Elixir of the gods or French Cooking 101

Our neighbor calls B & B French cognac the elixir of the gods, and on two occasions, I’ve shared snifters with him.  I have to agree, and I am not much of a brandy or cognac drinker. In fact, until recently I’d never heard of or tasted B & B, but when out to dinner with a neighbor who suggests an after meal drink, you just play along, and are sometimes pleasantly surprised.

Dorie herself notes in the recipe that the pan sauces generated by this dish are good enough to be termed an elixir, and she urges her readers to be sure to serve the chicken with a “sauceboat” of aforementioned elixir. I followed her urging.

This Friday’s recipe (m. jacques armagnac chicken) from Around My French Table called for armagnac cognac, but because I went out looking in our small town, the local Pharmacy (which sells everything from plumbing supplies to alcohol), only carried Hennessy and Dom B & B Liqueur, French Spiced & Fine Cognac.   The B & B was so tasty in a snifter, I figured it would be awesome poured over my roasted chicken and vegetables.  I was not disappointed. The chicken and vegetables were melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and Gorilla Girl kept asking for more carrots, calling them “candy carrots” because they were so sweet.

The only small problem with my step-by-step direction following was that cook time with the chicken was  a bit wonky.  Oven temperatures  fluctuate, and when I lifted the lid from my roasting chicken and vegetables, I was not met with the golden browned chicken that Dorie promised. However,  I only had to cook for about 15 minutes more, uncovered, to achieve the right meat temperature and color. Aside from that small detail, the recipe is perfect, and perfectly easy.  My friend, JD, says french cooking is too complicated, and that may be true of some of those desserts, but when it comes to meat and potatoes, this one rocks simplicity-wise.

Since this recipe was so dang simple, I upped the ante with the addition of Provencal tomatoes and marie-helene’s apple cake. The tomatoes seemed to lend themselves to alteration, so I added a bit of goat cheese and parmesan left over from last week, and the cheese added a savory, smooth touch that was a nice complement to the chicken.

Maire-Helene’s apple cake also allowed me to use up some apples that had been hanging around, and it was super simple as well.  Gorilla Girl helped by taking the photos of me whisking the batter (and by grabbing a few chopped apples), and then she helped out even more by eating two pieces of cake for dessert. One of the best things about cooking is watching the folks who eat your cooking consume with gusto and pleasure.

And this apple cake is almost gone, but I am sure it will be a wonderful breakfast treat with a cup of coffee.

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21 Responses to Elixir of the gods or French Cooking 101

  1. Nicely done! I like your choice of menu. That apple cake is one of my favourites from the book.

  2. Eileen says:

    Woooo! Nice spread!

  3. Great menu – I’ve been wanting to try the apple cake so that will make this weeks cooking agenda after reading your post. Wish I had a hardware store that carried the merchandise you speak of – I’m lucky if I can find the lights I need! Fun post!

  4. Adriana says:

    I think no one’s chicken browned until uncovered and broiled! What a nice story. I’m trying to remember now things that dear friends have turned me on to. I still have to make that cake too!

  5. Robin says:

    Will definitely put the cake on the list of things to bake in the near future, looks yummy!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Okay, okay! I’ll try the chicken recipe. (I actually have a whole Amish chicken in the freezer downstairs, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.) –JD

  7. jyourist says:

    Ok, so when are we going to get that cookbook rockin’? Though actually it seems you have the inspiration and culinary diversity to create an awesome cookbook on your own! Maybe I’ll just come by to test your recipes…

  8. Good idea to cook longer with the lid removed. My chicken was pale but I carved it and removed the skin before serving and all was well, better than well actually! I loved that cake and would like to make it again but I run out of kitchen time. We can only eat so much…and we should eat less:)

  9. Marie says:

    Wow–sounds like a great dinner. The chicken alone was very good, but your additions sound like they made the meal memorable.

  10. Tricia S. says:

    Great job and nice combo of ‘Dorie food” as my family likes to call it. Nana loved the chicken as it was but when I tried the recipe I found I would have liked my chicken a bit more “crispy”. I have to admit that it was very moist. Funny that you made the Helen Marie apple cake – Nana and I were just talking about that recipe today. It was the first one we made when we started cooking along with FFWD…way back when 🙂

  11. betsy says:

    I loved the chicken, and I’ll bet that cake was the perfect dessert for a very French meal!

  12. Cher says:

    I can’t drink Cognac (or brandy) straight – but I love the effect it has on my baking.
    And the apple cake – yum. That was my first FFwD recipe and I can still remember it clear as day.

  13. Good to find your blog. You have a new fan. P.S. I NEED the apple cake recipe! Nice visit last night. Look forward to sharing Michael’s Museum with you and Ed and Mazie and Luke.

  14. Pingback: Sunday dinner: a ritual that sustains us | Necessity is the Mother of Invention

  15. Jenn Ragland says:

    I love your pictures and I love the cookbook “Around My French Table” – wish I’d known about French Fridays, but I am having a blast already with TWD. Beautiful food!

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