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.
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.
The table will no longer be this bare. Time to review my tablecloths and settings!
It’s what helped me to gain unwanted pounds.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
I also added a bit more Calvados than called for in the recipe. The Calvados gives such a great flavor!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Hey. I’m not a food stylist so it doesn’t look perfect, but this dish was fantastic!
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!
Well…besides a great meal, taking time to enjoy a little stroll through Place Dauphine and….
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!!!