Friday, February 27, 2009

All Women All Night

Last night the women of my world gathered together for our first of hopefully many all femme dinner events. Since we thought themeing the night would help focus our cooking energies, we chose France (rather randomly with the help a participant's 2 year old daughter and an encyclopedia). French food sounded pretty reasonable and doable, especially for a Francophil like me.

I decided to make a Cooks Illustrated Chicken Provencal recipe. I made this before with good results; it's pretty easy and pretty tasty. Unfortunately, the day of the party I felt dizzy-trippy, tired, scatter-brained, just off my game.

I did fine browning the chicken and prepping the ingredients for the sauce in ample advance of the event. Satisfied with my work, I took a shower and came down to finish the sauce and put the chicken in the oven--you know to have it cooking maybe for the last 30 mins while everyone ate appetizers. Unfortunately, I hadn't re-read the recipe all the way through and realized at 6:00 (about when everyone was supposed to arrive) that the dish needed to cook for 1 1/4 hours. Yikes, I almost had a heart attack; I'm not kidding, my heart was a thumpin. I frantically threw everything in the pot and shoved it in the oven. To make a long story mercifully shorter, everything turned out fine--guests came later than expected, the chicken cooked up in plenty of time.

But enough about me. Here is an overview of all the other delicious dishes from our premier dinner Francais. Anita made a super fantastic French onion soup. It was so good and so beautiful that it had to be the lead image (see top of the page). Anita reminded us several times, while we tucked into her sumptuous soup, that it contained a stick of butter. I believe that Anita could love butter, if it just wasn't butter. All I can say is thank goodness for that stick of butter.

Lauren made this tasty salad with roasted beets, endive, lettuce, green beans and walnuts. It went perfectly with the chicken and contained not even a touch of butter. A respectable French entry, I believe, and refreshing and delicious to boot. Finally, Danyelle did no baking or chopping, but she did have to talk to a former student working at the pastry counter in a local grocery store. That seems like quite enough of a sacrifice to me. The results of her discussions with her ex-student was this very berry tart, a mountain-of-berries tart, really.

These are all the food photos I have, but not all the food at the party. Susie brought a very French appetizer of mashed avocado dip; Amy brought the chips with which to dip it; Annie brought a variety of things. I can't remember them all, but I do recall a bottle of Veuve Clicqout and a bud vase sans les fleurs (she's such a well-raised southern girl, she always brings presents). And last, but not least, Chris brought some cute eclairs. I'm still enjoying them every now and again. Overall, I would say we started this women's night thing off with a bang. Next stop Portugal.