MFaM — Day 6

October 7, 2007 on 9:42 pm | By | In Food Musings, Recipes | 4 Comments

Today’s regularly scheduled blog post has been canceled so we may bring you the following special presentation: Tastes of France.

That’s right — on the 6th day they ate meat.

Lest you think we so quickly lost our resolve, rest assured the experiment is still on. We merely took a “bye” to thank our cat/house sitters with a French-inspired dinner. Sure, we could have made it vegetarian, but we wanted to ensure they’d be willing to sit for us again if need be. (And there was NO WAY I was going to let them enjoy the treats without indulging myself).

We began with an interesting aperitif I made up. The weekend before I had poached some apples for a dessert, then reduced the poaching liquid down into a sauce, adding some Calvados. I had a bunch of the sauce left over, so I decided to make champagne cocktails. Because of the pectin from the apples the sauce turned to jelly in the fridge. I placed a dollop in the bottom of a champagne flute, then stirred in a bit of champagne to help it dissolve. Some of the jelly still remained, but the apple flavor infused into the champagne. They were quite tasty!

These two friends love my chicken liver mousse, and I just so happened to have some in my freezer. In June I had some black truffle pieces that needed to be used up, so I included them in the mousse. I made way more than I could eat at the time, so I decided to experiment with freezing it. I was pleased to find it tasted just as delicious as it did freshly made (not surprising considering the amount of butter that goes in). I spread the mousse on crostini slices and topped each with a halved cornichon to balance out the richness. We gobbled them up while sipping our cocktails.

Next up was the beef carpaccio. I’ve never made it before but became enamored with it in France. I quickly seared pieces of beef tenderloin to help develop the flavor, then wrapped them in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer for two hours so they’d be easier to slice. I sliced them about 1/4″ thick, then pounded them until they were paper thin. I placed the slices on the serving plates, wrapped the plates in plastic and put them in the fridge until serving time.

When it comes to beef carpaccio, a little goes a long way. I had roughly 2/3 of a pound of tenderloin, and it was plenty for four people. To serve, I tossed fresh arugula with a touch of sherry wine vinegar and good quality extra virgin olive oil (be sure to go light — the leaves should barely glisten). I also drizzled some oil on the beef and sprinkled it with red wine-infused salt I bought in St. Emillion. I then topped the arugula with a few capers (I used capers in salt, although you can also used brined ones. Either way, rinse them beforehand). I finished the dish with a liberal sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Oh my God, was this good!

Beef carpaccio

 

(Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin).

Our main entrée was Salad Niçoise, using a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Baby red potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, red onions, olive oil-packed tuna and bibb lettuce are all tossed separately with a lemon-herb vinaigrette, then arranged on a platter. Niçoise olives, hard-boiled eggs and anchovy fillets complete the dish. (My darling took a photo of the platter but inadvertently erased it while formatting the memory card in preparation for his paid photo shoot today.) We enjoyed the salad with a couple of bottles of La Rosé du Taillon, one of the chateaux we ate at during the Bordeaux portion of our trip.

Our dessert was elegant, yet simple (thankfully — by the time I got around to making it I was quite tipsy). I sliced a couple of ripe pears into thin slices, then overlapped them onto four 6″ squares of puff pastry, leaving about 1/4″ border around the sides (be sure the pastry has been chilled in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before topping with the pear slices). I then sprinkled each tart with a tablespoon of sugar, and drizzled on a couple of teaspoons of melted butter. I crimped up the sides of the tarts to form an edge and baked them on a parchment-covered baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (the pears will start to caramelize and the puff pastry will be puffed and golden). I then drizzled some honey over the hot tarts and served them with French lavender ice cream. (Oops — there goes that drool again).

It was a fabulous evening full of great food and lively conversation. But today we’re back to mending our carnivorous ways. Next up: stovetop baba ghanoush, hummus and taboulleh with feta and Kalamata olives.

4 Comments

  1. Yummy…beef carpaccio…yeah, I’d take a break from the bet for that one too :o)

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — October 8, 2007 #

  2. Wanna talk about meat?
    I concocted a great hit for our friend’s annual fall bonfire.
    Dave got his moose cow from his permit and brought me the heart.
    I made Moose Heart Larb. Truly fusion food.
    They have some great little Larb Numtok packets at our Asian grocery and I sauteed up the thinly sliced heart, red onion and shallots , added the packet along with fish sauce and lime juice.
    People were asking me to live with them or marry them and it was the best thing they had EVER eaten.
    You could make it with Beef heart too since acces to moos is rather limited for most.

    Comment by Kim — October 8, 2007 #

  3. Of course you were tipsy — no meat for 5 days! I love the idea of a veggie month, but I may wait until next July when produce is good again here in the east. Right now wwe’re all about apples, squash, and PORK!

    BTW – I’m totally stealing your pear and honey tart idea. LOVE that! You are a genius!

    Comment by cvb — October 8, 2007 #

  4. I hear what you’re saying about the fresh produce, but I also LOVE roasted winter veggies (in fact, Costco had a nice big bag of Brussels sprouts that are now in my crisper. I’ll probably roast some up tomorrow night!)

    Comment by ovens2betsy — October 8, 2007 #

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