Friday, November 28, 2014

Béatrix's Red Kuri Soup (ode to)





























Per Nana~
No red kuri squash to be found so I substituted butternut squash instead. 
This is definitely a winner, one of the best soups I've made. I've tasted
 butternut squash soup before but did not care for the flavor, however, 
I think the addition of the leeks really made this a truly scrumptious creamed soup. 
I prepared half the recipe, which was more than enough for us. 
After pureeing the soup in the food processor I thought it was 
too thick so I took Dorie's advice and added milk. 
For a garnish I prepared some garlic toasts and topped the 
soup with some goat cheese. We both agree that this will definitely be a 
repeat, it was so creamy and smooth- simply delicious. 
Per Tricia~
Like Nana, I also took inspiration from Dorie's Bonne Idée and went 
with the butternut squash. In lieu of the chestnuts, however, which Dorie 
explained when combined with the butternut squash resembles the 
flavor of the red kuru- I went with toasted pine nuts. 
The aroma in my kitchen was out of this world. We love a good 
creamy soup and this rich version hit the spot.  And made a ton !  
We tried it with toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top and then sent a 
version with a French baguette slice and Emmental cheese under the broiler. 
As expected, that was the way to go.  Yum.
 Since we have lots of left overs I plan to tweak spices and seasonings as we try
new each bowl. It is a perfect accompaniment for the delicious Thanksgiving 
leftovers. This will be a repeat for sure but I am also keeping my eye out of 
the elusive red kuri squash and can't wait to try its unusual flavor. 
A quick comment about Béatrix, though not the one Dorie named the 
soup after :) My older son turns 21 at midnight on this very French Friday. 
He was born in 1993, which happened to be the 100th anniversary of 
 Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit". His nursery was dubbed the 
"shrine to Beatrix Potter" and I could not believe the serendipity of MY 
selected theme having a monumental year just as MY first born needed
 a nursery. Well played indeed. And now the kismet of cooking a
 "Beatrix recipe"on his special day. The stars are aligned indeed. 

Neither boy ever did much care for the stories - but they did like this soup :)

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Storzapretis


Per Nana~
 When I first read the recipe for this week's selection I knew this would be a winner. 
The combination of ricotta cheese and spinach is a favorite. 
 I love cannelloni stuffed with spinach, spinach ravioli, as well as fresh
 spinach simply sautéed with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. 
This recipe is a bit difficult to work with, everything must be handled gently. 
After boiling the water it must be returned to a simmer in order to cook the 
storzapretis or they will fall apart.  Just in case hubby decided he didn't care
 for the recipe, I had left over beef bourguignon for him. After I baked the
 storzapretis they looked and smelled fabulous and I knew I would love them.
 Guess what - Hubby did too. 
We have both decided that this is one of the best 
recipes from "Around My French Table".
Incidentally, Hubby calls them "ravioli without pasta". 
Good description. 
Per Tricia~
Sorry all, but this will be added to my make up roster. 
In the meantime I look forward to reading our fellow blogger's results ~

Happy French Friday !

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pan-Seared Duck Breasts without Kumquats




Per Nana~
This week's recipe is for pan-seared duck breast with kumquats. 
After reading of the difficulty other bloggers were having to find 
kumquats, I decided to use tangerines instead and hope they had
 enough flavor for the syrup. 
I did not have a fruity wine to use in the sauce so I substituted an 
aperitif wine called Dubonnet instead.  The sauce came together 
well and the taste was pleasant. 
I really enjoyed the duck with the slices of citrus, they really 
complimented each other perfectly. This is definitely a recipe I 
will be repeating, knowing how easy and simple it is to prepare. 
Per Tricia~
My family has really enjoyed the duck recipes from Dorie Greenspan's 
"Around My French Table" and this week was no exception. 
Although I was disappointed to not locate fresh kumquats, I am now
 having fun keeping my eyes open so I can taste them when they are in season.  
My favorite moment of the kumquat hunt was when the salesperson in
my local produce market explained that they "had lots of weird ingredients,
 just not the weird stuff you want". Fair enough. 
In a completely different direction, but still citrus flavored, 
I simply subbed canned mandarin oranges.
 Sacrilege.
 And yummy.

 I drained the cans and just followed the recipe. I also used the delicious 
Saratoga Olive Oil Company's balsamic vinegar which I scored the last 
time I was visiting fellow Dorista, Cher (www.crazyworldofcher.blogspot.com).  
Need to get back up their with Nana to visit both :)
 Another fun revelation this week was that you could buy small
 containers of wine which are effectively "juice boxes" for adults. 
I had never seen containers so small - about 2 cups. Fabulous for 
needs like this recipe, though the salesclerk did not seem to 
appreciate my "juice box" reference. 
As expected the recipe was straight forward, easy and the results delicious. 
I unfortunately gave my duck a bit too much heat or time in the pan and 
it was cooked more than I aimed for, but still very good. The taste testers were 
delighted and we will gladly revisit this one again. Hopefully with kumquats. 

Happy French Friday ~

Monday, November 10, 2014

Palets des Dames


Per Nana~
As we start our journey of baking from Dorie Greenspan's newest book, 
BAKING CHEZ MOI, our first recipe is a delightful cookie with an almost
 cake like texture.  Called Palets des Dames, it is a simple recipe consisting
 of butter, sugar, eggs and flour with a flavoring of vanilla added. Once they
 are baked and have cooled they are then dipped into an icing made with
 confectioner's sugar and whole milk. At this point Dorie suggests adding a
 drop of lemon flavoring but in my case I added almond extract.
 I am not a fan of lemon flavors. 
However you could add many things to the icing as well as decorate the 
cookie if you wanted to be creative.  This recipe would be a lovely 
addition to a Holiday cookie collection since it is an easy recipe that
 can be frozen and then iced later. 
Per Tricia~
We had a tradition when my kids were in elementary school that involved
 taking a 1st day of school photo with all the kids at the bus stop.
 Yes, we took the standard shots with the kids but also made a point of 
getting the annual shot of the group's new shoes.  Yup. 
It was dubbed "new clean sneaker day" by my friends and I.  
The parents had all agreed that this was the only day that all the kids
 would have new sneakers at the same time. (or clean sneakers :) 
Weird, yes. Real and special ? Check and check.  
Why mention this now ?  
I kept thinking about those first day shots as I gazed at my clean and brand 
new copy of BAKING CHEZ MOI, and then looked at my much loved and
 oft used copy of AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE. Four years into that
 adventure, the book is looking a bit rough around the edges. My BCM 
copy will likely show war wounds soon enough and I look forward
 to each splatter and stain. And yes, I took a pic of the new book :)
Now for this week's cookie recipe. 
I have wanted to make these since viewing the results from those bloggers 
who celebrated Dorie's recent birthday by testing these cookies. 
A fan of lemon flavoring (which you can see I did not inherit) in just
 about anything, I was certain I would love these cookies. And I was right. 
 The only tweak I made to the recipe is that I had to make twice the
 amount of icing called for, but was happy to do so. I think that my icing may 
have been a bit heavy handed, but no one was complaining. I added some
 decorations to celebrate the season. Both taste testers loved the results 
and I plan to make another batch with almond flavoring in the very near future. 
We are off to an excellent start on the "cook the book" adventure for 
BAKING CHEZ MOI and I am looking forward to each new recipe. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jerusalem Artichokes (Soup, and Roasted with Garlic)

We could not locate the Jerusalem artichokes a few weeks back so made that a makeup week. Finally secured, we tested both of Dorie's recipes from "Around My French Table" this week. 

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic
Per Nana~
After checking a few supermarkets in the area searching for the 
Jerusalem artichokes with no luck, Tricia was able to locate them 
at her local farmer's market. 
Unfortunately, there really isn't too much to be said for this vegetable. 
It does not have much flavor so I tried to spice it up a bit.  It went well 
with the slices of garlic and looked nice when roasted, but I really did not 
care for the vegetable.  I look forward to seeing how it does in the soup
 recipe but on it's own it did not impress. 
Per Tricia~
I was very excited to try this veggie, given all the hoopla about locating them.
 Frankly I didn't think a roasted veggie with garlic could actually
 go wrong,but this one proved otherwise. Big time. 
While I didn't mind the adventure of procuring the "sunchokes", I did find the 
novelty wore off when I tried to peel the bumpy, awkwardly shaped little things. 
( I also decided the skin would be just fine roasted....)
Overall, I found the results to be extremely bland, even after roasting with garlic. 
I enjoy other "bland" foods such as rice or potatoes, but the Jerusalem artichokes
 did not have any redeeming qualities in my book. Hubby tasted one and called it
 a loss and my son would not take a bite. Ironically, the toughest ingredient
 to find recently ....ended up in the garbage disposal. The recipe was simple enough
 but if you don't care for the star ingredient, it just doesn't matter.
At least we learned what this "new to us" veggie was all about.  
And to double check the next time we reach for fresh ginger.......

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Per Nana~
This week's recipe for Jerusalem artichoke soup is the second time
 in a month that we have used this vegetable.  When we first roasted it
 with sliced garlic I did not care for it but I was hoping that when we 
prepared the soup, adding leeks and onions and then cooking it in
 broth would improve it. Unfortunately, it did not. 
I found the end result extremely bland.  
Rather than use the parsley coulis, I decided to add some Parmesan
 cheese on top and a bit of chopped parsley.  I am sorry to say that this 
recipe did not go over "big" in our house. 

Per Tricia~
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". 
So goes the old saying and that is exactly what went through my mind
 this week when we hit round two for Jerusalem artichokes.
I made the executive decision to sub potatoes and create a soup that had
 a chance of my family eating it. We have enjoyed all of the soups from
 this cookbook and this one, sans the sunchokes, was no exception.  
Potatoes and leeks are a well known combo and given the chill that has 
hit the air, I doubled the recipe and was glad I did. We all enjoyed it and
 I know I will be reaching for this book when I want to make a soup even 
if I don't have the exact items called for- as usual Dorie provides
 a roadmap and liberal allowance for creativity.

Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Osso Buco à L'Arman



Per Nana~
Osso buco is one of our favorite meals. When I first read the recipe in
 AMFT I was a bit apprehensive. This recipe called for a definite flavor of
 orange and I knew that would not go over well with my taste tester,
 so I decided to cut the recipe in half.  Tricia supplied me with the veal
 shanks from her trip to the Phoenixville Farmer's Market. 
They were delicious. The one change I made to the recipe was to use a 
whole can of San Marzano tomatoes instead of adding the fresh tomato. 
Plus I used dried herbs, so I guess that is two changes. I have never used 
Dorie's method of covering the inside of the pot before, but I liked the 
results of a thicker sauce.   When Hubby says "you can do this again" it 
is a pretty good compliment in my book. Comparing this recipe with my
 regular Osso Buco, I found them to be equally good and the orange
 flavor in Dorie's was not strong at all. 
Per Tricia~
I enjoyed sourcing my veal from a local farmer we recently met -
 Sue Miller. She is literally one of the loveliest people and that, 
combined with the fact that her Birchrun Hills Farm cheeses are 
delicious, keeps us checking in her farmer's market booth each week.
  This was my first time preparing Osso Buco and I found it to be quite simple.
The kitchen smelled amazing with the orange aroma added to the savory ones. 
I served the dish over brown rice and it was both filling and delicious. 
Dorie's trick- put parchment on top, before the lid and putting it in the oven. Genius.
All taste testers were pleased and are expecting to see this one again. 
 I also prepared the bonne idée of "orange-basil gremolata", which was 
sprinkled on top before serving. Delicious comfort food just in time for 
the cooler weather. In other news, we have just bought a new house and
 will finally be unpacking. The move has taken more months than planned 
and I can't wait to finally find the cooking supplies that have been in storage.
 Gadgets here I come !

Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dorie's Birthday Celebration ~ Cannelés



Per Nana ~
This week the Doristas are celebrating three big events.
The first and most important is Dorie Greenspan's birthday.
Second, her latest book - Baking Chez Moi- will be released. 
This is something we have been anxiously anticipating.
And third, we are marking the 4th year of cooking together 
from her book "Around My French Table". 

It has been a delightful journey, one that has taught us many new 
techniques, learned about different products which had been 
unfamiliar to us, and added many new spices and cooking 
utensils to our kitchen. 
For Dorie's birthday I have prepared the Cannelés from Baking Chez Moi.
 It only took three attempts to get them right, but I was determined. 
Jim and I enjoyed these delicious little cakes with a delightful cup of 
espresso and since I am not able to share these with Dorie in person, 
I am sending her a photo.

Happy Birthday Dorie.  
Enjoy your special day and I wish you many, many more !

Per Tricia ~
Happy Birthday Dorie !
And Happy Anniversary Doristas !

We have had a lot of anniversary celebrations around here lately and
 while the blogging anniversary is only number 4 - that is quite a milestone.
 Weekly blogging (ok, I do have a few make ups to do :) since 2010, 
nearing the end of cooking an entire book of recipes, and taking a journey 
that would lead us to gaining friends from around the world - including 
the fabulous Dorie Greenspan herself- continues to utterly amaze me. 
Canellé molds- my kitchen is happier with them added.
When I first heard of cannelés it was from a co-worker whose wife 
is a foodie. She did copious research and learned that a farmer's market 
on the Philadelphia Main Line, not far from us, supposedly had a vendor
 with amazing skills at making this pastry. She was on the hunt. I had 
never heard of them before and her verdict was lukewarm. She was a 
skilled baker and tough critic and went back to making them at home. 
And likely dreaming of a trip to Paris. I am still in touch with these 
friends and report on my weekly recipes tested, especially the baked treats. 
half way mark- I have already decided the big one on the left is mine....
Now when I think of that farmer's market I instead think of our Boston
 area Dorista- Betsy- and how Betsy has a sister somewhere near there...... 
so gee, wouldn't it be fun to get Nana and all meet up the next time
 Betsy is in town ??  Yup.  Because that is what Doristas do when they 
are not cooking cannelés in their own kitchens.  And because that is what
 cannelés mean to me after four years of cooking with this group. 
So how actually were they ?  
Fabulous.
 Utterly fabulous.
 I picked up tips (and many a calorie) from Nana's delicious test runs and
 aimed well at time in the oven. The aroma was amazing and the taste 
was utterly delicious.  The tops that puffed out while baking became
 a chewy sort of crispy consistency and my taste testers went NUTS. 
 I was already looking forward to Baking Chez Moi but this sealed the deal.

Thanks for everything Dorie and hope you have a spectacular birthday !