What’s for dinner: French Edition

Philip always laughs at me when it comes to my cooking; I’m either all or nothing. Take for instance his 26th birthday party… I served a seven course dinner to an intimate group of 10 of our friends. Yes I cooked all seven courses and I greatly enjoyed it and got great reviews from all the guests. But most nights I just look at him and say, “Yeah I’m not cooking tonight. It just isn’t going to happen.” I enjoy cooking and from all those who eat my food I’ve heard I’m really good at it. I just don’t like coming up with a menu or deciding what we should have. But I have found that if I take pictures while cooking with the intention of blogging, I actually enjoy cooking and making lots of dishes. I’ve also started enjoying the plating and displaying part of cooking. If I can make it pretty then I’ll cook it. 🙂

Last week we had our dear friends Laura and Ricky over for dinner. Laura and Ricky previously lived in Ireland and were amazing host to us last October when we visited Belfast (for more on that click HERE HERE HERE and HERE). They have moved to New York and stopped in Memphis to visit family before fully moving up to New York. The last night we were in Belfast we had a great dinner with them at a tiny little French restaurant that was by far one of our favorite places from the trip. In honor of that last night in Belfast I decided to go with a French meal for their visit.

Menu for the night:

Coq Au Vin

Sauteed Broccolini

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

French Bread

Garden Salad

Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Strawberry Reduction

A few pictures and the recipes:

Strawberry Reduction Sauce Recipe:

  • 6 large fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup water

1. Rinse strawberries and remove green caps.

2. Slice each strawberry in half and transfer to a pot, add sugar. Turn heat on to low-medium, add water

3. Let boil for 15 minutes over medium heat.

4. After about 5-10 minutes, it should start frothing quite a bit. Stir at this point and mash lightly with fork.

5. 5 more minutes later, it should start thickening up, stir again.

6. Turn off heat, transfer to a serving bowl/dish. Let cool before serving.

Flourless Chocolate Cake glazed with Strawberry Reduction

Original Recipe is from Whole Foods and is found HERE. I have slightly altered it.

Ingredients

6 ounces dark chocolate chips and 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray (5)  3-inch springform pans with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray, too, then set the pans aside.  (You can also use 1 9-inch springform pan)

Place two-thirds (8 ounces) of the chocolate and 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stirring often, melt chocolate with butter until completely blended. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift cocoa into bowl and stir until just blended.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. The cake should be just firm in the center when done. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate, removing sides of springform pans. Remove and discard parchment paper and set cake aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Melt remaining 4 ounces chocolate (make sure you have reserved 2 ounces of dark chocolate and 2 ounces of semisweet) and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then stir in milk, honey and vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly.

When cake has cooled, pour glaze onto the center. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently smooth glaze along the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes before serving to set the glaze and make the cake easier to slice.

Before serving place two fresh strawberries on top and cover with Strawberry Reduction and chocolate sauce.

For the plating chocolate sauce I used a powder sugar, milk, and cocoa mixture. Start with about half a cup of powder sugar and a half teaspoon of cocoa. Add in milk one tablespoon at a time, stirring in the milk as you add, until the mixture has thinned to a fluid glaze.

Coq Au Vin (Recipe from The Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 thighs
  • 2 legs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cognac or brandy
  • 1 bottle Burgundy wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions

In a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Coat chicken pieces in flour, salt and pepper. Brown chicken in hot bacon fat on both sides.

Add garlic, onions, mushrooms and carrots. Saute 2 minutes to soften. Pour cognac into a small glass. Remove pan from heat, pour in cognac, Flambe by lighting a long match and holding it just above the pot, light the fumes. The brandy will catch fire and the flames will burn out within 1 minute. When the flames die down, return the pan to the heat and gradually stir in the wine and broth. When the wine is well blended, add the herbs. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce a bit. You may want to add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or cornstarch to aid in the thickening process.

To serve, top the chicken and vegetables with reserved crumbled bacon and fresh parsley.

Sauteed Broccolini:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 bunches broccolini (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Directions

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and the salt to a boil. Remove and discard the bottom third of the broccolini stems. If some stems are very thick, cut them in half lengthwise.

When the water comes to a full boil, add the broccolini, return to a boil, and cook over high heat for 2 minutes, until the stalks are crisp tender. Drain and immediately immerse the broccolini in a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic and lemon juice and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broccolini and stir until heated through.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Ingredients

  • 3 medium baking potatoes peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 table spoon of bacon grease
  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mozzeralla cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature or warmed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan, cook the potatoes, garlic, and bacon grease in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan.

Add the butter, sour cream and garlic. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a fork until the ingredients are blended. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the potatoes are the desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with a wedge of melted butter and parsley.

And a look at the dinner table for the night. We are almost finished with the dining room! We will be changing out the light fixture and adding crown molding but for the most part this room is finished. I built this farm table for Philip’s birthday party and I am so glad that it fit into our dining room! It is over 8 feet long and not many dining rooms would hold this table comfortably. We ended up going with Eames chairs instead of benches like I planned and I am super happy with how these look! I love the mixture of modern and rustic.

A full look at the table ready for guests 🙂

The London Bridge painting is by my sister and is actually available for purchase. You can view her work here.

Cheers,

Savannah

What are we doing for dinner?

What are we going to do for dinner? The question that we ask each other every day and the question that we rarely have an answer for. We used to eat out about 5-6 times a week… yeah a lot. We don’t mind cooking, we actually enjoy trying new things and spending time together in the kitchen. But our schedule was pretty crazy for the first three years of our marriage and we just went with convenience. Plus I really didn’t like our old kitchen. Both our stove and oven did not cook evenly and our dishwasher did not clean worth a flip.

Then we moved into the square house and we had worked so hard on the kitchen that I actually wanted to cook again. We have all new appliances that work amazingly and we have been watching cooking shows that inspire us to get creative in the kitchen or in most cases in the summer, on the grill. We used to be vegetarian but we were running out of new things to fix all the time and I got so freaking tired of cooking the same thing over and over. So we are semi vegetarian… like 75% vegetarian these days 🙂

Tonight’s dinner was amazing. I found the base for the meal Pinterest but ended up changing it a bit based on what was in our fridge. The meal was simple, easy, and full of flavor! So many times I don’t want to cook because I feel like I don’t know how to add flavor and textures to my meals; our food just taste so bland all the time. As we have been experimenting more with flavors I’m slowly finding out how to combine the right ingredients to get the flavors we desire. Together we’ve also found out what we enjoy cooking together. I like finding new recipes and Philip enjoys grilling. Makes for a good team.

Here is what we had, Honey- Lime Chicken and Shrimp Skewers on a bed of Jasmine Rice:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use gluten free since I have a gluten intolerance)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoon Thai chile pepper sauce
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 can of pineapple chunks, keep the juice
  • 1 zucchini
  • broccoli florets
  • 1 green bell pepper sliced
  • 6 jumbo shrimp
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of Jasmine Rice

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine your ingredients, through the bell pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Pour marinade over chicken breasts and shrimp and turn to coat. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Place all meat, veggies, and pineapple on wooden skewers alternating items on the skewers (we had enough for 7 skewers)
  4. Heat grill and cook Jasmine Rice
  5. Grill on medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes per side, until juices run clear. (we cooked on a charcoal grill, loved the extra flavor the charcoal added)
  6. Grill Bell Peppers and serve with skewers.
  7. Serve over a bed of Jasmine Rice
  8. Enjoy.

What are your favorite recipes that you have cooked recently?

Savannah