How to cook like the French {day five}

French food doesn’t have to be complicated, and that’s a promise. If I managed to learn how to cook from scratch having never boiled an egg before my 21st birthday, anyone can do it.


My aim today is two-fold: one, to reassure you that you can learn how to cook French food and two, to send you into bookshops and across the internet feeling informed and armed with personal recommendations.


{day five} How to cook like the French


Cooking French food might feel like a daunting task. You may have dined in a French restaurant and eaten very ‘cheffy’ dishes you couldn’t imagine making at home. Let me just reassure you that French people don’t cook or eat like this every day. Sure, we have all grown up eating many traditional recipes, but it is not the sort of food you would usually be served in a restaurant outside of France. Below are a few links to help you get started.

French Recipes on this Blog

I am by no means a fantastic cook, for one thing, I just don’t have time to spend my life in the kitchen. I do get a bit obsessed about food though, and I occasionally share recipes I have tried at home. I get homesick for French food on a regular basis and so I like to collect French recipe books of all sorts to try to get back to the scents and tastes that remind me of my childhood. Have a look around in the Recipes category, or just go straight to the following:

French Recipes on the Internet

There are many French food websites and blogs you can follow, but it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees in this abundance of plenty. I am not going to overwhelm you with many links, because you don’t need hundreds, you need a couple at best.
  • My go-to food blog has been Franglaise Cooking, they have a lot of brilliant family recipes that are delicious and easy to make. The hazelnut macarons alone make it worth a visit. But I can also recommend le Coin de Mel (I am planning on making her classic Petit Salé aux lentilles very soon) and Croque-Maman.

French Cookery Books

1. I shared my top 5 favourite cook books a couple of years’ back, and it included a couple you will see listed below for the very good reason that they are fabulous. This chicken stew recipe that is on the blog comes directly from the enormous ‘2000 recettes de la cuisine française‘ recipe book, but it’s not much use if you can’t speak the language.


2. Rachel Khoo‘s The Little Paris Kitchen has been translated into French, which is as positive an endorsement as you can wish for! I don’t own this book but I watched the accompanying BBC TV series religiously and I recommend it on the basis that it was inspiring and made me very hungry. Rachel had a TINY kitchen in Paris, and yet she managed to produce some outstanding recipes.


3. If you’re looking for a solid modern book on French cooking, then Michel Roux (both Senior and Junior) are French chefs based in the UK. Their books are in English and are accessible to the common cook but they are classically trained chefs with all the solid knowledge that entails so you are in good hands.

4. There is also a French chef called Stéphane Reynaud who has created the most beautiful cookery books I have ever seen. They are all translated into American English, so you get references to capsicum instead of peppers, which took a bit of getting used to but otherwise, the books are GORGEOUS. Not only do you get delicious recipes, but also beautiful and funny illustrations, songs, history lessons, lists (lists!) of different wines, cheeses, what goes with what etc. I have the following two:

  • Ripailles, which offers 299 French traditional recipes
  • Rôtis, which is all about roast meat

Bonus: watch a film about cooking!

To get yourself in the mood, everyone should watch Julie and Julia [DVD] [2010]
featuring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, a fab film about food and Julia Child, the author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If you’re not hungry by the end of it, you’re not human.


In other news, I’ve decided that as part of the 31 days challenge, I will post one classic French recipe every Friday that I have personally made at home. It will be easy and affordable and hopefully inspire you to check out French cooking without fearing having to go full Julia Child and start boiling pigs trotters to make your own gelatine.
31 days button - Frenchify your life # font x400

Listography – Top 5 Cookbooks

I’ve avoided memes and the like on the blog so far because I find them so terribly boring, especially the ones where you post a photo and nothing else. Whilst I don’t dislike photos per se, they mean nothing to me unless there’s a good story to go alongside them or they are particularly striking.

Then I discovered Kate Takes 5‘s Listography series. I love a good list and I love the topics she comes up with so I hope that you will not find it too boring if I occasionally indulge in a little photo list. It will likely ladle you with an insane amount of useless information about me, none of it particularly insightful or deep but hopefully it will be entertaining. And so I start.

I love cookery books. I have a lot of them, especially since my birthday a couple of weeks ago when I was given no less than four new books. Whilst I dip into all the books from time to time I continuously return to the same ones over and over again.

1. 2000 Recettes de la Cuisine Française.

I use this one a lot. I doubt I will ever cook all 2000 French recipes contained within but I do like to try a new one from time to time. When I came to England and discovered I quite liked cooking, I realised that I knew previous few French recipes and decided that I should really learn how to make the classics. What I love about this book is that it gives you a list of alternative ingredients so if you don’t happen to have a particular herb and like me you don’t have a clue what herb/spice goes with what, you can just slightly alter the recipe by using something else from the list.

French recipe book

2. The Every Day Chicken Cookbook.

We love chicken and now that I can’t just dish out a tin of sauce from the cupboard because of the salt content for Little Girl, I have realised that it’s just as easy to do a stew with a bit of stock, an onion and a few mushrooms (and wine, don’t forget the wine). Thank you Chicken Cookbook.

Chicken Cookbook

3. Delia’s How to Cook.

I love Delia. This is the first cookery book I bought when I arrived in England, and I can proudly say that she taught me how to boil an egg. Now that I’m a bit more ‘advanced’ I can make her goat’s cheese tart and her basic bread recipe is a winner.

Delia Cookbook

4. Michel Roux Pastry.

Michel Roux is a genius. He is the only one who has made me want to try to make puff pastry from scratch, and it even worked. I regularly make his Pithiviers recipe (with extra cherries) and his apple tart.

Michel Roux Cookbook

5. Muffins.

Another French book, it is part of a series of small books called Petits Plats Marabouts. These all run on a theme, with lots of recipes both savoury and sweet. Others I own in the collection are Risotto, Tarts, Trifle, Flans & Clafoutis and Small Dishes (for individual pots).

Muffins Cookbook


For more Cookbooks fun, visit Kate Takes 5‘s post.