Inspirations for this meal was simple, fall, ripe tomatoes, pumpkins, sheeps milk cheese and two friends who I can not say no to asking for a French dinner.Besides this menu being a wonderful fall menu, it is full of the flavors of Provence.For those who really dont like pumpkin pie, there are other ways to use pumpkin.My favorite is this dessert, Pumpkin Creme Brulee.Get really ripe tomatoes, if you can, for the fresh Tomato Soup Provencal.You will love this recipe for braised Pork Chops and Fennel in Pastis. The chops are marinated and then braised in the pastis, which adds a wonderful dimension to the dish.I have left out snacks before the meal, since there is a cheese course between the main course and dessert.Use your discretion if you would like to put something out as a snack or munchies before the meal begins.
Running Wild with a French Pumpkin Inspiration
When we did this dinner with friends, I had a funny experience that I thought might help you to stay calm if it ever happens to you.
Diane and I arrived around just as we all had agreed since there was a football game on TV that the men insisted had to be seen until the scheduled finish (really ).The plan was to watch the second half of the football game and start the preparation and cooking schedule at .Our friend, Dorothy, who was hosting had put out some great picking foods, cucumber slices with bleu and cream cheese piped topping, a spinach and artichoke dip to go along with phenomenal home made tortilla chips from Linda and olives and other chutney items.None of these were on the menu; they were just treats to go along with the football.
So I settled right down with a glass of wine and the other guys to watch the Eagles get embarrassed again; this time losing their quarterback for the season with a devastating injury, but there was always hope, and hope kept us glued to the TV.On this particular Sunday, hope wasnt enough.I checked with the cooking team who was responsible for starting the pork marinade, since this would take a couple of hours longer than the starting time would allow.They had gone to work immediately at and had the marinating pork chops heading to the refrigerator in a jiffy.I was at peace and decided to go back to the game.
About I took a moment to look in the kitchen and what did I find?Instead of enjoying an aperitif and some snacks the women were all RUNNING WILD in the kitchen getting way ahead of the preparation schedule.They had decided that the good French chef (me) who had supplied the recipe for the Tomato Soup Provencal didnt know a tomato or leek from a hole in the ground (that part is true).They all wanted the soup to simmer longer than the recipe called for, so they sprinted on ahead of the prep clock.They also decided that if they were doing that they might as well run ahead of the Taboule and tomato salad schedules as well.So here I was with a full-fledged kitchen revolt by my sous chefs!What was I to do?Easy, I went back to the TV and the rest of the game, waiting for the true starting time to arrive.Hmmm, how about another glass of wine?
Well, I must admit, when we started the meal with the soup, it was phenomenal!I suspect when you do it without sprinting ahead of the schedule, the layers of flavor and richness of the ingredients will provide just as startling a beginning to your French Inspiration meal, as well, sans revolt.Above all else, if you experience a similar sous revolt and insurrection during this or any of the meal plans in this book, just go with the flow.Everyone is there to have a good time.Let them have that good time, and the food will always taste better.
I am sure your eyes will also sparkle when you bite into the Red Onion and Ossau Iraty Tart like all of ours did.That cheese is worth the search and the cost, but shop well for the Ossau-Iraty.I wound up paying half the price at Trader Joes versus a local supermarket with a good cheese department.When you serve the cheese course make sure the cheese is at room temperature.It will make your eyes bulge from its richness.You will also learn that God did have a plan for dry bulgur wheat, and it wasnt just as a breakfast food.The pistou (pesto) raises this ancient food to a sparkling complement in the main course.I have since found that the leftover pistou Taboule adds great body to a salad.Try it.You will love it!
I have suggested in the ingredients that you use a fattier cut of pork (shoulder) for the chops.Our pork came from the loin and while the fennel and stock flavored it magnificently, the combination of frying, boiling and oven braising left it a bit chewy.The less lean cut will remedy this while maintaining the magnificent pickup of the flavorings.Braising is a method typically used to tenderize cheaper cuts of meat anyway.Serve the au jus from the braising on the side.I also recommend that the host buy the chops and the marinating ingredients to provide the opportunity to marinate them overnight for more tenderness, rather than just the few hours shown in the recipe.
On this particular night, the crowd oooohed and ahhhhed all the way from the start to the crowning ending, the Pumpkin Creme Brulee!Enjoy this French Inspiration dinner with your best friends.They will love it and you even more!You might decide to do just as I did this year.I replaced the usual Thanksgiving pumpkin pie with this fantastic Pumpkin Creme Brulee.None of our guests complained.