We're having some old family friends over tonight, on a workday, so I decided to splurge a little on French food that can mostly be made ahead of time.Appetizers:
Camembert with Poached Figs
Good crusty breadDinner:
Mesclun with tarragon, chives, parsley, and a light vinaigrette
More of that good breadChateau Lorane 2006 Organic Marechal Foche
(Dessert is coming with them, sounds like apple pie)
About the recipesCamembert and figs:
I'm mostly following this Epicurious recipe
, but leaving out the blue cheese (because YUCK! blue cheese is icky), and poaching the figs in some unsweetened plum juice with a little vanilla extract (and maybe a dash of marsala) instead of port b/c we have a no-alchohol guest coming. I've already poached the figs, and I'll toast the cheese just before serving.Minted eggplant:
I sliced a large eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 pieces, brushed them heavily with olive oil, then sprinkled them with salt, cardamom, ginger, anise and cumin, and baked them at 450 degrees in the toaster oven for about 15 minutes, until they looked yummy. Cooled them, sliced them into long skinny pieces, and will sprinkle with freshly shredded mint from the garden just before serving.Salad:
Bad Cohen and I went to the market separately thinking we needed salad greens, so we have a LOT of mesclun sitting in the fridge. I'll augment it with some mild herbs from the garden, and dress lightly, as a nice fresh accompaniment to the richness of the chicken.Lime-marsala Chicken:
When I was 15, my family took a 2-week vacation to Spain and France, revisiting all the places my parents had loved living in before I was born. In Paris, I had the most amazing Lime Chicken dish at a little bistro. It's taken 20 years, but I finally re-created it:
2-3 Tbsp butter*
splash of exrta-virgin olive oil
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt, onion powder, garlic powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
big splash Marsala wine (maybe 1/4 cup?)
grated zest of 2 limes
juice of 1 lime
Put a large, heavy nonstick pan on medium high heat. Immediately add the butter and olive oil, to melt as the pan heats up.
While it's heating, put a big pile of flour on a plate, and season the chicken thighs with some salt, onion poweder, and garlic powder. When butter is melted, swirl it around the pan, then dredge each piece of chicken in flour, shaking off the excess, and add it to then pan. (You may need to do this in batches - just push the cooked ones up to the sides of the pan and add the second batch in the middle.)
As soon as all the chicken is in the pan, add the onions - try to get them in the butter and not just on top of the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, and let the onions get nice and caramelized.
Squeeze the garlic into the pan with a garlic press, and stir for 30 seconds or so.
Add the marsala to deglaze, stir everything gently, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Turn heat down to medium low, and let it cook for a while (10-15 minutes or so). You can add a little water, if it seems to be getting too dry - there should be a decent amount of sauce in the pan.
When the chicken is cooked through, add the lime zest and juice. Stir gently again, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes. You can let it sit like this for a while before serving, or even chill and reheat - it will be just as good the next day. I made mine yesterday and will warm it up in the oven tonight.(*Note: we eat dairy with chicken and fish, but not red meat. If you do standard kashrut, you'd want to throw in some other kind of fat at the beginning to make the roux, maybe add a little chicken fat for richness.)