French Cuisine with Erica!

Posted on January 7th, 2015 by

IMG_1990Hello all!! We had such a great night at the co-op tonight, learning how to cook French cuisine with Erica! Erica started to enjoy cooking at the age of eight years old. She joined a 4H club when she was young and even lead cooking classes while in the program. She was exceedingly knowledgeable about French cuisine and Julia Child, pulling the recipes she used from Julia Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

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Potage Parmentier {Potato & Leek Soup}

Adapted from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”


2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil

4 to 5 medium russet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and roughly chopped

3 large leeks (1 pound), cleaned and thinly sliced

6 cups vegetable stock (or light chicken stock)

Kosher salt, to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crème fraiche

1/3 cup minced parsley or chives


  1. Heat the oil in a large (6-plus quart) stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8 to 12 minutes (this time will vary greatly depending on the surface area of the bottom of your pot).
  2. Add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Blend until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
  4. Add the cream, and season to taste with salt (I start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, tasting frequently).
  5. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and a healthy sprinkling of minced parsley.


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Coq au Vin {Chicken of the Wine}

Adapted from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”


1/2 cup lardons (or very thick-cut bacon), cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips (optional)

2 or more tablespoons olive oil

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts (or all of one kind of part), thoroughly dried

1/4 cup Cognac or Marsala

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

20 small white onions, peeled

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or Pinot Noir

About 2 cups brown homemade chicken stock, or beef stock

1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced

About 1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, and quartered


To make the Coq Au Vin on stovetop:

  1. If you’re using lardons or bacon, sauté them in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a side dish, leaving the drippings in the pan. (Otherwise, coat the casserole with 1/8 inch of olive oil.)
  2. Heat the drippings or oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, before careful not to crowd the pan. (You may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. Carefully pour the Cognac or Armagnac into the pan, let it become bubbling hot, and then, if desired–and if you’re brave–ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, tilting the pan by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
  3. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and place the onions around the chicken. Cover and simmer gently, turning the chicken once, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pan, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons or bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pan, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife) and remove those pieces that are ready. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly to concentrate; if it is too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock or bouillon. Taste the sauce carefully, and correct the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately or let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pan of coq au vin over medium-low heat.

Slow Cooker Variation:

Understand that the complexity of this French classic relies in large part on the caramelization that comes from searing or sautéing various ingredients in a hot skillet prior to jumbling them all together to simmer. Making coq au vin still turns out a lovely and still worthwhile stew, albeit one with just slightly less depth of flavor. There are almost as many ways to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker as there are cooks and slow cookers. We opted for the following approach, which worked swell.

If using the lardons (or bacon), follow step 1. of the instructions above. Place the lardons (or bacon) and their drippings in the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients except for the oil and the flour and using only 1 cup stock (and not 2 cups as instructed above). Cook on medium heat for 5 1/2 to 6 hours, until the chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken to a platter or a serving dish. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir in the flour, and cook until it forms a paste and just begins to turn brown at the edges. Stirring constantly, very slowly strain the liquid from the slow cooker into the saucepan and simmer until it has reduced to a consistency that’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Transfer the onions to the platter or dish with the chickens and discard the bay leaf. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and onions.

Note: Bear in mind, no two slow-cookers are exactly alike, just as no two cooks are exactly alike.


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Mousse au Chocolat {Chocolate Mousee}

Adapted from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”


4 eggs, separated

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¼ cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

¼ cup strong liquid coffee

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt


  1. Have on hand 10 ramekins or custard cups ( ⅓ cup each) or 6 small bowls (¾ cup each).
  2. In a bowl combine the egg yolks and ¾ cup granulated sugar. Beat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale yellow and leaves a ribbon trail on itself when the beaters are lifted.
  3. Beat in the orange liqueur and continue mixing until blended.
  4. Place the bowl over not quite simmering water and beat for an additional 3 minutes until the mixture forms tiny bubbles and is too hot for your finger.
  5. Transfer the bowl to a cold-water bath and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms a ribbon. The consistency will be similar to mayonnaise.
  6. Set another bowl over not quite simmering water. Add the chocolate and coffee and let the mixture sit until the chocolate melts.
  7. Remove the chocolate from the heat and beat in the butter a little at a time to form a smooth cream.
  8. Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  9. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until they hold soft peaks. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  10. Gently stir one-quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining whites.
  11. Spoon the mousse into the dishes. Set on a tray, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Grated chocolate or a few springs fresh mint (for garnish)

  1. Chill the bowl and beaters for the cream. With an electric mixer, beat the cream until it holds soft peaks.
  2. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until the cream holds stiff peaks; do not overbeat.
  3. Garnish the cups with whipped cream and chocolate or mint.



It was a very fun time learning about traditional French dishes. Erica kept us involved by asking us question while preparing the meal. She is an incredible cook and we cannot wait to go to France and try even more dishes!



**Never take raw steak from a stranger in an alley**

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One Comment

  1. Erica Idso-Weisz says:

    Bonjour All! It was such a delight getting to share with you my passion for French cuisine and to tantalize your tastebuds! I hope that you have an incredible trip and I look forward to hearing about your French cuisine adventures (remember no steak from strangers in the alley :) ) Julia Child said it best, “People who love to eat, are always the best people.”