For more than 200 years the French have celebrated Bastille Day on July 14 with a holiday and, as is their tradition, a leisurely meal in the middle of the day.
In France, Bastille Day – or French National Day – marks the start of the French Revolution in 1789 when the monarchy was overthrown and replaced by a democracy. In Australia, many French expats and Francophiles also celebrate Bastille Day, often with a French-themed meal.
As well as being a keen French cook, Rilka Warbanoff specialises in gluten-free and sugar-free cooking classes at her Adelaide cooking school, Rilka’s Real Food. In the coming months Warbanoff is running a number of cooking classes that combine both gluten-free and sugar-free cooking with French flavours, the first of which is scheduled for July 17.
Here, Warbanoff gives a taste of what’s to come with a few of her favourite French dishes so you can recreate a Bastille Day dinner menu at home.
On holidays, pastries would be made in abundance. My mum’s pastries were the favourites of all the children. Mum was renowned for her kitchen skills even though she did not know how to boil a kettle when she first arrived in Australia from Bulgaria.
1 cup plain yoghurt
1 cup grated feta cheese
2 cups gluten-free plain flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 glug olive oil
1 pinch salt
In a bowl, add the yoghurt and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.
In another bowl, add the other ingredients, including the olive oil, and then add the yoghurt mixture. Mix well, but do not overwork.
Heat oven to 180°C and grease the baking trays with olive oil.
Place a little olive oil in your hands, take a small amount of dough and roll into a 2cm ball. Place onto the baking tray and repeat until all dough has been used. Flatten the balls slightly and add a spoonful of cheddar cheese to the top of each.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until they are brown and the cheese has melted.
French Onion Soup
7 large brown onions, sliced
4 tbsp butter
2.5 litres beef stock
1 bouquet garni *
1 pinch salt and pepper
16 cheese pastries (see recipe above)
* A bouquet gani is a bundle of fresh or dried herbs, usually consisting of 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of rosemary and 1 bay leaf tied together with a piece of string or wrapped in muslin.
Place the onions in a large saucepan with the butter and gently cook until they are translucent – this could take up to an hour. Stir regularly and let them caramelise. Add the stock and the seasoning and then simmer for 30 minutes.
To serve, place two cheese pastries in each serving bowl and ladle hot soup over them.
Cassoulet is one of my most favourite dishes. The best I have ever eaten was in France in a bistro which was named “Best Bistro in the World” that year. It was 42 degrees and was the height of summer. I was determined that I was going to eat their cassoulet. After that experience I was determined to make this dish.
12 cups chicken stock
3 tins cannelloni beans
500g bacon, sliced
500g garlic sausage
3 cloves garlic
2 bouquet garni
1.25kg pork, diced
1.25kg lamb, diced
1 cup leeks, diced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
6 cups beef stock
1 cup diced tomatoes
1.5kg duck confit
1/5 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 glug olive oil
Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the beans and bacon. Simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are warmed through.
Add the sausage, onions, garlic, and 1 bouquet garni. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sausage is cooked through and the bacon is tender. Remove and reserve the sausage and bacon. Remove and discard the onions, garlic, and bouquet garni.
Season the beans with salt. Strain the beans, reserve them, and return the cooking liquid to the pot. Continue to simmer until the liquid reduces by half and is beginning to thicken. Reserve for later.
Season the pork and lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a casserole pot over medium heat. Brown the pork and lamb in the oil on all sides. Remove the meat and keep warm.
Add the leeks, carrots, to the casserole and sauté until the leeks are golden brown – about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the wine and 3 cups of beef stock to the casserole, stirring until smooth. Stir in the tomatoes and the remaining bouquet garni. Return the lamb and pork to the casserole, along with any juices. Add the duck confit. Add more stock if necessary to keep the meat completely moist. Bring to a slow simmer over medium to low heat.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cover the casserole place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Peel the reserved sausage and slice. Slice the reserved bacon. Add the sliced sausage and bacon to the casserole. Cover the meat with a layer of the reserved beans. Add the duck confit in a layer, topped with the second half of the beans. Pour the sauce from the beans over the cassoulet. Toss together the bread crumbs and parsley and sprinkle in an even layer over the cassoulet.
Turn the oven down to 160°C and bake the cassoulet, uncovered for 1½ hours. Let the cassoulet rest for 15 minutes before serving.
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