Friday, July 30, 2010

First dinner in France

I'm working a back-log of entries, so the dates are a little delayed from when I actually cooked some of this.  But I thought I'd write about the first meal I made during our vacation in France.  This was after I got over the alien infestation in my stomach and was able to stand without doubling over in pain and consume more than two bites of plain bread without my stomach turning into the gastrointestinal version of Mount St. Helen.  So, with that mostly behind me, I set out to cook for the 8 of us as I had originally promised to do.  Through sheer luck, and Trey's superior planning ability, I had everything I needed for a complete dinner except for vanilla, which was easily aquired at the store.

The first course was Potato Croquettes, not because I set out to make them but because there were 2 types of left over potatoes in the fridge and I hate having leftovers hanging around.  So the two leftover potato dishes got mashed up with cheese, butter, and bread crumbs, then dredged in rice crispies and fried.  I have to say I was quite impressed with the rice crispy outside.  It made a perfect coating.  They crisped up very fast, so I definitely wouldn't recommend using rice crispies for something that needs to cook all the way through, but for croquettes it was perfect.

The Panzanella Salad was the first time I had done it, and all I knew was that it consisted of fresh tomatoes, onions, and dried bread.  And since Trey likes caramellized onions so much, I decided to caramelize them and add them hot to the salad.  The only bad part was that I burned some of the bread, and the salad would have been a little better if I had let it sit for about 20min before serving it, that way te bread would have gotten a little softer and soaked up the juices.  But overall I was pretty pleased with the taste.

The chicken with pan sauce turned out fine, nice and tender but kind of unremarkable.  Which I guess was good since the kids liked it.

Desert was Croissant bread pudding, since we had a bunch of sweet croissants that we hadn't eaten and needed to be used or thrown out.  This one was pretty good, would have been better in a different baking dish.  And it DID NOT go well with the coffee icecream that I served it with for myself.  But luckily everybody else got to learn from my mistake and eat it without ruining it.

Potatoe croquettes
1 1/2 C Cooked Potatoes, mashed
3/4C Soft Cheese (cream cheese can substitute if you don't have access to really nice fresh cheese)
1/2C Milk (whole milk is best)
3/4C Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 C Rice Crispies, roughly crushed
1/2C Oil for frying

Mix potatoes, cheese, milk, salt, and pepper.  Consistency should be fairly stiff.  Add milk slowly to avoid making the mixture too soupy.  Add more bread crumbs to make it stiffer.  Shape into balls about the size of a golf ball.  Roll in rice crispies, pressing rice crispies into the balls and flattening the balls into disks.  Heat 1/4C oil in a pan until smoking.  Fry the croquettes until golden brown, about 2 min on each side.  Add more oil to the pan as necessary to keep the level at about 1/2in.  Serve immediately.

Panzanella salad
3 Fresh Tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 Loaf Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3T Olive Oil
3T Herbs d' Provence
1t Salt
2 Medium onions, chopped into slivers
3T Butter
1/4C Olive Oil
3T Dijon Mustard
1T Honey
2t Balsamic Vinegar
1/2t Salt
1/4t Pepper

Place bread cubes in a single later on a baking sheet.  Drizzle 3T Olive Oil over bread cubes, sprinkle Herbs d' Provence and 1t salt over bread, tossing to coat.  Toast under the broiler until dark brown, but not burned.  Remove and set aside.  Caramelize onions in 3T butter and set aside.  Whisk together olive oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in the bottom of a large bowl.  Add tomatoes, bread, and onions.  Toss to coat with dressing.

croissant bread pudding  - Recipe to come later.  Here is a link to a good one, just substitute croissant for bread  I'll put my actual recipe up later.

1 comment:

Thy said...

yum yum yum! i love panzenella too. Your version sounds scrumptious, with warm onions. I like to add fresh basil and garlic myself.