Tonight was an interesting night to say the least; shopping for my dinner party wasn’t able to be finished in time so dinner ended up being a couple hours late. Thankfully, for anyone fairly used to a kitchen, Julia’s instructions are quite simple to follow and for those that arnt familiar everything is explained in the beginning in great detail. I think the hardest part of everything was no more than my fear of not being able to do it right. Constantly wondering how bad it might turn out of if I wasn’t following the instructions properly. Fear really is the mind killer. Thankfully my friends were here to lend a helping hand to the process but I have to wonder; if this seemed so foreboding to me… how many others are hiding from their passions and talents from fear of failure. Julie and Julia didn’t and neither will I. I’ve omitted taking pictures of this evening’s dinner since I wasn’t pleased with it visually due to my time limit. In the future I will be sure to include pictures of the dishes.
Tonight’s menu consisted of:
Petits Choux au Fromage
Roast Bifteck in Beurre Bercy
Haricots Verts a la creme
served w/ a hardboiled egg
The dinner turned out to be fantastic, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Nothing brings people together like good food.
After the initial worry of getting started everything came together quite well. I admit that the sauce posed a particular challenge. Consistently, I over reduced the sauce and added more wine to restart. Unfortunately, my sauce didn’t taste the way it should have since I didn’t follow the proper instructions but it was wonderful regardless and when they say mince the shallots for the sauce I find it to be something more along the lines of a puree. My sauce could have been much more smooth had I minced them further than what most would normally call ‘mincing’. And shallots… AMAZING…. this is the first time I had ever had one, I tried a nice piece while I was preparing the sauce. Delicious.
The petites chaux au fromage were definitely delicious but they were one of the ones I seem to have some trouble with; they didn’t turn out as described… but, practice makes perfect (It helps to not overcook them (^_^ ) lol.). The bifteck was by far the easiest to get by, other than the sauce. That should have had a little more time invested in it… but its things like that that you learn by doing it. Some things have to be lived to be learned even if it is something culinary. Out of everything made the one that was, by far, the most easy to make turned out to be the single most time consuming; the potage parmentier and the haricots verts a la creme. Neglecting the fact that the beans needed plenty of time to cook made for a long stretch of time in finishing the dish considering I have only 4 burners to work with while trying to cook and prepare everything else. Thankfully, Julia’s book includes a wonderful guide for vegetables and how they should be handled. Take my beans this evening; had I not seen this guide I would have made the same mistake I have always made when it came to beans. I left them sit, warm. Turns out, they have to be cooled, then reheated when needed, if they’re not going to be served right away. Otherwise the beans discolor and lose much of their flavor; tonight, my beans tasted better than ever before.
I also discovered why, in my opinion, the portions are so small. Honestly, I used to think it was just chincy. Even with a simple selection for tonight’s menu I found how quickly filling such rich and authentic food can be. To be served an american sized portion of this kind of food would quickly lead to great amounts being thrown away. Even the portions I served this evening were quite large comparatively to french portions even though they were still half the size of any normal dish I’m used to making. Well, needless to say I obviously didn’t poach an egg first. I, however, think this was sooooo much better.
Once I have the hang of it I’m sure the french techniques will quickly become second nature. Constantly, I am amazed at what they have accomplished in just their cooking alone. How even something as simplistic as green beans can become a dish so remarkable that it can be served alone. Recipes soon to follow.