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Claudia Franey Jensen always wanted to write a cookbook with her father, the noted and much-beloved chef, TV star, book author and newspaper columnist Pierre Franey.

Franey, who collaborated with Maryland Public Television for his cooking series, wrote 14 cookbooks, five of them companions to his television shows. He always worked with a collaborator -- "He was a chef, not a writer," Jensen said -- and was confident that he and Claudia, who had worked in newspaper and magazine publishing and in TV, would work well together when they had the chance.

That opportunity came a few years ago. "I happened to be living in Europe," Jensen said. She had moved to Paris in 1992, with her husband, who is in insurance, and her son, Nicholas, now 9. That was perfect, because Franey wanted to write a book about the best chefs in Europe -- some, but not all of them, French.

Continental cooking had changed in the three decades since Julia Child, the doyenne of French cooking education in America, had popularized French techniques and ingredients, Franey believed; the emphasis was less on classic technique and more on lighter preparations, less on butter and cream and more on fresh local ingredients. It was time for a new book.

"The idea," Jensen said, "was to have a lighter approach to cooking -- to work with less butter, olive oil instead of butter, no cream, low-fat yogurt." Of course, she noted, "no butter" doesn't mean no butter: It's still OK to add it at the end of preparing a sauce, just to smooth it out.

"He could never give it up completely," Jensen said, smiling.

The result is "Pierre Franey Cooks With His Friends" (Artisan Books, 1997, $30), a companion to the TV series that began airing this month, "Pierre Franey's Cooking in Europe."

The book is being published posthumously; Franey died unexpectedly last October. For Jensen, the book is part of her father's continuing legacy, another example of his love of food and cooking and his gift for touching and engaging people.

"The emphasis is on the chef and the region," Jensen said. "Usually we were in an area working with the chef for two or three days."

The television series focused on the bounty of the region. "When we were in Parma, it was Parmesan cheese. Chefs in Europe really depend on what's available locally -- the asparagus Europeans adore is white asparagus."

Jensen would meet her father on location with his chef friends. "We went into the kitchen. He cooked, they cooked."

In Lyon, the two worked with legendary "cuisine minceur" chef Paul Bocuse. "I came down on the train and we spent two days, just being in the kitchen, taking notes, writing recipes. Every night my father and I would sit down and talk -- about his reflections on the chefs, about how the day had gone."

In Lyon, Bocuse contributed chicken and vegetables with puff pastry, and black sea bass with a potato crust and light vinaigrette. Franey offered mackerel fillets in white wine, leeks vinaigrette, potato-goat cheese quiche, and spinach with nutmeg, among other dishes.

"People in Lyon are very serious about their food," Franey and Jensen write in that chapter.

Jensen said the Franey family is serious about its food as well. Though none of his children followed Pierre into the food business, all learned to love the process and the panoply of cooking. "My sister and brother and I were always in the kitchen," Jensen said. "He passed on his love of cooking. We're all good cooks."

Jensen was in Baltimore recently to promote the book, and to attend a small, private MPT fund-raiser held at Nancy Longo's Pierpoint restaurant in Fells Point. She recalled that just the weekend before, she had been home with her family for Easter and "We were all at the stove. My mother was cooking, my brother."

Among the dishes: chocolate souffles and Smithfield ham with Madeira sauce. "It was very comforting, carrying on the tradition."

Here are some of the recipes from "Pierre Franey Cooks With His Friends." The first is from Lyon, his stay with Paul Bocuse.

Potato-goat cheese quiche

Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes or any small new potatoes

salt, to taste

2 garlic cloves, peeled

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

2 cups drained plain low-fat yogurt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch of cayenne pepper

cheese pastry dough (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the potatoes and place them in a small saucepan with water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until they are done. Let cool, peel and cut them (carefully so as not to break them) into 1/4-inch or smaller slices.

Meanwhile, as the potatoes cook, add the garlic to the pot of simmering water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and cut the cloves in half, removing any green core, and chop finely.

In a mixing bowl, crush the goat cheese with a fork until smooth. Add garlic, scallions and egg and blend well. Add yogurt, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Blend with wire whisk until smooth.

Line a 9- or 10-inch quiche pan with the pastry dough. Arrange the slices of potato carefully in a circular manner, overlapping to cover the bottom of the quiche pan. Pour the goat cheese mixture over the potatoes and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Put quiche on a baking sheet and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake 40 minutes, turning several times to cook evenly. It should be lightly browned. Remove and serve warm.

Cheese pastry dough

Makes one 9- to 10-inch pastry shell or six individual 3-inch shells

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons cold water

salt, to taste

1/4 cup grated Gruyere or Cheddar cheese

Place the flour, olive oil, 1 tablespoon cold water, salt and cheese in a food processor and blend until a ball is formed. You may have to add an additional tablespoon of water to moisten the dough.

Remove the dough and shape it into a ball. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Transfer the ball of dough to a floured surface and flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle the ball lightly with flour and roll out the dough evenly, giving it a quarter-turn after each roll. The dough should be rolled to about 1/8-inch thick.

Line a pie or quiche pan with the pastry. Pastry shell is ready to be filled.

The next recipe is from Franey's stay with Bruna and Nadia Santini, of Del Pescatore, outside of Parma, Italy.

Pike with parsley sauce and polenta

Serves 4

2 6-ounce fillets of large freshwater fish, such as northern pike or trout, scaled, with bones and skin left on

1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 anchovy fillets

1 1/2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons capers in salt, rinsed

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

basic polenta with cheese (recipe follows)

Place the fish in a small saucepan with the lemon half and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes, and turn off the heat. Let the fish rest in the water until it has cooled.

When cool, debone the fish. Remove from the water, cut each piece in half and remove the bones with a pair of tweezers or a small pair of pliers. Remove the skin by scraping with a sharp knife.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick 8-inch skillet. Add the anchovies, garlic, capers, and cook briefly, just until warm. Add the parsley, remove pan from heat and set aside.

Place a serving of polenta in the center of the plate, with a portion of the fish around it, and spoon the sauce around.

Basic polenta with cheese

Serves 4

2 cups coarse-grain yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil in a large, heavy pot. Gradually add the cornmeal, stirring, in a very thin stream. Keep stirring while simmering the cornmeal mixture for 20 minutes. The polenta is done when it pulls away from the side of the pot as you stir.

Add the butter or olive oil and a little more water if necessary to thin the mixture to desired thickness. Add the cheese and salt and pepper, check for seasoning, and blend well. Serve promptly.

The next two recipes are from Franey's stay with Roger Souvereyns at Scholtshof, an inn in the Belgian countryside.

Sauteed chicken with wine and herbs

Serves 4

1 small chicken (3-3 1/2 pounds), cut into serving pieces

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 large bay leaf

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. To facilitate cooking, make a gash on each thigh opposite the skin side.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet. When quite hot, add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Do not add the liver. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown, moving the pieces around to keep them from sticking. Turn the pieces and add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf.

Add the liver and reduce the heat. Cook chicken over moderate heat, turning the pieces so they cook evenly, for 17-18 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a warm platter, leaving the herbs in the pan. Carefully pour off the fat from the pan. Return the pan to heat and add the wine. Cook over high heat, stirring to dissolve the brown particles that cling to the pan, until the wine is reduced by half. Add 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil, then reduce by about half.

Swirl in the butter. With a fork, squash the garlic cloves to squeeze out the softened insides. Remove the skins and blend the garlic puree with the sauce. Add the chicken pieces and any juices that have accumulated. Check for seasoning, remove the bay leaf, and serve.

Bow-tie pasta with goat cheese

Serves 4

1 pound green beans

6 ounces soft goat cheese of your choice

3/4 pound bow-tie pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

4 large ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (see note)

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Trim off and discard the ends of the beans, then cut them into 1/2-inch lengths.

Crumble the goat cheese and let come to room temperature.

In a large pot, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add the beans and pasta. Bring to a boil again and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring. Test for doneness; do not overcook. The pasta and beans should be al dente. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, add the garlic and cook briefly, without letting it brown. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring, about 5 minutes.

Add the pasta and the beans, along with the reserved cooking liquid, goat cheese, remaining tablespoon olive oil, and basil. Toss well, adjust the seasoning, and cook briefly until thick. Serve immediately.

Note: Wear rubber gloves when handling the pepper.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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