Bon appetit

I guess a blog should reveal the inner workings of the obsessive mind. As you know, I cooked a Julia Child recipe based dinner for my friends yesterday. It was a great success, in all respects: the company, the food, and the live music that we played later on in the evening. When I was an undergraduate I read Miller, Gallanter and Pribram’s classic book ‘Plans and the structure of behaviour‘; it has influenced my life ever since.  Indeed, my Ph.D. thesis was closely concerned with the concept of plan and the generation, execution, and explanation of action in bounded episodes of everyday stuff.  So, perhaps it will come as no surprise to you to discover that I plan my meals in some considerable detail. I see a recipe as being closely equivalent to a musical score. Clearly, the score will not produce music unless the musician has learned the various skills demanded and is well-practiced; only then can emotional expression and some degree of improvisation come to the fore. Just so with cooking.

For the meal I cooked yesterday for my dear friends Tony, Costello, Terry and Angela (not to mention She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Mentioned), I prepared two schedules: one focussed upon the week ahead of the dinner party, the other covered the day of the dinner itself. I have today learned that it is easy to paste such documents into my WordPress blog, direct from Word for Windows. So, my dear blogophiles, just for the record, here they are in their entirety.  As Julia might say…. “Bon appetit

June 4th 2011

Wheat-flour-free meal (corn flour or rice flour are alternatives).

Potage crème d’Épinards (cream of spinach soup) p.41

  • Substitute corn flour for the wheat flour specified at the bottom of p.40 in the base recipe for watercress soup.
  • Make the base ahead of time and freeze. Serve cold on the day. If necessary, add in a little more cream before serving.
  • Rice cake croutons?

Gratin de pommes de terre aux champignons  (Gratin of potatoes and mushrooms)  p.160-162

  • This is basically a quiche filling without the pastry case.
  • Serve with boiled green vegetables (broccoli) and grilled tomatoes

Charlotte Malakoff aux fraises (Almond cream with fresh strawberries) p.643

  • It will be necessary to make sponge fingers with rice flour or corn flour ahead of time. The fingers should keep for a few days, anyway.
  • The charlotte will be served with strawberry sauce

Biscuits à la cuiller (sponge fingers) p.708

Made with rice flour or corn flour.

Sauce aux fraises (strawberry sauce) p.629

1 lb. strawberries

6 oz castor sugar

2 tbl. Lemon juice & cognac

PLANNING

Monday: Make and freeze spinach soup base (but not with the egg yolks and cream)

Friday: Make sponge fingers, strawberry sauce, and charlotte (store in fridge)

Saturday:

Morning: Finish soup with egg yolks and cream. Cool, and store in fridge.

Afternoon: Make the gratin, put it in the baking dish and halve tomatoes for baking with it

Prepare the broccoli

Sort out (bake)croutons plus rice cakes for Costello

Lay table and make up  flower vases

Evening:

Serve drinks; Put Gratin in oven

Serve cold soup (adding cream if necessary) together with the croutons (& rice cakes)

Put potatoes on to boil; cut lettuce leaves from plants in kitchen window box

Fry prawns in garlic; plate up with lettuce and serve.

Put broccoli on to boil

Plate up gratin, broccoli, potatoes and tomatoes; serve at table.

Unmould charlotte and serve with strawberry sauce.

Serve coffee

Notes for afternoon preparation

Skin tomatoes; place halved in baking dish with basil

Cook onions and sliced mushrooms in butter (season)

In large bowl: beat 4 eggs, crushed garlic, 2tbl chopped parsley, lemon juice, cream, port. (season)…

Blend in the cooked mushrooms

Put into oven dish & grate 3 oz cheese on top with some flecks of butter.

Ice-water to table; open wine to breathe

6.30 Arrivals

7.15 Start the meal

Bread rolls and rice cakes to table

Soup:  Serve with parsley garnish (add cream if necessary), bread rolls & rice cakes

X starts a 40 minute lead into the main course

X: Put gratin in the oven (40 mins); heat water for potatoes

X+15 = Potatoes on to boil; heat water for broccoli; and….

 

Prawns: fry in garlic & plate up with lettuce leaves & serve

X+30= Broccoli on to boil

 

Main Course

X+40=   Gratin: out of oven & plate up

Broccoli: strain & plate up

Potatoes: strain & plate up

Tomatoes: out of oven  & plate up

Charlotte: unmould & serve with strawberry sauce

 

Coffee

Summary of the meal (page numbers refer to Julia Child’s book):

Potage crème d’Épinards (cream of spinach soup) p.41

Fried garlic mushrooms on home-grown lettuce leaves (a sort of amuse-bouche)

Gratin de pommes de terre aux champignons  (Gratin of potatoes and mushrooms)  p.160-162

Charlotte Malakoff aux fraises (Almond cream with fresh strawberries) p.643

Biscuits à la cuiller (sponge fingers) p.708

Sauce aux fraises (strawberry sauce) p.629

 

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