French Comfort Food

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In France, people take pride in preserving the recipes of their regional heritage and deeply rooted traditions. What has remained true over time is that the French have a determined hold on their beloved regional classic dishes, the ones they grew up with that their mothers and grandmothers and grandmothers before them made—French comfort food.

Collected here are recipes from friends and acquaintances Hillary Davis has made while living in France, recipes handed down through the...

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In France, people take pride in preserving the recipes of their regional heritage and deeply rooted traditions. What has remained true over time is that the French have a determined hold on their beloved regional classic dishes, the ones they grew up with that their mothers and grandmothers and grandmothers before them made—French comfort food.

Collected here are recipes from friends and acquaintances Hillary Davis has made while living in France, recipes handed down through the years as well as modern family remakes of the originals. With these resources, plus referring to her hundreds of well-worn cookbooks, Davis has brought together her favorite comfort food recipes from France, with a hope that they will inspire and charm you, showing just how fabulous good home-cooked food from France can be.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Some of the best comfort food is French,” food journalist, cooking instructor, and blogger Davis (Cuisine Niçoise) writes in her introduction to this savory valentine to French cooking, “and it is not that hard to make at home.” She proves her point again and again, showing readers how they can transform their home into a private French bistro with dishes such as a rustic caramelized onion and Roquefort clafouti, classic French onion soup gratinée, and duck breasts with black cherry sauce. Simple pleasures like a crusty baguette with melted chocolate or a perfect croque madame dominate the offerings, though Davis doesn’t shy away from more formidable fare, such as a pork and vegetable stew with dumplings that requires a whopping 33 ingredients or a visually impressive layered vegetable omelet cake that calls for three omelets stacked upon one another. Davis does what she can to ease prep and cook times (slow cookers are employed for traditional cassoulet) without sacrificing the all-important flavor. Even though some dishes require more time and preparation than others, readers will find their patience rewarded with memorable results. (Aug.)
Eat Your Words - Cathy Erway
“This book is so up my alley. I am so excited….it is one of the most delicious books I have looked through in quite a long time.”
On The Menu Radio - Ann Haigh
“Hillary Davis, you did it again. Another gorgeous book! Your recipes are not the same-old same-old that you get in most French cookbooks. This is an important cookbook, one that is a gold mine of grand-mère recipes.”
The Oregonian - Grant Butler
“This beautiful new cookbook captures the hearty and heartwarming side of French cooking with a collection of classic recipes and regional favorites, many given modern updates to put them in sync with the way people eat today.”
New Hampshire Magazine
“This book will make you want to don an apron and turn up the flame.”
The Keene Sentinel - Steve Sherman
“Davis emphasizes that as life grows faster and faster-paced, the love of cooking at home returns to the slower, cherished way — a little while in the kitchen and around the family table means a lot more of the good life.” - Lisa Dinsmore
“Her love of all things French jumps from every page and the photos make you want to immediately book a flight.”
“As we head into fall and cooler days, this cookbook with its new-but-familiar comfort food dishes is not likely to leave the kitchen very often.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423636984
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 8/1/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 61,773
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

When Hillary Davis first saw the hilltop village of Bar-sur-Loup in the south of France, she knew it was going to be her home. Her love for the area and its style of cooking grew into a mission to accumulate and document what she believed was an "unsung" regional cuisine that deserved to be brought to light. She lovingly gathered recipes from neighbors and friends, took cooking classes with them, dined in restaurants and visited open-air markets and farmers for over eleven years. This cookbook, Cuisine Niçoise, is the result of her passion. Hillary Davis is a food writer, cooking instructor, and creator of the popular food blog, Marché Dimanche.

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Read an Excerpt

Cheese Soufflés in a Mug

Petits Soufflés au Fromage Serves 8

In a restaurant in Paris many years ago, I was served my first soufflé. It was a magnificently puffed vanilla one with a dusting of powdered sugar. Horrified, I watched the waiter attack its center with two large silver serving spoons, deflating it almost immediately. He then poured in a generous amount of Grand Marnier, smiled, and served me a portion. The center was creamy and sweet and so pungent with the orange liqueur that it brought tears to my eyes. I loved it. Ever since, I have made soufflés, both sweet and savory, and it’s a frequent dish at my table.

This savory cheese soufflé recipe is super easy to make and there’s enough for a group of 8—or for 4 people to have seconds.It makes a wonderful appetizer or light lunch with salad. Just turn over your cups or mugs and check that they are oven proof.

Special Equipment pastry brush; 8 (8-ounce / 225-ml) oven -proof mugs, cups, or ramekins; roasting pan or large baking pan ; medium saucepan ; stand mixer

4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick / 60 g) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter

1⁄4 cup (40 g) seasoned breadcrumbs

8 large eggs, room temperature

4 tablespoons (30 g) allpurpose flour

1 1⁄2 cups (350 ml) milk

1 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 ounces (170 g) Comté cheese, grated (about 1 1⁄2 cups)

1⁄2 teaspoon cream of tartar


With the pastry brush, spread the melted butter inside of the mugs, starting at the bottom and brushing with upward strokes towards the lip. Coat the insides of the cups with breadcrumbs all the way up to the lip, tap out excess, and place mugs in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400° F ( 200° C) and place roasting pan filled with an inch of boiling water on the middle rack of the oven.

Separate the eggs into whites and yolks, discarding 1 of the egg yolks so that you have 7 egg yolks and 8 egg whites. Make sure there is no yolk in the egg whites.


Melt 4 tablespoons (60 g) butter in saucepan to make a béchamel sauce. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking on low heat for 1 minute. Slowly pour in half the milk while you whisk then add the rest of the milk and whisk until the sauce thickens and starts bubbling. Add the salt, cayenne, mustard, and cheese and stir to mix. Remove the sauce from the heat and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk 7 egg yolks until pale yellow. Whisk them into the béchamel sauce.

In a very clean dry bowl of the stand mixer, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold their shape. Don’t over beat; you want more billowy mounds than stiff peaks. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture then fold in the rest without deflating them. Spoon the mixture into the mugs up to the rim. Run your thumb around the inside of the rim of each mug to help the soufflés rise in the center.

Place the mugs in the roasting pan in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes. Do not open the oven door while they are baking, but do turn on the oven light and peak through the glass to see how they are doing after 11 minutes.

Remove from the oven when they are fully puffed up and golden. Serve immediately because the soufflés will begin to deflate after a few minutes. Ideas and substitutions If you have elegant coffee or teacups that are oven proof (fine porcelain is not meant for the oven), they are great for making these little soufflés for formal occasions.

Comté is a mild French cheese with a subtle flavor. If you would like a more pronounced cheese flavor, use a sharp cheddar or any of your favorite cheeses. And if you don’t want to use breadcrumbs to coat the cups, use flour or grated Parmesan cheese instead to give the soufflés something to “climb” as they rise.

The restaurant where I had my first soufflé still exists if you are visiting Paris. Le Soufflé can be found at 36 Rue Mont Thabor.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 13

The Flavors of France 17

Welcoming Starters and Savory Nibbles 33

Cheese Soufflés in a Mug 34

Light and Crispy Fish Fingers with Rémoulade Dipping Sauce 37

Knitting Needle Spirals with Pistou 39

Ramekins of Chilled Tuna and Caper Spread 40

Ramekins of Warm Salmon, Wine, and Shallots 43

Ramekins of Warm Pork and Apples 44

Escargots Baked in Campari Tomatoes 47

Trio of Provençal Spreads 48

Individual Caramelized Onion and Roquefort Clafoutis 51

Niçoise Stuffed Vegetables 52

Savory Tomato Basil Cake 55

Mushroom Stew in Puff Pastry Cases 56

Brunch French Style 59

French Toast with Homemade Orange Butter 60

Wicked Chocolate Omelet Flamed with Rum 63

Alsatian Two-Crusted Meat Pie 65

Irresistible Potato, Cheese, and Cream Casserole 67

Tart Apple Turnovers 68

French Rolled Omelet with Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan 71

Niçoise Onion, Black Olive, and Anchovy Quiche 72

Eggs Poached in Burgundy Wine on Garlic Croutons 74

Softly Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Tomatoes 77

Bistro Salad with Poached Egg and Bacon 78

Crispy Cinnamon Walnut Chocolate Palmiers 81

Crusty Baguette with Melted Chocolate 82

French Press Coffee with Calvados Shooters 85

Champagne with Black Currant Liqueur 86

Thick Hot Chocolate 87

Soups, Sandwiches, and Simple Pleasures 89

French Onion Soup Gratinée 90

Périgord Garlic and Chicken Soup 93

Creamiest Potato and Leek Soup with Chopped Scallions and Crumbled Bacon 94

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Chestnuts 97

Toasted Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Fried Egg 98

Toasted Ham, Blue Cheese, and Mozzarella Sandwich with Mustard Cream Sauce 100

Chilled Lyonnaise Potato and Sausage Salad 103

Summery Salade Niçoise Sandwiches 104

Baguette Sandwich with Ham and Sweet Butter 106

Rustic Country Pâté with Green Peppercorns and Pistachios 107

Olive Oil French Fries with Rosemary Salt 111

Heavenly Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Melted Cheese 113

Family-Style Recipes 115

French Mac ’n’ Cheese 116

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie 119

Chopped Steak Ovals with Roquefort Cognac Sauce 121

Succulent Roast Chicken with Oranges and Black Olives 122

Endives and Ham Gratin 125

Slow-Cooker Lamb Shanks Provençal 126

Potato, Bacon, Cheese, and Wine Casserole 129

Quick Beef and Red Wine Stew over Noodles 130

Chicken Marengo 133

Normandy Pork Chops with Apple Brandy Cream Sauce and Apple Compote 134

Slow-Cooker Layered Meats and Potato Casserole from Alsace 137

Chicken in Wine with Loads of Garlic 138

Rib-Sticking Pork and Vegetable Stew with Giant Dumplings 139

Creamless Creamy Veal Stew with Mushrooms and Pearl Onions 142

Supper for Friends 145

French Alps Cheese Fondue 146

Burgundy Beef Fondue with Dipping Sauces 148

Slow-Cooker Beans, Duck, Pork, Chicken, and Sausage Stew 150

Layered Vegetable Omelet Cake 153

Sea Scallops with Sauvignon Blanc Sabayon 156

Thick Grilled Steaks with Peppercorns and Cognac Sauce 159

Alsatian Sauerkraut and Meats Platter 160

Fresh Mussels in White Wine 163

Duck Breasts with Black Cherry Sauce 165

Bistro Flank Steak with Port Sauce 166

Gascony Roast Leg of Lamb with Anchovies and Garlic 169

Grandmother’s Chicken 170

Over-the-Top Lobster Thermidor 172

Sweet Dreams 175

Banana Tart Tatin 176

Perfect Crème Caramel 179

Rice Pudding Empress Style with Custard, Candied Fruits, and Kirsch 180

Meringue Eggs on Orange Custard Sauce 182

No-Raw-Eggs Chocolate Espresso Mousse 185

Very Lemon Tart in a Butter Cookie Crust 186

Profiteroles Bathed in Dark Chocolate Sauce 189

Cream-Topped Apple Tart 190

Rum-Soaked Almond Cake from Nantes 193

Macaron Cookies from Nancy 195

Slightly Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote and Whipped Cream 196

Walnut Tart in Walnut Pastry 198

Noel Yule Log 201

Raspberry-Almond Mini-Cakes 204

Brie Melted in Box with Brown Sugar for Two 207

Acknowledgments 211

Index 213

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted November 29, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    French Comfort Food is beautifully laid out, with gorgeous photo

    French Comfort Food is beautifully laid out, with gorgeous photography by Steven Rothfeld. The book is hefty, with excellent-quality paper and a sewn binding, making this a great gift for Francophiles or anyone who likes the idea of learning to cook French food that’s not as elaborate and labor-intensive as haute cuisine. It lies open flat at any recipe in the book, and seems made to last. It also has an excellent 9-page index!

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