Dinner with Friends – Version Vegetarian

I love cooking! And I love having people over to cook for. It’s more fun when you eat with a bigger group. I also like to test my concoctions on people and hear their praise. I take compliments very well. So I called over some friends, including one which is vegetarian. But thank goodness she’s not vegan. I love butter too much. However, I ended up having 2 vegan dishes. Anyhow, the theme was eggs, berries and herbs. I served 5 courses and cheese and apero.

Apero
Mushroom cocotte with quail eggs
Decomposed ratatouille on tartine

Menu Soiree
Herb oeuf cocotte
Berry Easy Strawberry Salad
Salad Minuscule
Lemon Rosemary Cream Pasta
Assortment of Unpasteurized French Cheeses
Red Berries with Creme Anglaise

It was an aggressive menu for one person to prepare. But I am Mega Super Jamie, domestic goddess slash brilliant statistician and lover of champagne. I can do anything! Every dish was perfectly seasoned, perfect consistency, perfect everything! They are all pretty easy to make and I measured everything with excruciating precision so hope you try out some of the recipe’s!!!

Mushroom Cocotte with Quail Eggs

FOR 4

INGREDIENTS:
16 small white button mushrooms
16 quail eggs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup creme fraiche (or mascarpone)
1/4 cup grated gruyere (or comte if available)

PREPARATION:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (or 190 celcius).
Brush off the dirt from the mushrooms if there are any. Or gently wash them under cold water. Tear off the stalk. Lay the mushrooms on a baking sheet top side down. Add half a teaspoon of creme fraiche or mascapone, then gently crack an egg into the middle of the mushroom. Top with some parsley and cheese. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Berry Easy Strawberry Salad
This salad is amazing and one of my favorite things to make. I kind of don’t want to give out the recipe because I want to keep it to myself. But it’s just too good not to share. The vinaigrette is so wonderfully silky and the best part is this is completely fat free and you can get all your daily vitamins in one dish! Well, maybe not calcium. Hope it becomes one of your very favorites!

FOR 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 package of prewashed salad greens (or just baby spinach works)
3 cups strawberries, cut into bit size pieces
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Pepper

PREPARATION:
Make the vinaigrette. Take one cup of strawberries and sugar. Blend and make a smooth puree. In another bowl, take 4 tablespoons of the strawberry puree and 4 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar and mix. Add pepper if you want. For the vinaigrette, you will want to use the same quantity of puree as the vinegar. And it’s very important that you use white balsamic vinegar. It has just enough vinegariness that makes the salad so wonderful. The vinaigrette will be amazingly silky and brilliant, you don’t need any oil. Mix the vinegar, salad greens and strawberries and serve immediately. Serve pepper mill to those who want to add some.

You’ll have a little bit of the puree left. Use it to make more vinaigrette or do what I did. Make strawberry lemonade!

Salad Minuscule
I call this salad minuscule because I chopped everything into small tiny tiny bits. All the different colors mix so much better and the dish looks so much more vibrant. Besides, it’s more fun to eat it all mini. I feel so mini and petite eating teensy weensy pasta. I think I have some weird obsession with mini objects because I’m tall. You can also get every little piece of the ingredient in one bite so you can really taste the amazing mélange of freshness. Seriously though, there is absolutely nothing miniscule about this salad. I thought I was making enough for about 6 small plates, but I can never get my pasta measurements correct. They don’t look like much when uncooked. But whatever the case is, 5 of us ate it as the 2nd course of a 5 course dinner and left half. I took the leftovers on the TGV and I could see everyone staring with jealous eyes as they ate their store bought baguette sandwiches. How could they not be though! It’s such a beautiful and delicious dish!

FOR 6-8 (depending on appetite)

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups mini farfalle pasta (any mini pasta will work)
1 cup yellow tomatoes, chopped small (about 2 tomatoes)
1 cup red cherry tomatoes, chopped small (about 1lb = about 20 pieces)
1 cup chopped cucumbers, chopped small
1 cup black olives, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh chervil, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (but any vinegar will work)
½ cup fruity delicious olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION:
You can work in any order. Either cook the pasta to package direction, mine said 8 minutes to al dente, and set aside while the other ingredients are being prepped, or prep the other ingredients, set aside and then cook the pasta. Whichever suits you. I did the ladder. Make sure you wash everything, chop it small and in a big big bowl, mix. Add the cooked pasta and season. The olives are pretty salty so salt might not be necessary. Serve whenever.

This pasta is wonderful because you can add any ingredients in your fridge. But I find that the above combination works best for my taste buds. If you can’t find certain herbs, not a biggie. Just use whatever you have. I actually bought mint to add to the mix, but completely forgot about it. Think it would add a very nice freshness on a hot summer day. Chervil is a very common herb here in France, but I had the hardest time finding it while in NYC. Actually, I couldn’t find it at all. For those of you wondering what it is, it looks like very small flat leaf parsley and has a slight smell of tarragon. So just add more parsley and tarragon to the mix if you can’t find chervil.

Another little secret about this dish…I actually worked on it over a couple days. Like chop a little here and there when I had time. And I had these delicate, not spicy, little green and red peppers that I chopped up and added. It’s just such an easy dish and feeds so many! A perfect dish for any occasion!

Bon appetit!

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July 25, 2009. To Make.

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