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A Bastille Day Dinner Party

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Celebrate the spirit of France with this easy summer menu.

This menu serves six, though the cocktail recipe must be scaled up (shopping list reflects scaled-up amounts).

Think of France’s Bastille Day, on July 14, as the perfect excuse to throw a breezy, summery dinner party of French classics. Kick the meal off with a festive Kir Royale cocktail and the cool, silky leek-and-potato soup known as Vichyssoise. The main course is a traditional Niçoise salad with a summer twist: the fresh tuna steak takes a turn on the grill, as do the potatoes. Finally, celebrate cherry season with a clafoutis, a puffed almond-and-cherry studded baked pancake.

Menu Timeline

Up to 1 day ahead:

  • Make the vichyssoise and chill, covered.

1-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Toast the almonds for the clafoutis. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F.
  • Macerate the cherries and make the clafoutis batter.

1 hour ahead:

  • Put the clafoutis in the oven to bake. After 15 minutes, sprinkle top with almonds, butter, and sugar.
  • Cook the potatoes, haricots verts, and eggs for the salad and let cool.

45 minutes ahead:

  • Heat the grill for the tuna and potatoes
  • Make the basil vinaigrette.
  • Wash and tear the greens and cut the tomatoes for the salad.

15 minutes ahead:

  • Grill the tuna and potatoes for the salad.
  • As guests arrive, make and serve the Kir Royales.

Just before dinner:

  • Garnish the vichyssoise with chives.
  • Assemble the salads.
  • Remove the clafoutis from the oven and let cool during dinner.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 18 small red potatoes (about 1-1/4 lb.)
  • 1-1/4 lb. small ripe red, yellow, and orange tomatoes
  • 3 cups smal fresh sweet or sour cherries (about 1 lb.)
  • 12 oz. haricots verts (thin green beans)
  • 4 medium leeks
  • 4 oz. small inner leaves of red leaf lettuce
  • 3 oz. baby arugula
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 medium lemon

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1-1/2 lb. 1-inch-thick fresh tuna steaks
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Other Groceries

  • 36 fl. oz. (4-1/4 cups) Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 cup Niçoise olives (or other black olives)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbs. créme de cassis (black currant liqueur)
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. kirsch (cherry brandy)
  • 1/8 tsp. pure almond extract

Pantry Staples

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 oz. (2/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

The Menu

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