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hungry?Thanks to Tina Concetta Marzocca.

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simple local vegetables

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Monday, 20 September 2010

Sorry-We're closed! Désolée - Nous sommes fermées! Leider Sind Wir geschlossen!

Thank God...! The restaurant "Chez le Marquis" has finally been able to close! No more Tourists, at least until next Christmas or even (with luck) next year! Nice as it may be to see friends and aquaintances, it's equally nice to do nothing, to be able to spend your money on really necessary things, and to eat what YOU like....! Here is the last menu served in 2010....
Gottseidank....! Das Restaurant chez Moi ist geschlossen! Keine Touristen mehr, bis (mit etwas glück) Weihnachten oder vielleicht sogar bis 2011! Ja - es ist nett "alter Freunden" wieder zu treffen, aber es ist auch nett einfach Nichts zu tun, oder das essen worauf man SELBST lust hat! Hier ist die letzte Menu serviert im 2010.....
Et voila - Le restaurant "Chez Moi" est fermé - enfin! Plus des touristes jusqu’à (avec un peu de chance) Noel, même 2011...! Oui - c'est agréable recevoir des Amies mais c'est également agréable rien faire, et manger les choses qu'on veut manger! Voici le dernière repas servi cette année...
So - this is the last menu for this year! They've already eaten and drunk far too well, so no need to make special efforts!
Let's start off with a simple "compound"   salad - the things everyone knows, lettuce, tomatoes, boiled eggs, beetroot, grated carrot, grated celery, shallots, and all the rest, finely sliced or chopped, all thrown into the biggest glass salad bowl you can find, liberally dosed with a nice "vinaigrette", and kept in the fridge until served. It's always better to put the vinaigrette in at the last minute, this avoids the lettuce being "cooked" - in other words being affecred by the vinegar in the sauce.
Once put to table, get one of the guests to mix it through, it makes them feel useful, and takes some of the responsability from your own shoulders - after all, if the "mixer" throws half of it onto the table, whose fault is that....?
The sparkling wine  that is left over from the aperos is exactly what is neede to wash it down, even if it means opening another bottle from the precious reserves! What doesn't one do for friends....?
No then, let's see - no fish course, that would be spoiling them, emptying my bank account, and giving me a load more work - so - passing on.....
To the "vegetable" dish. Since there is no fish dish, this can be a little more elaborate than normal, how about: "Gratin des pommes de terre Dauphinoise"?
My particular recipe is quite normal, the only difference is that I add a whole pot of creamed cheese, garlic and herb flavoured, which you can find everywhere, inexpensively, and once mixed in with the raw sliced potatoes gives a delicious, and different experience.
Off to the oven, covered with a lid or aluminium foil for a good 40 minutes, then allowed to "gratin" (ie - get a nice crust) for the last 10-15 minutes, or as long as is necessary to have the colour you desire. Preferably NOT black!
Served as is, in the hot dish, so the Tourists can burn their little fingers, and served, preferably with the rest of the sparkling wine. There never is any left at my tables, so I have to serve a different chilled white wine, and I find a Savoy white wine ideal - Savoy is not far from the region "Dauphinois" (generally the region "L’Isère") but if you wish, a chilled, dry Rosé wine can also be used.
Whilst the Tourists are burning fingers and tongues on the delicious gratin, "Mr le Marquis" - chief chef and bottle washer, is busily occupied in the preparation of the main course, a little masterpiece of experience: "Filet mignon de porc au jambon cru en croûte"

The meat should NOT be cut, neither in the pork or beef variety. If it is beef, then either the whole filet (expensive) or the "Chateaubriand piece of the filet (that is the thicker head piece of the filet). In the pork variety, it should be the whole filet mignon, or even more than one - laid side by side, depending on how many guests you have.
A sort of "variation" of "Boeuf Wellington"   in which the filet of beef is replaced by the cheaper filet mignon of pork, and instead of covering the meat (once seized in the pan) with "foi gras" it's covered with thin slices of smoked but otherwise raw, ham. The advantages of this dish are that it is cheaper than its beef counterpart whilst looking almost the same, It is just as delicious, just different - you can serve it to guests of the Jewish faith and be sure that you'll have enough left over...! Another advantage is that pork is preferred, and should be, cooked a little longer than beef.
The problem with the beef variety is getting the meat cooked so it pleases ALL the guests! Some like it almost raw, some "blue", some medium/rare/a point, and some even BURNT!
The problem doesn't exist with the pork variety!
The secret of getting both these dishes right lies in the "seizing" of the meat in a pan, before covering and wrapping in the pastry. Calculations have to be made of how long the meat would need if it were roasted normally, how long does the pastry (puff pastry) need to rise, cook and have the right colour. Calculated and then reduce by the time of pre-seizing in the pan. (Whole filet mignon of pork)
An example: A whole filet mignon of pork weighs around 1.5 kilos - 2kilos. Properly roasted at roughly 15 minutes/kilo, this gives roughly between 25 and 35 minutes. The "seizing time" for this size should be around 20% of the total cooking time which equals around 5 to 7 minutes (preferably a little less) in the pan - turning it all the time to seize the meat on all sides. The pastry cooking time is around 20 minutes, so as you can work out, the timing SHOULD be perfect with 20 to 25 minutes - it won't be perfect, it never is...but with time and experience, you'll get the hang!

The time also depends on your oven - some are fast, others are slow, some have hot air fans circulating the heat better (this is the type I now have) - Sorry, but experimenting is the only way, and the pastry colour is probably the best, if not the only guide one has!
Once you've seized the meat, let it cool down (otherwise it will melt the pastry before even getting near to an oven...!) whilst waiting, slowly cook some chopped échalotes (shallots) in the same pan used for the meat. Let them cool down as well.
Now you need your puff pastry. Difficult and long to make at home, you can buy it in various forms, blocks or already rolled in circles or in rectangles, it is very useful.
Unroll or roll out to the size require. It will be covering ALL of the meat, the underside also, so allow for this.  Place the thin slices of raw ham onto the pastry,
When the meat and shallots are cold, place them onto the raw ham and and fold the pastry up to make a package. Pierce the top with a fork in a few places to allow the steam to escape, and ooooops - into the PREHEATED oven! With attention, and a bit of luck, this 
should be the result....! To serve it, cut it in the middle, this allows you to see the point of cooking and, if not enough, to put it back in the oven...! Cut in two, present it to your guests, then whisk it away to cut into slices and serve on a large plate or serving platter, undecorated, or maximum with a grilled tomatoe or two, or some classical sprigs of watercress (the traditional garnish for roast or grilled meats). 
No sauce or other accompagning dish is required.
I would recommend a good red wine with this. It's an expensive dish in any form, so why spoil it with cheap vinegar to drink with it...?
After the obligatory Cheeses  it's time for dessert!
I'm not going into this, I'll be doing so in another article, later, but an apple pie, made from "Bramley cooking apples" - unobtainable in France, and brought, for me, specially from Britain, served with vanilla ice cream and whipped Chantilly cream. Served up with a little dessert wine - I used a "moelleux" Bordeaux, nicely chilled, slightly sweet, but port or madeira are also possibles.
On the subject of "Bramley Cooking Apples"  or "Cooking apples" in general, I'm sure that the person who tries successfully, to produce them in quantity, in France, will become a millionaire. They are not available in France - at all!
French apples are simply not acidic enough to prepare the "apple sauce" or "apple pies" or "crumbles" correctly.
The same applies to the simple rhubarb! Although available in France in very limited quantities at very high prices, it is not as acidy as the rhubarb I recall as a kid.
Of course, everything ends with the inevitable
Expresso - espresso. Café - Caffe
I didn't have any cognac but I missed it...!
So there we are - Restaurant is closed, nobody left a tip, nobody even PAID....!
Mr le Marquis, Chef et Restaurateur vous souhaite "Bonne chance".....!

...He is now off to have something wonderful....for lunch:
now leave me alone....!

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