Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cardamom Rice Pilaf

Sometimes the fun in a recipe is gathering special ingredients and combining them to create new and surprising results. 

Simple recipes that deliver results which belie their efforts are always appreciated as well. 

But this week there appeared to be a combo that simply didn't seem to hold much hope for sublime simplicity.  Boy, were we pleasantly surprised.  Almost shocked, in fact ~

Per Nana:
My intentions were NOT to make this week's recipe
of  Cardamom Rice Pilaf. Unfortunately for me,
 Tricia insisted on sharing some of the ingredients with me. 
 I could not refuse such an offer and with the
 recipe being so simple, I had to try it :)
It was well worth it.

I'm not certain whether adding the rice to the cooked
onions and seeds made the rice more tender, or if
it was using a different brand that usual...but the dish turned
out very tasty and not starchy. 

 Hubby and I had a lovely baked halibut with sauteed
 mushrooms on top to accompany this delicious dish.
I took a few photos which at this time cannot be seen,
due to the fact that I inserted my memory card into the
 space on my computer for a disc.  Duh !!!!   I have an appointment
 at the Apple store Friday morning to retrieve my card.

Not every day can be a good day, but it could be worse....

Per Tricia:

I wanted to make this recipe since I had missed last week's
and knew Nana was "so-so" about it. 
 So I "took one for the team" , but I wasn't holding out
much hope for exciting results. 
Cardamom and I had gotten off to a rocky start with 
 the Ginger Carrot recipe,  but I was anxious to cook
with this ingredient again.  
 Since I was leaving early Sunday for a week away for work,
 I ended up cooking this dish by itself late on Saturday night.  
 Instead of enjoying this via a full meal like the
rest of the FF's members,my family found me
walking from room to room late Saturday
 night with a big bowl of rice, asking them
 to do "taste tests". 

"What is that ???"
 "It's Dorie food- just try some...."
"Hmmmmm, not too bad.  Hey, this is really good in fact. "
"What is it - rice ???" 
" Wow... You can make this again - should be good with chicken."

 I was very surprised myself, since I had expected something
 quite bland (yes, even with the cardamom added :) 
The rice was truly lovely. 
 So much so that my 15 year old was back in the kitchen
 within minutes of the taste test ...looking to fix a big bowl full. 
 For me, that is the ultimate compliment. 
Plus I am happy that I got to use that expensive jar of
 cardamom AND my new mortar and pestle :) 

Deadline met, I enjoyed my work week in DC and even
managed to make it over to a lovely independent
 gourmet shop in the Capital Hill area -  
"Hill's Kitchen".  Great fun.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bacon, Egg & Asparagus Salad

Per Nana ~
Many years ago when hubby and I started
 traveling to Paris, we always stayed at the
Prince Albert Hotel in the 1st Arrondisement.

  It was an ideal location for sightseeing- very near the
Rue de Rivoli, the Louvre and wonderful chocolatiers.
(courtesy of Hilton Harbour - Hilton.

After walking all day, we always stopped at a wonderful
wine bar - Le Rubis - on Rue St. Hyacinthe & Rue du Marche.

We would then go to a restaurant nearby,
on the Place du Marche. 
 That restaurant had the most delicious salad with a tiny
 poached egg on top and the dressing was made with
the addition of warm bacon drippings. 
It was the most wonderful salad I had ever eaten.

Which brings me to this week's recipe for FFwD, which I had to admit.....surpassed the salad I had in Paris.

When I first read the recipe for cooking the egg, I had my doubts. 
 I tried just one egg a la Dorie and hardboiled the rest.
  I did not believe the egg would be cooked, but I was so wrong. 

I gave the hardboiled egg to hubby and I add the
 6 minute egg to my plate. 
I added some bacon drippings to the dressing for extra flavor
and a few cold chickpeas that were leftover from another meal. 
 OMG, it was delicious ~

Per Tricia~
After a wedding last weekend in Brooklyn
 (Congrats Colleen and Sean !!) which was followed
up by a business trip to DC, I knew I would be cutting
 it close trying to get even salad done by Friday :) 

 I am posting this with Nana's great story that she shared
 and will update with my own results when
I make the salad for hubby....who loves this kind of stuff. 
 Right now I am trying to knock out a few more
Bacon Quiches from last week for company
that is coming tonight.  Does that give me partial credit ?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spinach & Bacon Quiche

Quiche holds a special honor in our homes.  Nana's side of the family hails from Metz, France.  This is the capital of the Lorraine region, which is famous for you know what.  Needless to say, we love quiche.  Nana was born in the states but many of her older siblings (she is one of six) were born in Metz.  

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia: Metz

Her father, Felix, worked as a fire lookout in the tall north tower of the Cathedrale Saint-Etienne (St. Stephen's Cathedral)  as a young married man.  Her mother (my  own "Nana") used to carry lunch to him up the almost 400 stairs each day.  If that is not true love, I am not sure what is - regardless of how gorgeous the view is.  Our families have visited the Cathedral and it is truly lovely.  Most "French Fridays" make us want to go back to Paris, but this time we were nostalgic for the Alsace region and hope to plan a visit soon.

We probably would have loved this versatile and tasty dish if we had hailed from elsewhere in the world....but having this as part of our heritage warms our heart all the more.  That doesn't mean, however, that the pate brisee always cooperates with us......

Per Nana ~

This week's recipe, spinach and bacon quiche,
was very easy and tasty.
We enjoyed a lovely cup of chicken broth first, and then the quiche.

 Since it is not a heavy meal, I think it would be a wonderful
 summertime meal with a delicious tomato and basil salad.
I made the regular tart crust from Dorie's book and
pre-cooked it as directed. I think that is one of the best
crusts I have used and I look forward to using it
 for my fruit tarts in the coming months.

The rest of the ingredients were simple to assemble,
and cooking time is not too long.
 I will say that when it is cold it is just delightful
cut into small pieces for a snack or even with a glass of wine.

Per Tricia ~

I followed the recipe with two tweaks.
One took the high road and the other, the low.
  The "high road" involved my using this lovely bacon
that I pick up when we go to Vermont. 

They have a great website (,
 but we are lucky enough to have the products stocked in
 our local grocery store up there.

My second "tweak" took the lower road.....and it involved
 substituting Green Giant chopped frozen spinach for the fresh. 

I had a box in the freezer and it just happened to be
 the requisite 10 ounces. 
 Worked like a charm and I plan to use it again.
Trust me, you'll thank me later ~ and even Nana approved.

Loved this. 
No surprise there.  
The only surprise was why I have not
been making these more frequently. 
And that is about to change :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tourteau de Chevre & Chelsea Market

This week Nana and I not only enjoyed the adventure of testing the Tourteau de Chevre recipe, but we also took a spontaneous road trip to Manhattan to visit the Chelsea Market and Mario Batali's new food emporium - Eataly. 

We had a blast and lucked out with magnificent weather that allowed us to walk all over, including scaling up to test out the beautiful "High Line" park that is new green space created from abandoned above ground rail tracks. 

High Line

High Line near Chelsea Pier

Chelsea Market Vendor

  It was all spectacular and we made the most of our trip by coming home with "Fat Witch" Brownies (who doesn't love that name......), Eleni's cookies, Sarabeth's jams and granolas, and other wonderful goodies. 

We lunched at the James Beard foundation restaurant at the Chelsea Market and would highly recommend it - a very hearty gourmet lunch for a great value.  And that gourmet lunch included a quinoa option.  If you followed our post, the Dorie quinoa recipe was our first foray into cooking with this ingredient and we were not completely sold...but more than willing to go back and try a savory recipe.  I think we found it - the minted quinoa salad Nana was served was spectacular (I tested it too :) and we will be trying to replicate it in the future. We hope everyone's week as wonderful and inspiring as ours - and by the way, we enjoyed the Tourteau as well !

An amazing $10 meal.....

After all that running around in NYC (ok, after all the treats we brought back) we decided to get together to prepare a single Tourteau.

Nice to use that cognac again.....

We opted for the savory pastry.

Out of the oven and standing tall.

Ready for a glass of wine and a cheese course.........

Per Nana :

It was fun working on this week's recipe because Tricia
and I teamed up to make the tourteau de chevre.   

I prepared the tart dough early since it needed to be
chilled, and then during the day we
got together to work on the finished product.  

The end result was good and looked wonderful. 
 We added cognac as our flavoring and it
 really worked nicely.   I noticed that after it
 was chilled, the taste of the goat cheese came out
much stronger and was more flavorful.  
 Hubby and I enjoyed it very much.