Paris, and all that I experienced in that amazing city, is still heavy on my mind. It is able to inspire me like nothing else... and, with Paris as my focus, I just hosted a dinner for six which included our friends next door. I was joined on this last trip to Paris by my neighbor Debbie, and this dinner resulted in a French collaboration between the two of us.
Never one to return from Paris empty-handed, I did some shopping while in France; how could I not? I brought back the Francoise Paviot paper napkins in the photo below, knowing they would be perfect for a dinner such as this. I also had an apron on my shopping list, but when I saw a "Blouse Laborant" (a stylish lab coat hanging next to the doctors' scrubs, of course) at MONOPRIX, a French store that I refer to as France's TARGET, I thought -- This is it! (Sorry, no photos of me in the lab coat...). But the best things I always bring back from a trip to Paris and France are the experiences I had, and the photos (this time numbering 1000). The best memories from this trip -- the food!
I hope you enjoy the party...
• French Cheese Platter
• Roquefort Soufflé
• Risotto with Sea Bass and Orange Oil
• Hazelnut and Mandarin Salad
• Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Parsley Oil, Almonds, and Carrot-Ginger Sorbet
• Almond Cream Apple Tart
Of the six courses that were served at my dinner, only two of them were not directly influenced by meals I had eaten in Paris -- the Hazelnut and Mandarin Salad and the Almond Cream Apple Tart.
With music by Jazz de Paris playing in the background (CD purchased while they were performing at the Sunday morning Rue Moufftard street market), we began the evening with a French Cheese Platter, consisting of a Comté and a triple crème that Debbie purchased at Fromagerie Barthélémy, 51 rue de Grenelle on the Left Bank. We served the cheese with Piscine Bocca, a Prosecco and strawberry drink we had (several times) at La Bocca Della Verita on rue du Sabot. (I made ours with Monin Strawberry Sirop added to the Prosecco, altho' the drinks in Paris were likely made with sweetened, puréed strawberries).
Debbie took a cooking class with Olivier Berte in his home kitchen (which Debbie would highly recommend to anyone wanting to take a cooking class while in Paris), and for our dinner's second course, made the Roquefort Soufflé that they made together there. It was perfect -- a light, moist and creamy interior with a nicely browned top.
< Debbie with her beautiful Roquefort Soufflé.
(photo taken on my husband's phone)
The Pièce de Résistance for me was the Chilled Cauliflower Soup with Parsley Oil, Almonds, and Carrot-Ginger Sorbet. I had this as my first course at l'Epi Dupin. Perfect, first of all, for the warm September, 80+ degree day -- it was a chilled soup! But it was the combination of tastes and textures that made this so appealing and so GOOD! You can't even imagine... There are several steps involved in creating all the parts to this soup, but you can start several days ahead, as I did, so when you finally are ready to serve it, it goes together in a flash. I made the soup (without the addition of the cream and the egg yolks) a week prior to the dinner and froze it. Three days before my dinner, I transferred it from freezer to refrigerator. The morning of the dinner I heated the soup, added the cream and egg yolks as the recipe called for, then chilled the soup until it was served that night. The parsley oil was made 3 weeks in advance and kept in a jar and refrigerated (Just be sure to pull it from the refrigerator at least an hour ahead of when you'll need it so the oil can come to room temperature). The Carrot-Ginger Sorbet was made 4 days before the dinner and stored in a container in my freezer. Toast some slivered almonds in a pan on top of your stove the day before you plan to serve the soup. Keep them in a small, air-tight container.
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the parsley and lightly fry for about a minute, infusing the oil with the parsley. Let rest until cooled somewhat and purée in a blender. Strain the parsley oil into a glass jar. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Bring back to room temperature before using.
CREAM of CAULIFLOWER SOUP | adapted from The Fundamental of Classic Cuisine by
The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate
• 2 heads cauliflower
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 leeks, white part only, finely sliced and well-washed (about 5 ounces)
• 3 ounces unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 2 quarts plus 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
• 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon heavy cream
• 2 large egg yolks
• Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Wash, core, and chop the cauliflower. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for several minutes, or until the leek has sweated its liquid but has not taken on color.
3. While stirring, sift the flour into the leek-butter mixture, and fully incorporate. Remove from the heat and set aside about 10 minutes, or until cooled slightly.
4. Place the stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam or particles with a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and, whisking constantly, add the hot liquid to the leek mixture.
5. When well blended, return the stockpot to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Immediately add the reserved cauliflower and return to a bare simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spatula to ensure that the bottom does not stick or burn, for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. If at any point the cauliflower sticks or scalds, remove the cauliflower from the heat, transfer the soup to a clean pot without scraping the burned portion into the new pot, and return it to the stove. Do not allow the soup to continue cooking once it sticks or burns.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and either pass the soup through a food mill or purée it in a blender. Once processed, pass through a chinois into a clean saucepan. (I do not own a chinois, but used a very fine strainer instead and slowly pressed through all of the puréed soup into a bowl. It is a slow process, but the results are a silky-smooth liquid). This is the point I poured the soup into a container and froze it for several days. Once defrosted, I proceeded with the last steps.
7. Place a saucepan with the cauliflower soup over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
8. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons cream and the 2 egg yolks. Whisk in some of the hot soup to temper the mixture before whisking it into the simmering soup. Taste, and if necessary, season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest, plus fresh squeezed orange juice to equal 1/2 cup
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3 cups carrot juice (available at Whole Foods)
• 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1. Mash orange zest with 1 teaspoon of the sugar to release the orange oils.
2. Combine orange and carrot juices. Stir in ginger, orange zest and remaining sugar and let stand until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Stir well and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 2 to 4 hours.
3. Pour into an ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer's directions.
4. Store in a container in the freezer.
• Ladle the chilled Cauliflower Soup into bowls. Drizzle with Parsley Oil, sprinkle with some Toasted Almonds, then add a scoop of the Carrot-Ginger Sorbet. Now, watch everyone's eyes light up when they taste this incredible soup!
• la fin •
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