Tastes of French Bistro

Jun 4th, 2006

After completing another class from our, ìTastes ofÖî series, I am reminded how many culinary nuances exist from the cuisines making up the Mediterranean. This has been a departure for me since I have always enjoyed mixing up the flavors and pulling what I perceive as the most interesting from each region.

France is considered by most consumers as the birthplace of modern cooking. In truth it is the Italians who amongst chefs, are given credit for sparking the industry we love today. Let me digress a momentÖCaterina de Medici of Florence was wed to King Henry II of France in 1533, bringing along her chefs as well. After entertaining the nobility of France, Caterina would loan her chefs to the various Dukes and Duchessí so that they might reciprocate in style. The face of gastronomy was changed over time and took on a look of its own, utilizing local ingredients and techniques applicable with the French bounty.

This brings us back to Bistro cooking. Our research indicates that bistro style refers to an unpretentious, less formal and quicker dining experience. Quicker is meant in relative terms to the long ìformalî dinners that European meals have been noted for. For us the menu was reminiscent of meals Lenore and I had while in Paris. Our menu follows:

Chicken Liver Mousse Croustade with Aspic GelÈ
Spring Asapargus Spears with Sauce Bearnaise, French bread
Grilled Steak with Pommes Frites, Tossed Greens with Fines Herb
Mussels with Court Bouillion and Garlic Croustade
Lavender Creme Brulee with Orange Shortbread

I have included the mussels recipe for your enjoyment. Bon Appetit! ñ ciao Bob

Mussels with Saffron Court Bouillion and Garlic Croustade
3 TBS EVOO
3 cloves garlic, paste
1 leek, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 small jicama, julienne
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 pinch saffron
‡ cup dry white wine
1 cup reduced fish stock
1 cup ‡ & ‡ cream
3# mussels, cleaned

Method: place oil in large preheated sautÈ pan; add garlic and leek; cook until aromatic; add carrot; cook until tender; add jicama, tomatoes, saffron, wine and stock; bring to a simmer; add cream; adjust seasonings; add mussels; cover and cook 3 ñ 5 minutes or until opened; remove and serve immediately.

Croustade: 12 thick wedges artisan bread, as needed EVOO – Method: place sliced bread on sheet pan and brush with EVOO; season with sea salt, ground coriander and pepper; place in 400†F oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the bread is lightly toasted ñ remove and serve with aioli.

Roasted Garlic Aioli: 4 cloves roasted garlic, 3 RT egg yolks, ‡ cup EVOO, ‡ cup grape seed oil, juice of 1 lemon, TT cayenne pepper ñ Method: mash garlic into a paste; add yolks and whisk well; add oils in a steady stream, whisking constantly; add juice and season with sea salt, cayenne and coriander; reserve chilled.