Formal Dinner Recipes

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Foie Gras Creme Brulee Recipe (+Giveaway) Recipe

I've mentioned it in the past; even though it might raise some eyebrows, foie gras, or duck/goose liver, is my guilty pleasure. Maman would always serve this French delicacy during our holiday dinner. If you've never tasted foie gras before, it's like eating a piece of intensely flavored, semi-softened butter.

I got a lovely whole duck foie gras from The Milk Pail Market in Mountain View, CA. Instead of serving it as a main course (I’ll publish a main course recipe soon), I added the foie gras to a savory custard and made crèmes brûlées. Obviously, this is not your ordinary vanilla flavored dessert crème brûlée. I made savory crème brulees in the past with ingredients like garlic, so this isn’t exactly new territory for me. The result was amazing; foie gras and sweet flavors pair perfectly together. I added specks of foie gras to the custard as well as a large piece in the center of each ramekin. I also topped them with a larger chunk on top of the sugar crust as a reminder of the flavoring inside. I served the fancy starter with toasted bread so the foie gras could be spread onto the toasts.

This weekend giveaway is for Bay Area readers or people who are able to redeem their prize on site. The Milk Pail Market, which happens to be my favorite local market, is generously donating five $25 gift certificates. You could put this to good use and create a marvelous Christmas dinner for your loved ones. At any rate, I love this market; you can find a wide variety of cheeses, (check out the fromage blanc), French products such as Mamie Nova yogurts and tons of other European products as well. And don't forget to try their famous croissants!  Be sure to stop by and discover these fabulous ingredients. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040. To participate to our giveaway, visit our 25 Days of Giveaways page and enter today. Good luck!

http://www.phamfatale.com/25-days-of-giveaways/

Make sure you're a fan of PhamFatale Facebook fan page and the Milk Pail, or follow @Phamfatalecom and tweet about this giveaway. To make it easy, you can just copy and paste this tweet if you’d like: "Five $25 Gift Certificate #Giveaway from @Phamfatalecom and the Milk Pail: http://bit.ly/sp4V7y".


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Easy Party Appetizers: Foie Gras Stuffed Prunes with Almond Tuiles Recipe

Foie gras stuffed dried plums are my guilty pleasure. The dried plums (prunes) are baked with maple syrup, and to enhance the texture and flavor, I add a pinch of fleur de sel and a sprinkle of crumbled almond tuile cookies. These little appetizers will definitely be served by the dozens during our New Year Eve's dinner.

I know this recipe might raise some eyebrows on several levels. I've always loved,  perhaps worshipped, the French culinary delicacy called foie gras. If you've never tasted foie gras before, it's like eating a piece of intensely flavored, semi-softened butter. Some people think it's an abomination and constitutes cruelty to animals. I believe that in Chicago for a time there was even a ban on foie gras and that the sale and production of foie gras is still illegal in California.

The other thing you might find odd is that I chose to use prunes in an elegant appetizer. I was surprised to learn from Lulu that in America, prunes are marketed as digestive aids and have a rather negative stigma. That is not the case in France. Prunes are often served as a snack for children, and just yesterday I saw them on a fruit and cheese platter at the end of a lovely meal we had at my friend's home. They’re now marketed in the U.S. as dried plums, not prunes, because there was so much negativity associated with prunes as a laxative.

I hope this recipe will inspire you to try new ingredients, or perhaps old ingredients in new ways.


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French Roasted Rack of Lamb with Lemon Persillade Crust Recipe

Have I told you how much of a carnivore I was back when I lived in Paris? There wouldn't be a meal without meat or fish on my plate. One of my favorite dishes, and one that was a staple at my home as a child, was le carré d'agneau persillé, or persillade-crusted rack of lamb. We would have lamb at least twice a month and this was the preparation of choice.

What makes this dish so special is the slightly salted, green crust of persillade. The persillade crust is very versatile and can be used for eggplants, tomatoes or even roast cod. I love the flavor so much that after finishing off the lamb, I mop up whatever is left on my plate with a piece of baguette. A traditional persillade is made with flat-leaf parsley, but I fortify my version with cilantro. I think it gives the crust a little more punch. 

It's very easy to make. Try it; you'll love it!

French Roast Rack of Lamb Recipe with Picture


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Camembert Stuffed Fig Puffs Recipe

Camembert Stuffed Fig Puffs

09.05.09 by Jackie

I went into the garden today and I noticed we had a huge crop of Black Mission figs. I think I gathered probably two full baskets. We had some last minute guests come over this afternoon, and I decided to put the figs I just picked to good use. Since they were coming over for tea, I thought that bite size appetizers would be in order. I stuffed the figs with camembert and some thyme from the garden. I then rested each fig on a bed of puff pastry and baked them in the oven. 

A lot of my cooking is my own improvisation. If you know what flavors combinations work well together, it's easy to come up with new recipes when you're in a pinch. Figs stuffed with camembert is a classic combination, and really, what doesn't puff pastry go with?

Unfortunately, I didn't have any ready-made puff pastry, so I had to make some myself. The result isn't as beautiful as Julia's from Mélanger, but it also didn't take six hours to make! I have to give a special shout out to Julia for taking the effort to make pâte feuilletée at home. 

I think our guests enjoyed the little bite-sized fig appetizers. You could make a similar dish with many other fruits, so experiment and have fun!

Fresh fig recipe with pictures


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Roasted Blue-Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Figs  Recipe

I'm so excited we finally were able to get some fresh figs from our garden. The girls started stuffing themselves with a lot of the figs but I managed to save a few to make this little starter for dinner.

The concept is so easy, a kid could make it! Just caramelize the figs in the oven, stuff them with any kind of soft cheese and sprinkle some nuts. Ta-da!

 


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