This all started when I found out one of my roommates actually saw Dinner for Schmucks. Paid money for it, in fact. I was shocked and horrified; and I insisted, angrily, that they watch Le dîner de cons, the far-superior French original. Of course, I can’t do anything halfway, so a little Netflixing among roommates became a themed evening complete with a dîner français, a couple of bottles of Bordeaux, and a French-speaking guest.
I was very pleased with how everything turned out. The chicken recipe was from Provencal Light, It’s a variation on last week’s “French chicken in a pot,” with three heads of garlic instead of the usual aromatics. It lived up to expectations, which is to say, it was moist and tender and smelled like Gilroy. (Mmmmm.) Apparently it’s customary to squeeze the roasted garlic onto slices of toast, so of course I made the KAF no-knead bread. I broke in my new mandoline with Julia Child’s gratin dauphinois, which tasted far richer than a dish consisting of sliced potatoes with a cup of skim milk and a few dabs of duck fat has any right to taste. For the vegetables, I made the CI minestrone (a little bland, honestly).
The real victory here wasn’t the potatoes, or the chicken; it was the grace with which it all came together. On a day when I left the lab at 4 PM, no less. Normally, in the last hour before a dinner party, I am running around the house like a headless chicken. But this time, I continued the trend I started with Falafel Party, and turned out some competent hostessin’. The day before, I made the soup and the cake (post to follow), and assembled the gratin. The morning of, I churned the fro-yo and baked the bread. Et voilà, my kitchen, my kitchen five minutes before half the party arrived. Look how clean it is! There’s the usual dinner mess, platters and spoons and whatnot, but note the lack of a dirty dishes, dirty dishtowels, and general chaos. Note, also, the glass of wine in the lower left-hand corner of the frame, which I was sipping as I gave the soup a last stir. It was a lot of work in advance, but it was totally worth it to be able to relax and enjoy my Sunday night fully.