Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak & Easter Pizza Rustica

Nana and I decided to change it up a bit this week.  I chose to test the Pepper Steak recipe and she prepared a post on the incredible rustic pie that was one of the many delicious dishes she treated us to this Easter.

Per Tricia:

Truth be told, we don't enjoy filet mignon all
that often.  And when we do, it is typically
cooked by someone else ~ as in a restaurant chef :)

Yes, price is a factor as to why it is not on my
 grocery list, but it also involves the fact that I do not
do a fabulous job cooking steaks. 
Messing up or even just delivering "mediocre" results
 doesn't seem to do the ingredients I have
stayed away from steaks.  

My husband and sons, however, enjoy them
immensely and usually consider any steak that
makes it off the grill to be a victory. 
An appreciative bunch indeed.

And that appreciation was rewarded with this recipe. 
 So stunningly simple. 
 Plus, a nice chance to break out the single distillery
cognac that was waiting to be tested.

The result was nothing short of spectacular.
  So fabulous and eaten with such pleasure and gusto....
that I am quite certain I will be treating my fellas
 to this one again in the near future.
   They loved the sauce, they loved the pepper, they loved
that when I followed Dorie's cooking times.....
the meat turned out perfectly.

A new recipe and some new found confidence. 
 Another victorious French Friday !

Per Nana:

I am taking a break from cooking this week,
 so I do not plan to make this week's recipe of Pepper Steak. 
 I am, however, going to share our family tradition
 and recipe for "Easter Pizza Rustica".

This is one of those recipes handed down
 from generation to generation. 
Grandma Bessie would make this every Easter
 and we would wait patiently for Saturday 
noontime, when we were allowed to "dig in". 
 According to religious tradition, we were not
 supposed to eat meat before noon.

Hubby and I finally took over the task about
20 years ago, but we could never manage to have
 the dough turn out like Grandma's. 
I gave up trying for a few years and last year
I decided to try purchasing dough from the
 local pizza parlor and voila - it worked beautifully.

The recipe is very simple: 
  • 1 lb procuitto   Sliced about 1/4" thick  (Domestic will do fine)  Chop roughly in cuisinart.
  • 1 lb dry Italian sausage (chopped)
  • 3 lbs whole milk riccotta cheese
  • 1-1/2 lbs scamuchatto cheese,  grated on box grater .   This cheese is also known as" basket"  cheese or "fresh"  cheese.  
  • 12 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserve for crust)

 Mix all ingredients together.
Roll out 1 piece of pizza dough and place it in
 a large springform pan.   I use a 13" x 9" pan. 
Have some french clothespins or kitchen clips handy
to hold the dough to the sides of the pan until you can fill it.
  Trust me, this dough springs back so fast you would not believe it.
Fill the pan with the above mixture and sprinkle with
 grated parmesan cheese before putting the top crust on. 
 When using the second piece of dough, you may want to trim
 it to fit so that the crust top is not too thick.  

Brush the top with the reserved beaten egg yolk for a nice glaze. 
Cut 5 or 6 three inch slits in the crust.
  Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about an hour.
  If the crust is browning too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mustard Batons

These were deemed "lovely" additions to both of our cooking arsenals.  While we will have more than enough sweets with the Easter Holiday this week, we typically enjoy savory treats more often.  Not to mention that a good "nibbly" to go with a nice glass of wine is pretty well at the top of our list.  This recipe delivers on all counts.  Unbelieveably easy, impressive looking results, amazing taste and flexibility for ingredients and toppings to keep us trying this one over and over. Which we definitely will....

Per Tricia:

Nana told me that these would be easy and she
 was right on target. With the exception of the puff pastry,
the other ingredients are ones we always have on hand.

  In fact, I was delighted to break out my collection of "Maille"
 mustard procured in person during a trip to Paris. 
My folks have made a habit of stopping in the Maille shop
each time they would visit Paris and they would bring us
 home the traditional crock. We would tease about the
 store's policy of refilling these crocks, and say that we had
 to go back since we were "out of mustard".  The last time
Nana and I visited, I brought home several different
 flavored mustards and they are perfect for this recipe.

I decided to work with the "Au Bleu" for the
 first try of this recipe and it was truly amazing. 
 I used sesame seeds on some batons and caraway
seeds on others.  Only my older son was home to test
 this recipe and he easily agreed to, stating that he was
always available to try "Dorie Food". 
 He declared them "amazing". 

He also said that while he originally suggested no
 caraway seeds in the future (they remind him
 a bit too much of mice - enough said) it turns
 out that he liked the flavor of the caraway much
 better. I agree.  I also think that having them on
 a lovely cheese plate could be a wonderful
"mouse and cheese" themed treat :)

Per Nana:

This is a fun recipe to make.
After I divided the first sheet of puff pastry, I spread
 a different type of mustard on each piece.  I separated
each half into about 8 strips and brushed them with the
 egg wash and topped with poppy seed. 

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to refrigerate
the second sheet of puff pastry while I worked on the
 first one.  I eventually had to roll it out to the proper
 size for batons.On this second group I decided to try
 using some Red Pepper Spread from Trader Joe's,
 which is very good.  I sprinkled grated Pecorino Romano
 on top and folded the dough.  On one half I used the
 poppy seeds and on the other I used some garlic powder. 

 Both tasted pretty good but I think I added way
 too much Pepper Spread.  I am very pleased
with all of the batons, however I do think the mustard
was the best choice all around. 

 I will definitely do these again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vanilla Eclairs

Teamwork.  Attempting to create homemade eclairs was an intimidating concept.  More frightening still, the thought that they might actually be quick and easy enough to jump into the kitchen at any time and whip up a batch.  No one around here needs that temptation......

Per Nana:

This past Sunday was a team effort for making our eclairs. 
Since neither of our families needed 20 eclairs each, we
 decided to share and make this recipe together.  Having
Tricia's youngest son working with us was really lots of fun.

We were disappointed in the equipment we purchased
for the recipe, but mini eclairs are just as good as regular size.
  Not too much guilt in two small ones.  I should have taken
Dorie's advice and just used a plastic bag and
 cut it to the correct size.

The recipe was relatively simple, the cream puff dough came
 together well and the vanilla pastry creme was delicious. 
We all loved the flavor of the baked eclair, but the fact that
 they were so small led to trouble keeping them upright to fill.

After slaving over a hot stove all afternoon we decided
 to treat ourselves to a pizza party and top it off with chilled eclairs.

Tomorrow we diet.....

Per Tricia:

While I always enjoy company in the kitchen,
 additional help definitely made life easier with this one.
  It was a fun experience but there were enough steps and
the results so decadent that I do not have to worry about
 revisiting this one any time soon. 

 I don't recall having a Dorie recipe that has hit both
 the "I liked it" and the "I will not be re-doing it"
categories in the same week. 

After the recent stockpile of quick and easy standards,
 it was actually a fun adventure to try something a bit
 more challenging.  And all the better to have a pizza
to wash down the efforts.

And those cute little "eclair papers" that I
got at Sur La Table ?  Since they would have dwarfed
our eclairs (ours did not "magically" expand)
 we did not end up using them. 


Let's just say I am glad I kept the receipt.......

I added this photo of the eclair papers, since folks were curious. 
  Nana and I do love this store......

Friday, April 8, 2011

Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli

This week's recipe had Nana revisiting a combination she had enjoyed using on many occasions, and me wondering why I hadn't made veggies this way before.  This was simply outstanding.  "Back to basics", but better.

Per Nana :

This week's recipe was a snap.

I loved the flavor of the lemon zest with the
parsley added to the toasted breadcrumbs.

It was delicious and I served it as a side dish
 with sauteed chicken livers in a light sauce over rice.

This recipe is similiar to one I make with
the stalks of swiss chard.  I cut the chard into
small pieces (about an inch) and cook in
boiling water until tender.  The breadcrumbs
are toasted in a little EVOO, with red pepper flakes
 and garlic.  I add the chard and toss. 
The tops of the chard are cooked in a smidge of olive oil
 until wilted, with red pepper flakes also.
  Italian style veggie cooking.

Per Tricia:

I can't stop raving about this combo. 
We eat broccoli often in our house, yet this very simple
combination of flavors knocked it out of the park. 
I teased my husband that it turned broccoli into
 BBQ'd potato chips....the florets became so flavorful
and with such a wonderful contrast of textures, it
 was hard to stop eating them ! 
 My whole family went nuts.

While I have enjoyed many recipes from French Fridays,
I think it safe to say that the combination of "on hand"
 items and amazing flavor will probably have me
 revisiting this recipe the most. 

Also, it was funny because I have not made Swiss chard
 like Nana does in a very long time.  I have loved her chard
since I was little (and had no idea what I was eating). 
It was just some stuff that had breadcrumbs and peppers on it.
  What's not to love ?  As soon as the  bread crumbs hit
 the garlic/butter this week....I had an amazingly
 strong recognition.   Nana's chard recipe
 - but easy and with broccoli !

Friday, April 1, 2011

Quinoa, Fruit & Nut Salad

Nana and I were quite intrigued by this recipe since neither of us had cooked (or eaten....) quinoa before.  Ok, technically we weren't even sure how to pronounce it either.  Before I make us sound too "provincial", let me add that we not only scored a huge bag of this intriguing ingredient at Costco ~ but Nana also found a lovely "red" version at our local Wegman's.  Trying both was quite an adventure.  The results ?  Believe it or not, the jury is still out.  I don't think Nana will consider this a repeat but I may give it a try with pork tenderloin this summer.

Per Tricia:
The recipe is very straight forward. 
As usual, Dorie provided " play by play"
instructions which were helpful.

                    In fact the only question I had during the whole process
was how much lemon juice I should subsititute
 for the "juice of one lemon".  Thankfully we have
 the internet now to allow us to "google"
 such tidbits (as well as to teach us how to pronounce quinoa)
but I winged it and figured the salad would be forgiving. 

The curious thing about this salad was that
 when I tried Nana's version, I was really a bit
 underwhelmed (no offense Nana). 
Didn't officially dislike the dish but was not sure that
 I would select this as a side dish in lieu of couscous, rice or pasta.
I almost didn't even make my own version,
 but since I had all the ingredients ready to go I
 thought I would give it a try with the white quinoa. 
This time I definitely appreciated the flavors
and textures much more.  All I could think about
was how lovely this would be with grilled pork tenderloin. 
 Then I started wondering why I didn't have
 this reaction to  Nana's version.
I still had some in the fridge and literally took it out
 and was doing side by side nibbles.  I felt certain
 that Nana must have left out ginger or such but when I
retested was clear she did not.  They tasted pretty
much alike but the white was a bit fuller in
texture...a little bit more like a couscous size than
 the red turned out to be.  My kids had tried small spoons
of Nana's but felt they had done enough quinoa exploring
 for a while.  The hubby liked the whole salad presentation
 with yogurt and agreed that it would be a nice side
 dish for the warmer months.  Since it is currently SNOWING
here (I wish that was an April's Fool joke) we can't
wait for that warmer weather !
Per Nana:

Nana says : "if you can't say something nice,
you shouldn't say anything"...but I will anyway.

When I first read the recipe, I thought it would be very exotic.

I had never heard of quinoa before and in the Wegman's
circular for this week, there it was.  Since they were
 advertising "red" quinoa I thought this might
 add a nice color to everything else.

I used a medley of dried "craisins", raisins and apricots. 
 The nuts were a combination of walnuts,
pecans and sunflower seeds.

The cooked quinoa had a taste very similar to kasha,
but as you add the remaining ingredients, as well
as the viniagrette, it takes on a completely different flavor.

I served the salad on top of greens with a dab of Greek
yogurt, and as good as it looked...I did not care for the dish.

It was certainly worth trying, and that is what
"French Fridays with Dorie" is all about.