Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Doing it the French Way - The Follow Up

Last week, I posted the menu with recipe links for our Dinner Club feast featuring French cuisine.  It was probably the most fattening meal I've ever had.  I think 80% of it consisted of some combination of butter, cream and eggs.  But my taste buds loved it, despite the ongoing protest from my arteries and thighs.

So to review...

French Onion Marmalade - Confit D'Oignon
This was really good on bread.  I love the sweetness that is released when onions are caramelized.  It was nice that the recipe recommended making it a few days ahead - that it mellows after sitting in the fridge for a while.  I think it would be really good served with pork.  Note to self:  buy chops for later this week.

Chicken Liver Pate with Pistachios
I didn't even see it in the recipe comments, but it suggested stuffing the pate in Cognac poached prunes.  Dave and Barb are always up to the task and brought stuffed and unstuffed.  Dave said the prune step was a general pain in the behind.  From what remained on both plates, I'd say half of the guests would agree that stuffing was not worth it.  I was bi-pate.  I liked it both ways.  I don't eat pate often, but I'm keeping this recipe for when my other foodie friends come to town.  Perfect noshing material.

Cream of Artichoke Soup - Creme D'Artichauts
And speaking of pains in the rear, I don't know if Don will ever ask for a challenging recipe ever again.  This was a very time consuming dish and had enough steps to put it over the is-this-really-worth-it top.  But for those of us who didn't have the daunting task of its preparation, it was wonderful. Smooth and creamy with a nice, rich flavor...  mmmmm... Someone else can make this for me any day.

Zucchini-Tomato Verrines
This can be classified as an appetizer or a salad, but I called it a salad. I really couldn't find a vegetable dish that rang my French bell, and with 2 kinds of cheeses, eggs and prosciutto, this  matched the fat and cholesterol content of the rest of the menu.  We wouldn't want sneak anything healthy in there now, would we?  And what's not to love about a tiny, multi-textured salad, layered in a glass?  I thought that would be cute.  It was cute - and very tasty.  If you ever have to make something for one of those bite-sized dishes parties (you know, where you serve food already on the spoons and such?) this would be perfect. 

Cheese Souffle
I told John and Marla to bring all the ingredients for the souffle so we could assemble and bake it just before we sat down to dinner. Since none of us had ever attempted a souffle before, our actions hinged on every word of the recipe - which told us to melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a "paste."  When we added the cream to it and everything turned into a gooey, curdled mess, we knew we had done something wrong.  When attempt number two was successful, we decided recipe author's definition of "paste" was a little different than ours.  We looked for something short of wall Spackle, when they wanted Elmer's.  It took a little longer to bake because we doubled the recipe.  The outside edges were done to perfection, so we scooped out what we could and let the rest bake a little longer.  We weren't treated to the beauty of a perfectly crusted, un-fallen souffle at the table, but wow.  It was delish.  I'll be making this again.

Beef Bourguignon - Beef Burgundy
This was really yummy, but I screwed up and made it late Saturday afternoon.  Had I been thinking properly, I would have made this the day before.  Like the onion marmalade, it would have been even yummier after resting for a day.  Oh well.  It was still really good.  This will replace my old beef burgundy recipe, but I'm still going to leave out the pearl onions.  I couldn't find them in the produce department, and I refuse to dump a jar of them in with all of the fresh veggies and choice sirloin. 

VanillaCrème Brulee
Going into it, I thought creme brulee would be hard to make.  It sounded simple enough, but I kept thinking there was something sinister lurking... sort of like the "paste" in the souffle.  But it was actually pretty easy.  My mistake, once again, is that I didn't make it ahead of time. They barely had time to chill before it was batter up time at the table.  But they were wonderful.  Without a torch, the broiler worked well - the glaze on top cracked perfectly.  If I make this again, I'll cut down on the sugar.  It was a tad too sweet for my taste.

The recipe that was omitted from the original post was the casserole that we made for the next morning. Eggs Benedict Casserole
John added 2 extra eggs and we used one package of good ol' Knorr hollandaise sauce.  This is a keeper.

I would say the evening was a success. Great food, along with the resurrection of the old dart board, a beautiful night to sit out by the fire, and borrowing a pinball machine from a dealer friend of ours - an AC/DC pinball machine no less - helped tremendously.

Yes, nothing says oo-la-la like French cuisine and eardrum rattling bings, bells and Highway to Hell.

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