The night of my dinner party was the first really cold night here in Greece, and it set the tone well for my Fall French Bistro fare. (Admittedly, cold for us here is 45-50F…I still cannot convert to Celsius!)
It was also Halloween night!! I nearly forgot, but my friends Peggy and Ted brought a huge, hella festive cake. I used to live in San Francisco, so I still use lame words like “hella” sometimes. forgive me. Here’s a pic:
So we kept some of the American tradition alive!
The rest of the meal, however, was very French. As I mentioned in my last post, the menu was: Smoked Salmon Mousse, Blanquette de Veau, Pomme Anna, Two Cheese Plates, and Chocolate Mousse with Candied Almonds.
Making this salmon mousse is effortless and decadent.
I whipped up chopped bits of smoked salmon with marscapone, a drizzle of lemon juice, and sea salt & pepper. You can also use ricotta cheese, or any smooth farmer’s cheese. You may prefer ricotta if you want a lighter, airier texture. The mascarpone makes a thicker texture.
The ratio is 1/2 cup cheese for every 200 grams salmon. This makes enough for 12 people to have 2 or 3 bites. 20 minutes before guests arrived, I spread them on round melba toasts, and topped each one with a caper and some dill.
Meanwhile, my blanquette de veau and potato tart (pomme anna) was re-heating.
The heavenly veal-mushroom-parsnip-carrot-leek aroma filled the kitchen. I snuck a bite and the meat was like butter. Boiling the veal first and then letting it stew in broth must be the most effective technique I’ve used for preparing veal. I used this recipe from epicurious, but instead of celery root, I used parsnips, and instead of pearl onions, I used leeks. I highly recommend using leeks. They unravel and absorb beautifully into the stew. I also used half chicken broth and half beef broth.
Right before serving I made the “white sauce” by making a roux of butter and flour and then adding cooking juices, and some heavy cream.
Honestly, the veal tastes amazing even without this sauce. But I really do like this very thin gravy that almost gets totally soaked into the meat. It adds a very subtle creamy-ness. My boyfriend Niko, who hates creamy sauces, did not even notice the cream.
I made my Pomme Anne and while everyone seemed to like it, I prefer a light potato gratin with chicken stock made with thicker slices of potato. So I will go back to that recipe next time. Here’s a picture though:
I loved this simple salad. Very few ingredients with BOLD flavors: Spicy arugula, licorice fennel, and a citrus orange vinaigrette:
For the orange vinaigrette I mix a few tbs of sherry vinegar, 2 tbs honey, (1 tbs of dijon if i want it creamy and a bit spicy), 1 tbs diced garlic, 2 tbs orange zest, and juice of one orange. Whiz this up and add olive oil until it is to your desired taste and texture.
I made two cheese plates. One was a peppercorn blue cheese that I drizzled lightly with honey. The other was baked camembert spread with apricot jam and sprinkled with thinly sliced almonds.
So this was the meal! I thought of serving cheese after dinner along with dessert like the French…but I worried no one would have any room.
We all made room for dessert though! Now, I love chocolate mousse. But I think there needs to be some variety to its one-note smooth texture. I love the airy quality, but something hard or crunchy makes it all the better in my opinion. I made candied almonds to top it with, and it worked well.
I piped the mousse onto every plate and topped with the almonds. Again, very quick yet very elegant.
You can eat the candied almonds all by themselves! Totally addictive. And it takes 15 minutes! Just put 1 cup thinly sliced almonds, and 1 cup sugar in a pan and stir constantly over medium heat. Once toasted, golden, and the sugar has melted and sticks to the almonds, youre done! Store in an airtight container until you use them, and try not to eat them all before your party!
We had such a nice night. My friends brought that great cake and some very good red wine. We chatted, savoured, laughed, indulged. It was my version of a wonderful night.