As the More is More Mom®, I love more reasons to celebrate….Viva La France! Today is Bastille Day commemorating the French; their liberty, equality and brotherhood. How better to honor them than with a feast…….
Fancy French Cheese and Crackers
French Onion Soup
The French proudly wave their flag of blue, white and red, but truth be told, between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, I longed for a fresh color scheme. I chose to celebrate with a little bit of Parisian chic; black, white, turquoise and hot pink. Oo la la.
I am always a fan of a throw blanket as a table topper because they wash up so nicely (unless they have to be dry cleaned, but if it’s that special, then it’s totally worth it!). I tossed on this fabulous black and white zebra, slightly furry, throw. The pattern is so bold and graphic. I knew I wanted to incorporate beautiful, long stemmed flowers in my arrangement so that I could use my tall, glass pedestal vases (the ones that I used for my Terrariums back in June). I was at Whole Foods, otherwise known as Whole Paycheck, and believe it or not, I got the steal of the century; 2 bouquets, 10 stems a piece, of gladiolus, for $7.00. How completely fabulous is that? And they were STUNNING! I chose three beautiful bundles of varying shades of pink. Split in half, they made an amazing arrangement of 15 stems per vase.
It would be only natural for you to wonder why, exactly, I have so many fancy French items on hand. Well, I do all sorts of crazy events with unbelievable, over the top themes, and all of these items I just so happened to have in my prop closet (it’s not really a closet, it’s more like every nook and cranny in my house, including our crawl space and attic….my Nick’s toys are not alone, and they could throw a great, festive theme party!). Should you be so inclined, many of these sorts of items can be found at one of the greatest stores ever invented: Hobby Lobby.
In between the tall vases filled with varying shades of pink gladiolus, I placed a hot pink hat box (for a little height) sporting lots of little, black, Eifel Towers. Then I placed a miniature Eifel Tower, decorated with pink, dangling, crystals atop the hat box. I actually have two mini Eifel Towers and another one that stands three feet tall. One never knows when one will require an Eifel Tower or two. On each side of the table, to the right of the hat box, I placed one tall and one small, black, Fleur De Lis obelisk. I then placed a “Paris” sign to the left of the hat box to complete the sharp and bold centerpiece.
I grounded the place setting with round, hot pink, woven placemats. Once again, I pulled out my turquoise, scalloped chargers (really, who knew that turquoise could be so versatile?), and placed black and white toile dinner plates on top. I selected hot pink napkins to pull through the Napoleonic Bee napkin rings. Classic silver flatware and turquoise, glass highball glasses, embellished with Fleur De Lis were lovely compliments to my theme.
All good events begin with some tasty nibbles. I selected;
Table water crackers with a thin slice of Brie cheese, a dollop of raspberry preserves and a half slice of kiwi. The bitter, sweet and salty tastes were a heavenly combination.
On a small platter, I included toasted French bread, with two lovely cheese selections from Whole Foods;
Mimolette Aged French Cheese
Herve Mons Tomme Des Templiers
Grapes and nuts are always a welcome addition.
With the help of the wine guy at Whole Foods, I selected to very nice wines;
Sauvignon Blanc, Chateau Lestrille. $12.99 per bottle (a bargain….I’m drinking it as I write)
Cotes du Rhone Reserve, 2007, $10.99 per bottle and a twist off! My husband, Chuck, said it was really quite nice.
This is a beautiful and delicious summer dish, and oh so very fresh. One of its many charms is that it is all prepared in advance. Tasty and Convenient!
NOTE: You can use canned tuna, but I always feel that authentic ingredients add integrity to the dish.
Serves four generously…
2 tuna steaks
Pat steaks dry.
In a dish, sprinkle both sides with course salt (I used kosher).
Drizzle with olive oil on both sides.
Coat one side with cracked black pepper.
Put 2 Tbsp of olive oil into a nonstick skillet, over medium high heat.
Place tuna steak pepper side down. Sprinkle other side with pepper.
Cook, searing for 2 minutes.
Flip the steak over, reduce heat to medium and tent the pan with aluminum foil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, to desired doneness.
Remove from the pan, cool and cut into bite size pieces.
I am not typically a fish fan, but this was so good I would serve it on it’s own with a splash of lemon juice.
In a bowl, combine;
¼ cup chopped, fresh, parsley
¼ cup pitted nicoise olives (I used kalamata)
½ onion, thinly sliced (I absolutely love a purple onion)
The bite size tuna steaks (or canned tuna)
½ pound new potatoes quartered and cooked until tender, about 15 minutes in a pot of boiling water.
1/3 pound fresh green beans; rinsed, trimmed and blanched
Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, or overnight if you are planning ahead
This is a little slice of Heaven. So light and fresh!
In a bowl, whisk together;
½ cup olive oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
Use what you like; eliminate or substitute to your hearts desire….
3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp capers
4 anchovy fillets (I know I should be a grown up, but something about that grosses me out)
In a large bowl, toss salad greens (hearty is best) with the Lemon Vinaigrette, to your liking.
Top with the chilled potato, green bean and tuna mixture.
Garnish with your favorite toppings and enjoy……
French Onion Soup:
This has to be, by far, my very favorite soup.
Lets’ get the easiest thing out of the way first.
12 – 1/2” thick, baguette slices
1 large clove of garlic
Heat up your broiler.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Place baguette slices on cookie sheet, cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to totally brown the bread.
Rub the dried bread, on both sides, with the raw garlic clove (which gives a hauntingly delicious flavor).
Brush evenly with olive oil.
Return the bread to the broiler for another 2 minutes per side.
Place in a sealed container until ready to use. Can be made in advance.
The Onion Mixture:
In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt;
5 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 pounds of yellow onion; peeled, halved and cut into 1/4” slices. I used my mandolin and nearly sliced off my thumb. Not really, it was merely a flesh wound, but I am still wearing a band-aid.
¾ tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp of dried thyme
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Cook, stirring occasionally for 30-35 minutes. The onions will turn a very nice, medium golden brown.
1 Tbsp all purpose flour, stirring all the way through
10 cups of beef broth
1 cup of white wine
¾ cup of water
Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a quick simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, covered for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 450°
Place the oven proof soup crocks on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (always for the easy cleanup). Ladle the soup ¾ to the top, add 2 croutons.
Depending on the size of your bowl, place 2-3 slices of Swiss cheese over the opening of the bowl.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. If you are really impatient, you can switch the oven to broil and just watch the cheese melt, but really watch it.
Serve hot with the salad. You will think you are at a café in France rather than wherever you are right now….
Tomorrow, I can’t wait to share with you my recipe for homemade, out of this world fantastic, Chocolate Mousse. Until then….more Viva La France!!