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My Kind of Winter Dinner Party…

February 2, 2016

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I often think of the French family as the ultimate dinner party guests; we come bringing a few laughs and a huge amount of gratitude for the generous invitation. However, we live in a community where I began to feel the desire to reciprocate…which means I cannot get bogged down in the details. Details, for me, often cause me to back out. The solution? The dinner party that is completely simple and beautiful at the same time; a warm setting, with an Italian theme and we are set.

Winter in Oregon this year is no joke, so warmth is definitely the theme. Plenty of candles, a fire, and comfort food are the key ingredients.

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Seasonal produce seems to fit the theme of warmth perfectly…perfect for a salad or as part of an easy centerpiece, playing off of the candlelight beautifully.

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Simple charcuterie and a salad brimming with winter fruits and veggies are a no-brainer this type of year.

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The entrée on the other hand never ceases to stump me. The goal is always something that tastes delicious, but doesn’t take all day long to prepare…

This time around I went with Bertolli and am so happy I did. I served up two Bertolli Entrées: Chicken Florentine with Farfalle and Italian Sausage with Rigatoni. A delicious entrée could not be easier…a few minutes in a skillet and everything is set.

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The little ones simply couldn’t wait, so we fed them first…

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We quickly cleaned up after the kiddos and effortlessly moved into a dinner party perfect for the parents. The children were off eagerly waiting for desert while we prepared our second round of Bertollie Entrées…and because they whip up so quickly, eating in shifts worked out perfectly.

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How do you finish up the perfect dinner on a cold winter night? We all came together for s’mores!

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I could get used to this whole dinner party thing. Thank you Bertolli for effortlessly delicious entrées and taking the stress out of entertaining. This allows me to remain focused on what truly matters…friends, family, and simply enjoying the company of one another.

I am thrilled to also share another dose of inspiration on our virtual table on pinterest.

xo Mrs. French

Photography by the ever-talented Veronica Bahns

Setting courtesy of my dear friend Jennifer Renton

 

This post is brought to you by Bertolli. Don’t just eat, Mangia!

Blissful Eats with The Cook’s Atelier || Gariguette Strawberry Tart

June 11, 2015

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Hello Blissful readers! We hope you are all well and enjoying the first tastes of summer.

We are in full swing here at The Cook’s Atelier and the market is busting at the seams with the delights of the season. Here’s a recipe for an all-time favorite, a rustic strawberry tart. This is the perfect summer tart recipe and you can adapt it according to what looks good at the market. Sublime! We also love making these into individual tartlettes. By chance, if you have a little homemade strawberry confiture in your pantry, it would be a nice additional layer just under the pastry cream.

See our online shop, The French Larder at The Cook’s Atelier, for the perfect French tart tins.

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Gariguette Strawberry Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart (or 8 individual tartelettes)

 

1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (recipe follows)

All-purpose flour, for work surface

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar

Pastry Cream (recipe follows)

2 cups strawberries

confectioners sugar for dusting

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On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (or you can uses 8 tartelette pans for individual servings), pressing into the edges and using thumb to remove excess dough. Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with dried beans and bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Remove parchment paper and weights; continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool tart shell completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Working in batches, gently fold whipped cream into pastry cream; set aside.

Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly. Top with strawberries; dust with confectioners sugar. Tart is best served the day it is made.

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Makes enough for 2 tarts

 

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 large egg yolks

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound unsalted butter

 

Whisk the cream and egg yolks together in a small bowl.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces, about a half an inch.  Add the butter to the flour mixture and, using your hands, begin to toss to coat the butter with the flour.  Using your hands, combine the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will make the dough tough.  Continue this process until it resembles a coarse meal.  Add the heavy cream and egg yolk mixture and toss gently with a fork to incorporate.  Feel free to use your hands to continue to combine the ingredients.  But again, be sure to not overwork the dough.  You can tell when the dough is ready by taking a small handful, squeezing it together.  It if holds together, the dough is complete.  If not, feel free to add more cream to reach the right consistency.  When the dough is ready, divide the dough in two and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Gather the plastic wrap around the dough, forming a pouch, twist and push down to form a flat disk.  Chill the dough for at least an hour or, ideally, overnight.

To make the tart shell, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll until a 1/4 inch thick, flouring as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface.  Be sure to maintain a circular shape while rolling out the dough.  Beginning at one end, gather the dough at one end onto a rolling pin and gently lift it onto the tart pan.  Unroll the dough over a 10-inch tart pan.  Gently fit the dough loosely into the tart pan, being mindful not to stretch the dough as you fit it into the pan.  To remove the excess dough, you use your thumb to gently scrape along the sides of the tart pan creating a nice, clean edge to the dough.  Chill for 1 hour.

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_od0xqdjm5ahuER25zqHvVhSwqMoPatUoMrzcAjykYsPastry Cream

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

 

1 cup whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split

5 tablespoons sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 

Place milk, vanilla bean and 4 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat; cook until almost boiling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until thickened. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and flour and continue beating until well combined.

Remove vanilla bean from milk. While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture into egg yolk mixture. Pour mixture through a fine sieve back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat, until it thickens, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in butter until melted. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface of the pastry cream; refrigerate until completely cooled.

Zp1dP7VhSPILGJuxX6gC6yI0kSUek8WIEYnbDg0GQI4Happy tart making!

Blissful Eats With The Cook’s Atelier || Fava Bean Fennel Salad

May 21, 2015

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Hello Blissful readers!  We hope you all are enjoying the sunshine.  We wanted to share with you one of our favorite spring market salads.  It’s oh so simple too and perfect for an alfresco dinner on the terrace with a chilled glass of rosé!

We know for sure that spring has arrived when we see the first fava beans at the market. They are a favorite here at The Cook’s Atelier and we love them for their bright green color and marshy flavor. They make their way in salads or mashed on crusty bread with a drizzle of fruity olive oil and sprinkling of our favorite fleur de sel. Heaven.

note:  You can also substitute fava beans with French peas.  We also like to vary this salad by adding thin shavings of garden radishes as well as mizuna or roquette.  Any fresh herbs made be added, such as basil and chervil.

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Fava Bean Fennel Salad

 

8 to 10 pounds fresh young fava beans in the pod (10 pounds will yield about 6 cups of beans)

3 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

1 bunch scallions or chives, thinly sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fruity extra-virgin olive oil

1 handful of mint leaves

1 handful of parsley leaves

2 lemons, one sliced the other cut in half

Mizuna leaves

Grading of parmesan (optional)

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Shuck the fava beans from their pods.  Blanche the beans in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool them and preserve their color.

Once cool enough to handle, pop the beans out of their grey-green skin to release the bright green bean.

Trim and wash the fennel.

When you are ready to make the salad, slice the fennel into very thin slices (a mandoline works well for this task) and put them in a bowl. Add the fava beans, scallions and a good sprinkling of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Drizzle generously with fruity olive oil to coat. Add the mint, parsley, lemon slices and mizuna leaves, then squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the salad. Toss well with your hands, then taste and correct the seasoning.  Top with parmesan shavings if desired.  Serve immediately.
We hope you enjoy!  Bon Appétit!

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