13 January 2008

Le ventre en rose…

No doubt about it, the French are notorious for their food and culinary genius. This being said, have you ever browsed at a menu of some of the most highly-coveted and Michelin-starred dishes? Try as I might, I not sure that my taste runs towards fried goose liver and fat. I suppose I should not knock it until I try it, but I just don’t see myself shelling out big $$$ for something that will leave me with a big belly.

Foie gras aside, I do find myself equally tempted by French cuisine. There’s something so wonderful and earthy about cooking with fresh herbs and ingredients. While fancy restaurants make us think of heavy, complicated, fat-laden dishes, French cuisine can in fact be quite simple, prepared lovingly with local high-quality ingredients and a good degree of modesty.

As a relative newcomer to French cuisine, I decided to start with the basics. In my search for something traditional and sustaining, I came across “Cassoulet,” a homey bean-based casserole filled with vegetables and simple yet flavourful herbs. Being the poultry lover that I am, I opted to add chicken to the recipe rather than the more traditional pork. As I write, everything is simmering away in the slow cooker and it smells heavenly.

Inspired by my newfound recipe, I decided to see what other goodies I could add to the menu. Because the main course is already quite filling, I will make a simple garden salad and some whole wheat baguette to soak up the juices. The crowning glory will be a flan-like cherry Clafouti, yet another little French gem that I found in my search. And of course no French meal would be complete without a healthy dose of wine, my favourite Chablis.

So if that is not enough to make your mouth water, I’m not sure what is! If this meal turns out to be a winner, maybe I’ll delve even a little further into French cuisine. I’m still a long way off from goose liver but even a fledgling cook has to start somewhere right?

Bon appétit!

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