We’re going for a double whammy this week with our French Cooking series. Two comforting dishes and a decadent dessert are coming for your Saturday. Maybe it will share a little inspiration for a weekend family dinner. French cooking, like Italian cooking, is food for the soul. It’s food that is scrumptious but also beautiful and seasonal. These dishes are no different. From a hearty soup to elegant raviolis to a pillowy, rich dessert, today’s menu will not disappoint.
STARTER: Harvest Soup
Harvest Soup is what I like to call an “everything but the kitchen sink” soup. It’s a simple meat and veggie soup that simmers all day for a tender, flavorful dish later. It’s so simple to prepare as well. Place a beef roast in a pot and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil and add the vegetables and let it simmer low for a few hours. Once the beef is cooked and tender, remove it for a few minutes to pull the meat apart and add back into the soup. It’s a simple, comforting dish anyone will enjoy.
MAIN: Pork Cheek Ravioli with Cepes
These raviolis are a lot of work but they are worth every second. If there’s one piece of advice I can offer after making these, it’s to have patience. The ravioli dough needs precision and patience. Too much flour and it will be too tough. Not enough flour and it will end up too sticky. It’s a fine line to manage. The pork cheek filling isn’t particularly difficult to make but it has a few steps that take time. The end result is this decadent and rich ravioli that will blow your mind. The filling is packed with flavor and has an almost creamy consistency. The red wine gravy is beautiful in color, so different from any traditional ravioli.
Cepes are mushrooms found seasonally in Europe. I have never seen a cepe in the midwest before so I look for whatever wild mushroom the store has in stock. If wild mushrooms are still tricky to find, a meaty portobello mushroom will work or shiitake. Pork cheeks are supposedly super affordable. At least from what I’ve read online. Even though my butcher mentioned someone else had recently asked for pork cheeks, they didn’t have any to sell. So improvisation led me to purchasing thin cut pork chops which cooked for a few hours before getting blended together with the wild mushrooms for the ravioli filling. It is divine. I cannot say enough good things about the filling for these raviolis. The flavor is off the wall and the red wine sauce that gets spooned over the top tastes like something that is served in a Michelin rated restaurant.
DESSERT: Chocolate Meringue Swirls with Chocolate Sauce
These meringues are the epitome of light decadence. They’re little mounds of pure heaven. Light enough to make you feel good about yourself but rich enough to feel like an indulgence. The chocolate sauce on top is an added treat with the Chantilly Cream. I was hesitant to tackle this recipe at first but I am so thankful I did. Mimi doesn’t have the exact recipe for these on her website but she does have one close to it. Click the link above to try them for yourself.