Paris In Springtime -- And Your Home!

View of the Eiffel Tower during the celebrations to display the new lightings with 20,000 light bulbs linked by 25 miles of illuminated garlands, in Paris Saturday June 21, 2003. The Eiffel Tower has welcomed over 200 million visitors since it opened for the 1889 World's Fair. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Paris in the springtime -- the flowers, the food, the music.

Spring is widely considered one of the most magical times to visit The City Of Lights. The flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, and the city seems to be waking up from winter. Tourists certainly know it, and flock there, making this one of the most popular times to visit.

But if you can't get to Paris, there are some easy ways to bring a little bit of Paris into your home, as food writer Katie Lee Joel showed, on The Early Show Monday.

Take a Parisian bistro-inspired menu, add some music to help set the mood, and -- Voila! French flavor at your doorstep!

Joel, who's married to Billy Joel, suggests certain musical pieces to enhance the feel: "La Vie en Rose," "As Time Goes By," "An American in Paris," "Sous le Ciel de Paris," and anything by Jacques Bell, Serge Gainsbourg, or Jean Michel Jarre.

As for the menu -- how do a bistro salad, Sole Meuniere and Kir Royale strike you?


Bistro Salad

When I dine in Paris, I always order a salade verte (green salad) to start, even if it's not on the menu. I know it sounds kind of boring to be in the culinary mecca of the world and be eating salads at every meal, but they're so good!. The French really know how to do a salad. The secret is to keep it simple:

1 head of Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Handful of chopped mixed fresh herbs such as chives, tarragon, and parsley, (about 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the lettuce and herbs in a medium bowl. In a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallots, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine. Pour over the salad and toss. Serve immediately.

Sole Meuniere

4 sole fillets (about 4 ounces each)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, minced

Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge each fish fillet in flour mixture.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add fish and brown about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter and cover with foil. Add butter to pan and turn up the heat to medium-high. When the butter starts to brown (about 3 minutes) add lemon juice and parsley. Pour butter over fish and serve immediately.

Haricot Vert (Green Beans)

3/4 pound French green beans, trimmed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare an ice water bath. Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook two minutes. Drain beans and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.

In a large skillet, heat butter of medium heat. Add shallots and saute about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 2 minutes. Add beans, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Cook until beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Kir Royale

1 ounce Godiva Original Chocolate Liqueur
3 ounces Champagne
1 Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Pour Chocolate Liqueur into a champagne glass and top with champagne. Do not stir. Garnish with chocolate covered strawberry.