Monday, July 14, 2008

Vive la France! Vive l'oeuf!

Today is Bastille Day. In honor of the storming of the Bastille in 1789 I wanted to make a feast that would make Talleyrand himself sing! Unfortunately, as is often the case the day before we pick up our farm share, I had a pantry that would make Robespierre weep.

So, as is the challenge on the days we are not wading in fresh produce, the challenge became to see what I could do with the shabby collection of ingredients I had on hand. Tonight's challenge: Make the most authentic French meal possible without purchasing any auxiliary ingredients.

I started by wanting to make a Salade niçoise. The only ingredient I had on hand that I could really, truly say belongs in a Salade niçoise was tomato and egg. So I hard boiled some eggs for the salad. Both Jen and I kinda hate hard boiled eggs but the crazy French love to put hard boiled eggs on everything (that's something I learned at culinary school) so I figured this was one tiny area where I could really go for authenticity. I served the egg over some tender greens (instead of crispy greens) and topped with lemon, olive oil and topped with marinated Portuguese (Portugal is pretty close to France when you think about it) sardines.

The next step was to make Potatoes au Gratin (this is French for Potatoes with Gratin). I was able to use up some old half and half, the rest of our Parmesan and all of the potatoes in our fridge to make this dish.

I had some salmon and some nice mustard so I marinated the salmon in the mustard (flavored with shallot and balsamic vinegar) and topped it with some breadcrumbs before baking it in the oven. It was actually panko that I use. Panko is what they call Japanese breadcrumbs. French Japanese breadcrumbs.

And I finished it all up with a little épinard sauté.

I served "French" goat cheese with a "baguette" before the dinner. Some dinner guests complained that the baguette was a bit too round to be classified as a traditional baguette. I say that those guests lacked vision. Also, those guests hated France for their freedom.

For dessert I made a quick crêpe batter and began by making something Jen refers to as the "crap crêpe" (see above). Jen has a theory that the first crêpe always gets ruined and she christened this theory The Crap Crêpe Theory. I did not subscribe to this theory. Then I made my first crêpe (see above).

The next crêpe turned out much better and I topped it with some fake Nutella (not brand name, but actually much more delicious).

And there you have it! An authentic French meal, just like the French eat! Sacré bleu! Mon dieu! Qu'est-ce que c'est? Charles de Gaulle!


Jen said...

I wish I did not hate hard-boiled egg whites, but I really, truly do. They have a disgusting texture.

But the low(er)-fat gratin and the crepe were a success! And you failed to note a major provision in the Crap Crepe theory: that even though the crap crepe looks terrible, it is usually delicious.

Lisa Marie said...

What? No Les Mis joke for Bastille Day? For Shame!