Monsieur Bonaparte has invited guests for dinner this coming Saturday. He’s invited a couple whom he has been friends with for years. His daughter, her husband and their daughter will also be joining us. It’ll be a nice, intimate grouping!
My dining table may not be as elaborately set as this, but I do a good enough job!
There are aspects of my life in which I’m totally and gloriously unorganized. However, when it comes to planning a special menu—I’m not only organized, but I enjoy the entire process leading up to the dinner!
Tomorrow I’ll be in search of some new table linens—and I’ll figure out what sorts of appetizers will be served. My goal is to have everything except the main plate ready by the time the guests arrive. We’ll be having my Chicken Veronique (chicken breasts with grapes). It’s a great and easy dish to serve for guests. I try to stay away from red meat when guests come over because not everyone loves their red meat the way I do—just about mooing when you cut into it. It’s called “RED” meat for a reason! (Christmas being an exception. I roast a huge slab of beef tenderloin and it’s cooked as red as Santa’s suit!)
I like my beef as red as Santa’s suit–that’s why I don’t serve it for dinner guests. Just the thought of serving even medium-rare steak makes me ill!
Today, I made the dessert. It isn’t complex and it isn’t something difficult. It’s funny. When we entertain, I don’t want to be spending a ton of time in the kitchen. I want to spend time with the guests who have been invited into my home. I’m keeping it simple and elegant.
The dessert? It’s the French Nougatine dessert from an episode of Ina Garten’s” Barefoot Contessa” show. One of Ina’s friends was “guesting” and Ina was raving about this Nougatine as only Ina could. It looked easy enough so I figured I would try it.
I originally served it alongside another dessert I made (I can’t remember what the other dessert was. It was probably a cake of some kind). Well, let me tell you, the Nougatine practically flew from the table into everyone’s mouths. I was dumbstruck! Again and again I am asked to make this—and it’s so easy. I mean it. Your guests will think you spent hours making this. Here’s the recipe! (PS. I left out the almond extract and doubled the vanilla):
First the pistachios are roasted and cooled. Then a light amber sugary syrup is made and poured over the pistachios. Cooled in the fridge and the “brittle” is chopped up to incorporate into the Nougatine.
Egg whites whipped till stiffed, heavy cream nicely whipped
Nuts folded into the egg white/whipped cream mixture and..
Spooned into the loaf pans that have been lined in cling wrap! I made a double batch because I’m telling you–this dessert disappears quickly! See the sauces behind the Nougatine. Everything is ready for Saturday-Easy Peasy!
All the leftover yolks? I’ll make a big batch of lemon curd!!
Ina serves it with a raspberry sauce. But you know what? Some people can’t handle the little “seeds” from those delicious berries. No. Really. If prone to diverticulitis or diverticulosis, any food with little seeds can wreak havoc on your innards. I’ll usually melt down some seedless berry jelly or whip up a seedless fruit sauce of some kind or……………..
I’ll just serve the nougatine with a chocolate sauce or a salted caramel sauce. Today, I made the two sauces to accompany this dessert.
I used this Epicurious recipe for the chocolate sauce: Epicurious Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe . I went with the hot fudge recipe because it still remains thick when you zap it!
Hot Fudge Ingredients. Note- I used light brown sugar and it worked just as well as the dark brown sugar called for in the recipe. I’m too cheap to buy the dark when I had the light in my pantry!
Ghiradelli chocolate was used –the sauce is cooking on the stove!
Poured into the jar and waiting to cool down!
For the caramel, I just went with my instincts—1 cup of light brown sugar, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream, vanilla, Kosher salt or fancy sea salt or salt flakes—one tablespoon.
Caramel Sauce. I was going to use the sea salt, but I’m running low. I ended up using Kosher salt instead!
Melt both sugars in a saucepan over a medium heat. Keep an eye on it—you don’t want burnt sugar. When the sugars melt down and become bubbly, take off the heat and SLOWLY add the butter—keep stirring till the butter melts. Add the heavy cream and stir, stir, stir until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. Stir some more. Pour into a jar. After completely cooled, place in fridge. The sauce thickens up so when you are ready to use it, depending on the consistency you want, you can zap it in the microwave for a few seconds. Or…you can use the sauce thicker and cold. Your choice!
Dark Caramelly goodness (sorry that the picture is blurry)! Oh. And please. Pronounce it “Car-a-mel”. Thank you!
Oh god. I forgot to tell you. My replacement Kitchen Aid stand mixer was delivered yesterday. She is beautiful and I’ve named her “Kitchy”. She will be my new cooking assistant and I hope she never breaks. I used her today to whip up the egg whites and the cream and she was such a great helper! Thank you Kitchen Aid people for replacing my broken stand mixer! Kisses all over!
Lookit her! My “Kitchy” is so pretty–and a great assistant too! I will have you a long time, my little one!
Bonaparte stopped off at home in between clients to see me. He also dropped some mail off. We received a letter from his dad. My eyes lit up when Bonaparte read that his dad wishes we would move to France—St. Tropez to be exact. I got so excited I damn near lost ten pounds on the spot! Stop it little heart—jump back into my body and stop beating so hard!
In the letter was this pretty invitation!
Anyway, I just love Bonaparte’s dad’s letters. They are always so sweet and witty and he always adds little doodles at the end—just like this:
Dany’s Doodles always give me a happy feeling!
He always mentions how lovely I am too—what more can I add to that? He’s a smart man, he is!
Bonaparte’s dad founded the La Maison des Papillions in St. Tropez. It’s a museum totally devoted to butterflies of the world and will be home to a new exhibit—which we will get to see this summer. He’s been collecting butterflies since he was a child. The museum is so incredibly cool. It was fascinating to learn about the many different species. Who knew?
Some of the butterflies on display at “La Maison des Papillions”
My favorite view from the small museum is the view from Dany’s studio. I could spend hours there! The view may not be the best in St. Tropez, but it overlooks a small and narrow pathway and you can watch the world pass by!
Ugh. Since I made the dessert today, and the weather, once again, sucks, I am having a pj day.
I swear to you, this entire winter I’ve had more PJ, smudgy-makeup-that-I-should-have-washed-off-and-didn’t, hair not done days. I may look like shit, but I always have a smile!
Look what I found on the net—it’s a perfect description of me. These are great words to live by, by golly!
Did my soul write this?????
Since my little “Kitchy” is so good at whipping—here’s a song you may enjoy. Devo. “Whip it!” XOXOXOXOXOXO! Have a great evening. Housewives of BH Reunion is on tonight!