French cooking secrets every home chef should know

We can't all become masters of French cuisine, but we can definitely implement some of their brilliant habits into our kitchens, and our lives. Vijaya brough back four secrets of French cooking that anyone can adopt. 

Secret No. 1

Whet your guests’ appetite before dinner with an apero. Vijaya recommends a black olive tapenade.

Secret No. 2

Keep recipes simple, with fewer high quality ingredients, like the goat cheese pizza featured below.

Secret No. 3

Preserve fruits & vegetables when they are in season, abundant and easy on the pocket book.

Secret No. 4

Leave it to the pros and use store-bought pastry for dessert in a pinch. If the French do it, so should you!

Black Olive Tapenade with Baguette Crostini


  • 1 cup, Pitted Black Olives (Pit yourself for better flavour payout)
  • 4 Anchovies
  • 1 tbsp, Capers
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 3 tbsp, Olive Oil
  • 1 Baguette, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • Olive Oil for Brushing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush both side of Baguette slices with Olive Oil. Place on a baking tray, and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool, and set aside.
In a food processor, add Olives, Anchovies, Capers, and Garlic. Pulse to combine. When the mixture is still somewhat chunky, add Olive Oil, and pulse until slightly grainy in texture.
Serve with toasted Baguette.

Goat Cheese and Honey Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula 




  • Store bought Pizza Dough
  • 1 cup, room temperature Chevre
  • 1/4 cup, Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup, Honey
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 8-10 slices, Prosciutto
  • Arugula

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out Pizza Dough as thin as possible and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Combine Chevre, Sour Cream, Honey, and Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste.
Spread Goat Cheese mixture over Pizza Dough evenly. Place in oven and bake for 12-15 until dough has crisped and cheese has slightly browned.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes to allow cheese to set, and then top with Arugula and Prosciutto.
Cut into slices and enjoy!







Plum Compote


  • 3/4 lb fresh small Plums, washed, pitted and quartered
  • 4 tbsp, Sugar (more or less to taste)

In a saucepan, combine Plums and sugar to taste. If the Plums are very sweet, 2 tbsp of sugar will suffice. If they are underripe, 4 tbsp will do. Toss to combine. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Plum juices and Sugar form a syrup.
Place pan on medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring delicately to keep the fruit as whole as possible. The compote is ready when the fruit has softened, the liquids in the pan have reduced, and the Plums have slightly caramelized.
Allow to completely cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.

Plum Tart


  • Plum Compote
  • Frozen Puff Pastry Dough, thawed
  • Fresh Small Plums, washed, pitted and quartered (enough to cover top of tart)
  • 1-2 tbsp, White Sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a fluted tart tin with parchment paper. 
  3. Roll out Puff Pastry until it's 1/4 inch thick. Drape into lined tart tin, allowing a little bit of dough to hang over the sides. Fold in excess dough, to create a rustic edge.
  4. Use a fork to prick a few holes over the surface of the pastry. 
  5. Place Compote in prepared tart tin, and spread out evenly.
  6. Top with fresh Plums, flesh side up, so that the entire tart is covered.
  7. Gently sprinkle Sugar over the surface of the cut Plums.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, and the cut plums have caramelized.