Thursday, August 27, 2009

In A French Frenzy Part 2

As I wrote before, I am in a French frenzy, organizing everything for our French dinner! I am really excited!

Yesterday we went to the shop to get everything we need and later today we are going to make the stew and probably the soup. Tomorrow we are going to make the French Tart and the Crudites.

Here is our menu:

  1. Crudites
  2. French Onion Soup
  3. Lamb Stew
  4. Cheese Board
  5. French Apple Tart
Here are the recipes for the tart, stew and soup if you would also like to have a French evening!

French Onion Soup:


15 g/1/20 oz/1 tbsp butter
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil
4 large onions (about 675 g/1 and a half lb), thinly sliced
2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 ml/1 tsp sugar
2.5 ml/half a tsp dried thyme
30 ml/2 tbsp plain flour
125 ml/4 fl oz/half a cup dry white wine
2 litres/3 and a half pints/8 cups chicken or beef stock
30 ml/2 tbsp brandy (optional)
6-8 thick slices French bread, toasted
1 garlic clove
340 g/12 oz Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese, grated (we used Cheddar)

  1. In a large, heavy saucepan or flam proof casserole, heat the butter and olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for ten to twelve minutes until they are softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, sugar and thyme and continue cooking over a medium heat for thirty to thirty-five minutes until the onions are well browned, stirring frequently.
  2. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until well blended. Stir in the white wine and stock and bring to the boil. Skim off any of the foam that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for forty-five minutes. Stir in the brandy, if you are using.
  3. Preheat the grill. Rub each slice of French bread with a garlic clove. Place six to eight ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet and fill about three quarters full with the onion soup.
  4. Float a piece of toast in each bowl with grated cheese, dividing it evenly, and grill about15 cm/6 in from the grill for about three to four minutes until the cheese begins to melt and bubble.
Lamb Stew:


60 ml/4 tbsp olive oil
1.3 kg/3 lb lamb shoulder or other stewing meat, well trimmed, cut into 5 cm/2 in pieces
45-60 ml/3-4 tbsp plain flour
1 litre/1 and 2 thirds pints/4 cups beef or chicken stock
1 large bouquet garni
3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
5 ml/1 tsp tomato puree
675 g/1 and a half lb small potatoes, peeled if wished
12 baby carrots, trimmed and scrubbed
120 g/4 oz French beans, cut into 5 cm/2 in pieces
30 g/ 1 oz/ 2 tbsp butter
12-18 baby onions, peeled
6 medium turnips, peeled and quartered
30 ml/2 tbsp sugar
1.5 ml/quarter tsp dried thyme
175 g/6 oz/1 and quarter cups peas
55 g/2 oz mange-tout
salt and freshly ground black pepper
45 ml/3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander, to garnish

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add enough of the lamb to fit easily in one layer (do not overcrowd the pan or the meat will not brown). Cook turning to colour all sides until well browned.
  2. Transfer the meat to a large flameproof casserole and continue browning the rest of the meat in batches, adding a little more oil if needed. Add 45-60 ml/3-4 tbsp of water to the pan and boil for 1 minute, stirring and scraping the base of the pan, then pour the liquid into the casserole.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the browned meat in the casserole set over a medium heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes until well browned. Stir in the stock, the bouquet garni, garlic, tomatoes and tomato puree and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to the boil over a high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour until the meat is tender. cool the stew to room temperature, then chill over night.
  5. About 1 and a half hours before serving, take the casserole out of the fridge and remove the fat from the surface, wiping the surface with kitchen paper to remove all tarces of fat. Set the casserole over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and add the carrots to the same water. Cook for 4-5 minutes until just tender and transfer to the same bowl. Add the green beans and boil for 2-3 minutes until tender, yet crisp. transfer to the bowl with the other vegetables.
  7. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan or saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the onions and turnips with 45-60 m/3-4 tbsp water and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Uncover the pan, stir in the sugar, thyme and cook, stirring ans shaking the pan occasionally, until the onions and turnips are shiny and caramelized. Transfer them to the bowl of vegetables. Add 30-45 ml/2-3 tbsp of water to the pan to deglaze and boil for 1 minute, scraping the base of the pan, then add this liquid to the lamb.
  8. When the lamb and gravy are hot, add the reserved vegetables to the stew an dstir gently to distribute. Stir in the peas and mange-touts and cook for 5 minutes until they turn a bright green, then stir 30 ml/2 tbsp of the parsely or coriander and pour into a large warmed serving dish. Scatter over the remaining parsely.

French Apple Tart:

In France you can buy fruit tarts, pastries and cakes at pastry shops called patisseries. Each region has its own special tarts - this one comes from Normandy.


175 g/6oz plain flour
85 g/3oz chilled butter
30 g/1oz caster sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
1-2 tablespoons cold water
450 g/1 lb cooking apples
55 g caster sugar
3 eating apples
2 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons hot water

a 20 cm (8in) flan dish

Oven temperature:
200 C/400 F/Gas mark 6
  1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the flour.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar.
  3. Mix in the beaten egg yolk and enough water to make a ball of dough. Put it into a refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn on the oven. Peel the cooking apples . Cut them into quarters and cut out the cores. Slice the quarters.
  5. Put the apples, cold water and sugar into a saucepan. Cook them over a low heat until the apple slices are soft. Stir well.
  6. Sprinkle some flour onto a board and onto a rolling pin. Roll the pastry into a big circle about 2 cm/1 in. thick.
  7. Grease the flan dish and line with the pastry. Prick it with a fork and trim the edges with a knife. Bake it for ten minutes. Spoon the cooked apple into the pastry case.
  8. Slice the eating apples and arrange them in a circle on top.
  9. Mix the jam with the hot water and brush it over the sliced apples to glaze them. Bake the tart for thirty minutes.
  10. Serve slices of the tart hot or cold with a spoonful of whipped cream.

We really enjoyed making and planning everything!

We got these recipes from the Usborne Little round the world cookbook and from The French Recipe Cookbook. Both books were very helpful!

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