Friday, May 22, 2015

Chicken in a Pot~the Lemon & Garlic Version

Per Nana ~
This week's recipe is not really about a "chicken in a pot", it is the
 end result of four plus years of cooking for this project.  As I am 
writing this post I feel a bit sad knowing that it is the last recipe 
that will be prepared from "Around My French Table". 
 We have been looking at this chicken on the cover of this wonderful 
cookbook by Dorie Greenspan and now the time has come to duplicate it.
This is probably the only recipe that I have made from the book where I
 did not substitute or omit any ingredients. I knew that browning a whole
 chicken was not going to be easy so I tied kitchen twine around the breast
 area to keep the wings tight and also tied the legs. That worked pretty well
but trying to brown a chicken on all sides is almost impossible.
After placing the bird in a Dutch oven with all the vegetable, I sealed it
 tight with pizza dough.  Following the directions, I roasted it for 55 minutes
 and the aroma was incredible. I was quite proud of the results. Both the
 chicken and vegetables were cooked to perfection and were delicious.
Per Tricia ~
I will save the reminiscing for the upcoming "fun weeks" when we
 celebrate what this blogging community has shared over the last 4 
plus years, and today I will focus on that amazing chicken. 
"Official Photo" -Ready for the oven
My reality- "Sous Chef" laying in wait

Just when I thought putting a whole chicken and veggies into a pot
 couldn't get much of a new spin, we made it to this recipe. It was not 
matter of unusual spices as much as the instructions to brown the veggies,
 then whole chicken, prior to assembling them in the pot for cooking.
 Oh yes, and use some dough to seal the lid on. 
Right out of the oven
That was a new one indeed. And a fabulous one. 
My husband and I enjoyed this one thoroughly and I will absolutely 
be making it for my sons when they are home. I was eyeing a tool to
 use for leverage on that lid, but in an anti-climatic (but appreciated.....) 
way my lid came off with one solid tug. It still felt fun and I know my
 kids will get a kick out of that step. 
Thank you Dorie and thank you to our Dorista friends - old and new. 
Those we have met in person and those will likely only know through this 
amazing internet community. We look forward to the upcoming celebration
 weeks while cherishing the memories we have built through this adventure. 

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, May 15, 2015

Food Revolution Day 2015

Friday May 15th 2015 is the fourth annual Food Revolution Day – a day of global action created by Jamie Oliver and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to engage and inspire people of all ages to learn about food and how to cook it.   
This year, Food Revolution Day is a global campaign to put compulsory food education back on the school curriculum. Jamie passionately believes that by educating children about food and cooking in a fun and engaging way, we can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives, for themselves and their future families.  Dorie Greenspan agrees – last year when our group Food Revolution Ambassador Mardi Michels ( chatted with her about food education, she said:  “I would love to see a generation that can cook and wants to cook for themselves and others.  The world would be a better place.”

With overweight and obesity statistics increasing at an alarming rate, and preventable diet-related disease claiming more lives earlier than ever before, it has never been more important to educate children about food, where it comes from and how it affects their bodies. Food Revolution Day is about getting kids food smart and setting them up for a long, healthy life.
At "French Fridays with Dorie", we were asked to choose a recipe or a technique you have learned from Around my French Table that we think is a “must know”.  

Per Nana ~
The most important thing I learned while cooking and preparing the recipes from Around My French Table was to try. 

I was totally in my own little safe environment cooking what was handed down from both my mother and mother in law.  Traditional recipes are wonderful and as we teach our children and grandchildren, hey become recipes loved by all. 
Nana's Cooking School- AMFT eclairs

Now that we have been blogging for over four years I have done so much more. Some successes, some failures, and some I would rather not talk about. 
Nana's Cooking School - AMFT Eclairs
I have tried techniques I have never heard, tasted food I was certain would be horrible, and came away from this project with the understanding that you simply have to try. 
Proud of lessons at Nana's

One of the techniques I have learned was to make ganache. The first time that came up I thought that I would not be able to make it work, however it turned out quite easy and I was so proud. Over the years I had made many fruit tarts but I then found Dorie's recipe to be so easy and delicious that I haven't used anything else since. I learned to make gravlax, something that always fascinated me, and I actually ate it ! And then there is the dreaded scallop....five recipes in the book called for scallops. It wasn't until doing the make up recipes that I finally tried one and actually liked it. (to Hubby they are up there with mussels, which isn't a good thing)

Nana's cooking school- ready to share.

I have found this all so rewarding and I hope that every young person will attempt to learn how to cook, learn about proper nutrition and not be afraid to try anything.

Years after Nana's Cooking School- the student meets Dorie.

Per Tricia ~
What I have learned from "Around My French Table" is that cooking, as well as enjoying what you have prepared, is much more fun as a team effort. Sharing and helping each other, as in all aspects of life, is the way to go. Win win. Really. 

While Nana and I went into this adventure believing we would simply "test" a recipe and report back to the "internet" each week, the results have been more revolutionary than that. We have made cooking friends all over the world. Ones that know we like to source our flour locally when we can and that we break for fresh cheesecake when on vacation. Our families and friends know that we need taste testers with open minds and a love of food not only each Friday, but each meal. And they want in. Because getting there is half the fun. 

We have learned that when things sound difficult or the ingredients have us thinking we will not like it before we have tried it, we had better go back to our youth when we were told to "just try it". Because that is also a pearl of wisdom. And Dorie has given us many such pearls. (Tuna and Mango Ceviche...I am looking at you).

No one has to go it alone in French Fridays because there is community of folks posting in the "Problems and Questions" section each week telling you what issues they ran into and how they resolved them. Where to find Rose Water and that we should not use canned zucchini flowers if out of season because it is not the same. While this group reinforced the support system for us, others can find the same by being engaged in their local community or simply reaching out for advice on the many internet recipe communities. How about when my neighbor offered me heirloom tomatoes that were overflowing from her garden, serendipitously on the same day I needed tomatoes for a French Friday recipe ? And then started a food blog herself when I told her about our group ? By the way, even though we have moved across town she delivered me an heirloom plant last night for my new garden. Ties bind through cooking and sharing.  

We have enjoyed watching our single friends share their prepared recipes with friends and neighbors who are just waiting for the results of the Friday adventures, witnessed others preparing dishes along side their own children or grandchildren who magically aged while we did not over the years :)

I was supported not only by the community but directly by Nana, who often sourced and delivered the more unusual ingredient to me in the famous blue tupperware containers - sharing to help ensure I would be able to prepare the recipe. That is they key to success. Getting help and taking it - sharing the journey. Several years ago Nana had my younger son visit her after school and she did an informal "Nana's Cooking School" with him. It was fabulous (pictures shared here) and we then held a family dinner when we all joined to eat what they prepared. Love that idea ~

Throughout AMFT Dorie tells us about conversations with her butchers, bakers and recipe sharing friends. Yes- that is what we need to get back to doing and of course, making sure to share this with the younger generation. To prepare food they do not have to simply go to the grocery store and then sequester themselves alone in the kitchen. These are key life skills to share and in busy times, it is all the more important to ensure they don't fall by the wayside. One unexpected joy of this adventure has been to see my son's reactions to our cooking on this site - how much they enjoy seeing us involved, helping with either cooking or taste testing and understanding that there are no guarantees but just trying is more than worth it.  

Happy Food Revolution Day ~ Spread the word !

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Nutella Buttons ~ Baking Chez Moi

Per Nana~
Let me start by saying that I REALLY need to work on my decorating skills. 
When Dorie said the yield of this recipe was 24 mini cupcakes I filled 24 cups 
with the first bit of cake batter plus the Nutella.  After doing that I realized I 
didn't have enough batter to fill each cup to the top. 
 When I frosted them I made such a mess on the cupcake papers (the cupcakes
 were well below the paper line) that I decided to quit after a half dozen.  
The next time I will do six at a  time. 
I found the cake batter to be unusual at first, but after folding in the egg whites
 it all came together.  These little morsels were quite tasty - even the few that
 did not have any topping, and I will certainly be making them again. 
Per Tricia~
I was delighted that my younger son, who is a huge Nutella fan, made it 
home from college in time for us to share these cupcakes. 
He is here less than a week, then heads to London for a summer 
program, so it was even more wonderful that the tight schedule worked 
in his favor....because he would not have wanted to miss it. 
"Nutella buttons" are basically a homemade cupcake with a spoonful of 
Nutella hidden inside prior to baking. The chocolate on top is not actually 
Nutella, but a home-made ganache found in the back of BAKING CHEZ MOI.
 While mine tasted fantastic, it was the ganache that gave me the most 
difficulty.  I must have messed up my ratios because I simply could 
not get it to thicken up. I went from counter tempering, to then trying
 the fridge, to finally trying the freezer.  Even that took a while.
The batter did have me worried because it looked like no cake batter
 I have ever made before. It was mealy and did not resemble the "paste" 
Dorie described until after the melted butter was added. I wasn't sure folding 
the whipped egg whites was going to work. Luckily, Nana had given me the
 heads up about possibly coming up short on batter so I prepared six at a time. 
I ended up with a dozen full sized cupcakes. It is a heavier cupcake than I 
am used to but there were no complaints from this household for the taste.  

Another fun week ~

This marks another Tuesday recipe testing as we cook along with the "Tuesdays with Dorie" online group.  Please note that we do not post the recipes, per the group rules, but we do encourage others to RUN out and buy their own copy of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking Chez Moi".  Better yet, buy the book and JOIN THE GROUP ! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Seafood Pot-au-Feu

Per Nana~
I loved poaching the fish with the potatoes and carrots, but I did 
not care for the sugar snap peas, ginger or scallions. Something 
about the flavors didn't work for me. In addition to the scallops 
and salmon, I added shrimp rather than mussels because as
 everyone now knows, they do not go over big in our house....
An interesting recipe, I am not sure whether I really like it or not. 
I will say this much, I can't believe this is the next to last recipe 
for us to make from "Around My French Table".  Very sad !

Per Tricia~
I held off preparing this until my husband and younger son were home
 to enjoy it. I am not a fan of seafood and knew I would not appreciate
 the scallops or mussels like they would.  

Suffice it to say that I am adverse to mussels. Frankly, they are so "off putting"
 to me that it was all could do to prepare these myself...since I had to 
actually touch the cooked mussel to remove it from the shell. 
I know, I know. 

I had the dish ready for their arrival back from college and they were just
delighted with the dish. As expected.  Both gave it  a thumbs up and said I 
could make it any time. Rest assure the next time I make it they will be 
home handling the mussels for me.......

The part I really liked about this seafood stew was the perfect timing and utter 
ease of it all. I omitted the leek and went with carrots, potatoes, mushrooms,
 scallions and then the seafood - salmon, sea scallops and mussels. 

Dorie's timing and explanations made the specific timing of what goes in
 when to end up being very easy, rather than complicated by the details.
  This one is a keeper. 

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cheesecake Tart

Per Nana~
Being a die hard New Yorker, when it comes to cheesecake there is only one.
It must be extremely thick, not light and fluffy. 
When I read the ingredients for this recipe - cottage cheese and sour cream- 
I was sure the consistency would not live up to my standards. 
Oh, how wrong I was......
Starting with the sweet tart dough that came together so well, and 
then the filling, everything turned out perfectly. 
I did not put any fruit in the mix for a change but used an apricot glaze
 on top. This was one of the most delicious tarts I have ever tasted. 
Two thumbs up for Dorie on this one. 
Per Tricia~
It has been a great "Dorie Food" week around here - first with the 
wonderful CoconutTapioca and now with this crazy good tart. 
My husband has been in his glory.
I tend to like just about any cheesecake, ricotta cake or such but don't recall 
using cottage cheese ever before. While I don't dislike cottage cheese I was
 curious to how this would fly. My answer came when the Cuisinart food 
processor turned the ingredients into a rich, creamy yellow consistency. 
It looked fabulous and only got better with each step. 
I was even able to salvage it when I forgot to throw the dried berries 
in BEFORE adding the filling (yes, they sink- all was well)
This one is a true keeper.  In my opinion the "company worthy" results
 far exceeded the effort involved. Frankly the toughest part of this for me 
was keeping the partially baked tart crust from getting too brown when it cooked 
with the cheese mixture inside. Quickly crafted foil protectors did the trick.
We enjoy strawberries with our cream cheese so in lieu of raisins 
I opted for dried strawberries, then added strawberry jam on top. 
Doris suggested the tart could be served without the glaze and simply 
have confectioner's sugar sprinkled on top. I opted for the red glazing 
and loved how it looked and tasted.
My husband thought it was fabulous. It is basically a rich butter cookie with 
a dense filling and fruit glaze. It is a wonderful rich, crazy good dessert. 
This one is going on my "go-to" list of keepers.  LOVED IT.

Happy French Friday ~

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coconut Tapioca ~ Baking Chez Moi

Per Nana~ 
This week's selection of Coconut Tapioca pudding was 
so simple to make and the results were delicious. My taste
 tester declared it a winner and I have to agree. Perfect.  
This was my first time using coconut milk and when I first opened the 
can I thought there was something wrong. I did not expect it to be solid inside, 
but it melted nicely when mixed with the other ingredients. 
A quick and easy dessert that will be a repeat. 
Per Tricia~
Dorie shares in this recipe that she didn't have an affinity for 
tapioca pudding when young, and only changed her opinion after 
tasting Pierre Hermé's wonderful rendition in Paris. No surprise. 
For me, tapioca has been a favorite for years - it is the 
coconut that I have come around to enjoying as an adult.
 I can say with certainty that I would not have made tapioca with coconut 
milk if not for this recipe. Simply would not have put two and two together. 
Boy am I glad Dorie did. 
It was a lovely contrast and along with the vanilla extract, really gave 
my usual tapioca a run for its money. And in my opinion, the large pearl 
is the only way to go. We loved this recipe and can't wait till the kids are 
home from college so I can make it for them. A double recipe at least :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sardine Escabeche

Per Nana~
After all the fish recipes that were recently completed, I am sure that most of the 
Doristas were not looking forward to making this dish containing fresh sardines. 
Surprisingly, Jim loves sardines and I really wanted to make them for him.
Unfortunately I had to use Dorie's bonne idée and go with the 
shrimp version since we could not find the sardines anywhere. 
The preparation was simple (with the shrimp version) - slicing the 
vegetables was a bit time consuming but it all came together in about an hour. 
I covered it and left it overnight in the refrigerator so the flavors would blend together. 
Eating this dish when it is chilled is definitely the way to go and we both loved it. 
Per Tricia~
I am not a big fish fan and did not hold out a lot of hope for loving the fresh 
sardines, but I have to admit I did want to actually try them. That has been half 
the fun of this cooking adventure. Try new ingredients, try old ingredient new 
ways, and surprise yourself.  Or on some occasions, confirm your suspicions :)  
I could not believe it was this difficult to find fresh sardines. I called many fish
 mongers, even becoming a bit more interested as the doors continued to slam. 
I ended the hunt with the call to the fish store about 45 minutes away and considered
 that the wake up call. A few told me they only get fresh ones in certain seasons. 
I had know idea. 
The good news however is that this recipe was simply lovely with the shrimp 
substitute. My husband and I both enjoyed it and I would not hesitate to 
make it again. In sardine season.....

Happy French Friday ~