Restaurants come and go. What’s hot today is not tomorrow.
The restaurants that seem to flourish even in a down economy are bistros. My neighborhood on the Peninsula boasts several, including Menlo Park’s Left Bank and and the glatt kosher Kitchen Table in Mountain View.
A bistro is a small neighborhood restaurant that serves unpretentious fare in generous portions at reasonable prices to a loyal clientele. The food is simple, earthy and seasonal. Given that definition, you can see how well bistro-style cooking moves right into entertaining in the home kitchen.
This bistro-style dinner includes a chicken in white wine perfumed with garlic and herbs and a citrus tart that holds a chocolate surprise.
Coq au Vin Blanc
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1⁄2 cup mixed fresh herbs leaves (such as thyme, rosemary, sage, chervil), chopped
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 large chicken breasts, cut crosswise in half
6 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3 onions, chopped
11⁄2 Tbs. flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley
Combine garlic and herbs with 2 Tbs. oil and vinegar until you have a paste. Place chicken in roasting pan and spread herb mixture over entire chicken. Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight.
Scrape herb mixture off chicken and reserve. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in large, heavy pot. Cook chicken until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to roasting pan. Add onions to pot and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add wine and tomato paste and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Boil until liquid is reduced by half.
Return chicken and herb mixture to pot. Add stock, cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove chicken from liquid and boil cooking liquid until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkled with parsley.
11⁄2 cups flour
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. grated orange zest
10 Tbs. margarine
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 egg yolks
1⁄2 cup sugar
juice and grated zest of1 medium orange
juice and grated zest of1 small lemon
4 Tbs. margarine
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Combine flour, salt and zests. Cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Stir in egg until mixture holds together. Form into flat disc, wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Roll dough out to fit 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. With fork, prick dough in several places. Freeze about 20 minutes. Bake in 450 oven for 10 minutes, then turn down to 350 and bake until light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool on rack.
Spread melted chocolate on bottom of tart shell. Let chocolate harden while preparing remaining filling.
In a heavy saucepan, combine yolks and sugar over low heat. Add orange and lemon juice and zest. Stir, adding margarine a little bit at a time. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Let cool and fold into whipped cream. Fill tart shell with orange lemon cream. Place tart in refrigerator, about 1 hour, to firm up filling. Remove from pan onto a serving plate. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.