A Paris Dinner for Six

A 5-course menu from cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.

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Savory Olive Cake

 

Prep time: 22 minutes

Baking time: 40 minutes

 

Makes 10 to 12 servings

 

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons green tapenade (or green-olive paste)
  • 4 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère or Cheddar (generous 1 cup)
  • 3 ounces smoked ham, cut into ½-inch cubes (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 ounces Gruyère or Cheddar, cut into tiny cubes (½ to 2⁄3 cup)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped green olives
  •  

1.Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 400°. Butter an 8½-by-4½-inch, 6-cup loaf pan.

 

2.Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk, oil and tapenade. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, and stir lightly to blend. Switch to a rubber spatula, and gently stir in the grated cheese, the cubed ham and cheese and the olives. Scrape the batter into the pan.

 

3. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375°. Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaf is puffed and golden and a slender knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Rest the pan on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the cake. Turn it out, and allow it to remain on the rack, right side up, until it’s just warm or at room temperature. Cut it into thick slices, then into finger-food-size pieces.

 

Seaweed Curlicues

 

Prep time: 22 minutes

Baking time: 20 minutes

 

Makes about 70

 

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (about 1 pound), thawed but cold
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons seaweed flakes, such as dulse
  • Salt (optional)
  •  

1.Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

 

2.Roll out one sheet of pastry on a floured surface until it is about 12 by 16 inches; keep the other sheet refrigerated. Dust off excess flour, and turn the rolled-out pastry so that a short side is close to you. Brush half the butter over the pastry, then sprinkle with half the seaweed. Season lightly with salt. Starting with one long side, roll the dough over about ½ inch; continueto roll until you reach the center of the sheet; roll the other side until the two rolls meet in the center. Lift one side up, put it on top of the other, then refrigerate while you repeat the process with the second sheet.

 

3. Slice each double roll at ¹⁄3-inch intervals,and lay the curlicues, cut side down, on the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the curlicues are golden brown and baked through. Let the pastries cool on the sheets. (They are sensitive to humidity, but if your room is dry, you can keep them uncovered for several hours.)

Photo By: Jonny Valiant

Cream-Coddled Eggs with Mushrooms

 

Prep time: 32 minutes

Cooking time: 8 minutes

 

Makes 6 servings

 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot or ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ pound white or assorted wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and cut into small chunks or in half
  • About 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • About 1 tablespoon snipped or thinly sliced chives
  • Pinch fresh thyme, finely chopped (optional)
  • 6 absolutely fresh large eggs, preferably organic, at room temperature
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  •  Lightly buttered toast points or fingers, for serving (optional)
  •  

1. Add water to a steamer with a large base or a large skillet with a rack in it. Lightly butter six 4- to 6-ounce soufflé molds or ramekins. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, just until it softens slightly, about 2 minutes.Toss in the mushrooms; cook and stir until they, too, soften, about 4 minutes. If the pan gets dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Remove from heat, and stir in half the parsley and chives and the pinch of thyme. Divide the mushroom mix evenly among the ramekins. Season to taste.

 

2.Break an egg into each ramekin, keeping the yolks intact. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle ½ teaspoon cream over each egg, leaving the yolk uncovered. Sprinkle a pinch of parsley and chives over the eggs. You can prepare the ram-e-kins to this point, cover and keep them in the refrigerator for a few hours; bring them to room temperature before cooking.

 

3. Bring the water in the steamer to a simmer, and arrange the ramekins. If you don’t have room for all six in a single layer, start a second layer; balance them without covering the eggs on the lower level. Cover the pot. Check the eggs after 5 minutes; cook them until the whites are opaque and the yolks are still runny. Remove the ram-e-kins from the pan, dry the bottoms, and place each on a plate. Sprinkle with more parsley and chives, and serve immediately, with or without toast.

Photo By: Jonny Valiant

Swordfish with Parsley-Shallot Salad

 

Prep time: 40 minutes, plus 1 hour for marinating

Cooking time: 12 minutes

 

Makes 6 servings

 

Fish

 

  • About ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons caper juice (from the jar)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano and/or basil
  • Tiny pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 swordfish steaks, ½ to ¾ inch thick, about 5 ounces each
  •  

Salad

 

  • 3 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced, rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

1. To marinate the fish: Stir ½ cup of the olive oil and all the remaining ingredients except the fish in a large roasting pan. Add the fish, and marinate, turning a few times, for 1 hour at room temperature (or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before cooking). Remove the fish from the marinade and scrape off stuck-on solids, and return them to the pan. Reserve the -marinade—it will become your sauce—and pat the fish dry with paper towels.

 

2. Put 2 large heavy skillets over medium-high heat, and pour 1 tablespoon oil into each. When the oil is hot, slide 3 pieces of fish into each pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn over, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, adding a little more oil if necessary. Cook until the fish is just opaque at the center but still juicy. Transfer to a serving platter. Wipe out the oil in one of the skillets, put it over medium heat, and pour in the marinade. Cook just until hot.

 

3.To make the salad: Toss the parsley and shallot together, season with salt and pepper, and dress with the lemon juice and olive oil. Put a puff of salad on top of each swordfish steak, and pass the sauce at the table.

 

Served with: Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

 

Prep time: 12 minutes

Baking time: 2 to 3 hours

 

Serves 6

 

  • 1½ pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, preferably fleur de sel or fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  •  

Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 225°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, and put them cut-side down on the baking sheet. Drizzle them with a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon; you just want them to have a sheen), and sprinkle them with
the salt and pepper. Scatter the thymeover the tomatoes. Roast for about 3 hours, or until they’re wrinkled and a little dry looking (if you press themgently, you’ll see that they still have some juice, which is just what youwant). If you’re not using the tomatoes immediately, you can pack them in a jar, cover them with olive oil, and serve them at room temperature.

 

Onions Carbonara*

 

Prep time: 32 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

 

Makes 6 servings

 

  • 2 pounds onions, halved, thinly sliced and separated into half rings
  • 5 strips bacon
  • ½ cup cream, heavy or light
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  •  

1. Use a steamer or a large pot with a steaming basket; bring the water to a simmer. Add the onions, cover, and let them steam for 6 minutes, or until they are just al dente. Removethe basket from the pot. (You can do this up to 3 hours before serving. Let the onions cool, then cover them lightly.)

 

2.Lay the bacon strips in a cold skillet, place the skillet over medium heat, and cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is crisp on both sides. Drain, then coarsely chop the strips. (You can do this ahead as well.)

 

3. Just before you’re ready to serve, whisk ¼ cup of the cream and the egg yolk together in a small bowl. Place a skillet large enough to hold all the ingredients over medium-low heat, and add the butter. When it has melted, add the bacon, and pour in the remaining¼ cup cream. Warm it for just
30 seconds, then scrape in the steamed onions, season with the salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the reserved cream-yolk mixture as well as the grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

 

*Recipe from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010).

Photo By: Jonny Valiant

Cheese Course

 

Here are some I like to serve: a mild goat cheese; dead-ripe Camembert or Brie; a firm cow’s-milk cheese, such as Comté or Beaufort; a sheep’s-milk cheese, perhaps an herb-covered Brin d’Amour from Corsica; a blue suchas Roquefort or Gorgonzola dolce. A baguette is fine, but it’s also nice to have a darker bread and/or a fruit or nut bread. If you have a bowl of walnuts on the table or scatter some unpeeled almonds, dried figs or dates around the plate, no one will complain.

Photo By: Jonny Valiant

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake*

 

Prep time: 25 minutes

Baking time: 50 minutes

 

Makes 8 servings

 

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (preferably 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Whipped heavy cream, lightly sweetened, or ice cream (optional)
  •  

1. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 350°. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan, and put on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

 

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Peel and core the apples, and cut them into 1- to 2-inch chunks. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar, and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour mixture, and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula, and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan, and even it out a bit.

 

3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack, and let rest for 5 minutes. Carefully run a bluntknife around the edges of the cake, and remove the sides of the pan. (Open the springform slowly, and make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan, and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

 

4. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or ice cream. (The cake can be kept for 2 days at room temperature; press plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.)

 

*Recipe from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010).

 

Want MORE? Check out Ann Hood's essay about a romantic trip to Argentina.

 

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Photo By: Jonny Valiant

First Published Mon, 2011-03-14 11:34

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