Sunday, February 21, 2010

Potage Parmentier

Last night, I made the first recipe in the first chapter of Julia Child's cookbook: potage parmentier (leek and potato soup). I also made what she calls French dressing, which is not the thick orange stuff found in the grocery stores but rather a light red wine vinaigrette.

Julia says that potage parmentier is "simplicity itself to make" and you know what? She's right. If you have a food mill. Which I do. But those are the kind of sweeping statements that can make a body worry. "Simplicity" can often mean "nightmare"--depending on which chef you choose. So my confidence in Julia, at this point, is high. As long as I have the proper tools.

Our dinner last night was very simple, and as much as we could manage, very French. We walked down to the grocery store with our green bags to pick up most of the ingredients--we had potatoes and lettuce on hand, but not much else--and though it was a Safeway and not a lovely outdoor market, we perused the produce and bought our food fresh. Or as fresh as grocery stores allow. Our meal was simple (that's the word of the day): potage parmentier, a green salad, a pear, a green apple, and cheese. The cheese was, regrettably, not French. It was an amazing English cheddar (Ian's not too fond of Brie). The salad was a little much--the red onion was strong enough to burn the hair out of your nose--but next time, I'll soak the onion in water before serving, to leach away some of the acids. Generally speaking, very French and very yummy.

Not very elegant.

You see, this lovely meal was consumed on the couch, in front of the TV (while watching Julie and Julia followed by Ratatouille--we were in a very Frenchie gourmet mood). Too much cheese was consumed. There was burping involved. The wine was all wrong--syrah when we should have had a pinot grigio or something equally light, but we already had the syrah--and there were no napkins or fancy cutlery or anything like that. I'm sure Julia would have been appalled. Or maybe not. She did like Costco hot dogs. (That's not mentioned in Mastering the Art of French Cooking--you'll have to go to the Cooking with Amy blog archives for that).

All in all, an excellent introduction to French cooking. Next weekend, perhaps a roast chicken and a vegetable dish (un poulet rotis et des legumes--this book is good for my language skills, too).

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