Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Vichyssoise is traditionally served cold, however I will be serving mine hot (also accepted) as I gaze at the snow-covered landscape outside the kitchen window :- )

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:
  • 2 cups leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3  large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 2 tbsp. vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • sea salt, pepper, to taste
What to do:
  1. Heat margarine in large stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks and onions and cook for 5-7 minutes. 
  2. Add potatoes, herbs, salt, pepper and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer soup to a blender, add rice milk and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. 
  4. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with warm crusty French bread.
Serves: 4-6  Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black Olive Tapenade

Who doesn't love a good olive tapenade? This one takes about 15 minutes to make. You may wish to served it with crudites (a variety of vegetables to dip,) in addition to slices of warm baguette from your local boulangerie :-)

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:
  • 2 six-ounce cans black olives, drained
  • 3-4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp. capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 cup chopped red onion
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
What to do:
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor and serve on thin slices of toasted baguette. Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Creamy Herb and Garlic Spread

An easy little spread to put together at a moment's notice, this is a nice addition to any array of hors d'oeuvres for a dinner party.

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:
  • 1 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 3-4 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, etc)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
What to do:
  1. Mix all ingredients well and serve on thin slices of toasted French baguette.  Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lentil Walnut Pate Lettuce Wraps

If you wish to keep a trim waistline (like the quintessential French woman,) you may wish to forego serving this dish with crusty bread and opt for individual pieces of Bibb lettuce which you can fashion into petit wraps.

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/8 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. red wine
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • Bibb lettuce, washed 
What to do:
  1. Heat olive oil in a cast-iron pan over low heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking until they are soft.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the lentils in a well-oiled baking dish, add the cooked onions and garlic mixture and combine, adding a bit more olive oil if you like. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pat the mixture down into the bowl and brush the top with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with crusty French bread and individual pieces of Bibb lettuce "wraps."  Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Salade de Lentilles Vertes (Green Lentil Salad)

The most prized French green lentils come from the village of Le Puy, where the soil is particularly suited to growing these earthy green treasures.

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut in half (2 quarters) and stuck with 2 cloves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

What to do:

  1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly. Place lentils, onion, garlic and bay leaf in a medium-size saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of sugar and a splash of vinegar to cooking water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, 25-30 minutes, adding water as needed.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, oil and salt in a small bowl. 
  3. Remove lentils from heat and coat lentils with dressing. Season with pepper and serve warm.
Serves: 2-4 Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Melange de Noix Epices (Spiced Nut Mix)

This fun little melange de noix comes from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. I omitted the pretzels that he calls for and the end product was, well...vraiement magnifique!

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw nuts (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts, peanuts and brazil nuts)
  • 2 tsp. vegan margarine
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spread nuts on a baking sheet. Toast for 7-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, chili powder, maple syrup and cocoa.
  3. Stir the warm nuts into the spice mixture. Coat completely and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Place them back in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the nuts are glazed and brown.
Serve to friends this holiday season. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mango Carpaccio with Cinnamon

I found this simple mango dessert recipe while leafing through my copy of French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasures, by Mireille Guiliano. It's the sequel to French Women Don't Get Fat and ripe with simple yet elegant recipes for cooking and living. Most of the recipes are not vegan but they are light and simpler than traditional French cuisine.

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups mango chunks (unthawed if frozen)
What to do:
  1. Place sugar in a small saucepan with the lemon juice, 1 mint leaf and 1 tbsp. water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and add cinnamon. Let cool.
  2. Place mango in 2 serving dishes and drizzle with the syrup. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve and decorate with mint leaves.  Serves: 2   Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Taboule Provencale (Seasoned Couscous Salad)

The fine semolina grain from north Africa appears in many forms of French cooking. A popular item on cafe menus is the salade de couscous, also known as tabouleh. Instead of using bulgar in their tabouleh salad, the French often use couscous, which is slightly more refined...just like the French! This recipe is adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells.

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup precooked couscous
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 5 thin scallions, white bulb cut into thin rounds
  • 1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
What to do:
  1. In a small bowl, place chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and set aside. 
  2. Place the couscous in a medium-size bowl, fluff with a fork and stir in the dressing. Taste for seasoning. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, but no more than 4 hours. Adjust seasoning before serving, adding additional lemon juice or salt to taste.  Serves: 2   Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 12, 2010

White Bean Cassoulet in the Slow Cooker

Cassoulet is a hearty, slow-cooked bean stew hailing from the south of France. It typically contains pork sausage, goose or duck. The meat here has been replaced with Tofurkey Italian sausage. Cassoulet was named after its cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, rounded earthenware pot and dates back to the 14th century.

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:
  • 1 tbsp. virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups leeks, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cups cannellini beans
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 link Tofurkey sausage, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. toasted breadcrumbs
  • salt, pepper, to taste
What to do:
  1. Turn slow-cooker on high setting. Heat oil, leeks and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Switch setting to low and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring to combine. Let cook for 5-6 hours.  Serves 2-4 Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kir, the DIY Aperitif

Beyond the endless variety of vins (wine), Kir is my favorite French beverage. It is made with creme de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur and topped with white wine. The mayor of Dijon, Felix Kir introduced the drink to France after WWII, serving it at official receptions. There do exist some Kir variations, the most famous being Kir Royale, which uses champagne.

For a traditional Kir, you will need:

  • 1 oz. cassis
  • 4 oz. dry white wine
Pour the cassis into a wine glass and top it off with the white wine. Sip slowly, savor it and dream of springtime in Paris! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Almond Sables

Almond Sables, also known as Breton Biscuits are classic French cookies hailing from Normandy. This vegan version comes from Linda Majzlik's A Taste of Vegan France. An extremely simple cookie to make, it is best enjoyed in solitude with a steaming bowl of cafe au lait.

Difficulty Level: Facile

What you need:
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 tbsp. soy milk
What to do:
  1. Sift flour and baking powder together into a mixing bowl and stir in the ground almonds. Rub in the margarine and then add the sugar. Add the almond extract and gradually pour in the soy milk until a soft dough forms.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut it into small circles or squares, gathering up and re-rolling the dough until it is all used up.
  3. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Bon appetit! Serves: Many
  4. Transfer cookies to a well-oiled baking sheet

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Les Baguettes

The French have a true love affair with bread. French baguettes come in a dizzying array of sizes and styles and one size does not fit all.  This recipe is one for what James Beard calls "bread sticks," that are then modified to make baguette loaves. Be sure to eat when they are fresh out of the oven!

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-115F)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • coarse salt

What to do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and salt. Add the oil and about 1/4 cup of water. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes or so. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and continue beating with the wooden spoon. Alternately add flour, 1 cup at a time, and water until you have a fairly soft dough, reserving about 1/2 the flour for kneading. Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead for several minutes until it springs back briskly when you press your fingers in. It should be smooth and satiny, and all the flour on the board should be absorbed.
  2. Let the dough rest on the board, covered with a towel, for about 5 minutes, then shape it into a roll about 20 inches long. With a sharp knife, cut in into 4 equal pieces. Rest the dough again for 3-4 minutes, then, using the palms of your hands, roll out each piece as long as the baking sheet or sheets you will use.
  3. Oil the baking sheet and arrange bread about one inch apart. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes or until they have doubled. Bake at 300F for 40-45 minutes. They should be nicely browned and crisp. Makes 3-4 loaves. Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Avocado et Grapefruit Salade

For the French, salads are often the main midday meal....perhaps one reason why Frenchwomen don't get fat? Peut-etre. This simple yet elegant summer salad is a nice way to brighten up the day (and keep the waistline trim.)

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 large red grapefruit

What to do:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly mix in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
  2. Cut avocado in half, removing the seeds and skin. Dip each half in the vinaigrette to keep from turning brown. Peel the grapefruit and cut between the membranes to release the segments. Arrange the grapefruit on two plates. Cut the avocado in wedges and and arrange them between the grapefruit segments. Serve with the vinaigrette. Bon Appetit! Serves: 2

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

In David Lebovitz's book The Sweet Life in Paris, he notes that every Frenchwoman he knows loves chocolate so much she has a chocolate cake in her repertoire that she's committed to memory, one she can make on a moment's notice, in case a spontaneous dinner party should arise. I would like to try many a version of dairy-free chocolate cake in a quest to find that special recipe to keep in my repertoire. Here's one of many to come!

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. apple cider
For the icing:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. vegan margarine
  • 2 tbsp. coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add warm water, vanilla, coconut oil and apple cider. Mix well to combine and pour into a well-oiled 9-inch bread pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all icing ingredients except vanilla. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before drizzle over the cake. Savor alone or with tes amis. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tomato and Olive Croustade

Croustade is a French culinary term, meaning crust or pie-crust. It is made with puff pastry, fresh breadcrumbs, potatoes, semolina or rice. This recipe is based on a croustade de pain de mie (the breadcrumb croustade). Homemade breadcrumbs are optimal, but packaged are fine too. If you're looking for a light dinner for two, cette recette est parfait!

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp. vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup mixed nuts (I used walnuts, almonds and brazil buts) chopped
  • 1 tbsp. coconut milk (any non-dairy milk will do)
  • small pinch of oregano, thyme and marjoram
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin
  • 3-5 green olives, chopped
  • black pepper
  • vegan parmesan
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter in a small cast iron pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the breadcrumbs, nuts, coconut milk and dried herbs. Press this "crust" down firmly and bake for 5 minutes.
  2. Arrange tomato slices in a circular overlapping pattern on top of crust. Scatter the olives on top and season with black pepper. Sprinkle as much vegan parmesan as you wish and bake for 20 minutes. Serves: 2   Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Moroccan Couscous with Butternut Squash

Morocco used to be part of the French empire and post-colonialism has brought North Africa to France's palate. From couscous to tagines, the spices of the Orient play a supporting role in the theatre of French cuisine.

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:

  • 1 small butternut squash, diced
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1 scallion, chopped

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place the butternut squash, onions and carrots in a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable stock to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add the vegan butter, salt, pepper and cumin. Let sit on low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Place couscous and cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Bring the stock to a boil and pour over the couscous and vegetables. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Add the scallions and serve. Bon Appetit!  Serves: 2

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

French Onion Soup w/ Apple Cider

French onion soup as we know it today was made popular in 18th century France. Its rich flavor is made by caramelizing the onions, an essential technique in crafting the perfect french onion soup. Raw apple cider enhances this soup, acting as a substitute for Calvados, the apple brandy from Basse-Normandie. I vaguely remember its delicate nose as I sipped the golden liqueur as an aperitif in Caen, France during my student days. Typically made with beef broth, butter and gruyere cheese, this vegan version is made with vegetable broth, fresh thyme and a dollop of vegan butter. La soupe est vraiement magnifique!

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, to taste
What to do:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic and thyme and cook until caramelized, approximately 30-45 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable broth, apple cider, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Serve hot with a fresh baguette. Serves: 2  Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Le Cafe

The cafe is a French icon and reassuring in its timeless place in history. The world's greatest artists, writers, philosophers and creative minds flock to the cafe to ponder life's subtle mysteries. As vegans, we are philosophers of food, of animal rights and environmental sustainability. While many French cafe drinks are still centered around cow's milk, there is a lesson we can take from their enduring establishment. There is no styrofoam here. No grande soy latte in a paper cup that will be thrown in the waste only minutes after it was purchased. There is espresso in a real cup and saucer. There is no laptop computer with clumsy extension cord trailing across the floor. There are petite bistro chairs and tables and carafes of Beaujolais (especially at this time of year.) The cafe provides us with a public space to ponder our private thoughts...perfect for the thoughtful vegan.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Oh mon dieux, quelle pissaladiere delicieuse! Une pissaladiere is a kin to a pizza and native to the region of Provence, which happens to be neighbored by Italy. Pissaaladiere is usually made in the shape of a rectangle, similar to that of a French tart. If you aren't concerned with the vegan aspect, anchovies are a common topping, but the Provencal pizza is just as lovely without.

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:
For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 4 yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • cornmeal, for baking
  • 15 oil-cured black olives
For the dough: (makes 2, so you can freeze one for la prochaine fois)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 2 envelopes dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
What to do:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and cook the onions, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring intermittently. After 30 minutes, take out the garlic and chop roughly, then add it back to the onions. 
  2. For the dough, combine the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil in a bowl. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes. Pace dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover with the oil.Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Divide the dough into two equal parts, rolling each one into a smooth ball. Wrap one and freeze. Roll the other ball of dough with a rolling pin, stretching it to a 10 by 15-inch rectangle and place it on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.
  4. Spoon the onion topping onto the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around. Arrange the olives and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot on a cutting board. Bon appetit!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower (Choufleur) Soup

"How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?" -Charles de Gaulle

It's true, the French love their cheese. And for good reason! It's fabulous. They also love their heavy cream, rabbits, ducks, goose livers, etc. For the discerning vegan, creating animal-free French-inspired cuisine might seem an impossible feat (as did Charles de Gaulle regarding the ruling of his bel pays.) It can be done. While it may not taste as authentic as savoring the real thing in a candlelit bistro overlooking the river Seine, vegan-friendly French cuisine is gradually gaining popularity-even among its citizens.

This particular soup might be served as a starter in France. You may wish to do the same, or serve it as an entree with a fresh green salad.

What you need:
  • 1 head choufleur
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. virgin olive oil
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh thyme, to taste
  • 3 cups vegetarian chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. vegan butter
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss cauliflower, onions and garlic together in a large roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Toss gently to coat. Roast the vegetables, uncovered for 25 minutes.
  2. Place the roasted vegetables into a large pot with the stock, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vegan butter. Puree the soup in an immersion blender or in batches using a countertop blender. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve hot. 
This recipe serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish. Enjoy this soup with a fresh garden salad and a glass of your favorite white wine or Perrier. Salut!