Essentials of French Cooking by NY Times

Essentials of French Cooking by NY Times

I love omelets. Give me an omelet for breakfast, lunch or even dinner and you wont hear me complaining.  Although, being of Indian origin, I like my omelets to be robust in flavor and spice.  I like to add lots of onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, cilantro (yes cilantro), green chillies….  and my very own, home-made, ground, spice blend called “Garam Masala”.  YUM!

But lately, I am dying to learn how to make a French omelet.  So, I tapped into my resources.  Like my dear french friend A.J. who asked her mom to video tape herself making a french omelet and send over to me- all the way from Paris!  Alas!  Due to some technical difficulties, the video did not come through in its totality.  Then I turned to trusty old YouTube and came across the one and only Jacques Pepin making a French omelet.  He demonstrated the technique so masterfully with these incredible movements of his hand and wrists as he constantly moved the pan and his fork, all the while maneuvering the egg batter in the pan to create curds and then to roll off the omelet from the pan onto the plate.  It was mesmerizing to watch, but I got totally intimidated by his advanced skills.  🙁

The search continued until I came across the following:

“From a simple omelet to stunning soufflés, The New York Times presents the definitive French dishes that every modern cook should master.”

Oooh la la!  Sign me up!

Essentials of French Cooking by NY Times

And sign-up I did.  It was one of the best decisions I have made in a while.  These are “New Essentials of French Cooking” – a collection of classic French recipes by food writer Melissa Clarke.  I am absolutely LOVING these really concise and simple lessons complete with recipes shared both in the form of text as well as short video demonstrations.  Watching each video makes me realize that mastering these classic recipes does not have to be a daunting task as you may have imagined.  You don’t have to pay a single penny for these lessons or stand in a kitchen with a bunch of folks who ONLY speak French… while you try to decipher what the heck they are saying!  No way!

I love how each recipe comes with a little bit of history of its origin.  I find them to be a fascinating read.  Each recipe also suggests some variations so that your repertoire can expand beyond the 10 essential dishes.

Melissa demonstrates three ways to fold a french omelet and create fluffy curds.  I found her fork-technique to be super easy to follow.  As soon as I was done watching the video, I rushed to my kitchen and give it a try.  Practice makes perfect, but for now I am quite happy with my amateur results. 

I also enjoyed making the steak with red wine sauce.  I have made red wine sauce with my steaks before – but following Melissa’s tip to add a dash of brandy and then burn it off in the pan, just took my sauce to whole new level.  It was so very French! 😉

Essentials of French Cooking by NY Times

Sole Meuniére is another classic that I have always admired and loved on restaurant menus.  Learning how simple it is to make at home has boosted my confidence to a great degree.  I tried the recipe with lemon sole filet, it didn’t look as elegant as the video but it still tasted delish.  (Don’t judge me for the excess of black pepper… that’s just my spice-loving Indian-ness coming out).  I even made a bit of brown butter to drizzle on top of the fish for that added oomph!

NY Times Cooking section has many other great recipes (there truly is something for everyone), but for now I am sticking to the French cooking lessons.   Speaking of which, you will have to excuse me now because Tagine might be on my menu tonight! 😉

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