Behind the Dish: Bouillabaisse de Poulet

Julia’s variation on the traditional bouillabaisse — normally fish stew — that substitutes chicken for the fish is a tasty dish indeed. Here’s how we make it at the Bistro: the poached chicken is flavored by a combination of white wine, vermouth and “Provençal vegetables and herbs”: onions, scallions, our rooftop-grown tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, fennel, saffron and orange peel. Swirled in as a final touch is a bit of pistou — a French variation on the Italian pesto — a combination of basil, tomato, garlic and cheese. We will serve it with Ohio-grown baby red potatoes for a hearty dish with plenty of local flavor.

And, what’s a birthday — especially a great chef’s birthday — without cake and ice cream? Our dessert choices tonight will include a special Angel Food Cassata with Cherries and Nectarines as Julia’s birthday cake, and our ice cream flavor of the evening is sure to be an eye-opener: Mango Jalapeño. Or, enjoy your mangoes and your cake together in a special dessert with a real taste of the tropics, Plantain-Mango Trifle with Banana Chips and Dulce de Leche Pastry Cream.

It’s going to be a special celebration at the Bistro tonight — don’t miss it!

Eat your liver!

Did you ever hear that admonition when you were a child? Did you find yourself not too thrilled at the prospect, staring at a plateful of something that looked like a big slab of shoe leather — and had approximately the same consistency and flavor?

Or, are you a fan of that good old comfort food standard — liver and onions — who’s never tried liver the way the French do it? Or have you already discovered the pleasures of foie de veau — but wondered if you can experience something that good here in Cleveland? Thanks to our Julia Project, you can, tonight.

Our Sautéed Calves’ Liver with Cream Mustard Sauce is a far cry from shoe-leather country. These are soft, tender slices of liver bathed in a savory sauce of cream and top-quality grainy French mustard, sitting atop a cozy bed of mashed potatoes. Our accompaniments for this dish are sautéed spinach, rich with garlic, and celery root (celeriac) remoulade, the recipe for which is also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1. Normally, remoulade is a term used for a kind of tartar sauce or condiment, but this French dish is actually thin strips of celery root combined with a mustard-based dressing. You might think of it as “coleslaw in a tuxedo.” Just as the cold creaminess of coleslaw complements battered fried fish, the crisp, cool, astringent texture and taste of this remoulade provides a refreshing contrast to the rich, warm flavor of the calves’ liver and sauce. Indeed, it’s a dish you’ll be more than happy to eat, no admonitions necessary!

In other news: The Julia Project list of dishes for the week of August 10 to 15 is ready! Here’s what’s in store for each day.

Monday: Potage Veloute aux Champignons — Cream of Mushroom Soup, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 40)

Tuesday: Coquilles St. Jacques — Scallops and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 216), accompanied by asparagus tips

Wednesday: Sauté de Veau Marengo — Brown Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Mushrooms, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 360), accompanied by mashed potatoes

Thursday: Loup en Croûte — Fish in Pastry, from Julia Child and Company, with hollandaise sauce and haricots verts

Friday: Savarin with Ohio-Grown Tart Cherries and Seasonal Stone Fruit with Crème Anglaise, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 664). Taste a classic French dessert made with local fruit at the peak of flavor!

Saturday: Bouillabaisse de Poulet — Chicken Poached in White Wine, Provençal Vegetables and Herbs, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2 (page 261), with Ohio-grown baby redskin potatoes and pistou. (It will be Julia’s birthday August 15 — she would have been 97 — and we’ll be celebrating in style!)

Sound good? Make your reservation now! Also, don’t forget, if we served a dish this past week that you’d love to see again, let us know in the poll. We’ll keep it open until midnight Sunday to give you a good chance to vote.

A special shout-out to everyone who enjoyed sampling our food last night at the American Cancer Society 2nd Annual “Dining at the Diamond” event at Classic Park in Eastlake. Thanks for joining us in supporting a great cause, and hope to see you at the Bistro soon!