~French Chefs-Artists Of Their Craft~

greatest-french-chefsHopefully you fellow readers have had a chance to check out my last post on the best French restaurants in the U.S. When writing that last post I mentioned some of the chefs who head up these fabulous and must try French restaurants, and that’s when it got me thinking!  I have never done a feature on some of the greatest French Chefs out there. While I myself, covet to be a French chef worthy of just my family and dinner party friends approval, these chefs I’m about to mention are famously known for their skill and expertise in French cuisine and have shared it with those throughout the world. Not to mention have also made the fabulous French restaurants like those I mentioned in my last post as great as they are!

The Greatest French Chefs

  • Jean Christophe Novelli- Known these days as a famous celebrity chef he runs his own academy, Novelli Academy, which is ranked as one of the top 25 cooking schools in the nation.  He found his love for cooking at the age of 14 when he perfected the art of baking. At the age of 19, he began his first private chef position to an elite figure.  From there he went to Britain and has successfully opened 4 different concepts while in London.
  • Helene Darroze- With her own two restaurants in Paris and London, she is  2 star Michelin chef and trained under Alain Ducasse. She also comes from a family of four generations of chefs. You can taste her love for cooking and her choice of rustic flavors in all of her dishes.
  • french-pastry-chefPierre Herme- A world renowned Pastry chef who began his formal training at just the age of 14 under elite Paris pastry chef Gaston Lenotre. He has received many awards for his brilliant and tantalizing pastries such as being named Pastry Chef of the Year in France, as well as receiving the Chevalier of Arts and Letters award.
  • Raymond Blanc- owner of a two Michelin star establishment, Le Manoir, in the UK, he found his way to England from eastern France.  Raised by a mother who loved cooking and had quite the skill at it, some of her talents rubbed off on him.  He is known for using seasonal fruits and vegetables to make the dishes he creates the freshest most full of flavor possible.

best-french-chefsI have found while writing this post just how much I enjoy researching French Chefs.  With a passion for cooking and the flavors they create each one of these phenomenal chefs is a true artist.  Seeing the love and skill they have for cooking and taking notes of their flavor choices and dish creations, has me inspired to create some fabulous new French dishes for my family and friends.  I love how each chef also puts individuality into their dishes bringing out different features and profiles. Awww, for the love of French cuisine!

Outstanding French Restaurants Throughout The U.S.

top-french-restaurantsWe love French cuisine and cooking it from home, but what about the best French restaurants throughout the United States!  There are definitely a number to choose from, however, we thought we would share some of our personal favorites or ones that we can’t wait to visit. Located everywhere from New York to California these are some of the best French restaurants out there.

Best French Restaurants in the U.S.

 

  • Trois Mec- located in Los Angeles, headed by Chefs Ludo Lefebvre, John Shook and Vinny Dotolo, this isn’t your average reservation restaurant.  Instead patrons must be members on their website and try to snag a ticket in order to dine at this establishment. However, if you do dine in you will be treated to exquisite French fare like Dungeness  crab ceviche and other fine dishes.
  • Cafe Boulud- this restaurant is found near Central Park close to the Upper East Side in New York.  With dishes such as Filet Mignon with Pommes Dauphine, it’s definitely a must try for French Food lovers.
  • Sixteen- found in Chicago, Illinois on the 16th floor of the Trump Internationalfrench-restaurants-U.S> Hotel & Tower this restaurant not only offers fine French cuisine but beautiful views of downtown Chicago.  With 2 michelin stars this restaurant also changes its menu 4 times a year and features such delights as lobster carpaccio.
  • Highlands Bar & Grill- this Birmingham, Alabama relic has been in business since 1982.  Headed by Chefs Frank & Pardis Stitt the menu is updated and changed daily as well as with seasonal ingredients.  Another stand out of this restaurant is how the Chefs combine a mix of both French and Southern dishes and flavors.

French-dishesThese French restaurants are just some of the many that can be found throughout the United States.  While I myself, have only been to a couple of the ones listed I am making it my goal to dine at more as time goes on.  As a true lover of French cuisine and a new found passion for French cooking at home, I find it exciting to taste the french dishes by fabulous chefs in the different states and cities I visit.  I have also learned through my love for cooking and through my French cooking class how each chef tends to lend an individuality to the French cuisine they are preparing. It’s always exciting with notes to be taken on trying new and old French dishes and trying to recreate them in the confines of my own kitchen! Cheers to french cuisine and all of the marvelous chefs who bring it to life throughout the states and the world.

 

Monaco & The French Riviera

I started this blog in hopes of sharing my love for french cooking as well as tidbits Monaco-yacht-showand tips on how to successfully prepare French cuisine from home. I think in writing my posts I have discovered more and more how much I love french cooking, food and ingredients.  I also have realized that the French culture in its entirety is something that I really am interested in and appreciate.  Recently I began taking a French cooking class two nights a week to further my knowledge and to also be able to share a little more with you fellow readers.  What a great experience it has been! Not only have I expanded my knowledge of French Cuisine, I have also met some really interesting people that share my same passion for the French Culture. In fact a group of 5 of us will be going abroad to visit the French Riviera and explore Monaco! One of my fellow travel companions, Brian, is a vinyl boat wrap technician and has traveled to Monaco many of times to vinyl wrap yachts and eat at some of the best French restaurants & cafes that you can find.  Brian, began sharing his traveling stories with me during our cooking classes and I have found that I am even more intrigued with the French culture than I once was!

French-Riviera-MonacoAlthough this post may be a little off kilter because it doesn’t focus entirely on french cuisine, I thought my fellow readers may be excited to hear some of Brian’s tales about the famous Monaco Yacht Show that is in fact going on as I write this!  It is considered the biggest yachting event and kicked off September 26th!  People from all over the world travel to this event to see the beautiful yachts that boast state of the art kitchens to cook cuisine from all over France and the rest of the world, as well as spas, beauty salons, swimming pools, and gyms! You will find this yacht show in Monaco located in Port Hercules prisistine and sparkling waters. With 121 super yachts on display and some even for sale one can definitely dream!  My dream would to be to sail on one of these magnificent ships through the French Riviera enjoying delicious food, champagne, the ocean breeze and all of the sunshine.

Super Yachts Of “The” Monaco Yacht Show

  • Axioma- This beautiful yacht is owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky and boasts an infinity swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym, massage room, and steam room. Measuring 236ft there is plenty of room to sail the French waters in style & class
  • Motor Yacht Solo- This yacht is 236ft as well and has a 20ft swimming pool, Turkish bath, and a Winter garden
  • Elandess- At 244 ft this ocean giant is complete with a super yacht swimming pool, observation lounge and another lounge below the waterline.
  • Illusion Plus- One of the bigger yachts at the yacht show it comes in at 290 ft. It has 4 interior lounges, 2 jacuzzi pools, a helicopter pad, and a beauty salon! Am I in heaven yet.
  • Barbara- Another of the bigger yachts at 290 ft this beautiful ocean masterpiece has a gymnasium on the sun deck and a wellness areaFrench-Italian-cuisine
  • Dar- Perhaps the biggest yacht at the show this yacht is 295 ft and offers panoramic views from the interior, a state of the art kitchen, helipad, swimming pool, beach club yes a beach club! And a bathing platform!

While these are only a handful of the amazing yachts at the show there are still so many more to see and take it. Another thing that I am excited to take in and have a first hand experience at when we travel to Monaco is the cuisine.  Being that it is located on the Mediterranean a lot of the dishes are prominent with seafood and fish.  Another fact is that the cuisine found there is actually a combination of Italian and French fare!  I am beyond excited to try out some of the Italian infused French dishes and share recipes with all of you readers when I return.  Part of me feels as if I monaco-cuisinemay never want to leave the French Riviera and instead relocate to a small little town along the Mediterranean Sea.  Brian has shared that in all of the trips he has taken to vinyl wrap luxury yachts and smaller boats he always leaves a part of him in the French Riviera when he returns to the states.  He said that being he isn’t the world’s most creative or greatest chef he started taking our French cooking class in hopes of bringing some of the amazing dishes he has eaten while abroad to his on kitchen. All I can say is Bon Voyage my fellow readers, I promise to return with wonderful dishes to share and many stories of the French Riviera and all of it’s splendor!

 

 

 

How To Make French Macarons!

French Macarones are all the rage these days and great to bring to parties, family get togethers, or to simply enjoy at home.  We thought we’d share this video on how to make your own French macarons.  It’s a lot easier than you may think!

Learn French Food Terminology!

While learning the French language and correct pronunciations may seem like a bit of a challenge it’s always fun to try!  We figured that because you are learning to become an at home French cuisine master why not learn some of the French food terminology.  Check out this video complete with the correct pronunciations!  You are not only on your way to mastering French Cuisine but also one step closer to learning the language of love!!

Common Cooking Techniques 101

master-of-french-cuisineIf you have been following our blog, you have learned French Food Facts, a bit about French wine, and how to execute the perfect stay at home French Date night.  Now it’s time to really master the art of cooking your own French Cuisine! But first! First for those of you especially those who are not completely comfortable in the kitchen and with cooking terms, we will give you a guide to some of the most widely used terms when it comes to cooking.  Having a bit of knowledge as to what each term actually means will help making french cuisine and cooking for that matter that much easier! Did you know that a lot of the cooking terms that are used daily are actually french derived? Take Cuisine for example, yep you guessed it, it’s a french word!

Widely Used (French) Cooking Terms

 

  • Mise en Place- “Put In Place”  While this isn’t too commonly used of a cooking term it does help to know it’s meaning especially when cooking French recipes. It’s also a great habit to get into when cooking ANY recipe for that matter.  Look through your recipe and find the measured ingredients and put them in individual bowl, piles, dishes etc. This will help make executing the recipe that much easier. For example when making cookies it calls for X cups of flour sifted.  Having your sifted flour ready to go along with your beaten eggs and the rest will help you to complete the recipe just as its called for and in a simple organized fashion!
  • Blanch- Wondering how restaurants get their veggies so perfectly cooked, with theblanching-veggies right amount of crisp and without losing the nutrients.(Yes, cooking your veggies too long will void them of nutrients!) Introducing “blanching”.  Start with a pot of boiling water, a spoon with slits, and a bowl of ice water. Put your veggies in the boiling water, then using your slotted spoon transfer them to the waiting ice water. Perfectly cooked veggies every time!
  • Julienne- this term refers to a matchstick like knife cut resulting in (veggies usually) cut into dimensions measuring 1/8×1/8 x 2in.  Don’t fret if yours come out a bit thicker, why? A thicker cut means they are “Jardine”
  • saute-french-cookingSaute- A term that is very commonly used is sauteed. This basically, means cooking something over high heat in some type of fat, think butter, olive oil etc. Next you must move the food around at a fast pace in the pan as to evenly coat the ingredients with the fat of your choice as well as to evenly cook the ingredients as well.
  • Deglacer- This is your gateway to delicious sauces.  You will add wine(we know the french love their wine) or another type of stock ingredient to a pan you have cooked something in( maybe the saute pan).  You will being the ingredients to a boil while lightly scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any leftover remnants. Talk about delicious flavor for your sake you will further make!

While there are other cooking terms to master these 5 will surely help you on your way to becoming an at home master in your own kitchen.  Understanding cooking terms even slightly will help make recipes to appear as if they are not entirely speaking in a foreign language you do not quite understand! Good look all you future chefs, you are on your way to making your own great cuisine!

The Perfect French Date Night At Home

eiffel-tower

You are planning a romantic date night for you and your partner. One filled with great food, romance and an intimate feel, but have no idea what route to go.  Should you go to that trendy new restaurant in town, or perhaps you are thinking of an expensive dinner for two at a fancy place where reservations may be hard to come by?  Nothing seems to be fitting and what you really want is to spend an amazing evening with the person you love. Enter in a French inspired date night at home! After all Paris, France is considered the city of love and French Cuisine and desserts are fabulous at that! Not sure where to start in planning this spectacular romantic evening? Check out our guide to the ultimate French Date!

limousine-french-date-nightThe Invitation: Send an invite to your love affection with minimal details. Time & Place for a romantic evening for two.  If you want to really get into the spirit of things find a limousine service near you that can pick your partner up and whisk them away to your “Date Night In France”.  When planning my French date night at home I used limozarizona.com and clued the driver in on the date night plan. John, the driver for the evening was more than happy to help in making sure that at least the beginning of our night went smoothly and with grace.  I think there is something about love and romance that people just love to see!

The Setting: You want to create a setting that is soft light, relaxing, and inspires intimacy.  Think lowlights (not to low) maybe some candles, soft music, a nice bottle of French wine either chilling in a bucket on your counter or a fine red opened and breathing next to your cheese plate

meat-and-cheese-boardThe Starters: Speaking of that cheese plate, let’s talk about starters!  Use a wood cutting board or another platter of your choice and layout an authentic french baguette ( if you aren’t ready to try your hand at making the bread at home, AJ’s or another fine foods store will usually have them) fresh fruit, a few assorted cheeses, gourmet meats and olive oil dusted with fresh herbs. When your guest arrives pour them a glass of wine and linger over the cheese & meat board while the aromas of your dinner cooking fill your nose and the ambiance relaxes you both.  Pour a glass of that waiting wine and really start to enjoy your evening.

The Main Course:  This is your time to shine!  That French cuisine you have been excited to cook is now in the making!  We suggest picking from main entrees such as Crock Pot Beef Bourguignon (rich beef stew cooked in a burgundy wine), Steak Frites, which is basically a french twist on a nice piece of steak and gourmet style french fries.  Its a French Classic that’s simple, easy to execute and delicious at that! Or perhaps in the colder months you can try out a Cassoulet. This usually consists of white beans stewed slowly with meats. Themeats typically used for this dish are duck, sausage, or pork.  You pick your favorite and give it a bit of your own twist.

creme-bruleeThe Dessert: While there are a variety of incredible French desserts that can be made and chosen from, we suggest none other than Creme Brulee!  This french classic is easy enough to make although it does require a torch and individual dishes. It sweet, creamy custard and can be topped with any fruit of your choice.

The Rest Of The Evening:  The rest of the evening is up to you lovebirds.  What we can assure you is that by this time in the date you are both relaxed not only from the wine but from the atmosphere as well.  You have just eaten a delicious meal and all from the comfort of your own home. Romance is in the air and the rest of the evening is stretching ahead of you!

Congratulations, you have pulled off a memorable and magnificent evening and you have tried your hand at french cuisine!  Who said a romantic date night couldn’t be something “out of the box” and completely amazing!

 

All About French Wines

French-winesThe entire dining experience is taken very seriously in France.  Not only do the French believe you should sit and enjoy your food, they also believe in having wine with lunch & dinner. In fact wine is one of the leading staples alongside bread and cheese when it comes to French cuisine.  Perhaps that is why France is the leading wine producer throughout the world!

For those of you that are not wine connoisseurs, and are looking to understand French wine and how it is paired with the cuisine you are trying to replicate, we thought we’d break the French wine categories down for you and make it a bit simpler.  That being said, French wine is organized into 4 different regions and 4 categories depending greatly on quality of the grapes used and production itself.

french-wine-grapes

4 Categories Of Identifying Grape Quality

  • Table Wine- the lowest on the grape quality spectrum but definitely still delicious to drink. Table Wine is for everyday use.
  • Vin de Pays’- Similar to Table Wine but of a little higher quality
  • Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure- this type of wine is from a specific region and contains high quality grapes
  • Appellation d’origine Contrôlée- This is by far the crem dela creme of all wine. The AOC seal is in recognition of the highest quality of grape and French wine available

French-wine-appellation

4 Different French wine Regions

  • Bordeaux- This is mainly the region where Cabernets, Merlots, & Malbecs originate from. These wines are typically used in Bordelaise sauce which is made up of red wine, spices, and shallots.
  • Cotes Du Rhone- This region is found in the South of France and is home to red grapes that make up Syrah’s & Grenaches. As well as white grapes that make up viognier & Roussance
  • Burgundy- This particular region is best known for it’s white grapes that are found in Chardonnays and red grapes that are found in Pinot Noirs.  Wine from the Burgundy region finds its way into La Bourguignonne sauce which are also comprised of baby onions and mushrooms
  • Alsace- this region is found very close to Germany and thus has cooler temperatures than the rest of France and it’s wine regions. Because it is so close to the German border this region is influences a lot by Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer

Another fun fact and something your taste buds may thank you for is the fact that French Sauvignon Blancs are comparable to those from New Zealand.  What exactly does this mean?  If you are a Sauvignon Blanc drinker you may know that many people prefer New Zealand Sauv Blancs because of their grassy and grapefruit enhanced structure.  If you are looking to find a Sauv Blanc with notes that differ a bit, but a wine that still stands up to its New Zealand relative try a French Sauv Blanc, we don’t think you will be disappointed!

The French appreciate wine and not only drink it with the majority of meals they also use it alot in sauces and other dishes.  Get familiar with the different regions and find a couple wines from each that are within your budget and taste.  Having a bit of understanding of what wines do for your French sauces and other dishes that call for them, will help you to replicate your chosen French dish and eating it will be that much more enjoyable!

 

French Facts~

You have just been introduced to the wonder and deliciousness of French Cuisine and now you are ready to try your hand at recreating some of the fabulous French recipes available at home.  Perhaps you have always loved French dishes but never have found the time to make them yourself. Whatever it may be, one thing is sure to be said, once you master French cuisine at home your dinner parties and gatherings just got a whole though better!  Before I start on any new venture involving another culture I tend to do a bit of research to understand the culture and their idea of food, spices, pairings etc. Having somewhat of an understanding of the culture you are trying to replicate a dish from can make all the difference in how the dish turns out!  

That being said, to get everyone started on their French cuisine cooking at home, we thought we would share some fun and interesting facts about Food & the French Culture!

French Cuisine/ Culture Facts

    • Enjoying Your Food- In traditional French culture food enjoyment is a HUGE priority.  The French feel that eating is part of their culture and not just an act of putting food in your body.  They take time to savor their meals and enjoy themselves in all aspects while doing so!
    • French-CheeseCheese Galore-  the French have a different cheese for EVERY day of the year.
    • Snails, Snails, Snails- definitely a country staple, the French consume an average of 500,000,000 snails per year!
    • No Food Waste- France was the very FIRST country to prohibit supermarkets from throwing away unsold food.. Instead they must donate it to charities or other services that it may help.  Probably one of my favorite facts!!!
    • Traditional Baguette- If you want to enjoy a truly traditional French baguette, it must only be made with 3 ingredients- Flour, Yeast, & Salt. The entire loaf must way just under 9 ouncesreal-french-baugette
    • Legal Drinking Age- Not 1 but different legal drinking ages in the French culture.  16 for beer/wine, and 18 for hard liquor and other strong spirits
    • Simple Desserts-  Although many can conjure up sweet decadent desserts when thinking of French sweets the opposite is true.  Traditional French dessert consists of fresh fruit, sometimes yogurt or a small square of real dark chocolate.
    • french-wineWine- Wine one of the biggest staples and influences when it comes to French cuisine and dining
    • Celebrations- When it’s time to celebrate the French drink Champagne!
    • Traditional Christmas Menu– during the celebration of Christmas the French enjoy a menu of raw oysters, escargots, smoked salmon, foie gras, scallops, and let’s not forget the Champagne!
    • Horse & Rabbit- If you have ever dined at an authentic French restaurant, you may have noticed you saw an abundance of dishes made with horse and rabbit.  This is because the French tend to eat a lot of horse and rabbit.
    • The AOC- The French rely heavily on the AOC or Appellation D’Origine Controlee labeling system.  This system helps to regulate the quality of chicken, wine, cheeses, olive oils, potatoes & lentils.
    • Lunch Time- We said the French believe in the enjoyment of their food and because this is of such great importance it is not uncommon for the French to take a 2 hour lunch break at minimum.

Every culture has certain staples and beliefs when it comes to their cooking techniques and cuisine.  Understanding their way of seeing food and the ingredients they choose can help to make your at home French cuisine out of this world!  Not only is it fun to cook new dishes, having a great glass of wine that compliments the food and aromas coming from your kitchen makes the whole process that much more delicious and relaxing!

 

Hello, Bonjour!

french-cuisineHello, or as the French say bonjour!  Welcome to our blog on French Cuisine and the simple steps and recipes that you can cook at home.  We took our love for French cooking and decided to share it with the world through this site.  We hope to provide interesting and useful knowledge on the art of french cuisine as well as make French cuisine fun and easy to master in your own home.  Get ready for some great dinner parties and some delicious food!