Voila! Easy French Recipes for Everyone
French expat and Chef Cecile Delarue knows that good French cooking isn’t necessarily about frill and complicated techniques. It’s really about using quality ingredients, and that doesn’t have to be complicated. Voilà!: The Effortless French Cookbook: Easy Recipes to Savor the Classic Tastes of France is a culinary glimpse into Delarue’s personal life. As Delarue is herself a product of centuries of French farmers from the Loire Valley, the cookbook is a collection of classic French recipes that she holds dearly from her homeland.
I love cooking. There’s nothing I relish more than putting together a good meal for my friends and family to enjoy together over laughter, debates, and sometimes even tears. Food evokes emotion. It is such an important and comforting backdrop to some of life’s most treasured memories. As Cecile notes it’s, “about sharing something special with others.” Growing-up, my favorite memories center around food. Whether it was churning the apples in the food mill to make applesauce with my nana or chopping the water chestnuts for my mother’s famous sausage stuffing, this was time we shared together. Since they have both passed, these moments are even more important. I always felt so much love and happiness.
While I adore cooking, French cuisine has always terrified me. Even though I love to eat it, I rarely make it. Perhaps this stems from an unfamiliarity of the ingredients, such as duck or cheese, even though they seem fairly straightforward. Regardless, most of my gorgeous French cookbooks have accumulated a few inches of dust. That being said, now that I have Petit Garçon, I want him to enjoy cooking fun and interesting dishes with me. I want him to have fond memories of whipping the egg whites for Mousse au Chocolat. In the name of happy memories with my son, I decided to accept Cecile’s challenge and attempt creating some recipes from her cookbook, which she claims is effortless cooking.
So, I did. I experimented with three of Cecile’s recipes, and I have thoughts.
Tartiflette is a traditional cheesy potato dish from Savoy and the Alps region of France. Cecile’s recipe calls for potatoes, bacon, onion, white Savoie wine, and reblochon. Seems simple right? It was! The only time-consuming part was cutting the potatoes. Everything else was a breeze! I made this dish after the infamous raclette party at the Concord Cheese Shop, during which I had intended on also purchasing reblochon for the tartiflette; however, the cheese monger informed me that reblochon is unfortunately illegal in Massachusetts. Luckily, raclette was flowing freely that day, and I bought plenty. Since tartiflette is from the same region, Cecile recommends raclette as a suitable alternative. I used both Swiss and French varieties of raclette. The French raclette was so creamy, I could have nibbled on the entire wedge. The only downfall is that the reblochon wheel really does make the dish more interesting in appearance. Also, I thought this would be a great opportunity to experiment with my summer truffle salt, and just the tiniest pinch made a huge difference in giving the dish some depth. The tartiflette got rave reviews from my husband, and I’m already looking forward to making it again for my loved ones.
Mousse au Chocolat
Cecile Delarue is a delight to follow on social media. She posts the most endearing photos with her own little boy, who is often helping her cook or taste something. She recently posted a photo of her son’s little hand helping to fold her Mousse au Chocolat, or chocolate mousse, and my own heart melted. I immediately thought of my own Petit Garçon, helping me fold the eggs in our own batch. Cecile’s recipe, consisting of quality chocolate and eggs only, seemed simple enough for a child. Admittedly, I don’t typically work with egg whites, so I was REALLY nervous to make this in my professional mixer. This recipe was also a cinch- easier than the tartiflette! Petit Garçon is still too little to help me cook, so I tested this recipe by myself while he snoozed during an afternoon nap. The only tough part is waiting for the mousse to chill. That is pure torture for a chocoholic like myself. The end result was a decadent and velvety mousse that I ate directly from the mixing bowl with an ice cream scoop. If you’re having a dinner party, and you want to serve something incredible, but uncomplicated, Cecile’s Mousse au Chocolat is your answer.
Clafoutis aux Cerises
Clafoutis is a traditional French cake with a heavy, flan-like batter. It is most commonly served with cherries, but now that I’m a Pinterest addict, I’ve been pinning recipes with pears, peaches, and various other kinds of interesting fruit combinations. Cecile’s classic summer recipe, again, was easy to recreate. The end result was a light and fluffy custard cake that would be perfect for Sunday brunch. I chose this recipe specifically because I had a giant bag of cherries in my freezer already. I had all the ingredients hanging around, actually. That’s the best part of this cookbook. Much of the ingredients are basic grocery staples.
The Verdict… VOILÀ!
I LOVE Voilà! Like… love, love. Having a career, being a parent to an infant, and blogging are all wonderful things that make my days really darn busy. I am always looking for ways to make good food quickly. Voilà! is especially fantastic for those who have demanding schedules like myself. Cecile Delarue includes hundreds of simple scrumptious French recipes, their geographic origins, and additional tips in her down-to-earth French cookbook. I actually feel capable of making an authentic French meal without having a panic attack.
So now, the question is… who wants to come over and eat?
À la prochaine!
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