Crème de la crème, Part I

This week marks the 10th anniversary of The Everyday French Chef. When I started the site, back in 2012, I could never have imagined that readers would check out my recipes more than a million times. Thank you!! I’d like to celebrate by sharing a personal ‘best of’ list of recipes for autumn (I will post similar ‘best of’ lists this year for winter, spring and summer as the seasons change.) And by saluting the site’s most popular recipe…

Salade verte à la française / Green salad, French style

This salad of Boston lettuce bathed in a mustard vinaigrette is a French classic. Elegant in its simplicity, it’s is an unpretentious dish that can grace any meal, from picnic to gala dinner, and that can please omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Yet the traditional version is becoming increasingly hard to find in French restaurants, where what is often served is an ersatz version with iceberg lettuce and – horrors! – a creamy sauce out of a bottle. Making it all the more useful to know how to create it at home.

The recipe for green salad, French style, has been viewed 42,444 times since it was first posted in May 2013 — more than any other recipe. And it’s not just the all-time favorite. It comes top in recipe views over the past year, quarter, month and week. What accounts for this popularity? It could be longevity — like five other recipes among the all-time top 10, it was posted during the site’s first year, giving readers more time to check it out. Or it could be that it’s hard to find an authentic recipe elsewhere for this very authentic French salad.

Other French classics among the top 10 include oeufs durs mayonnaise (hard-boiled eggs with homemade mayonnaise), assiette de crudités (French raw veggie plate), foie gras, escalopes de veau à la crème (veal scallops with cream and mushrooms)  and profiteroles (cream puffs with ice cream and chocolate sauce). You can view the list of the site’s 30 most popular dishes at the bottom of this post.

But first, as we head into autumn, I’d like to share some of my favorite seasonal dishes from among the 475 recipes that have appeared on this site to date. I’ve chosen three dishes from each of the site’s categories — mix and match as you like. Many feature foods that come into season in autumn: figs, walnuts, wild mushrooms, butternut, mussels and so on. Others are end-of-summer dishes taking advantage, for example, of the last of the season’s tomatoes. And others are simply dishes I like to serve at this time of year.

Starters
Aubergines farcies aux noix / Eggplant with walnut sauce
Jambon de pays aux figues / Cured country ham with fresh figs
Poêlee de champignons des bois / Wild mushrooms with herbs

Soups
Soupe au fenouil braisé / Braised fennel soup
Soupe aux betteraves à l’ukrainienne / Ukrainian borshch, French style
Velouté de butternut / Butternut soup

Salads
Poires au parmesan en salade / Salad of pears roasted with parmesan
Salade de l’ambassadeur / Salad with bresaola and late summer fruit
Salade vigneronne / Winemaker’s salad

Eggs
Omelette à la sauge / Omelet with fresh sage
Omelette aux cèpes / Mushroom omelet with porcinis
Soufflé au potiron / Pumpkin soufflé

 

Savory tarts
Pissaladière / Pissaladière
Tarte aux champignons sauvages / Wild mushroom tart
Tarte chèvre-figues-romarin / Goat cheese tart with figs and rosemary

Fish and shellfish
Coquilles saint-jacques aux girolles / Pan-seared scallops with chanterelles
Cabillaud au chorizo / Cod with chickpeas, spinach and chorizo
Moules marinière / Mussels steamed in white wine


Poultry and game

Cailles rôties / Roast quail
Fricassée de poulet aux figues / Chicken with fresh figs
Magret de canard au cassis / Duck with black currant sauce

 

Meat dishes
Entrecôte bordelaise / Pan-seared steak with shallots
Filet de porc au romarin / Roast pork filet with rosemary
Sauté de veau / Veal stewed in white wine


Vegetables

Gratin de potiron Georges Blanc / Georges Blanc’s pumpkin gratin
Purée de céleri rave / Puréed celeriac
Tomates provençales / Roasted tomatoes, Provence style

Pasta and grains
Gnocchis à la sauge / Gnocchi with fresh sage
Penne au potiron et aux noix / Penne with pumpkin and walnuts
Risotto aux champignons sauvages / Wild mushroom risotto



Desserts

Poires au vin et cassis / Pears in red wine and cassis
Tarte aux noix / Walnut tart
Tarte Tatin / Tarte Tatin

As an everyday French chef, how would I combine these dishes? Here are some examples:

For an everyday lunch, country ham with figs followed by a porcini omelet and a green salad. For a vegetarian version, butternut soup followed by wild mushroom risotto. For a vegan version, sautéd wild mushrooms with herbs followed by the winemaker’s salad (tender greens with grapes and walnuts).

For an everyday dinner, the ambassador’s salad (tender leaves, late summer fruit and bresaola) followed by mussels steamed in wine. For a vegetarian version, a salad of pears roasted with parmesan followed by penne with pumpkin and walnuts. For a vegan version, Ukrainian borshch, French style, followed by pears in red wine and cassis.

For a weekend dinner, pan-seared scallops with chanterelles followed by roast quail with celeriac purée and winemaker’s salad, and finishing up with a walnut tart. For a vegetarian version, pumpkin soufflé followed by wild mushroom tart and winemaker’s salad, and concluding with tarte Tatin (upside-down apple tart). You could add a cheese plate to either of these menus before dessert. For vegans, eggplant with walnut sauce followed by roasted Provençal tomatoes and, for dessert, pears in red wine and cassis.

And now for the nitty gritty — the top 30 all-time favorites of readers of The Everyday French Chef. The recipes most consulted over the last 10 years come from every category except savory tarts. Some, like couscous royal and coulibiac (elegant fish pie), made the list because they were tweeted by someone with a large following (when this happened with the coulibiac recipe, there were so many hits that it crashed the site). Given its bad rep in parts of the world, foie gras is surprisingly popular. One dish, roast turkey, French style, came about when I was invited to contribute to a Thanksgiving lunch prepared by Georges Blanc, one of France’s most celebrated chefs (he made the turkey). Here’s the list:

1 Salade verte à la française / Green salad, French style
2 Porc grillé aux herbes de Provence / Grilled pork chops with rosemary and thyme
3 Foie gras / Foie gras
4 Rôti de boeuf / Roast beef, French style
5 Escalopes de veau à la crème / Veal scallops with cream and mushrooms
6 Oeufs durs mayonnaise / Hard-boiled eggs with French mayonnaise
7 Assiette de crudités / French vegetable plate
8 Aubergines au four / Oven-roasted eggplant, Mediterranean style
9 Couscous Royal / Couscous with lamb, chicken and merguez
10 Profiteroles / Profiteroles

11 Coulibiac / Coulibiac
12 Julienne de champignons / Mushrooms julienne
13 Pavé de cabillaud tout simple / Pan-seared cod with thyme
14 Soupe de légumes / French vegetable soup
15 Gratin de courgettes / Zucchini gratin
16 Cerises à l’eau de vie / Cherries in brandy
17 Oeufs mimosa / Eggs ‘Mimosa’
18 Sole meunière / Sole meunière
19 Coq au vin / Chicken stewed in red wine
20 Cailles rôtis / Roast quail

21 Artichauts vinaigrette / Artichokes with mustard vinaigrette
22 Poule au pot / Poule au pot
23 Omelette à la sauge / Omelet with fresh sage
24 Steak au poivre / Steak au poivre
25 Omelette au saumon fumé et épinards / Smoked salmon omelet with spinach
26 Sauce vinaigrette à la moutarde / Mustard vinaigrette
27 Soupe paysanne / French peasant soup
28 Turbot au four beurre blanc / Baked turbot with creamy butter sauce
29 Steak maître d’hotel / Pan-seared steak with parsley butter
30 Dinde à la française / Roast turkey, French style

Happy cooking!

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2 Responses to Crème de la crème, Part I

  1. Hazel says:

    Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary. For a relative newcomer to France your site is invaluable, especially when I return from my local market with something that looks interesting but I have no idea how to cook. Many thanks also for taking the trouble to provide such a wonderful autumnal list – I’m looking forward to happily cooking my way through it.

    • Meg says:

      Hi Hazel. I am very happy to hear this! Good luck with your autumn cook-a-thon, and watch this space for more great recipes for autumn.

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