Vive la France!

Say "Bon­jour" to abun­dant flavour with a rich and sat­is­fy­ing French menu, ideal to serve on any spe­cial oc­ca­sion.

Ideas Entertainment - - Contents -

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.

Ta­ble run­ners

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.

Nap­kins

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.

Place cards

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

45ml but­ter

300g leeks, washed and thinly sliced

1 litre chicken stock

2 medium-sized pota­toes, peeled and

cubed

500ml milk

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

2 cloves

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.

Pota­toes boulangère

Serves: 6 Prepa­ra­tion time: 20 min­utes Bak­ing time: 1 hour Oven tem­per­a­ture: 180oc

50ml but­ter

1kg pota­toes, peeled and thinly sliced

(prefer­ably a waxy va­ri­ety like Mon­dial)

2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

fresh thyme

500ml pre­pared veg­etable stock or

chicken stock

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

50g but­ter

750g plums, quar­tered and pips

re­moved

1 roll ready-made puff pas­try

whipped cream or vanilla ice cream,

to serve

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.

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