“Viva La France”; a chant that would echoing through all the arteries of France on July 14th. All of France will be celebrating Bastille Day with pomp and grandeur. Champs-Elysees will host the biggest party of the day with an enormous and colorful military parade. The ground and air alike will light up with the parade commencing at the Arc De Triumph and the fireworks splashing color across the horizon above the Eiffel Tower. And if you are not invited to the garden party hosted by President Hollande, then why not have your own? Or if you are not in tune with French traditions, then why not just whip up some traditional French cuisine on Saturday, July 14, 2012.
Marking the beginning of the French Revolution, when an armed mob of 600 people stormed the Bastille prison in 1798 and wrested it from the hands of the monarchy, Bastille day has been observed with much fervor ever since. And of course, the celebrations are incomplete without food, drink and dance. Here are some of the traditional recipes you can experiment with to celebrate Bastille Day in your own kitchen.
Oven-fresh French Bread
French cooking cannot be mastered till you have baked a fresh loaf of french bread. This thin, crispy loaf of bread, also known as a baguette, is considered a symbol of french culture, hence bask in the aroma of french traditions by baking the bread in your own home.
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 2 pkts yeast
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cornmeal
- Add half the flour, yeast, salt and 2 cups of warm water in a bowl and mix well. Use a mixer with dough hook attachment to blend all the ingredients
- Using a spatula, add the remaining flour and mix well
- On a dry surface, knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes till the dough becomes smooth yet stiff. Shape the dough into a ball. The consistency of the dough should be like elastic.
- Grease a bowl with either oil or butter and let the dough rest there for about 30 minutes till it doubles in size
- Punch the dough down and divide into two portions. Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough. Roll each half into large rectangle. Starting from a long side curl up the dough, moisten edge with water and seal. Taper the ends.
- Grease a large baking sheet and dust it with cornmeal before placing the dough. Make an eggwash by beating one egg with one tablespoon of water and paint over the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise for another 35 minutes
- Make about 3-4 diagonal cuts in the dough andbake in a preheated oven, 375f, for about 20 minutes
- Add another coat of egg wash and bake for a further 15 minutes
- Cover the bread loosely with foil to prevent the surface from burning
- Place the bread on a wire rack and let it cool
Enjoy the french bread with a variety of french cheeses, not to forget french wine.
Haricot Verts Salad
A bright green summer salad with its roots firmly entrenched in french cuisine.
- Slim green beans (haricot verts)
- Handful parsley
- Handful chervil
- 1/2 red onion, julliened
- Dijon mustard
- Olive oil
- Boil the green beans in water for 5 minutes and immediately blanch in ice cold water.
- Drain the beans into a bowl and add the chopped parsley, onions and chervils. (Note: Chervil is a small green herb that has a pungent anise flavor, something similar to black liquorice)
- Whisk together the dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper and add it to your salad.
French brassieres are known for their steak frites. Crispy french fries served with a juicy steak is making my mouth water as I type.
- 3 pound flank steaks
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 1/2 tbsp chopped rosemary
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Whisk all the ingredients, minus the steaks, in a bowl and make a marinade.
- Pour the marinade over the steaks, cover and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours
- Heat the grill and cook the steaks for about 3-5 minutes on either side for medium rare. Increase the time if you want medium or well done
- Let the steak cool slightly, then slice diagonally.
- Serve with crispy thin french fries and dijon mustard
The perfect sweet ending to a celebratory feast. Crepes have been synonymous with french cuisine ever since the days of the monarchy and now no french restaurant menu is complete without them.
- 2/3 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- Pinch of salt
- 100 gms castor sugar
- Pat of butter
- 1/2 a glass orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- 4 tbsp Grand Marnier
- Using an electric mixer, blend the flour, milk, eggs and salt till smooth and all the lumps disappear
- Refrigerate the crepe mixture for 30 minutes
- Grease a crepe making skillet and pre-heat
- Spoon 1/4 cup of the batter on the skillet, coating it entirely. Hold the skillet at a slight angle when pouring.
- Flip the crepe carefully when the bottom has turned brown. Repeat until batter is finished
- For the sauce: dissolve the sugar in 1 tbsp of water, stirring continuously. Melt in the butter and add the orange juice and zest and simmer for 4 minutes
- Add the Grand Marnier and stir for 1-2 minutes
- Dip the crepes into the sauce and fold into quarters
- Spoon the remaining sauce over the crepes, dust with icing sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream
Bring out your cheese board donned with French cheeses and stock up on chilled French wines. Celebrate Bastille Day in true french style by cooking up a “French” storm in your kitchen.