Porcini Mushroom Tartlets
Most of this recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten can be prepared up to one day ahead of time.
Double-Baked Cheese Soufflé with Parmesan Cream
This dish pairs especially well with a fresh sparkling wine. We prefer a green apple-inflected version.
Families in Alsace generally eat choucroute garnie during the wintertime, because it's such a hearty, filling dish.; Jacques Pépin has adapted the recipe to make it quicker and easier—calling for store-bought sauerkraut instead of the homemade kind, for instance, and suggesting peanut oil as a substitute for duck or goose fat, which may be less accessible. He always serves two or three types of mustard with the choucroute—a hot Dijon, a grainy Pommery and often a tarragon-flavored mustard as well.
Rillettes is a rustic pâté made from meat that's been poached in its own fat, then shredded and stored in some of that fat. Writer Oliver Strand makes pork rillettes in a slow cooker; the recipe works equally well prepared on the stovetop over low heat. The quick pickle of dried apricots is an ingenious sweet-tart accompaniment to the rich meat.
Provençal Fish Soup
Chef Sara Simpson flavors her lush seafood soup with port, red wine and the usual dash of licorice-scented Pernod.
Roasted Chicken with Herb Jus
For dinner parties, Tio makes a supremely juicy roasted chicken adapted from a recipe by chef Mohammad Islam. Tio often carves this luscious bird at the table with a Japanese Nenox Corian "Sujihiki" chef's knife; he loves its weight and the shape of its Corian handle.
Poached Eggs with Parmesan and Smoked Salmon Toasts
Dipping a crispy toast finger (the French call it a mouillette) in a soft egg yolk has to be one of life's great pleasures. "When I was a kid, I loved it," says Vongerichten. Evidently, he's still fond of it because he has created an adult version that's elegant enough to serve as a first course at a dinner party: He wraps smoked salmon around half of the toasts and sprinkles the rest with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, so it melts and forms a salty crust when baked.
Truffle-Infused French Onion Soup
This version of the classic French onion soup calls for truffle-infused pecorino cheese (sold in any good cheese shop), which is melted to form a marvelously gooey topping for the oniony broth.
These very tasty gnocchi are made with pâte à choux—the same dough used for profiteroles, cream puffs and éclairs—that is poached and then baked. You don't need a light hand to make these, as you do for other forms of gnocchi; in fact, the dough comes together quickly in a saucepan and requires vigorous stirring.
Lyon-Style Chicken with Vinegar Sauce
When chef April Bloomfield tried a classic version of vinegar chicken in Lyon, she wished it was tangier. So, back home, she adds a hefty amount of Banyuls wine vinegar to the sauce. "I love the way the vinegar froths up when you add it to the pan," says Bloomfield, who finishes the chicken in the sauce to infuse it with extra flavor.
Blanquette de Veau
Chef Daniel Boulud prepares this classic, creamy veal stew with veal stock, sometimes adding sweetbreads and finishing the dish with shavings of black truffle. To simplify the recipe, omit the sweetbreads and truffle and opt for store-bought vegetable broth—or even salted water—over veal stock.
Provençal Grilled Lamb
Mathilde Dalle and chef Patrick Thibaud use the quintessentially Provençal combination of rosemary, thyme and garlic to flavor this lamb.
For this dish, David Duband braises two cuts of beef—shank and rump roast—with marrow bones and then separately cooks leeks and carrots with more marrow bones until everything is deeply flavorful and tender. When serving, you can mix the horseradish with the sour cream to make a tasty garnish.
Cassoulet with Duck Confit
Chef Laurence Jossel created this stripped-down version of the classic French stew, with creamy white beans, luscious store-bought duck confit, smoky French garlic sausage and slab bacon. Letting the beans rest overnight develops their flavors.
These absurdly easy-to-make buttery French cakes can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature.
Soupe au Pistou
Soupe au pistou is like a Provençal version of minestrone; it's a hearty vegetable soup made with dried beans, summer vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and a small shape of pasta. The pistou gets stirred in at the end. Unlike many other soups, this one is delicious served hot or at room temperature.
When Cathal Armstrong was growing up in Ireland, his father (a travel agent and avid cook) made all kinds of Spanish and French dishes, including a great bouillabaisse. Now Armstrong serves his own phenomenal bouillabaisse, packed with shrimp, mussels, clams and monkfish. When he began offering the dish at his restaurant, one of the first customers to order it was his mother, who was visiting from Ireland. She loved it, Armstrong reports, adding wryly, "Why wouldn't she? She's my mother."
Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
For many Americans, the quintessential French stew is boeuf bourguignon—beef cooked in Burgundy red wine. The stew, featured regularly at Jacques Pépin's mother's restaurant, was made from tougher, cheaper cuts of beef, which had to be braised a long time to get tender and to stay moist.
Summer Blackberry Custards
Alain Coumont makes these ethereal, citrusy custards with wild blackberries gathered from his property. Try them with blueberries, raspberries or pitted cherries, too.
Chilled Zucchini Soup with Purslane
Alain Coumont's cool vegan soup gets its creaminess from pureed zucchini, sautéed onion and garlic. It's brightened with purslane, a lemony weed that Coumont plucks from his Languedoc country garden; if purslane is not available at your local farmers' market, substitute baby arugula leaves instead.
Chef Joseph Humphrey simmers this soup with the corn cobs to deepen the flavor.
Grilled Niçoise Tuna Steaks
Salade Niçoise is one of the great summer dishes of Southern France. It's the centerpiece of a party that's all about sunny Mediterranean style, from the wine to the plates to the tea towels.
Mara des Bois Strawberry Napoleons
Mara des Bois are small, wildly aromatic strawberries. Pastry sous-chef Michael Brock layers them in a stellar napoleon with crisp puff pastry and pillowy lemon verbena cream.
Alsatian Rhubarb Tart
Vongerichten bakes the raw rhubarb in the raw pastry shell, rather than blind-baking (precooking) the crust. But the cooks in the F&W Test Kitchen discovered you can use Vongerichten's method only in a convection oven; in a conventional oven, the shell didn't bake through. That's why the recipe here calls for cooking the tart shell completely before adding the rhubarb. However you make this dessert, it's irresistibly tangy, creamy and frothy.