Of all six menus compiled for French Cooking Friday, today's feels most like spring. Light, delicate but bursting with flavor, this is a quick meal that's also decadent and tasty. One thing cooking French has taught me thus far is simplicity is key. You don't need much to create bold flavors. It doesn't take fifty ingredients to make a dish shine. It's all about the small combinations of two or three ingredients to make something as simple as chicken breasts stand out.
STARTER: Artichoke Tartlets
Europeans love artichokes but artichokes intimidate me. They are so difficult to work with. They're trimmed not enough or too much. You either under cook them or over cook them. They're by far my least favorite vegetable to work with. These tartlets are fairly simple to prepare (if you are a pro at artichokes). The tart is made of puff pastry dough and the "sauce" is sauteed shallots that were cooked with the artichokes. The flavors are incredible. This would have been a huge hit had I cooked the artichokes properly.
MAIN COURSE: Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Spring Onions
This is my favorite main course in the spring portion. The sauce drizzled over the chicken and onions is nothing short of spectacular. I have never tasted anything so incredible in my life. I used a meat thermometer diligently to cook the chicken to the perfect temperature. I'm tired of dry chicken breasts and refused to let that ruin this dish. The spring onions were light enough in flavor to enjoy but not too light so that they did nothing. The sauce calls for Jura Wine or Sherry but having neither on hand, I used Brandy instead. I know substitutions in French sauces can be considered sacrilegious but this worked out beautifully. It prepared in about 20 minutes. It's perfect for a weeknight or a weekend when you want to spend more time with loved ones and less time in the kitchen.
Normally I try to link to the recipes on Manger when they are available but neither of these are on Mimi's blog. I guess that just means you'll have to check out A Kitchen In France! I'm telling you, this cookbook so far has been an incredible experience to cook through. It's expanded my mind on what French cooking really is and I've even made my Noni a convert. That was not an easy task. I haven't shared the two dishes that have made her go from "I hate French food" to "this is pretty good" yet but they're coming soon and you'll definitely find yourself converting if you haven't already.