jerusalem artichokeI’m really excited about tonight’s dinner, pulled from famed French cookbook authoress Madame E. Saint-Ange’s suggested winter dinner menus. On the agenda: Jerusalem artichoke potage, pork filet with pepper sauce, braised endives and pear clafoutis.

It’s coming out really, really well. So well, my heart murmur is acting up! One thing, in making the potage, which is a puree of stewed jerusalem artichokes (pictured), onion and hazelnuts, thickened with boiled milk and corn starch, it would have been really handy to have one of those stick mixers that you just put into the soup pot and blend away. It’s scary to batch stuff into the blender — especially when it’s hot.

But this soup is really interesting. Delicate flavor of the jerusalem artichoke and onion with the super complimentary hazelnuts. Who knew? It tastes very old-fashioned–will be interesting to hear what the guests think…

(Two days, and a head cold later)

Bettie at stoveThe soup was amazing and honestly, didn’t taste like anything I’d had before. I served with croutes sauteed in butter to which I added a crushed shallot. A little chervil on top. The guests really seemed to enjoy it. I would definitely make it again and want to explore more of Mme’s soups.

The pork was a really good recipe — but next time I’ll cook it in a tighter casserole. The sauce didn’t completely cover the pork loin during cooking (in a 10 inch round casserole) and the part of it that stuck from beneath the sauce ended up a bit dry (even having basted from time to time with bacon fat).

But the sauce (served in my grandma’s gravy boat) was very delicious. Strenuous to make, yes, per all of Mme Saint-Ange’s instructions (which sometimes are a bit contradictory, at one point she says the sauce takes 25 minutes to make, and later, to simmer the sauce for 45 minutes.) but roundly flavored with tart vinegar, herbs, vegetables and vermouth.

Pear clafoutisBut my favorite thing was the pear clafoutis. Actually, Mme Saint-Ange suggested apple tarte tatin for dessert but we’d just served that recently so I used Julia Child’s recipe for my favorite dessert from France. And not only is it delicous, but the easiest dish ever. I used bosc pears, cored and sliced and soaked them in sugar and cognac for a couple of hours. Basically, clafoutis is just seasonal fruit held together with sweet batter and baked in a tart pan. Served warm with creme fraiche. It is my new beloved dish — easy, delicious, fun to pronounce and good cold from the fridge for breakfast.