Salade Niçoise

ASTUCES: if you us tuna in the salade, use either canned albacore, or the quantity of fresh tuna you like. i suggest 12 ounces; 400g. Sear the whole fresh piece first on each side, season with salt and pepper and let cool. Then, thinly slice the seared tuna and arrange it atop the salad after you’ve tossed the other ingredients together. Don’t use anchovies if you’re using tuna.

Couscous Soup

ASTUCE: The best meat for couscous soup is lamb neck, which is wonderfully gelatinous, rather like oxtail or beef eye of round. You can use a mix of meats too, however, without adding any pork. Baking soda added to beans as they cook tenderizes them. Finally, you will notice that the carrots and the zucchini cook until they are soft, which is how they are meant to be. If you want your vegetables a bit more “al dente,” simply add them later on in the cooking time.

Couscous

ASTUCE: Pay careful attention to these pearls of wisdom, as they will ensure perfect couscous:
*The directions urge you to proceed gently, so please do. As you use your fingers and palms, urge rather than rub the liquids and fats into the couscous, very lightly, very gently.
*It is very important that the couscous steams uncovered. If it steams covered, condensation falls from the cover onto the grain causing lumps and making it soggy.
*Wrap a towel around the seam of the steamer to make sure steam doesn’t escape into the atmosphere.
*If you do not have a couscous steamer, you may use a traditional, two-part steamer.

Endives Caramelisés

Light, lovely and very delicious, this dish goes well with everything – meat, fish, fowl. It is delicate and lovely and will surprise everyone who tastes it. This dish can be served wither hot or at room temperature.

HANGAR STEAK WITH HORSERADISH SAUCE

Onglet, or hanger steak, is a very special cut of beef, highly regarded here because of its flavor and tender, slightly elastic texture. It is considered an organ meat, in part because it is so perishable, and it requires quick, brief grilling so that the exterior is deep golden and almost crisp, and the interior is juicy and red. The horseradish is a spicy counterpoint, and altogether it goes perfectly with a rich yet smooth Bordeaux Supérieure, such as a Chateau Panchille.

ASTUCE: hangar steak is best served rare because it stays tender that way but as always, this depends on your taste. Also, the weight called for is hangar steak trimmed of any nerve tissue (most likely the way you will purchase it). I cut the hangar steak in half, lengthwise, because I find it much easier to handle than one long, narrow steak. Finally, don’t let the instructions for tying the hangar steak intimidate you – just cut pieces of string, slip them under the steak and tie a bow if you have to, or a quick little knot. Simple.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: kitchen twine, tongs, cutting board
PREPARATION AND GRILLING TIME: 25-30 minutes, if preparing the White Sauce, and depending on how rare you like your steak; 10 minutes maximum if the White Sauce is already prepared.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: moderate

Pesto in the Mortar and Pestle

NOTE: To pit the olives, place them on a work surface, cover them with parchment or waxed paper and whack them firmly yet gently with a rolling pin. This splits them open, making the pit easy to remove. In general, olives are salty so the additional salt isn’t necessary. When looking for olives, if you cannot find those mentioned below, use a generic French olive.

CILANTRO OIL

Here, the lemony, grassiness of cilantro is softened by being blanched, then blended with top-quality olive oil. Its flavor emerges gently but its color is a blast of green that brightens every dish it touches. When a new ingredient comes to France, as cilantro did from North Africa, the French chef coopts it with their special artfulness, as is the case here. I predict you’ll make this oil often.

Astuce: This oil is the very best the day it is made, though you can stretch it a day or two if you keep it refrigerated.