Friday, January 28, 2011

Chicken B'stilla

A great adventure with a split decision on the results !  Nana and I each made the chicken this week, and while we both enjoyed the opportunity to try a recipe that we would honestly not have picked for ourselves...only one of us would make it again :)  Read on to find out who......

PS- we are so grateful to have been nominated for a "Stylish Blogger" award by our frequent (and HILARIOUS) visitor -Cher. She is a member of French Fridays and we look forward to her posts each week -she keeps it real but makes it so fun and entertaining, like you are in the kitchen with a great friend.  

As part of the award, we are to list 7 things that are unknown about us and then nominate 15 blogs that we love. I think this is a really cool idea, but am going to have to come back to this assignment (after conferring with Nana) or else I will miss the "Dorie Deadline" :)  Thanks Cher !

Per Tricia:

I had to travel to Washington on business this week and then stayed even longer due to the snow storm. I was actually hoping to not be cooking a recipe on Friday for once, and thank goodness Nana hooked me up to get going when I got home Thursday night.  Because this was NOT the recipe to do at the last minute.  Luckily, Nana had the prep work all done for me when I got home -she got me the chicken, Phyllo and even sent over the spices I was separate little containers all labeled for me. This gesture really helped me start out the adventure on the right foot. Nothing like having a Mom around to help, no matter how old you are !

Even though I knew there were many steps, this truly did turn out to be more of a production than I would have thought.  It was interesting throughout, between using the ingredients that were either new or used in a new way and the aroma was delightful.  Son #2 had "made weight" for wrestling and kept calling down to find out "when the good stuff"  (as in not what I had actually served for dinner.....) would be ready.  Son #1 was still trying to "make weight" and declared that it smelled "so amazing" that he needed to leave the kitchen. In fact the whole first floor.  I reminded him I would make the Rostang chocolate cake when wrestling was over.

The recipe was time consuming in that the various stages - marinate, etc, had to occur for a while each.  Since I was doing it all in one shot, I really could not start any major other projects it truly felt like I was in the kitchen FOREVER.

The first "scary" part was when I had to mix the egg/honey mixture into the hot bouillion.  I had visions of Chinese egg drop soup and scrambled eggs.  I literally announced to the kitchen that I was scared as I whisked like heck.  Luckily no egg drop soup.  Unluckily, not thickening any time soon.  Which was about the time the trip home from DC hit me and the recipe seemed to drag on.  After 8 or so minutes I threw in some flour and that helped- but it still never got very thick.  My end result had too much liquid and the liquid was too thin.  I should have limited myself to the one cup that Dorie referred to but I tested it using an estimate and simply used the final reduction amount.

The next scary part was the Phyllo.  Nana got me the "good stuff" and went to Wegmans. I only ever used Pepperidge Farm and theirs was way easier to figure out what a sheet is.  I didn't even realize there was a problem till I had the whole thing made and was getting ready to put on the top.  The next piece of Phyllo was way bigger and I panicked.  I actually decided to invert what I had onto a plate, stuff down more Phyllo and throw it back in there.  Truthfully, this should have flopped at this point because this was a truly dumb idea....but I got luckily and the chicken "glob" actually retained it shape.

I have to say that by the time I got the top on, buttered it and added the cinnamon mouth was all but watering.  The aroma as it cooked was out of this world.  Very fragrant due to the spices.

Scary part #3 was when the thing of beauty came out of the oven.  I re-read several times that I was truly supposed to invert it for presentation (and to save my non stick cake pan from the knife....) This is when my beautiful and crispy Phyllo got soggy and I got hot liquid on the counter.  It was also the second time I had to ask my amused husband to jump in and help me.  I am a big fan of crispy anything so I was truly disappointed when the top got soggy. 

My husband, younger son and I each tried it.  My son said it was absolutely fantastic.  He loved it and ate a huge helping.  My husband said that it was ok, good - but that he was simply expecting more flavor.  I agree with him and was not a fan.  But this is also because the aroma and look of the dish as it came out of the oven were spectacular.  And after 4 + hours in the kitchen for a 9" cake pan worth of food....I needed "spectacular" in order to make it again. 

So I had a blast but will not be revisting this part of the book......

Per Nana:

I decided to do this recipe in two parts. 

Yesterday I marinated the chicken thighs for about 1 hour and then cooked them until tender.  I used boneless chicken thighs from Costco which are really very meaty.  Once they were cool enough to handle they were easy to pull apart.

I was not too sure about adding the honey/egg mixture to the hot strained chicken broth, but with the continued whisking, the sauce turned out well.

I added the chicken and onions to this mixture and thought how wonderful this might be with a little couscous on the side.

Today I worked with the filo dough which was tricky.  You really have to work fast because it dries so quickly.  All turned out well, and the end result was fantastic.

The dish is quite filling and very tasty.  We had a little Chutney on the side as well as a nice mixed salad.

It was declared a winner at our house, and I do plan to do this one again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

Nana covered this week's recipe and proclaimed
 this one a "real keeper".

Per Nana:


I always said that the pastry and dessert in Paris were
the best I have ever eaten, and this wonderful cake proves my point.

I had my doubts about pouring the mixture into a bottomless pan,
but I found that if the oven is preheated, and you immediately
 place the cookie sheet and cake into oven. it somehow sets very
 quickly at 400 degrees.

I planned to serve the cake warm so I chilled the base
for 1 hour along with the remaining mousse.

I then completed the recipe and baked it for 30 minutes.

The springform ring came away easily, and I dusted
the top with cocoa as directed.

The first slice looks like death by chocolate, but the texture is really
light.   I served it with a dollop of whipped cream and it was simply delicious.

It's a winner......
We must check out Chez Rostang when next we are in Paris. "

Per Tricia:

Sorry to bail, all.  My husband is out of town and two sons are "cutting weight" for wrestling.  We are literally hiding some food as it is around the household to avoid temptation....and I have two cakes in the fridge already due to a birthday this week.  But I will definitely have this at the top of the list when wrestling season is over !

And I am "in" for another trip to Paris.  Now we have the perfect excuse !

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gnocchi A La Parisienne

     This was a busy week and a snowy week - the combination of which meant that Nana and I each made it through our recipes but did not manage to "taste test" each others efforts. 

      Luckily we each have built-in recipe testers at each house, but we look forward to the "compare and contrast" that was easier to do when there was not so much snow on the ground ! 

Nana's Gnocchi ~
Per Nana:

For such a simple recipe, I never used so many dishes in my life. 

This is my first try at making a "pate a choux" type of dough, 
 but I have to admit it was very easy.  

 I did use the four large eggs as the recipe called for, but next time
I will attempt to do it with the separate egg white beaten
into peaks and folded into themixture to make it lighter.

I let it sit for about two hours hoping it would
dry out little, but it was still sticky.

I tried to form the gnocchi first and then cook them,
 but they were difficult to handle. 
 I eventually just dropped them into the water using a teaspoon.

Unfortunately, I read the Q & A page too late.  I thought the pastry bag described on the Q&A was an excellent idea.

They did cook up well enough, but the size was not
consistent even though it really doesn't matter when it is
 covered with Bechamel and cheese.

Now to the Bechamel.......

I just read Cher's post, and we both had the same problem.  
This was my first try at Bechamel since I took cooking
in grade school, and you know how long ago that was. 

After trying to strain lumps out
(and losing much of it to the strainer)....
 I came across one of my flat wisks which worked wonders.

I used Emmenthal cheese for the topping and
 the aroma was terrific.
Dad and I both enjoyed the dish, and I
 hope yours turns out well too.


Tricia's Gnocchi ~
Per Tricia:

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this dish turned out and amazed that something so wonderful could be made out of "so little".  

As usual lately, I ended up making this Friday night (I honestly hope to get out of this schedule in the near future :) and was expecting the worst. 

 I had already gotten feedback from Nana about checking out the Q&A ahead of time...which is the whole purpose....but I even ran out of time for that and plowed right into the recipe. 

 In all fairness, I would have deserved a disaster.  Needless to say I was delighted by how interesting it all was and how well it turned out.  I had not made pasta or gnocchi before and it was very forgiving.

 I even lucked out with the sauce.  I managed to switch right over from the wooden spoon to a whisk when I hit the Bechamel sauce...but had done so because my arm (and the rest of me) was tired and I thought it sounded easier.  And easier it was - the sauce turned out lovely and thick. 

I found Dorie's recipe and instructions to be "spot on"...and even when I wasn't sure what she meant (cook until it forms a light film on the bottom of the pan.....) but everything she described came true to life.

I used Parmesan on the top and for the first few minutes had forgotten to add the butter on top.  I popped it out and added the butter and some Gruyere. 
 I also took her advice about throwing the broiler on...which can be dangerous when you are tired :) 

The dish turned out well browned and my kitchen smelled divine. 
The aroma summoned the taste testers and all loved it...agreeing it would be a perfect dish for when they come home from a day of skiing.

I honestly came into this recipe thinking I would do it for the fun of the blog but had no intention of making it again, but I am happy to say that I would try this again in heartbeat.  So long as my husband agrees to help clean all the pots and dishes I used !

Friday, January 7, 2011

Paris Mushroom Soup

Now that the holidays are behind, us Nana and I are looking forward to getting back on the routine of making the "official" recipe of the week again. 

The mushroom soup recipe was not only an appropriate choice for the cold weather we are experiencing, but it was not as time consuming as we would have thought  - which has helped us to ease back into the routine of French Fridays.

Nana's Try at Paris Mushroom Soup

Per Nana:

Dorie's recipe for mushroom soup was quite interesting.

This was a very simple recipe to make. 
I finally found some good looking mushrooms at our
local Giant "supermarche", as well as all the other ingredients.
The preparation of the vegetables
took hardly any time.

        The aroma from the onions and garlic cooking was incredible.   
 After adding the chicken broth,
the soup cooked for only about 25 minutes.
I used my food processor to puree the soup, and that worked well.
   After making the "salad" to serve, I thought
 the presentation looked quite elegant.

  The end result was tasty and good.
  Great for a cold winter day.

Tricia's Try :

The was a pleasant surprise after a very busy week. 
I do not like mushrooms and my sons are not fans either.
Luckily my husband enjoys them
so he was ready and waiting by the pot.

I was surprised by two things with this dish. 

The first was how amazing it continued to smell
 throughout the cooking session.  I knew the beginnings
of onion and garlic would be wonderful, but I
 was shocked to find that I still loved the aroma after
all the mushrooms went in. 

And I do NOT care for mushrooms. 
I was literally wafting the steam in my direction
because it aroma was so great as I stirred it. 
 When the wine went in was the best aroma yet.

The second thing that surprised me was how
the mushrooms create their own liquid when cooked. 
 Again, since I am not a fan....I have had
 very little experience cooking with mushrooms
and I was quite incredulous when I read the recipe. 

 Even being told what was going to happen...I still managed to be suprised when all of this liquid emerged in the pot.  I took several pictures and even my boys thought it was "really cool" when I told them about it later.

I used the immersion blender Nana gave me previously
 as a gift and I very much liked the texture I ended up with .

Overall a fun experience - great recipe which
turned out to the letter as Dorie's instructions indicated.  

 While Nana and I missed trading samples this
week due to the weather, my husband offered his critique. 

 He enjoyed the soup and was surprised that it was not
 more "spicy" or onion tasting...considering how much onion went in. 

 He very much enjoyed the mushroom taste and had a 2nd bowl to be sure.

I had to give it a try and was surprised that it was not all that bad. 
 For mushroom soup :) 
 It was fabulous.

Nana and I are looking forward to trying the
 other soup recipes before the spring thaw.

Update :   My 14 year old came home from wrestling after the soup was cooked and already in the fridge. 

 He declared that the kitchen smelled AMAZING and insisted on trying whatever I just made.   He LOVED it.  And we love French Fridays.