Let’s say you’re in a rut, and life feels a bit hum-drum or even a tiny bit sad. Perk yourself up by thinking: Paris.
Food can transport you there, at least in your mind. You can do it the complex way, making boeuf bourguignon, moules frites, or duck confit. Or you can do it the simple way with an omelette or brioche French toast. In any event, just thinking of Paris as your dinner theme will be cheerful. Then dress yourself up, even if you aren’t having company, pour a glass of Champagne, and feel transported. Food can do that; it really can.
I love to cook: With apologies to Julia Child, it’s hard to beat Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon. It works every single time and always feels like a treat. No beef for you? Well, how about moules frites, if you can find good mussels. Not an option either? Poached salmon fit for the French royal court to the rescue. And you must have dessert; lemon mousse will do nicely.
Weeknight reality: You can make a cheese soufflé; I promise you can. It’s much easier than you think. It won’t be ready in 30 minutes, sure. But you’ll have time to visit, or help with homework, or just sit and have a cocktail, while the soufflé is in the oven. Not convinced? Then how about Brioche French Toast with Asparagus and Orange Beurre Blanc. Yes, it’s a brunch recipe. That doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious for dinner. For dessert, some bitter chocolate and strawberries.
Need a miracle: So, it’s hard to pull off something that feels and looks and tastes all ooh-la-la in just 30 minutes. If that’s the pinch you’re in, and you really want to transport yourself (and maybe your guest, or guests), then take yourself a hop-skip-and-jump from Paris to Lyon, and make Frisée-Lardon Salad. If you’re really pressed for time, then you’re going to have to make some substitutions, but the basic idea can hold true: frisée; egg; onion; pork (if you eat it). Buy good wine and some lovely macarons, and you’re good to go.