I love being creative and trying new things with meals, and lately I’ve been experimenting with French cuisine. I recently found a second hand copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and it has kicked me into a French phase with my cooking. The book is a wealth of information, and I think it will prove to be a great resource. I think the only “French” thing about this meal is the order of the courses. I quite like the French course order, as to me it makes sense to have the warm food first, then move to the cold food. Although, I don’t normally serve meals in courses, so it’s a new thing to me.
Course One; Hot Crab Crostini
Course Two; Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
Course Three; Salad
Course Four; Cheese Plate
Course Five; Nutella Crepe Cake
Hot Crab Crostini
(makes 8, or 4 servings for this particular meal. You could have it as two servings, if there are fewer other courses)
¾ tsp mayo
½ tsp onion powder
⅛ tsp garlic powder
⅓ tsp lemon juice
¾ tsp water
⅛ tsp hot sauce
2 oz cream cheese
4 oz imitation crab, chopped
4 slices of loaf bread
1 Tbs bread crumbs
1 Tbs grated Parmesan
Combine everything except the crab and microwave for about 20 seconds, until the cream cheese is soft. Stir in the crab meat as well and set aside until ready to assemble.
Lightly toast regular sliced bread, then use a shot glass to cut small circles out of the bread. I try to avoid the crust, and I use the scraps to make the bread crumbs for the topping.
Combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
When nearly time for the meal, place the toasted rounds on a baking sheet, top with a mound of crab mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Broil for a few minutes, until tops are toasted to your liking.
Serve on a small plate.
Spinach Ravioli with Lemon Garlic Sauce
Two servings of pre-made ravioli
2 Tb olive oil
2 Tbs butter
5 minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried parsley
1 Tb lemon juice
Salt and pepper
2 oz grated parmesan
Boil ravioli according to package directions, drain.
Heat oil and butter on medium heat until radiating heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. I like for the garlic to start turning golden brown. Remove from heat. Add the ravioli, lemon juice, cheese, and parsley. Serve, I prefer pasta bowls.
Course Three; Salad
Lettuce or salad mix of choice (I like romaine and spinach, but all my grocery store had was iceberg)
A small carrot, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler
Croutons (I cut up the scraps from the crostini to use as croutons)
A light dressing, I used a basic Italian vinaigrette
Course Four; Cheese
A few slices of whatever cheese you like. I’ve been trying out new ones lately, so we had a Whiskey Maple Gouda and a bit of Parmesan. I plated it with a few slices of bread with a small bowl of olive oil with italian herbs and salt. The plate stayed on the table for the entire meal, and we ate from it throughout, so I’m not sure this technically counts as its own course.
Course Five; Nutella Crepe Cake
⅓ C. flour
½ C milk
Bigger dash sugar
Butter or cooking spray
I used a much smaller pan than is normally used for crepes, so it made a smaller cake that is more appropriate for two people.
Set the pan over medium heat to preheat.
Combine all ingredients (except butter/ cooking spray and Nutella), and whisk briskly. I mean go to town and whisk the you-know-what out of it, you don’t want any lumps.
Turn the heat up slightly, and either melt the butter or spray with cooking spray. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, hold the pan in one hand and dip out an almost-full ¼ cup of batter. Pour the batter into the pan, then quickly rotate pan in every direction to completely coat the bottom.
Cook for about one minute, until it starts to color slightly on the bottom and the edges are dry. Then use a spatula to carefully flip. And don’t worry, the first one always looks terrible.
Cook on second side for about 30 seconds, then remove to a small plate. Top with a small spoonful of Nutella, then start second crepe. As second crepe is cooking, spread the Nutella over the first one, and don’t worry if it doesn’t go all the way to the edge.
When second crepe is finished cooking, stack on top of first, and again top with nutella.
Follow this order until crepe batter is gone. I prefer not to top last crepe with Nutella, but instead I sprinkle with a little sugar right before serving.
Set aside to cool and set slightly. Can be eaten warm or chilled, according to your preference.
Order of Operations;
The very first thing I did was to assemble the salads, except for the croutons and dressing. They were basic salads of lettuce, shaved carrot, and parmesan cheese. I put them into bowls then refrigerated until it was time to eat. Then I sliced the cheese onto a small plate and refrigerated that, as well. Next, I made the crepes and assembled the cake, also refrigerating until meal time, as I like it chilled and set. Then I mixed up the crab dip and prepared the bread for the crostini, but didn’t assemble until time to put them in the oven, as I didn’t want the bread to get soggy. Then I boiled the ravioli and started the sauce. Before I combined the ravioli and the sauce, I assembled the crab crostini and broiled for a few minutes, until the tops were toasted. Then I combined the ravioli and sauce, plated everything, and supper was ready!
For February, I wanted to show a date night meal, since Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I’m sure a lot of people will plan a special meal. I think this meal is relatively simple in each part, but the combination of everything together gives it a fancy feel. My husband and I enjoyed this meal as a Wednesday night supper, but I think it would be great for a special occasion.
There are quite a few recipes in this post that originally came from elsewhere, then I modified. I’ve included the original links, but I’ve also posted the recipes as I made them. Some were as simple as reducing the number of servings, but I also made some proportion and ingredient changes, as well.
Another thing I’ve been trying to do lately, is actually cooking for two people. For most of my experience, I was always cooking for at least five people, normally more. So cooking for two has been a new experience for me. Thankfully, my husband and I both enjoy leftovers, so it hasn’t been a huge issue. I would still like to get better about cooking for just the two of us.
I also want to note that there are a lot of shortages at the grocery stores in my area. This meal would look very different if I had been able to find everything I wanted, but I was still happy with how it turned out. My point is, don’t feel restricted to exactly what I did. Feel free to make substitutions and changes as needed (or wanted).
I hope you can take some inspiration from this meal. Whether you follow the same menu, or pick and choose between the recipes. Whether you share this in a romantic meal, or with friends. I hope you have fun, stay safe, and eat good food!