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WE NEED A LITTLE NORMAL—A VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY, INTERESTED?

March 26, 2020

WE NEED A LITTLE NORMAL—A VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY, INTERESTED?

I have the kind of personality that loves being home. I have a home office and I’ve created a routine that works for me. I’m working diligently on my cookbook, Le Kitchen Cookbook—at the moment, I’m struggling a little to organize the recipes and the chapters—so I have a task.

But being home only really works if I have something to look forward to—hence, my love of entertaining. It’s a good balance that allows me to spend time alone and time with friends.

I'm not used to the isolation; none of us are. So finding a way to connect with friends in an attempt to find some sort of normality in my life is important, and I believe it will be even more important as time goes on. We need not only take care of ourselves physically but mentally as well.

As I mentioned in last week's blog, our daughter, Olivia, put together a virtual birthday happy hour for us to celebrate her birthday. It was so much fun that Mark and I decided to host a virtual dinner party—an idea I love because it’s something we can look forward to and we'll get to spend time with good friends!

How exactly are we going to pull this off?
It starts out exactly like a regular dinner party.
  • Decide who we are going to invite.
  • Pick a date and a time.
  • Send out invitations.

Once that’s accomplished, we have to figure out what we are going to eat; that’s where it gets different and interesting.

Here are some ideas I came up with:

  1. Is everyone going to eat the same thing? Cook the same food? Follow the same recipes? Personally, I love that idea because I can get more people to test recipes for me. You can even take it one step further and start the party a little early and cook together.
  1. You can all cook your own meals and come together to eat them. Everyone can introduce their food. We can have food envy.
  1. Order out! It’s easy and really good to support your local economy.
  1. If you live near each other, you can order from the same restaurant as if you were really going to be eating there.
  2. There is one more possibility I can think of—potluck: Everyone chooses to cook one course. Then you deliver it to everyone's front door with heating instructions. Making certain to keep the appropriate social distance.

Whichever method we choose, we'll all be eating at the same time just like we would if we were in the same place. 

I wrote out the courses, starting with drinks, water, wine . . .

  • Appetizer
  • Main dish
  • Salad
  • Dessert
  • Coffee

When we gather for dinner with our friends, we often end with an after-dinner drink so we can keep the conversation going. Clearly it isn’t essential but it is a nice way to end the evening.

But we’re not done yet. If it’s a dinner party, you have to set the table and create an atmosphere the same way you would if your friends were actually coming over. Think about the flowers, lighting, candles, plates, glasses, etc.

Our dinner party is this Saturday night at 7:30. We sent out invitations and everyone is coming. I included a Zoom invitation so we can all be on the screen at the same time. It is free but you do have to download the application. 

In the invitation I attached my Coq au Vin recipe just in case anyone else wanted to make the same recipe. The recipe is good, can be made ahead, and freezes really well.

For appetizer; I thought if I can find smoked salmon I can serve it with creme fraiche, lemon, and dill on black bread that I have in the freezer. Simple and good.

Dessert: our farmers market should be open and I’m sure I can find apples to make a rustic apple pie—that is one where the crust is roughly folded over the outer edge of the apples.

In the Coq au Vin recipe below I have noted the things that are optional in case you don’t have them and can’t find them at the store. It’s a very flexible recipe that is best if you include all the ingredients but doesn’t need them to be good.

I’ll take pictures Saturday night and show them to you next week.

What are you doing to try and maintain normality? I’d love to hear.
Can you take pictures and share them with us? Everyone needs inspiration.
 

Adeline’s Coq au Vin

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Adjustments for Covid 19 lack of ingredients: I wrote what's optional next to the ingredients you can leave out. The recipe is best with everything in it but sometimes you have to make do.

Ingredients

¼ pound lean salt pork or thick bacon sliced into thin strips (optional)
¼ pound carrots sliced
18 small white onions, frozen is good (optional)
2 medium-sized tomatoes peeled, seeded, and sliced, or a can of stewed tomatoes
4 pounds of dark meat chicken
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tablespoons brandy, warm (optional)
4 tablespoons of flour
3 cups red wine (if using a pressure cooker, use less liquid)
½ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
½ pound mushrooms quartered if large (optional)
1 pound dried wide egg noodles
 

Directions

  1. In a heavy casserole sauté the salt pork or bacon until fat is rendered to not burn. Add carrots and white onions and sauté until they start to brown without burning the bacon, about 5 minutes.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the ingredients into a separate bowl.
  3. Dry the chicken pieces with paper towels.
  4. Sauté a few pieces at a time in the remaining fat left in the pan (if you do not have enough fat in the pan, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil. Sear all sides of the chicken without crowding the pan and set aside as you finish all the chicken.
  5. Put the chicken back into the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Take the pan off the heat with the lid close by.
  7. Pour the warm brandy into the pan with the chicken and ignite the brandy.*
  8. Once the flames are out, add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  9. Add the carrot mixture back into the pan.
  10. Sprinkle the flour on top of the mixture and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the wine.
  11. Bring the wine to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  12. Add the thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and mushrooms.
  13. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours.
  14. The chicken should be so tender that it starts to fall off the bone.
  15. Taste to adjust seasonings. If the sauce doesn’t have enough flavor, add the equivalent of 1 or 2 low-salt chicken bouillon cubes (1 at a time) and taste.
  16. Adjust the salt and pepper at the end to ensure you do not over season.

20 minutes before the chicken is ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Ten minutes before serving, add the noodles and cook as instructed on the package.

To serve, either place the coq au vin and the noodles in separate bowls or in individual plates. Spoon the stew over the noodles and serve.

* There will be lots of flames, but as the alcohol burns off the flames will die down. Use the lid only if the flames get out of control. 

P.S. If you make the Coq au Vin, take a picture and post it on Instagram and mention me I’d love to see it. @adelineolmer

Merci 





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