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Enjoy fine French fare

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789, and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. It is the most important French public holiday as it signifies the birth of their republic.

Bastille Day was declared a French national holiday on July 6, 1880, by Benjamin Raspail when the new republic was firmly entrenched.

Whether you’re French or not, it’s a good excuse to prepare a delicious meal to share with friends.

Most of the dishes can be prepared in advance and will be no trouble to heat up and serve on Monday evening.

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Chicken liver paté

Parisian salad

Coq au vin

Tian of vegetables

Crème brûlée

CHICKEN LIVER PATÉ

Serves 4-6

500g cleaned, free-range chicken livers

200g butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

15ml thyme leaves, chopped

100ml port

125ml cream

5ml salt

3ml ground allspice

a grinding of black pepper

50g extra butter, melted

Roughly chop the livers.

Heat 30ml of the butter in a frying pan and add the onion and thyme and fry gently until soft. Turn up the heat and add the liver.

Fry until brown on the outside and pink in the middle. Remove from the heat and tip them into a food processor.

Return the pan to the heat and add the port. Boil until reduced to about 30ml. Add to the processor.

Add the cream, salt, allspice and pepper. Process until smooth.

Add the remaining 170g of butter about 60g at a time.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.

If you want a very smooth paté, then pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

Spoon into suitable containers and refrigerate for about an hour.

Cover with a layer of melted butter and return to the fridge for a couple of hours.

Serve with toasted baguette.

PARISIAN SALAD

500g waxy baby potatoes

4 eggs, soft-boiled

250g streaky bacon, chopped

200g packet of mixed lettuce

200g artichoke hearts, sliced

DRESSING

15ml Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, crushed

30ml red wine vinegar

80ml olive oil

salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted, simmering water for 20 minutes, or until tender, then drain and halve.

Shell the boiled eggs.

Fry the bacon in a pan with 15ml olive oil, until golden.

Tear the lettuce leaves into half the dressing and toss well. Add the potatoes, artichoke and bacon and toss again.

Arrange on a serving platter. Halve the eggs and place on the salad. Pour over the rest of the dressing and serve.

DRESSING: Put the mustard, garlic and vinegar in a large salad bowl and blend well with a whisk. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk to blend. Season.

COQ AU VIN

Serves 4

30g butter

250g streaky bacon, sliced

8-10 chicken pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and roughly diced

2 stalks of celery, sliced

30ml flour

30ml cognac or brandy

400ml good quality red wine

500ml chicken stock

4-5 small sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

50g butter

12 small onions, peeled

250g small mushrooms

Heat the butter in a heavy-based casserole and cook the bacon until golden. Remove and set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place in the hot fat in the casserole to brown. Remove and set aside with the bacon.

Turn the heat down slightly and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent.

Add the flour and cook for a minute.

Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, stir to combine before adding the cognac or brandy. Cook for another minute.

Add the wine and chicken stock. Tuck in the thyme and bay leaves, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cover with the lid.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and fry the onions and mushrooms until golden. Add them to the chicken and cook for 40-50 minutes, until chicken is tender.

Remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes, until sauce has reduced and thickened.

TIAN OF VEGETABLES

30ml olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

10ml chopped garlic

2 small brinjals, cut into 5mm-thick slices

extra olive oil

3-4 roma tomatoes, cut into 5mm-thick slices

3-4 small red-skinned potatoes, cut into 5mm-thick slices

2-3 large courgettes, cut into 5mm-thick slices

salt and black pepper

15ml thyme leaves

60ml grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until soft.

Spread the onion mixture along with any remaining oil from the pan in the base of an oval ovenproof dish.

Brush the brinjals slices with olive oil and fry briefly over a high heat until just sealed. They must still be firm.

Layer the brinjals, tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes on top of the onions, fitting them tightly in a single layer.

Season the vegetables well and drizzle generously with more olive oil.

Scatter over the thyme leaves. Cover with foil and bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the foil and sprinkle over the Parmesan.

Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Serve warm.

CRÈME BRÛLÉE

Makes 4

250ml cream

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

4 egg yolks

60ml castor sugar

extra castor sugar for sprinkling

Put the cream and vanilla pod and seeds into a pot and heat to just boiling.

Beat the egg yolks and castor sugar until thick and creamy. Remove the vanilla pod and, with the mixer on, gradually pour the hot cream onto the beaten eggs.

Divide the mixture between four ramekins. Place the ramekins into an oven pan and add enough hot water to the pan to come half way up the side of the ramekins.

Bake in the oven at 150°C for 30-40 minutes until just set.

Remove from the oven and from the hot water and refrigerate until required.

Before serving, sprinkle a layer of castor sugar on top of each ramekin and use a blow torch to melt it to form a caramel topping. Serve immediately.

ANGELA DAY

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