My Dinner With Bonaparte. 10.3.2015

Autumn. Saturday.  Damp. Cold. The darkness sidles in earlier and earlier.  I’m on the sofa being lazy, as usual, with a blanket wrapped around me.

Blanket

The weather actually hit a temperature so low that I could wrap myself in a blanket. Bonaparte was ready to put the heat on, but this princess of hot flashes told him to put a sweater on instead!

It’s that time of year when I return to making Bonaparte a truly happy man. The weekend French dinner!  It’s what Bonaparte looks forward to.  It’s what he loves.  It’s how he enjoys his Saturday evenings sitting around the table and remembering long dinners of France past.

getting the dining room back.

The table will no longer be this bare. Time to review my tablecloths and settings!

It’s what helped me to gain unwanted pounds.

La Grande Bouffe

Well, I dunno if that pic should be replaced with profiles of me and Bonaparte, but if you are looking for a really fun and somewhat tragic film–you HAVE to see this! Our feasts aren’t as large!

He picked out a recipe from his my favorite French Cookbook.

French cookbooks

My favorite–back right. “French” by Carole Clements & Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen. Rachel Khoo’s “Little French Kitchen” is another very good book.  Truth be told, I’m not a fan of Julia Child’s books. I DO use this book for sauces though. Nothing else.  Ginette Mathiot’s “I Know How To Cook” is a great reference guide–the French version of “Joy of Cooking”, if you will!

Speaking of not being a fan of Julia Child. Here’s a late entry to today’s post.  A video by Cecile Delarue, the author of “The Everything Easy French Cookbook” another book that I have, that I’ve also mentioned in past posts, that has excellent home style recipes.  Here’s her video for genuine Salade Nicoise.  Enjoy–and pay attention to the recipe!

The recipe was Faisan a la Normande, Pheasant Breast with Apples.  I changed it up a bit because pheasant is nearly impossible to come by in this area of the Philadelphia suburbs. So I went with chicken breasts.

Recipe for Pheasant

This is an excellent and hearty dish. Pheasant has a tendancy to be dry and is difficult to come by where I live. But–organic chicken breasts are moist and are an excellent substitute!

Back to the French dinner. Had I never met Bonaparte, I would have never acquired cool dining accoutrements.  I mean, really, a tiny fork for pulling a snail out of a shell?  It’s almost akin to picking your nose!  I could honestly yank that little snail out with my pinky and thumb or  with a toothpick.  But having these little forks is fun. It’s so much classier than the way I grew up dining!

Appetizer pics.

I like using these smaller forks to grab the snails out of the shells. These are also excellent for little appetizers. They really fancy and classy things up!

Same thing with the escargot plates.  I get why the little indented half-spheres are there. So you can soak up the garlicky, buttery, flavorful juices with your little piece of baguette. Which, BTW, is an actual diet aid.  Only the tiniest piece of bread will fit into those little indented wells. Another reason the French are leaner than we Americans are.

Escargot plate and acoutroment

See that little snail tong on the bottom? I STILL have issues with these things. It’s easier for me to just pick up the shell with my hands. With all due respect to Bonaparte, I only use the tongs when we are in France.  I would never want to embarrass him in front of his family. (shhhh..I really don’t think they care…..)

This asparagus plate would have gone home from the Junior League thrift shop with someone else—as would my favored tureen.

I picked both items up at the Junior League thrift shop for pennies.  I love making little asparagus appetizers and placing them on that cute plate.  Even more, a hearty beouf bourguignon served in that white tureen is even prettier!

Cheese knife set

If I hadn’t met Bonaparte, do you honestly think I would own a proper cheese knife set? Hell no!  I would just use a regular butter knife and a spatula!

I did much of the prep work beforehand.  I cut and par boiled the potatoes, pounded the chicken, and caramelized the onion and apples.  Doing all this really takes a load off if the timing of the dinner is important.

calvados

I also added a bit more Calvados than called for in the recipe. The Calvados gives such a great flavor!

Diced potatoes in butter

A bit of smoky paprika also adds some depth to the potatoes.  I KNOW, there’s an awful lot of butter in there. It’s once a week–OK? Don’t judge!

Chicken sauteeing

Pounding the chicken breasts down really thinly makes the cooking time go so much faster. Once the prep work is done, the cooking takes almost no time!

Prep work done, I am able to enjoy our first little course of an aperitif and amuse bouche, that little tease before dinner.

kir-royale

I feel like a lush, but I really DO look forward to a couple of these on a Saturday evening before dinner. Creme de Cassis and Champagne–who wouldn’t love that?

That done, we sat down to our entrée of escargot.

Escargot

Tasty earthy little morsels of goodness! Sometimes my GERD acts up so I make sure to chase with a few Rolaids!

And NO I did NOT make these little snails myself.  That’s right. I cheated! I used Wegmans.  They may not be the best—they lack the saltiness that I love so much. But, they are garlicky, buttery and taste decent.  Trust me; a cheat every now and then isn’t a culinary sin!

Weg's escargot

These really are not bad at all.  If you see them in Wegmans, pick up a box. You will thank me later when you have dinner guests and forgot to make an extra food purchase!

We feasted upon the chicken breasts, prepared in all the Calvados, apple and cream glory! I could feel my pants getting tighter with each savory bite!

Chicken

Hey. I’m not a food stylist so it doesn’t look perfect, but this dish was fantastic!

More wine.

Margaux 2005.

Bonaparte has plenty of this Margaux 2005. It goes so well with those hearty cold-weather dishes. 

I’m so glad Bonaparte loves me.  He shows it through his actions.  He decided to forego the cheese because I begged  him to cut down a bit on the rich foods.   I really need to drop 20 and squeeze properly fit back into my size 8’s.

Instead, he finished the meal with this cherry clafoutis that I made.  No. He really DID finish the meal. He ate the entire clafoutis.  I’m not kidding. He finished the entire dessert.  Nothing says love more than that. He made sure I couldn’t get any of it so he ate it!

Basically a cakey custard, clafoutis can be made with other fruits but Bonaparte loves those cherries.  A heavy dusting of confectioner’s sugars gives it the sweetness against the tart cherries!

Ahh—my Frenchman is so gallant!

Seriously though, one of the reasons I do welcome the cold weather is because it’s so enjoyable to cook great hearty meals.

We get to sit at our dining room table again. As much as I love dining al fresco on the deck in the warm weather, I love the warm and toasty of long meals at the dining room table. And—I get to dress the table as well.

French homestyle cooking isn’t difficult. With the right recipe, whether from a book or online, you can make a stupendous dinner that will impress.

Take a look at this blog post from  A Frog At Large. Blog Post–How To Cook Like The French

She thinks along the same lines of  French cooking as I do—but she likes Julia Child a lot more!

Point is, special meals are meant to enjoy and savor.  Food is one of life’s joys!  Joie de vivre!

CIMG0251

Well…besides a great meal, taking time to enjoy a little stroll through Place Dauphine and….

Paris. Galeries Lafayette. Repetto Display. My kind of place

a bevy of Repetto ballet flats to chose from are also great examples of joie de vivre!

It’s difficult during the week due to work and other obligations. But, once a week—preferably on a weekend evening, there is nothing better than spending the time with loved ones and conversing and laughing and debating over a long meal.  It is one of the things that make life worth living to the fullest!

Since I’m on a roll with the French—here’s one of my favorite upbeat songs from Michel Delpech.  “Pour un flirt”. The video is so early ’70’s but the song is tres mignon—so cute! An added bonus—these songs make learning the French language easier! XOXOXOXO!!!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in French Cookbooks. Repetto ballet flats. Place Dauphine., Michel Delpeche. Pour Un Flirt. and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to My Dinner With Bonaparte. 10.3.2015

  1. Megan says:

    That looks absolutely delish! AH, and that dessert, mouthwatering. He is a lucky man to have a woman to learn the cuisine of home, and might I add all of those flats, whoa in heaven! I adore reading your posts. You make it so easy and fun to live a day in your life, and I truly enjoy it! 🙂 XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s so kind of you to link to my blog! I’m not a fan of snails but cherry clafoutis is my absolute favourite (joint first place with creme brulee) and I am VERY jealous of your Laguiole knives…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Oh..I’m glad you are fine with the link to your blog. Ummm I LOVE creme brulee but Bonaparte is not a fan–yet, he adores creme caramel. LOL–those knives live mostly in the box until the family dinners. When the kids return home those cheese knives are in constant rotation! XOXOXO!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Leslie Preston says:

    Very enjoyable post. Very motivating. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gk says:

    Sounds like a fantastic meal – I hope Bonaparte knows what a great wife he has!
    I love the cosy feeling of autumn too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Enjoyable post! I’ve never gotten into French food but your pictures look wonderful! My husband loves escargot so maybe I’ll try a box from Wegmans. I didn’t know grocery stores sold them, but then I never looked… Thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks. Yeah–it’s really hard to find escargot that is ready made here in the States. Some specialty stores sell the empty shells and canned snails, but the Weg’s frozen version is a great substitute. Let me know if you end up trying them! XOXO!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sdendunnen says:

    Beautiful dinner! You make everything look so easy! Ever since reading your blog I’m lusting for a pair (or three) of Repetto shoes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks! Honestly, the cooking IS easy. It’s all in the prep work and in the confidence. When I think back to the making Creme Caramel for Bonaparte, I failed the first three times, but I kept at it and kept at it until I got it right. Don’t give up! Oh…and I’m always in the mood for more Repettos! XOXOXO!

      Like

  7. spearfruit says:

    I am hungry now, and love the “Pour un flirt” video. Got to love the 70s. Thanks for another great post – have a great day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lovely dinner! yumm, I love this post as always, so many wonderful things and love the blanket as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. lynne1324 says:

    Wow what a great post, need to know what did you wrap the asparagus with? Since my husband I started our diets, we are eating so much more healthier and enjoying our dinners more. My cook books are out also.
    Lynne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      The asparagus is wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto , and sprinkled with lemon zest. I blanche the asparagus so it’s nice and colorful. I don’t like it raw. XOXO!

      Like

  10. Great article and great choice of song ! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That asparagus plate is amazing! I love your posts so much, they just exude joie de vivre! X

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Annmarie says:

    Catherine, I am literally salivating here!! I have to try your French dishes too! You inspire me to want to start making my fall/winter stews – the French version now!! My husband will love and thank you for it when I tell him!😃

    Liked by 1 person

  13. calensariel says:

    Well THAT was educational, and I don’t even LIKE to cook! I think part of your charm is you truly were born to be a princess. 😀 I think “The Princess and the Poppet” sounds like a good name for a book. Poppet used in the Urban sense: A term of great endearment and affection, used to describe in one word all the feelings of warmth, comfort, kindness, generosity, honesty and strength of character you feel every time you are with that person. A word not to be used lightly, but one that expresses great respect and admiration for those to whom it is directed. I’m pretty sure that’s how Bonaparte must think of you! At least when you cook for him!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      What do you know? I swear I’ve never heard of the term “Poppet” and I love it! I’m hoping he “sinks” I’m a Poppet for sure!! I like to think of myself as a princess too. Unfortunately, I’m only the princess of my own center of the universe! LOL!! XOXOXO!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You are an amazing cook, look at all those pictures!! WOW!!! Maybe I should make a trip to your side of town! 😉
    XOXOXO

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Carol says:

    Great post. Sounds like you both had a really delicious dinner. Now I’m hungry! 🙂

    Also, I wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Blogger’s Recognition Award. Please refer back my post at https://writefulmind.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/blogger-recognition-award/ for rules of acceptance.

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to reading your post!

    Like

  16. BunKaryudo says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever eaten pheasant in my life, but I’ll bet the chicken was very tasty. In fact everything looked delicious. I do sometimes go to French restaurants and I love the food, but I do sometimes find it a bit hard to cope with the 10 billion pieces of cutlery that go with it.

    Like

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