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The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook


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About The Book

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of French Women Don’t Get Fat offers a collection of delicious, healthy recipes and advice on eating well without gaining weight.

With French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano wrote the ultimate non–diet book on how to enjoy food and stay slim, sparking a worldwide publishing phenomenon. Now, in her first-ever cookbook, she provides her millions of readers with the recipes that are the cornerstone of her philosophy—mouthwatering, simply prepared dishes that favor fresh, seasonal ingredients and yield high satisfaction.

Organized around Mireille’s three favorite pastimes—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—these recipes emphasize pure flavors, balanced ingredients, and easy cooking methods. Eating pleasurably is just as important as eating healthfully, and Mireille does not neglect dessert and chocolate (essential components of any French woman’s diet) and incorporates advice on entertaining, menu planning, and wine selection. And once again, Mireille offers tips and tricks to reduce one’s waistline (including a secret family recipe from Mireille’s beloved Tante Berthe for a delicious breakfast that melts away pounds effortlessly).

Filled with stories from Mireille’s childhood in France, her life in Paris, Provence, and New York, and her extensive travels and meals for business and enjoyment, The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook is a beautiful, practical lifestyle guide to living well, eating wonderfully, and getting the most out of life with the least amount of stress.


The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook Chapter One


I confess my greatest culinary transformation in life concerns breakfast, and my approach to it continues to evolve. I eat breakfast religiously and, I believe, healthily. That wasn’t always the case. Growing up in France, I ate a light breakfast (remember we had our main meal at midday, sometimes not long after I awoke, so I was not always looking to fill up). Generally my breakfast consisted of carbohydrates and coffee. A cup of café au lait and perhaps a piece of bread with butter and preserves (my mother’s own). Or a slice of the breakfast cake my mother would make once or twice a week. Once in a while, I ate stale bread in chunks in a bol, like a soup bowl, softened and moistened with a soup-size portion of coffee and milk. No protein, no fruit. I was not alone in France. A croissant and coffee, anyone?

Things did not improve when I came to America as an exchange student. Mostly carbohydrates and coffee again. Once in a while I ingested an egg or two, but with bacon and sometimes potatoes. But those carbs—I discovered donuts and bagels, two of which many consider the most delicious albeit fattening and unhealthy foods on earth. Moderation? I only ate one bagel. Who knew that a bagel is loaded with salt and contains as many calories/carbs as a few slices of bread? But, of course, I covered my bagel with cream cheese and jam. Being French, more jam than cream cheese, so I was getting very little protein. And have you noticed the super-sizing of bagels? Not if you were born in the past quarter century. Before that, they actually were what we mostly call mini-bagels today. Plus, being French, I was not then nor am I now into getting my protein or water from a glass of milk. Donuts are deep-fried, and I did not restrict myself to just one. The most wonderful discovery of all was muffins, English muffins and blueberry muffins. Who knew? At least they are not fried. I was also introduced to dry cereal in a bowl covered with milk and perhaps with an added banana. And then there was orange juice in a cardboard carton and served in an eight-ounce water glass. But perhaps most memorable of all was that special occasion breakfast: pancakes. Living in New England, I developed a lifelong fondness for maple syrup. No question, I enjoyed and enjoy all of the above, but now in moderation and balance, or better as occasional indulgences.

When I returned to Paris for college, the now plump me drank coffee as my morning stimulant and ate pastry for breakfast (and lunch… and dinner). But I lived to tell the tale (in book form). I remember from then through my twenties dismissing German, Scandinavian, even English breakfasts as unappetizing and huge. I wasn’t going to eat meat or fish or eggs and cheese and get fat (again). Sausages for breakfast? Please…

I am still not a fan of big breakfasts, but am a devotee of and convert to balanced breakfasts (and lunch and dinner): some protein, some carbohydrates, some fat (a holy trinity of sorts), and fluids. I often do eat a slice (or slivers) of cheese. And, I consider breakfast the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it or your wheels tend to come off in a hurry. My true breakfast epiphany occurred just a few years ago when one day a family breakfast specialty, perfected by Tante Berthe, and one that I had not thought about or eaten since childhood burst upon my inner eye and palate and changed everything.
Magical Breakfast Cream (with no cream) or MBC
Here’s one of my secrets, really Tante Berthe’s, for some quick and healthy weight loss without dieting. Aunt Berthe had her slow but sure way to lose ten pounds effortlessly each summer. So while most of the French families I knew when I was growing up (and it’s still true today) indulged on vacation and came back with a few extra pounds, she came back svelte and bien dans sa peau.

I adored my Tante Berthe. One of five sisters, she was Grand-mère Louise’s youngest sister, and although all of the sisters were attractive women with similar features, blue or green eyes, great cheekbones, long hair kept in gorgeous chignons (I used to love to watch Aunt Berthe do her hair), beautiful peachy skin, and a small nose ever so slightly retroussé, Tante Berthe had that little extra je ne sais quoi. Maybe it was her small round glasses or her beautiful smile or her mischievous look that showed in her sparkling eyes. She was also funny, had a great laugh, and sang beautifully while cooking. She always dressed simply with a gray or navy blue long skirt and had the most seductive tops from lovely classic blouses to charmeuses in soft cotton, pale colors, and lace, and only a few pieces of classic jewelry. And she loved hats. She was the only sister living by herself, and her status was never discussed although we knew she was not a veuve (a widow) since she was addressed as Madame Berthe Juncker. (In France had she been a widow she would have been referred to as Madame Veuve Juncker, like Madame Veuve Clicquot, a famous “widow” from Champagne.) We knew she had some beau, at least we grasped some of that among relatives’ hushed conversations. She seemed to have enough money to live without working though she lived rather frugally and would spend the year visiting relatives to help out with children and cooking usually for a week or two at a time and then move on, either go back to her home or travel (some would say disappear) for a week or so. She was also the most gourmande and gourmet and tended to get a bit pleasantly plump particularly at the end of the winter fêtes, but at the end of each summer she was at her best and looked like a movie star. No one could figure out what she had done: Grandma Louise alone knew but surely kept the secret, and we kids had no idea what the secret was and certainly made no connection with her magical breakfast.

She was the favorite aunt of all the grandchildren: Some adults in the family (especially the men) would say because she was the best cook and an incomparable baker; some said because she was single and spoiling us to no end (and she did). I was her very favorite and as such had an added privilege. When she was in town—she lived in Metz—I could visit her once a month on Thursday, the off school day at the time, and believe me I never missed a day between my seventh and twelfth birthdays (before boys started replacing her on my priority list). I would proudly take the one-hour local bus ride by myself (a conversation piece in my town), and she’d be waiting for me at the bus station. Our day together would always start with me going across the street from the station to try the escalator in the Prisunic, a small department store, a novelty I could brag about with my school friends who had never tried or seen one. She would patiently wait as she was scared of that thing. (It is a quaint reminder that there is a first time for everything, and for a seven-year-old in France, where even today escalators are far rarer than in America, an escalator can be an amusement.) After I had gone up and down a few times on the escalator with a great smile on my face, she’d give me signs indicating it was time for lunch at her house. She lived about a ten-minute walk from the store and station, and we could reach her home via an enchanting road along the Moselle River. She had a wonderful little flat, a lovely terrace with a glass-top awning, and wisteria vines. The terrace overlooked residential homes surrounded with gardens. It was country within the city.

Once there, she’d make my favorite lunch, hanger steak with French fries. (You gather by now that she made the best French fries in the world, even better than my mom, and I alone knew her secret; her trick was to make batches in a small, heavy cocotte versus using the typical large deep fryer.) Dessert would always be a seasonal surprise. I loved her for all this. I did not fancy her magical breakfast then or when we were all in the country for the summer. I realize now it was because when she was with us during her week of magical breakfast cream (a week a month, for the two summer months) we would be deprived of the aroma of fresh brioche, pain aux raisins, morning cakes, or fruit tarts baking in the wooden stove and perfuming the whole house and the back garden where breakfast would be served. And for a whole week! We couldn’t stand it. Complaining and bickering did nothing. She ignored us. We never even noticed that no wine was served during that week. Continued whining didn’t change a thing, there was nothing we could do or say to make her change that pattern. Reluctantly, we got used to it and made silly jokes about it. When the regular routine was resumed, she only nibbled at all the goodies but did so discreetly, so that it too went unnoticed. Smart lady.

My recent epiphany and how this episode of my childhood I had sort of forgotten about returned via an early morning telephone call one spring morning while I was working on my business book. Coralie, an old friend’s daughter from Eastern France, was telling me how her mother was making my aunt’s summer breakfast. Wow. I had not thought of it in decades and thus never made it but instantly visualized the village farmhouse, our summer vacation in a lovely small village near Strasbourg, and the magical mornings eating the summer breakfast in the back of the house watching the fawns come near us (did they like the smell of my aunt’s breakfasts?), hearing her grind the nuts and cereal in her mortar and add it to her homemade yogurt base made alternatively from cow, sheep, or goat milk. So, I searched in my recipe boxes and there it was scribbled on a small yellowish piece of disintegrating paper, my Tante Berthe’s version.

Here’s our “family” version that my aunt would make. Beware: it is addictive. It’s also extremely easy and quick to make, and one can play and interchange so many ingredients. It is the perfect complete breakfast and will keep you from getting hungry until late lunch. You may have run across Johanna Budwig’s variation. A German chemist, pharmacologist, and physicist who lived during much of the twentieth century (and came after my aunt), she promoted a version using cottage cheese as a cancer-fighting breakfast and also part of a nutrition plan. I’ve made MBC in quite a few versions and can’t decide which is my favorite, as it is all a function of where I am, what I feel like, and with whom I share it.

Why do I call it magical breakfast cream? Magical? Something that is a combination of tasty, easy, and so good for your well-being and melts away pounds has to be magical, right? How many pounds? Try a week of MBC for breakfast with a normal but modest lunch and dinner (soup or salad, fish, two vegetables, and fruit), and say good-bye effortlessly to a few pounds, if dozens of converts reporting back from my website are any indication. The trick here is to eat MBC and also to cut two offenders (for me it’s bread and wine) and otherwise eat normally. It works splendidly, and your energy and well-being after these few days are remarkable.

Cream, you may ask? There is no cream in it, but the texture looks like cream and cream connotes something utterly sensual such as comfort food and pampering—except in this case you need not worry about the calories. I trust my aunt used the word to make sure we kids would love it and never mentioned the oil in the mixture. Smart lady again: no one can taste the oil anyway. That oil, by the way, is preferably flaxseed oil, a superconcentrated source of omega-3 fatty acid that has so many health benefits.

In a variation on a theme dear to me, and a paraphrase of a quote from Lily Bollinger on Champagne, let me say: “I eat it when I am happy and when I am sad. I eat it when I am alone and consider it obligatory when I have company. I trifle with it when I am not hungry and always eat it when I am.”

Have fun playing with the range of options and make your own version. Remember, it’s like fashion: mix and match to please your own taste buds.

· SERVES 1 ·

4 to 6 tablespoons yogurt (about ½ cup)

1 teaspoon flaxseed oil

1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (Meyer or organic preferably)

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons finely ground cereal (with zero sugar such as Post Shredded Wheat)

2 teaspoons finely ground walnuts

1. Put the yogurt in a bowl and add the oil. Mix well. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Add the honey and mix well. (It is important to add each ingredient one at a time and mix well to obtain a homogeneous preparation.)

2. Finely grind the cereal and walnuts (I use a small food processor). Add to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Serve at once.

TIME-SAVER: You can do a week’s worth of grinding cereal/nuts mixture and keep it refrigerated so in the morning it will take just a few instants to mix the yogurt with the oil (have no fear, you will not taste the oil in the final creamy blend), add the lemon juice, honey, and your daily dose of cereal/nut mixture—et voilà.

NOTE: I use Post Shredded Wheat Original made from whole grain wheat, adding to this recipe a “health-friendly” mix of 0 grams sugar, 0 grams sodium, and 6 grams of fiber per cup (and I use only 2 tablespoons per serving).
You can replace the yogurt with ricotta, cottage cheese (beware of high sodium content), fromage blanc, or should you be in France, try it with faisselle. When using yogurt you can opt for whole or 2% milk. I make my own yogurt and do not like skim milk, which tastes like water to me.

You can replace the flaxseed oil with sesame oil or safflower oil.

You can replace the lemon juice with grapefruit juice, orange juice, or blood orange juice. With orange juice, use less honey.

You can replace the honey with maple syrup. As the latter is less sweet than honey, you may want to adjust to your taste.

You can replace the shredded wheat with buckwheat, barley, oatmeal, or any cereal that contains no sugar, a key in this recipe.

You can replace the walnuts with hazelnuts, almonds, or a mixture of both. Pecans, pine nuts, and any other nuts work fine, too.

Finally, you can adjust the doses of the juice (I tend to add more lemon juice when using something thicker than yogurt and because I love it) and the honey (less rather than more). My husband chooses 2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice, which is sweet enough and in his case requires nothing else to compensate for honey, although some times (on Sundays!) he’ll add a drizzle of maple syrup (my theory being it is his make-believe for not having pancakes or waffles! Why not?).

You can also add fruit: the obvious is half of a ripe banana mashed with a fork and added after step one or sliced and placed on top of the finished dish. Or top it with any seasonal fruit, especially a mix of berries in summer or dried cranberries, raisins, dried fig or date pieces, or even diced prunes in the cold months. Try it plain, though, as it is simply delicious and in its purest form. And, as recommended, create your own versions. And a last recommendation: surprise your kids with your favorite concoction as in a blind wine tasting—no details on what it is until after the first taste and a little riddle.
Giovanna, a Roman friend in her early thirties who is nuts about food, particularly French food (don’t we always want what we don’t have, as so many of us, French and American women, love Italian food?), is someone I have had great meals with at home and in restaurants in Italy, France, and in the United States, mostly New York City. She loves to cook for her family and friends, and during our cooking sessions, we’ve spent time comparing recipes, making new dishes, and learning from each other when it comes to the presentation of food. We’ve had lots of laughs in the kitchen and at the table talking about food and wine and making fun of each other’s culture and rituals.

She admitted that though she’s never had a weight problem and is a tall, pretty young woman, she had applied a few things from my books that she didn’t know about or had not yet incorporated in her eating plan, and her body was transformed. She had not really lost weight, well, maybe two to three pounds, but looks like une belle plante (a flattering expression French men use when they see a gorgeous woman) and was glad that I said I had noticed…

When she stayed with me in Provence, I introduced her to the MBC. I sincerely do not believe I had ever seen anyone enjoy something so simple so much. Eating it, she was miam miaming (yum yumming) like a baby. And from then on, we had the MBC every morning. Then she went home and started experimenting. She is not as crazy as I am about lemons (too acidic), so she experimented with orange juice. Here’s her latest, and I must say très réussie (well done), an Italian interpretation of Tante Berthe’s basic recipe:

· SERVES 1 ·

½ cup 2% plain Greek-style yogurt

1 teaspoon flaxseed oil

1 tablespoon finely ground nuts (equal parts walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds)

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons finely ground old-fashioned oatmeal

Juice and pulp of 2 clementines or tangerines (only available for a couple of winter months) or ½ orange (not quite as delicate)

1. Put the yogurt and flaxseed oil in a cereal bowl and mix well.

2. Add the ground nuts and honey and mix.

3. Add the ground oats on the surface, but don’t mix yet. Pour the juice and pulp over and leave for a few seconds, then mix and taste.

And here is her reasoning for her improved version, her treaty on cuisine moléculaire! “The small amount of fat in the 2% yogurt is a plus. [We agree on that one.] Oats have fiber and starch, which even in the uncooked version, once in contact with acid substances (citrus food), are practically predigested, and this explains why I prefer to leave the juice on it to be in contact with the oats before mixing it. The acidity level of the clementines is well tolerated by the surface of my teeth and my stomach. Furthermore, for one who loves sugar, it’s the type of citrus fruit that is the most delicate; thus when I press the juice, I am careful to pick up any pulp left on the juicer, and so all those little fibers stay in the ‘cream,’ which is truly fresh, light, thirst quenching, and extra gourmande—at least for my taste buds.” And apparently my aunt’s, too.

And now Giovanna has converted her mother and even her grandmother, who professed not to like yogurt. Here’s the account: Giovanna wrote she missed her MBC (due to a rushed day visiting relatives), but made it for a snack in the afternoon while visiting her grandmother. “I made my grandmother taste it, not telling her anything about the ingredients, as she has repeatedly stated to all family members she does not like yogurt and makes disgusted facial expressions when she mentions the word. Here is the surprise: She loved it (my mother was present, knew the ingredients, and was quietly smiling) and looked like a bébé gourmand, eating teaspoon after teaspoon to the point when I had to ask whether I should make more or would she leave me some.” She finished hers. Imagine if she had liked yogurt!
Happy days now that eggs are back in favor—thank you, thank you—not only because they are tasty but because in moderation they are very good for you due to their exceptional nutritional qualities. The egg is actually a small dietetic miracle possessing vitamins A, B, D, E, and K, minerals (notably iron and phosphorus), as well as selenium and iodine. And it’s now, enfin, confirmed that three eggs a week have no effect on cholesterol (three quarters of which is made by the body itself anyway), since egg is perfectly digestible and well tolerated by our liver. Eggs being a good source of proteins, they are a nice alternative to meat, especially as our body absorbs their nutrients quite easily. As wonderful as the French breakfast of coffee, croissant, and brioche is, (wo)man cannot live by bread alone. How about a little protein added with a yogurt or egg dish?

When I was a student in Weston, Massachusetts, and lived with six very different families during the school year, I was introduced to sunny-side-up eggs (I love the expression, which reminds me of sunflowers) and bacon. One thing these six families shared was fried eggs for breakfast—at some households it was on the breakfast menu three to five times a week. The men in the family would eat three eggs and I dare not remember or mention how many slices of bacon. Oh la la. What a shock that was. First, because we never had eggs for breakfast in my family (but ate our dose in prepared salted or sweet dishes). Yet we had omelets (filled with whatever was in season from mushrooms to asparagus or simply cheese and herbs if there was nothing else in the fridge), but usually for unexpected guests at dinner or some light dinners a couple of times a month, especially on weekends after a multicourse long lunch. Once a week as children we were allowed one oeuf à la coque, the soft-boiled egg served in one of Mamie’s prize collection of coquetiers (eggcups) with mouillettes, the little sticks of bread cut into slim rectangles and just toasted, the ones French kids grow up with and the perfect accessory to “wet” the egg yolk with, since it was not proper to let the yolk leak out—it was all in the art of handling the mouillette. I came to realize that French and Americans both eat plenty of eggs, just differently.

My reasons for liking eggs go beyond their vitamins and minerals, which make them a great food for any age group. They are inexpensive and keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, though I’d recommend taking them out 20 minutes before cooking. They are light, easy to digest, and good at any meal and a quick way to make a meal (3 minutes for a soft-boiled egg, a few more for an omelet). Hard-boiled eggs are perfect for an en cas (emergency food, in case) or a picnic (I often bring one on the plane for dinner or breakfast on overnight flights, one never knows). They are a savior for last-minute guests (make sure to always have some cheese in your fridge) showing up hungry. They are also and foremost delicious in desserts from sweet omelets to French toast, floating island, and the almighty crème anglaise not to mention custard, puddings, and soufflés. The textural differences and pleasures one can achieve with eggs are endless.

My houseguests in Provence always tease me when I announce an “English breakfast,” which is basically one or two eggs any style, toasted baguette, some local jam, yogurt, a portion of fruit, and a nice cup (or two) of coffee or tea, mixed with a surprise or two like a tomato salad (eh, we are in Provence after all) or a polenta dish for those who want to eat out of the box. Sitting on the terrace and enjoying the first song of the day from our friends the cigales, life does not get any better. And the proof is that people linger, relax, converse, and don’t want to leave the table; sometimes they stay there until we announce lunch. Maybe my travel to many parts of the world also influenced my way of reassessing breakfast and playing not only with variety but completeness. I’m not up to serving a Chinese breakfast in Manhattan or a Japanese one in Provence, but I like to play on the “when in Rome” dictum, and I love dishes and flavors my guests do and I let them compose their own magical treat. The trick is not to go to the extreme and gorge oneself but carefully pick à la carte. So, generally I pick one of the following recipes for the “staple” breakfast dish.

· SERVES 6 TO 8 ·

12 eggs

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer.

2. Break the eggs into a double boiler insert and place on top of a simmering water bath. Add the butter and salt and cook, whisking constantly, until the eggs thicken, small curds form, and they become very creamy, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the cream, which will stop the cooking process and make the eggs even creamier. Serve immediately.

· SERVES 4 ·

3 teaspoons olive oil

3 teaspoons unsalted butter

¼ cup peeled and minced shallots

½ cup white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¼ cup broccoli florets, cut into ½-inch pieces

½ yellow pepper, cut into strips

Salt and freshly ground pepper

10 eggs

½ cup grated Gruyère

½ cup grated Parmesan

1 tomato, rinsed and diced

1 cup baby spinach

½ cup fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade (thin strips)

Baguette for serving

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the butter in a medium (9-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, lemon juice, and broccoli and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the yellow pepper and sauté for an additional 2 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan, season to taste, and reserve.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and season to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter over medium-high heat in the same skillet. Add half of the eggs to the pan and shake the pan a bit, lifting the edges of the omelet up to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath. Cook until the top is just set, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the eggs with half of the grated cheeses and place half of the sautéed vegetables, tomato, and spinach on one side of the omelet. Using a large spatula, fold the other side of the omelet over to cover the vegetable filling and allow to cook for 1 minute. Carefully slide onto a platter and repeat with the remaining ingredients for the other omelet.

3. To serve, place both omelets on a platter and garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately with slices of a baguette.

· SERVES 4 ·

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

3 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped

10 eggs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh parsley, basil, and thyme

1 medium tomato, cut into ¼-inch dice

1. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a small nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together and season to taste. Divide the eggs among three bowls: in the first bowl, add the herbs, in the second, tomato, and in the third, shallots. Stir each mixture and season with salt and pepper.

3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pan used for the shallots over medium-high heat. Add the egg-herb mixture to the pan, tilting and swirling the pan to evenly distribute the egg mixture. When the top is set, carefully flip the mixture over and cook for another minute. Slide onto a plate and keep warm.

4. Repeat with the remaining two egg mixtures to make three omelets, stacking the cooked omelets on top of one another. Garnish with additional herbs if desired, and serve immediately, cut into wedges.

· SERVES 4 ·

20 thin slices chorizo

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, peeled and sliced

4 eggs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the chorizo on a small baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the slices to a paper towel—lined plate to drain. Reserve.

3. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 3 minutes to infuse the oil. Remove the shallot from the pan and discard. Break 2 eggs into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Baste the eggs with the shallot-infused oil and cook for another minute or until set. Carefully remove the eggs from the pan and place on a paper towel—lined plate to drain and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs.

4. To serve, place 1 egg on a warmed plate, season to taste, and garnish with the warm chorizo slices.

· SERVES 4 ·

1 teaspoon peeled and minced shallot

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups spinach

½ cup shaved fennel (about ½ small fennel bulb)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

4 eggs

4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

Baguette for serving

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil and season to taste. Place the spinach and fennel in a bowl, add the dressing, and toss well to combine. Set aside.

2. Fill a 10- to 12-inch skillet with 2½ inches water, add the vinegar, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Break each egg into a small cup and add to the water one at a time. Cook the eggs until the whites are just set, about 1½ minutes. Carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon.

3. To serve, place one slice of salmon on each plate. Top with a portion of spinach salad and a poached egg. Season to taste and serve immediately with slices of a baguette.

· SERVES 4 ·

6 eggs

1 teaspoon grainy mustard

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced

4 ounces baked ham, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard, and pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until warm, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the egg mixture and swirl the skillet to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Shake the skillet gently, tilting slightly while lifting the edges of the frittata with a spatula to let the raw egg run underneath for the first 1 to 2 minutes. Cook until the eggs are almost set, about 5 minutes total, and place the skillet under the broiler (not too close) for 1 minute. The frittata will puff up and brown slightly. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the frittata out of the skillet using a spatula. Cut into wedges and serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.

NOTE: If desired, sprinkle ½ cup grated Gruyère on top of the frittata just before placing under the broiler.

· SERVES 4 ·

6 eggs

1½ small unpeeled zucchini, rinsed and grated (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or chopped marjoram)

4 ounces fresh goat cheese (or feta), crumbled

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

? cup grated pecorino

1 small sprig fresh thyme

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat slightly with a fork. Add the zucchini, thyme, and goat cheese, stir to combine, and season to taste.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and swirl the pan to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Shake the pan gently, tilting slightly while lifting the edges of the frittata with a spatula to let the egg run underneath for the first 1 to 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the eggs are almost set, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Cover the frittata with the pecorino and place the pan under the broiler (not too close) for 1 minute. The frittata will puff up and brown slightly and the cheese will melt. Remove from the oven, garnish with the thyme, and serve.
Comfort Food
I don’t know when I first heard the term comfort food; it probably was only in the last decade, but it hit home immediately. Comfort foods are those security blanket dishes that evoke childhood memories and a sense of well-being. They are extremely cultural as well—from macaroni and cheese to steak and mashed potatoes for some New Yorkers. With the Alsatian cultural influence in my family, desserts rise to the comfort food class from cakes with raisins, ginger, nutmeg, and lots of cinnamon to cookies with anise seeds to sugar tarts with more cinnamon, but also all types of custards—flans and puddings with berries in syrup and fresh fruit tarts being the ultimate, especially those on the sour side with groseilles (red currants), griottes (a bitter type of cherries), quetsches (like some Italian plums), and rhubarb, not everyone’s cup of tea but a wonderful reminder of the aroma in the kitchen at baking time.

Can pickles and seaweed be comfort foods for breakfast? Who eats pickles and seaweed for breakfast in the first place? That’s right, the Japanese. I will never forget my first Japanese breakfast in a celebrated and ancient ryokan in Kyoto many years ago: Edward and I sat on the floor of our matted room, and a very formal attendant on her knees served us broiled fish with tsukemono (salty Japanese pickles), steamed rice, nori, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), and, of course, miso soup, plus more things than I can remember now, and tea. No doubt as strange to us for breakfast that first time as some of the dishes in this book or some Alsatian specialties might be to some people. Everyone’s comfort foods are individualistic, even solipsistic. Still, that Japanese breakfast and setting made a strong and warm impression on me, and I can easily understand the comfort that a full Japanese breakfast can bring.

Nowadays, it is oatmeal and Cream of Wheat (forms of baby food for grown-ups) that I count among my comfort foods.

· SERVES 2 TO 4 ·

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

2½ cups water

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons honey Zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

¼ cup 2% milk

½ cup pitted prunes, chopped

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the oatmeal, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the honey, lemon zest, butter, and milk and mix gently. Cook for another minute and add the prunes, stirring to combine. Serve immediately.

NOTE: This heats quickly and makes a perfect breakfast-on-the-go during the work week, a nice change from a cold yogurt or toast!

· SERVES 2 TO 4 ·

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

2? cups water

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 banana, sliced

? cup 2% or whole milk

½ teaspoon butter

1. Combine the oatmeal, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

2. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peanut butter, banana, milk, and butter and mix gently. Cook for another minute and serve.

· SERVES 1 ·

1 banana, peeled and sliced

2 to 4 frozen strawberries

2 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt

½ teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon old-fashioned oatmeal

Pinch of cinnamon

1. Place the banana, strawberries, yogurt, honey, and oatmeal in a blender and purée until smooth.

2. Serve in a glass with the cinnamon.

· SERVES 4 ·

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon butter

? cup milk

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped almonds

1 tablespoon finely chopped hazelnuts

¼ cup dried apricots, diced

1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.

2. Stir the honey, lemon juice, butter, milk, and salt into the cooked quinoa and cook for another minute. Serve in individual bowls garnished with chopped nuts and apricots.

· SERVES 4 ·

¾ cup Cream of Wheat

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch of cinnamon

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the Cream of Wheat according to the package directions.

2. When the Cream of Wheat is cooked, stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and butter. Mix well and cook for 1 minute.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and serve in individual bowls garnished with cranberries and walnuts.
Le Brunch
It does not take a degree in linguistics to recognize the portmanteau nature of brunch, the combination of breakfast and lunch that seemingly connotes a late-morning breakfast or early lunch. Well, today we can forget just the late morning. Walk the streets of Manhattan, for example, on a Sunday morning or early afternoon, and there will be only brunch menus. And certainly restaurants and hotels promote brunch for regular and special occasions such as Mother’s Day. Sunday brunch at some hotels is their local signature. Ah, the endless buffets I have seen, with chef stations cooking up omelets and pancakes and even carving slices of beef.

In New York, in good weather we like to entertain outdoors on our terrace for brunch, which often means telling out-of-town guests to come by at 11 AM, which results in their leaving the table at 1 or 2 PM, so the afternoon is free for sightseeing, shopping, or perhaps a Sunday matinee.

What’s better than welcoming friends to your home with a glass of Champagne or sparkling water or a little freshly squeezed fruit juice and heading outside for some conversation, nibbles—say a taste of smoked salmon, cheese, or even miniature croissants—before sitting down for an omelet with vegetables and good breads and coffee or tea.

As I am not a late sleeper—at least not since I left my teens—I generally eat an early breakfast before brunch—but then is it lunch? Sure, just with breakfast foods more often than not. I can taste the ricotta pancakes just thinking about them. When Edward and I truly want to combine breakfast and lunch, we’ll head off to, say, Balthazar in New York’s SoHo for brunch. We’ll skip the onion soup gratinée, thank you very much, but if we are in a breakfasty state of mind we will contemplate the brioche French toast. Otherwise, if the raw bar is open, oysters. Now there’s a Sunday morning pick-me-up. Plus, there’s moules frites (for me) and steak frites (for Edward) to follow and one of our few French fry indulgences, or frunch for us.

Brunch is a global standard today—a development over just the past perhaps fifteen years—and while the venerable Académie française shuns the word brunch in the French language, preferring le grand petit déjeuner, meaning “big breakfast,” les citoyens just adore it. The French are crazy about the idea of le brunch, even if the menu is not all that different from a bistro lunch with a breakfast basket of pastries (known in French as viennoiseries, a combination of croissants, pains aux raisins, and pains au chocolat).
Le French Snack
For those of us who eat three meals a day, snacks are out or are the exception when dinner is very late or travel plans delay mealtime. Tartines are—or at least were—the quintessential snack for hungry French teenagers.

But what strikes me as well suited for brunch fare are tartines, those small, open-faced, bread-based French finger foods, so I begin the brunch recipes with them.

The key is to buy some really good bread. Tartines are served for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner and at tapas bars and one can make a meal out of them. As great bread lovers, the French invented tartines and they used to be included at the start of almost every meal.

The last few years, tartines have made a huge comeback (perhaps because we are back to lots of great quality bread and artisan bakers) since they are easy, quick, can be changed indefinitely depending on what you have on hand, what is in season, or simply adapting them to your personal tastes. Lots of small cafés or salons de thé in Paris and major French cities offer them as a wonderful meal.

When I grew up, a well-buttered tartine with a thin bar of dark chocolate was the goûter when we came home from school. It’s coming back in schools as well, since I noticed most of the young children in my village in Provence had that very snack versus a more fattening pain au chocolat or worse, one of those bars from vending machines, which fortunately have now been banned in French schools. So, it seems it’s back to basics: simple, nutritious, yummy, and relatively inexpensive. Here’s a variety of tartines that can be served as a brunch starter (or dinner hors d’oeuvres), as a small assortment on a plate with a simple green salad for lunch, or as a snack any time of day.

· SERVES 4 ·

5 ounces fresh goat cheese

4 slices whole grain bread, toasted

? cup toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Spread the goat cheese on toasts, sprinkle with hazelnuts, and drizzle the honey. Garnish with rosemary and serve.

· SERVES 4 ·

4 anchovies, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup fresh ricotta, at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 slices country bread, toasted

1. Place the anchovies in a shallow bowl in one layer. Pour the vinegar over the anchovies and marinate for 1 minute. Pour out the vinegar, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bowl and set aside.

2. Place the ricotta in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the seasoned ricotta on the toasted bread slices. Top each slice with 1 anchovy, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with additional freshly ground pepper, and serve.

· SERVES 4 ·

3 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons grainy mustard

4 slices fresh bread or brioche, lightly toasted

4 slices prosciutto

12 thin slices cucumber

1½ ounces Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

1. In a small bowl combine the butter and mustard and stir until smooth. Spread a thin layer on each slice of toast. Cover each with 1 slice of prosciutto and 3 slices of cucumber.

2. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of Parmesan and garnish each tartine with 1 or 2 shavings. Season generously with fresh pepper and serve.

· SERVES 4 ·

1 (3.75-ounce) can sardines in water, drained

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 slices country bread, toasted

1. Remove the bones from the sardines, place in a bowl, and mash with a fork.

2. In a second bowl, combine the butter, mustard, parsley, chervil, and lemon juice and stir until smooth. Add the mashed sardines and mix gently. Season to taste and serve spread on toasted bread.

· SERVES 4 ·

4 slices sourdough bread, lightly toasted

2 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature

2 pears, rinsed, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced

¼ cup alfalfa sprouts

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts

Freshly ground pepper

1. Spread each slice of toast with blue cheese and cover with pear slices.

2. Garnish with alfalfa sprouts and walnuts, season with pepper, and serve.

· SERVES 4 ·

4 sea scallops, each sliced horizontally into 4 thin disks

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

4 slices country bread, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon olive oil (or walnut oil)

½ teaspoon fleur de sel (large-grained “flower of salt” harvested from the sea works magic)

1. Place the scallops in a small bowl with the lemon juice and marinate for 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the toasted bread slices with the olive oil.

2. Drain the scallops and lay 4 scallop slices, overlapping, on each slice of toast, garnish with the lemon zest and fleur de sel, and serve immediately.

· SERVES 4 ·

1 cup polenta

½ cup grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 thin slices prosciutto

4 sun-dried tomatoes

12 black olives

1. Cook the polenta according to the package directions. Add the Parmesan and pepper and mix well. Pour into a buttered 8-inch square baking dish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Cut the chilled polenta into four pieces and cook until heated through and slightly crisp, about 1 minute on each side. Reserve on paper towels.

3. Using the same skillet, briefly cook the prosciutto over medium-high heat, about 1 minute. Garnish each serving of polenta with 1 slice prosciutto, 1 sun-dried tomato, and 3 olives. Serve immediately.

Special and Luxurious (as in what a luxury to eat)
These recipes are indulgences, and in our home they are reserved for weekends and for entertaining friends, especially at brunch.

1 cup 2% milk

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1. Place the milk and sugar in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of sour cream and is a light caramel color.

2. Remove from the heat and serve as a spread for toast, crêpes, or English muffins. Also delicious drizzled over ice cream!

NOTE: Milk jam may be stored in a sealedjar and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

· SERVES 4 ·

We had cherry trees in our garden, and from the time I was eight, I got to climb the ladder (and some branches) and pick cherries. My little girlfriends and I would sometimes overeat the fresh cherries, but there were still enough to bring back to my mom, who used them to make a clafoutis, baking the fresh fruit in a custardy batter in a round baking dish. The curious name for this dessert comes from the verb clafir, “to fill up,” because you fill up the batter and mold with fruit, most commonly cherries. Clafoutis usually refers to a dessert preparation, but in Provence it can be a savory yet still rich dish with cheese, eggs, and bread.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small eggplant, cut into ½-inch dice

1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 slice bread, crusts removed

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup ricotta

3 eggs

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade (thin strips)

½ cup black olives, pitted and halved

¾ cup grated Parmesan

Butter, softened, for baking dish

Fresh basil (or mint) for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet and sauté the eggplant and yellow pepper until softened, about 6 minutes. Season to taste and set aside to cool.

3. In a food processor, combine the bread, garlic, ricotta, and eggs and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and, using a spatula, fold in 1 tablespoon basil, the olives, Parmesan, eggplant, and yellow pepper.

4. Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered 8-inch square baking dish and place in the oven. Bake until lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with basil or mint.

· SERVES 4 ·

2 pink grapefruit

2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pinch of curry powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 ounces domestic caviar

1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

1. Prepare the grapefruit segments: Cut slices off the top and bottom of the grapefruit and slice away the peel and pith, top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit. Working over a bowl and using a small, sharp knife, cut between the membranes to release the segments. Chop into small pieces and reserve.

2. Using a spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh and place in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and curry, season to taste, and, using a fork, mash to obtain a smooth texture.

3. Place a 3-inch ring mold in the center of the first plate and build the mille-feuille. Begin with a layer of grapefruit at the bottom of the mold. Cover with a layer of avocado purée and top with a thin layer of caviar, pressing down slightly before carefully lifting away the ring mold. Garnish with tarragon and repeat on the remaining plates. Serve immediately.

· SERVES 4 ·

3 oranges (blood oranges preferred)

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and finely diced

? cup black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

3 teaspoons olive oil

Freshly ground pepper

8 ounces smoked salmon, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon fleur de sel

1. Wash and dry the oranges. Grate the zest from 1 orange and then press the juice, reserving the zest and juice. Segment the remaining 2 oranges, one at a time: Cut slices off the top and bottom of the orange and then slice away the peel and pith, top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit. Working over a bowl and using a small, sharp knife, cut between the membranes to release the segments. Chop each segment into small pieces.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped oranges, orange zest, orange juice, fennel, olives, and olive oil, and season to taste.

3. Using a 3-inch ring mold, cut out 8 smoked salmon circles. To serve, place the ring mold in the center of a salad plate. Place one circle of salmon in the base of the mold and cover with a ½-inch layer of orange-fennel salad, lightly pressing down. Cover with a second layer of smoked salmon and top with ½ inch orange-fennel salad. Lightly press down on the salad and then carefully remove the ring mold. Repeat for the remaining three plates. Drizzle each with any leftover dressing from the salad and garnish with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Ring molds can be found at most kitchen supply stores and are a great trick for easily creating restaurant-worthy presentations. You may improvise with a clean tuna fish can by removing the top and bottom and using it as a ring mold.

· SERVES 4 ·

3 ounces each of Jarlsberg, Parmesan, and cheddar

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 apples (any fruity red variety)

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley

1. Cut each piece of cheese into ¼-inch-thick slices and each slice into matchsticks. Reserve.

2. Place the sherry vinegar into a small bowl and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Season to taste.

3. Rinse and core the apples and cut each horizontally into 6 slices (3 per plate).

4. To serve, place 1 apple slice on each dish and cover with the cheese matchsticks. Cover with another apple slice and continue for each plate. Drizzle the dressing on top of and around each mille-feuille, garnish with parsley, and serve.


6 ounces blue cheese (Fourme d’Ambert or Roquefort), at room temperature

14 ounces fromage blanc

4 tablespoons minced fresh chives plus 1-inch chive bâtons for garnish, if desired

16 to 20 slices cocktail rye bread, toasted

1. Place the softened blue cheese in a small bowl and mash with a fork.

2. Add the fromage blanc and stir until smooth. Add the chives and mix until blended.

3. To serve, spread on rye bread toasts and garnish with chive bâtons, if desired.

· SERVES 4 ·

1 egg white

6 tablespoons sugar

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons ground almonds

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon orange zest

4 slices brioche

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the egg white and sugar until creamy. Add the ground almonds, lemon juice and zest, orange zest, and mix until smooth.

3. Place the brioche slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover the top of each with an even layer of the lemon-almond mixture. Place in the oven and bake until lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

· SERVES 6 TO 8 ·

It’s said that pizza is the most popular food in the world. Every culture has its variation of flat bread with a local topping. In Alsace, flammekueche is a famous specialty and pizza variation, a thin dough crust most commonly topped with bacon, onions, and crème fraîche.

1 egg

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups fromage blanc (use cottage cheese as a substitute)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 pound puff pastry or pizza dough (store-bought), defrosted if frozen

4 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (1 to 1½ cups)

¼ pound bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, flour, and fromage blanc. Stir until smooth and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to fit an 11- × 17-inch baking sheet. Carefully transfer the dough to the baking sheet by rolling the dough around a rolling pin and unrolling it directly onto the pan.

4. Spread an even layer of the fromage blanc mixture over the surface of the dough and cover with the shallots and bacon. Fold the edges over, creating a ½-inch border around the tart, and seal by pressing lightly with the tines of a fork. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, cut into squares, and serve.

· SERVES 8 TO 10 ·

1 egg

1 cup fromage blanc

? cup crème fraîche

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pound store-bought puff pastry, defrosted according to package directions

4 apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced

4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Calvados or eau de vie (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, fromage blanc, crème fraîche, and vanilla. Stir until smooth and set aside.

3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to fit an 11- × 17-inch baking sheet. Carefully transfer the dough to the baking sheet by rolling the dough around a rolling pin and unrolling it directly onto the pan.

4. Spread an even layer of the fromage blanc— crème fraîche mixture over the surface of the dough. Top with overlapping apple slices, arranging them in columns and leaving a ½-inch border all around. Fold the edges over, creating a border around the tart, and seal by pressing lightly with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the apples and bake in the oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

5. While the tart is baking, make a simple syrup, if desired: in a small saucepan, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 2 tablespoons water and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour the Calvados, if using, down the side of the saucepan into the syrup; be careful, as the syrup will start to bubble. Stir and allow to cool. After removing the flammekueche from the oven, delicately brush the apples with the syrup using a pastry brush. Cut into large squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

· SERVES 4 ·

4 slices brioche, crusts removed

2 ounces Jarlsberg, cut into 6 slices

1 ounce domestic caviar

2 slices smoked salmon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Place 2 brioche slices on a work surface and top each with 3 slices of cheese in a single layer. Spread ½ ounce caviar on top of the cheese and cover with a slice of salmon, trimmed to fit the size of the brioche. Top each with a second slice of brioche.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and place the sandwiches in the pan. Cook, pressing down lightly with a spatula, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and flip the sandwiches, cooking until golden and the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.

3. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board, slice diagonally, and serve immediately.

· SERVES 4 ·

4 slices brioche or challah (preferably day-old), cut 1 inch thick

4 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons 2% milk

3 eggs

1 egg white

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

Maple syrup for serving

1. Place the brioche slices in a large, deep, rectangular pan and pour 1 teaspoon of milk on each slice. (This provides moisture at the bread’s center.)

2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, 2 tablespoons milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Pour over the brioche, turning to coat thoroughly (this step is important so that you end up with a custardy version and not dry French toast), and let stand for about 5 minutes.

3. Heat the butter over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet and cook the brioche for 2 to 3 minutes per side, first on medium high and then on medium-low until golden brown. Cut each slice diagonally (a trick for giving the illusion of a larger portion) and place on a plate slightly superimposing one on top of the other. Serve with pure maple syrup.

NOTE: You may also serve French toast garnished with a few grains of fleur de sel and a teaspoon of mascarpone on the side accompanied by fresh berries.

About The Author

Credit: Andy French

Mireille Guiliano is the bestselling author of French Women Don't Get Fat, French Women For All Seasons, and Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire.  Born and raised in France, she is married to an American and lives most of the year in New York and Paris.  She is the former President and CEO of Clicquot, Inc.   

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (September 13, 2011)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439148976

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