French cooking is not just foie gras and truffles, or rich sauces and puff pastry.  Remember Julia Childs cursing as she flops a crepe on the floor or nicks her finger slicing fish or boning duck?  She didn’t always make it look easy, but French cooking can

            My first recipe is a nod to my husband, who first impressed me by making his own salad dressing.  French people are surprised to see bottled salad dressing in US grocery stores. In France we make simple vinaigrette            The third recipe is a favorite appetizer here in my adopted Burgundy; gougeres (goo-zhairs).  These are bite-sized savory puffs of egg, butter and flour dough, with ham and cheese bits stirred in. The French love to entertain for 'aperitif' (uh-pair-uh-teef);  it’s simply a pre-dinner drink, often Chardonnay or Cremant, our local sparkling wine.  Kir is the standard offering here in Burgundy and you can read about here: Kir in Burgundy. Aperitif will include a dry snack such as nuts, olives, or quite often gougeres. This is an easy, impressive way to treat your guests or family to a French 'aperitif'. 

 Petites gougères apéritif

            French vinaigrette salad dressing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup corn, safflower or sunflower oil


1/ mix the vinegar, water, salt, pepper and mustard in a dish or jar with a fork or mini-whisk until it forms a smooth emulsion.

2/ While continuously mixing, slowly pour the oil in a thin stream.  You can also add the oil in 1/4 cup increments to  a jar, cover tightly and shake.  This dressing keeps for a month covered tightly and not refrigerated.


            White wine, cream and bacon pan sauce

2 tsp olive oil

2 turkey or veal cutlets, or 2 chicken filets, pounded flat or pork filet medallions for 2

4 slices smoked bacon, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup creme fraiche OR 1/2 cup sour cream + 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

salt, pepper


1/Heat olive oil in non-stick pan and fry the meat, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes until just done (use a meat thermometer, or cut into the meat to check it's not pink)

2/ remove meat to a plate and cover or put in microwave to keep warm

3/ saute the bacon in the hot pan for 2 minutes.  Add onions and continue frying until the onions and bacon begin to caramelize.

4/Pour the wine over the onions and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring to unstick all the brown bits that have a nice flavor and let the alcohol evaporate from the wine.

5/Stir in the cream and a pinch of salt and pepper, taste to adjust the seasoning.  Add the meat back in the pan and heat briefly. . .serve over noodles or potatoes.



3 large eggs

3/4 cup water

6 tablespoons butter, cut up

3/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup comté or emmental cheese, chopped fine in a food processor

1/2 cup cooked bacon or ham, chopped fine by hand


1/Preheat oven to 400 F.

2/Place water and butter in saucepan with salt and bring to a full boil over medium heat.  Boil just until butter is melted.  Turn heat off.

3/Add flour all at once and beat quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball and leaves sides of pan. 

4/Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.

5/After last egg is added, beat well for 30 seconds longer,  then stir in cheese and ham.  Do not let cheese melt—it should stay in little chunks.

6/Make teaspoon sized mounds, as for cookies, 1 inch apart on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  You can also pipe out little mounds with a pastry bag. 

7/Bake immediately 20-30 minutes until puffed, light brown and crisp.  Serve warm in a basket covered by a tea towel so they stay hot.

You can bake the puffs ahead, refrigerate or freeze, and heat in the oven 5 minutes before serving.  Bon appetit !