Monday, November 21, 2011

French Cuisine - Lindsay and Shelly - November 2011

This little number arrived via mail to each lucky ladies door.

A classy invite to an evening of French Cuisine inspired by Coco Chanel. A black dress event with pearls to boot!

What a bunch of Sexy ladies!
And if I'm not mistaken there are 34 kids between all of us!

What a fun evening to dress up fancy and dine in style!

The decor was right on with the French theme and there were cute quotes all around along with postcards, pearls, and fresh flowers arranged by Shelly herself!

The table was classy and inviting.

Our place settings were clean and crisp.

The darling pink chiffon bow tied on each chair with a single strand of pearls and a die cut of the Eiffel tower. So creative!

This was by far the favorite decor of the whole evening! Real pump perfume bottles filled with Pink Jelly bellies and our name printed on coordinating paper attached with a tiny pink ribbon. DARLING!!!

Of course, Shelly had to add ever perfect detail via her fabulous vinyl. Even the Coco Chanel emblem on our dinner plates!

We enjoyed some Sparkling Grape Juice upon arriving and then moved into the dinning room for our Hors d'oeuvre (A savory dish served as an appetizer).
Gruyere Gougeres - they were like the shell of an eclair with the most amazing filling. Light and delicious!

Entree course (Entrance to the meal)
French Onion Soup
Plenty of bread, plenty of cheese! Just the way I like it.

A light sorbet as a quick palette cleanser. (or a treat if you ask me!)

Le Plat Principle (Main Course)
Beef Bourguignon - Julia Child style...need I say more!?!

Salade (post dinner salad to cleanse the palate)
Mixed Greens with Sheep's Milk Cheese
to. die. for.

Every plate came out with a fun quote, saying, or definition of something french. So cute! This was one of my favorites.

Le Desserts (dessert)
Flourless Chocolate Cake

Apple Galette with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream
This was the favorite of the evening! Everybody was dying of how scrumptious it was!

Shelly and Lindsay did an amazing job and are the most gracious hosts!
We thought it time to get a few partnership shots since we were all dressed up.

Michelle and Annika

Holly and Kim

Judith and Kristy

Sunny and Lindsay
We welcomed Sunny's new partner to the group that evening and look forward to getting to know her.

Amber and Heather
Heather was 2 weeks post her 4th C-section! Beautiful baby Hadley accompanied her that evening.

After, we wrapped things up and gathered our fun take homes, darling post cards and recipes.

These cute little packages held one more sweet surprise for us.

Yummy PINK French Macarones. Too cute!

Talk about an evening of feeling totally pampered! If this is how they do it in France, we want to be French! You out did yourselves girls!


Gruyere Gougeres
From Williams-Sonoma

French Onion Soup
From Williams-Sonoma

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
 One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (I used thick sliced bacon)
 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
 1 carrot, sliced
 1 onion, sliced
 Salt and pepper
 2 tablespoons flour
 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (I just used grape juice)
 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
 1 tablespoon tomato paste
 2 cloves mashed garlic
 1/2 teaspoon thyme
 A crumbled bay leaf
 18 to 24 white onions, small
 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
 Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
Cooking Directions
Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
Preparation of Onions and Mushrooms:
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
Finishing Instructions:
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
Wash out the casserole and return the beef, lardons, and vegetables to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.
Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Glazed Carrots
Serves 4. From Cooks Illustrated, Published March 1, 2003.
Why this recipe works:
For a glazed carrot recipe resulting in well-seasoned carrots with a glossy, clingy, yet modest glaze, we started with bagged carrots sliced on the bias, steaming them directly in the skillet with chicken broth for fuller flavor. To complete our glazed carrot recipe, we let the cooking liquid reduce and added butter and sugar, finishing with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and a bit of black pepper to give the dish sparkle.
Glazed carrots are a good accompaniment to roasts of any kind--beef, pork, lamb, or poultry. A nonstick skillet is easier to clean, but this recipe can be prepared in any 12-inch skillet with a cover.
1pound medium carrots (about 6), peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick on the bias (see illustration)
1/2teaspoon table salt
3tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2cup low-sodium chicken broth
1tablespoon unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces
2teaspoons lemon juice
Ground black pepper
Bring carrots, salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, and chicken broth to boil, covered, in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are almost tender when poked with tip of paring knife, about 5 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to skillet; toss carrots to coat and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are completely tender and glaze is light gold, about 3 minutes. Off heat, add lemon juice; toss to coat. Transfer carrots to serving dish, scraping glaze from pan. Season to taste with pepper and serve immediately.

Mixed Greens with Sheep's-Milk Cheese and Honey Vinaigrette

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Apple Galettes
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, September 2007
*Makes 8 individual galettes
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
½ cup Wondra flour or Pillsbury Shake and Blend instant flour (2 1/2 ounces)
(This can be made without instant flour, using 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, you might have to increase the amount of ice water).
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 5/8-inch cubes (1 1/2 sticks)
7-9 tablespoons ice water

Apple Filling
1 ½ pounds apples (3-4 medium or 4-5 small), Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Empire work well.
¼ cup butter, divided into 8 (1/2 tablespoon) equal squares
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon water

CUT IN BUTTER: For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.
FORM MOUND: Empty dough onto work surface and gather into rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long and 5 inches wide.
FRAISAGE AND CHILL: Starting at farthest end, use heel of hand to smear small amount of dough against counter, pushing firmly down and away from you, to create separate pile of dough (flattened pieces of dough should look shaggy). Continue process until all dough has been worked. Form dough into 4-inch square, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but still malleable, 30 minutes to 1 hour (If dough is in the fridge longer than 1 hour, let it stand at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes prior to step 6).
Fraisage is a French technique that blends the butter into the dough to create lots of flaky layers. This very short clip on youtube shows the technique:

CUT APPLES: About 15 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core, and halve apples. Cut apple halves lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and then cut in half to make small slices.
ROLL DOUGH: Cut dough into 8 equal mounds. Roll each mound into a 6 inch circle.
ASSEMBLE GALETTES AND BAKE: Mound about 1/3 heaping cup of apples onto the center of each dough circle, leaving about a ¾ inch border of dough. Sprinkle the apple mounds with 1 T sugar and ½ T butter (cut each ½ tablespoon of butter into 8 tiny squares and place evenly over apple mound). Gently fold edges of dough over apples, pleating as you go, leaving an opening in the center. Place galettes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the crusts are baked and golden brown.
GLAZE: While galettes are cooking, combine apricot preserves and water in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power until mixture begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Pass through fine-mesh strainer to remove any large apricot pieces. Brush baked galettes with glaze and cool on wire rack for 15 minutes.

Crème Fraîche Ice Cream
From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
2 cups crème fraîche

Set a mesh strainer over the top of a medium-sized bowl and set it in an ice bath. Set aside.
Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the original saucepan.
Over medium heat, stir the mixture constantly with a heatproof plastic spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the bowl sitting in the ice bath. Stir until the mixture begins to cool. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Once cool, whisk in the crème fraîche, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

* Harmon’s is the only grocery store that I have found that carries Crème Fraîche. It is expensive. You can make your own by following the simple recipe below.

Crème Fraîche Recipe:
Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.