In-Flight Dining Re-Imagine

Do you remember the days when air travel was glamorous? The thought of being served meals thousands of feet up in the air is part of the status symbol of the wealthy? Me neither. Nowadays, I am more likely to pack my own meal to avoid the institutional grub or total lack thereof. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is Pancetta Green Beans. Well, they’re green beans. But what if they are served following the all important question “Chicken or Beef?” With a few trips coming up, my imagination runs wild for what I would really like to be served on a plane.

In-Flight Meal Fantasy: The SettingIn-Flight Meal Fantasy: The Meal

Ever since I was a kid, I’m fascinated by things that fit well together like a puzzle. Little pieces of delectable chocolate packed in a box with no space to spare. Bento boxes showcasing visually stunning on-the-go meal in the most compact form. My first memory of air travel was a trip from Hong Kong to Manila. The scaled down cutlery and dinnerware left a lasting impression with individual courses neatly nestled in their own compartment. Obviously, my fantasy in-flight meal began with the “table” setting.

My acacia wooden square tray is the perfect backdrop for three small melamine bowls, a square porcelain baking dish, full-size cutlery (because miniature cutlery does not belong in the first-class cabin), a ceramic espresso cup, and a short-stem champagne flute. Hey, even the choice of material and shape has been carefully considered for the rigor of air travel! Turbulence anyone?

Ladies and gentlemen, the fasten seatbelt sign is on, the plane is about to take off. You can find the menu of our in-flight meal at your seat pocket.

In-Flight Meal Fantasy


Almost Nicoise Salad

mâche lettuce, heirloom grape tomatoes, green beans, nicoise olives, potatoes in vinaigrette


Beef Daube with Carrots

mashed potato celeriac and pancetta green beans




Apricot Streusel Cake

Greek yogurt and poached Forelle pear

Petit Four

Pearson's salted nut roll


Espresso & Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider


In-Flight Meal Fantasy: Pancetta Green BeansQuite a feast isn’t it? The “almost” part of Almost Nicoise Salad comes from the fact that I omitted the hardboiled eggs and tuna. If I had quail eggs at home, I am most certain that they would make their way to the salad. I know that salade nicoise is typically a main course in itself but I do love the gorgeous colour and the combination of vegetable. Obviously the Pancetta Green Beans comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. I took care to cut the beans on a bias so they are all about the same bite size length. The pancetta lent crispy texture and smoky flavour to the side dish. The main course of Beef Daube with Carrots also comes from the same book. The recipe calls for using beef cheek though I made mine with chuck. The mashed potato celeriac is inspired by another Greenspan recipe though I did not boil my vegetable in milk. It seems a bit wasteful to me not to mention I rarely have that much milk in the fridge anyway. I was surprised by the sweetness that celeriac imparted on the dish. It was certainly a nice change from the standard mash potato.

In-Flight Meal Fantasy: Almost Nicoise Salad
In-Flight Meal Fantasy: Dessert
In-Flight Meal Fantasy: Beef Daube With Carrots

I had a bit of fun with the all the little add-on to make the meal complete and resembling an airplane meal. The dessert was a simple apricot streusel cake from Flo Braker’s Baking For All Occasions. The dollop of Greek yogurt not only added a bit of creaminess to the dessert, it also helped to anchor the poached pear. Of course we cannot miss out on cheese course for any French meal. The wedge of brie sat on a piece of crusty sourdough bread to support the soft texture. In lieu of a piece of dark chocolate, the espresso came with a thick slice of Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll, an addictive candy bar local to Minnesota. Last but not least, a glass of bubbly added just the right touch of elegance to remind us that we’re traveling in style.

Don’t forget to check out what other members of French Fridays with Dorie made this week and their tips on cooking Pancetta Green Beans.

(Originally published at Dessert By Candy)

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