Going Country, French-Style

Going Country

Monday:                   Salad of Lamb with Endive, Roquefort and Walnuts

Country Potage with dog

Country Potage and Dog

Tuesday:                   Simple Vegetable Potage, Toasted Baguette

Arugula Penne

Wednesday:            Arugula Pesto Penne

Glazed chicken

Thursday:                 Glazed Five-Spice Chicken

Meatballs

Friday:                       Beez’s Spaghetti with Meatballs, Salad

Saturday:                  Birthday Party for Emily’s mom, Michelle

Sunday:                     Country Terrine with Home-Made Baguette / Salad

WHAT ABOUT THOSE PITTSBURGH POTATOES Well, Janice’s recipe turns out to be complicated and lengthy and not written down.  So, having transcribed her directions, I’m sending them back to her for emendation, and my prediction is that we’ll have this recipe for you by next week.

You can see that, yet again, we were lucky enough to be invited out to dinner.  But this was a very special dinner, attached to a surprise birthday party for Michelle organized by her daughter, Emily, Billy’s beautiful, athletic and witty girlfriend.  Michelle and the twins, Sam and Joe, live in a rambling, cozy house in the spectacular town of Sewickley, Pennsylvania and people came from New Jersey, West Virginia and Massachusetts to celebrate with Michelle.  I would guess there were 50 people, at one time or another, including the elegant matriarch of the family.

Meanwhile, back in Fox Chapel, what’s this about country cooking?  I have recently received two new cookbooks, both of which are inspiring:

French Country Cooking by the fetching Mimi Thorisson and Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.  The first book is as beautiful as the author and was my birthday gift from the also beautiful Beez, and the second, a gift from Jimmy Kennedy, has already changed the way I cook.  If you want to understand the bones of cooking, not simply follow recipes, get Samin’s book.  If you’re hesitating, cook her recipe for Glazed Five-Spice Chicken and you’ll be convinced.

As for French Country Cooking – the food in that book, and the chance of meeting Mimi have me looking at properties in the Médoc.  The salad on Monday was great, the vegetable potage on Tuesday was spectacular and the terrine we had with Billy and Emily after Patrick Reed’s gutsy win at the Masters last Sunday was the best food I’ve made in a year.

We’re going to share the Potage, since it’s simple and good and you can cook it tonight.  The terrine takes three days and some special equipment – but it is not difficult and if you promise to share some with me, I’ll find a way to get the recipe to you.

SIMPLE VEGETABLE POTAGE

(Adapted from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson)

 Timing:                 45 Minutes – Can be done ahead and reheated

Ingredients:          Serves 4 good eaters, 6 wimps

1 lb. 5 oz of medium carrots, peeled and diced (We used 1 lb., which is
what we had in the refrigerator)
2 russet potatoes peeled and diced (we used maybe 8 medium white potatoes and didn’t peel them, but if you use russets, do peel them)
1 large leek, finely chopped (we stuck with the recipe here!)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Quart Chicken Stock
2/3 cup heavy cream – more for serving.  (We didn’t use any for serving)
1 teaspoon tomato paste (we left this out altogether – and I suggest you do, as well)
Fine Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper
Fresh chives, finely chopped

Prep:

Peel, dice and chop carrots, potatoes and leek.  Don’t chop chives until ready to serve.  Measure out other ingredients.

Cook:

In a large pot – we used a stainless-steel Dutch oven – melt the butter over medium-low.  Add the carrots, potatoes and leek.  Cook, stirring from time to time, until vegetables are slightly tender – maybe 5 minutes.

Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Now pour in the stock and bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce the heat, and cook for 30 minutes.

Puree the soup, preferably using an immersion blender (we used a stand blender).

Whisk together the cream and tomato paste and blend into the soup (we forgot this step and loved the soup – so I’m going to keep cooking this soup without the cream and tomato paste in the future.)

Reheat over low before serving with a dash of chives and a drizzle of cream (we omitted the cream).

We also served with toasted baguette.  This soup is as good as the best vichyssoise you’ve ever had.

April Snow in the ‘hood

Cheese Plate with Homemade Baguette

3 thoughts on “Going Country, French-Style

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