If there is only one thing I could choose as my appreciation of the French, it would be their approach to food and how they eat it. Food is so much more than fuel, it deserves to be savored slowly without guilt. Hosting a French dinner party is the perfect way to revel in a little bit of the slow-paced, French culture.
Shop in Season
The French shop in local markets. While you may not have an abundance of markets around where you live, you can still purchase fresh, seasonal food. You can plan or adapt your menu based on ingredients that are in season.
Plan Meals You Can Prep in Advance
Another thing about the French is their effortless approach to life. Choosing meals that can be prepped ahead of time, will allow you to actually spend your dinner party moments with your guests rather than at the stove. Think fancy one-pot meals that exuberate comfort and pack a ton of flavor. Less dishes also means more time you can spend chatting with your guests and sipping on wine in between courses.
Set Your Table
Less is more when it comes to the French. Set a gorgeous table by choosing a simple linen tablecloth, get out your fancy dishes (but only ones that are dishwasher safe), best wine glasses and finish it off with fresh flowers from the market or your garden. You want to create a table setting that is elegant but approachable.
Have Plenty of Wine on Hand
No French dinner party would be complete without plenty of wine on hand.
The Game Plan
1. Cut and prep charcuterie elements, wrap and store in fridge.
2. Bake peach tart Tatin and set aside.
3. Begin chicken dish. Once the chicken is browned, all you do is combine the ingredients into the same pot, and bake until done. You also can’t overcook this as the longer the chicken cooks in the juices, the more tender and fall off the bone it will be.
4. Once chicken is in the oven, cut veggies for the Ratatouille. Cook on low heat until the veggies begin to melt together. If they are looking like they are going to get too soft before you serve your guests, remove from heat and set aside. Just before you’re ready for the course, turn on high to heat, and serve once hot.
5. Make the cheese sauce and onions ahead of time, set aside and reheat when ready. Make the crêpes just before serving.
First Course: French Charcuterie
The perfect French charcuterie plate consists of a few cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruit and baguette slices.
I chose Brie, Beaufort and Bergeron. For meat, I chose a fairly dry saucisson sec (dry cured sausage), jambon de Bayonne (French Prosciutto, a little chewier than its Italian friend and pork rillettes (a pork pâté). To finish it off, I chose fresh peaches that are in season, as well as, baguette slices from the bakery. Sprinkle some nuts for added texture and layers.
Second Course: French Onion Crêpes with Reblochon Cheese Sauce and Fresh Herbs
We need to talk about these crêpes because they turned out so much better than I ever imagined they would.
I used this thinkkitchen Electric Crêpe Maker and had the best results ever. I’ve made plenty of crêpes before and have never found the perfect consistency or cook. In fact, I’ve always found them tough to get just right, until now.
I actually wanted to serve a French Onion soup as the second course, but being August I decided to freshen it up a bit. This crêpe is stuffed with sweet, silky caramelized onions and topped with a Reblochon cheese sauce and fresh herbs crushed in a mortar and pestle to release the herbs natural oils.
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 4 eggs
- 1.50 cups whole milk
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 sweet onions sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1.50 cups milk
- 2 cups Reblochon cheese grated (if you can't find Reblochon cheese you can substitute with Fontina)
Add your sliced onions and olive oil to a pan over high heat. Stir to coat onions in oil.
Add in sugar, salt and pepper and stir.
Once the onions begin to soften, turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and caramel colour.
While onions are caramelizing, heat your Crêpe maker on its darkest setting. Let it heat up for about 8 minutes.
Place all of your crêpe ingredients into a blender and blend until combined and frothy. Let sit for about 8 minutes. If you don't have a blender, you can also whisk by hand, but make sure to incorporate all of the flour bits.
While crêpe mixture is sitting, begin the cheese sauce.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
Whisk in flour to create a roux.
Slowly add in 1/3 of the milk, whisking to incorporate. Your roux will thicken. Add in the next 1/3, and whisk until thickened. Pour the rest of the milk into the pot and wait until the milk has thickened. If your sauce gets too thick, take it off of the heat and thin it out with more milk, a little at a time.
Stir in cheese, salt and pepper, until melted. Set aside.
When your crêpe maker is fully heated, ladle or pour your crêpe mixture into the middle of the surface. Let cook for about 2 minutes, or when bubbles have started to form and the bottom is lightly browned. Flip with the wooden spatula provided. When the other side is lightly browned (about 1 minute) , remove and keep aside. Continue until all of the crêpes are finished.
To Assemble: Lay crêpe on plate. Fill with caramelized onions and roll to close.
Pour cheese sauce over crêpe and finish off with fresh herbs, crushed in a mortar and pestle to release the herbs' oils and abundant flavor.
Third Course: Fresh Veggie Ratatouille
Is there a better way to end a bountiful summer than with a simmering pot of fresh vegetables from the garden or market? There’s really not. Oh, and it’s another one-pot meal so it’s easy to make and easy to clean up. It also needs some time to cook so it’s perfect for making ahead of time. Get the recipe here.
Fourth Course: One Pot Chicken Fricassee Tartiflette
This recipe combines not one, but two amazing French recipes into one pot! A whole chicken, simmering together with fresh herbs, butter, cream, and wine, plus the flavours of bacon, Reblochon cheese and potatoes make this dish one of the tastiest one-pot meals ever. Get the recipe here.
Fifth Course: Peach Tart Tatin with Spiced Sparkling Chardonnay Sauce
I can’t even say enough amazing things about this Peach Tart Tatin. Firstly, peaches are in season so this was SO tasty. Secondly, it was incredibly easy to make, like way easier than a pie. And lastly, after serving a piece each to our guests, I ate the rest of it by myself. I wish I was kidding, but I’m really not. Anyways, this is almost another one-pot meal (dessert?) as you cook everything in a pan with the pastry on top so it has a chance to puff and brown, and then you flip it upside when it’s done.
You now have all you need to host the most amazing French dinner party! All that’s left to do is enjoy. Bon appétit!