It is gratifying to be given opportunities to offer hospitality to guests–both friends and strangers. But however often one entertains, the creation of good memories around the home dining table begins with one’s nearest and dearest. It warms the cockles when one overhears family members recall aloud a special dinner-at-home and anticipate ones to come. The ‘Frolickling Wednesday’ Menu is a family menu..and most particularly one for an evening with one’s beloved, hard-working man.
There are a couple of things that invite explanation in this title, beginning with the first two words: Frolicking Wednesday. This name for the mid-day of the work week refers to a homemade institution for the promotion of well-being and good cheer for individuals who toil long and well and will, hopefully, be revived and refreshed and ready to recommence their weekly labors after a special evening of dining at home. Regularly observed in our household, everyone looks forward to this foretaste of the weekend.
The food for this sort of dinner should not require lengthy last minute preparation, since the whole idea of the evening is that it should be a relaxing and merry time for one and all…including the cook. It may be an evening just for two….but, is equally effortless for four. This particular menu, A Bistro cum Venndéglő Evening at Home, includes dishes from two of the coziest of public dining milieus..the French bistro and its Hungarian equivalent..the Vendéglő.
An aperitif, an unhurried three-course dinner recalling similar ones in a little corner restaurant in Budapest, Paris or (though not referred to in the title) Vienna, with a glass or two of wine…help make the passage through the work-week a lighter, brighter journey for everyone at the table.
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A Timing Note: In the Frolicking Wednesday Menu, Veal Cordon Bleu is served with ‘frites’ (french fries). The veal will not suffer at all if made first…it takes only 8 minutes…and set aside off the burner (still in the pan), while the french fries go into the hot oil. There are some very good quality frozen french fries…and in the interest of preserving the relaxed spirit of this evening, frozen ones are recommended for this menu.
Ingredients: Simply increase the number of pieces of veal to 4 for 4 people and the number of mushroom caps to 8…two per person. The other quantities require no adjustment. Metric equivalents are in parentheses.
- 2 2-ounce Veal Scallops (55 grams), pounded out thin to a length of between 6 – 7 inches (16 – 18 cm)
- 2 thin slices of Ham, each about the same size as each of of the veal scallops
- 6 thin slices of Emmentaler cheese
- 3/4 cup of Butter (165 g)
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- about 1/2 cup of Flour
- about 1 cup of Bread Crumbs
- 4 White Mushroom Caps (2 for each serving) and some 1 or 2 teaspoons of Fresh Thyme Leaves to garnish
- a Meat Pounder/Mallet
- Plastic Wrap
- a small Pot
- a small, heatproof Bowl
- a wide Bowl for the beaten eggs and plates for the flour and bread crumbs
- a wide, heavy-bottomed Pan
- a small Pan
1. If your butcher has already flattened out the veal scallops, you may still give them an additional, light flattening with the flat side of a Meat Pounder. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the scallop and pound very lightly:
3. Place a piece of ham on one half of a scallop. (Only half of the slice will be lying on the scallop half and the other half will extend beyond it.) Lay 3 slices of cheese on the half of the slice covering the scallop and fold the ham over the slices to enclose the cheese:
4. Position the second half of the scallop on top of the ham. Press the edges of ham and scallop together to enclose the cheese. (The scallop halves may not be exactly aligned and that is ok…the ham will also help enclose the cheese and prevent it from escaping as the scallops fry.):
6. Place the butter in the small pot and melt it slowly over low heat. Clarify the melted butter by skimming off the white foam that rises to the top and pouring off the clear yellow liquid beneath into a small bowl, leaving behind the white sediment at the bottom of the pot. (Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter and will be less likely to burn as the veal is sautéed.) Below, in the bowl to the right is the yellow, clarified butter that will be used to make the Veal Cordon Bleu and beside it, the skimmed foam and white sediment that is discarded:
7. Rinse out the small pot and reserve a couple of Tablespoons of the clarified butter in it. Heat a couple of Tablespoons of the clarified butter in the small pan and sauté the mushroom caps over medium heat until they are golden. Set them aside, still in the pan.
8. Pour the rest of the clarified butter into the large pan. Set out the plate of flour, the bowl of beaten eggs and the plate of bread crumbs, side by side, in that order. Bread the stuffed scallops: first flour each one on all sides, then dip it in the beaten egg and finally coat it in the bread crumbs, pressing crumbs along the sides as well as against the flat surfaces of the scallop. Press the edges of the scallop halves together wherever possible…the meat will not completely enclose the filling, but the coating will provide a seal.
9. Heat the clarified butter in the large pan over medium heat. Add the veal scallops and sauté them slowly, adjusting the heat between medium and high low, so that the crust browns slowly to golden as the meat cooks through. The scallops should cook for a total of 8 minutes—4 minutes on each side.
10. If you are serving the Veal Cordon Bleu with its traditional accompaniment of ‘frites’ (French fries), set the finished scallops aside, off the burner and still in the pan, while you fry the potatoes. No harm will come to them and they will stay quite warm.
11. Reheat the mushroom caps gently. Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of clarified butter reserved in the small pot.
12. To serve place a Veal Cordon Bleu on each plate, along with a couple of mushroom caps. Pour a little of the heated butter over each one and sprinkle each with some thyme leaves….Happy Frolicking Wednesday!
A Note: Veal Cordon Bleu with Sautéed Mushroom Caps is the Main Course of the Dinner Menu: Frolicking Wednesday ~ a Bistro cum Vendéglő Evening at Home.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013