I’ve been cooking a lot of French meals lately, all this despite my mild fear of being ‘pegged’ as a French cook…more than other cuisines. This weekend I used one of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks, one from Pat Wells, and another two French cookbooks.

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How does this happen? Why is that French cooking is so intriguing for me? I keep trying to eschew it…for no more reason that there are so many other cuisines to play with. Well, oh well.

It started when I made a slightly different tart shell, rolled it out onto the tart pan and put it into the fridge to chill. Suddenly the next day it was planned for another dinner, so…tart shell was the start. OK, then it would be a dessert. Chocolate tart. Just make a ganache with good chocolate, butter, cream, and a bit of Cointreau and that would be that.

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Main course? Hmm, as I was pressed for time, I needed something quick and simple, so in Around My French Table I found a curried chicken breast and veggies en Papillote. Huh, that was easy. Just add all the veggies to the sliced chicken breast, wrap it up in foil, and only about 20 minutes in the oven.

I also wanted a mindless potato dish so it was Gratin Dauphinoise Madame Cartet. Thinly sliced potatoes, creme fraiche, salt and pepper, and grated gruyere. 50 minutes or so in the oven. Simple and delicious. This was so good and so simple, it’s pretty much dope-proof. Particularly tasty were the very cooked edges of crusty-baked cheese which I was nibbling at between rounds (see below). Also, note the contrast to the potato dish before and after. Amazing.

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The ‘knockout dinner’ reference was to the big Pacquaio vs Algieri fight we watched on Pay TV before and after our meal. Only one of us is a big boxing fan but it was great entertainment, we learned a lot about the sport, and it was good fun.

Yah, French once again. I do realize that it’s the ‘bistro’ style or casual French style that mostly appeals to me–the meals that you would find in a country village or a corner brasserie. It doesn’t have to be fancy pants stuff, but I admit to enjoying the process of making the food look good and interesting and fun on the plate. There is an element of showmanship with cooking.

All of which makes me mildly sad about Thanksgiving dinner. My wife and I are eating alone due to circumstances, and cooking for me is sometimes for others as much as for myself. What chef or cook does his business and then eats it all herself? Or simply for its own sake?

Well, I’ve been know to cook…even when I’m not particularly hungry. Looks like just my wife and I this Thursday, but for the two of us, pulling out all the stops with a turkey and the trimmings doesn’t make any sense. I’m thinking of a small, small roast, but then…I’m already thinking of some other ideas, decidedly UN-typical for the day.

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