French Cooking: Soupe au Pisto, Coucous, Cream Puffs & More!

We might be in fall but I have two more summer menus for you in this series and I somehow managed to save the best for last. Couscous is not a traditional French dish but this Moroccan staple has become something of a phenomenon in French cuisine. Couscous itself is a grain but everything that comes together for this incredible dinner is a lot of prep. Today's menu is the most intense amount of work I've done for this series so far but it was well worth it.

STARTER: Soupe au Pistou
This is like a French minestrone soup. Simple, incredibly good for you and delicious. It would be even better if you threw a parmesan rind in the pot as it simmered but that's the Italian in me. This is perfect for one of the cooler summer nights. The pistou is basically a pesto sauce. It's rich and full of flavor so a little goes a long way. It's an excellent way to get rid of some of the basil that is overcrowding your garden.

MAIN: My Couscous
Not literally my couscous but Mimi's couscous. Let me just say that I have no idea where she got the idea this serves a mere six people. You have an enormous pot of stew, enough meatballs to serve six people, sausage and 6 chicken thighs. This is literally a feast. The way it's meant to be enjoyed is with a taste of each of the meats. The couscous serves as a bed for all of the other ingredients. Top with the lamb stew (which I substituted with beef) and layer a sausage, chicken thigh and meatballs. The stew has strong Moroccan flavors that are bright and earthy and just beautiful. If you're serving a large crowd, I highly recommend this meal. No one will go home hungry.

DESSERT: Coffee Cream Puffs
These are exactly what they sound like: cream puffs with coffee flavor. The filling has a touch of coffee added to the mix so it gives them a nice caffè flavoring. I always wondered how they got the cream in the middle of these babies and now I know! You bake the puffs first, slice a tiny hole and insert the cream with a pastry bag. It's so simple. Just be careful not to over stuff them otherwise you'll have cream oozing out or worse, you'll blow the thing up. Or you can be a moron like me and do it this way. I left them out on the kitchen table too long so they weren't necessarily puffs by the time I filled them. I also didn't have a pastry back so filling them through a small hole would have never worked. Instead, I sliced them about 2/3 of the way open and spooned the filling into the center. It works just as well and then you can see it ooze out the sides. 

DESSERT: Chilled White Peaches In White Wine Syrup
This is a very simple dessert but it's also very easy to screw up. The instructions state to plunge the peaches into boiling water for 10 seconds. Those 10 seconds are incredibly important because too long and they're mush. Learn from my mistake. If the peach's skin does slide off after the 10 seconds, simply take a peeler to it like you normally would. For the white wine syrup, I'd recommend a sweeter wine or at least one that you really enjoy as with any wine-focused dessert.

One more set of French summer meals and we jump into fall! I'm so excited because fall is  my favorite season and I'm really hoping that we get to throw some pumpkin in there! How have you liked the French Cooking series so far?