On Saturday, April 17th I will be hosting a cooking demonstration for Alliance Française, Washington DC Chapter. (Link here to register before it is too late!) It got me thinking about all that I love to cook in spring time. After months of soups and slow-cooked meals that bring warmth and comfort in winter, in Spring I love to eat fresh and light dishes. Dishes full of the brightly colored seasonal foods that I have been missing.
Le Chef and I sat down to discuss what the perfect Spring Menu on the French Riviera would be and how we could re-create it in the US. We also wanted to make sure that we were sharing recipes for dishes that are simple to make but impressive to serve. As we all start to invite friends and family back to into our homes, even if it is outdoors, it is useful to have a few recipes on hand to serve when company is coming or you would like to celebrate something special (Mother's Day, perhaps?!)
French Riviera Spring Menu
A French inspired meal always starts with an apéro (short for appéritif). An apéro is a great way to open the appetite and distract your guests while you are putting the finishing touches on your meal.
The saltiness of the olive tapenade, the crunch of fresh croutons and the sparkling sweetness of a Kir Royal go so well together. This really sets the stage for the meal to come.
I have included the recipe for our Olive tapenade and Kir Royal here.
L'Entrée (in French, the entrée is the starter)
Asparagus season is the best! Thick white stalks in the supermarket in winter are replaced with thin, dark green spears in farmer's markets.
This recipe for Poached Asparagus with a Champagne Citrus vinaigrette is bright, festive and perfect for a special lunch or brunch.
Le Plat (Main Dish)
Branzino with Vierge Sauce is a wonderful main dish to follow the Asparagus. Surprisingly easy to make, I love serving this dish when we have company as it is basically fail proof. If you set the oven timer you are guaranteed to have a beautifully cooked filet of fish. Topped with Vierge sauce that can be made in advance, you are removing one of the main reasons that hosting guests can be stressful : time pressure! A good mise en place will help you to serve a delicious meal, stress free.
After such light and fresh dishes such as the Asparagus and the Branzino, it is nice to finish with a decadent, show stopper dessert. Le Chef's Moelleux au Chocolat will leave you completely satisfied and satiated.
Learning to make this dessert means that you always have a memorable way to finish a meal. A definite party trick!
For this meal I will be setting my table with bright Riviera blues and yellows. I have a beautiful tablecloth that I bought this winter at Crème de la Crème Boutique in Middleburg that is so cheery I leave it out every day. I recently went back to the boutique and picked up a few more table accessories for spring such as a matching bread basket, candles and some contrasting yellow napkins with a Provençal pattern. Of course I couldn't resist picking out a new Saint James Marinière and some bunches of dried lavender too!
Will you be joining me to learn to cook this menu? The class is on April 17th! Registration here is $5 dollars and all proceeds go to Alliance Française Washington DC.