Monday, July 16, 2012

Allons enfants de la patrie

Le jour de gloire est arrive!

I received a wonderful new French cookbook a couple of days before Bastille Day.

Since I didn't have tickets to the Knox Heritage Summer Supper celebrating Bastille Day (Click here for photos of that event), I decided to throw together a last-minute Bastille Day Dinner Party and invite a few guinea pigs (uh, guests sounds better, doesn't it?) to test some recipes. I am loving this cookbook! 

I pulled out an old tablecloth.  

Rustic dishes and lots of wine glasses added to the ambiance. One of my friend Cynthia Markert's prints in the background didn't hurt. (For more about Cynthia and her art, click here.)

We gathered in the mews at Kendrick Place (for the uninitiated, that's the alley between the two rows of townhouses) for nibbles (sweet & spicy nuts and cheese wafers) and apperitifs (kir, kir royale, or kir cardinale--your choice). 

I was so busy making sure the guests were happy that I forgot to take photos of the first course. But, as you can see, all had a good time in the mews.

Even looks a little French, oui? That's Bob Whetsel, Bill Lyons, and Rick and Alta Emmett enjoying the first course way down at the shady end of the mews.

Melynda Whetsel, one of my plant muses, checked out the greenery and offered me advice on my sickly rosemary: "Chop it way back!"

We moved to the kitchen table for the second course.

Mini waffles with smoked salmon, scallions, creme fraiche, and chives. It was a hit.

All of the recipes served came from the new cookbook except for the salad. There's not exactly a recipe, but it's really good.

Spring mix, blueberries, tiny Roquefort squares, and a drizzle of blueberry balsamic from The Tree & Vine, the newest business on Union Avenue. (Read about it on my friend Cynthia Moxley's blog, The Blue Streak.)

We tore off pieces of the baguettes all night. 

I got busy and missed taking a photo of the salmon and tomatoes en papillotte and the pancetta green beans before they were eaten. They were so pretty--and delicious. What can I say? It's hard to serve six courses--and take photos of all of them! 

Afterwards, we grabbed some bottles of wine and our glasses and headed four flights up to the roof. 

The cheese course!

And an extra treat: 

With Rick playing the guitar, we had a John Prine singalong. Things were getting pretty laid back by this time.

Bob Whetsel (left) took off his shoes and assumed a comfy position while Rick played.

Love this photo of Alta and Melynda! Sunsphere in the background.

I'd planned to serve dessert back downstairs in the kitchen, but we all agreed it was simply too lovely on the roof to leave it. (Where's that dumbwaiter when I need it???) Fortunately, crepes, lemon curd, lemon sauce, and 6 forks and dessert plates don't weigh much

Crepe filled with lemon curd, drizzled with lemon butter sauce.

Melynda enjoying her crepe. 

A glorious Bastille Day--that's what we're having. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Okra Fries

That's right. Not fried okra, okra fries.

It all started when I ran into friends, Randall De Ford and Wes Goddard, at the Market Square Farmers' Market this morning. A discussion of Juliet tomatoes, different kinds of eggplant, and uses of okra led to their describing how they make okra fries. I'm not sure if mine are anything like theirs, but we liked them. Thanks for the suggestion, Randall & Wes!

I sliced the okra in half lengthwise and rubbed a little bit of a paste made of minced ginger and garlic on each. Then I combined a spice mixture called Dukkah (from Trader Joe's), cayenne, turmeric, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a little flour, and tossed the okra with it. I let it sit for a while before frying and served them with a squirt of lime juice. Delicious!

To complement the okra fries, we had grilled eggplant. The green stuff is simply a combination of flat leaf parsley and mint tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I also tossed in some Dukkah since it was sitting there.

Mango salad--nothing but mangos, olive oil, lime juice, and red pepper flakes.

Grilled salmon seasoned with one of my favorite rubs, Potlatch Seasoning (fromWilliams-Sonoma).

It was a little warm for grilling tonight, but we stayed cool with a pitcher of mango margraritas.

Yummy okra fries--and more. That's what we're having.