Traditional French Food
Bacon, Cheddar and Onion Quiche
"To make a proper tarte flambe, you need a wood-burning oven with a stone floor," explains Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the thin-crusted Alsatian pizza topped with bacon, onions and fromage blanc. Here, he folds those same basic ingredients (replacing the fromage blanc with cheddar) into a light custard and bakes it in a buttery pastry crust. "Not everyone has a pizza oven at home, so I decided to make it in the form of a quiche."
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 Restaurant Eve, 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."
This hearty meal is great served on a cold winter's night.
Gruyère Cheese Soufflé
To get the most crust with the cheesiest flavor, Jacques Pepin uses a wide, shallow gratin dish, then creates a lattice on top with thin slices of American cheese. A souffle ramekin would work too.
Truffle-Infused French Onion Soup
Michael Mina invented this soup in the early days of Aqua, the San Francisco restaurant where he rose to fame in the '90s. He started playing with the combination of black truffles and caramelized onions and went crazy for the mix of earthiness and sweetness. This version of the 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.
Although Rucker has had no formal training in French kitchens, his version of the classic blanquette de veau is delicious. Instead of using flour for thickening, he whisks in extra egg yolks, creating an ultra-rich, velvety cream sauce.
Baked Camembert with Pears
A splash of pear brandy plus maple syrup and Spanish almonds put a modern spin on baked Brie.
Buckwheat Crêpes with Herbed Soft-Scrambled Eggs
When scrambled over low heat, eggs become luxuriously custardy and form small curds.
Creme brulee is a walking cliche, and like offering a Caesar salad recipe, it's almost embarrassing to show you this one. But this creamy, rich dessert is the perfect love letter. And you should know how to make a great custard (plus, it's always fun to use a blowtorch in the kitchen). I made creme brulee for dessert the first time I cooked for my wife when we had just started dating, and it worked out perfectly in every way.–Andrew Zimmern
Hot Niçoise Salad
Gwyneth Paltrow transforms one of her favorite salads, the Nicoise, into a hearty one-dish dinner by roasting tuna steaks on a tangle of beans, tomatoes, anchovies and olives.
Coq au Vin
The traditional dish usually marinates overnight, but this lighter, quicker version is equally delicious.
Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee
This lightened up classic is fast to pull together–especially if you buy presliced mushrooms. It has a rich, slow-cooked flavor. A splash of cream makes it extra-decadent but still light.