Chef Julien Gremaud can't mark Bastille Day in his native country of France, but the executive chef at Pistache French Bistro in West Palm Beach plans to spend the holiday immersed in a South Florida version of the traditional celebration. Bastille Day is Saturday, July 14, and Pistache is planning an evening that will mirror the type of "street festival" typically associated with the national holiday.
"I'll make really traditional French dishes," Gremaud said of his menu for the fete.
Activities start time around 6 p.m. with street performers, cancan dancers, and other entertainment. Those looking for a casual bite can grab a crepe or panini and other "street food" outside, or head indoors for heavier fare, like beef bourguignon or navarin of lamb. A special three-course prix fixe dinner is available for $39 (plus tax and tip) starting at 5:30 p.m.
Gremaud said the restaurant's Bastille Day celebration is expected to draw several hundred attendees throughout the evening. The restaurant will be outfitted in festive garb to give it a particularly French look for the holiday.
"We're trying to make it look like a French fair," Gremaud said.
Want to get in on the Bastille Day action? Gremaud has provided two recipes he typically makes for a celebratory meal; one savory (a parmesan and gruyere souffle) and the other sweet (chocolate crepe). Find both recipes after the jump.
Gremaud's parmesan and gruyere souffle is a classic French dish. "Making a soufflé is always a challenge," Gremaud concedes. "If you follow this recipe carefully you should finish with a beautiful and delicious presentation."
Start by positioning the oven's rack in the center and preheating to 400 degrees. Generously butter one ten-cup soufflé dish or six one and one-fourth-cup soufflé dishes and sprinkle with parmesan cheese to coat. If using the individual dishes, place all six on a rimmed baking sheet.
Melt one-fourth cup of butter in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add five tablespoons of flour, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Cook without browning until mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about one minute.
Gradually whisk in one and one-fourth cups of whole milk. Next, add a fourth cup of dry white wine. Cook until smooth, thick, and beginning to boil, whisking constantly (this should take about two minutes). Remove it from the heat. Get a small bowl and mix together six large egg yolks, a teaspoon of salt, and one-fourth teaspoon of pepper. Add the yolk mixture all at once to the sauce on the stove and whisk quickly to blend. Fold in one and one-fourth cup of coarsely grated Gruyere cheese and one-fourth cup parmesan (the cheeses do not need to melt).
Use an electric mixer to beat eight large egg whites in a large bowl until they become stiff, but not dry. Fold a quarter of the whites into the lukewarm soufflé base to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whites and transfer soufflé mixture to your prepared dish. Sprinkle the top with two tablespoons of grated Gruyere.
Place the soufflé in the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake it until it is puffed, golden, and gently set in the center. This should take about 40 minutes for a large soufflé and 25 minutes for small soufflés. Transfer soufflé to a platter and serve immediately.
For dessert, chef Gremaud suggests a sweet crepe, a street food traditionally served at festivals and other social gatherings.
This recipe for chocolate crepes (or, les crepes au chocolat) makes about 50 crepes.
In a large bowl, whisk together one and three-fourths cups of whole milk, three-fourths cup of heavy cream, and four large eggs. Gradually whisk in two cups of all-purpose flour until smooth. Whisk in one more cup of whole milk, two tablespoons of sugar, one-eighth teaspoon of salt, and one tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Strain batter through a fine-mesh sieve and discard any lumps. Refrigerate batter for at least one hour or as long as two days.
Use a pastry brush or paper towel to lightly coat six-inch crêpe pan or cast-iron skillet with butter. Heat pan over moderately high heat until butter is hot but not smoking. Briefly whisk the batter to reincorporate any settled solids.
Ladle about two tablespoons of batter into the pan, immediately tilting and rotating the skillet to coat the bottom.
Cook until the crêpe is just set and golden around edges, which should take about ten to 15 seconds. Use the tip of a knife to loosen the edge of the crêpe, then, using fingertips, carefully flip crêpe over. Cook until underside is set which should take about another 20 seconds. Transfer cooked crêpe to a platter and keep it warm.
Repeat to cook remaining crêpes, coating pan with butter each time and stacking crêpes on a platter.
To make the chocolate sauce filling, bring one quart of milk to a boil and pour over one cup of cream, one cup sugar, half-cup of butter, and five cups of good baking chocolate. Let it sit for at least two minutes and then whisk really well until it gets a smooth consistency. Use the sauce to fill the crepes and serve immediately.