#StephenCooksFrench In His Own Words
“I was nineteen when I first went to Paris, gauche and hungry, I headed for Bouillon Chartier, a Belle Époque brasserie where the waiters’ white aprons blinded my eyes and the menu was uncompromisingly in French.
After a plate of escargots, I celebrated my triumph over the snail-tongs with a pichet of vin rouge. I was amazed when the waiter totted up my bill on the paper tablecloth – and as soon as I got home I bought a copy of Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking.
However, it was only many years later, when I fell in love with François, that I began to learn how to present food in the French domestic style. Cooking with him, and with friends and family, taught me when to dress a salad and how to plan a menu…
François and I lived for many years in central London, but in 2015 we moved to Kent, where I found if I wanted a decent baguette, I’d have to make my own. My bread-making has improved – and the fruits and vegetables we grow in our garden make leaving London worthwhile.
My larder and kitchen cupboards are packed with French ingredients; farines, cornichons, moutardes, vinaigres, etc.
And wines of course. My favourite – which I’ve drunk only a very few times – is Chateau Lynch-Bages. Regrettably, I must wait until next year to open another bottle!”
A Three Course French Meal by #StephenCooksFrench
Avocat en vinaigrette
Baked cheese & ham on wine-soaked bread
Compote de fruits
Lightly-cooked berries in Crème de Cassis
Avocado Vinaigrette Recipe:
1 perfectly ripe avocado per person
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
70ml sunflower oil
Juice of half a lemon
- Peel and stone the avocado, slice or dice it, and place in a bowl with the lemon juice
- Whisk together the Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and oil in a bowl.
- Tasted adjust if necessary; to reduce the sharpness of the dressing, add a splash of water.
- Arrange and dress the avocado just before serving.
Croûte Savoyarde Recipe:
1 slice of day-old sourdough bread per person
1 slice of ham
1 clove of garlic
A small glass of dry white wine
A handful of grated cheese – Emmenthal, or Beaufort, or Gruyère for example.
- Rub the bread on both sides with the garlic, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and douse with the white wine.
- If the bread is very dry let the wine soak into the bread for 5 minutes.
- Top the bread with a slice of ham and scatter on the cheese.
- Bake in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese is sizzling and cooked to your liking. Serve very hot.
Redberry Compote Recipe:
A good handful of mixed red berries per person – and yes, you can use frozen.
Caster sugar to taste.
A good splash of Crème de Cassis person – or a splash of water if you prefer.
- Wash and hull the berries, cutting any large ones in half.
- Place in a pan, scatter over the sugar and whichever liquid you prefer and bring to the boil.
- Let the berries simmer for only a couple of minutes – they should be softened but not turned to pulp.
- Let the berries cool in their juice. Serve them just as they are, or with ice-cream, or yogurt, or cream, or Crème Chantilly.
If you have not already done so, run to Instagram and follow #StephenCooksFrench. It will make your day!
Bon appétit and Happy Easter to all!
Diana Bishop the founder of The Success Story Program and A Woman of a Certain Age in Paris as well as a well-known correspondent with over 25 years working for CTV, CBC News, and NBC News. She loves travel, writing, and all things Parisienne.