A French Dinner with Friends

May 22nd, 2012

We were invited to dinner last Saturday night.  We are so lucky to have such good and supportive friends.  And to think that we met them because of our respective blogs.  The “Other Penny”, as we sometimes refer to each other, has a lifestyle blog that has detailed her many talents in whispering houses back to life.  She and her husband both know what a house needs to make it a comfortable home.  Her blog, The Comforts of Home, chronicles the projects and ideas that can improve any house.  But she is also a fantastic cook.  Penny is well aware of our upcoming trip to France (Probably because that is all I talk about).  Both she and her husband  have been to France and have shared many tips with us.  For our Bon Voyage dinner Penny made a French meal.

One of France’s national treasures is the Gourgere.  These small cheese puffs are made from pate a choux dough.  In its sweet version the dough is used in cream puffs stuffed with sweetened whipped cream.  But when you want a savory appetizer you add Gruyere cheese to the dough and allow them to bake, puff and form a hollow center.  They melt in your mouth.  They are made all over France, but the Burgundy region claims them as their own.  They are served in many restaurants there as an appetizer with the local aperitif.  We had them with a lovely white wine.  Here is the recipe from Barefoot in Paris.

Coq au Vin, the classic French chicken in red wine is one of the dishes that I have served many times.  But Penny’s version, made with white wine, is a perfect alternative.  The one thing that has always bothered my about the original recipe is the burgundy color that infuses the chicken.  It just doesn’t look natural.  White wine is a good thing for this dish.  Penny also uses boneless chicken thighs which cook faster and retain their juiciness.  Her rendition keeps the smoky bacon flavor, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the silkiness of the onions.  It is winey and earthy at the same time.  The mashed potatoes (David’s favorite) and the braised carrots are the perfect  finishing touches.   You can find her recipe here.

Dessert was a spectacular lemon meringue tart.  The recipe came from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.  The mood has been set and we are ready for our trip.  Thanks for a great meal Penny.

11 responses to “A French Dinner with Friends”

  1. knancy says:

    I am in heaven just looking at the pictures of my most favorite foods in one posting. Unreal! Wish I could have tasted. Coq Au Vin is just so comforting – oh! what am I saying, all of these foods are just so delicious and comforting to the body and soul. Thanks for the pics and memories of great food.

  2. You and Penny are the perfect match for friends – you have so much in common and always have a good time when you get together. This was a perfect bon voyage dinner for your trip to France. Love the idea of the white wine in the chicken. I’ve never attempted gougeres myself. Maybe one of these days…

    See you soon,

  3. Kat says:

    Wow! What a grand meal!

  4. I enjoyed creating the meal for you and David! We always enjoy your company and we are so looking forward to seeing and hearing about your trip when you get back. Thank you for saying such sweet things about Mr. Comforts and me…
    p.s. see you tomorrow!

  5. Susan says:

    Lovely dinner. That does it. I am going over to check out that “other” Penny. Enjoy your trip to France. Can’t come soon enough, can it?

  6. Rita says:

    I just had to go and visit the other Penny; she has a lovely little corner; that was quite the meal. You must be counting the sleeps before you leave.

  7. marcia smith says:

    Penny- so happy to hear you are off to Paris- we just got back and I am still jetlagged- the older I get the harder it is to shake off!! We had a fabulous time and great weather!- Headed to Lyon for the highlight of the trip- heck maybe of my life – dinner at Paul Bocuse restaurant!!! 3 star Michelin!! Couldn’t believe we were there- met Chef and had our photos with him!! of course the 7 course dinner started with gourgeres. Will post soon- heading to Maine for the summer on Friday! Have a fabulous time in France.

  8. Big Dude says:

    What a special meal they prepared for you – it all looks delicious.

  9. Mary says:

    …..and I’m really anxious to catch up with you today too Penny, and to hear about your upcoming adventure to la belle France.

    Hugs – Mary

  10. What a beautiful dinner, Penny. I’m excited for you and am looking forward to reading all about your trip.

  11. lindaraxa says:

    Wow, Penny, the dinner and the photos!!!

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