Wednesday, March 3, 2010



Dian and Tom serve Champagne for our Country French Dinner.

Finally! We named ourselves! Our group of fifteen or so people went nameless for about ten months. The main thing we have in common, and the reason for our regular meetings, is a love of well-prepared, fresh, interesting, delicious food. Wayne St. Clair, a retired professional chef, was inspired almost a year ago to ask several people on his Facebook page to come to dinner at his home. He asked each of us to bring a dish that we regarded as our specialty. And so began our little supper club – but without a name.

Dian Tapscott, one of our members, came up with the name we adopted at our February 21st gathering. Diane is a true Francophile, so it was not surprising that she came up with a French-inspired name. As she told me:

“I sometimes feel that I must have lived in Paris in another life. I love everything about it...the flower markets, the bakeries, the outdoor cafes, the perfumes, the fashion, the cosmetics, the language and of course, the food and the art. I have been there to visit several times. The first time that I flew there, the pilot said that we would be landing in Paris soon and I had a big deja I had landed there many times before. As I explored the city, I felt as if I had finally come home and my senses were on overdrive. I guess that I fell in love with Paris and we remain sympatico!”

Wayne's Coarse French Country Pate

Yours Truly's French Bouillabaisse

What is there about France that attracts so many of us? Is it the language, the culture, or the food? I vote for the food. The best in gourmet food is called “haute cuisine,” a term meaning “elegant cooking” and derived, not coincidentally, from French. If you were to examine the fare offered by the world’s best restaurants, I’d bet you’d find that the majority serve French cuisine or some derivative thereof. And, why not: not only is the French diet among the most flavorful and rich in the world, but it also carries a surprisingly low risk of cardiovascular disease – the so-called “French Paradox.” Perhaps this is due to the resveratrol in all that delicious red wine, or maybe it’s due to the smaller portions the French consume of any dish they eat. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to beat rich, elegantly prepared food that provides the ultimate in taste while being relatively healthy.

It seems only appropriate that theme of our little soiree on the day we adopted our new name was “A Simple French Country Dinner.” We lined up our contributions to the feast on Wayne’s kitchen table. As we viewed the delicacies with pleasant anticipation, we didn’t think anything could possibly improve the fare. But then Stephanie, one of our members, arrived with Marina, a former exchange student from Japan. Marina stayed with Stephanie during her time as an exchange student, and she returned from Japan this month for a visit. For our dinner, she and Stephanie had teamed up to create a marvelous dessert, Julia Child’s Gateau a L'Orange with Praline Topping.

Stephanie, on the right, and Marina serve their rendition of Julia Chilld’s Gateau a L'Orange

“It’s all about Julia,” Stephanie said. “We borrowed one of Wayne’s many cookbooks, The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, to create our French dessert.” Not only did their contribution taste and look delightful, but they served it from a beautiful glass antique cake stand that looked like it had indeed come from France.

Close up view of Gateau a L'Orange

We had two newcomers to our group for our French Country Dinner, Dean Brandetsas and Val Padar. Dean is of Greek ancestry and has a passion for all food, but understandably, he is especially fond of Greek fare. He has offered to host our Greek-themed May dinner. Val, being of Italian heritage, is looking forward to our Italian dinner next month.


Dean's Hachis Parmentier, a French version of Shepard’s Pie

Among the items on the menu for the evening were:

Wayne’s Coarse Country Pate and his Pork Chops and Sausage with Sauerkraut and Roasted Autumn Vegetables,
Dian’s Bacon-wrapped French Green Beans, Cauliflower Casserole and French Quiche,
Val and Dean’s Hachis Parmentier,
Yours truly’s French-style Bouillabaisse,
Marina’s and Stephanie’s La Gateau a L'Orange with Praline topping
Wayne’s chocolate Mousse with Ricotta,
Plenty of delicious French wine.

Delightful! I’m lucky to be a part this group of food lovers. And now I don’t have to refer to us as “our little group of foodies” anymore. We have, instead, a gourmet name to go with our gourmet fare – “Le Petit Supper Club.”

Here’s the recipe for Dian’s Bacon-wrapped French Green Beans. I must tell you, these beans were scrumptuous and very easy to make.

“Blanch green beans for three minutes and then toss them in olive oil and salt and pepper. Then, tie them with a ribbon of bacon.... five to a bundle for American green beans or 7 to a bundle of French green beans. I cut each piece of bacon into 2 long strips to use as ties. Bake the finished bundles at 375 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, pour out the bacon grease and broil them until the bacon is crisp. Voila! They are ready. Bon Appetit!"

Dian's Bacon wrapped French Green Beans

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  1. Oh my , all that food sounds wonderful! You are lucky to be involved with a fun group like that. Love the group name! When I was in France I loved the food too, and the countryside. I rode the trains a lot so I could take it all in slower. It was just lovely.

  2. You have gone and done it again. I am now starving and my stomach is grawling! Between the mouth watering descriptions of all the food & the beautiful pictures to appeal to the eye. OMG!! And I am hours away from lunch time. OH, so, wanting to go to Paris in the springtime. Trish

  3. Oh yum! Delicious looking eats and what a fun group this sounds like. A great way to try new foods and expand on your culinary
    skills. Terrific!


  4. Yum yum, it all sounds, and looks so delicious! I would love your Bouillabaise recipe, I've always wanted to try making it.

  5. Your bouillabaise was the creme de la creme, Cheryl. I love these dinner parties and we always say that you are the life of the party! Thanks for this elegant blog, too.


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