Writing a regular food column for France magazine En Route is more than work — it’s a real learning experience. For each column I choose a typical French food item, explore its (cultural) history and then write a summary of what I learned. The whole process takes at least a week and is not the easiest of tasks, however enjoyable. Not only because there is usually a sea of information (in France, almost every food item is a BIG deal, often protected by expert organizations and boasting a long and strong history), but also because I’m not writing an article but a column, which means less words and a very different tone.
Last week I started working on a new recipe production for Vriendin, the popular Dutch women’s weekly I write for. Steak is the name of the game. How to cook it and how to serve it. One of the recipes I wrote was for the good ol’ American sandwich classic, the Philly cheesesteak. Bread, thinly sliced steak, onions (peppers, sometimes) and melted cheese. When I tested my recipe, not only did we all love it , but hubby also came up with a brilliant idea — why not make a video, and Frenchify the recipe???
I honestly could not imagine serving a good pâté without a nice dollop of French onion jam (confit d’oignons). But I also love it with so many other things: cheese, sandwiches and even savory pies. The following recipe is one I’ve tried and tested time and time again. It’s really easy to make. So easy, that I’ve included another recipe (using the jam) as an added bonus. I hope you’ll enjoy the new video and hopefully try the recipes!
French Onion Jam
- 40 g butter
- 400 g onions, thinly sliced
- fleur de sel and freshly-cracked pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 50 g raisins
- 50 g raw can sugar
- 50 ml dry white wine
- 50 ml red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsps balsamic syrup
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan, add the onions and season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Let them cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about ten minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients and let the jam cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a sterilized jar.
Savory tarts with goat’s cheese and onion jam
Serves 1 (multiply recipe as needed)
- 1 small square sheet of puff pastry (approx. 12 x 12 cm)
- 1 thin slices bacon or pancetta
- 1 tbsp onion jam
- a bit of soft, creamy goat’s cheese
- a little milk or beaten, to brush the tarts with
- a handful of mixed salad leaves
Preheat the oven to 220°C and put a slice of bacon on each sheet. Follow with the onion jam and the goat’s cheese. Bring the four corners of the pastry squares toward the center and brush the tarts with a little milk or beaten egg. Bake the tarts for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Serve the warm tarts on a bed of mixed greens. Delicious with a crip, white Bergerac or a minerally Sancerre.
A few months back, I wrote a little story about one of our lunchtime adventures in France. One that included a fly in the wine, strong men eating with Opinel knives and garlicky pork chops. It was quite an adventure, but it inspired me to create a slightly different version of that dish, one that is quite popular in France and one that shines with its rustic French simplicity. Here is the recipe. Don’t forget to see how I made them on my YouTube channel (and please subscribe!).
Pork Chops in Mustard Cream Sauce
- 1 tbsp mild olive oil
- knob of butter
- 2 pork chops
- salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper
- 1 fat garlic clove, finely sliced
- 125 ml dry white wine
- 3 tbsps single cream
- 2 tsps Dijon mustard
- freshly-chopped parsley
Heat the oiland butter in a frying pan and season your chops on one side with salt and pepper. Fry them for about 3 minutes on one side, flip them over, season and give them the same time on the other side. Take the meat out of the pan and add the wine, making sure to scrape up any bits left at the bottom. Return the meat to the pan, cover and give them 5-10 more minutes, depending on their size. Plate the chops and stir the mustard and cream into the pan juices. Pour the cream sauce over the pork chops and garnish with chopped parsley. Delicious with a green salad, fresh bread and a bottle of Chardonnay or a fruity Pinot Noir.