Since our first time at Bastille, I'd been craving the chicken.
Early one October evening, E and I headed out to eat just after working out some wedding details at Canlis. The October issue of Sunset had a blurb telling of a Parisian-inspired cafe that was growing salad greens and herbs on the roof of their building in Ballard. This sounded like a place we needed to try.
Our first taste of Bastille, other than a local beer for E and a sparkling Champagne cocktail for moi, was a bleu d'auvergne brought to us with toasted nuts and dried fruit. The pungent cheese quickly reminded me of a tasty blue I enjoyed during our vacation, at a cafeteria next to one of the Loire Valley's many chateaux. (Ah la belle France, at tourist stop I had great cheese, a superb lentil salad and a not-so-bad bowl of salad greens. Sigh.) After the blue came the famous rooftop green salad and a forgettable bowl French onion soup I had requested. Seeing E's chicken fricassée, nicely browned and gently sauced with tender, earthy veggies, I had a bit of plate envy. I retrieved a piece of baguette from the basket and reached across the table for a sample of the sauce. It was full flavored, but not heavy, hinting at white wine and lightly finished with butter. In the days and weeks that followed this taste, I had each part of the meal at the front of my mind.
So, as I said, I'd been craving the chicken for months. The Saturday before Christmas we were hard at work picking up last minute items and wrapping presents of all types. Dinner up in Seattle was not in the cards that night, so I started hunting through cookbooks and websites in order to replicate the coveted fricassée. Epicurious provided me with a basic recipe that was enhanced to create an excellent replica of what we had tasted that night.
With the chicken as the centerpiece of our meal, we again started with the bleu d'auvergne served with toasted hazelnuts and dates. I had picked up a seeded baguette and then quickly washed some greens and stirred a vinaigrette to go along with our main course. It was a rare evening when E was open to dessert, so molten chocolate cakes, with quickly melting vanilla ice cream on top, closed our Bastille-inspired meal.
Chicken Fricassée with Carrots, Mushrooms and Artichokes
Adapted from Gourmet, March 2007
Definitely serve this with a baguette or any bread with a soft interior and a crusty coat. Any dish with an accompanying sauce to dredge bread through wins me points with E.
3 1/2 to 4 pounds chicken pieces
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine or 2 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 chicken stock
8 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted at room temp
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with flour, salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chicken in 2 batches, skin side down first, turning over once, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes total per batch.
Transfer to a plate.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, then cook tarragon, shallots, garlic, carrots, mushrooms and bay leaf over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 2 minutes.
Add wine or vinegar and stock and bring to a boil.
Stir in artichokes, cream, then add chicken, skin side up, and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered.
Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Discard bay leaf and pour sauce over chicken.
Moelleux au Chocolate
From The Gourmet Cookbook
The first time I was to Paris, I had an excellent dinner at La Bastide Odeon. At the time, the restaurant was the most expensive my budget could accommodate and considered inexpensive by Parisian standards. The most prevalent memory of the meal, aside from the nice French couple at the table to the right helping me navigate the menu, was the moelleux au chocolate. After the trip, I searched cookbooks and websites for a comparable recipe (seems to be a pastime of mine). Having exhausted my options and finding nothing to my liking, I had given up hope. Until one night, my mom and I were at the local mall and I decided to purchase the just released Gourmet Cookbook. Sitting enjoying a tea, flipping the pages of my new purchase I came to the recipe for Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes. Reading further, I found this recipe had been requested by a reader after having the moelleux au chocolate at La Bastide Odeon(!!!!). What good fortune! I've made these many, many times over the years and always serve them with a simple vanilla ice cream instead of the coffee crème Anglaise with which I first sampled them.
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter
1.2 ounce bittersweet chocolate such a Callebaut
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons flour
pinch of salt
Ice cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Brush two ramekins with melted butter and dust with 1 teaspoon sugar
Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave by heating in 10 second intervals over medium heat, stirring between each interval
Whisk egg and sugar in a medium bowl
Whish in flour, melted chocolate mixture, and salt
Pour batter into molds, filling about 2/3 full
(At this point you can put the ramekins in the refrigerator up to 12 hours)
Put ramekins on a baking pan
Bake until outer 1/3 to 1/2 inch of cakes is set but centers are still moist, about 10 minutes
Holding one ramekin with a pot holder, run a knife around edge of cake to loosen it, then invert it onto a plate
Repeat with second ramekin
Top with a scoop of ice cream