Tag Archives: French

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Yes 40 cloves!  This beautiful French dish was one of my favorites as a kid – partly because of the novelty of how much garlic is in it and partly because its 100% delicious.  This is a great spring dish because its hearty but not heavy so no matter what the temps are outside its appropriate.  Please don’t be scared off by the garlic – this could even be a date night dish!  Once you have cooked the garlic it becomes totally sweet and not stinky at all.  Make sure to pick up some crusty bread to serve alongside so you can spread the melting garlic cloves on the bread and sop up all the sauce.  There are a lot of different versions out there so once again I went through and tried all of the recipes I could find and then combines the best of all of them to achieve this recipe.

Peeling the garlic can be a pain but I sort of find it therapeutic.  If you want to do it in advance and store in the fridge for a couple of days you can do that.  I use the palm of my hand to push down on the clove ever so slightly so that the skin separates from the garlic but not so much that it crushes the clove (also I won’t tell anyone if you buy already peeled garlic, just make sure its whole cloves not chopped).  I would say it takes about 7 minutes to peel so factor that into your cooking time.  This is such great comfort food – serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta (and don’t forget that bread!) along with a nice clean green salad.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 bone in skin on chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 40 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 3 teaspoons chopped tarragon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the chicken pieces then cook in batches just so the chicken is nicely browned, about 5 minutes per batch.

When the chicken is browned reserve it on a plate.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic.  Sauté the garlic for 5 minutes, turning down the heat if you need to so it doesn’t burn.  Add the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan getting up all the good brown bits.

Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up, and add the chicken stock.  Cover and place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken and garlic to your serving platter and cover with foil.  Put the dutch oven back on the stovetop and cook down the juices over medium high for about 5 minutes until reduced a bit.  Stir in the cream and tarragon, taste for salt and pepper, then pour over the chicken and garlic.

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A Picnic Among the Vines

Oh I love a picnic!!  Especially now that the temperatures are returning to pleasant.  Recently Patrick and I introduced our favorite vineyard in Virginia, Greenhill Winery, to some friends.  I have posted about this place before and it just keeps on charming us.  We have been club members for the last year and the best part is that gives you access to their Manor house that has a great patio overlooking the pond.  However, any spot there would be perfect for a picnic and really this picnic would be perfect in any spot!

Since I knew we were doing to be drinking Bordeaux style wine I put together a French inspired picnic basket.  The best part of French picnics is that many of the items are store bought so it’s really just about assembling them prettily.  We started with a cheese board of course.  Three to four cheeses are all you really need and our friends Ariana and Callan picked a perfect mix of brie, blue, aged goat and a sharp cow cheese.  I rounded out the selection with some fig jam (this brand is my fave and easy to find in most grocery stores), olives, cornichon, grapes and crackers.  Bring a real cutting board and cheese knives to make this no cook starter more special but also easier to eat – who wants to balance a paper plate on their knees trying to cut cheddar with a plastic knife???  I also used my favorite Weck glass containers, ideal for picnics as they double as serving containers and don’t leak.

Sandwiches are a picnic staple for a reason – sturdy, easy to make in large quantities and eaten room temperature – my baguette was just crying out to be used.  Per my husband’s request I made a sandwich you can find all over the streets of Paris, ham and butter.  Before you shake your head we are talking imported Prosciutto de Parma, high butterfat European style butter and freshly baked bread.  Simple, so the ingredients really matter, but so so good.  I grabbed the prosciutto from my beloved A. Litteri, which is right next to Union Market.  Inside the Market I hit Righteous Cheese for the European butter and Lyon Bakery for the baguette.  Make sure not to be stingy with that butter!

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I wrapped each sandwich in wax paper and tied it with bakers twine to give it that Parisian touch.  Since I still hadn’t cooked anything yet I figured I would stretch myself and make an easy side of green beans.  I blanched green beans and tossed them with olive oil, white wine vinegar and lots of garlic.  Let it sit overnight and you have a nice crisp salad to counter balance the richness of the butter and prosciutto.  Last but not least we had to have dessert.  A quick trip to a local French bakery for macaroons would be perfect.  I made Blackberry Financiers, little French tea cakes packed with almond and blackberry flavor.  A couple bottles of wine, this picnic and the lovey setting almost had us believing we were in France.  Fill up your basket and picnic the weekend away!

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French Dinner Party

Since today is my mom’s birthday (happy birthday mommy!) I thought I would post an easy French dinner party menu that I whipped up when she was in DC visiting.  The soup, peppercorn sauce, vinaigrette and meringues can all  be made in advance so it is pretty stress free (unless you screw up the dessert like I did!).  This menu includes all the great French comfort foods but isn’t really heavy.

Petit Trois’s French Onion Soup

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I have tried at least a dozen french onion soup recipes, as it is one of Patrick’s favorites but this is really the best.  Petit Trois is a French bistro in LA that I desperately want to try, but lucky for us they shared their recipe with Bon Appetit.  I usually just make it with canned beef stock but it is definitely is better with homemade – I suggest making up a big pot one rainy weekend day and just keep it in the freezer for when you want to make this soup.

Green Salad with Vinaigrette 

A fresh green salad is the perfect accompaniment to the steak.  I like this vinaigrette because of the double punch of the dijon and shallot but any dressing will do.  Use pre-washed mesculn greens to make this even easier.

Filet Minons with Green Peppercorn Sauce

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I linked to Ina Garten’s method of cooking filets here but if you have a way of cooking them you prefer, by all means.  I like the nice crust that searing in a cast iron skillet gives the steaks and then they get cooked through in the oven (a pat of butter on top doesn’t hurt either!).  The roquefort sauce in that recipe is delicious but even better is Michael Richard’s Green Peppercorn Sauce, published years ago in the Washington Post.  Richard is a world famous French chef that has made Washington his home.  Central, his bistro downtown, is one of my favorite spots in the city, especially for a luxe lunch.  This sauce is nice and creamy but the real star are the brined green peppercorns.  They come in small cans and can last in the fridge forever really.  I prefer the ones from Madagascar by Moulin (can below) – they can be sort of tough to find, I have seen them at Dean and Deluca and some Whole Foods.  You can also order them online.  If you cannot find them don’t try to just use regular green peppercorns – the brine softens them and mutes the pepper taste.

Ile Flottante (sort of)

As I said the last time I made this meal my mom was in town visiting so I wanted to do something special.  Ile Flottante is one of her favorite desserts so I thought I would try my hand at it.  If you have never tried it, it’s basically a cloud of puffy meringue floating in a pool of creamy vanilla sauce, usually with caramel or praline crumbled on top.  Not bad, right??  Ina has a great recipe that I have used before and fast tracked it by using melted vanilla ice cream as the sauce instead of making creme anglaise.  However, here is when getting wedded to a menu item can come and bite you.  Even though it was October, DC was experiencing one of those weird fall heat waves and it was pretty humid out.  Humidity plus meringues equals no go.

They never get nice and crunchy, they basically weep all over the place and are gooey and tough.  Luckily my mom is a good sport and we had the ice cream with the praline crumbled on top instead.  Pretty delish but not exactly as planned!  A good reminder to always have a back up in mind.

The good news was that because it was so nice out we were able to eat outside under our pergola with the bistro lights on so it felt like a lovey French cafe right there in Washington.  This is a great menu for any time of the year – just remember to stock up on some French wines are well.

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