A Meal Proposal2010-03-22
So here was the challenge … what meal do you prepare when you ask someone to marry you? What would it take for a meal to match the occasion and the questions? That was my challenge as I planned to ask Megan to be my wife. For us, we always tried to find a small thing to help us remember the special occasions: a photo, a picture from a place we had traveled, a bottle of wine … something. As I thought through the evening I was going to ask Megan, I thought back to one of these small mementos and our now extinct collection of 2001 Bordeaux wines and it came to me. What better way to say I love you then with a french dinner!
So with that I was off to select the recipes and the food. For me after many days of searching I reached back to a Saveur cook book “Authentic French” that I had not used for some time. Once again I was fascinated by the french cuisine, the pairings and cooking with wine, and the rich sauces. Here was our meal:
“Blanquette” de Veau (Veal Stew)
- 2 lbs boneless veal cut into 1-2″ cubes
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 small leek (white parts only) washed and chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tbsp capers, drained
- salt and pepper
Season veal with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Heat oil (med-high) and brown veal in oil by turning in batches so as not to crowd the pot (5 mins). Remove pieces and set aside. Add onion and garlic to pot, return veal and cook, stirring frequently,until onions are golden. Add wine, leek, thyme,and bay leaves to the pot. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 mins. Add stock. Cover pot and continue to simmer for 1 1/2 hrs until veal is tender.
Remove veal from pot with slotted spoon and set aside. Squeeze both halves of lemons into sauce and then add the squeezed-out shells. Stir in cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 30 mins. Discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves and lemon halves. Transfer sauce to food processor and puree until smooth. Filter through a fine mesh sieve and return to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then return the veal to reheat for 1 mins. Stir in capers just before serving.
Tian de Legume (Mediterranean Vegetable Casserole)
- 1 med eggplant, peeled
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally
- 6 ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 3-4 leaves of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano)
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
- Salt and pepper
Cut eggplant into 1″ cubes and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and place in colander to drain for 30 mins. Cook onions and garlic in 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet until a light golden brown. Transfer to baking dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add 2-3 tbsp oil to skillet and then add eggplant and cook until tender and slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and stir into onion mixture. Arrange the zucchini and tomato slices in alternating diagonal layers over the eggplant. Top with herbs, drizzle remaining oil over tomato and zucchini and then add salt and pepper and herbs. Bake for 30-40 mins. Before serving sprinkle with cheese.
Gratin Dauphinois (Potatoes baked in Milk and Cream)
- 2 lbs large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Arrange layers of slightly overlapping potato slices in an 8 cup gratin dish. Mix milk and cream together in a bowl and then pour over potatoes until completely covered. Bake for 1 1/2 hrs. Increase temp to 400 degrees. Remove pan from oven and generously season top with fresh nutmeg, salt and pepper. Return to oven and bake until brown, about 30 mins.
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