Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bonne Annee 2009!!

New Year's eve dinner is another big food moment in France; One Juan and I never miss, no matter which continent we celebrate the new year on. After a big trip to Central Market and Mandola's (for some of their fantastic bread), we headed back home to start on my cooking spree.

Nothing makes me happier than preparing a big meal and putting a lot of effort into making it fantastic. Even though, I have to admit, I am less able to stand on my feet in the kitchen for as long as I used to, now that I am pregnant. But it was worth it! I believe the secret really is patience and good quality ingredients - one should never neglect that.

I prepared some
cheese palmiers and some shrimp, ricotta and avocado mousse verrines as an hors d'oeuvre. Verrines are extremely popular in France; they are very small glasses filled with two or more layers of different flavors. Verrine in French means "little glass". They can be served as an appetizer or as a dessert. They can be cold or hot. There are no limits as to what you can put in them. The ultimate goal is to mix textures, colors, temperatures and flavors. Verrines are very slowly coming to America. I have mostly seen them sold for dessert (check out your frozen aisle). I love how versatile they are and best: they are prepared in advance, which makes them a number 1 choice for entertaining!

I also made a celery remoulade salad, which was not planned, but Central Market had a huge display of celery roots and I couldn't resist... I had never made it before because in France, we buy it at the deli. I'm not sure why, because it's very easy to make!! Celery root has a sharp and aromatic favor that really is unusual and wonderful. Think of celery remoulade as the French cousin of coleslaw, but stronger in taste. The remoulade part is nothing but a mayonnaise flavored with a lot of mustard, vinegar and lemon juice. It's truly wonderful and even better the day after!

My main dish was individual
bay scallop gratin, sauce batarde. The sauce is a simple bechamelle with creme fraiche, to which you add fresh lemon juice and egg yolks as a liaison. My favorite part is the gratin part, for which you pop your dishes under the broiler after covering them with bread crumbs. That's where your fresh loaf of bread comes in handy to soak up all the wonderful sauce at the end. Divine!

Of course, we had a nice big plate of cheeses and for dessert, I made a King's Cake Frangipane tart. But I will not tell you too much about it since I plan to share the recipe with you all in my next post! So come back next week!

I hope you had a wonderful end of the year celebration. During 2009, I plan to share even more French recipes and memories with you, always in the same belief that French home cooking is easy.
Thank you all for reading The French Fork and Bonne Annee a tous!


Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog looking for some holiday ideas. I appreciate your love and passion for food especially french, but after reading your profile i would suggest traveling more in America. The French do not have a true appreciation for what America is dong in the culinary world. I do admit that the average American knows little about the finer aspects of food but we do have a vibrant and cutting edge culinary scene. I suggest traveling to San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Chicago..... see for yourself.

p.s. Verrine has been here since the 70s and is considered old school. keep blogging. Marco

Laetitia said...

Thanks for the comments, Marco. I appreciate your insight and enthusiasm. While I agree with you that America has a vibrant culinary scene, I believe you may have missed the goal of my blog - which is to share my passion for homestyle French cooking - because I am French, and I'm eager to share my passion with the world. Speaking of which, I have done my fair share of traveling in the US, including NY, DC, LA, Boston, Cape Code, Wyoming, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston and everywhere in between. I love America - after all, I married an American, and even became a citizen in 2007.

That said, you're also 100% correct that some French people do not have a true appreciation for American cuisine - but I'm certainly not one of those people. It's not because I don't blog about it that I don't travel. Again, the goal of my blog is to talk about homestyle French cooking and French culture (

As for verrine and its presence in the US: sure, it might have been around since the 70s, but not on a mainstream level! This LA Times article suggests that it's just now becoming popular in America:

Thanks again for your comments and encouragement to keep blogging. I always appreciate hearing all sides of a story.

Kelsey said...

I miss having access to Mendola's!

The bay scallop gratin sounds great.