Earlier this month, Cookbook Club mastered the art of French cooking, courtesy our heroine and inspiration, Julia Child. Despite all being somewhat “under the weather” (hair of the dog is a real thing that works, as it turns out), we enjoyed ourselves and the food thoroughly, and had a great time.

I mean, really, how can you go wrong with an ingredients stash like this:

Ingredients: wine, liqueur, butter.

The wine was a 2010 beaujolais-villages, which felt right for spring, and well all enjoyed. I’ve also had another Louis Jadot (a côtes du rhône, I think, at a Julia Child-themed potluck two springs ago, where boeuf bourguignon was the main). Our complete menu as follows:

Dinner menu
Featuring artichokes with hollandaise, coq au vin, gratin dauphinois, and crepes suzette.

We actually started with Kir Royale cocktails and a selection of olives and cheeses, courtesy Wegmans’ fabulous olive and cheese bars.

Kir Royale cocktails
Bon appetit!

The hollandaise was a revelation – I’ve been eating artichokes all my life, and usually dipped them in mayo (when I was younger) or lemon/butter mixes as an adult. The problem with hollandaise, beside the fact that it will one day kill you, is that it makes a volume (serves four normal-eating people, or the three gourmandes) and wouldn’t keep very well. I’ve also had and and enjoyed it on asparagus; if you can find enough people to share with, I highly recommend it! Eating artichokes gave me an excuse to tell a story about my father’s youthful follies in California after two decades of Midwestern living – after having artichokes at a friend’s house, he went out purchased a roundish green produce item and proceeded to boil it, only to discover that avocados are not to be boiled. My parents were artichoke converts after their years in California, and Trish and I ate them regularly as kids. My parents even have lovely, classic artichoke plates. (If they go missing after one of my visits, I will have to plead the fifth.)

Cookbook club in action
Cookbook club in action: artichokes boiling, bacon rendering.

Flambeing the coq au vin was a success, and I impressed myself (and my friend’s husband) by flambeing without setting off the fire alarm. Dessert, once again, proved to be the challenging dish, though delicious. The crepe recipe made very wet crepes, which were harder to flip and flambe. Crepes stuffed with orange butter, soaked in Grand Marnier and browned in cognac are, it turns out, delicious no matter the effort that went into them.

Our next selection is Alton Brown’s Good Eats Vol. 1, whenever we get around to it. I suspect there will be significant rigging of kitchen equipment involved, so I’ll be sure to bring my camera this time!

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