Thursday, January 30, 2014

Simple Sunday Lunch

Our lovely French friends, Les Bons Amis, came for lunch last Sunday. We always have a wonderful time with them, speaking Franglish that gets louder and louder and louder...

When we first moved here, I would fret. I worried over the menu, what to cook for a bona fide French couple who love to entertain and always pull off a long Sunday lunch with aplomb. The first time we had them over, about three years ago now!, I made hamburgers. It was a very messy, very American affair with too many sides and not enough flatware for a French family. They really do not eat things with their hands unless they're children or very relaxed and it's a galette or croissant or something stuck with a bamboo skewer for an apéro dinatoire. They certainly would never eat a big old thick and juicy American hamburger with gooey cheese with anything other than a fork and knife. And even then, it wouldn't be pretty. Of course, at McDo, more and more French will pick up a burger and go to town; but someone's house for Sunday lunch is NOT the same as McDo. (Shhh, they love McDonald's.)
Another time, I felt compelled to share something from home so I made cheese enchiladas from The Homesick Texan cookbook. (Dang, they're good!) They liked it, but its (mild) spiciness was far different from the cheese dishes they're used to like raclette, aligot, and tartiflette.

I've gotten the hang of it now though. Last week I crafted a menu that pleased both me and my French friends very much. I followed the rules of nibbly apéro, simple starter, main with a starch and one green side, salad, cheese, and then dessert. Of course there was champagne for the apéro, white wine with the starter, red with the main and then coffee after dessert.

We talked so long and the children played so well that we indulged in a second dessert of the seasonal galette des rois or king's cake. The traditional galette is a flaky pastry concoction filled with almond paste and baked until golden and puffed. The baker inserts a small figurine called a fève into the uncooked cake and the person that gets it (hopefully without biting into porcelain or plastic) is the king or queen. He or she gets to wear the golden paper crown that comes with every galette des rois around. The grocery store has a section during this season devoted entirely to galette. You can buy them in various forms: filled with apples, made with brioche dough instead of puff pastry, dotted with crystallized toothsome bits of sugar, studded with candied fruit, or filled with the delicious frangipane or almond paste. They are all delicious. I know this because this January we've tried one of each. For our Sunday lunch, we bought one from our favorite bakery along with four of their delicious and perfectly crusty, doughy baguettes called Petrisane. The Middlest's best friend, Petit Ami, found the fève and proudly donned the golden paper crown, proclaiming Ma Fille to be his queen.
{Galette des Rois, source}

If you'd like to have a nice, long Sunday lunch, you can't go wrong with this menu. Try it out on your friends, French or not, and enjoy the compliments. It should be duly noted that Ma Fille made the Raspberry Mousse entirely on her own and it was so delicious that Mme. Bonne Amie requested the recette.

Simple Sunday Lunch Menu, January

Apéro of crispy potato chips, dried fruit, and nuts, accompanied with proper fizzy Champagne
White Bean and Rosemary Soup
Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Potato Gratin and French Green Bean Salad
Green Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Three Cheeses: One each of hard, soft, spiced or Bleu
Raspberry Mousse with Whipped Cream
Wait, talk, laugh, repeat....
Galette des Rois

White Bean and Rosemary Soup (Barefoot Contessa)
Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin (Barefoot Contessa)
French Green Bean Salad (Jamie Oliver)
Raspberry Mousse, adapted from Blackberry Mousse from Jamie Oliver January issue


  1. Ooooh, it all sounds so good. And of course I am jealous over galette des rois, nothing close to it here, and no chance I'm going to bake one. So please, enjoy many more for me!

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  3. Hi Aidan, I am finally getting around to catching up on your blog, I love the new look, bravo mon amie! I miss Galette des Rois so much and am to lazy to make one but one I will simply have to make the effort, it is simply too delicious! Your Sunday Lunch sounds like such a wonderful time, a bit jealous ;) Bisous et a bientot! - Stephanie M.


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