The Meal Planner

Lacey and I.
I have another wonderful Secret-Secret Geography Club dinner to share with you.

Eight months after Joel and Lindsey moved we finally asked a couple girls from our church (one's a chef and one's a die hard baker and cook) to add to our ranks. After much deliberation the six of us decided to visit France for our culinary travels. We had already done French food with Joel and Lindsey (which I still must tell you about!), but since it's such a vast and rich cuisine we knew that there was so much more to explore.

We had it all planned out:
I was going to do the appetizer with some Oeufs en Cocotte.
Lacey was going to bring some French wine as well as Coq au Vin.
Dan and Lisa were bringing duck and a terrine.
And Bailey had dessert covered with a croquembouche as well as macarons.

A feast of French cuisine!  The day of our dinner I started to think maybe we needed a salad as well and so I started researching and thinking I'd do a traditional Nicoise Salad, but then Steve stopped me and said "Kin think of how much food everyone is bringing!  We have enough."  So I backed off and stuck to the plan.

But by early afternoon Bailey delivered the bad news that she had gone to the doctor for a sore throat and he thought she had mono.  She would have to stay home (and eat all the profiteroles and macarons herself).  So disappointing!  But I guess we still had a bunch of food to eat and could make it through without dessert.

By 5pm Lacey called to say she had to work late that day at the restaurant, forgot to thaw her chicken, she hadn't started cooking her dish yet and Bailey was her ride out to our place, so she was cancelling too! Steve refused to let her back out and said we didn't care about the food, we just wanted her company.  In the end Lacey made it and came bearing two bottles of French wine and some French cheese.  All was well!

Our rocky start quickly mended when Dan and Lisa served their Roasted Vegetable Terrine with fresh herbs and goat cheese.


Slices of the terrine were served on top of French bread toasted into crostini and the flavor was wonderful.  I'm not a fan of everything that went into this dish, yet when it all combined it all worked so well.  Dan and Lisa did such a great job!  I was so thankful that their terrine was vegetables and cheese, because when I googled "terrine" it said it was a "French forcemeat loaf" and generally used gelatin to hold its shape.  Ewwwww.  This was so much better than a forcemeat loaf.


The chefs Dan and Lisa.

I then served up my Oeufs en Cocotte.  They were eggs baked in individual ramekins on a bed of creamed spinach with cream and parmesan cheese over the top.  I had been drooling over this recipe for months and I was so glad to have a good excuse to make it.  Since Deborah gave the recipe her first ever 5 out of 5 I was really expecting "spectacular".  My first bite really underwhelmed me so I became a little disappointed.  But as I ate I started to taste the gentle muted flavors and how well they all worked together with the runny eggs and the crisp French bread toasts.  The creamed spinach is a fantastic addition and with a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a little extra salt and pepper these baked eggs won me over.  If they weren't so much dang work I'd love to serve them for breakfast on the weekends!


Dan impressed us all with his Duck a L'Orange.  I had never tasted duck before so I was so excited to dig in.   It had such a gorgeous crisp skin (my absolute favorite part). 


Drizzled with the orange sauce the duck was succulent and divine.  I was sad my piece was so small actually because once I got a taste I wanted more.


My handsome hubby.

Before dinner I had done a quick search for an easy French dessert and came up with Gratin de Fruits rouges.  I had all the ingredients on hand and it looked like it would take about 10 minutes to whip up.  I used frozen mixed berries and placed them in the ramekins and poured the vanilla cream over the top.  The recipe had me sprinkle the tops with sugar and place them under the broiler.  To my amazement they actually bruleed!  There was a nice crackly caramel top and underneath cool berries and cream.  I'm sure it was an accident that the cream and berries were still cold (since I had put the berries in frozen), but we all loved the contrast of the the cool creamy filling with the warm crackly top.  This one was a surprise for me.  I'd definitely make it again! 


We all sat and visited, wine in hand, for hours and discussed all the possible countries we could eat or themed dinner parties we could have.  It was so nice to have our Secret-Secret Geography Club revived again.  Here's to many more dinners to come.  Très heureuse!

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