Life in the Slow Lane

February 17, 2009

French recipes, films to complete that France-themed night

Filed under: Life — pauljlane @ 2:48 pm

As promised in print, here, courtesy of Gannett News Service, are some French recipes and France-related films to complete your France-themed night.

French-themed flicks
Here’s what to watch after you’ve eaten your perfect French meal:
“Beauty and the Beast” (1946, written and directed by Jean Cocteau)
“An American in Paris” (1952, starring Gene Kelly)
“To Catch a Thief” (1955, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly; directed by Alfred Hitchcock)
“And God Created Woman” (1957, starring Brigitte Bardot)
“The 400 Blows” (1959, directed by Francois Truffaut)
“Breathless” (1961, directed by Jean-Luc Godard)
“Belle du Jour” (1967, starring Catherine Deneuve)
“The French Connection” (1971, starring Gene Hackman)
“Last Tango in Paris” (1973, starring Marlon Brando)
“La Cage Aux Folles” (1979)
“Babette’s Feast” (1988)
“La Femme Nikita” (1991, directed by Luc Besson)
“French Kiss” (1995, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline)
“Chocolat” (2001, starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp)
“Amelie” (2001, starring Audrey Tautou)
“Paris, Je T’Aime” (2006)
“Ratatouille” (2007)
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (2007, starring Mathieu Amalric, directed by Julian Schnabel)
“La Vie En Rose” (2007, starring Marion Cotillard)

These recipes speak French to your palate
Make a meal from the menu items here to suit your tastes.
MOULES MARINIERES (MUSSELS IN WHITE WINE)
6 and one-half pounds cultivated mussels
two-thirds cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon saffron threads
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped shallots (10 to 15 shallots)
one-third cup minced garlic (12 to 15 cloves)
1 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained (8 ounces)
three-fourths cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
one-fourth cup fresh thyme leaves
2 cups white wine
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
To clean the mussels, put them in a large bowl with 4 quarts of water and flour and soak for 30 minutes, or until the mussels disgorge any sand. Drain mussels, then remove the “beard” from each with your fingers. If they’re dirty, scrub the mussels with a brush under running water. Discard any mussels whose shells aren’t tightly shut. Soak the saffron in one-fourth cup hot tap water for 15 minutes and set aside.
In a large (12-quart) non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the saffron with the soaking water, the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to be sure the mussels don’t burn on the bottom. Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.
COQ AU VIN (CHICKEN IN WINE)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 thick slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 (4-pound) chicken, cut into six pieces
1 handful flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
8 to 10 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, rinsed and halved (optional)
20 whole baby carrots, cut in half
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 large sweet onions, chopped, or 2 cups pearl onions
1 bottle red wine (white works, too)
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to a large plate.
Shake the chicken pieces with the seasoned flour in a paper or plastic bag.
Brown the chicken in the pot, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate with the bacon.
Saute the mushrooms (if using), carrots, garlic and onions in the pot until they just begin to brown, 5 minutes. Pour half the wine into the pan and cook over high heat for about 8 minutes.
Add the broth and the remaining wine. Bring to a boil and add the chicken, bacon, and herbs.
Return to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
one-fourth cup garlic cloves, peeled (about 1 head)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
one-fourth cup heavy cream, half-and-half or crhme fraiche
In a small saucepan, bring the garlic and oil to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly browned. Turn off the heat and set aside. The garlic will continue to cook in the oil.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the water, reserving the cooking water, and remove the garlic from the oil, reserving the oil.
Process the potatoes and garlic through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Add the reserved olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, cream and three-fourths cup of the cooking water to the potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon. Add more cooking water, if necessary, until the potatoes are creamy but still firm. Season to taste and serve hot. Makes 6 servings
TARTE TATIN (CARMELIZED APPLE TART)
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 large Honeycrisp or Braeburn apples, peeled and cored (8 ounces each)
Juice of 1 lemon
One-fourth cup unsalted butter
1 sheet Puff Pastry
4 mint sprigs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve all the sugar, then add the corn syrup. Turn the heat up to high. Use a pastry brush dipped in clean water to wash away the sugar deposits on the inside of the pan until the sugar stops splashing the sides. When the mix starts to caramelize and becomes a golden brown, take the caramel off the heat and immediately pour into four 8-ounce ramekin molds, to a depth of three-sixteenths of an inch each.
Slice the apples in half vertically. Lay the dome side down into the molds. Pour 1 teaspoon of lemon juice over each apple in the molds. Add 1 tablespoon of butter in the dip of each apple where the core used to be.
Roll out the puff pastry to one-eighth inch thick; allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Cut four, 4 and one-half inch circles with a fluted pastry wheel and place them on top of the apples.
Bake the apples in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. To check if the apples are done, use a paring knife to lift the puff pastry slightly. The apples are done when they look translucent; there should be no resistance in the apple.
Cool tarts slightly for about 5 minutes; turn the ramekins over onto a tray. Let the pastries sit for about 5 more minutes and take the molds off. Place a mint sprig at the top of the apple and serve with ice cream. Makes 4 individual servings.
POMMES FRITES (FRENCH FRIES)
3 and one-half pounds russet potatoes
Canola or peanut oil as needed
Salt as needed
Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch sticks (you can use a mandolin for this job). Hold the potatoes in cold water until you’re ready to blanch. Just before blanching the fries, pat them dry with clean linen or paper towel.
Add the oil to a deep fryer or a deep pot; there should be at least 2 or 3 inches of oil to fry the potatoes. Heat the oil to 300 degrees.
Blanch the potatoes in 2 batches. Maintain the oil temperature until the fries are cooked yet have no color, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
When you’re ready to serve the fries, heat the oil to 360 degrees and cook them in batches until they’re crisp and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon, sprinkle with salt, and serve immediately.
Note: The word “blanch” literally means to whiten. To blanch the fries means cooking without coloring. This two-stage cooking method will ensure a crisp surface with a fluffy interior. Makes 6 servings.
EPINARDS A LA CREME AUX OEUFS DURS (CREAMED SPINACH WITH HARD-BOILED EGGS)
8 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
3-4 pounds spinach, stems removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 shallot, minced
one-half teaspoon salt
one-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and spinach, pressing the spinach down into the water with a spoon. When the water returns to a boil, cook the spinach until just tender, about 2 minutes. Pour into a colander, then rinse with cold water to halt the cooking. Using your hands, squeeze the spinach dry. Chop coarsely and set aside.
In a frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. When it foams, add the shallot and saute until translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until the spinach has lost all of its moisture, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the salt and pepper, and stir in one-half cup of the cream. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and gradually adding the remaining one-half cup cream, until the mixture is thick and creamy, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.
To serve, spoon the spinach onto a warmed platter or shallow baking dish and arrange the egg halves down the middle. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

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