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How to party like a Frenchman on Bastille Day

Bastille DayCooking
Aioli, rilletes, pissaladiere -- you won't go hungry on Bastille Day

Barely have we recovered from celebrating one revolution than we’re hit with another. But while July 4 calls for a menu heavy on grilled burgers, hot dogs and potato salads, the traditional favorites for Bastille Day are a little different.

Though the actual fete day is Monday, there is bound to be plenty of French-influenced partying going on this weekend. And we’re here to help, with a selection of more than a dozen seasonally appropriate recipes that you can mix and match to make your own Bastille Day menu.

You may want to start with gougeres – the ultimate cheese puff. Or maybe it’ll be pissaladiere, like a French pizza with caramelized onions, anchovies and black olives.

You’ll want some dippy kinds of things. Rillettes made with salmon or pork are perfect, just serve them with toasted bread or a neutral-flavored cracker.

For the main course, how about a grand aioli? Make the garlicky mayonnaise an hour or so before the party to relieve any anxiety (aioli can be temperamental, but follow the instructions and add the oil very slowly and you’ll be fine). Serve it with a spread of cooked vegetables and fish.

If you’re feeling especially flush, how about serving your aioli with salt-roasted lobster? A little saffron added to the sauce brings out the shellfish flavor.

Of course, if you want something more casual, just make up a bunch of pan bagnat. Fix them in the morning; they improve as they sit.

There’s nothing that sums up a French summer better than ratatouille. We’ve got one from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. And, being Thomas Keller, he’s included different spins you can put on the basic recipe – a puree for spreading, a pasta sauce or even a cold soup to serve as an appetizer.

Desserts should be simple and made in advance. You can’t go wrong with eternally trendy macarons, and we’ve got a recipe from expert French baker Dorie Greenspan.

If you’re looking for something a little simpler, how about pots de creme made with Mexican chocolate? This one comes from Carpe Diem restaurant in the Napa Valley.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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