French Bistro Supper

What does one do with a lovely bottle of Burgundy? Create a French meal to help savor every last delightful drop. I chose a very simple menu that would allow the wine to shine.

St. Nectaire

St. Nectaire

And what better way to kick off a French meal (and end it for that matter — we did both) than with a wedge of simple French cheese? I layered slices of the cheese over freshly grilled peach halves and draped everything in prosciutto. Not exactly textbook French, but still a delightful start to a meal.

Mushrooms ready for the grill

Mushrooms ready for the grill

Julia Child's Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Marinated Mushrooms

Julia Child’s Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Marinated Mushrooms

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Fruit, Fruit and More Fruit!

I simply could not restrain myself in the face of all the gorgeous summer fruit at the Farmer’s Market. The peaches, the plums, the nectarines, the apricots — they have all been unbelievably juicy and sweet this season.

DDmarketpeaches

Perfect Peach

Perfect Peach

I turned half of my haul into fruit-loaded refrigerator jam spiked with cinnamon-basil, pineapple-sage and vanilla.

Ready to magically turn into jam

Ready to magically turn into jam

Finished product

Finished product

Supper Club

Our Supper Club kicked of its 3rd year running with a regional, Italian-themed dinner on Saturday evening.  I spent the day making one of my favorite (and rather unusual) dishes: vitello tonnato from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. Oh how I love this dish! I hate to tell people what it is — veal in tuna sauce — as it sounds very weird to the American ear and dining palate. Don’t let the description scare you, it’s divine.

First, a hunk o’ veal is braised slowly in white wine, herbs, chunks of onions and shredded, top-quality Italian tuna. Yep, braised in Italian tuna.

Veal submerged under onions and covered with wine and shredded tuna

Veal submerged under onions

After the veal bath, the meat is then cooled and coated with a homemade, mayonnaise-based sauce. It tastes so decadent and rich, it’s hard to believe it isn’t filled with butter and cream. The sauce is simply comprised of egg yolks, olive oil, veal broth, caper juice, lemon juice and, yep, you guessed it, Italian tuna. The whole thing is whipped into oblivion and tastes just like summer. If you are even remotely adventurous in the food department, I urge you to try this dish.

This dish was also super easy to bring to the Supper Club dinner as it can be made ahead of time and there is no last-minute prep. The vitello tonnato was the first course in our multi-course Italian meal. The hosts kicked off the dinner with a platter of roasted eggplant and tomatoes with fresh, homemade bread. A fabulous, herb-crusted pork loin and pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil rounded out the meal. To finish? A spectacular tiramisu, of course. Once again, another successful Supper Club adventure.

Weekly Menu — 8/17/2013

Week of August 17th

Saturday:
  • Supper Club tonight. The theme is regional Italian and we are charged with bringing a first course. I am making one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes from the region of Piedmont — Vitello Tonnato – or veal in tuna sauce. I know it sounds weird, but it’s delicious. Tender, poached veal is sliced thin and bathed in a wonderfully thick savory, eggy, custardy sauce. It’s served chilled or at room temp, so it’s perfect for summer dining.

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Sunday:
  • Grilled peaches with St. Nectaire cheese and prosciutto: Grill halved peaches. Top with a wedge of St. Nectaire cheese while still on the grill. Remove from heat and drape with the prosciutto. Certainly pecorino romano would also be delicious with this. We’re trying to give this meal a French twist as we have a beautiful bottle of Burgundy to open this evening.
  • Grilled pork tenderloins with allspice rub a’la Julia Child
  • Grilled Farmer’s Market mushrooms or fresh wilted swiss chard, whatever looks enticing today

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Monday:
  • Leftover pork tenderloin
  • Grilled corn on the cob
  • Fresh green salad with red plums and blue cheese

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Tuesday:

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Wednesday:
  • Fresh fish from Frank’s Seafood Market
  • Apricot, fennel and baby greens salad 

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Thursday:
  • Leftover Indian chicken

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Friday:
  • DATE NIGHT!

Suvir Saran’s Braised Indian Chicken in White Sauce with Garam Masala

I like to serve this with brown rice and any number of Indian pickles or relishes — preferably homemade.

INGREDIENTS

3 medium red onions, quartered

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

1/3 cup canola oil

1 inch piece cinnamon stick

12 green cardamom pods, pounded in a mortar and pestle just to break open the shells

16 whole cloves

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon coriander seeds

5 bay leaves

¼ tsp. white or black peppercorns

3 whole dried red chile peppers

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 cup plain yogurt

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in small pieces

¾ cup hot water

½ teaspoon garam masala

½ cup heavy cream (optional)

PREPARATION

Combine onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and process until finely minced.

Combine the oil, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and dried red peppers  in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon stick unfurls and the spices brown lightly, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add onion mixture and salt.  Cook until onion turns light brown.  Add water, 1 tsp. at a time if onion starts sticking.  Add ground coriander and cook 1 minute.  Add 3 TBSP yogurt and cook until yogurt is entirely blended and the moisture has evaporated.  Continue adding yogurt slowly until incorporated.  Add chicken and cook 5 minutes.  Add hot water and stir.  Boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Stir in garam masala and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in cream, if using, and remove from heat.  If you can, allow the dish to rest for 1 hour so the flavors can marry.  Season with additional salt and a drizzle of cream, if desired.

From Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.