Cultural Corner: No-Fuss French Food

French food not only sounds intimidating: Soufflé, Beef bourguignon, Bouillabaisse—but often looks intimidating to make too. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Julia Child championed French cooking in America and made the complicated cuisine seem more approachable. The key to cooking French food is using fresh and simple ingredients. Channel your inner “Child” and try one (or all!) of these three fuss-free French dishes!

Breakfast Omelet (adapted from Food Network)
This popular breakfast dish is as French as it is budget-friendly. Start by cracking two large eggs into a bowl and whisking in two tablespoons of milk or half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is warm add one tablespoon of unsalted butter and let it sizzle until the foam is mostly gone. Pour in the egg mixture and let the eggs warm slightly. Use a spatula to stir the eggs rapidly, making sure to get the sides of the skillet. Thump the skillet against the stove (carefully) once the eggs have just set. (This releases the omelet from the pan to keep it from sticking.) Fold the omelet into thirds. Cook to desired degree of doneness and serve. Fresh herbs sprinkled over the top are delicious!

Simple Pan-Fried Sole (adapted from Delish)
This simple fish dish is easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner. To get started, season two pounds of sole fillets (or another mild fish) with salt and about ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Dust the fish with ¼ cup of flour and shake to remove any extra. In a large nonstick fry pan, heat two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook the sole for four minutes (or until done) turning once halfway through and then remove them from the pan onto a plate. Eat as is or make a delicious lemon cream sauce by adding ¾ cup of heavy cream and zest from half a lemon to the same pan. Let mixture come to a simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickens. Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice from the zested lemon, salt, and fresh chopped parsley. Serve cream sauce over the cooked fish. Bon Appètit!

Chocolate Espresso Pot de Crème (adapted from Epicurious)
These little ramekins filled with chocolate and espresso custard are pure delight! You’ll need to finely chop six ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl. Next, in a small saucepan heat about 1 ⅓ cup heavy cream, ⅔ cup whole milk, 1 ½ teaspoons of instant-espresso powder, and a dash of salt. Bring the mixture just to a boil, whisking until all the powder is dissolved. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Meanwhile, mix six egg yolks, two tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt in a different bowl. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a glass measuring cup or bowl. Allow it to cool entirely. Divide mixture into eight ramekins and place them on a kitchen towel-lined baking pan. Place that pan into a larger one and pour boiling water into the bigger pan until it comes halfway up the side of the smaller pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Top with homemade whipped cream and enjoy!

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