When the tender buds start to peak out from their long sleep covered with a blanket of frozen earth and twittering birds return to flowering trees, I always hope that it’s not a tease and that winter winds will not bring us one last dusting of freezing white. This year has been a strange one for Chicago…we have had relief from the normal frigid and snowy winter, but at what price? We have had little snow and barely any winter weather in the Midwest. I’m hoping that we will not pay for this in August! Even though Paris has been colder than Chicago (can you believe that?) both cities are now enjoying spring, the magical time of renewal.
In my family, lamb was the chosen food of spring…we used to call it our Spring Lamb. Other folks might be having ham or roast beef, but we would celebrate the season with lamb.
So, as I take you through this journey with me, I have to meld my two inspirations of the moment….Paris and my Irish heritage. I think that they come together quite well in this recipe. The French would call this Carre d’Agneau, but I call it provencial rack of lamb. It’s an easy, tasty preparation that will leave you lots of time to be with your family and friends for a special Sunday supper. Pair it with a my Fresh Watercress Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, Easy Asparagus, and maybe even my French Chocolate Pot de Creme for dessert and you will sit down to a fine spring meal.
Thank you for taking the time to visit and thank you for cherishing your family and friends this Sunday!
French Rack of Lamb Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
An easy, savory main course, with fresh herbs and Dijon mustard, perfect for a celebration or holiday!
2 Racks of lamb approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each (ask your butcher to trim the excess fat and to "French" them for you, and they will remove a bit of meat to show the bones for a better presentation, as shown in photo)
1/2 cup French Old Style Whole Grain Dijon mustard (I used the brand Maille for this recipe)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoon fresh thyme (leaves removed from stem)
2 Tablespoon fresh rosemary (removed from stem and snipped into pieces)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
A few sprigs of fresh herbs for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (make sure that your oven rack is in the center of the oven).
Mix the mustard and olive oil together to form a paste.
Salt and pepper the lamb.
Spread the mustard paste on the top of the lamb racks, and sprinkle with herbs.
Roast in oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 130. Take racks out and let rest for 5 minutes. The racks will rise in internal temperature to 140 which will be medium-rare.
Slice and place on platter, add garnish and sprinkle with a few more fresh herbs.
Make it special, make it Sunday.
I left the room for a minute after we were finished shooting the pics for the blog and this is what I came back to! I think that this says just how good this recipe is….
I once saw a sign in a pastry shop that said, “Life’s uncertain, eat dessert first”. Maybe that’s why when I sit down at a bistro, I always peak at the dessert section right away, just to make sure that they have my favorite, pot de creme. Pot de creme is not the only dessert that I order, but it’s definitely my favorite bistro treat.
This creamy confection is a dessert for chocolate lovers, and not for folks on a diet. The intense, dark chocolate is only made lighter by adding the whipped cream topping!
I thought that this recipe would be perfect for the Monthly Mingle titled April in Paris that Jamie (Life’s a Feast) is sponsoring this month. Monthly Mingle is a great get together of posts from bloggers around the world that was started by Metta (What’s for Lunch Honey?).
I have to say, that this is not the easy “blender” version, but it’s not the difficult “bake in a water bath” version either. It takes a bit of whisking and stirring, but I think that the result is well worth it, especially on Sunday when I take extra time to make something special for my family and friends.
I realize that many of you do not have access to fancy chocolate such as Valrhona, so I made this version with what is realistic to find at your market. If you do have access to gourmet chocolate, please go ahead and use it in this recipe.
I also know that some of you might not have a bain-marie or (double boiler), so do as I do. I take a large stock pot and fill it about 1/4 with water. Take a large stainless steel bowl and place it in the pot so that the rim of the bowl sits on the edge of the pot (you don’t want the bowl floating around in the pot). You now can melt the chocolate slowly over simmering water very easily. I actually like it better than a double boiler because it’s very easy to whisk the custard into the chocolate. The chocolate also stays warm this way and does not start to harden like it would if you just melted the chocolate in the microwave.
So, don’t be intimidated by this dessert, it’s really not hard to make something delicious and special for your Sunday supper.
Classic French Chocolate Pot de Creme Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
A rich, chocolate dessert perfect for true chocolate lovers!
6 ounces dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Premium Baking Bar with 60% cacao - bittersweet chocolate)
1/3 cup cocoa (I used Droste)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Melt the dark chocolate and cocoa together in either a bain-marie, double boiler, or my preferred method, a large stainless bowl over a stock pot.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the cream and milk together until it is scalding (almost to a boil). Remove from heat. Whisk the cream/milk mixture very slowly into the eggs and sugar. You want to slowly warm the eggs to that they don't cook quickly. Add all of the cream/milk mixture to bowl to incorporate with egg mixture.
Then pour mixture back into the large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
Slowly whisk the custard mixture into the melted chocolate.
Pour into 4 individual serving containers.
Cover immediately with plastic wrap so that a film does not form on the top.
Let cool for 10 minutes then refrigerate for a least an hour. May be made days ahead.
Serve with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.
Spring is here and it’s time for a bit of blog housekeeping!
Starting this week, those of you that receive Return to Sunday Supper in your RSS feed will see a change in how the blog will appear. There will be a highlighted title that you will need to click on to see the complete post. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, so that the vision that you see is the best version of the blog, not the abbreviated one.
I’d love to hear your comments and I hope that you like the improvement!
When I was a girl growing up in Cincinnati, there was a large department store called Shillito’s. My family and I traveled to town infrequently, but when we did, we seemed to always end up there. Once a year, they had an event called “World Bazaar”… and it held me spellbound. So many different cultures brought together on the top floor of a department store in the Midwest.
A swirl of color and brass from India, dark mahogany from Africa, but what intrigued me most was the exhibit from France! Yes, yes, even then! I begged and begged till my mother bought me a little doll dressed in native Breton costume. I still have that doll, wrapped in tissue at the bottom of an old cedar chest. I received something else that day as well…my first taste of French food. At the exhibit, they were serving French onion soup! At that point in my life, it was the most exotic thing I’d ever tasted.
Years past, I grew up and so did my taste buds, but my love of French onion soup remained constant. So whether I’m eating it at a bistro in Paris, or at home on Sunday with my family and friends, I think of that bazaar and my intro to all things French.
Here is a recipe that I have adapted along the way using fresh ingredients combined with a bit of the fruit of the vine, cheese and bread…what could be more French?
Make it special, make it Sunday!
Classic French Onion Soup Recipe
Yield: 6 - servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
A savory, traditional French onion soup.
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup Muscadet or dry white wine
1/2 cup medium dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups of either beef or chicken broth
Note: I have used both chicken and beef broth, but if you prefer the classic presentation use only beef broth, if you would like a lighter taste, use chicken broth or even a combination of the two.
12-18 slices of baguette
2 tablespoons butter
1 large clove garlic
3 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven that has a lid. Add the onions and sugar, sauté for 5 minutes then stir in the white wine, sherry and pepper. Place in the oven and bake without the lid and stir intermittently for about 1 hour till the onions begin to brown. Put the lid on and cook for about another hour or until the onions are caramelized.
Remove onions from oven and turn oven on to broil.
At this point, tie your fresh thyme and bay leaves together with kitchen twine.
Put the beef and/or chicken stock into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the thyme/bay leaf bundle to the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer and let broth simmer for about 35 minutes.
While the broth is simmering, place the bread on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes on each side until golden. Remove from oven and take the garlic clove and rub on one side of the bread, then butter the bread.
Now, take the caramelized onions and divide into 6 oven-proof containers. Add the broth to the onion mixture till it almost reaches the top of the container. Place 2 or 3 pieces of bread on top and sprinkle with the Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place the containers in an oven proof pan and place under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes till the top is golden. Please keep a close eye on this so that it does not burn.
March 20th is Jour de Macaron or Day of the Macaron! How can you go to Paris and not indulge (at least once) in these pretty, pastel treats? Well, I can’t! As I stroll down the winding streets, I’m drawn to the windows filled with an artist’s palette of colors paired with lush flavors…how can I resist…how can I choose?
These beauties are from Ladurée, the inventor of the macaron as we know it today. No, they didn’t invent the little cakes, but Pierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of of the founder, Louis Ernest Ladurée, did us the great service of putting two cakes together to nestle ganache filling. They offer more than just the standard flavors, letting their imagination run wild and offering a new flavor every season. This season it’s Cherry Blossom in honor of their 150th anniversary. What could say spring better?
Vive Le Macaron!