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What to cook?


naps

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We've been here for one month and this coming Friday (9 July 2005) we're hosting a dinner party for our neighbours!!!!  A couple with 3 daughters aged 15, 12 and 8. What on earth would anyone suggest! 

Any help gratefully received.

 

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If you have time and contacts I would try for all the things which they may have heard of but have never tried.

One of the award winning Black Puddings as a starter 

Roast Beef with all the trimmings including Horseradish source

Yorkshire Pudding with white sauce served as a sweet

Cheddar and Lancashire Cheese with Fruit Cake

trying anything classical and French you are on a hiding to nothing but stick with French wine.

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How utterly practical.

Black Puddings - not seen those in Leclerc recently.

Roast Beef - ever tried roasting French cuts?

Horseradish sauce (source??), yep grow your own Horseradish before the 9th....

Yorkshire pudding and white sauce - do-able but better served as a trimming for the tough beef.

Cheddar and Lancashire cheeses - you must be a fruitcake.

Of course, if you live in the south of Brittany, you could pop into Asda in Pontivy.

Eh, Betty

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Despite the criticism, thanks for the tips, I think traditional may just work. However, I have had a disaster in trying to roast a joint of beef here, so may stick to the leg of lamb and shock them with the mint jelly I've got stored away in my pantry!  I can always make a Yorkshire pudding, but I too like them savoury - do you think they'll stick around for a dessert?

 

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Opel Fruit, horseradish sauce is available here. My super U stocks it, sauce de Raifort.

For whatever reason one of the Intermarche's around here stocks good roasting beef. I buy Tendre de Tranche and it is always delicious. Unfortunatley my local butcher who sells what should be excellant beef in, doesn't always.

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Trifle always goes down well.

It might be hot again so a big dinner could be too much.  If you do cook the lamb remember they like it a bit pink!  Then it is a sign of poverty to eat vegetables.  Then they don't dollop it on the same plate together.  Then they don't understand the context of gravy.  Then they ask if the Yorkshire pudding is bread.

Have a barbie and let them do the cooking.....

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So roast leg of lamb with oven roasted vegetables may not go down well?  You said it eating veg. is a sign of poverty - would it indicate we're poor, or give them the impression that we think they are poor and used to eating veg?  I never thought it would be so difficult!

Perhaps a traditional fish pie, there's no way they can split that down into it's separate bits and serve it separately!

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Yep, our Super-U sells Mint Sauce and Horseradish sauce and Colman's English Mustard. It's in the "Eric Somebody" section with beans and HP sauce. Dear though.

Intermarches near us are all on their last legs. The large Leclercs have killed them off. I wouldn't buy any meat from them, certainly. The only meat we buy from Super-U is the Pork and Chicken - good quality and value.  

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Good idea, fish pie.  Then you can spend the previous two days hooking out bones  It will also come to no harm in the oven if they are two hours late - like happened to me when I was roasting beef...don't ask!

It is perhaps just here that veg are a sign of poverty.  You had to grow them as you couldn't afford to buy anything else to eat!  Parisians don't eat a lot of veg either, apparently.  That is possibly because they all have roots in the country and are trying to keep up with the Jones's by pretending they weren't born in a house with no running water or toilet.

Lettuce always goes down well with a nice vinegrette after the main course and before the cheese....

Lots of bread to wipe up the juices.  NO side plates, of course.

Same plate for all the courses and turn it over and eat off the bottom for the dessert.  Same knife and forks.  Nice mustard jar for the wine....perhaps you haven't been here long enough to have a supply of mustard jars?

Shame

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LOL Opel Fruit there aren't many intermarche's where I like the look of the meat. However, one of the three near us gets excellant meat in and so sell lots of it. I'll touch wood, we haven't had a bad beef joint from them.

We don't really get brit food round here, I just can't imagine who would buy mint sauce apart from me. The sauce de raifort is french horseradish sauce.

 

Back to the what to serve, I rarely serve more than one veg with the main course. Dinner plates here are usually smaller than any of the english ones I brought over, so don't encourage overdoing the veggies either. Lots of small courses really.

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I have never heard that vegetables are a sign of poverty, that is certainly not the case round here. I definitely agree that something British will go down well, they will probably be expecting it and be disappointed if it doesn't appear. What about some Scottish salmon? Expensive, but easy. I think you need a selection of deserts, I wouldn't bother with trifle, because you wont get satisfactory cream, but how about a crumble, which will happily sit in the oven for a while, and if you have some custard that will probably go down well. Also a steamed pudding of any kind is totally unknown here, and should appeal. One thing my French friends love and are mystified by at first is treacle tart, they just love it. I would go to town on the puddings, because I think that that is where British cooking really is different and superiour to French cooking.
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Ok, I worried and worried, so much mixed advice.  But in the end I went with my gut feeling and cooked English food.  Stuffed Mushrooms to begin, witha light salad and dressing, roast leg of lamb with oven roasted vegetables,gravy and mint jelly and for dessert melting chocolate puddings with whipped cream.  All served on separate plates, bread plate provided and a selection of glassware.

We've either got very polite neighbours or they actually enjoyed it all - the only failure was cheeseboard, I was the only one who touched it. Mental note never to serve that again.

As for the wine, we played safe and asked a colleague to recommend something for each course.  Few can now breathe easy until our next crackpot idea!

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the only failure was cheeseboard, I was the only one who touched it. Mental note never to serve that again.

Was it French or British cheese?  I've tried to offer cheddar to French people and they always leave it, but I've never known a French person to turn down a French cheeseboard!

I also didn't believe that eating veg was a sign of "poverty" as such, just that when going out to dinner the ever careful (with their money) French tend to feel they're getting more value for money if the main course is heavy on the meat.  Same applies I think to having a dinner party - makes the dinner a bit more special if there's plenty of meat and not so much veggie.

When I did an exchange visit in my teens I stayed with a pretty affluent Parisian family who ate in the traditional way and we always had a starter of something like avocado or radishes, followed by a plate of haricots, then potatoes and finally the meat.  But we always had a couple of veggies in there somewhere.

A mild curry can go down quite well too.  But make sure it's MILD!

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Naps, your meal sounded absolutely delicious and I'm sure your guests really enjoyed it and certainly appreciated all the effort you put into it.  Don't worry about not doing things "right", they don't care, as long as everyone enjoys themselves.

It's true that nowadays when it comes to the cheese, many people don't want much (that is also why there are certain restaurant menus, apart from the price, with cheese or dessert).  Instead of having a whole cheeseboard, it's sometimes just as "nice" to simply have two "big lumps", say a whole camembert and a generous portion of something firmer, such as Tomme, Cantal, etc. and/or perhaps a fromage de chèvre.  The French often serve a green salad after the main course (also good with walnuts in as there are plenty round here), fresher than the cheese, served at the same time so they can choose between the two, or both.

I once went to great trouble to make a crumble for dessert, which everyone ate politely.  Then as they were good friends, yearslater they said everything I had ever served was good, except once, some peculiar dessert.  It was the crumble!

I often did lamb curry (Robert Carrier's recipe) and everyone loved this with the chutneys, etc.  Every time I did that they were pleased sometimes saying that's what they hoped I would do.

Naps, don't forget to let us know what your guests serve when they invite you back.... à suivre.

Christine

 

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I must say that I never used to make crumble much as I didn't think that they were very good. I make lots of things au pif and I found that crumble is one of the few things that was better if  I weighed the ingrediants. They are always good these days since I have been doing that.

 

edit

ps I've just had a call, been asked to make a crumble for the weekend. Not something I would usually make at this time of year though.

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No mention of fishy stuff here .......

Do a fruits de mer -

couple of lobsters

really decent sized crab

oysters

cockles, whelks, mussels and razor clams

prawns

good sea salt (Golfe du Morbihan if you can), good Muscadet sur lie, good bread.

Decent cheese with a nice wine and some fruit.

Spend hours trying to get the food out of the shells whilst chatting amiably with neighbours who are also desperately trying to get some food out of the shells - Job done and very nice too !

Alfa.

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My that does sound delicious, warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. My mouth is watering the thought.

I made my 'order' up yesterday. I do a special, I buy eating apples, peel core and slice them. Then I fry them in cassonade and normandy butter as for a tarte tatin, when they are golden/caramellised I add a very good measure of sirop d'erable to the pan and boil it up again. If I have them I add some walnuts to this too. And that is the base, topped with crumble and quite delicious.

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