Sunday, August 16, 2009

French dinner party

My friends and I are going to London and Paris in September, and we thought we would get together and have a dinner party with French food to get excited about our trip! (Unfortunately British cuisine is not worth lauding at a dinner party.)

We had drinks, a salad, sandwiches, and a dessert - all French and all fantastic! This is my triumphant return to Ina Garten, as I have been somewhat unfaithful lately. The following recipes come from Barefoot in Paris. Click on the name of each dish for a link to the recipe.

Ina loves raspberries, and this is basically a recipe for raspberry-flavored champagne.

You pour some raspberry liqueur into a glass with some raspberries, then pop a cork and pour some champagne over the raspberries. This gives the champagne a soft pink color and a subtle raspberry flavor.

This seemed like a good way to start out our dinner - toasting our trip to Paris! (Of course, because it came together so fast, it was the last thing we made.)

This salad consists of a tantalizing combination of lettuce, pears, toasted walnuts, Roquefort cheese, and a Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

However, unfortunately endive lettuce and pears appear to be out of season, because Dominicks didn't have any of either. However, I substituted butter lettuce for endive, because of the mild flavor, and I substituted light red apples for the pears. I don't think I heard any complaints!

The salad dressing includes champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a raw egg yolk. Though Rob said, "You don't make friends with salad," this salad was amazing. It actually might have been my favorite thing about the meal, but the dessert was pretty amazing.

This is perhaps one of the most famous French dishes of all time - at least outside of France. High school students in French classes invariably learn about this dish in the "how to order in restaurants" unit.

It's basically a ham and cheese sandwich, but with a French-style flourish - Gruyere cheese and Dijon mustard.

You toast the bread, slather on some Dijon mustard, and layer some ham. Typical French-style Croque Monsieur sandwiches will sometimes have an "open face" - no other layer of bread on top. But Ina adds cheese on top of the ham, then another bread slice, then a Gruyere cream sauce and more Gruyere.

You bake them in the oven and then finish them up in the broiler for a nice bubbly top. The first time I made these about two years ago, I christened my broiler (and haven't used it since). Diane had to do the same, and they turned out awesome.

In keeping with my classic French dinner, I chose a classic dessert that I knew everyone would love: profiteroles.

Profiteroles are little pastry puffs that are filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. What's not to like there?

The profiteroles come together really fast, but you have to make the pastries beforehand. Luckily they are also really easy. The whole recipe is just butter, milk, salt, flour, and eggs. You pipe it onto parchment paper and then bake at a high temperature. I like to use a sturdy Ziploc bag with the corner cut out.

Afterward, they come out like perfect little round pastry swirls. (Check us out in our cute aprons and cute skirts. Can you believe how '50s we are?)

The pastry shells are hollow and can be left out for a few hours, so we left them out while we cooked the sandwiches, assembled the salads, and mixed the raspberry royales.

After dinner, we just had to cut the pastry shells in half, scoop some ice cream inside, and pour chocolate sauce on top.

Ina recommended Haagen-Dazs ice cream, so I picked up some vanilla bean flavor. You make the chocolate sauce yourself out of dark chocolate, cream, coffee, and honey.

Amazing. (And don't you love Diane's dolphin plates?) They really blew everyone away, and we had a lot of fun eating them.

Here's to our Paris trip, and here's to French cuisine!

1 comment:

Julie said...

Val, everything looks amazing! You guys are going to have a great time in Europe!