Category Archives: appetizers

A Valentine Dinner

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone ūüôā

Now, those of you that know me know I am not much of an ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey over-the-top romantic… but I am, of course , a sucker for a good reason to get cozy and enjoy a great meal with the one you¬† love.¬† And since my boy is French and romance tends to be in his nature, I think it is only fair that he deserves a meal to match.

Since living in France I have learned some things about the French culinary world, and have acquired several French cook books.  This four-course meal contains an appetizer of my own creation РWarm Green Bean Salad with Poached Egg, a main dish adapted from Les Secrets de la Mère BrazierChicken à la Crème with Morel Mushrooms served over rice, a salad with cheese and bread, and a dessert adapted from a sweet little book called Les Desserts BistrotVanilla-Spéculoos.

Accompanying the appetizer we had a ros√© champagne called Michel Fallet that a friend of mine gave me as a gift.¬† Her boyfriend’s dad produces the champagne¬† in the region of Picardy in the small town of Charly-sur Marne.¬†¬†¬† With the main course we drank a C√ītes du Rhone, one of my many favorite kinds of red wines here in France.

In this special “cooking for two” post, you will find the recipes for the appetizer, the main course, and the dessert posted below.

Enjoy !

 

Warm Green Bean Salad with Poached Egg


Ingredients:

1/2 lb. of fresh green beans

4 strips of bacon

2 eggs

1 tblsp. vinegar

butter

salt and pepper

Directions:

Remove the ends of the green beans and discard.

Fry up bacon strips, remove from heat and and let cool.  Crumble bacon into pieces and set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch green beans until thoroughly cooked.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan or a frying pan fill with about 2 inches of water + 1 tblsp. of vinegar.  Bring to a simmer.

Gently crack the eggshell and drop the egg in as close to the water as possible.  Immediately, gently fold the white over the yolk.  Repeat with the second egg.  Cook eggs for about 3-4 minutes and remove egg with a slotted spoon.  Set aside.

Drain green beans and combine with about a tablespoon of butter.  Split the green beans evenly on each plate.  Sprinkle with bacon pieces, salt and pepper to taste.  Place the poached egg on top and serve.

 

Chicken à la Crème with Morel Mushrooms

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces (thighs, legs, breasts, etc)

2 1/4 cups cr√®me fra√ģche (or heavy cream if you cannot find c.f.)

1 – 1 1/2 cups of morel mushrooms

flour

lemon juice

butter (or oil if you prefer)

salt and pepper

Directions:

Salt, pepper, and flour the chicken pieces.  In a large pot, fry the chicken in butter.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a generous amount of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium heat until cooked through.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pieces and deglaze the pot with the cr√®me fra√ģche. (Delgaze is to disolve the cooking juices or solid food in a pan by adding liquid and stirring). Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.¬† Place the chicken back into the pot, pour in the mushrooms, and bring to a low simmer.¬†¬†

Remove the chicken and plate as desired (serve over rice or pasta).  Run sauce through a strainer to separate from mushrooms.  Top chicken with mushrooms and pour sauce over everything.

M√®re Brazier recommends pairing this dish with either a Beaujolais nouveau wine or a C√ītes du Rhone wine.

 

Vanilla-Spéculoos


Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1 3/4 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split open and scraped*

6 egg yols + 1 whole egg

1/2 cup sugar

24 spéculoos cookies**

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 250 F

In a small pot, warm cream, milk, and vanilla over low heat.  (Cooking slowly prevents curdling)

Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy and well combined.  Slowly pour and mix hot cream and milk into egg and sugar mixture until well combined.

Pour mixture into 10-12 small oven safe glasses, or 6-7 “cocottes” (see image)

Place glasses/cocottes into a baking tray.  Fill tray half way with water.  If using small glasses, bake for about 40 minutes.  If using cocottes or larger sized glasses, bake for about 1 hour and 20-30 minutes.

Let cool and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Right before serving, crush spéculoos cookies and cover cream mixture.

NOTES:

*If you don’t have or want to buy a vanilla bean, you can use 2 tsps. of vanilla extract.¬† Add to the sugar and egg mix instead of heating with the cream and milk.

**Spéculoos cookies are very rare in the US, so if you cannot find them you can either use any kind of hard spice cookie.  If you still cannot find spice cookies, you can use cinnamon graham crackers.

Bon Ap!

Julie

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Shrimp Stuffed Avocados

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Oh these are heavenly.  Avocados are one of my favorite foods.  They are great as a garnish, a main dish, in guacamole, and almost anyway you like.  This recipe makes for a wonderful, simple appetizer.  It includes shrimp (one of my favorite seafoods) and homemade mayonnaise.  Serve this at your next dinner party for an elegant yet effortless touch!!

Shrimp Stuffed Avocados

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1 tsp. whiskey

salt and pepper

1 cup baby shrimp

Directions:

Drizzle lemon juice over each avocado half.  Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl.  Fill center of avocados with shrimp mixture.  Serve any extra mayonnaise and shrimp on the side.

Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

1 egg yolk

1 tblsp. dijon mustard

a splash of vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Combine the egg yolk, salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.  Continue to mix while adding oil.  Mix until fully combined.

Bon Ap!

Julie

Mamine’s 80th Birthday (and my 5 course meal)

Mamine's 80

Mamine's 80

Today was Mamine’s 80th birthday!¬† What a day!¬†¬† I decided to make a 5 course meal her and guests.¬† The menu I made was as follows:

Appetizers:  Champagne, Caprese Salad Skewers, and Saucisson (dried salami)

Caprese Salad Skewers

Caprese Salad Skewers

Second Course:  Cold Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Italian Dressing

Main Course:  Roasted Garlic Pesto over Penne with Chicken and Red Peppers

Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Red Peppers

Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Red Peppers

Fourth Course:  Cheese Plate and Bread


Dessert:  Sautéed Peach Halves over Vanilla Ice Cream

Sautéed Peach Halve over Vanilla

Sautéed Peach Half over Vanilla

In this post I have included the recipes for the Caprese Salad Skewers, the Roasted Garlic Pesto, and the Peach Halves over Vanilla Ice Cream.  I am in love with Caprese Salads, and this appetizer gives the original salad a fun little twist.  The pesto is my own take on the classic pesto recipe, and I have to say it is really delicious!  Roasting the garlic gives this irresistible pesto its fabulous flavor and fragrant aroma!  And the dessert, is elegant and simple, and absolutely amazing.  Enjoy!

Caprese Salad Skewers

Ingredients:

1 package of small wooden or plastic skewers

1 carton of cherry tomatoes

2 balls of fresh Mozzarella

fresh basil leaves

balsamic vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions:

Chop Mozzarella into large pieces.  On each skewer, place one tomato, a folded leaf of basil, and one piece of mozzarella.

Arrange skewers on a platter.  Drizzle a light amount of balsamic vinegar over skewers.  Do the same with the oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve cold.

Roasted Garlic Pesto

Ingredients:

1 whole garlic bulb for roasting plus olive oil and salt (directions follow – 6 cloves will be used in the Pesto)

4 cups of fresh basil leaves

1 cup of parsley

1 cup of pine nuts, toasted and cooled

1 cup of Gruyère cheese

salt and pepper

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut pf top of garlic bulb, exposing the tops of the cloves.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over top.  Sprinkle with salt.  Wrap bulb in tin foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, over medium high heat toast pine nuts with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Nuts will lightly brown as cooked.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Set aside.

IMG_3262

Once garlic is done, remove from oven and let cool.  Remove 6 cloves from the head and set bulb aside.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the 1 cup of olive oil.  Process for a few seconds.  Add olive oil and continue to process until well mixed.  You want the pesto to be thick in consistency.

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Serve with your favorite pasta!  Pesto will keep in the fridge for several days to a week  in an airtight container.

Sautéed Peach Halves over Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

4 yellow peaches

sugar

2 tblsp. butter

Directions:

Cut peaches in half, remove pits.  Over medium heat, melt butter in a pan.  Lightly sprinkle peach halves with sugar.  Face down, hear peaches for 5 minutes or until warm and slightly tender to the touch.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  (I love this dessert!  And so will you!!)

Bon Ap!

Julie.