We were inspired to do a French themed dinner party when we found some bistro dishes that we just loved. The dishes are white, with black and red accents, so that became our color scheme. We added the Eiffel Tower votive holders, red and white checked place mats, and black napkins. And we already had the red plates, which we use all the time. To complete the table, Lauren had the Monsieur and Madame pewter napkin rings, which were perfect.
Some alternatives: Instead of the place mats, you could do a tablecloth-- red, black, or white; or a red and white checked one like the placemats. Instead of the red plates, you could use white plates, which you should have anyway because they can be used in so many different settings. If you go with the white plates, definitely a red or black tablecloth, with contrasting napkins. This is a bold setting, so lots of contrast is good.
I serve the chicken with mashed potatoes. Use your own recipe, or use ours.
The goal here is to have nearly everything ready by the time your guests arrive. All you will have to do after they arrive is broil the onion soup and toss the salad.
If you are making the Roasted Beef Broth, up to 3 days before the party: make the broth, cool and refrigerate. You can also make the broth up to 2 months ahead, and freeze it.
Up to 2 days before: make the soup and the baguette toasts. Store the soup in the refrigerator, and the toasts in an airtight container at room temperature.
The day before the party: shred the cheese for the soup and grate the cheese for the gougères; store separately in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Make the chocolate mousse and refrigerate. Wash the salad greens and refrigerate. Set the table.
The day of the party: Prep the chicken pieces and refrigerate. About 3 hours before serving, make the chicken dish. It will take about an hour to get the chicken ready to be put into the oven. While the chicken is braising, make the salad dressing, and reheat the onion soup. Prepare the dough for the gougères, pipe onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheets, and get ready to be baked.
The chicken will be done about 1 hour before serving. Keep the chicken and the vegetables warm while the sauce is reducing. Cook and mash the potatoes and keep warm. Put the salad greens in a salad bowl. Bake the gougères which ideally will be ready when your guests are arriving so that they can munch them when they are enjoying their Kir Royale's.
About 15 minutes before serving, preheat the broiler to high and add the toasts and the cheese to the soup. Broil and serve. Toss the salad right before serving-- you can either serve it as a separate course between the soup and the chicken, or you can serve it all at once. (Of course, if you were in France, you would serve the salad after the entrée.)
So, bon appétit et profitez de la fête!
Drink the same Riesling that was used to make the chicken. A port would be wonderful with the chocolate mousse.