First Fall Feast: French

comments: 75


Lookie lookie! Ooo la la, I'm so excited. You may remember this summer, when I wanted the dutch oven? You forgot? Well, I didn't. I'm pretty sure I've worked it into almost every conversation since July, and Saturday was the day. Oh joy. It was our first fall feast, and I was frenzied with excitement. It's just the most gorgeous pot I've ever seen.


I got Ina's Barefoot in Paris cookbook on Saturday, too. Now I have all four. I wasn't sure I would like the Paris one, having a rather unsophisticated palate as I do; I was wrong wrong wrong about that. Here follows one of the best dinners we've ever had, and I think every recipe came from B. in P. Aren't these sort of Frenchified ingredients so fancy and impressive? We needed shallots, fennel, parsnips, beets, raspberry vinegar, creme fraiche, morel mushrooms. These are not regularly part of the Paulson pantry. (And [cough] the morel mushrooms only will be again when we win the lottery . . . goodness me those are some pricey fungi.) Isn't fennel pretty? I love it, it and its little polka-dotted edge when sectioned.


There's something intensely satisfying about peeling and chopping root vegetables — that lovely thunking they make when they hit the baking sheet sounds so rewarding. Our menu: Potato-Fennel Gratin, Roasted Winter Vegetables, Roasted Beet Salad (er, yeah — Andy loves beets), Brussels Sprouts Lardons, and Chicken with Morels. It sounds like we should've invited over half the neighborhood, I know. But we halved everything except for the chicken, then pureed the veggies on Sunday afternoon for soup. (Please note that many of these recipes are available only for a limited time at the Food Network web site and are copyrighted so I won't post them here; just gotta get the book, trust me.)


The gratin. What's not to love. Nothing, absolutely nothing. xoxoxoxoxxoxox


Now, this big thing hanging from the ceiling? It's the ginormous pendant lamp I've also been talking about. Yes, we've been spending money around here like we have it, which we don't. Nevertheless, this is one of the best house purchases we've made — $69 from West Elm, includes cord, plugs into the wall instead of needing to be hard-wired, what's not to like. I really, really like it. I think it changes the whole scale of the room, and actually makes it feel like a dining room instead of a living room. My tip for adding romance to your whole life, and I am so totally not kidding about this? Dimmer switches. The ones that plug into the lamp then plug into the wall. I buy them en masse and use them on everything. I can't think of a lamp in the house that doesn't have one. Forget the roses, the champagne, all that stuff — bring me my dimmer switches and I will love you forever.


Now that is one beautiful pot (side view). Thank you Kitchen Kaboodle! (I got the last one like this, apparently.)


Let's just look at it one more time. Handsome handsome handsome. Please forgive the gloating. I can't help it.


I was glad that Andy'd come home with  fruit tarts in addition to groceries, because after all this cooking holy crap was I tired, too tired to make dessert. I was almost too tired to eat it. (Almost.) Warmed by the glow of it all, including every one of your very, very, very kind comments on the blogiversary post (thank you! [sniffle] ), I must say that at that moment, digging into this glorious little mountain, I would've chosen Paulson Place in Portland over Paris (or anywhere else, for that matter) a bobillion times over. Bien sur.

And, in response to questions: This is the 6.75-quart dutch oven in Dune. I thought a lot about which size to get and decided to go big, and oval. I don't remember what my reasons were, exactly, but . . . I like it just fine. :-)


All this food looks absolutely wonderful! Also I need to look into those dimmer switches that you don't have to hardwire!

WOW, everything looks wonderful. You need to take a picture of the table/lamp from further away so we can get the full effect : )

I agree with you on Dimmer switches, we have them EVERYwhere.. of course Emma turns them up to bright enough to wake the dead, but they are sure nice.

The only thing I did that was remotely French was watch Gigi-- LOVE Louis Jourdan. Emma would walk through every now and then and say "that other man sounds like the song from Aristocats".. meaning Maurice Chevalier. Too cute : )

Sounds like you had a nice relaxing weekend.

mmmm mmmm! Everything looks wonderful! And I love how you can rhapodise about a pot! (I suppose because I'd do the same thing.)

I have a turkish blogger friend.. she is writing about everything.. absolutely everything.. even about the strips of her sweater.. and she writes beautiful.. as you do.. this post and this dining room and dinner look fab.. I would like to be your guest.. sure I would bring a bottle and also some dimmers.. enjoy..

Oh, you should make some friends at the local mycological society ( ). My mother used to date a mushroom hunter and they were always offering me morels and chanterelles. I'm not a big fungi eater, though. Most of the time they just traded mushrooms for meals at local gourmet restaurants.
Hey, that reminds me of a joke: what do you call a mushroom with a 10 inch penis?

A fungi to be with!

Chris Howard says: October 02, 2006 at 07:32 AM

Well you know I got Ina's Family Favorites this weekend, but I really didn't have time to cook. Remember the photos I showed you of our Halloween decorations? Well Hubby and I spent our entire weekend trying to spookify the whole house. It looks wonderful and Halloweeny around here, but it left little time for anything else (like cooking or eating).
A dutch oven is a WONDERFUL thing. I have this non-descript Calphalon one (when hubbers and I were marrying I got it into my head that Calphalon was the end all be all of existence and a hip young couple like us MUST have a set). I use my Dutch Oven all the time, even when recipes call for a frying pan. The Dutch Oven works just as well and it has those lovely high sides that keep things from splattering everywhere. I have my eye on this lovely Le Creuset pumpkin shaped DO that is "flame" colored. /sigh someday

Have a great week Miss Posie. I can't wait to see the yummy fall meals you cook and the delish fall crafts you make!

Oh, and hi Andy! You secret comment reader you!

We received a Le Crueset dutch oven for a wedding gift (ah hem, almost 18 years ago), and I remember being totally peeved because it wasn't on our registry!

Well, let me tell you, that is the best pot we have and continue to use it constantly!

Dinner looks scrumptous! And since I've put off buying Barefoot in Paris for the exact same reasons you stated, well I might have to put it on the list for upcoming purchase! xo

Love Le Creuset. Hate dimmer switches. Sorry. If I'm in a dim room, I don't feel romantic and cozy - I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of winter with no sunlight and I get vaguely depressed and feel like I'm straining my eyes because I can't see properly.
I stand alone against the dimming of the houses! 60 watt bulbs are not the devil!
Ah, that's better. Thanks for letting me vent. You may now carry on lighting your house however you please :)

oh - love, love, lovely~ that dutch oven has been on my wishlist for some time - what a beautiful meal!

LOL, Alicia, your enthusiasm for your pot is infectious!! I have the yellow version - love Le Creuset, can't beat it. Your food photos are making me hungry, it all looks absolutely beautiful :)

i have dutch oven envy. cooking is so satisfying isnt it? i am going to dive into a bunch of mincing tonight for homemade pork fried rice. yum yum. your dinner looks beautiful!

You can even make beets sound good! Love the table, the lamp the gratin, love it all.

oh le creuset.... 23( yikes) years ago while living off campus during our senior year a girlfriend and i decided we needed cookware. meier and frank had sets of le creuset on sale. i have been lugging around 2 dutch ovens, one sauce pan, a 1 qt pan (all with lids!) a cast iron skillet and a tiny enameled skillet since. i am sure everyone thought we were insane for buying those things at 21, but... they. were. wrong. i use them every single day. she and i also got it into our heads, late into our senior year, that we needed to buy ourselves sewing machines - bernina sewing machines... another prescient purchase, to be sure. i think i need to call her today...
again alicia, another wonderful goodie from you - thanks!

The Potato Fennel Gratin is a HUGE hit in this house. It's so so good. That Ina, she's amazing!

Oh, I am so hungry now! What a feast. I must roast some root vegetables soon. Purchased quantity of garlic at Costco, so roasted garlic is now served at almost every meal.

Do post another picture of the lamp. Is it that ginormous?? I'm dying to see it in the room.

Thanks again for sharing your life. True inspiration!

Do we have a bit of a French thing going at the moment?

we are getting married, right? just checking.

Ooh la la, c'est Magnifique! Root vegetables are looking so good as the air out there gets nippier :)

Man, oh man, you're making me want to go home and cook something.

I've got a great recipe for butternut squash soup that I've been looking forward to making now that fall is here. It has yummy Braeburn apples and shallots in it.

My hubby works at Williams-Sonoma, and that dutch oven has been on our wish list since the first month he worked there... I think ours will be in blue, but at the moment I'm not picky.

I'm a huge Ina fan, too, I can't wait for the new book coming out, Barefoot Contessa at Home. End of October.

I needed a dutch oven a couple years ago, and grabbed one of the Martha Stewart Everyday ones from Kmart. It's actually quite gorgeous, round, drabware colored, and seriously substantial. I do love the oval le Creusets, though.

Yummy! I have serious pot envy :o)

I've made the Chicken with morels before, but used wild mushrooms instead, because morels? Yikes! You're right, Expensive with a capital E. It was incredibly delicious with the wild mushrooms, so unless I, too, win the lottery, that's how I'll be making it forever :o)

Hey, fun! I have that cookbook (wrote about it in my Cookbook Collection Awards meme) AND that very same Cuisinart iron pot in white! Two weekends ago I made the Boeuf Bourguignon in my pot from that same cookbook. The hub loved it! You were very ambitious to make so many side dishes. Everything looks lovely.

Hint - Morel mushrooms are harvested from the forests and fields in Oregon in early spring, about April. So try your recipe again then when it won't break the bank. I adore morels but we don't get them in Montana.

Looks like a wonderful feast! I just got back from two weeks of eating practically nonstop! My husband and I went to visit my family in Puerto Rico and they fed us constantly! It was wonderful. Sorry I missed your blogiversary. Hope it was great!!

That is one beautiful pot. I've been watching Marshall's and TJ Maxx for one on sale for years, but no luck...

I made pot roast over the weekend. Fall cooking has arrived!

one of the reasons i took a (very) part-time job at williams-sonoma last christmas was to stock up on essentials like a le creuset dutch oven (40 percent discount, babies!). i bought a braiser and a grill pan, but still haven't gotten the dutchie. you've convinced me that my winter will be long and grey without one. i had thought a red one, but i love that white look. it's really beautiful!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at