My favourite local cafe is called Cafe d'Yvoire. They specialise in French cakes, desserts and meals. Mostly I just enjoy my morning coffee with my latest read on my days off work. But this year has been different. Covid-19 has changed many things and one of the big things has been the pressure on small businesses to stay viable during lockdowns and social distancing restrictions.
During the height of lockdown, I continued to get my morning coffee as a takeaway, purchased through the window. For family lockdown Saturday night dinners, I would also take home various desserts for us to try. I fell in love with the salted caramel cheesecake (below), while Mr Books is a traditional lemon meringue tart man, and B19 was happy with anything chocolate-y.
Once we were allowed to dine in again, I found myself still eating the desserts, this time with my morning coffee and book! I had to increase the distance of my morning walk to justify the change!
I may have also treated myself to their magnificent Croque Madame once or twice during July as well!
It wasn't all just eating out and takeaway though.
For Mother's Day the boys gave me a book set called Art of French Cuisine. I will need more time and patience to tackle the sweet book, but the savoury book gave me lots to work with.
With some roast beef one night, I made the Gratin Dauphinois with Haricots verts aux tomates cerises. The Gratin in particular was a HUGE hit.
A couple of weeks later I tried Julia Child's Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume One.
The rich, creamy sauce was a little too much for B19, but I fell in love big time. So much so, I'm going to include a version of the recipe below. I highly recommend it.
Trying to follow one of Julia child's recipes can be a trying experience. She liked to skip back and forth between the master recipe and the one you're trying to actually cook! Finding an online version that has been collated and tidied up is much easier to use. This is one of those, with my little tweeks.
- 2 suprêmes - chicken breasts (I cut the chicken into quarters & adjusted cooking time slightly to allow for the smaller pieces, I didn't want to have to eat a whole chicken breast on my own.)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- pinch of white pepper
- 5 Tablespoons butter
- 120 grams white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 Tablespoons shallots, diced
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chicken of beef stock
- ¼ cup dry vermouth
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- salt/pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and season with salt & white pepper.
- Heat the butter in a heavy, oven-proof casserole until it is foaming.
- Stir in the minced shallots and saute for a minute - do not wait to brown.
- Stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for 1-2 minutes - do not wait to brown.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Quickly flip the chicken breasts in the butter mixture.
- Cover and cook over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes.
- After that time, flip chicken breasts and cook on opposite side for another 8-10 minutes until chicken temperature reaches at least 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken to a warm plate (leave mushrooms/onions in the pot) and cover while making the sauce.
- To make sauce, pour the chicken/beef stock and vermouth in with the cooking butter and mushrooms/onions.
- Over medium high heat, boil down quickly until liquid is syrupy.
- Stir in cream and boil down again over medium high heat until cream has thickened slightly.
- Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.