I had a sudden rush of blood to the head towards the end of last year and decided to put on a French themed meal for my family for New Years Eve. I always love making new recipes and dressing the table. This year Christmas wasn’t hosted at my parents where I normally decorate the table for Christmas dinner, so I thought I’d get it out of my system for NYE. As a family we don’t really do massive parties for the changing of the year, but prefer to spend it with the family having a lovely meal and reflecting on the past year and the year to come. I remember one year we decided to write down a list of things to we hoped to accomplish the following year and placed it in a sealed envelope. The following NYE we opened the envelope to see whether or not we had accomplished anything. Much to my disappointment, I think I only succeeded on one item on my list. It’s amazing how in 365 days it’s still ‘not possible’ to have the time to crack on with things. Actually, this really isn’t true. I’m just a terrible procrastinator and it’s my biggest weakness. My resolution for this year is to work harder at this, and especially procrastinating at finishing my website. As they say, it’s better to take tiny steps rather than trying to do everything at once. Let’s see how I get on this year!!
I’m not entirely sure why I chose a French theme for our dinner. After flicking through several recipe books I always came back to a recipe for ‘Coq au Vin’, and I also knew that I wanted to make a pretty dessert so everything else kind of fell into place. We started with my mother’s favourite tipple – a French 75. Highly alcoholic but quite refreshing. Lots of prosecco / champagne was consumed over Christmas so it was nice to make it a little different with a twist of gin and sharp lemon juice. This was accompanied with homemade cheese straws which sounds much nicer when in French – ‘Pailles de Fromage’ (thank goodness for Google Translate). We then sat down to dinner and to a bowl of homemade Jerusalem artichoke soup. Now this was a very good recipe and it tasted delicious if I do say so myself. Just a word of caution though – this recipe doesn’t take long at all to make, it is incredible simple but if you’re in a rush make sure to peel the artichokes ahead of time. If you’ve not seen one before, Google it. These knobbly roots are surprisingly difficult to peel. Our main was of course Coq au Vin, again very successful and as the French, it’s always better the next day so I made it in advance which was handy to have one of the bigger dishes sorted ahead of time. The chicken was accompanied with freshly steamed broccoli and asaparagus smothered in butter, and of course some hearty mash potato for soaking up the yummy juices. If we weren’t full enough at this stage, I brought out a lovely platter of French cheeses, crackers, figs, grapes and dates. My father and husband popped into Costco that morning and brought back a lovely selection of cheese, I really wish I’d kept the names as they were really delicious. I do love cheese and the French for saying that the cheese course should come before dessert. The last and final course was Mille Feuille aka French Napoleon Pastry. This hadn’t quite set as I’d planned but I this was because I hadn’t made enough filling so had to add whipped cream which made it a bit runnier. It still stated delicious though. On the whole, it was a very successful evening!
I’m planning another dinner party soon but for the time being, here are a few pictures from the evening!