Sunday, July 22, 2012

French Food at Home

Saturday, Casey was going to play poker with the boys, so I invited the girls over for some French food. I was really itching to try out some new recipes and my friends were kind enough to taste-test.
Marci, LeeAnn and Robin
I often get questions about what French food is. So hard to give a succinct answer. To begin with, French people really care about the quality of their food. It's a national preoccupation. A constant topic of conversation. For example: "Is the Camembert any good?' 'I think it's too aged.' 'No, I prefer it this way.' 'It's not as good as the other one.' The bread, the cheese, the meat, etc. My grandmother won't buy pre-cut meat at the supermarket, but insisted that the butcher hand-cut the meat in front of her, as meat under plastic is too "insipid."

My delightful sister-in-law, Aubrey, must have been telling a good story.

Attention to quality of ingredients and preparation aside, the food eaten at the French table isn't radically different, but the order and rigor of the meal is very different. From childhood, the French are taught "how" to eat and they are very rigid about how and what to eat and when. My grandmother is still mystified about Casey wanting to eat cold leftover spaghetti for breakfast. And no coffee! Seriously, she was flabbergasted. But, it's for a reason. As my dad remarked, even the mediocre food there is good. 
For the first course, we had Roasted Camembert with Walnuts and Honey. Normally, cheese is served after the main course, but I found the recipe as a first course on a French website, so I felt like I wasn't being too ingenuous with it.
For the main course, I made two zucchini and feta tarts, served with a simple green salad. It's my cousin Nathalie's recipe, and it was very simple, but the cumin and herbs de provence really add a special something.

Provencal Zucchini  and Feta Tart

1 lb zucchini, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp cumin
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 cup cream
1 egg
1 pre-made pie crust
½ cup brine-packed feta cheese, drained and crumbled
½ cup grated swiss cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-hot pan, sauté onion in olive oil until slightly softened. Add zucchini, cumin, herbs, salt and pepper and cook until softened. Set aside to cool slightly. Beat the egg into the cream. Fill tart pan with a removable bottom with pie crust. Top with onion-zucchini mixture and pour over cream mixture (add a little more cream if there is any gaps). Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake for 35 minutes or until filling is set and cheese slightly browned.  Serve with a simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette for full frenchiness.

To gild the lily, I made Mousse au Chocolat, from scratch of course, for dessert. 
I'd never made it before, but thankfully there's a youtube video for everything. :-) Chocolate mousse is classic, but also completely make-ahead, so I could be at the table and enjoying the company and not in the kitchen, flipping crepes.
 And enjoy the evening, we did. Can't wait to do it again. :-)
Thank you so much, Tiffany, for taking pictures! So fun to see you and your sweet sister, Britt!


Tiffany Dawn said...

For all of you wondering if this was really as good as it looks... I'll be the first to say - It was BETTER!!

Thanks so much for the invitation and letting me snag your camera to document the deliciousness and fun! It was a really fun evening!

The Menu Today said...

This is very Good recipe. Keep going on with your effort to write more posts.
for more french toast recipe visit: here many french toast ideas...

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