Two of my favorite French dishes:
One of my favorite restaurants in the U.S. for a classic Salade Nicoise is Heroes in Riverside, California. I'm not sure how authentic it is, it's just really delicious. You'll find many variations of this salad. For an easy adaptation of Salade Nicoise, try the recipe found at Delish. A more authentic recipe would include anchovies, which I don't care for. I prefer capers in place of anchovies, and I replace the tuna with a lightly seasoned, grilled salmon. It's perfect as a lunch or dinner entree.
Source: DelishIf I had to choose my favorite dessert, I would have to go with Creme Brulee. This French dessert, also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream, is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. For an easy recipe that does not require a special kitchen torch, this recipe from Delish is delicious and my skill level (easy).
VANILLA CREME BRULEE
MAKES SIX 4-OZ RAMEKINS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Into 13" by 9" metal baking pan, pour 3 1/2 cups hot tap water; place in oven.
In microwave-safe 2-cup liquid measuring cup, heat creams in microwave on Medium (50% power) 5 minutes. Remove from microwave; stir in vanilla.
Meanwhile, in 4-cup liquid measuring cup (to make pouring easier later) or bowl, whisk egg yolks and granulated sugar until well blended. Slowly whisk in warm cream until combined; with spoon, skim off foam.
Partially pull out oven rack with baking pan. Place six 4-ounce ramekins in water in pan in oven. Pour cream mixture into ramekins. (Mixture should come almost to tops of ramekins for successful broiling later.) Carefully push in rack and bake custards 30 minutes or until just set but centers jiggle slightly. Remove ramekins from water and place on wire rack; cool 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until custards are well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Up to 1 hour before serving, preheat broiler. Place brown sugar in coarse sieve; with spoon, press sugar through sieve to evenly cover tops of chilled custards. Place ramekins in jelly-roll pan for easier handling. With broiler rack at closest position to source of heat, broil custards 2 to 3 minutes or just until brown sugar melts. Refrigerate immediately 1 hour to cool custards and allow sugar to form a crust.
Tips & Techniques
The traditional way to heat the cream for this delicious French dessert — in a saucepan on top of the range — is tricky. In an instant, your silky custard can overheat, becoming a curdled mess. This method — using microwave plus oven — is much easier. It removes the guesswork as well as the need for a special kitchen torch.