We were 12 diners for Saturday’s Supper Club night – “A Taste of France” and, as usual, my diners made for interesting and entertaining guests. The menu for the evening started with a welcome drink: “L’Amande Pastis. This was a cocktail made up of one part Pastis (an aniseed flavoured French aperitif) to one part Almond Sugar Syrup and topped up with Soda Water to taste. This would traditionally have been shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker, but as I would have had to this 12 times, I elected to premix the cocktail into a large glass pitcher jug and poured this over ice in individual glasses for guests as they arrived.
The starter was a black olive tapenade spread over toasted thyme and roasted tomato bread. Ideally, the bread would have been freshly toasted and still reasonably warm when it arrived at the dinner table, but with 12 diners to cater for, I had to pre-toast the bread and serve it cold with the tapenade spread on top.
The main course was a white wine version of Coq au Vin – Coq au Blanc. The recipe was taken from a cook book by Harry Eastwood: “The Skinny French Kitchen“. Harry – despite her name – is a female and grew up in France. She wrote this cook book in an effort to control weight and still enjoy traditional French brasserie cooking, keeping as much as possible to the original recipes but using much less fat, and therefore reducing the calorific value of each of the dishes in her book. I found the recipe slightly flawed in that it calls for the chicken to be cooked on the hob for 2 hours. However, this rendered the chicken into a state of near disintegration and as there was rather a lot of liquid (almost 2 litres for 12 servings at the start of cooking) I found it was impossible to present it well on the plate. I would recommend that the stock be reduced by half and that the cooking time, too, is reduced to just an hour, since the chicken will have already been partly cooked in the browning process in the pan, leaving the chicken meat still on the bone and retaining its shape, rather than falling off and into the sauce!
The dessert – “Iced Coffee Parfait” – was taken from Raymond Blanc’s “Kitchen Secrets”. The recipe states 10 – 12 servings, which I relied upon. However, in reality the servings were meagre and I would have preferred that they were a little more generous. It was a lovely dessert, and I will certainly add it to my repertoire, but with a note that the recipe would better serve 8 than 10-12.