Kw's bistro recipes


Here I go again! Nothing like turning my kitchen into my own little bistro! I hope you try some of the recipes and you enjoy them.

A French bistro (bistrot) is traditionally a small, casual restaurant, catering to people who live or work in the neighborhood. It is the place to get a hearty and inexpensive meal without a lot of formality.
French bistro cooking features simple homestyle meals with ample portions, perhaps served with a glass of red wine.

A few notes:
Beurre Manié

Lots of times you will find sauces thickened in France with something called a beurre manié, made by mixing softened butter with an equal amount of flour and a bit of cooking liquid. The beurre manié is added to the dish a few minutes before serving. I have left it as an optional step in this recipe. If you can afford the extra calories, go ahead with this addition, but you will get a very tasty and satisfying stew even if you leave it out.

How to Make Bouquet Garni
Bouquet garni is a French herbal mixture. It consists of a collection of aeomatic herbs, gathered and tied into a bundle or sachet in cheesecloth, or directly tied together when using fresh herbs. Bouquet garni is used to enhance the flavour of stews, broths, or stocks. There are two versions - a dried version and a fresh version. The classic French version is held together with leeks.

Fresh Version
Gather together fresh herbs, making sure they have long stems. For a traditional bouquet garni, the herbs should consist of 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of rosemary and 1 bay leaf.
Tie the bunch with kitchen twine and leave a tail that you can use to haul the bunch in and out of your pot. a shorter tail makes it “tidier.”
Dried Version
Gather dried herbs. Mix 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2-3 peppercorns and 1 bay leaf.
Wrap in a cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine, again leaving some length for hauling in and out of the pot.
Dried herbs are just as successful. Use 1 heaped tablespoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I prefer a level tablespoon lemon thyme) and a single dried bay leaf. Tie up the dried herbs in a small bag sewn of muslin. Or grind the parsley and thyme and add to the dish. Add the bay leaf whole and remove before serving.
Another traditional bouquet, one of which is adequate to flavor a gallon of liquid, contains a sprig of thyme, 3 to 4 parsley stems, a bay leaf and a stalk of celery cut in half crosswise.
Less traditional bouquets can include citrus rinds, vegetables, garlic or peppercorns. Select a combination of flavors you like, and wash and dry all sachet ingredients before enclosing.

Use whatever herbs your recipe calls for.

Another version - parsley, thyme, bayleaf and maybe a few peppercorns (in cheesecloth, of course!) (The “classic” version is parsley, thyme and bayleaf.)

Experiment with sage, parsley, rosemary, and garlic for Italian.

Add a twig of rosemary, a stick of celery or a little slice of lemon peel. Fennel leaves will also liven up the taste. How qabout tarragon?

Why not ry a bit of Asian flair - ginger, garlic, and scallions.

Some like it hot - add dried hot peppers.

Tie it or wrap it - Trim a leek’s root end and green leaves, then make a vertical, shallow cut lengthwise and remove the first couple outer layers. Remove one more, and make sure it’s clean – this will be your wrapper. Stuff with aromatics, and wrap with butcher string. For each one of these methods, wrapping the string around the bundle multiple times before tying will result in the tightest, most secure bouquet garni.
Rougue-ly done - Take your herbs, make a bunch, and tie with string. It’s going to be wild – rosemary sprigs may come undone, parsley leaves may go down the wrong path. Let it happen. You can strain it all later, if you feel the need.
Using cheesecloth - Wrapping everything up in a neatly tied cheesecloth pouch is especially great for soups or broths you won’t be straining. Cut a swatch large enough to fit your aromatics, wrap them, and secure with butcher string. Rinse and wring out a 10-inch square of cheesecloth (muslin). Spread out the damp cheesecloth on a work surface and place the herbs or spices in the middle. Bring the four corners of the cheesecloth together and tie them with a length of kitchen string, forming a secure bundle with no gaps.
The Tea Strainer Method - Think of this as the reusable cheesecloth method – same principle, just with a tool you likely have hiding in a kitchen drawer. It’ll work well, too, for holding spices like peppercorns and star anise. Same deal: fill, fasten, and in the pot it goes.

Place the bouquet garni into your cooking pot to flavor soups, stews, stock, casseroles, and more.
Remove before serving.

Simple Roast Chicken

1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, giblets removed
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 450° F.

Place a rack in a large ovenproof skillet or small roasting pan.

Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry. Place in pan. Tuck the wings beneath the chicken, as if it were placing its arms behind its head. Rub the oil over the skin. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Toss the remaining salt into the cavity. Roast for 20 minutes. Add 1 cup water and roast until the chicken is cooked through and the thigh meat registers 180° F on a meat thermometer, about 40 minutes more.

Use a spatula to loosen the chicken. With a wad of paper towels in each hand, transfer it to a cutting board. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. If making a pan sauce, reserve the drippings

Steak Frites with Shallot Pan Reduction
This is the omnipresent French meal of steak and French fries.

1 3/4 pounds baking potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch sticks
Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 pound boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons brandy
3/4 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons butter

  1. Position 1 oven rack on the highest setting. Position another rack on the lowest setting.

  2. Preheat oven to 450°.

  3. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheets. Coat with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bake at 450° for 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring potatoes and rotating pans halfway through. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon thyme.

  4. Heat a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of steak with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add steak to pan; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan; keep steak warm.

  5. Add shallots to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add brandy; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add beef broth, Dijon mustard, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 3 minutes). Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add butter, stirring with a whisk.

  6. Slice steak. Serve with shallot pan reduction sauce and potatoes.

Quick Coq au Vin

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
1/3 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices Canadian bacon
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Combine flour, thyme, and salt in a zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal and shake to coat. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 8 minutes or until browned, turning frequently. Remove chicken from pan.

Add mushrooms, carrot, and bacon to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in wine, broth, and tomato paste; cook 9 minutes. Return chicken to pan; cook 8 minutes or until chicken is done.

Apple Marzipan Galette

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup marzipan, softened
4 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 425°.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on prepared pan. Roll marzipan to a 9-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place marzipan on top of dough.

Combine apple, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, juice, and salt in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon apple mixture over marzipan. Fold 2-inch dough border over the apple mixture, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover apple mixture). Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned (apple filling may leak slightly during cooking).

Place 1/4 cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring as needed to dissolve the sugar evenly (about 4 minutes). Cook 1 minute or until golden. Remove from heat; carefully stir in 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Drizzle over galette.

Chocolate-Almond Croissants

2 1/2 ounces almond paste
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 fresh croissants
1/4 cup (1 oz.) coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Coarsely shred 2 1/2 ounces almond paste to make about 1/2 cup. In a bowl, stir almond paste and 2 tablespoons melted butter to form a soft paste. Slice open 4 fresh croissants. Spread almond paste mixture equally on cut sides of bottom halves, then sprinkle 1/4 cup (1 oz.) coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate equally over almond paste. Replace tops. Set croissants on a baking sheet and bake in a 350° oven until chocolate starts to melt, 5 to 7 minutes.

Boeuf Bourguignon

2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced in rounds
2 tablespoons cooking oil
6 ounces lean bacon cut into small pieces
2 pounds of stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
1 bottle of red wine (less a glass or two if you wish)
1 bouquet garni or 2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
salt and pepper

Optional Ingredients for Beurre Manié
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons flour

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, cook the onions and carrots in the oil on medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes.
Add the bacon and continue cooking and stirring for 8 minutes.
Add the meat and cook, turning several times, until browned on all sides. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Add the herbs, the garlic and the red wine. Cover, turn down the heat, and let simmer for at least two hours.
Meanwhile cook the mushrooms in the butter until soft and add to the stew after about two hours along with the tomato concentrate.
Simmer until meat is very tender. Sometimes I cook it for the last hour without the lid to get a more concentrated sauce.
If you are thickening your stew before serving, mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl until well blended. Blend in a tablespoon of the cooking liquid, and then stir this mixture back into the stew. Continue cooking for several minutes.

Easy Beef Stew - Carbonade Flamande

3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 pounds stew beef, cubed in bite sized pieces
salt and pepper
4 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon raw sugar (if you don't have this, substitute light brown sugar)
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of beer
bouquet garni (or use 1 teaspoon thyme and two bay leaves)
(optional: 4 slices slightly stale French bread spread on both sides with 2 tablespoons French mustard)

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a sturdy soup pot. Brown the meat on all sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then remove the meat and juices from pot and set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Sautee for 15 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring frequently, and browning the onions slightly.
Stir in the garlic, sugar, and vinegar and cook for two more minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top of the onion mixture and stir to coat. Return the meat to the pot and then pour on the beer and add the bouquet garni.
Cover and let simmer on a very low boil for two hours or more. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove the bouquet garni before serving.
Many recipes for carbonnade call for placing pieces of mustard covered bread on top of the stew while it cooks. This melts into the carbonnade, adding more flavor to the stew.
Serve hot on top of rice, pasta, or potatoes.

If you have leftovers, this taste great reheated the next day.

Sugar Pie - tarte au sucre
Here is an easy sugar pie recipe called a tarte au sucre -

NOTE: Cassonade Sugar - This sugar pie recipe calls for a special brown-colored, free-pouring sugar that you can find in France called cassonade. Cassonade is very similar to what you may know as raw sugar or turbinado sugar.
NOTE: You could also use light brown sugar to make this pie, although the result will be somewhat different (don’t worry, nothing drastic). Do buy a quality brown sugar however. I was somewhat horrified to find out recently that some brown sugars available on the market are nothing more than white sugar that has been sprayed with brown food coloring and artificial flavors. A good brown sugar should contain only molasses for color and flavor. Check your labels.

For the crust:

1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups flour
1 egg
1/4 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the topping:

3/4 cup raw sugar (or use light brown sugar)
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
2 tablespoons butter

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and stir in the yeast until completely dissolved.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a large well in the center of the flour. Into the well, add the egg, sugar, butter,salt and the milk. Roll up your sleeves, get a sturdy wooden spoon and start mixing. This mixes into a stiff dough and requires a strong arm to ensure that all is well blended.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave the bowl in a warm place to rise. Let rise until it is double in volume. Depending on how warm it is and on how active your yeast is, this could take from one to three hours.
Once the dough has risen, use your finger tips to fit it in the bottom of a 10 inch round non-stick cake pan or pie tin. Turn the oven on to 400 ° F and let the dough rise again for 15 minutes while the oven is warming.
Sprinkle the dough evenly with the raw sugar. Whisk the two eggs and then whisk in the heavy cream just until mixed. Pour this on top of the sugar topped dough. Cut the final two tablespoons of butter into about twenty tiny pieces and place these evenly atop the pie.
Bake at 400° F for 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Easy French Onion Soup -Soupe à l’oignon
The trick to this easy French onion soup recipe is to make sure you caramelize the onions - this requires slow cooking. The final step in this recipe is browning the cheese topped soup in the oven and you will need special oven proof French onion soup bowls to do this.

2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and sliced into rings
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 quarts of beef stock
1/2 cup of white wine
salt and pepper
loaf of French bread, cubed (and toasted if you want extra crunch)
1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss cheese

Cook the onions in the olive oil on medium heat until the onions caramelize (about 30 to 40 minutes).
Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Add the flour and cook for another minute.
Add the beef stock and wine and simmer for another 30 minutes.
To serve, ladle the soup into individual oven-proof bowls, making sure that everyone gets plenty of onions. Place cubes of French bread to cover and than sprinkle with cheese.
Bake in 350° F oven for 10 minutes, broiling for the last few minutes to brown slightly.

Onion Pizza - Pissaladière
Pissaladière is an onion and anchovy pizza. Pissaladière can be served either warm from the oven or cooled to room temperature. Either way it is good.

NOTE: Nicoise Olives - These are small, black olives with lots of flavor. Do not worry if you do not have any, just use any sort of flavorful black olive such as a Kalamata.

16 ounces ready made pizza dough
2 pounds onions
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence
2 teaspoon granulated sugar
freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 ounces oil packed anchovies (about 21 total)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 
12 Nicoise olives (or equivalent)

Oven. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Prepare onions. Cut the onions in half and peel them. Slice the halves thinly.
Cook onions. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and sprinkle with the herbs, sugar, and freshly ground pepper. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and begin to color (about 10 minutes).
Add anchovies and garlic. Add 5 anchovies and the crushed garlic. Cook stirring continually until the anchovies "melt" and blend with the onion mixture (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat.
Fit dough to pan. Roll out the pizza dough to fit a 9 X 13 inch baking tray or equivalent (you can make a round pissaladière if you prefer).
Top with ingredients. Use a pastry brush to lightly oil the top of the dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Top with the onion mixture. Arrange the remaining anchovies in a crisscross pattern on top of the onions and decorate with the olives.
Bake. Bake pizza for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve either warm or cold.

French Cabbage Casserole - Gratin au Chou

1 small Savoy cabbage
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 pound very ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 pound grated cheese (Gruyère or Swiss)
salt and pepper

Cut the cabbage in quarters, wash well, and cut out the hard inner core. Chop the leaves and cook the cabbage for five minutes in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for five minutes. Add the rice and cook for two minutes, stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is just tender.
Meanwhile make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. Cook the roux for two minutes and than slowly whisk in milk. Heat on medium heat until nearly boiling and thickened, then gradually add half of the cheese while stirring. Remove from heat.
To construct casserole, butter a large baking dish. Beginning with the cabbage, layer the cabbage and the rice mixture. Aim to get three even layers of each. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 30 minutes. Serve the cabbage casserole hot.

Lentil Soup with Salt Pork - Petit Salé aux Lentilles

NOTE: French Salt Pork - Petit Salé - In France they have a special sort of salt cured pork called petit salé. It comes in different cuts and the one used for this lentil soup recipe was very meaty, trimming off some of the fat after cooking. If you can’t find a good and meaty piece of salt pork, you may wish to substitute a ham hock, which would give you a result similar to the original French recipe.
To prepare a dish with petit salé, you must first get most of the salt out of the pork, otherwise the salt is overwhelming (you don’t wan to find out the hard way!) To blanche the salt out, place the meat in a large pot of cold water and allow it to sit for two hours, changing the water several times during the process.
NOTE: Can’t find French green lentils? Plain old’ brown lentils from the cupboard will work.
NOTE: Toulouse Sausage is made from pork, onions and wine and is just as delicious as you can imagine. You could substitute another sausage in this lentil soup recipe, but please make sure it is a quality substitution.

1 pound of meaty salt pork, desalted if necessary
1 pound uncooked lentils
1 large whole onion, peeled
several cloves
12 baby onions, peeled (or if you're not into the fuss of peeling all those little fellows, one large onion, chopped)
3 large carrots, sliced
1 bouquet garni
1 pound of Toulouse sausage, or other quality sausage

Blanche the salt pork to remove the salt, by soaking in cold water for two hours and changing the water several times. Drain the water one last time and than fill the pot with about 2 quarts of water, covering the salt pork. Place on low heat to simmer at a very low boil for one hour.
Push 4 or 5 cloves into the onion and add to the pot (this is called an oignon picquet and is a popular way to add subtle flavor to soups and stews in France). Add the lentils, baby onions or chopped onion, carrots, bouquet garni and several pinches of pepper. Cook on medium low heat for 40 minutes to an hour, adding more water if necessary. You want the final product to be just slightly soupy.
Meanwhile boil the sausage in a pot of water. The sausage I used required 25 minutes of boiling, but follow your package directions for cooking times.
Once the lentils are cooked, remove the salt pork and the bouquet garni. Cut the salt pork into bite sized pieces and return it to the pot. Cut the sausage into small pieces as well and add it to the soup.

Dijon Mustard Pork Chops - Côtes de Porc Sauce Moutarde

NOTE: You can use anyh of these mustards -
Dijon Mustard (Moutarde de Dijon)- Made from finely ground black and brown mustard seed, white wine, salt and pepper. Its smooth and creamy texture is perfect for making sauces.
Meaux Mustard (Moutarde de Meaux)- Also known as old-fashioned mustard (moutarde à l’ancienne). Here a mixture of black and brown seeds are ground just a bit, and mixed with herbs, spices and vinegar. This mustard is mild and grainy and goes great with cold cuts and other meats.
Bordeaux Mustard (Moutarde de Bordeaux) - A mix of unshelled white and black mustard seeds mixed with sugar, vinegar, tarragon, and spices. A sweet dark mustard.
Beaujolais Mustard (Moutarde de Beaujolais) - Made from partly ground seeds and red wine. It has a grainy texture and is reddish colored.
Red Mustard (Moutarde Rouge)- Made with whole mustard seeds and hot pepper. Needless to say, it’s spicy.

4 pork chops
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons whipping cream or crème fraîche

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat and add the pork chops. Brown on each side about 2 minutes.

Mix the water into the mustard and pour this on top of the pork chops. Cover and cook on low heat 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pork chops and cook sauce uncovered until reduced by about a half (maybe five minutes). Stir in cream and blend thoroughly.

Pour sauce on pork chops and serve. Goes great with baked potatoes.

Creme Fraiche
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
Combine cream and buttermilk in a glass jar. Cover tightly with cheesecloth (or any breathable material) and let sit at room temperature (70 to 75 degrees F (21 to 24 degrees C)) for 24 hours. Stir, screw on lid, and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.
NOTE: Be sure to use the best, freshest cream you can find. Look for pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream. Make sure to use cultured buttermilk, otherwise you will wait a full day to see nothing happen.

Mashed Potato Casserole - Hachis Parmentier
This is a basic recipe -
Try adding vegetables in with the ground beef (mushrooms, bell peppers and carrots would go great) or changing the seasoning (I added cayenne pepper for a decidedly un-French touch).
The meat could change as well, ground lamb or even ground poultry could be used.
A common variation found in France is Hachis Parmentier de Poisson, where the meat layer is replaced by a mixture of fish, vegetables, and seasonings.
The only constant in a parmentier casserole is the layer of mashed potatoes.

2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence or other herbs
salt and pepper (to your taste)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
4 - 5 cups mashed potatoes (instant is fine)
3/4 cup grated cheese (gruyère, emmental, or similar)

In a large frying pan, cook the onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, ground beef, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned thoroughly. Turn off heat and add egg yolk and Parmesan cheese, stirring to mix completely.
Spread the meat in the bottom of an lightly oiled oven proof dish (a 13 X 9 inch Pyrex dish would be perfect for the amount given in this recipe). Spread the potatoes on top of this and finish by sprinkling grated cheese on top.
Brown in 400° F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Herbs de Provence
List of Herbs de Provence

Here’s a list of what you might find in a mixture of herbs de Provence along with their French name.

Thyme (Thym)
Wild Thyme (Serpolet)
Marjoram (Marjolaine)
Oregano (Origan)
Rosemary (Romarin)
Basil (Basilic)
Chervil (Cerfeuil)
Savory (Sarriette)
Lavender (Lavande)
Fennel (Fenouil)
Bay Leaf (Laurier)

Many herbs these days sold as Herbes de Provence aren’t actually grown in Provence, and some people gripe that packaged herb mixes lack in flavor. If you are able to grow some of these herbs yourself, you could mix them together however you wished and call them Herbes de Provence. Package them yourself in a pretty jar and you have a very nice gift to offer a friend.
NOTE: You can use these herbs to flavor just about any savory dish. I always have a large jar on hand and when in doubt, I add a teaspoon or two (or more) to whatever I’m cooking. It is perfect to sprinkle on grilled foods and you don’t need to limit its use to just French recipes either.

French Onion Pie - Tarte à l’oignon
The trick to this easy onion pie recipe just like in lots of onion recipes is to make sure you caramelize the onions - this requires slow cooking.

1 pie shell, unbaked
1 pound of onions, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

Cook the onions slowly in the butter and oil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. They should caramelize. Add flour and stir, cooking for two more minutes. Add milk and cream and cook another two minutes. Remove from heat.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, adding nutmeg and salt and pepper. Stir in the onion mixture and pour the resulting mixture into the pie shell. Bake at 400° F for 25 minutes.

Potato Cheese Casserole - Tartiflette

NOTE: Reblochon Cheese -
Aspect: Creamy soft cheese with a washed yellow rind covered lightly in a white dust.
Presentation: Made, and usually sold, in rounds that weigh about a pound each.
Taste: There is a hint of hazelnut taste to this cheese that lingers in your mouth
Serving: Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before you are going to enjoy it. Ideal eating temperature is 16°C (about 60°F).
Storing: To avoid fermentation, never store your cheese in aluminum paper. Wrap it rather in plastic wrap.
NOTE: If you can’t find a Reblochon you could substitute Brie cheese or Munster cheese and get good results.

2 pounds potatoes, peeled
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
6 ounces bacon, cut in small strips
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 16 ounce Reblochon

Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a skillet on medium heat and add the chopped onions. Cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and cook another five minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and remove from heat.
In a buttered baking dish, place a layer of sliced potatoes using half of the potatoes. Layer with half of the bacon and onion mixture and then repeat the two layers. Pour the wine evenly over this.
Cut the Reblochon into two discs, and place the slices rind side down on top of the potatoes and bacon.
Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes - the cheese should be barely golden when you take it out of the oven.
Allow to cool just a few minutes. Serve hot.

Ratatouille Tradition
A classic ratatouille recipe almost always includes bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh herbs. This sauteed summer vegetable recipe can be served in any number of ways, both hot and cold. Try it as topping for pasta or a filling in an omelet. Or just eat it by itself with a loaf of bread.
Hot or cold, and just as good the next day if not better, try this ratatouille recipe in a number of different ways.
With Bread - Serve ratatouille with thick slices of French bread for a satisfying and easy meal.
With Pasta - Serve on top of hot pasta as a main dish.
With Meats - Serve ratatouille as an accompaniment to fish, cold chicken, or other meats.
With Eggs - Use it as a filling in an omelette.
As an Entrée - Try serving it cold with a squirt of fresh lemon juice as a starter course.
With Tomato Sauce - Try topping ratatouille with a quick tomato coulis made from simmering unsalted canned tomato sauce with coriander, pepper, and cumin.
As a Terrine Topping - You can even serve this ratatouille recipe as a topping for a terrine, such as vegetarian terrine:
1 pound eggplant, sliced in rounds
1 pound zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 pound bell peppers, sliced
1 pound tomatoes, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
olive oil
bay leaf
thyme sprig
salt and pepper

Wash and slice all of the vegetables. To peel the tomatoes drop them in boiling water for about 10 seconds and use a sharp paring knife to help slip off the peel.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced eggplant and cook, turning occasionally for five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove the eggplant from the skillet.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and add the zucchini slices. Cook for about five minutes, turning occasionally, then season with salt and pepper and remove from the skillet.
Repeat the procedure for the bell peppers.
Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
Add the tomatoes and the pre-cooked vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers. Stir to combine and then add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
Add the garlic and salt and pepper if needed and cook covered for another 10 minutes.

NOTE: If you don’t have any fresh herbs for your dish, you can substitute a tablespoon or so of herbes de Provence.

Another method for making ratatouille is to cook each vegetable separately and then add them together. The advantage of this method is that the individual flavors of the vegetables are retained, resulting in a more complex and refined tasting dish.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, slivered
3 bell peppers, cut into one inch squares(try different colors)
2 eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pot on medium heat. Sliver onions and add to oil.
While the onions cook, chop the bell peppers and add them to the pot, stirring well.
Chop the eggplants and add to the pot, stirring well to coat the eggplant with oil. At this point all the olive oil will have soaked into the eggplant, so you need to stir often to keep things from burning until they soften some.
Chop the zucchini and stir it in once the eggplant has softened a bit.
Chop the garlic and add to the vegetables, stirring well.
Chop the tomatoes and add them.
Mince the thyme and add it along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook two minutes.
Turn down heat and cover the pot. Simmer until everything is soft and well blended - about 40 minutes.
Stir in basil and remove from heat.

If you don’t have any fresh herbs for your dish, you can substitute a tablespoon or so of herbes de Provence.

Turnip -
NOTE: Cooking Turnip
Select heavy turnips (this is an indication of water content and therefore freshness) with smooth skin.
Keep them in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Some varities can be kept for several weeks, but new turnips available in the springtime, should be eaten within the week.
To prepare them peel them like you would a potato. If they are young new turnips, all you will need to do is scrub them.
Turnips are usually either steamed or boiled and served as an accompaniment to meat. They will absorb a lot of the fat in a dish and are especially popular with duck in France.
Turnips are also a key ingredient along with parsnips, carrots and leeks in Pot au Feu, a traditional French dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in broth.
Fresh turnip greens, just like mustard greens, are also cooked and eaten in France.

6 fresh turnips, scrubbed clean
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Cut the turnips into 1/4 inch slices and cook in a pot of boiling water for about 6 minutes, or just until fork tender. Drain.

Heat butter in a frying pan on medium heat and add turnip slices. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar starts to caramelize - about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Scalloped Potatoes - Easy Gratin Dauphinois
This scalloped potatoes recipe is so rich and satisfying that you can eat it as a main course served along with a green salad. It also goes very well with simply prepared meats, perhaps a roast beef. Warm leftovers in the microwave the next day - almost as good as the first time around.

3 pounds potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
mixed dried herbs
salt and pepper
2 cups shredded Gruyere (or subsitute Swiss cheese)

Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly (use a food processor or a potato slicer to save time).
Warm the cream, milk, garlic, and nutmeg until simmering (about five minutes). Remove from heat and remove garlic.
Butter the bottom and sides of an oven-proof baking dish (9 X 13 inch works well). Place a single layer of potatoes on bottom of dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, herbs, and two to three tablespoons of cheese (you want to end up with a cup of cheese for the top layer). Continue layering until you run out of potatoes and end with one cup of cheese sprinkled on top.
Pour the warmed cream mixture over the top and jiggle the dish a bit to get the liquid to spread throughout.
Bake at 375° for one hour. Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.

Chicken Dijon - Poulet à la moutarde

1 kg (2.2 pounds) skinned chicken (about 6 to 8 pieces, or 4 to 6 breast halves)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 large mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon dried Herbs de Provence
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil on medium heat in a heavy skilet and add the chicken, browning it on all sides (about 5 minutes).
Remove chicken from pan and add the mushrooms. Cook and stir occasionally for five minutes.
Put the chicken back in the pan, sprinkle with the herbs and pour the wine on top. Cover pan tightly and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to your liking.
Remove the chicken to a serving plate. Into the sauce that remains in the pan, stir in the mustard and heavy cream. Warm on low heat for five minutes, then pour over chicken to serve.

Crockpot Lemon Chicken - Mijoté de poulet au citron

2 onions, cut in eighths
3 cloves garlic, peeled
8 pieces of chicken, skinned
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1/2 cup chicken bouillon
4 sprigs of tarragon (ok, if you have to, use 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the onions and the garlic in the crockpot.
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then slather them with the mustard and place in the crockpot.
Pour the lemon juice and chicken bouillon on top and then finish with the tarragon sprigs (or sprinkle on dried tarragon).
Cook on low heat for at least four hours, giving it a stir, if possible, along the way.
Before serving this crockpot lemon chicken recipe, remove the tarragon and discard. Remove the chicken, which should be falling off the bone, and set aside. Stir the cream into the sauce and then return chicken to the crockpot to serve.

Note: For extra lemon flavor, place a couple of slices of lemon on top along with the tarragon before cooking.

Tarragon Chicken - Poulet à l’estragon

NOTE: You can substitute heavy whipping cream or half and half for the crème fraîche in this tarragon chicken recipe.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
8 pieces of chicken
2 ounces fresh tarragon sprigs
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chicken stock (or bouillon)
3/4 cup crème fraîche (or whipping cream or half and half)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a large heavy skillet or ideally a Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil on medium heat until the butter melts. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned on all sides.
Meanwhile, remove all of the leaves from the tarragon sprigs. Place half of the leaves and the white wine in a small saucepan and boil on medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half - about five minutes.
When the chicken is browned all over sprinkle with salt to flavor, then sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat evenly. Add the reduced wine mixture and the chicken stock to the chicken and stir to combine. Put on low heat, cover and cook for one hour.
Snip the rest of the tarragon leaves into small pieces and combine with the crème fraîche or cream and the lemon juice. About five minutes before serving, stir this mixture into the chicken and warm through.

Serve with rice, couscous, or pasta (there is quite a bit of sauce).

Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Croque-Monsieur

1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup light cream
8 slices bread
8 slices boiled ham
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cheese sauce (recipe below)

Combine Swiss cheese and cream to make a paste. Spread mixture on each slice of bread.
Place a slice of ham on each slice of bread. Close to form a sandwich.
Beat together eggs, milk and salt in a shallow dish. Dip bread on both sides in egg/milk mixture. Fry on lightly buttered griddle or in skillet until brown on both sides and cheese has melted.
Serve alone or with cheese sauce.

Cheese Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
Cherry tomatoes (optional garnish)
Green pepper (optional garnish)

Melt butter in 1 quart saucepan.
Blend in flour and mustard.
Remove from heat and stir in milk.
Heat to a boil stirring constantly.
Boil and stir 1 minute.
Remove from heat, stir in cheese until melted.

Garnish with sliced cherry tomato and green pepper, if desired.

Bistro-Style Fries

Prep: Slice 2 pounds russet potatoes into fries, transferring to a bowl of tepid water as you go. Heat 2 inches of peanut or vegetable oil, shortening, lard, or a combination of fats in a deep wide pot over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F. Drain the potatoes and dry well.
Fry: Add half of the potatoes to the pot and fry, stirring gently, until they soften and blister, 3 to 4 minutes (do not let them color). Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. Transfer to the freezer until firm, at least 1 hour.
Refry: When ready to serve, reheat the oil to 375 degrees F over medium-high heat. Working in 4 small batches so the oil stays hot, fry the potatoes until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to fresh paper towels to drain. Season with salt.

Salt 'em:
Herb Salt - Strip the leaves from a few rosemary and thyme sprigs. Pulse in a food processor until fine, then toss with coarse salt.
Bacon Salt - Pulse 3 slices cooked bacon in a food processor until fine; toss with 3 tablespoons coarse salt.
Parmesan Salt - Mix equal parts paprika, grated parmesan and coarse salt.

Dip 'em:
Smoky Ketchup - Stir 1/2 to 1 minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce into 1/2 cup ketchup. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Spicy Mayo - Add a little Sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce) to 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Mix in the zest and juice of 1 lime.
Zesty Mustard - Mix 1/2 cup dijon mustard, a spoonful of horseradish and some chopped parsley.

Brickyard Bistro Sandwich

1 loaf (1 pound) focaccia bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 slices red onion, separated into rings
2 ounces sliced deli smoked turkey
2 ounces thinly sliced hard salami
2 ounces sliced deli roast beef
2 ounces sliced provolone cheese
1 plum tomato, sliced
2 lettuce leaves

Cut focaccia in half horizontally. In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, oregano and rosemary; brush over cut sides of bread.
On bread bottom, layer with onion, turkey, salami, roast beef, cheese, tomato and lettuce; replace bread top. Cut into four wedges. Yield: 4 servings.

Barley Bistro Bowl

1 cup hulled barley (not pearled)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small ripe tomato, roughly chopped
1/2 small red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons packed fresh tarragon leaves
1 small clove garlic
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
4 large eggs
1 small head frisee, torn into small, bite-size pieces
2 ounces fresh goat's cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

Make the barley: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the barley, and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The barley can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead. Microwave just enough to take the chill off, about 2 minutes, stirring about halfway through.)

Make the tomato-pepper sauce: While the barley cooks, blend the tomatoes, peppers, mayonnaise, tarragon, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. (The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.)

Make the bacon and breadcrumbs: Put the bacon in a large nonstick skillet, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings, and return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, and stir constantly until golden and crunchy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl.

Fry the eggs: Wipe out the skillet, and melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to foam, crack all 4 eggs into the skillet, and sprinkle each with some salt. Cook the eggs until the whites have set and the yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Build the bowls: Divide the barley evenly among 4 bowls. Top each with neat rows or piles of bacon, frisee, goat’s cheese, olives and sauce (leave room for the egg). Top each with an egg, some sauce and a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs.

Vietnamese Bistro Burger

For the pickled daikon and carrot
75g julienned white radish - a tad more than 1/2 c.
75g julienned carrot - a tad more than 1/2 c.
180ml distilled white vinegar - 6 oz.
170g sugar - 6 oz.

For the burgers
1kg minced pork
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno chillies, seeded, diced
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese five spice powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 lime, zested, juiced
2 to 3 tbsp vegetable oil, for brushing the griddle rack
6 good quality sesame-seed kaiser rolls, split
85g salted butter, softened
6 tbsp mayonnaise
6 tbsp spreadable pork or liver paté
½ cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno chillies, thinly sliced
18 fresh coriander sprigs
  1. To make the pickled daikon and carrot, combine the daikon, carrot, vinegar and sugar in a bowl, tossing well to coat. Set aside to marinate.

  2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal griddle with a cover, or preheat a gas griddle to medium-high. If a griddle is unavailable, simply heat a griddle pan over medium-high heat on the hob.

  3. To make the burgers, combine the pork, garlic, diced chillies, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, five spice powder, sugar and lime zest and juice in a bowl, mixing well to incorporate. Divide the mixture into six portions and form into round patties.

  4. Brush the griddle rack with vegetable oil. Place the burgers on the rack and cook for 6 to 7 minutes per side, until cooked through. Turn the burgers 90 degrees halfway through cooking on each side, for griddle marks.

  5. Spread the cut side of each roll half with 1/2 tbsp butter and griddle until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

  6. Spread 1 tbsp of the mayonnaise on the cut side of each roll bottom and 1 tbsp of the pate on the cut side of each roll top. Place the cucumber and chilli slices on the roll bottoms and top with burger patties.

  7. Drain the carrot and daikon pickles and pile a generous amount on top of each burger. Add the coriander sprigs and the pate-smeared bun tops. For serving, burgers can be halved and skewered for a beautiful presentation and manageability. They go well with sweet potato or taro chips.

Cook’s Note: These burgers can also be served on baguettes, if preferred, in which case the patties should be formed into oblong shapes. Baps are a bit softer and easier to manage, which is why I’ve chosen them for this recipe.
If available, buy a peppercorn paté, which adds a great hint of black pepper to the burger.

Bistro Breakfast Burger‎

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 80/20
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick-cut bacon, halved crosswise
4 large eggs
4 sesame seed hamburger buns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
4 slices Havarti cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and hot sauce in a small bowl.

Using a fork, gently mix the beef with the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Form into four 5-inch patties. Cover and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off most of the bacon fat, leaving about 2 teaspoons in the skillet, reserving the extra bacon fat. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers to the skillet, 2 at a time, and cook until nicely browned, 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until the burger is done, about 4 minutes for medium-rare. Repeat with the remaining burgers. Place the burgers on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while cooking the eggs.

Wipe out the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Break the eggs into the skillet and cook until the whites are set, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, brush the buns with melted butter. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.

Build the burger by placing a hamburger patty on the bottom bun, add a slice of cheese, 2 pieces of bacon and top with a fried egg. Spread the top bun with some of the spiced ketchup and place on top.

Bistro-style short ribs

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1.8kg short ribs, in 1 long piece or at least in pairs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large tomato, quartered
3 ribs celery
1/2 head garlic, peeled
1/4 bunch fresh thyme
350ml dry red wine
475ml low-sodium, organic beef stock
15g chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat a cast iron griddle or barbecue.

  2. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and brown on all sides.

  3. Place the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and tomato into a food processor and blitz until you reach a consistent, smooth pulp.

  4. Take a large Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Add a 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and add the thyme to infuse the oil.

  5. Next add the vegetable pulp, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for about 10 mins. Pour in the red wine and stock and bring it to a boil.

  6. Using tongs, take the ribs and nestle them into the braising mix; the liquid should just about cover the meat. Place the lid loosely on top, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the meat is very tender, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hrs.

  7. When the ribs are about finished, remove about 240 to 475ml of liquid and strain into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the sauce until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 mins.

  8. Serve the sauce over the ribs.

Leek & Potato Soup
Part of this soup is puréed to add body, but it remains chunky and chowder-like and is also good chilled. If you make it ahead and reheat it, you may need to thin it with a bit of water.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 large or 3 medium leeks (root and dark green parts removed), sliced crosswise (to yield 2 cups), washed, and dried
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. coarse salt; more to taste
1 hearty sprig fresh thyme
1/2 bay leaf
Small pinch saffron, crumbled
Pinch cayenne
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 oz. Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, or other medium starch potatoes, peeled and diced (to yield 2 cups)
4 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Crème fraîche, for serving
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy-based pot, heat the olive oil and butter until quite hot. Add the leeks, onions, and salt, and then turn the heat to medium low. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened and a bit browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the saffron, cayenne, and garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 min. Add the potatoes and chicken broth. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf. Transfer 1 cup of the soup to a blender to purée and then return the purée to the pot. Adjust the seasonings. Ladle into shallow bowls; garnish with the parsley, crème fraîche, and pepper.

Bistro Oven Fries

2 large russet potatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs.), peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4 -1/2 inch thick sticks
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive
Fleur de sel or other coarse salt

Rinse the potatoes to rinse off the starch.

Parboil the potatoes: Drain and rinse well; return to pot and cover with enough cold water to cover by 1-inch. Partially cover pot. bring to boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils reduce heat to low (a calm boil) and boil 3 minutes. Drain. Spread on paper towels. to dry.
Preheat oven to 450* F.
Place potatoes in large bowl, add oil, toss lightly not to break. Place on heated baking sheet (heated in the oven until hot) leaving room between each - do not crowd. Roast, turning once after 15 minutes, then again every 6 to 8 minutes until nicely browned and crisp. Sprinkle with fleur de sel, toss gently, serve immediately.

NOTE: Fleur de sel (pronounced “flure-de-SELL”) is a rare and expensive form of sea salt that is harvested in parts of France. The name fleur de sel is from the French for “flower of salt.” Fleur de sel is very delicate and will quickly dissolve, so it really should be added to a dish immediately before serving. It is also very, very expensive - shouldn’t be used as an ordinary seasoning. Instead, think of fleur de sel as almost a garnish or condiment. A few crystals of fleur de sel sprinkled over a dish right before serving add a burst of flavor, visual appeal and even texture. Substitute Kosher salt.

Alsatian Meat and Vegetable Stew (Bacheofe)

1 lb. boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1⁄2" pieces
1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1⁄2" pieces
1 lb. boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1⁄2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups dry white wine
1⁄4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp. juniper berries
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 small leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1⁄4 cup duck or goose fat (optional)
3 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 lb. thick-cut bacon
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting

Place beef, pork, and lamb in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add wine, parsley, juniper berries, garlic, bay, carrots, onions, leeks, and thyme; mix together, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
Heat oven to 350°. Rub a 10-qt. Dutch oven with duck fat, if using. Layer potatoes, marinated meat, and vegetables in the pot, seasoning between each layer with salt and pepper, ending with a layer of potatoes. Pour in remaining marinade and arrange the bacon, overlapping the slices slightly, over the top.
Mix flour and 5 tbsp. water in a bowl; transfer to a floured surface and knead briefly. Roll dough into a rope and transfer to rim of pot; press to adhere and cover with lid. Bake 3 1⁄2 hours. Using a paring knife, carefully break the seal and remove lid to serve.

Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart (Tarte Flambée)
Cooking on a very hot pizza stone gives this bacon and onion tart a shatteringly crispy crust.
makes 3 Large Tartes

1⁄2 cup crème fraîche
1 cup fromage blanc (available at Murray’s Cheese) or cream cheese at room temperature
1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 3⁄4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 egg yolks
8 strips smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

Heat an oven to 500° with a pizza stone positioned on center rack. Mix crème fraîche, fromage blanc, nutmeg, and salt and white pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt in a bowl; make a well in the center. Whisk oil, yolks, and 1⁄2 cup water in another bowl, and pour into well. Using a fork, stir until a loose dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead dough for 1 minute. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll into a 12" circle, and place on a parchment paper—lined baking sheet. Spread 1⁄2 cup cheese mixture over circle, leaving a 1⁄2" border around edge. Sprinkle with a little of the bacon and onions. Transfer dough (on parchment paper) to pizza stone. Bake until lightly browned and crispy, 8–10 minutes. Repeat.

Pan Bagnat (Provençal Tuna Sandwich)
Packed with tomatoes, local bell peppers, black niçoise olives, anchovies and tuna, pan bagnat is basically a salade niçoise on crusty bread.

2 plum tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
Kosher salt, to taste
1 (5-oz.) can olive oil-packed tuna, drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1⁄2 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced into 2" lengths
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 (7-inch–round) rustic bread loaf, split (about 20 oz.)
1 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise
2 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced crosswise
8 oil-cured anchovies, drained
10 salt-cured black olives, pitted and halved
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sprinkle tomato slices liberally with salt and transfer to a colander; set aside to drain for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, break up tuna with a fork and stir in scallions and bell pepper; set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together oil and mustard; set dressing aside. Scoop the insides from the bread loaf and discard or reserve for another use. Place tomatoes evenly over bottom of bread and then top with fennel and cucumbers; spread tuna mixture over top, and then top with egg slices, anchovies, and olives. Pour dressing evenly over ingredients, and season with salt and pepper; cover with top of bread, pressing lightly to compact.
Wrap sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place on a baking sheet; top with another baking sheet and weight with a cast-iron skillet. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Slice into quarters to serve.

Pain au Chocolat
Beautiful homemade croissants, each containing a bar of high-quality dark chocolate, make for an impressive and indulgent addition to a breakfast spread.
makes 18 Croissant

1 tbsp. yeast
1⁄2 cup milk
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 1⁄2 cups plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, barely softened; plus 3 tbsp. melted and cooled
1 tbsp. powdered milk
1 tbsp. kosher salt
4 cups flour
18 1⁄2"-wide x 3"-long bittersweet chocolate bars
1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash

Stir together yeast and ½ cup water heated to 115° together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in milk, sugar, 3 tbsp. melted butter, powdered milk, and salt; add flour. Mix on medium speed until a stiff dough forms, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and form into a thick square; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Place remaining butter on a sheet of plastic wrap; cover with another sheet. Using a rolling pin, pound and shape butter into a 6″, ½″-thick square; set aside. Using rolling pin, roll dough into an 16″ square on a lightly floured work surface. Unwrap butter square, and place on dough so its corners line up with the middle point of each side of dough square; fold dough corners over butter so they meet in the center. Roll dough into a 12″ x 9″ rectangle, and then tri-fold dough like a letter. Roll the dough into a 12″ x 9″ rectangle and repeat folding. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 30 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding dough twice more; chill for 1 hour.
Roll dough into a 20″ x 14″ x ¼″ thick sheet; halve lengthwise. Cut each half into about 9 triangles, about 3 ½″-wide at their base; cut a ½″-deep slit in the middle of each wide base. Place 1 chocolate bar parallel to the base near the cut; holding the tip of the opposite corner down, roll the base over the chocolate toward the tip until it forms a tight roll. Place croissant on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, tip side down, and brush with egg wash. Repeat with remaining triangles, bars, and egg wash. Let croissants sit until doubled in size, about 2 ½–3 hours.
Heat oven to 375°. Working with one baking sheet at a time, brush croissants with more egg wash; bake until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Pear Tarte Tatin
This tart is traditionally made with apples, but firm-fleshed pears make a delicate and delicious alternative.

serves 6
For the Pastry
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp. shortening
For the Filling
2 lb. firm pears, peeled, cored, and halved lengthwise
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt, then rub butter and shortening into flour with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into flour mixture, and knead until dough just holds together. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 425°. To fan pears, place core-side down on a cutting board. Starting from just below the stem, cut each one into 4 lengthwise slices, leaving stem end attached. Place in a bowl, gently toss with lemon juice and 1⁄4 cup of the sugar, and set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a 9" ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 cup sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until it turns golden brown and caramelized. Remove skillet from heat. Stir to cool, as the sugar will continue to darken even off the heat.
Drain pears and place in skillet with caramelized sugar round side down, with stems facing center. Gently fan slices out.
Roll out dough on a floured work surface into a 10" round about 1⁄4" thick. Place dough on top of pears, covering edge of skillet. Press edges down between pears and inside of skillet and cut four 1⁄4" steam holes in center. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
Remove skillet from oven and tilt it carefully, using a baster to draw off excess juices. Transfer juices to a small saucepan and reduce over high heat until thick. Place a large, flat serving platter on top of the skillet and invert quickly and carefully. Spoon the reduced caramelized juices over the pears. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cherry Clafoutis
A decadent custard batter is studded with juicy, ripe cherries in this elegant and satisfying treat.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1⁄4 cups milk
6 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. kirsch
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
6 eggs
Kosher salt, to taste
3⁄4 cup flour
3 cups black cherries, pitted or unpitted
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 425°. Grease a 9″ cast-iron skillet or baking dish with butter; set aside. Combine milk, sugar, kirsch, vanilla, eggs, and salt in a blender. Blend for a few seconds to mix ingredients, then add flour and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour batter into buttered skillet, then distribute cherries evenly over top. Bake until a skewer inserted into batter comes out clean and a golden brown crust has formed on top and bottom of clafoutis, about 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Literally named “crunch in the mouth,” croquembouche is an edible monument of caramelized pastry.

For the Pâte à Choux
12 tbsp. unsalted butter
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups flour
9 eggs
To Assemble
Pastry Cream »
4 cups sugar
For the pâte à choux: Heat oven to 425°. Bring butter, salt, and 1 1⁄2 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over high heat. Remove pan from heat, add flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from sides of pan, about 2 minutes. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough is lightly dried, about 2 minutes more. Transfer dough to a bowl, and let cool for 5 minutes; using a wooden spoon, beat in 8 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Dough will come together and be thick, shiny, and smooth.
Dip two spoons in water, shake off excess, and scoop a walnut-size piece of dough with one spoon. With other spoon, scrape dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet, setting pieces 1″ apart on a baking sheet. Lightly beat remaining egg with pinch of salt and brush each piece of dough with it. Bake until puffed and light brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°, and continue to bake until well browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Spoon pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1⁄4″ tip. Gently poke a hole in the flat side of each baked, cooled puff with tip and pipe in filling.
For the caramel: Place 2 cups sugar and 1⁄2 cup water in a shallow saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium heat until sugar turns light amber, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Using tongs, dip top of filled puffs in hot caramel. Place puffs, glazed side up, on a plastic-lined tray. Form base with 12–14 glazed, cooled puffs, sticking them together with more caramel. Add puffs, layer by layer, to form a hollow cone. (Reheat caramel until liquid again if it becomes too thick; repeat making more caramel with remaining sugar and 1⁄2 cup water when first batch of caramel becomes too thick to work with.) Allow caramel to cool until it is the consistency of honey. With a spoon, drizzle thin strings of caramel around cone; let cool until brittle and set. Serve croquembouche within 4 hours of making to ensure the filling doesn’t soften the puffs.

Pastry Cream
Lightly scented with vanilla, pastry cream is a versatile filling ready for cakes, doughnuts, tarts, or anything else your baking heart can dream up. Use to fill profiteroles and then assemble into an impressive Croquembouche.
makes About 3 1/4 cups

1 1⁄2 cups milk
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
16 tbsp. butter, softened
Bring 1 cup milk and sugar to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk remaining milk, cornstarch, and egg yolks together in a large bowl. Slowly pour half the hot milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly, then return mixture to saucepan, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and just returns to a boil. Stir in vanilla and transfer to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. In a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed of a hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add cold filling and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Chill until ready to use.

Brown Butter Walnut Pie with Sour Whipped Cream
Browned butter accentuates the flavor of earthy walnuts and a sour cream topping offsets the richness of the filling for a balanced, delectable dessert.

For the Crust and Filling
Flour, for dusting
1⁄2 recipe Flaky Butter Pie Dough
13 tbsp. unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
6 large eggs
1 3⁄4 cups light corn syrup
1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups whole walnut halves, lightly toasted
For the Sour Cream Topping
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
1 cup sour cream
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the crust: Heat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ round. Fit into a 9″ pie plate. Trim edges and crimp; chill 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Line dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans; bake 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights; let cool.
Make the filling: Melt butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook until butter is dark golden brown with dark brown flecks and it gives off a nutty aroma, 20–22 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool. Whisk sugar and eggs in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Stir in browned butter, plus corn syrup, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Fold in walnuts and pour filling over dough; using a rubber spatula, spread into an even layer. Bake until just set in the center, about 40 minutes. Transfer pie to a rack and let cool completely before serving.
Make the topping: Whip heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold in sour cream and vanilla. Serve slices of pie with a dollop of sour whipped cream.

Lamb Navarin
This French lamb stew is packed with onions, peas, and root vegetables.

2 tbsp. canola oil
1 1⁄2 lb. trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 1" cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 medium carrots (1 chopped, 4 peeled and cut into 2" pieces)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. tomato paste
4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
4 medium new potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. sugar
12 pearl onions, peeled
1⁄3 cup fresh or frozen peas
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add lamb and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a plate; set aside. Add the chopped carrot and yellow onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, flour, and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in 6 cups water and reserved lamb. Cover, bring to a boil, and transfer to oven; cook until lamb is tender, about 50 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Set a sieve over a 4-qt. saucepan and strain cooking liquid. Discard solids. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming surface occasionally; cook until reduced to 2 1⁄2 cups, about 25 minutes. Set liquid aside.
Meanwhile, using a paring knife, trim each piece of remaining carrots, as well as the turnips and potatoes, into cocotte (elegantly tapered football shapes)—alternatively, cut them into a large dice. Set potatoes aside in a bowl of water. Heat a 12" skillet over medium-high heat and add carrots, butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water. Partially cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add turnips and pearl onions, partially cover, and continue cooking until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, swirling skillet, until vegetables are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tbsp. water, swirl skillet to glaze vegetables, and remove from heat; set aside and keep warm.
Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the reserved potatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a bowl; set aside.
To serve, put the lamb, carrots, turnips, pearl onions, potatoes, and peas into the sauce and cook until hot, about 2 minutes. Divide the stew between bowls. Garnish with parsley.

Sauerkraut with Pork and Sausages (Choucroute Garnie)

6 juniper berries
3 whole cloves
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt, to taste
2 fresh ham hocks (about 2 1⁄2 lbs.)
1⁄2 cup rendered duck fat
2 onions, chopped
2 cups white wine, preferably dry riesling
2 1⁄2 lb. Kasseler rippchen (sliced bone-in smoked pork loin chops)
1 (12-oz.) piece smoked slab bacon, sliced lengthwise into 3⁄4"-thick strips
1 (12-oz.) skinless piece salted pork belly, sliced lengthwise into 3⁄4" strips
4 1⁄2 lb. raw Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 knackwurst
3 bauernwurst
3 bockwurst
10 small-medium waxy potatoes, such as Red Bliss, peeled and left whole
Dijon mustard, for serving
Heat oven to 350˚. Put juniper berries, cloves, garlic, and bay leaf into a piece of cheesecloth and tie ends to form a spice bundle; set aside. Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ham hocks, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer hocks to a plate, reserving cooking liquid. Meanwhile, heat duck fat in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Add wine and 1 cup water; boil. Add spice bundle and ham hocks along with pork chops, bacon, and pork belly. Put sauerkraut on top of meat, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cover. Transfer to oven and bake until meat is tender and sauerkraut has softened slightly, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
Meanwhile, return reserved cooking liquid to high heat; boil. Working in batches, boil sausages until tender, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Add potatoes and boil until tender, about 15 minutes; transfer to a plate. To serve, pile sauerkraut in the center of a large platter. Arrange meat on top of sauerkraut and arrange potatoes along the outside. Serve with Dijon mustard.

Bistro Pommes Frites (Bistro French Fries)
The secret to these stellar bistro fries? Duck fat, a superior frying medium that gives the potatoes a deep, meaty flavor.
serves 4

7 cups duck fat
3 cups canola oil
4 large russet potatoes, cut lengthwise into 1⁄4"-thick batons
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat duck fat and oil in a 6-qt. dutch oven over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°. Working in small batches, add potatoes and cook, turning occasionally and maintaining a temperature of 300° (the temperature will drop when you add the potatoes), until pale and tender, 5–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Remove pot from heat and refrigerate fries for 1 hour.
Return oil to medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 400°. Working in small batches, add chilled fries to oil and cook, turning occasionally and maintaining a temperature of 375°, until golden brown and crisp, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to a rack set over a baking sheet; season with salt. Serve hot.

Foie de Veau en Persillade avec Pommes de Terre (Calf’s Liver with Parsley, Garlic, and Fried Potatoes)

1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1⁄8’"-thick batons, and soaked in water
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic (1 smashed and 1 minced)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
2 lb. veal or beef liver, trimmed
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄4 cup clarified butter
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1⁄2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Fleur de sel, to taste

Drain potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook, turning occasionally, until light brown. Add 2 tbsp. unsalted butter and smashed garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, spooning butter over potatoes, until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes more. Transfer potatoes to a plate; set aside. Wipe out skillet.
Return skillet to medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and wipe out skillet.
Using a sharp knife, slice liver horizontally into 4 thin slices. Season liver with salt and pepper. Put flour on a plate and dredge liver in flour; transfer to a rack set inside a baking sheet. Heat 2 tbsp. clarified butter in reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 slices liver and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip liver, add 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, and cook to desired temperature, about 1 minute more for medium rare. Transfer liver to paper towels and repeat with remaining clarified butter, liver, and unsalted butter. add lemon juice to pan, along with parsley and remaining garlic. Stir to combine. To serve divide potatoes between 4 serving plates. Top potatoes with liver and garnish with bacon. Spoon pan sauce over liver and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Pavés du Mail (Pan-Fried Steaks with Mustard Cream Sauce)

4 (8–10-oz.) flat iron steaks, cut horizontally without the connective tissue
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. canola oil
5 tbsp. cognac or brandy
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
1 1⁄2 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley

Season steaks with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in a 12" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked to desired temperature, about 6 minutes for medium rare. Remove pan from heat. Transfer steaks to 4 warm plates and pour off and discard all but 1 tbsp. fat.
Add 4½ tbsp. cognac to pan and stir, scraping browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Return pan to medium-high heat and cook for 20 seconds. Add cream and mustard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring vigorously, until sauce just comes together. Stir in remaining cognac and pour sauce over steaks. Serve steaks garnished with parsley and black pepper.

French Apple Tart

1 1⁄4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
7 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and halved
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup apricot jam
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Combine flour, 8 tbsp. butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse until pea-size crumbles form, about 10 pulses. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. ice-cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3—4 pulses. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Unwrap dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a 11″-tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges; chill for 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375º. Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together. Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves. Place 1 fanned apple half on outer edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves. Separate remaining apple slices. Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern. Fill in any gaps with remaining apple. Sprinkle with sugar and then dot with remaining butter. Bake until golden brown, 60–70 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat apricot jam in a small saucepan until warmed and loose; pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl and set aside. Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam. Let cool completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream.

Quiche Lorraine
Eggy, cheesy quiche lorraine makes for a refined, delicious brunch.

1 3⁄4 cups flour
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
3 eggs
3⁄4 cup grated Gruyère
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 cup milk
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
Chopped chives, to garnish

Place flour, butter, and salt in a bowl; using your fingers, rub together until pea-size crumbles form. Add 1 egg and 1 tbsp. ice-cold water; stir until dough forms. Briefly knead until smooth; form into a disk. Wrap and chill for 1 hour. Whisk together remaining eggs, cheese, cream, milk, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Cook bacon in an 8″ skillet over medium heat to render its fat, about 12 minutes; cool. Add to egg mixture; set filling aside.
Heat oven to 375°. Roll dough into a 13" circle; transfer to a 11" tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into bottom and sides. Trim excess dough; chill for 30 minutes. Prick bottom with a fork; cover with parchment paper, fill with dried beans, and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and beans; bake until light brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°; pour filling into crust. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes; garnish with chives.

Veal in Cream Sauce (Blanquette de Veau)

3 lb. boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1″ chunks
1 bouquet garni (1 tsp. coriander seeds, 5 black peppercorns, 3 sprigs thyme, 2 whole cloves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 bay leaf, and 1⁄4 bunch parsley stems, wrapped in cheesecloth, tied with kitchen twine)
10 oz. pearl onions, peeled
16 baby carrots, peeled
2 small bulbs fennel, each cut into 8 wedges
10 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
5 ribs celery, cut into 1″ pieces
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 1⁄2 tbsp. flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
1⁄3 cup crème fraîche
Parsley leaves, to garnish

Bring veal, bouquet garni, and 10 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, occasionally skimming any impurities that rise to the surface, for 30 minutes. Add onions, carrots, and fennel, and cook for 30 minutes. Add mushrooms and celery, and cook until veal is very tender and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer veal and vegetables to a bowl; cover and keep warm. Pour cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a bowl; place 4 cups in a 2-qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil, and reduce to 2 cups, about 30 minutes.
Wipe 6-qt. saucepan clean and return to medium heat; add butter. Add flour, and cook, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add reduced stock and cream, and bring to a boil; cook until thickened and slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Return veal and vegetables to sauce, and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Stir in juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne; divide among bowls with rice. Drizzle with crème fraîche; garnish with parsley leaves.

Mushroom Risotto
Half the mushrooms in this recipe are folded into the creamy risotto, lending the rice an earthiness, while the rest are roasted into a crisp, meaty garnish.

6 cups chicken stock
8 dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed clean
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 lb. mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelles, cremini, hen of the woods, oyster, and porcini, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. roughly chopped thyme
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. crème fraîche
1⁄2 cup grated parmesan

Heat oven to 450°. Boil stock and dried mushrooms in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat; strain, reserving mushrooms, and keep warm. Melt butter in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook onion until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add rice; cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup warm stock; cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue adding stock, 1⁄2 cup at a time, and cooking until absorbed before adding more, until rice is tender and creamy, about 16 minutes total. Mince the reserved porcini mushrooms and add to risotto. Meanwhile, toss the fresh mushrooms, oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet; roast until mushrooms are browned and garlic is tender, 10–12 minutes. Peel and mash garlic. Stir in half the mushrooms, the garlic, crème fraîche, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Garnish with remaining mushrooms.

Simple Garlic Confit
Simmering garlic in fat turns them into a spreadable condiment perfect for crusty bread.

2 cups canola oil, lard, or rendered chicken or duck fat
1 cup garlic cloves, peeled

Simmer oil, lard, or fat with garlic cloves in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-low; cook until garlic is tender, 35–40 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Egg-Topped Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Croque Tartine Parisienne)
A fried egg crowns this decadent sandwich of ham enrobed in béchamel and melted cheese.

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
5 1⁄2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
8 (1⁄4"-thick) slices country bread, lightly toasted
8 oz. thinly sliced smoked ham
16 oz. Gruyère cheese
4 eggs
Crème fraîche, for garnish
Aleppo pepper, for garnish
Mixed green salad, for serving (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour; cook 2 minutes. Whisk in milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until slightly thick, making a béchamel sauce, 6–8 minutes. Whisk in 1 1⁄2 tbsp. mustard, plus nutmeg, salt, and pepper; set sauce aside.
Heat broiler to high. Place 4 slices bread on a baking sheet and spread 1 tbsp. mustard over each. Top each with 2 oz. ham, 2 tbsp. béchamel sauce, and 2 oz. cheese. Broil until cheese begins to melt, 1–2 minutes. Top with remaining bread slices and spread with remaining sauce; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbly, 3–4 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs and season with salt and pepper; cook until whites are cooked but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Place an egg on top of each sandwich, garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche, and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper. Serve with salad on the side, if you like.

Bistro-Style Beef Steak Sandwich

1 lb beef round tip steak, 1/8-1/4-inch thick, pound if necessary
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons light soy sauce, divided
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1⁄2 cups sliced mushrooms
1⁄2 cup jarred roasted red pepper, cut into strips
1⁄4 cup dry red wine
8 slices muenster cheese or 8 slices swiss cheese or 8 slices mozzarella cheese or 8 slices c- monterey jack cheese or 8 slices cheddar cheese
4 (6 inch) crusty rolls or 4 (6 inch) hoagie rolls

Stack beef steaks; cut lengthwise in half and then crosswise into 1" strips.
Heat 1 Tbl. olive oil in non-stick skillet over med-high heat til hot.
Stir-fry beef strips and garlic (1/2 batch at a time), 1-2 minutes or til outside surface is no longer pink.
Remove from skillet and season with 2 Tbl. soy sauce and pepper.
Reduce heat to medium.
Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan (if needed), and stir-fry onion 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and continue cooking 2-3 minutes or til veggies are tender.
Add red pepper, wine and remaining 1 Tbl. soy sauce, bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and return beef to skillet.
Heat through.
Pile beef mixture onto bottoms of rolls.
Top each with 2 slices cheese.
Place on cookie sheet with tops next to bottoms cut side up, and broil just til cheese is melted and inside tops are lightly toasted.

Bistro Steak with Buttermilk Onion Rings
Vinaigrette, steak, and sauce:
2 tablespoons hazelnut, walnut, or olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1 1/2 pound hanger steak, center membrane removed, cut into 4 equal pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons dry green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Onion rings and assembly:
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, sliced 1/8" thick, rings separated
6 cups watercress leaves with tender stems
Special equipment: A deep-fry thermometer

For vinaigrette, steak, and sauce:
    Whisk hazelnut oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set vinaigrette aside.
    Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook 6–8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes.
    While steak rests, cook butter and shallot in same skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until shallot is softened and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add thyme and peppercorns. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/2 cup water and simmer until flavors meld and sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and whisk in mustard; season with salt and pepper.
For onion rings and assembly:
    Fit a medium saucepan with thermometer; pour in oil to measure 3". Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°F.
    Meanwhile, mix buttermilk and vinegar in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another bowl or baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Toss onion rings in flour mixture, shaking off excess, and transfer to a wire rack. Working in batches, dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl; toss again in flour.
    Working in 2 or 3 batches and maintaining temperature of oil, fry onion rings until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per batch. Let drain on paper towels; season with salt.
    Toss watercress with reserved vinaigrette. Thinly slice steak against the grain. Serve steak with sauce, watercress, and onion rings.

Goat Cheese, Roasted Garlic,and Tomato Croutes
Serve cheese and tomatoes on the side.

1 whole garlic head
Cooking spray
3 plum tomatoes, each cut into 4 wedges
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette, toasted

Preheat oven to 425°.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves); wrap in foil. Line a baking sheet with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Arrange tomato wedges in a single layer on foil. Bake garlic and tomatoes at 425° for 40 minutes, turning tomatoes after 20 minutes. Remove tomatoes from oven; bake garlic an additional 5 minutes. Remove garlic from oven; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Mash garlic pulp and goat cheese with a fork until blended.

Spread 2 teaspoons goat cheese mixture over each bread slice. Top each with 1 tomato wedge.

Apple Marzipan Galette

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup marzipan, softened - almond paste
4 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 425°.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on prepared pan. Roll marzipan to a 9-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place marzipan on top of dough.

Combine apple, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, juice, and salt in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon apple mixture over marzipan. Fold 2-inch dough border over the apple mixture, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover apple mixture). Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned (apple filling may leak slightly during cooking).

Place 1/4 cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring as needed to dissolve the sugar evenly (about 4 minutes). Cook 1 minute or until golden. Remove from heat; carefully stir in 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Drizzle over galette.

Bistro Breakfast Panini

6 bacon strips
1 teaspoon butter
4 large eggs, beaten
4 slices sourdough bread (3/4 inch thick)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
8 thin slices apple
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons butter, softened

 In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggs; cook and stir until set.
Place eggs on two slices of bread; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer with cheese, apple, bacon, spinach and remaining bread. Butter outsides of sandwiches.
Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill for 3-4 minutes or until bread is browned and cheese is melted. Yield: 2 servings. 

Bistro Turkey Sandwiches

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
6 wheat sandwich buns, split
6 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
1 medium pear, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound cooked turkey breast, thinly sliced
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
6 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook onion and 1 teaspoon brown sugar in oil for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in salt and cayenne.
Combine the mustard, apple cider and remaining brown sugar; spread over bun bottoms. Layer with lettuce, pear, turkey, basil and cheese. Top with caramelized onion. Replace tops. Yield: 6 servings.

Bistro Beef Bites

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
16 slices snack rye bread or French bread baguette
1/4 pound sliced deli roast beef
6 tablespoons sour cream
8 grape tomatoes, halved
16 sprigs fresh parsley, stems removed
Dash each salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and horseradish. Spread over bread slices. Top each with beef, sour cream, a tomato half and a parsley sprig. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yield: 16 appetizers. 

Bistro Beef & Noodles

1⁄2 lb lean ground beef
1⁄4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper, divided
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
2 large garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 1⁄2 cups beef broth
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄4 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces prepared medium-width egg noodles

In medium bowl combine beef, minced onion, Worchestershire and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Shape into 1-inch meatballs (about 24).
In large skillet melt butter over medium-high heat.
Add onion wedges, garlic and mushrooms; saute 8-10 minutes or until browned.
Add broth, meatballs, carrots, salt, thyme and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes.
Combine red wine and corn starch; stir until smooth. Stir into skillet.
Stirring constantly, bring to boil; boil 1 minute.
Place prepared egg noodles on a serving platter; top with meatballs and sauce.

Bistro Mac & Cheese

1 package (16 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in milk and seasonings. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.
Reduce heat; stir in cheeses until melted. Stir in sour cream. Add macaroni; toss to coat. In a small skillet, heat remaining butter over medium heat. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir until golden brown. Sprinkle over top. Yield: 8 servings.

Courgette Tain
A tian is the name for a shallow Provençal baking dish and anything cooked in it. Sometimes made with cheese and rice, I prefer just vegetables. Baking the courgettes brings out their sweetness and makes a lovely accompaniment to lamb or chicken.

3 tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 courgettes, thinly sliced on the diagonal

3 large tomatoes

Pinch of sugar

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 (or lower if that suits another dish you are cooking – the exact temperature is not important).

Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook gently for half an hour or so until meltingly tender. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

Oil a shallow gratin dish (mine is an oval, 10in/25cm long) and spread the onions in the base.

Arrange the courgettes and tomatoes in overlapping circles over the top. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about an hour, until coloured and slightly shrivelled, which means the flavours have intensified.

Eat the tian hot or at room temperature.

Soupe au Pistou
Soupe au pistou, the southern French answer to minestrone, is endlessly varied, but the constants are tomatoes, vegetables and the basil purée or “pistou” stirred in at the end. Some versions add parmesan, for the Italian touch.
Small bunch of basil

7 tbsp olive oil

1 head of fennel, chopped into pea-sized pieces

1 leek, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 tomatoes

4 black olives, pitted and quartered (optional)

2 pints of light chicken or vegetable stock, or water

Handful of green beans

2oz/60g vermicelli pasta

Put the basil in a small food processor with a fat pinch of salt and chop very finely.

Dribble about 4 tbsp of the oil in through the spout, mixing to a pesto-like consistency.

Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of oil in a large pan and add the fennel, leek, garlic and a pinch of salt.

Cook very gently for half an hour or so, until the vegetables are very soft but not coloured. Meanwhile, drop the tomatoes into a bowl of boiling water for 10 seconds, then drain and peel them.

Cut them in half, and scoop the seeds and core into a separate bowl. Slice the flesh into strips.

Add the tomato strips to the pan and cook for a minute or so.

Holding a sieve over the pan, drain the juice that's gathered in the bowl of seeds into the pan (it has a good tomato flavour).

Add the olives, if you're using them, and the stock or water. Bring to simmering point and add the beans.

Cook for two minutes, then add the pasta and cook for a further minute. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Serve hot or at room temperature, trickled with basil oil.

Bistro Salad with Roasted Vegetables

2 very large carrots, cut into 1” chunks
3 large parsnips, cut into 1” chunks
½ large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1” chunks
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, grated
Small pinch of smoked paprika
4 large eggs
1½ pounds frisée and/or arugula, cut or torn into bite-size pieces, washed
4 tablespoons Whole Grain Mustard Walnut Vinaigrette (click here for recipe)
½ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt (for serving)

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss carrots, parsnips, and celery root with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, rotating pans halfway through, until vegetables are golden and tender, 25–30 minutes.
Place grated garlic and smoked paprika in a large bowl. Add roasted vegetables and toss to combine. Reserve ½ cup roasted vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch.
Meanwhile, bring 2” water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl, then gently slide egg into water. Repeat with remaining eggs, waiting until white of egg in water is opaque before adding the next egg (about 30 seconds apart). Poach until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels as they are done.
Toss frisée and/or arugula and roasted vegetables with dressing and season with sea salt and pepper. Divide salad among plates and top each with a poached egg. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and garnish egg with a pinch of flaky sea salt and a turn of black pepper.

Bistro Beet Burgers

1 1/4 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
1 cup brown or green lentils, cooked
1 cup shredded beets
1/2 cup very fine dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme, rubbed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel, or finely crushed fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for the pan
6 burger buns

Put the brown rice, lentils, and shredded beets in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat.
Now transfer to a large bowl and add the bread crumbs, onion, garlic, almond butter, thyme, fennel, mustard, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated, so get in there and take your time; it could take a minute or two.
Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Now form the patties. Use 1⁄3 cup of the mixture for each patty and form into 3⁄4-inch-thick disks. 
Pour a very thin layer of oil into the pan and cook the patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Drizzle in a little more oil as needed. The burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through.
Serve warm on buns with toppings! They taste pretty great reheated as well, so if you want, cook them in advance, refrigerate, then gently heat in the pan later. 

Bistro Sliders with Pickled Onions

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)
8 split brioche or soft dinner rolls

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, and cook until softened, 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar and vinegar; toss to coat. Let mixture cool. In a small bowl, combine garlic and mayonnaise.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Divide ground beef into 8 balls. Press each lightly to form 3/4-inch-thick patties. Season each with salt and pepper. Grill 3 minutes per side for medium. Serve sliders on rolls with pickled onions and garlic mayonnaise.