Today I’m honored to introduce you to Wini Moranville, author of the newly published “The Bonne Femme Cookbook” and delicious food blog, Chez Bonne Femme. Wini’s take on the food of France is not only delightful, but easy to follow and the recipes are just as the book’s title, for the “good wife”, one of the things I strive to be! We’ll be married 6 months this June 10th, and I’m looking forward to cooking for M. a special but simple meal with fresh spring ingredients, using Wini’s cookbook as my source of inspiration. But not only is it a book for wives, it’s honestly a book for anyone searching for classic recipes with an updated and minimalistic twist. I’ve bookmarked about 15 recipes I need to try, one of those being the one below, all about eggs and mayonnaise! Interested in the book? Buy a copy on Amazon and follow her on Twitter @WiniMoranville for updates, recipes, and more!
|Photo Credit:Richard Swearinger|
L’Entrée: The French Way to Enter a Meal
I’ll never forget the first time I ate in a French home. I was on a high-school cultural exchange trip, staying with a welcoming family in Burgundy. On the first night, the mother of the family served what I later described in my journal as “cold meatloaf.” A pot of mustard, a plate of cute little pickles, and a basket of bread was passed at the table.
Being a teenager, I was very hungry, and I remember being somewhat disappointed that this was all we’d have for dinner. But after maman cleared the plates, out came the next course—roast chicken and true French fries. And then the next course (cheese, served with a wee bit of salad), and then the next (dessert).
The “cold meatloaf” was, of course a classic pâté, and I loved it. I soon grew to adore the way family always served a first course for every meal. Throughout my stay, every night kicked off with something great, like cured meats or well-dressed raw vegetable salads (like celeris remoulades and carrots rapées). On the final night of my stay, the first course was a beautiful soufflé.
Over the years, the more I traveled in France and dined in French homes, the more I learned that this first course is truly a beloved part of the way the French dine. I don’t believe that the French eat more than we do—it’s just that they stretch the meal out over a few courses, which allows them to enjoy more time at the table with family and friends.
|Roasted Beet Salad; Photo Credit:Richard Swearinger|
Confusingly, in France this first course is called l’entrée, which is the same word we use for our main course. But the usage makes linguistic sense. It is how you enter the meal. In France, classic entrée include pâté, crudités (those vegetable salads), air-cured meats (such as prosciutto), leeks vinaigrette, seasonal soups, asparagus or mushroom fricassee over puff pastry, and small servings of quiches or other savory tarts.
I’ve tried to emulate this practice, especially when entertaining. I’ve found that it really helps my guests ease into the flow of the evening, and revs up their appetites for the things that follow.
The Bonne Femme Cookbook offers many recipes that will work beautifully as a sit-down first course, but in truth, a lot of great first courses don’t require much time in the kitchen at all. One of my favorites is simply this: a platter of great prosciutto (like La Quercia Prosciutto Americano), roasted asparagus, and oeufs durs mayonnaise (hard-cooked eggs with a dolled-up mayo—so much un-fussier than deviled eggs, by the way). Set the platter in the middle of the table, and let guests help themselves.
Here’s a recipe for Oeufs Durs Mayonnaise (though you hardly need one!). Find other recipes for great starters at http://chezbonnefemme.com, including this lovely Roasted Beet Salad. The beet salad is fascinating enough to serve solo as the first course, but it also goes well with the Oeufs Durs Mayonnaise.
|Photo Credit:Richard Swearinger|