Sundays are a time to enjoy good food, family, and friends. When everyone is seated around the table it can feel as cozy as Thanksgiving. A Sunday meal that lingers on for hours can be a true pleasure. Imagine a table with plenty to eat and the hum of good conversation and laughter, it can feel festive (even if it’s not a holiday).
If you’ve ever seen the French movie, “A Sunday in the Country” you know the kind of Sunday I mean, a relaxing summery Sunday with a French country kind of feel. A meal surrounded by beautiful gardens, and exquisite yet simple foods. Maybe after the meal you will take a nap, read a book, sip some tea, take a swim…these little pleasantries are simple yet heavenly, especially on a Sunday.
People eat a bit more slowly on Sundays, drink a little more wine and purposely lose track of time.
I imagine Claude Monet had many Sundays spent like this in Giverny.
When The Julia Child Book Club met last Sunday to discuss the book Claude and Camille it was as if we’d stepped back in time to the French country side and became oblivious to the time. After all, it was TIME that we took a little more of, and eventually lost track of.
I read that Monet believed beautiful dinner service was one of the keys to a successful meal. This seems so French to me. It’s all about the details in the preparation that make a meal special and memorable.
I hope this brings you inspiration to have your own French country Sunday. And please, remember to take your time. Salut et bon appétit!
Recipes from the Julia Child Book Club:
6 T unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 C water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 ½ C flour
6 large eggs
2 C coarsely shredded gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 400. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; then remove from the heat and stir in the pepper and the flour with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium. Return to the heat and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to film the bottom of the saucepan, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time. The dough should have the consistency of a thick mayonnaise. Stir in 1 ½ C of cheese. On a buttered and floured baking sheet drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough, spacing them 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with remaining ½ C cheese. Bake about 25 minutes, until the puffs swell to almost triple in size and become golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Ashley’s Soupe Au Pistou
2 medium leeks
3 stalks celery
2 medium carrots
6 slices pancetta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound small red potatoes
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon Herbes de Provence
Salt to taste
Clean and dice the leeks, celery, carrots and potatoes into approximately 1/2 inch pieces or slices, as the case may be.
Slice the bacon into 1 inch slices, and in a large pot, cook the bacon until mostly crisp.
Add the olive oil and the vegetables, and sauté over medium heat until the leeks and carrots start to get a little tender, then add the chicken broth and water, add a pinch or two of salt, cover, and simmer over medium low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, cut the zucchini into 1/2-1 inch pieces, and when the potatoes are starting to get tender, the zucchini. Salt to taste.
For the pistou:
4 oz basil, leaves only
¼ cup pine nuts
2 ounces parmesan
¼ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and process until it forms a smooth paste.
To serve, ladle the soup into large bowls, and top with a large spoonful of pistou.
Linda’s Lemon Basil Sorbet
3 C water
2 C sugar
2 T lemon zest, divided
1 ½ C fresh packed basil
3 C fresh lemon juice
Prepare a lemon simple syrup with the water, sugar and 1 ½ T of the lemon zest by combining all three in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cook mixture until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat. Once the simple syrup is ready, add the basil and salt. Let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours, or overnight. Strain the chilled mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Turn on the ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and mix until thick.
1/2 cup rice
4 quarts rapidly boiling water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (one-half stick) butter, plus 2 tablespoons softened butter
2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon minced parsley.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Drop the rice into the boiling water to which has been added the salt. Boil five minutes exactly and drain immediately.
Heat the 1/4 cup of butter in a three-quart flameproof casserole and when it is foaming, stir in the onions. When they are well-coated with butter, stir in the rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cover and cook very slowly in the oven for one hour, stirring occasionally. The rice and onions should become very tender and will usually turn a light golden yellow. Taste and re-season. (The recipe may be prepared to this point several hours in advance. Reheat before proceeding.)
Just before serving, stir in the cream and cheese and then the softening butter.
Olga’s Potato Galettes
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1/4 tsp crumbled dried rosemary
1/4 tsp crumbled dried thyme
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grate the potatoes roughly. Using a large bowl, mix the potatoes with the rosemary, thyme, green onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, stir together the butter and the oil. Brush the bottom of a small cast-iron skillet with some of the butter mixture. Heat the mixture over moderately high heat until it begins to sizzle. Ladle a layer of the potato mixture approximately 1/4 inch thick and fry over medium heat for several minutes, until the base is golden brown. Flip and brown the other side.
Margot’s pork tenderloin Wellington and gravy
Seasoned the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Sear in a bit of olive oil to brown on all sides. About 1 1/2 minutes each side. Transfer to a cutting board to drain and let cool off completely.
Use the frying pan with the drippings and melt 1/2 stick of butter. Add 1/2 onion (thinly sliced) and sauté till golden. Add 8 oz of white mushrooms and sauté until they are starting to brown. Add white wine (1/2 cup) and reduce. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and reduce. Taste and add salt, pepper and finish with heavy cream to get consistency you like. It will thicken as you finish.
In another pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 small onion (thinly sliced) and sauté for about 4 min. Add 16 oz of white mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and liquid is evaporated. Add 1/4 cup of Sherry and cook until mixture is dry, about 4 min. Add some freshly chopped parsley and cool to room temperature.
On a floured surface roll out puffed pastry into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick. If using store bought you may have to overlap two pieces. Put some of the mushroom mixture in the center of the pastry. Place tenderloin on top of the mixture. Top the tenderloin with more of the mixture as well as the sides. Fold the long sides of the pastry and seal the seam with egg-wash. Trim the ends if necessary and fold up and seal. Place the tenderloin onto a baking sheet seam down. Chill for at least 2 hrs or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400. Place a baking sheet on the center rack until hot about 15 min. Brush the top of the tenderloin with egg-wash and cut 2 – 3 slits to let the steam vent. Carefully transfer the tenderloin onto the preheated baking sheet and bake until the pastry is golden brown. About 60 minutes. Cover with foil if it gets too brown during cooking. Let rest on the cutting board for 10 min before slicing.
Terri’s Chocolate Tarte
A word about the chocolate for this recipe before you begin. Good quality chocolate is essential for this recipe. I use chocolate that has an absolute minimum of 50 % cocoa. I think darker is better but tastes vary.
For the pastry:
½ cup butter, cut in small pieces
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sift together flour sugar and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives, leaving small peas sized pieces of butter throughout the mixture. Add egg and vanilla and mix together only enough to make a dough form. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a half hour before rolling out.
You can make your dough the previous day but make sure you take it out of the fridge for 10 minutes to warm slightly before rolling out.
Roll the dough into a 12 inch round and place in the bottom of a 10 inch tarte pan or pie plate. You will need to blind bake this crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F before adding the filling. Blind baking is essential so that the bottom crust will not get soggy.
To blind bake a crust, simply place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the dough and cover the bottom of the pie plate with baking weights. (Marbles, dry beans, peas, rice or barley work just as well as anything else.)
For the chocolate filling:
7 ounces (by weight) dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
7 ounces whipping cream
3 ounces milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 large beaten egg
Bring the cream and milk just to boiling and pour the hot liquid over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes and whisk together until smooth. Cool for about 10 minutes before whisking in the beaten egg and vanilla.
Pour into the blind baked shell and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The center can still be a little wobbly at this point. The surface should still be shiny. Cool thoroughly before cutting and serving.
Terri’s Crème Anglaise
½ C milk
½ C heavy cream
½ vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
¼ C sugar
Mix the milk and cream in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, then add the pod. Bring just to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes or so to infuse the dairy with vanilla flavor. Partially fill the largest bowl with equal parts ice and water, and set the larger of the remaining bowls on the ice. Set a strainer in place over that bowl. After the vanilla has infused the dairy to your satisfaction, remove the vanilla pod, then return the pan to gentle heat and stir frequently. In the third bowl, quickly whisk the yolks and sugar together. Once the dairy reaches a simmer, remove it from the heat and whisk about a tablespoon of it into the yolk and sugar mixture, Continue adding the dairy to the yolk and sugar mixture slowly to avoid curdling. Once the dairy, yolks, and sugar are fully incorporated, return the custard to the pan and return the pan to the heat. Stir constantly for 1-4 minutes until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Pour through the strainer into the bowl over the ice. Stir until cool, cover, and refrigerate. If it sits overnight the vanilla flavor will be more pronounced. Serve cold, room temperature, or even warm over your dessert.
Enjoy with our club’s sommelier pick, Brandi’s French white wine: Les Jamelles Viognier