• 8 May 2020

To say French culture and tradition are serious about their food would be an understatement! Their dedication to the art of flavour and preparation is pretty much unrivalled and may be the biggest influence on Western cuisine in general. French cuisine is so revered that UNESCO added traditional french food to the world’s “intangible cultural heritage” in 2010!

While initially established as a tricky art of preparation and presentation by French pioneer chefs, modern haute cuisine has made French recipes more accessible to the average foodie.

So slap on your beret, reach for the chardonnay or champagne and lay the table for great recipes for French dishes that are perfect for any occasion in the comfort of your own home! Better yet, if you’re still not sure how to treat that special lady in your life, why not treat mom to a French culinary experience for Mother’s Day!

Cooking is one of the best bonding experiences

Breakfast: (Crêpes)

No breakfast is as elegant as French crêpes,  which are thinner and lighter than pancakes. Dating back as far as 472 ACE from the Bretagne region in West of France, crêpes, even have their own holiday in France (La Chandeleur on 2 February every year). Start the day off with this surprisingly easy, yet distinctively French breakfast option.

Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1tsp butter (for the pan)
  • 500ml milk
  • 250g cup all-purpose flour (or buckwheat flour for savoury option)
  • Tiny dash of salt

Sweet option

  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 cup water (or rum for an even more French twist on your sweet crêpes option!)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Sweet crepes can make the most delicious breakfast

Savoury option:

  • 1 egg (per crêpe)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100g mature cheddar,
  • 100g ham, chopped or shredded
  • Fried mushrooms or steamed spinach, to serve (optional)
Directions

For the batter:
1. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well to break the eggs into.
2. Mix the eggs and the flour together
3. Once mixed, add the milk and melted butter (for the sweet option add the sugar, vanilla and the optional dash of rum) and continue to stir until you have a runny batter.
4. Allow batter to rest for an hour for the flour mixture to properly absorb the liquids.
5. Heat a non-stick pan covering the surface with butter.
6. Once the butter starts to bubble, pour in the batter. Enough to cover the surface of the pan.
7. Cook for approximately one minute until or until the bottom of the crêpe is a light golden brown.
8. Flip the crêpe and cook for approximately 30 seconds.
9. Remove from the pan and roll the crêpe or fold into a triangle (similar to folding a wrap).

Savoury option:
1. Once removing the crêpe from the pan, add the grated cheese to the centre of the crêpe with enough space in the centre of the cheese to crack an egg into.
2. Place the chopped ham, mushrooms (and/or spinach) around the cheese centre and fold each side of the crêpe in towards the centre to make a square.
3. Place back into the pan and cook for another 30 seconds on each side.
4. Remove the crêpe square from the pan and place onto a baking tray. Repeat the above until all your crêpes are in the baking tray.
5. Place the baking tray into the oven to bake at approximately 180 degree celsius for 6 to 7 minutes until the egg whites are set.
6. Remove from the oven and place on a serving plate.

Side Note: Resting the batter for an hour is considered by many to be the secret to making perfect crêpes.

Bon Appetit!

Treat your mom to a beautiful and delicious breakfast

Lunch: (Salad Nicoise)

As summer approaches in the northern hemisphere, light, cold lunches are the order of the day. The classic French Salad Nicoise hails from one of Europe’s favourite beach destinations, Nice, and when prepared correctly it is hailed by some chefs as the perfect salad combination!

Over the decades the Salad Nicoise has seen numerous adaptations, but the classic salad relies on four essential ingredients, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna or anchovies and black olives (as from Nice). The true salad nicoise does not contain any cooked vegetables as a summer dish.

Ingredients
  • 60g of young lettuce greens) (mesclun)
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 12 black olives
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tomatoes cut into wedges or 6 to 8 cocktail tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 basil leaves, whole
  • 6 fillets of anchovies (canned in olive oil or baked is up to preference)
  • 2 grilled tuna steaks (sliced) or 2-3 cans of tuna (canned in oil)

Salad dressing:

  • 6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Ground sea salt (or as preferred)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper (or as preferred)
Colourful and healthy meal of nicoise salad
Directions

Preparing the dressing:

  • Add the balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, chopped basil, oregano, dijon mustard, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk.
  • In a smaller separate bowl take the sliced onion and marinate in some of the salad dressing for 30 minutes.

Preparing the salad:

  • In a large salad bowl lay down a bed of lettuce greens.
  • Arrange the quartered tomatoes, boiled eggs, tuna, anchovies, marinated onion, olives, sliced garlic and sliced green pepper.
  • Pour the salad dressing over and finish with the dressing of the basil leaves.

Side Note: The Salad Nicoise was traditionally a fisherman’s dish, hence few cooked ingredients and abundance of fresh, readily available vegetables and fish. Other popular variations of the salad include boiled and quartered potatoes and green beans.

Dinner: (Ratatouille)

Beyond the movie namesake, ratatouille is famously easy to cook in abundance and is delectably moreish and versatile enough to freeze for later. Traditional French ratatouille, while easy, can be time-consuming as the selection of ingredients needs to be chopped and then cooked separately before stewing so as to achieve consistency.

While great as a supper, ratatouille, like many French dishes suits any time of day.

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into 2 1/2 cm pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 120 ml dry white wine
  • 2 eggplants, diced into 1 – 1 1/2 cm pieces
  • 2 zucchinis, cut into 1/2 cm slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 540g tomatoes (3 to 4 medium), large dice
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g (1/4 cup) fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 100g fresh basil leaves for serving.
  • Toasted baguette (for serving)
Spoil mom with a hearty meal of ratatouille
Directions
  • First and foremost, prepare the vegetables in the suggested sizes and keep each vegetable type in a separate bowl.
  • To save a bit of time prepare 2 baking trays by rubbing the cooking surfaces with olive oil and salt
  • Spread the eggplant evenly on one tray, and the zucchinis and bell pepper on the other.
  • Bake both pans in the oven at once, stirring halfway.
  • Once the eggplant has turned golden and softened a bit (about 5 minutes) remove from the oven.
  • The zucchini and peppers will take a bit longer. Remove once softened and remove.
  • In a heavy-bottom stewing pot add the minced garlic, oregano and onion with a bit of olive oil and fry until lightly browned.
  • Add the baked vegetables to the pot.
  • Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chopped basil salt and pepper and stir together and stir.
  • Put the lid on the pot and allow to simmer at low heat for about 30 to 35 minutes. 
  • Lastly, add the fresh basil leaves and serve warm…

Side Note: Serve with lightly toasted french baguette slices to soak up all the stew, and a glass of red wine!

Dessert: (Chocolate soufflé)

The soufflé is as notorious for its fickleness as it is for its light fluffy indulgence. The soufflé, as with crêpes have both sweet and savoury varieties, with the sweet option guaranteed to delight. As with anything made to perfection, all the perfect soufflé needs is attention and some simple rules to keep in mind when preparing.

Ingredients
  • 6 ramekins/souffle bowls (1 per serving)
  • 120g unsalted butter, plus more for coating the ramekins.
  • 50g (2 tbs) sugar, plus more for coating dish
  • 230g dark chocolate (60% – 65% cacao), finely chopped
  • 70g (4 ⅓ tbs) cold milk
  • 6 eggs separated into the yolks and egg whites
  • 4.5g (½ tsp) cream of tartar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
What better way to end Mother’s day than with soufflé
Directions
  • First, coat the inside and rim of the ramekins generously with unsalted butter.
  • Proceed to coat them with sugar, tapping out any excess.
  • In a separate microwaveable bowl (or saucepan for stove heating) mix the chocolate and butter and melt
  • Let cool slightly and add the egg yolks, salt and milk (to lighten it) and whisk together.
  • In another medium bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk until fluffy.
  • Add the sugar, gradually and whisk until the whites hold firm and form stiff peaks.
  • Add the egg whites mixture to the chocolate mixture in two additions and mix well.
  • Pour the batter into the small ramekins up to roughly 1cm from the top (do not fill the ramekins).
  • Place the oven tray to the bottom third of the oven and pre-heat to 180 degrees.
  • Place ramekins onto the oven tray and bake until the souffle is puffed roughly 1 ⅕ – 2cm above the ramekin rim (roughly 35 minutes) and is starting to crack. This is also dependent on how runny or firm you want your souffle.
  • Important: Do not open the oven for at least the first 20 minutes as this may cause your souffle to collapse
  • When ready your souffle should gently wobble when the tray is gently shaken.

Side Note: The biggest issue many cooks have with their first attempt in making soufflé is that it collapses. This is usually caused by opening the oven too soon. Other reasons are not enough butter and sugar coating in the ramekins. For some common issues and answers take a look here.


While there are as vast an array of ways to prepare each of these traditional dishes as there are the chefs that make them, the above recipes have been researched to make it as painless and as pleasant an experience as a tour of France. Do you have tips and tricks to share from your experience? Leave your comments below!

Questions & Comments