Friday, March 28, 2014

Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India




Per Nana~
This week's recipe for vegetable barley soup with a taste of India
 was interesting. Hubby totally loved it but I did not care for the
 spice flavor. The texture was wonderful and the barley cooked to
 perfection in just under one hour. 
Tricia was kind enough to prepare the Garam Masala from the 
recipe supplied by fellow Dorista Alice, and she shared that with me. 
I was surprised that with all that spice, it was not exceptionally spicy or hot. 
I am not sure what I expected, but I did add some hot sauce to it. 
Hubby enjoyed it "as is".
 That said, I would definitely prepare this soup 
again using only the vegetables and barley.
Per Tricia~
We loved it. 
What a surprise, and not because we expected to dislike it, 
but simply because we had no idea what this was going to taste like. 
Only my husband and I shared the recipe with this week and that may have
 been for the best because we ended up wolfing down this wonderful concoction. 
I thank Alice (www.acookingmizer.com) for sharing the homemade
 garam masala recipe. I have enough different spices accumulated 
from  the various "Around My French Table" recipes that when I read 
Alice's list I knew it was time to put some of these to use. Suffice it to say that
 my house had QUITE an aroma for a day or two after making the spice recipe.
 And my sinuses are still recovering.
I remembered to throw in the bay leaves after snapping this photo ~
 The aroma was very unusual to us, very aromatic and potent. 
But taste is another thing. And the taste was just wonderful. 
Quite exotic for a cold Spring day which unfortunately involved yet another 
snowfall, and for which this warm comfort food was much appreciated. 
Another wonderful bowl from "Two Mountain Pottery" in Shaftsbury,Vermont~
My version turned out wonderfully spicy (I may have been a bit heavy
 handed with the red pepper flakes). It was delicious and is a keeper for sure.  
The snow, however, can leave immediately.....

Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Scallop and Onion Tartes Fines



Per Nana~
I planned to skip this week's recipe selection because of the scallops 
but changed my mind. Hubby and I do not eat scallops but, I thought 
since Tricia has one of her taste testers available, this could work.  
I used tiny bay scallops instead of the larger ones and actually asked the
 fishmonger for less than 1/2 pound. Working with the puff pastry was 
easy, but I only made two rounds. I totally followed the recipe for one 
of the rounds, but on the second I substituted Dubliner cheese for Hubby. 
He loved it. The melting cheese on top of the onion was perfect. 
Since the scallops on the one tarte were so small, I decided to taste
 it myself and actually did eat the whole tarte. It was delicious ! 
My grandson now has to wait for Tricia to prepare this week's recipe. 
If these tartes were smaller, I think they would make great hors d'oeuvres 
which could be prepared ahead and popped into the oven at the last minute.
 I will definitely do this one again. 
Also, last week my fellow Dorista Mary was a bit confused about our post
 missing some photos, so I add them to this week's post and hope I have cleared it 
up. Only teasing, Mary....as you can see, they switched places while cooking. 
Per Tricia~
Yes, I luckily had one son home on Spring break and since he is
 a scallop fan- he enjoyed these along with his father.
From my stash of Wallingford Meat Locker -cob smoked bacon. YUM.
 I do not like scallops (yes, I have tried them on 
several occasions) so I took a pass. 
But I did wonder why I have not made the puff pastry with
 bacon/onion combo sans scallops- they looked and smelled amazing. 
I went with red onions and the color was gorgeous.
My taste testers LOVED these and while the dry pack sea scallops 
can be a bit pricey, spreading them out in slices as topping was a 
very economical way to enjoy them. This one is a keeper.  

Happy French Friday  !

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sausage-Stuffed Cornish Hens






Per Nana~
This week's recipe selection is a Cornish hen stuffed with sausage and
 bread. I used a fresh hen and cut it in half, rather than stuffing the
 bird whole.  The stuffing was really quite easy. I used a combination 
of hot and sweet Italian sausage, fresh parsley and sourdough bread.
 Usually when I make sausage stuffing I add toasted pignoli (pine) nuts, 
but I followed the directions and this time did not add any. 
The little bird came with all its goodies stuffed inside, so I was able to add
 the livers to the stuffing mix as well. I placed two scoops of stuffing on the 
pan and covered it with the split bird and cooked it for about 50 minutes. 
Since we like it really crisp, I used the broiler to finish. I paired it with a
 combination of carrots and parsnips that I roasted with fresh rosemary 
and a drizzle of olive oil. This would be a perfect weeknight dinner for
 someone with a busy schedule as it is so easy to prepare.

Per Tricia~
There was no huge surprise on the results of this week's recipe. 
We loved it. My younger son was home for Spring break and 
polished an entire bird off in one sitting. 
What did surprise me was how I had not considered making sausage 
stuffing for other than Thanksgiving. This is our official  "Turkey 
Day" stuffing recipe, a tradition going back in our family to before
I was born. Since it originated with my father's family, and 
involved Italian sausage, I always presumed it was an Italian
 tradition and was surprised when Dorie explained how common it 
was in France- such that many home cooks do not even prepare
 their own since it is so easy to purchase it ready made.  

I also know that most folks tend to love the stuffing they grew up with,
 and these favorites can become quite sensitive topics as families merge
 and new traditions are born. This week was a wonderful reminder that
favorite stuffing - regardless of the recipe- isn't just for Turkey Day.  
 While I doubt I'll make it often enough to tire of it, I will certainly 
treat my family to this delicious combination other than once a year.

 Thank you, Dorie, for reminding me to enjoy good food every day. 
The taste testers send their thanks as well :)

PS- unrelated but have you tried the "Waterlogue" app ??
 I came across it this week and am mesmerized at this little
 $2.99 tool that literally turns your photo into a watercolor painting.
 Addictive and amazing for those that love photography.
 This is the same bike shot from last week's post. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tartines from La Croix Rouge


Per Nana~
I have not had a tartine made with pain Poilâne, but I did have a 
croque monsieur, and there is nothing like it. Poilâne also makes 
wonderful croissants and I remember Tricia and I enjoying them for
 breakfast as we stayed in hotels nearby. 
This week's recipe was a bit of a challenge, but not because it was difficult.
 Jim does not eat smoked salmon and will not even consider rare roast beef. 
On top of that, I decided to give up bread for Lent (we'll see how far that goes)
 so I had to make this on Tuesday. 
At the deli counter I asked for a very small portion of roast beef and
 fortunately the salmon came in a small package. I used sourdough bread 
for the tartine, toasted under the broiler, and covering each with mayo or butter. 
I love capers and Cornichons, and each of these went very 
with the tartines. They turned out so delicious, I am not even 
ashamed to say that I ate them both for dinner.
Per Tricia~
While Dorie explains that the recipe's name refers to a Parisian café in her 
neighborhood, her discussions about "pain Poilâne" really got my attention.
  And brought back wonderful memories. 
I have eaten more croque monsieurs in Paris than I care to admit to, and
 gladly paid extra to have it served on the venerable bread from Poilâne. 
An early trip to that city and pilgrimage to 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi
 turned into a repeat event any time we are lucky enough to make it back. 
 I even bought a pillow at Restoration Hardware that had this street name 
emblazoned on it - and thought it was "such the find" .....
Close up of  Poilâne's charming door handle
 I am sorry to report however, that we have yet to make
 it to the attached "Cuisine de Bar" - the related and attached shop that
 sells tartines exclusively, in many varieties, on Poilâne bread. 
I'm a sucker for a vintage mini. Parked here, I couldn't resist. The well heeled elderly gentleman
who arrived in it (and whose younger blond nurse was driving...) was inside stuffing his
expensive blazer pockets with the free "punition" cookies when the clerk wasn't looking......
Clearly we need to get book a flight back there and remedy this oversight.  
Now, this week's "Around My French Table" tartines.
Deliciously easy, this week's tartines consisted of lightly toasting good quality
 hearty bread and topping one with rare roast beef, mayo and Cornichons 
while the second was treated to butter, salmon and capers. I purchased a
 dense loaf that I thought would be perfect (it was) at my favorite local
 bakery- le Bus, and topped per Dorie's instructions.
 No surprise on the recipe- the results were delicious.
 What was a surprise was my husband reporting that this is his "usual".
 I knew he liked roast beef but in going on 25 years of marriage, I never
 realized he ordered his with mayo AND pickles. That said, this combo
 from our local sub shop does not vaguely resemble the tartines created
 this week....but I still got a kick out of the revelation.
These shots are from the 2010 trip and lunch in a little café near
 the Bon Marché. Nana caught yours truly digging into one of the best
 lunches on record, which included the famed pain Poilâne. I actually
 have a photo of this sandwich at work. Enough said. 
Happy French Friday ~

Friday, February 28, 2014

Garbure from the Supermarket


Per Nana~
When I first read through this recipe I thought of the Alsace region and their
 specialty, Choucroute. I did not realize that the pork shoulder Dorie mentioned 
was fresh pork, so I purchased a smoked shoulder/butt. 

Also, when looking for garlic sausage I opted for garlic parsley Italian sausage. 
Since these would be undercooked, I baked them in the oven first. I think 
Polish Kielbasa would have worked a lot better but these sausages were still 
tasty. Instead of buying a whole cabbage I bought a bag of chopped cabbage 
used for making coleslaw. Even though there is a lot of prep work in the recipe 
as Dorie has it, it is well  worth every minute spent in the kitchen.   

After cooking everything for the first hour, I remember Mardi mentioning 
the vegetables becoming quite soft, so I tested them and they were "done".
 I decided to remove them from the soup and add them back later.
 When all was cooked I shredded the meat and then added the veggies
 to reheat. Hubby and I enjoyed this soup a lot, unfortunately the amount
 this recipe yielded was a bit much for us. I did freeze a few containers
 and hopefully these will be good when defrosted.
Per Tricia~
It is still cold and snowy(ing) in Pennsylvania so it was great to have
 this hearty French soup/stew on the menu. I also went with a smoked
 shoulder/butt and no, not because Nana bought it for me this week
 (but fair enough assumption) but because I thought it sounded delicious 
when I found it in the store. I added a D'Artagnan duck leg and my 
last batch of Wallingford Vermont cob-smoked kielbasa.
I love a Cassoulet type dish so it was no surprise that the garbure was a hit. 

The kitchen smelled amazing. My husband and I both enjoyed this and
 the kids will be able to test it since my freezer is now also full. 
Happy French Friday ~

Friday, February 21, 2014

Butter & Rum Crepes, Plain and Fancy


Per Nana~
I have never seen a crepe that I did not like, except my own. 
I prepared the batter, which was so easy and chilled it for a few hours. 
The problem is trying to cook them. I used a heavy duty frying pan 
and everything seemed to get too hot. I either burned the bottom or, 
when flipping it over, it fell apart. 
I attempted the recipe three times in the last week trying to perfect
 them for photos. (not too much of an effort since we enjoyed them anyway.)  
The sauce was really easy. I whisked the juices and the butter by hand
 and it turned out very smooth. When I first tasted the blend I thought
 there was too much of a lemon flavor, but then realized it just 
worked when served with the crepes. 
I served one crepe to Jim with nutella inside and drizzled some on top. 
He said he preferred the sauce I had made with the honey. That surprised
 me because he loves nutella. One of my fondest memories is my mother
 preparing crepes for us when I was young. They were served plain 
with a sprinkle of sugar on top. Simply delicious. 
Per Tricia~
This week brought together everything I love about French Fridays.
 The recipe for crepes was a classic French dish, one that my family 
and I love elsewhere but for whatever reason I had not been making 
at home, and one where Dorie's wonderful tips guided me in the
 kitchen and provided me more than just the "ingredients and instructions". 
I may never throw an orange peel away again- mixed with sugar it was pure gold. YUM.
Specifically ?  Her suggestion that to use your fingers to gently flip the crepes.
 While I have no pride about getting something done in the kitchen, 
I can clearly admit that this was not a technique I would have even 
thought of. But it worked like a charm. In fact, I feel quite confident it
 saved every crepe I made. So there I was, husband dying over the 
aroma of the citrus and crepes and patiently waiting to fulfill his role
 as taste tester - and I am bragging to him about how wonderful Dorie
is because she tuned me in to the using my fingers. 
I refilled my saved Laduree jar with the sauce. Nothing from Paris is ever thrown out in my house.....
"Check this out. 
It works perfectly.
 I never would have thought of this myself. 
This is why I love Dorie.
 This is why this book is fun."

 Welcome to French Fridays in my kitchen :) 
The crepes were served with the wonderful honey citrus sauce and 
I filled several with some homemade whipped cream. And all along
 I wondered why I had not made these in such a long time. I can't wait 
to make them for the boys when they are home. Crepes = love. 

These shots are from the 2007 trip we took to Paris with the boys. Nana and my 
Dad were there as well so it was a very special vacation memory for all of us.  
And there was no shortage of crepes.

 At 20 and 17 now, you can imagine that a lot has changed in the last 7 years.  
One thing that has not - their love of crepes. 

Happy French Fridays