After much hesitation, I finally caved and watched "Julie and Julia". As I suspected, it was terrible, but the food...the bubbling butter, the sizzling mushrooms...my interest was piqued, to say the least. After my Macarons debacle, I lost my passion for attempting challenging recipes, but seeing those delicious creations reignited my passion for cooking elaborate meals. It was then that two of my favorite friends were invited to my very first (monthly? quarterly? annual?) French dinner.
|I'd like to say I looked like this, but no.|
Luckily, my two lovely guests gave me ample time to finish cooking, and avoided seeing me on the ground, surrounded by ice cubes and piles of salt, attempting to make ice cream. My new apron was covered in splotches of wine and bits of butter clung to my silk dress, but the results were well worth the unexpected effort.
It needs to be mentioned that my very thoughtful friends brought a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a bouquet of purple flowers, both of which added an exciting zest to the evening. Also worth noting: my new apron clearly outlining that I am Le Chef, in case anyone should wonder why I'm on the floor surrounded by said ice and salt.
|Pouring wine involves a great deal of focus|
Because the meal was going to be heavy and hearty, I chose a light hors d'oeuvres option - Crottin Tartines with Mango Chutney - to 'ease' my unsuspecting guests into what was to come. I used goat cheese instead of the Crottin de Chavignol cheese so I suppose they're more Goat Tartines, but that doesn't sound as embellished as the original title.
|Crottin Tartines with Mango Chutney|
While I'm not a fan of cauliflower, this fluffy Cauliflower Soup with Chervil was a great Entrée choice because of its fluffiness. The butter, milk and potato overshadowed the cauliflower, forming a smooth and creamy soup . While Rachael was a bit reluctant to eat the chervil leaves, I found them to blend very well with the gentle aroma of the soup.
|Cauliflower Soup with Chervil|
I had Boeuf Bourgignon in Paris for the first time, and it was the best meal I've ever eaten in my life. Even before I picked up the recipe book for this dinner, I knew it would be my Plat Principal. I have never bought beef before, and really didn't know what I was doing, but the butchers at my grocery store were very nice and helpful. Truthfully, I think this is the one and only time I will ever attempt to cook beef, but once again, worth the five hours of cooking and preparation, and everyone seemed to enjoy the final product.
For dessert, I chose Poached Pears with Crème Fraiche Ice Cream, which involved soaking pears in Merlot for about...eighty-five years. Seriously, I didn't think I'd ever see those pears again. Yet, there they were, days later, having fully absorbed the aroma of the red wine, ready for our enjoyment. I topped them with more red wine reduction, a cream and rosemary mix, and a dollop of - yes - homemade Crème Fraiche ice cream, which was actually surprisingly the part that took the longest to prepare (two days!). The ice cream quickly melted, but its sweetness was a perfect pairing for the tangy pears.
|Poached Pears with Crème Fraiche Ice Cream|
I'm very lucky to have such patient and hungry friends to sample my culinary attempts, and just as lucky to have a sister to eagerly run out and grab forgotten bags of flour from the grocery store.
|Rachael, Le Chef, and Anais|
The towers of dirty dishes make me laugh now. It's funny to think that so many bowls, spoons, and cups were needed for such a seemingly short affair. I'd like to think that it was more than that: the experience of shelling the pearl onions, the sliced garlic, the cream and sugar melting into each other...maybe cooking is just as much about the journey as the destination. I'd also like to think that these hunks agree.