My beautiful, wonderful, smart and glamorous French sister Virginie lived with us my senior year in high school through a Rotary exchange program. We first met the summer of 1989 when I was studying in Nice. We were both very shy and struggled to communicate that first encounter. We went to the beach and bathed topless with her gorgeous mother and precious little sister Gwenelle. I'll never forget it. She came to live with us one month later. I learned so much about myself that year. I was a selfish teenager more interested in my boyfriend at the time. We had bumps along the way but I truly felt like I had a sister for life after that year.
Nini speaks four languages fluently. I still struggle to put a sentence together in French with the correct grammar. Hell, I can barely punctuate in English properly.
Her husband Gilles is fantastic and Mom and I went to their wedding on March 11, 2000 in Lyon. They are simply gorgeous, don't you think?
I gave her a manicure on her wedding day. It is truly one of my favorite memories from her wonderful wedding weekend.
Her mother made her gown and all of the children's outfits.
Her parents live in a village just outside of Lyon called Caluire and welcome us like royalty every time we visit.
Nini and Gilles visited with two of their three children for our wedding in 2007.
We can not wait until Capucine is old enough to live and study with us in the states.
Seven months after their wedding in March our French brother, John Baptiste, got married to his beautiful Lis in Paris in October. My brother nicknamed J.B., Jibz, and it totally stuck. He found us through Virginie's family and came to live with us for three months after Virginie graduated and moved home. Jibz is a gendarm in Paris and our neighbor was the Chief of Police in Kalamazoo, MI. Jibz studied under John Ross for the summer. He also came to our wedding. So thanks to Virginie we have many places to visit and stay when we travel to France and I have another brother.
Virginie and Gilles were newlyweds and Mom and I took the train down to Lyon to visit with them. I'll never forget the meal she prepared for us effortlessly. Wild Mushroom Risotto with Veal.
Soak dried Porcini Mushrooms in a box of chicken stock on the stove. You will use the hot stock to cook the risotto. Just simmer, don't boil or you will loose too much of the good stock.
In another heavy bottomed pan crisp up some Pancetta.
Cut into pieces.
Add sliced shallot.
And two tablespoons of butter.
You need risotto for this dish. Not orzo. I dug through our pantry and had two bags of orzo and no risotto.
Uncle Charlie to the rescue. Tayloe darling, are you reading? Do you see your beautiful painting in the background?
Once the onion, pancetta (you can substitute bacon) and butter are browned add one cup of risotto. Coat the rice and toast it for about three minutes.
The rice will glisten a little when it's time to add the stock.
Add one ladle full of hot stock at a time until it begins to thicken. You will know it is ready for more stock when you can scrape the pan and it leaves a line on the pan.
Add another ladle full and stir patiently. Be careful not to put too much stock, not to let too much evaporate at a time, and not to let it get scorched in the pan. If you keep these tips in mind you will have perfect risotto.
You need about 3 cups of fresh mushrooms and a few pieces of veal scaloppini. Don't be afraid to use veal just make sure it is farm raised.
After the first two or three ladles full of hot stock add room temperature white wine. I used a buttery Chardonnay from California. You only need half a bottle and I added the equivalent of one glass at each time. There are four pours in a bottle of wine.
Pound the veal between two sheets of waxed paper. I made it pretty thin, about a half an inch and then cut thin, long slices. I've made the mistake of not pounding it thin in the past and had tough, chewy veal pieces that turned grey due to me making sure it was cooked through.
Roughly chop your mushrooms. We got ours from the JFX Farmer's Market.
In another pan heat up another tablespoon of butter and fish out the Porchini mushrooms from the hot stock and cook them in the butter.
Add the fresh mushrooms to the Porcini and butter mixture.
Continue to add the stock and see how the rice continues to double. Taste the rice throughout the process to test the doneness. Is that a word? See, I can barely speak English.
When the rice tastes nearly done add the veal.
Then add the mushroom mixture and cook for another three minutes until just heated through.
Et voila! C'est paifait Veau au Champignon avec Risotto. I added blue cheese to seal the deal on the richness of this dish. You need a very cold night after raking leaves for hours. It is earthy, nutty, creamy and rich. It tastes like the French countryside and would go well with a French Burgundy white or red and a roaring fire.
Cher Virginie, I hope you had a wonderful birthday yesterday. We love you ever so much and can't wait to visit sooner than later. Please give everyone a hug and thank you for this inspirational dish. Bisous Bisous Ma Petite Choux!!!