This weekend the French will be celebrating “La Fete Nationale” – or Bastille Day as we call it. The day is to commemorate the storming of the Bastille on 14th July 1789. So this week, in our food blog, I look at some French inspired recipes.
This is Cookery Editor, Sue, with some ideas for some recipes to try this weekend, because although it’s a French event it is celebrated all over the world, and at Woman’s Weekly we like any excuse to have a bit of a party.
When I think of French foods, one of the first things that comes to mind is cheese as I love cheese – and the smellier and/or bluer the better! A recipe that I love to serve as a starter, or for a sharing dish, is Baked Camembert which has the cheese heated in it’s wooden container in the oven, and then when you cut open the top you can dip bread, or crudite, into the melted cheese. The recipe works well with Brie too, or any similar whole cheese in a wooden box (it doesn’t work on cut traingles of the cheese, as you need the rind totally covering the cheese to contain it while it’s heating) so choose a cheese packaged such as this one. I cooked a variation of this recipe at home last week as I found a whole camembert in the fridge which according to the packaging was 10 days out of date! However, I often think that with this type of cheese they are sold too young, and I prefer them when the cheese is more mature and is starting to soften and ooze. My cheese had been kept in the fridge and it was still very firm and it didn’t have any unpleasant smell or mould on it, so I decided it was worth the “risk” of eating, because I’m sure if I’d bought it from a specialist food shop it wouldn’t have come with a date on it, but this cheese was from a supermarket where they have to have everything labelled, and sometimes I think they are extra cautious. I drizzled some olive oil and honey on the top of the cheese before baking it – and it was delicous!
When I think of Pizza I immediately think of Italian cooking, but with many traditional recipes, there are variations which are specialities in different countries too. An example of this is Pissaladiere, which is a French version of a pizza which comes from southern France, particularly the area around Nice, Marseilles and Toulon. As with a pizza, the base is usually bread dough, although sometimes pastry is used, and as with our version the topping is often made from onion, anchovy and garlic rather than having a tomato base, and there isn’t usually any cheese in the recipe. The secret of getting the best flavour is to cook the onions slowly and for a long time so that they start to caramelise and release their sweetness over a low to medium heat. If you try to rush this stage it’s easy to burn the onion and get a bitter flavour, so be patient and cook them slowly.
And for something sweet, to end a meal, one of my favourite desserts of all time is Tarte au Citron as I love the tangyness of the lemon in the creamy lemon filling. This recipe calls for you to make your own pastry, but to save time you could use Jus-Rol Sweet Shortcrust Pastry or even use a ready-made pastry case. Take care not to over-cook the tarte or or the filling may split and the top may crack as it cools, so be sure to take it out of the oven when the filling is still slightly wobbly as it continues to cook when it’s removed from the oven with the internal heat of it. However, if it does crack, just pile some fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries on top to disguise the crack!