Friday, February 25, 2011

Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port

Nana and I decided to work on this recipe jointly and had a wonderful time last Sunday preparing this dish and others for what turned out to be a "French Sunday with Dorie".  In addition to the short ribs we decided to revisit the pancetta green beans, the cauliflower~bacon gratin....and even the orange almond tart.  Yes, when we said these recipes were keepers, we meant it !

Even with all of the coordination, planning and prep still throws us curves.  Mid way through the cooking at Nana's house, her kitchen sink clogged up.  I will spare the details but it kept us juggling and was not fixed until the following day.  Running kids around in between the various prep and cook times also got busier than expected, but overall the chaos of daily life only made us more appreciative of a wonderful meal.  And enjoying it with family.  (who didn't mind that the coffee was  prepared with bath water.....)

Per Nana ~

This was quite time consuming to prepare, but the end result was fantastic !

I did not find the star anise, but substituted anise seed instead and the flavor was wonderful.  It seemed to work out, but I will definitely search the Asian and Mexican sections of the markets - my thanks to all who made those suggestions.  And Tricia is already planning a trip to Penzey's Spices.                

The meat braised very well, and after three hours it came off the bone very easily.

We glazed the ribs with the strained liquid before broiling again and they turned out beautiful.

Per Tricia ~
 The prep time and labor was a little scary to anticipate - but it turned out to be manageable, and the results were more than worth it. 
The flavor of the ribs was infused with the ingredients but was not at all overwhelming.  My sons in particular are big fans of ribs, but are used to the BBQ ones that are slathered in sauces.  They commented that the ribs had a "cool" flavor, considering there "wasn't any sauce".  I also was very impressed by subtle but rich taste.  Hubby is roughing it  in Brazil (it was 84 degrees there while we got 4 inches of snow.....) for business, so he missed out on a good one.
And the texture - unbelieveable.  I can not recall the last time I had such a well cooked serving of tender and moist meat.
It was another case of tasting and making "mmmm....this is SO good" comments. 
And that is what it is all about.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pancetta Green Beans

What's not to love ?

Per Nana:

Great recipe!   
  Not too satisfied with the green beans from Giant Market this week, however,  they did turn out well in this recipe.  
 I think the pancetta had something to do with it....
The dish was very tasty.  
 I served it with sausage and braised fennel.

 The fennel recipe comes from Dorie's Broth braised potato recipe. (bonne idee)  While I was shopping for the green beans, I was also planning the recipe for next week - short ribs.     
I could not seem to find star anise so I asked the produce manager.
  The result was a lovely fennel bulb that
 I had no clue what to do with.  
 I researched it later on AOL and duh, that was no star anise.
I then did the next best thing and looked up a recipe for fennel. 
  The result was great.  Next time I am going to do Dorie's recipe with the potato.  The flavors were fantastic.

Per Tricia:
It was as easy and delicious as anticipated. 

 I love green beans cooked this way and have done
 this with bacon in the past. 
 It was fun to share the pancetta additional with the family and they loved it (even while my sons previously
"did not like" green beans). 
While the final result was hardly a healthy spin on green beans, it was delicious and was certainly less guilt ridden than some of our other recent posts.....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Who would have thought ?  We are nothing but appreciative for getting nominated and are now catching up with sharing some little known facts and nominating other blogs. The rules ? Thank and link back to the person who awarded you the award.
  1. Share 7 things about yourself.
  2. Award 5 other bloggers.
  3. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.
Of course sharing the blog between Nana and myself, we decided to round up to ten items to share....each of us selecting 5. 

Nana's 5: 
1.  Love to go to cookbook signings.
2.  Grew up NY metropolitan area and love to go back with coolers for Italian specialty items.
3.  Nana 79 years young.
4.  Paris is my all time favorite city.
5.  Celebrated 50th wedding anniverary on Orient Express 6 years ago.
Tricia's 5:
1.  I came across blogs about a year ago and have gotten countless hours of enjoyment reading on such topics as home decorating, travel in France, cooking and related topics.  I am now a true blog addict.  I had not planned to do a blog at all but we needed to have one to participate in the "French Fridays with Dorie" cooking community, so I started this one up.
2. I am an accountant by day and enjoy the creativity that cooking and blogging allows me.  Another creative outlet is scrapbooking my children's lives...and I am very, very behind !
3. Since Nana shared, I will as well. I turned 45 in January.  Hey, it's not like we are telling how much we weigh (especially after all these French Fridays......)
4. We have a vacation home in Southern Vermont that I adore.  My husband and sons love to go skiing and I love to stay home (with Nana and Grandpa especially) and cook.  I tease that I will take my lift tickets in cash.....
5.  I love to travel and enjoy loading the whole family- Nana and Grandpa too when they can join us- into the minivan to take a road trip.  We have done cross country and numerous other roads trips, and we even have a CD with Johnny Cash's "I've been Everywhere Man" sound that we start each day of our road trip with.  Hilarious. And no, we don't know all the words....
Now to award some more stylish blogs....
Thank you again to Cher for nominating us- we are really touched.  And you make our number 1 spot for awarding this back at ya. 
1) : Nana and I read you blog each week and enjoy your humor immensely.  Cher is definitely a person we would enjoy having a cup of coffee with - the highest honor we award :) Cher is a member of the French Friday's with Dorie community.
2) - Steph is also a FFWD member and we enjoy her comments and her posts every week.  She keeps it real and is the type of person you also want to have a cup of coffee...or perhaps a glass of French wine with.  Love her blog and reading about her adventures in France.
3) - I happened on this I am not even sure how (you know how blogging is...) and I found it to be a keeper. Angie is amazing and she originally was a member of FFWD but is currently following a different diet and blog path. Her blogs are prolific, full of gorgeous photos, great inspiration and tons of joy. She is cool and she is an inpiration. Enjoy.
4) - this is a non cooking blog. I absolutely adore this lovely family - Joanie, Dan and rescued/spoiled pooch Ella ! They are documenting their move to New Hampshire and restoration of a home.  The home is gorgeous and I have read every post. Joanie even got a birthday present of a luncheon with Bunny Williams. Enough said.  Get over there !
5) - I happened about this one when researching French links.  I adore Paris- went there with Nana last year and we are planning a trip for this autumn. Nichole is the blogger and with her husband Evan she is pursuing her dream of spending as much time in Paris, taking photos, as possible. They even travel back and forth with their two young sons...not waiting for the right time but figuring out how to make it happen NOW.  She is making the dream happen and her photos and posts bring me great pleasure.  Enjoy !

Orange-Almond Tart

This week's results are easy: we both LOVED it !!!!

Per Nana:
There is only one word to describe this recipe     WOW!

This recipe will be added to Nana's patisserie tart collection.

I shopped around for the almond flour and could not find it anywhere, not even at Wegman's.   So, I searched  our favorite mail order website, KING ARTHUR FLOUR in Vermont and " voila. "   They have just about everything needed for baking that you could possible want.   Oh, and their scone mixes and popovers are fantastic too.

I made the pastry in the food processor using Dorie's pate sablee recipe  and chilled it overnight.  

Separating the orange segments was time consuming, but they turned out well.  I think I might try Mandarin oranges next time too. 

I had prepared the shell, almond cream, and the oranges on Saturday.  I wanted the tart to be our special dessert for our Super bowl party.  Hopefully, we will won't be too stuffed after the nachos and wings. 

Who am I kidding, there is always room for dessert.

Tricia's comments on Nana's results: 
While we had a lot of  wonderful treats at Nana's house for the SuperBowl, I could not get over this cake.  It looked wonderful but I was unsure about the oranges.  Nana is considered the  "Tart Queen" around here and makes many flavors, shapes and sizes for our families to enjoy during the warmer months.  She even has a lovely wicker basket with handle that perfectly fits her larger tart pans and she used to send tart "care packages" over to my home.  That said, I was BLOWN AWAY when I tasted this dessert.  I literally kept making "mmmmmm" noises as I tasted it and Nana teased that I must like it.  Love it.  My whole family did, though I can easily attest to having more than my fair share of this one.  My favorite part was that it tasted like the Breton cake that Nana often makes, yet was actually an improvement in that having a smaller portion of the dense pastry layer and adding the almond cream and fruit truly seemed to make the Breton pastry all the more appreciated.  Never thought Breton cake could be improved- what a delightful surprise. LOVED it.

Per Tricia:
Once again, Nana saved the day by getting me in line with the ingredients.  I was sick all week but had the motivation of tasting Nana's cake on Sunday I knew I had to "med up" and get this one on the table for my family :)

Note from the photo above, I even used the opportunity to use my "egg separator".  Yes, the item you look at in the gourmet store and ask yourself "who buys this "??  And you would be right - you don't need one.  But if you did buy one, you try to at least remember to use it on such special occasions ;)

 My pie weights were at the ready as well, but after a week of disorganization I learned that I had an egg separator but no tin foil for the pre bake !  Luckily I had frozen my crust so the weights were not needed.

I also got the benefit of reading the P&Q's this week, along with Nana's own advice and opted for the Mandarin oranges from the can.  They are so plump that I still worried about their juiciness, even after having them dry for hours.  When I added them to the tart I decided to err on the conservative side, just in case they did end up retaining too much juice.

I can't rave enough about this recipe.  I adored it.  I will absolutely look forward to making it again and to trying other versions.  The pear option is on my short list.

PS- I did post a late update to last week's recipe.  I finally caught up and made the Basque Potato Tortilla.  What you don't see in that post is the two I made afterward, using up the Costco ham and the shredded Swiss.  I added the Swiss when I broiled the dish and it is ridiculously good.  Even my kids went nuts.  This will be a well loved recipe in our home.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Basque Potato Tortilla

This week's efforts could not have been more
 different - though this has nothing to do with the actual recipe. 
Nana had found the recipe several weeks back,
 and enjoyed cooking it ahead of time. 
 I left early on Sunday for a week of business travel and
any hopes of making this enticing and seemingly simple recipe
 vanished completely when I returned home after 10 pm on Friday night.....just in time to post Nana's results for the blog. 

I look forward to trying this recipe myself
and will update the post when I do.   ***
All was not completely lost due to the business travel,
since I was able to stop in NY and pick up much enjoyed
 Italian favorites (fresh mozzarellas, prosciutto bread, biscotti)
for our house and Nana's - so this Friday
 was more of an "Italian Friday with Dorie".

*** Update - yay !  I caught up and have posted my results at the bottom

Per Nana ~

This was a very easy and quick recipe to make. 

 I had planned to use up some extra potatoes by making my usual Italian dish of "potatoes and eggs", but when I saw this recipe in Dorie's cookbook....I thought I would give it a try.

This is the type of dish where you can use various items from your fridge, add some eggs and you can't go wrong !

                           It is also such a pleasure to cook with my Swiss
                                   Diamond fry pan because it goes right
                                           into the oven for a frittata.

                                                        Good luck with yours........

Per Tricia ~

I finally caught a break and was able to make this lovely
and simple dish.  I had grown up with Nana preparing
 "potatoes and eggs", as well as "peppers and eggs", so
 was interested to see if this would turn out any differently.     

                     I followed the recipe pretty closely, simply to see how the basic would turn out.  As is usual, the family kept
 coming into the kitchen to ask what I was making and raving
 about the aroma in the house. 
 That is by far my favorite part of the "French Friday's experience"
 (though the tastes are a close runner up:)      


Overall it was a success, as expected. 
It looks very brown because I flipped it out onto the platter so that the bottom is now the top, and simply left it that way. We wanted to eat and I knew I had a great photo of the finished product out of the oven above.  I will also cop to the fact that I like my eggs (well, all my food.....) pretty well done.

 I did like the way she had it prepared - I had not followed these
specific steps before and it was nice to have a "sure thing".
 I look forward to using the rest of my potatoes to try it again
 with other options and the family heartily agreed to my first
 thought of throwing in the leftover Costco ham and putting
 shredded Swiss on top. 

 Amazing how the leftovers in the fridge that no one
 is vying for suddenly take on a new value :)