An Easy to Make Christmas Classic

This easy to make, quick Christmas soup is packed full of flavor. You can garnish this versatile soup with either duck confit, shredded pork rillette, or even no meat at all. With a delightful sweet earthy flavor, this festive soup celebrates the chestnut which was introduced by ancient Romans to France centuries ago.

Watch the Video Recipe Here

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A lot of people have asked me what essential kitchen tools and seasonings I recommend. I prepared a list of my fundamental kitchen tools every serious home cook should have.

Buy Cooked chestnuts:

My List of Essential Kitchen Tools Makes Great Christmas Gifts

with a potato-chip like crunch to the skin

Does anyone else remember Melanie Dunea’s book ‘My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals’? The premise is simple. Melanie asked 50 notable chefs what they would eat for their last meals. The answers were varied and rich with elaborate depth. Who wouldn’t want to know where Alain Ducasse would like his supper to be? And who would prepare Daniel Boulud’s final meal? What would Anthony Bourdain’s guest list look like? As the clock ticked, what album would Gordon Ramsay be listening to?

psst: want to watch the video recipe?

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Crispy Duck Confit, photo by Francois de Melogue

If you could pick your last meal — what would it be? For my last meal on Earth, I would select a dish that is both humble and classic. I would choose a duck confit. There is something utterly delicious about obscenely crisp duck skin mixed with succulent duck meat. It is a dish that my wife Lisa and I have shared commemorating many events. Duck confit is the very first solid food my son Beaumont ate. …

A Murderous Tale of Cranberry Beans and Pasta

I always say that I don’t believe I’m a chef. I try to be a storyteller.

José Andrés, chef, restaurateur, and founder of World Central Kitchen

I have always been attracted to whimsical recipe names and the stories that lay camouflaged within their ingredients. I’m talking about dishes like pets de nonne (literally nun’s farts), priest chokers (Strozzapreti), and the imam fainted (Imam bayildi). A dish is the intersection of provenance, history, and food.

To me, recipes are edible stories that capture the junctures of cultural development. They chronicle the moments of prosperity, poverty, invasion, conquer, exploration, and trade. A good story should not only educate and entertain but also connect us to our past. For diners, it can elevate a meal; possibly transforming it into a transcendental experience. For cooks, it can add reverence to an ingredient or a particular dish. …

To Ease Into Fall With

Fall had started in earnest; a cool, light mist was falling. My wife Lisa and I decided to take our dog for a long walk foraging wild cèpes (porcini). I built a roaring fire in our small wood stove, placed a daube of beef on top to braise slowly, then walked out into the dank Mendocino woods.

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Beef Short Rib Bourguignon, photo by Francois de Melogue

We followed a narrow track that ran through the dense, overgrown pygmy forest collecting two shopping bags full of precious mushrooms before returning home to enjoy our simple feast.

Wood smoke commingled with the enticing aromas of slow-cooked meat that hung nose high in the clammy mist surrounding our cabin. With every step closer, the smells grew more ambrosial and inviting, causing us to quicken our pace. By the time we reached the cabin door, I was drooling uncontrollably and my stomach growled in bated anticipation. …

Smothered in bearnaise sauce

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Steak frites. Photo: cyclonebill / CC BY-SA

Every year for my birthday, my wife asks me what I want for lunch and I always answer with the exact same response — steak frites smothered in béarnaise. To me, it is one of the world’s greatest dishes.

Sure, the rich, meaty flavor coupled with the crunch of fries contrasted by a sharp béarnaise sauce feels decadent. Some might even attribute this to my caveman's brain and say that eating meat is genetically hard-wired into us. But what I love most about steak frites is the strong emotional and cultural connection I feel when I eat it. …

Essential Seasonings for Everyday French Cooking

If someone asked me what I would take from my pantry if I knew I was going to be shipwrecked, I would probably answer just 3 things: sea salt, Espelette pepper, and herbes de Provence. Well, 4, if you include a glass of wine, which I personally consider central to French living and almost as important as any of the seasonings I listed above. For me, those three things are indispensable for everyday French home cooking. Though if my wife overheard this, she would promptly burst out laughing before opening my cabinets and exposing all my lies.

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Pantry photo by Artem Kostelnyuk on

Pantries are easily filled with items you only use for one recipe before relegating them to the back corners of your cabinet. So, I will start with the basics and provide hints where you could keep going if you were so inclined. …

The Infinite Versatility of Lemon Curd

I love the versatility of food. And I am not talking about the endless online articles expounding the virtues of instant ramen noodles. Did you know they can be used to create everything from a savory breakfast to the perfect chocolatey dessert?

Rather I am talking about how you can make one simple preparation and then use it for several other dishes. Thereby you intelligently reduce the amount of time you actually spend in the kitchen and add some serious curb appeal to your meals.

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Strawberry and Lemon Millefeuille, photo by Francois de Melogue

Recently I wrote a post about Nun’s Farts and 4 other glorious uses for choux paste, or pâte à choux in French. Choux paste can make profiteroles, eclairs, gougeres, and even can be mixed with mashed potatoes to make pommes Dauphine or potato puffs. It takes barely any more time to make a single batch as it does a double batch. Try making a fun dessert with half then mix the other half with potatoes. …

Tried and True (and Delicious) Methods for Culling Your Zucchini Herd

OK — a mid-summer zucchini update: my zucchini have been very prolific this year. Not only did I NOT heed the sage words from my wife Lisa by planting 15 — Yes 15 — zucchini plants, but it has been a great year.

I have made trouchia (zucchini flat omelets, countless different preparations of zucchini blossoms, zucchini blossom beignet, petit farcis (zucchinis stuffed with ground lamb and roasted), and a host of dishes proposed by well-wishers. Here is my latest dish to use copious quantities of zucchini in a vain attempt to restore harmony in my home!

My first thought was: Am I crazy for wanting to make a heavy zucchini gratin on a hot summer day? The short answer is yes, but this year I am facing an unprecedented invasion of zucchini. Which is causing me to rethink my strategies for dealing with them. Special circumstances require special measures. …

Learn how to make the perfect Summer soup to cool you off

Del gazpacho nu bay empacho (You do not get an upset stomach from gazpacho — Spanish Proverb)

Gazpacho. I adore gazpacho in the summertime when the temperatures start reaching into the upper 80s and 90s. It’s cool and refreshing and thankfully comes into play at a time when my garden seems to conspire with the universe to provide me with more than enough raw ingredients to make several batches.

If you are a visual learner like me jump over to my video recipe to watch.

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watermelon and tomato gazpacho, photo by Francois de Melogue


Gazpacho originated as a Moorish soup made from stale bread soaked in water, olive oil, and almonds. It was a filling soup born from the economical use of all your foodstuffs. The name gazpacho originated from the Latin word ‘caspa’ referring to leftover pieces of bread. Shepherds may have enjoyed early versions, but it was substantially enhanced by hard-working farmers plowing in the hot sun. Gazpacho not only quenched hunger and thirst but replenished their bodies with much-needed vitamins and salt. …

The purists versus everyone else

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A debate is raging over what constitutes a “correct” salade Niçoise. To the purists, the rules are very clear: no vinegar, no lettuce, no fresh tuna, and absolutely no boiled vegetables, like potatoes or green beans. If you try to add any of these, you will be labeled as a heretic and sent to hell for your sins. To everyone else, any and all additions are fair game. So what is the true history of salade Nicoise and what exactly goes into it?

Salade Niçoise began its life as a household catch-all salad based on what was available from the garden, with the addition of anchovies packed in olive oil. It first appeared on menus in the late 1800s a few decades after Nice became part of France finally for the last time. Over the years, everything under the sun has been added, from salmon, corn, shrimp, avocados, lemons, to even grains. …


Francois de Melogue

My earliest attempts at cookery began with the filleting of my sister’s goldfish at age two and a braised rabbit dish made with my pet rabbits by age seven.

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