Never one to turn down a good competition, I couldn’t resist entering Chez Pim’s Dinner @ 8 challenge: Dorie’s French Supper Menu. Ok, the cookbook giveaway might have also had a little something to do with it. But, I must say, after participating in this challenge, I have become (even more so) a fan of Chez Pim’s new Dinner @ 8 feature. The concept is simply brilliant: a food blog that walks readers through not only one recipe, but an entire meal, complete with step-by-step instructions for the entire menu. Although Dorie’s French Supper Menu was time consuming (it took me exactly 3 hours from start to finish), it was one of the easiest, most elegant meals I’ve ever prepared. Here’s the menu:
Starter: Béatrice’s Red Kuri Pumpkin Soup
Main Dish: Chard-stuffed Pork Roast
Side Dish: Endives, Apples, and Grapes
Dessert: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake
So, let’s see how it went:
I started by melting one stick of butter in the microwave.
And slicing 4 apples into petals. I must say, my knife skills have never been better. These petals were quite a work out.
Not much of a baker, I was a little nervous when I started making the cake batter. But this honestly couldn’t have been more simple, and it smelled incredible— even before it started baking. It’s gotta be the rum!
I mixed the apple petals with the batter and piled the mixture into my cake pan. Into the oven for one hour. What’s next?
Ah, yes, the soup. I haven’t had the pleasure of eating much squash soup in my day, but I will say with absolute certainty that it’s going to be a regular on my dinner menu from now on. Wow, was this good! I started the soup by cutting a 3 pound butternut squash into large chunks.
And then roughly chopping several leeks.
Into a large soup pot the squash and leeks went, with a little bit of olive oil, and then a mixture of heavy cream and skim milk, water and, of course, salt and pepper. Brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered while I got started on the dish of honor: stuffed pork roast.
Roughly chopped one onion, several cloves of garlic and 3 large leaves of swiss chard. I usually just buy spinach for a recipe like this, but I wanted the dish to be as authentic as possible, so I figured I better just follow the directions and go with the chard.
Sautéed the onions and garlic in some olive oil. I wish you could have smelled my kitchen at this point: pure happiness.
Once your onions are soft, add the swiss chard.
Season with s&p and add a few pinches of red pepper flakes for heat.
It’s time to stuff the roast. Be forewarned: this is not a glamorous process. I cut my roast in half, leaving the end attached, and put the stuffing on the bottom half. I don’t know if I just made way too much stuffing, or if my roast wasn’t quite big enough, but half my stuffing wound up on the bottom of the baker. No complaining, it was delicious later, but as far as presentation goes, it wasn’t, shall we say, pretty. Tied some kitchen twine around my stuffed roast to hold it all together and got ready to put it in the oven.
First we have to take the cake out! Isn’t it beautiful?
So, cake comes out, roast goes in, and now we’re onto the side dish. Endives, apples, grapes and rosemary. From the beginning, I knew this dish was going to be like none I’ve ever had before, but I was intrigued and willing to give it a try, despite my hesitation. After slicing everything up, I threw it all in a skillet (that, quite frankly, could have been a few inches bigger) and let it do its thing for 20 minutes. Flipped it, let it cook for another 20 minutes on the opposite side.
Meanwhile, I pureed the soup in a food processor, added some creme fraiche and got my cake ready for its close-up.
I must say, I am very impressed with how perfectly this came out considered how few cakes I have actually baked in my life.
The roast is ready. The side dish is finishing up… IT’S TIME TO EAT!
Béatrice’s Red Kuri Pumpkin Soup, except mine was made with butternut squash due to a lack of red kuri pumpkins at the grocery store . Even still, this was one of the best soups I’ve ever had, and certainly the best soup I’ve ever made myself. I will be eating this soup for years to come, I’m sure of it.
Chard-stuffed Pork Roast with Endives, Apples, and Grapes. I omitted the raisins for the pork, but it was so incredibly flavorful I could hardly believe how few ingredients it contained. As far as the side dish… I have to admit, it wasn’t my favorite. The endives were almost unbearably bitter and in all honesty, I’m not a big fan of fruit as a dish. I prefer to eat it plain, in its natural state. I don’t think I’ll be making this dish again, but the stuffed pork will absolutely become a staple recipe.
And then it was time for dessert. I hardly had any room left in my stomach, but I knew this was going to be one cake I didn’t want to miss. Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake was BY FAR the very best apple dessert I have ever had. Topped with a dollop of creme fraiche, this cake was the perfect blend of sweet and tangy, with notes of rum and vanilla interwoven throughout. This cake makes me want to be a baker. Wow!
Thanks for such a fun, delicious challenge, Pim. I hope I win :)