French fun with friends

Hello all! Back again after a week off last week. Work is stepping up, which is nice as it feels almost ‘normal’, but it means weekends are sacred once more!

That being said, I thought I’d do a post on the food I prepared a few weekends back for our lovely friends who joined us for a French-themed dinner. Matt and I wanted to feature some of the produce we had brought back from honeymoon, and I was ready to flex my Classical cuisine muscles once more.

To begin, we provided some of our edible souvenirs from our recent trip. What souvenir is better than one you can eat and it immediately brings back wonderful memories. We did a charcuterie board, with Bayonne ham from Lyon and saucisson from Troyes. I also put out various pickles, included some pickled cucumbers using the glut from the garden. To accompany the meaty feast (our vegetarian guest enjoyed a selection of antipasti, which I realise is NOT in keeping with the theme of the evening!), we enjoyed freshly-made baguettes, courtesy of the brilliant recipe from Paul Hollywood

For main, I roasted duck legs and pan-fried the breasts until they were a rosy medium. A simple sprinkling of salt and pepper on the duck was all it needed to bring out the beautiful gamey flavour. That said, I also took full advantage of the local blackberry hedgerows which were practically crying out for me to help them with their burden. A simple blackberry, red wine sauce was simmered down to accompany the duck. For the vegetarian choice, I wanted to avoid ratatouille as it is rather overdone in my opinion, but I still wanted to provide a hearty main meal. This vegetable tian by Rachel Khoo was perfect and went really well with the Boulangere potatoes we all enjoyed.

Bubbling Boulangere potatoes

To end the meal, it would not have been right to have a French evening without cheese! We enjoyed a range of continental and British cheeses; brie, Stilton, applewood Cheddar, Boursin. All were accompanied by more baguettes and grapes. For those with a sweet tooth (everyone), I also tried my hand at vanilla macarons for the first time. Whilst they weren’t as picture-perfect as those we fell in love with in Beaune, the flavour and texture were surprisingly accurate. Some chocolate-covered strawberries and homemade mini brownies finished of the sweet treats plate.

It was such a lovely evening with wonderful friends. We certainly don’t take that for granted anymore, do we?! It was also nice to revisit some French memories as we ate (and drank!). Until we can jet off again, escapism can always be enjoyed in the form of food in my opinion.

Published by TheEnthusiasticEater

Full time teacher; full time foodie. Based in Essex. For any enquiries please email me at claudiamartin34@hotmail.co.uk or find me on LinkedIn.

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