Dining à la Française: 4 Traditional Recipes

Dining à la Française: 4 Traditional Recipes

The founders of Antoinette Poisson homewares emporium, Vincent Farelly and Jean-Baptiste Martin, invite you inside their 18th-century Breton townhouse to discover the elegant art of entertaining à la française…


Serves 61 • Preparation time: 10 minutes • Cooking time: 3 to 5 minutes


  • 6 to 12 scallops in their shells
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz/30 g) lightly salted butter
  • 1 scant tsp (2 g) Kari Gosse spice mix or piment d’Espelette


  1. Ask your fishmonger to open and clean the scallops, leaving the coral attached if you wish. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Select 6 nicely cupped shells and place one or two scallops in each, with the coral attached if you desire.
  3. Place I teaspoon (5 g) of butter on each shell and a pinch of Kari Gosse spice mix or piment d’Espelette.
  4. Place under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, until the scallops are just cooked through (they should be opaque throughout).
  5. Serve immediately.

Roasted Scallops © Ruth Ribeaucourt


Serves 4 • Preparation time: 10 minutes • Cooking time: 15 minutes


  • 1 x 1½ lb (800 g) or 2 x 14 oz (400 g) skate wing(s)
  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick + 2 tbsp (5% oz/150 g) unsalted butter
  • 6 anchovy fillets in oil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz/30 g) capers in brine
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • To serve Steamed potatoes


  1. Rinse the skate wing(s) under cold water.
  2. Fill a large pot with salted water and add the vinegar, onion, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the skate wing(s), reduce the heat, and let simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the anchovies and capers, then remove from the heat.
  5. Carefully drain the skate wing(s) and place whole on a serving plate. Drizzle with the melted caper-anchovy butter, sprinkle with parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve immediately, with the steamed potatoes.

Skate Wing © Ruth Ribeaucourt


Serves 41 • Preparation time: 50 minutes • Cooking time: 20 minutes • Chilling time: 20 minutes.


  • 2 in (5 cm) and 1½ in (3 cm) round cookie cutters


Puff pastry wells:

  • 10½ oz (300 g) puff pastry

Pastry cream:

  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk I vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup (3½ oz/100 g) sugar
  • 2 tbsp (20 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (20 g) cornstarch

To assemble:

  • Generous ½ cup (7 oz/200 g) red berry jam
  • 5 drops violet extract
  • ¼ lb (350 g) pastry cream
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling


  1. Roll the puff pastry to a thickness of about ½ inch (5 mm). Using the 2 in (5 cm) cutter, cut out 16 discs. Using the 114 in (3 cm) cutter, cut circles out of the centres of 8 of the discs. Reserve the cut-out circles for decoration if you wish.
  2. Very lightly brush with water the undersides of the puff-pastry discs that have had the centres cut out.
  3. Lay them on the uncut discs, taking care to line up the edges. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (If you’re using the cut-out circles for decoration, place on the baking sheet and score with an attractive pattem.) Chill for I hour before baking.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Bake the pastry wells until puffed and golden (about 20 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the pastry cream. Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the vanilla bean, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick. Whisk in the flour and constarch. Whisking gently, slowly pour in one-quarter of the hot vanilla-infused milk. Return to the saucepan, whisking continuously. Let the mixture simmer for I minute, whisking vigorously to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Pour the pastry cream into a shallow dish and immediately press plastic wrap over the surface. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
  8. To assemble, stir the violet extract into the jam. Fill the wells with pastry cream and spoon jam over the top. Sprinkle sugar over the jam and place under the broiler for I minute to caramelise, watching closely to ensure the sugar does not bum. Top with the decorated cut-out pastry circles if using. Serve chilled.

Puits d’Amour from A Year in the French Style © Ruth Ribeaucourt


Serves 41 • Preparation time: 10 minutes • Cooking time: 45 minutes • Chilling time: At least 2 hours


  • 4 x 6 in (15 cm) ramekins


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1½ cup (3½ oz/100 g) sugar
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk, well chilled
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream, minimum
  • 30% fat, well chilled
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) packed brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 195°F (90°C/Gas Mark 4).
    In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick.
  2. Whisk in the orange blossom water and lime zest, followed by the milk and cream. Whisk until well combined and smooth.
  3. Divide the cream mixture between the ramekins, filling them three-quarters full.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes in a bain marie (roasting dish half-filled with hot water), until just set. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and caramelise using a kitchen torch or place briefly under the broiler.

From France Today Magazine

Crème Brûlée © Ruth Ribeaucourt

© Ruth Ribeaucourt

A Year in the French Style: Interiors and Entertaining by Antoinette Poisson by Vincent Farelly and Jean-Baptiste Martin (Flammarion, 2023).

Lead photo credit : Puits d’Amour © Ruth Ribeaucourt

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