baguette

This is one of the most popular breads to go with just about anything. It is a long thin bread that is made with some basic dough. You can slice it, put a dab of butter, sprinkle some garlic on it, stick it in the oven for a few minutes, and you get garlic bread. Or you can put ham, tomatoes, and lettuce in between and you get a sub sandwich. Or you can just slice it and eat it as it is.

2. Foie gras

This food is made from the fattened liver of a duck or goose. This can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to a main dish, such as a steak. Now, this is one of the most controversial eatables in the world today. This is mainly because of the force-feeding of ducks and geese in foie gras farms. Apparently, you cannot have foie gras unless it comes from an overly fattened duck or goose. As a result, animal rights activists have condemned France’s continued consumption of this food, and in some countries, it is illegal to sell or buy it. But the tradition of foie gras consumption in France still continues today. In fact, foie gras consumption is considered a protected tradition in French law. Curious, isn’t it?

3. Steak frites

This dish is actually just a large steak with a hefty serving of fries. The steak is cooked with butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Some serve it with mustard or mayonnaise. A few years ago, a friend tried this at one of our local restaurants and he was surprised that he got fries with his steak. He thought it was a bit odd. But I love fries and so I was glad to take the fries from his plate.

4. Escargot

It is a dish of cooked snails and is often served as an appetizer. Yes, you read that right. They use snails. Usually, it is prepared by taking the meat out of their shells, and cooking them with butter, garlic, and some other herbs. This is one of those dishes I wish I did not know. But a lot of people actually love this dish. On top of that, escargot is considered quite nutritious because it is high in protein but low in fat.

5. Ratatouille

This particular dish has grown very popular partly because of that Pixar film about a mouse in Paris who loves to cook. And no, this does not include any rodents in its ingredients. That’s a disgusting thought! If you’ve seen the movie, you would know that this dish is actually composed of various vegetables, which are stewed in a pot and added with herbs and spices, usually oregano. I have read somewhere though that the traditional version just has three main ingredients in it; tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant.

6. Crêpe

This food basically looks and smells like pancake, only thinner. And it is also like the baguette. You can pair this with almost anything. This is usually prepared by putting something in the middle of a rolled up sheet, sort of a filling. You can use meat, vegetables, or fruits as filling. I usually eat them with mangoes and ice cream. It’s unimaginably delicious!

 

Filets of Sole French Style

The French value fish and know how to cook it at home in the most delicious ways. In contrast, in America fish is largely a restaurant dish. Few of us are familiar with good fish recipes, yet we can learn from the French and make sole, trout, or salmon a delight of every Sunday dinner.

Let me share today my favourite French recipe where sole, a very popular fish in France with firm, white, and unquestionably delicious flesh, is featured as the main ingredient. Follow the recipe, do not skip the ingredients, and you will be rewarded with a flavour and taste of the real fish cuisine of Provence!

Filets de Sole Bonne Femme (Filets of Sole with Cream Sauce):

Sole if a fish readily available in our supermarkets. Shop only for very fresh filets that have not been frozen (frozen fish is mushy in texture and inferior in taste). Three filets of small Dover sole or two filets of larger Grey sole will be just right to feed one person. If you are lucky enough to also obtain fish heads, tails and skeletons from your merchants, grab them to make wonderful fish broth called in for this recipe. However, you can use home-made chicken broth instead of fish stock. Shrimp butter is another necessary ingredient – and I will teach you how to make it at home.

Butter a baking dish and evenly distribute 1 finely chopped onion on the bottom. Lay the sole filets on top of the onions without overlapping, bring several cups of fish or chicken stock to boil and pour over the fish. Immediately transfer the dish to an oven preheated at 300 degrees. Poach the sole pieces until they are tender, from 5 to 15 minutes depending on their thickness. When ready, carefully transfer the filets onto a heated platter, cover them with a piece of aluminium foil or parchment paper, and keep warm in the oven while making the sauce.

For the sauce, strain the stock into a large skillet and bring to rapid boil. Whisk in about 1 cup crème fraîche and 1 tbsp shrimp butter and continue boiling until the sauce has reduced to the consistency of thick cream (for about 10 to 15 minutes). Season with sea salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

To serve, pour the sauce generously over the sole fillets neatly arranged on individual heated plates. Sprinkle on finely chopped parsley. This dish goes beautifully with steamed red baby potatoes, rice, and colourful vegetables.

How to Make Fish Broth:

Place fish heads and bones into a large stainless steel pot, add 1 tbsp vinegar, cover with cold filtered water, bring to boil, and skim. Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1 carrot, and several stalks of celery. Tie together a few springs of fresh thyme and parsley and add to the pot together with 1 bay leave. Season generously with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 4 hours. When ready, strain fish stock into clean containers. It can be kept for about 4 days in the refrigerator or for about 1 month – in the freezer.

How to Make Shrimp Butter:

Place about 2 cups tiny cooked shrimps in a food processor to form a coarse paste. Add 1/4 cup butter and process until well blended.

Lobster Cobb Salad

This Lobster Cobb Salad is a good dish for people trying to stay fit. Lobster is rich in protein and essential vitamins while it’s quite low in fat. And aside from the healthy dose of protein from this excellent seafood, you also get vitamin C and fiber from the assorted greens. Moreover, avocado is not only rich in vitamins but also antioxidants. Now, what do you get from the yummy pancetta and  Ricotta cheese? Well, since pancetta is basically just bacon, you get more protein from that, of course. And Ricotta cheese is the same as other cheeses out there, it is rich in calcium and protein. Seriously, this dish is not only a feast for the eyes, but also an excellent dose of healthy living. But don’t just take my word for it. Go ahead and try this recipe out for yourself.

Serves: 4

VANILLA VINAIGRETTE

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
6 oz grapeseed oil
To taste, kosher salt
To taste, freshly ground black pepper

 

SALAD

Two 1¼ -lb lobsters
As needed, Court Bouillon
12 oz mixed greens (baby romaine, Bibb lettuce, frisée)
1 zucchini, small, thinly sliced lengthwise to form ribbons
4 slices pancetta
4 Tbsp fresh ricotta
1 tsp Spice de Cosette
2 eggs, hard-boiled, cut in half
1 avocado, quartered and sliced
4 flatbread pieces
2 vanilla beans, split
2 Tbsp lemon zest

 

VANILLA VINAIGRETTE

1. Combine the vanilla bean and seeds, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Cool and reserve.

2. In a bowl, combine the vanilla syrup, vanilla extract, vinegar,and mustard. Whisk until incorporated.

3. Slowly stream in the oil while whisking continuously to form an emulsion.

4. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper; reserve.

 

SALAD

1. Poach the lobster in the Court Bouillon for 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Remove the lobster meat from the shell and divide it into 4 portions.

3. Divide the lettuce into 4 bunches and wrap with zucchini ribbon.

4. Place the pancetta on a Silpat and cover with another Silpat; place a sheet pan on top, and bake at 350°F until crisp, about 15 minutes.

5. Mix the ricotta with the Spice de Cosette. Form quenelles and place on flatbreads.

6. Place the lettuce bundles in the center of 4 large plates. Arrange the lobster around the bundles and top with egg, avocado, and flatbread. Drizzle 1½ oz Vanilla Vinaigrette over each salad. Garnish each with 1/2 vanilla bean and 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest.

 

This dish would require at least an hour to prepare so you better get all the ingredients bought and laid out to avoid turning that into two hours or more. And make sure you follow the recipe. This may just be a salad, but you still have to follow a process. Now, this scrumptious Lobster Cobb Salad would be great with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. If you ask me, I’d go with the Chardonnay. But then, some people prefer the dry, light-flavored body of Sauvignon Blanc for shellfish. To each his own, I guess. However, if you plan to serve this at a dinner party(and you want to impress guests), I think it would be better if you do a “taste test” first. Buy both bottles of wine to better judge which of the two really goes well with this salad. And invite a friend to do the taste test with you. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, after all. Bon appétit!