Despite a shared love of black pudding and stews, Irish and French cuisines don't seem to have an awful lot in common. But Trish Deseine, Irish born and bred, has made the leap.

Falling in love with French food as a schoolgirl, Trish then fell in love with a Frenchman and, after 20 years living across the Channel, is now teaching the locals how to cook their native grub.

Wresting the French food writing tradition from the intellectual to the personal, Trish says nothing beats a good home-cooked French meal.

"The onslaught of other cuisines on the world's tastebuds may have deflated France's culinary grandeur at restaurant level," she explained.

"But French current-of-life cooking, the stuff you and I do every day, remains supreme. The superlative daily meal is still set firmly, again and again, on a French table."

French home chefs know how to shop for the freshest and most exquisite ingredients and cook from scratch everything from traditional staples to lavish meals for home entertaining.

Most of all, Trish says, they cook with care and passion, taking in classic dishes while embracing new trends and tastes.

"With a little curiosity and energy, we can similarly connect to traditional cooking in the UK."

For a taste of France at home, try one of Trish's easy recipes in your own kitchen - Frisee Aux Lardons or Poulet Vallee d'Auge.

The latter, she says, no matter how un-trendy, is a particular favourite. "This is the type of rich, pre-nouvelle cuisine dish that gives French cooking a bad name but that everyone secretly adores: cream, wine, chicken and mushrooms must be the most has-been but heavenly combo in all of French cuisine."


Serves six

2tbsp olive oil
75g butter
2 onions, finely choppedv 6 chicken pieces (breasts, thighs or legs, or a mix of pieces)
a small glass of Calvados (optional)
500ml dry cider
500g button mushrooms, finely sliced
500ml double cream or creme fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy-based saucepan with a lid, heat the olive oil with half the butter. Add the chopped onion and the chicken pieces, browning them all over.

Pour in the Calvados, if using, stir well, rubbing at the hardening cooking juices stuck on the pan to deglaze. If you like, ignite the alcohol to flambe the dish - and be careful you don't inadvertantly flambe your eyebrows if you are working on a gas flame.

If that all sounds too scary, or if you don't have any Calvados, leaving out this step won't spoil the dish. Add the cider, again scratching around the bottom of the pan to get all the flavoursome caramelised bits, and bring to a slow simmer.

In a separate pan, heat the rest of the butter and fry the mushrooms until they render their juice. Add them to the chicken, season very lightly and cook together for around 30 minutes.

I don't pour all the mushroom juices in as I find it makes the saucetoo runny. But their taste is good. Add the cream and cook for a further 10 minutes or so. Season to taste.

If the sauce is sufficiently thick, adjust the seasoning and serve the dish like this. Alternatively, you can spoon out the chicken and most of the mushrooms, keep them warm and reduce the sauce further by simmering it on its own for a while.

An appropriately Norman accompaniment would be pommes en l'air (apples peeled, cut in slices or quarters, and gently fried in butter).

Fresh pasta or boiled potatoes are fine as well.


Serves four
5tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp wine vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
250g lardons or a slice of poitrine fumee (thick-cut smoked bacon) cut into 2cm lardons
4 eggs
1 frisee salad, washed, spun, leaves detached and torn into manageable pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper

Make a vinaigrette by combining the oil, vinegar and mustard. Season lightly as the poitrine is very salty.

Fry the poitrine in a pan until golden and crispy. No need to add oil or butter! Meanwhile, lightly poach the eggs.

Put the prepared frisee in a salad bowl and toss it with the dressing. Sprinkle on the lardons (avoid pouring in the fat from the pan) and serve, setting the eggs on top.