What should I cook in France?
May 8, 2006 10:20 PM   Subscribe

What should I make for dinner? I'm in France, have a kitchen, some foie gras and no clue.

Goal: cook a delicious dinner for four.

Challenge: I'm in the French countryside. I need help getting the ingredient names in French as well as English. I'm not a particularly amazing chef, but I know what things are supposed to taste like and can follow directions.

Prep time: I have about five hours to purchase ingredients (including finding the stores), and about 2-3 hours between the start of cooking, and the start of the meal.

(and please don't suggest foie gras and/or truffle tacos. I'd love them, but our guests would not.)
posted by I Love Tacos to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
This guy seems to know a lot about French cooking, and as a hobby he translates recipes from French into English.

If you go here, you can punch in an ingredient--such as foie gras--and get a bunch of recipes back with that ingredient.
posted by Brian James at 11:04 PM on May 8, 2006

Forget the foie gras, perhaps, and embark on an "easy coq au vin" - chicken with wine? It's from AllRecipes.com but seems easy enough and not too much trouble if you've got a French town with shops and things to work with.

How good is your French? Do you know measurements and sizes? How to request things at a counter ("Bonjour! Je voudrais...", or if you're looking for something in a store, "Bonjour, je cherche pour..."). Hope that's not too patronizing, just trying to help. :)

Ingredients (converted to metric on above website)

-1 4-pound chicken: un poulet, a peu pres deux kilos
-15 ml vegetable oil: quinze millilitres d'huile vegetale
-5 g salt: cinq grammes du sel
-.5 g black pepper: zero-point-cinq grammes de poivre noir
-.7 g garlic powder: zero-point-sept grammes de poudre d'ail
-355 ml red wine: maybe ask your local wine guy/gal for "une bouteille du vin rouge pour faire un coq au vin?"
-355 ml chicken stock: bouillon du poulet (beware - this may be the same as chicken broth, best to ask at the boucherie?)
-1 onion: un oignon
-10 g cornstarch: the dictionary only gives me the brand-sounding name "Maizena," so maybe that's like "Kleenex" and will be universally understood - dix grammes de Maizena?
-80 ml water: quatre-vingt millilitres d'eau

The recipe's linked to above. For a side dish, perhaps rice (du riz) or some asparagus (des asperges) rolled around with salt, pepper, and olive oil (huile d'olives), put on a baking sheet, and broiled for ten minutes on high heat in the oven, then sprinked with handfuls of Parmesan (du fromage de Parmesan?) and broiled for a few more minutes until soft and lovely? Some wine on the side from the aformentioned wine people?

Good luck.
posted by mdonley at 11:11 PM on May 8, 2006

I second the coq au vin...it's always a crowd pleaser.
posted by Brian James at 11:21 PM on May 8, 2006

Response by poster: Je parle francais comme une vache espagnole, mais je peux faire des demandes simples.

There's been a non-AskMe delivered suggestion of:
foie gras and fruit appetizer
simple chopped salad
roasted chicken with truffle sauce
purchased pastries

mdonley: I really like the asparagus idea.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:21 PM on May 8, 2006

what mdonley said.
posted by special-k at 11:23 PM on May 8, 2006

Asparagus has just come into season in N California, and it's amazingly wonderful. Basically, though, for a vegetable side just go to the market and buy what's in season.
posted by occhiblu at 11:26 PM on May 8, 2006

No contest. Beef Wellington.
4 pieces of steak
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. oil
12 large fresh mushrooms
Foie gras
6 tbsp. Madeira wine
1/2 bay leaf and a pinch of rosemary
Egg to glaze
Frozen sheets of Puff Pastry or make your own
Sprinkle meat with a little salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in skillet and sear the meat quickly on all sides. Remove meat and allow to cool. Remove stems from mushrooms. Chop the mushroom stems very finely and saute them in the skillet. When cooked, squeeze between paper towels to remove most of the moisture. Blend with foie gras and two tablespoons of the Madeira. Reserve. Slice and saute mushrooms caps in the butter remaining in skillet and when they are cooked, add remaining 4 tablespoons Madeira, bay leaf and rosemary. Simmer one minute. Reheat at last minute and serve in gravy boat.
Spread foie gras mixture over the meat. Place each steak (foie gras side down) in the centre of a sheet of pastry. Fold one side of the pastry over the meat. Wet the edge of the pastry and fold over the other side and the two ends. Place on a baking sheet seam side down. Make small incisions in the pastry on top in order to release steam. Brush with egg. Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 40 minutes or so or until golden.
Serve with mashed potato and carrots.
posted by tellurian at 11:30 PM on May 8, 2006

The asparagus is an adaptation of an Ina Garten creation from the book with the raucous family on the cover - I'm out of the country and not pantry-accessible, I don't recall the title. It's so, so, so good. I could eat 50, 75 asparagus spears like this. It's my favorite vegetable dish and I am totally the family hero when I make it.

Gotta go with what occhiblu says on buying what's in season - and you're in France, so just see what the old ladies are buying and go for that. They know what's up.

On preview, I never knew Beef Wellington got so much fancy with relatively little prep.
posted by mdonley at 11:33 PM on May 8, 2006

foie gras is really nice seared quickly in a pan and then topped with slices of pear, fried sage and a little bit of chocolate drizzle.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 2:23 AM on May 9, 2006

Response by poster: I just made my first pass at shopping and ended up with a bunch of random ingredients (I bought stuff that seemed potentially useful, without any real ideas...)

I got so thoroughly lost on the return that I'm debating just cooking with what I managed on the first trip. (mdonley's menu would be in play, in that case.)
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:43 AM on May 9, 2006

Sergeant sandwich has it right.

Another great combo is seared FG, topped with a muscat wine reduction and chunks of roasted pinapple and coarse sea salt. None of these things is hard to do - the ingrediants are a tad exotic is all.

When I had this at sureny in barcelona, I almost had a harry met sally moment right there and then.
posted by lalochezia at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2006

The fois-gras-and-fruit plate is a good suggestion, as is sergeant sandwich's. Here's mine, and I know it sounds gross, but it's a fantastic hors d'oeuvre: foie gras and grape (or plum) jelly, served on warm brioche, cut into cute little pieces. It's such a great combo of sweet and savory.
posted by veronica sawyer at 9:28 AM on May 9, 2006

Oh, and sprinkle the bread with some fleur de sel.
posted by veronica sawyer at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2006

Response by poster: Final menu was:
bellini aperitif
foie gras and apple appetizer
chopped salad with a vinaigrette
Rosemary, thyme, and truffle chicken, made with a free range bird.
Broiled asparagus.
tasty dessert from a local store
whole bunch of wine

It worked out fantastic.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:38 AM on May 11, 2006

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