In our Jennie Goutet interview, we learn how Jennie took her fairytale-like story and turned it into a blog, to delight and inspire all her readers. A Lady in France blends life, living and cooking in one delicious and honest journal.
1. How did you start your website? What inspired you to create it?
I started my website 9 years ago, and it sprang from a desire to share the details of my life in France – the culture and language, family life, and faith. The recipe portion came about because I know of so many delicious French recipes, and I thought that others would love to try all the things I was making, if only they knew that these dishes existed. I loved the idea of bringing simple, common French recipes to a broader English-speaking audience.
2. What recipe do you like to cook the most?
My favorite recipe to make is probably Tarte à la Moutarde. I made it for my husband on our third date without knowing that it was one of his favorites from his mom’s cooking. My kids love it, too, though they usually ask for roast chicken with rice and green beans for their top meal pick. As far as my own favorite meal to eat, I’d have to say gluten-free pizza. I usually order that out, though.
3. What does a healthy meal mean to you?
For me, a healthy meal has tons of vegetables. For instance, it might be steak with green beans, followed by a green salad (and a sampling from the cheese platter). Or it might be a lentil soup that has a variety of vegetables hidden in the purée. Or it might be ratatouille over quinoa, topped with black olives – something filling, but that will still leave you hungry in time for your next meal. I’m a fan of quality over quantity so we don’t cook low-fat, but we watch the portion size to make sure we’re being reasonable. Ideally, the portions will be such that you’re hungry about a half-hour before your next meal.
4. Which is your favorite kitchen tool?
My favorite kitchen tool. Only one? I would say my immersion blender. I don’t know how I went so long without an immersion blender. I just scalded myself by pouring hot soups into the standing blender, I guess. But no more. I love my immersion blender. I even use it to purée red beans when I’m making refried beans for tacos. And sometimes I use it when I’m making matcha (green tea powdered drink).
5. Which chef has inspired you the most?
I don’t watch cooking shows on TV, but there are a couple of cooking bloggers I love. They mostly make desserts though. My favorites are Carolyn at All Day I Dream About food, Katie at Chocolate Covered Katie, and Sally at Sally’s Baking Addiction. I don’t have a favorite French cooking blogger. I tend to look at several versions of the same recipe before creating my own. I learned to cook from my own mom and dad (who are intrepid cooks), as well as the French woman I au paired for when I was 25, my mother-in-law, and also a friend in Taiwan from the years I lived there.
6. Which is the best cooking advice you’ve ever received?
Best cooking advice. Okay, here’s some stuff I’ve gleaned over the years. Quiches taste better when you add nutmeg. Dressing tastes better when you add Dijon mustard. Always brown your meat before you put it in stew. Bay leaves make a difference in taste so don’t leave them out. Corn starch makes a good substitue for flour in gravy (to make it gluten-free), but dissolve it first in cold water before you add it to avoid lumps. Don’t throw away the drippings from meat – rather, use it to flavour your rice.
Make a proper béchamel sauce by infusing the milk with cloves, nutmeg, and onions rather than just dumping plain milk on sautéed flour and butter. It really does make a difference. If the recipe tells you to rub garlic on the pan before putting the rest of the ingredients, do it – it will perfume the dish while it’s baking. To sum my best tips … where cooking is concerned, the attention is in the details, so don’t leave them out.