Vive la France!
Say "Bonjour" to abundant flavour with a rich and satisfying French menu, ideal to serve on any special occasion.
Say ‘bonjour’ to abundant flavour to celebrate a special occasion.
Set the scene
Be elegantly feminine with your table setting for this menu. Choose soft colours like white, cream and brown, and add touches of pink, silver and copper. Find suitable illustrations on the internet and print them out to make table runners, placemats and so on from paper. Use white and pink roses or other multi-petalled flowers like peonies or carnations – arrange them in old trophies and other silver or copper containers. Tie a ribbon (preferably one in the colours of the French flag) around the handles or bases of the containers.
We made our table runners from sheets of beige paper and used the same paper for the menus. The delicate circular design on the table runner also serves as a form of charger plate. Stick the printed sheets together with double-sided adhesive tape.
Copy our template on page 99 onto beige cardboard to make these unusual napkin holders. Fold the napkin around the cardboard holder and secure it with decorative hatpins.
Choose a pretty illustration and typeface to make a place card for each guest. We printed ours on beige cardboard, cut them into squares and placed them on wooden cotton reels into which we had cut a groove.
Leek and watercress soup
Serves: 6 Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes
160g watercress (or use half watercress
and half spinach), plus extra to garnish
300g leeks, washed and thinly sliced
1 litre chicken stock
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and
125ml cream, plus extra to garnish
lemon juice, to taste
French baguette, sliced and toasted
1 Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to the boil. Add the watercress (and spinach if using) and cook until just wilted (2-3 minutes). Drain and transfer the watercress to a bowl of iced water. Leave until cool, then drain and squeeze out the water. Set aside. 2 Heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the leeks and 1ml salt. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the stock and potatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 Add the milk and watercress, then transfer to a liquidiser and blend until smooth. Return to the saucepan. Add the cream and reheat the soup. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot garnished with a swirl of cream and a piece of watercress. Serve slices of baguette on the side.
Beef short ribs in red wine
Serves: 6 Preparation time: 1 hour, plus marinating time Cooking time: approximately 4 hours Oven temperature: 160oc
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
750ml bottle dry red wine
3 bay leaves
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1,8kg beef short ribs
50ml sunflower oil
750ml prepared beef stock
250g streaky bacon, chopped
250g mushrooms of your choice, whole
or halved if they are larger
12 baby carrots, peeled and parboiled
16 baby onions, peeled and parboiled
30ml chopped flat leaf parsley
potatoes boulangère (recipe on page
72) and steamed green beans, to serve
1 Mix the garlic, thyme, wine, bay leaves, onion, celery and cloves together in a dish. Add the meat and turn it to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days. 2 When ready to cook, remove from the fridge and allow the meat to come to room temperature. Heat a heavybased saucepan or casserole dish over
a medium to high heat. Pat the meat dry with paper towel. Reserve the marinade. Pour some of the oil into the hot saucepan and add a few pieces of meat to the pan. Brown on both sides. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining oil and meat. 3 Pour the reserved marinade into a casserole dish and heat it along with the stock. Once the mixture comes to the boil, add the meat pieces. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper. Cover with the lid and allow the casserole to simmer very slowly for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender. 4 Remove the lid and paper. Transfer the beef pieces to a clean roasting tin or ovenproof casserole. Add the bacon, mushrooms, baby carrots and onions. Set aside. 5 Skim the excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Strain the cooking liquid then return it to the saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil for about 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced and thickened slightly. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the casserole dish and then cover. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until perfectly tender. Add the parsley and seasoning to taste. Serve with potatoes boulangère and green beans.
Serves: 6 Preparation time: 20 minutes Baking time: 1 hour Oven temperature: 180oc
1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
(preferably a waxy variety like Mondial)
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
500ml prepared vegetable stock or
50ml grated Parmesan
40ml freshly chopped parsley or chives
1 Grease a baking dish with some of the butter. Layer the potato and onion slices into the dish. Sprinkle the thyme between the layers. 2 Pour the stock over the potatoes and dot with the remaining butter. 3 Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Return to the oven and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese is melted and golden.
Plum tarte tatin
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 40 minutes Cooking time: about 45 minutes Oven temperature: 190oc
150g castor sugar
750g plums, quartered and pips
1 roll ready-made puff pastry
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream,
1 Heat the sugar over a low heat in an ovenproof frying pan. Once the sugar begins to melt, swirl it around to help it melt evenly, but don’t stir it. 2 When the sugar has melted and turned a golden colour, add the butter and swirl around again. Cook over a gentle heat for two minutes. 3 Add the plums to the pan, then remove from the heat. 4 Cut the pastry into a circle that is slightly larger than the pan. Place the pastry over the plums and press down around the edges so the plums are completely encased. 5 Put the pan into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the tart is golden and the pastry is puffed and crisp.
6 Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Hold a plate over the pan and then invert it. Remove the pan carefully. 7 Serve the tart sliced with a dollop of cream or vanilla ice cream.