Francophile Friday

Have you seen Midnight in Paris?  I know I’m way behind on this (it came out in 2011, oops), but IT IS THE BEST and you should probably watch it.  As an English major/French minor in college I was probably destined to love this movie, but BF was a gov/econ guy and he loved it too!  It’s adorable.  And perfect.  And set in Paris, so it’s beautiful.  I rarely, if ever, watch a movie and think, “I need to own this.”  The majority of my DVDs come from Target’s $5 bargain section and are picked up on a whim (My Cousin Vinny for 5 bucks?  Don’t mind if I do), but this one I straight up want to buy.  Now.

ANYway, this weekend BF and I were both A) actually in DC and not visiting elsewhere; and B) not hosting any visitors.  Those things haven’t happened together in almost 2 months, so we were pretty excited to hang at home this weekend.  It wound up feeling like one big, 72-hour date, which was lovely.  On Friday, we stayed in to watch Midnight in Paris, and I decided to make our dinner French-y too.

After meeting BF for a pizza lunch, I was looking to have a healthy, salad-heavy dinner, which meant axing most of the French recipes currently in my arsenal.  What we ended up with really wasn’t particularly French, but pairing it with a Champagne-St. Germain cocktail and some drippy candles went a long way to making salad and polenta seem straight out of Normandie or Provence!

You can call me Guillaume.

You can call me Guillaume.  Don’t mind the man behind the curtain or the newspaper mess.

I have only recently discovered the joys of polenta.  It’s so yummy and easy!  I get that some people are weirded out by its consistency, but ever since I was a kid I’ve liked mushy stuff (my affinity for soggy cereal disturbs my mother to this day).  And I like that you can play with polenta, adding different herbs or dishes on top of it (like a beef ragu) to make it feel like a new recipe each time.  This time I added bleu cheese for that francais feel– a stretch I know, but whatEVA.

For the Polenta, you’ll need:

  • 2.5 c. water
  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c. cold water
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/3 c. bleu cheese (or gorgonzola, or parmesan– I used mostly bleu but added some parmesan ’cause I had a little I wanted to use up)

In a large saucepan, bring the 2.5 c. of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, mix the cornmeal, cold water and salt in a bowl.  Slowly add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low, and cook til very thick, stirring frequently.  Stir in the cheese of your choice, and any other seasoning you want to include (for me, lots of pepper– polenta can be a little bland, so adding lots of spice is a good idea).

polenta

To go with the polenta I made a realllly simple salad with arugula, sunflower seeds, shredded parmesan, and a lemon dressing.  Peppery arugula is a great way to make a salad instantly flavorful no matter how few ingredients you add to it.  And the strong flavors of the lemon and parmesan pair nicely with it.  For the lemon dressing, whisk together 1/4 c. olive oil, a few teaspoons of mustard (I use whole seed), the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  That’s it!

I also made a French cocktail to go with our dinner & movie date night– St. Germain and Champagne.  I’ve had a little bottle of St. Germain (a French elderflower liquor) forEVER, but I’ve never found the right time to use it.  Plus, the bottle is so pretty that I didn’t really want to!

See?  So pretty!  And so French.

See? So pretty! And so French.

But I decided it was time to put my little bottle to use, so I picked up some cheap champagne and mixed it with a healthy splash of St. Germain.  St. Germain’s website has a bunch of different cocktail ideas on it– all of which sound great– though I did add more St. Germain than their recipe calls for (I counted to 4 while pouring and that created a good balance between the champagne and elderflower flavors).  A few raspberries to top it off was all this drink needed to be pretty and perfectly French!

The cocktail had a pretty, golden hue.

The cocktail had an inviting golden hue.

It’s been such a fun summer so far visiting and hosting lots of friends, but it has also been SO nice staying home this weekend and spending time doing things in DC with just the two of us.  Friday was the perfect breather after a month of weekend traveling, and the dinner & a movie themed night inspired us to keep it going with other cultural nights in too!  I’m pulling for Dr. Zhivago and Russian food next, but I might have to do some serious petitioning before I can get BF to agree to borscht!

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