A French inspired weekend on Puget Sound - Part 1

My husband and I received an invitation to join friends at their family beach house in Eld Inlet.  This small inlet is located on the southern end of Puget Sound, flanked by Totten Inlet to the Northwest (home to some of the best oysters in the world) and Budd Inlet to the East.  Needless to say, we were elated to spend time with dear friends in a stunning setting.

Menu planning is important when embarking on a weekend trip.  Advanced planning set us up for a wonderfully relaxing first night and we were well stocked for the cooking extravaganza to follow.  I find it is best to bring a prepared dinner for arrival day.  In our case, Friday night’s dinner included chicken liver mousse with crustade, mustard, and cornichons, a goat cheese and caramelized onion tart, and a simple green salad tossed with vinaigrette.  I prepared everything one to two days prior to the trip and packed it all in a cooler for easy transport.  While everyone else was unloading the cars, I sipped on a glass of wine, placed the tart in a warm oven for ten minutes, elegantly displayed the mousse and accoutrements, whisked up the vinaigrette and tossed it with the greens, voilà! dinner was served and I didn’t have to carry any suitcases.

Recipe Links:
Chicken Liver Mousse Mirabelle
I love mousse, and this recipe has been teasing me for a very long time!  The problem - it is rich and too much for one person.  The Puget Sound trip was perfect; three other epicureans who love mousse just as much as I do, and an entire weekend to eat it.  The next time I make it, I will double the port/marsala reduction as I wanted more of that delicious, sweet, winey tartness.  Other than that, this recipe is easy, albeit a tad time consuming.  I ground my own quatre epics but feel free to buy it.  If you choose to make your own, note that you will be making more than you need for the recipe.  It seems a few reviewers got caught up on that. 

Balthazar’s Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart
I’ve been to a lot of French restaurants in my day, plus my tenure at Seattle’s premier French restaurants, Campagne & Café Campagne; let me just say, I know a good tart!  Balthazar’s is dreamy, comforting and sexy.  While I would highly recommend buying the sweet little red Balthazar cookbook, The Red Spoon does an outstanding job documenting the preparation of this lush tart. 

Salad with French Vinaigrette
Have you discovered David Lebovitz?  If you are a fan of French food and culture and have not read David’s living the sweet life in Paris, stop everything and do so now!  I love his whit, whimsy and honesty.  Plus, he breaks down the basic vinaigrette in such a simple way.  I used to be so intimidated by the vinaigrette.  I don’t really like the taste of oil (any oil), which is hard for me to admit, because I don’t like to restrict myself from anything edible.  I finally got over my reservations and started to experiment with various recipes.  I have found many over the years, some which I will share in future posts, but I feel David’s take will guarantee, for even the most fearful, great success.  Toss with organic spring greens and black pepper.  So easy and so tasty!

Stay tuned for part 2 which includes an essential culinary packing list for a French inspired weekend get-a-way. 
xxo R.