Happy Valentine’s Day everyone 🙂
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 – Warm Green Bean Salad with Poached Egg, a main dish adapted from Les Secrets de la Mère Brazier – Chicken 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 Bistrot – Vanilla-Spéculoos.
Accompanying the appetizer we had a rosé 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 Côtes 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.
Warm Green Bean Salad with Poached Egg
1/2 lb. of fresh green beans
4 strips of bacon
1 tblsp. vinegar
salt and pepper
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
1 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces (thighs, legs, breasts, etc)
2 1/4 cups crème fraîche (or heavy cream if you cannot find c.f.)
1 – 1 1/2 cups of morel mushrooms
butter (or oil if you prefer)
salt and pepper
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 crème fraîche. (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.
Mère Brazier recommends pairing this dish with either a Beaujolais nouveau wine or a Côtes du Rhone wine.
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**
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.
*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.