Mary turned 23 on the 5th so it was up to her to pick the theme for her birthday week Friday Night Dinner. After the success of her Roman Holiday themed birthday last year, she went with another of her favourite movies this year, Midnight in Paris. Fortunately, food in Paris isn’t all snails and frog legs. We had a delicious French feast with a menu consisting of French onion soup, ratatouille, French bread and macaroons (macaroons). Everything was really tasty and definitely worth the time it took to prepare.
The countdown to our magazine article has also begun (only one month away!) Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll add a “Get to Know the FND Crew” page so you all can get to know us a little more and see what these Friday Night Dinners mean to us.
Now for this week’s recipes!
French Onion Soup:
- 6 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups of beef stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- salt and pepper
- 8 slices French bread
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyere
- In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.
- To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350°F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately.
- 1 1/2 pounds of eggplant, skins on, sliced in 1.5 inch cubes
- 3 bell peppers (we used red, orange and yellow), sliced in 1.5 inch pieces
- 2 small yellow summer squash, sliced in half inch rounds, cut in half
- 2/3 cup EVOO divided
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly minced garlic
- 2 med/large sweet onions, sliced into 1/5 inch pieces
- 1 can 28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- Heat oven to 450°F. Line a roasting pan (11×16″) with foil and grease. Toss eggplant, peppers and squash with 1/3 cup EVOO. Place in roasting pan and sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper. Roast in top third of oven for 20 minutes.
- In a sturdy pot, heat 1/3 cup EVOO. Add onions and sauté for 12 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Drain tomatoes and add to onion/garlic mixture, along with the roasted eggplants, peppers and squash. Add remaining salt and pepper and throw in the basil, too. Gently mix. Gently! No one likes mushy vegetables.
- Reduce oven to 350°F and bake ratatouille uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Serve at room temp with some crusty bread. Keeps well for several days. Yum!
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. instant yeast
- scant 1 1/2 cups warm water
- In the container of a food processor, combine flour, salt and yeast. Process for five seconds, then slowly pour water into the processor while the machine is running. Process for about 30 seconds until the dough is in a shaggy ball, then transfer it into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about three hours.
- Sprinkle a little flour onto a counter, and divide dough into three balls, and let them rise covered for about 30 minutes.
- Then, flatten each ball and fold it over itself twice, sealing the seam. Spread a towel onto the counter and place the loaves into folded seams of the towel. Let them rise for another 1-2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F, and bake loaves on a lightly floured baking sheet for about 25-35 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
French-style Macaroons (Macarons):
Via Cook’s Illustrated
- 3 3/4 cups (15 ounces) almond flour
- 3 1/3 cups (13 1/3 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 5 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, each stick cut into quarters
- MACAROONS: Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with 1/2-inch plain tip; set aside. Process half of the almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt together in a food processor until the mixture is very finely ground, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining almond flour and confectioners’ sugar; stir together and set aside.
- Using an electric mixture, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed until they are opaque and frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to whip, watching carefully, until they are white, thick, voluminous, and the consistency of shaving cream, about 90 seconds. Slowly sprinkle in the granulated sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the sugar is incorporated, about 60 seconds.
- Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl in order to accommodate the remaining ingredients. Gently fold one quarter of the almond flour mixture into the whites, followed by the vanilla. Gradually fold in the remaining almond mixture until a thick, gloppy batter forms.
- Fill the prepared pastry bag with the batter. Twisting the top of the bag to apply pressure, push the batter toward the bag tip and pipe onto the prepared baking sheets into forty 2-inch mounds, spaced about 1-inch apart. Use the back of a teaspoon dipped in a bowl of cold water to even out the shape and surface of the piped mounds. Let the macaroons rest at room temperature until the tops are dry and a smooth skin has formed, 1 to 2 hours.
- Thirty minutes before baking, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the baking time. Directly after baking, carefully slide the parchment with cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- FROSTING: Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer; place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Whisking gently but constantly, heat the mixture until it is thin and foamy and registers 160° on an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove the bowl from the water. Beat the egg mixture at medium-high speed until light, airy and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 1 piece at a time (it may look curdled halfway through). Once all the butter is added, increase the speed to high and beat 1 minute, until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined.
- FILLING COOKIES: Spread about 1 tablespoon of the buttercream over the flat sides of half the cookies and gently cover with the flat sides of the remaining cookies to form sandwiches; serve.
Happy eating, everyone!