Over the course of the last few weeks, a few of my friends have been preparing for their journey across the Atlantic to one of SCAD’s other campuses: Lacoste. Growing up with a French mother, I have been fortunate to experience the culture and cuisine of France. French cooking is elegant. It has inspired much of the Western cuisine we see today in fine dining establishments. I won’t go into the depths of making a dish such as foie gras or anything consisting of goat cheese, which personally, I find repulsive. Here are a few easy recipes to prepare those going abroad or for anyone just looking to sample other fare.
During my first visit to France years ago, I discovered the Croque Monsieur. Simply put, it’s a grilled ham and cheese with a kick—a French flare, if you will. I don’t think I ate much else the entire trip. A Croque Madame is basically the same thing, except the sandwich gets a fried egg on top. I think you can figure it out.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 cup milk
- pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
- 2 slices Gruyere cheese (Swiss works, too)
- 1/4 cup grated cheese (Gruyere or Swiss torn into pieces will work fine)
- 4 slices bread (preferably a white loaf bread)
- 4 slices ham
Preheat oven to broil.
Melt two tablespoons butter a in saucepan. Slowly sift in flour, whisking constantly, about one minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add desired amount of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Increase heat until sauce boils and eventually thickens, whisking constantly.
Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place a slice of cheese and two slices of ham on two pieces of bread and cover with remaining bread, making two complete sandwiches. In a large skillet, cook sandwiches until the bread turns golden-brown. Transfer sandwiches to baking sheet and spoon sauce onto both sandwiches, and then add the grated cheese. Broil until cheese begins to turn brown, about two minutes.
I am going to go out on a limb and say most of us have had a crepe. “They’re just like pancakes, maybe even better,” said Cal Naughton, Jr. in “Talladega Nights.” Crepe stands are starting to pop up at every fair and sporting event. They are easy to make and you can eat them with the topping of your choice. Remember, although they are like thin pancakes, crepes can be enjoyed at any hour of the day.
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and eggs. Slowly add milk and water, stirring constantly. Add salt and butter, whisking until batter is smooth. In a lightly oiled pan (butter, vegetable oil or Pam), pour about 1/4 cup of batter, coating surface evenly. Cook each side about two minutes. Serve hot with any topping you desire: fruit, chocolate chips, ham and cheese, you name it.
Coq Au Vin
This last recipe is somewhat more difficult and time consuming, but if prepared right, the end results will be amazing. All the credit here goes to my mom. This is something she prepares for special occasions; like when I come home. So if you have the time, and a little love, someone special will never forget this one.
- 1/2 lb salt pork, diced
- 1 3 to 3 1/2 pound broiler-fryer (chicken), cut up
- 1/2 pound small mush (1 large pack is sufficient)
- 1/2 pound small white onions, frozen
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine (cooking is OK if don’t have drinking wine)
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. In an eight-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, cook salt pork until golden and crisp, stirring often. With a fork or slotted spoon, remove pork onto paper towels to drain. In drippings, cook chicken until browned, about 20 min. Remove to medium bowl.
2. Spoon off all but about 1/4 cup of the fat from Dutch oven; add mushrooms, onions, shallots and garlic. Cook until just wilted, about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine, stock, thyme, pepper, bay leaf and parsley. Place chicken and salt pork over vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, about two hours. (Sometimes, instead of bringing to boil, you could transfer everything to the always reliable slow cooker and cook on low for eight to 10 hours or on high four to six hours).
3. Meanwhile, in cup, blend butter and flour.
4. Remove chicken and vegetables to platter; discard bay leaf and parsley. Blend flour mixture into pan juices. Heat to boiling, stirring. Spoon over chicken.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes, salad and crusty bread and red wine, of course! Bon Appétit!
Contact Josh Wolfe.