Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Or perhaps "everything in the fridge" would be a more apt title.  
The possibilities are endless, but pumpkin season is not. 
We both enjoyed this and look forward to preparing it again,
 before the season is over ~

Per Tricia~

I thought this recipe sounded delicious as soon as I read it,
 and I cautiously tried not to get my hopes up too high.
  I have a track record of FFWD recipe results being
inversely related to my expectations.   

 But I could not help myself.  Excited I got. 
 I love the Fall and this dish is "autumn on a plate".  

Not only did I have to try an orange AND a white pumpkin,
but I got so worked up reading Dorie's "Bonne Idees" that
 I had to stay focused on which combinations
 I was sticking in which pumpkin ! 

Pear, spinach, craisins, ham - it all sounded wonderful. 

I finally decided to make the Dorie version with bacon and add organic spinach (fresh) and craisins.  That was for the orange pumpkin. 

The white pumpkin was treated to the basic recipe but
with ham substituted for bacon, craisins and a
beautiful red pear.   I also used Vermont Cheddar and Swiss. 

The heavy cream did not seem to moisten it enough
 so I added a bit of half and half.

I adored this recipe. 

I will definitely plan to add this to the Thanksgiving table,
 provided we have enough oven space to juggle this and a turkey.

Regardless, I will making this versatile recipe over and
 over again during pumpkin season.
Per Nana :

This is an exceptionally good recipe. 
 Hubby and I really enjoyed it.

The pumpkin I selected was so cute and weighed
about 4 lbs, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.

There are only two kinds of pumpkin I am used to.
One sits at the front door for the season, and
 the other one is in pie that I purchase.  
I have never cut one open or cleaned
out the seeds or stringy insides.

For the stuffing I decided to use a combination
of Gruyere and sharp cheddar cheese that
 tasted delicious.  Rather than day old bread,
I used a package of fresh potato bread cubes
Crisp bacon and sliced scallions were
added as well as the thyme.

 I always seem to make too much stuffing  for our
Thanksgiving turkey and  bake the rest in a casserole. 
 While I was baking this recipe I thought how nice
to use a pumpkin instead of the casserole.  

I baked the pumpkin for the two hours
and everything came out perfect.  
After dinner I removed all the stuffing and pumpkin  
meat, gave it a good stir while still warm and
stored the rest in the fridge.

I think this would make a lovely addition to a holiday meal.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pissaladiere & Buckwheat Blini

Nana has been dutifully cooking away - even while I "played hooky" last week in San Francisco.  Although we planned for me to post HER results while I visited that beautiful city....I was unable to get online where I was staying and was too distracted eating pastry at "Tartine" to look around for wi-fi !  We both will be cooking and back on board (with our France memories too- promise !) next week but for now I am sharing Nana's fun in the kitchen.

Per Nana:  Pissaladiere

Dorie made mention in the introduction of her book
about making a judgement call....and she is correct.  
Not all stoves or cooking equipment is the same.  
When baking this, I put the timer on for
20 minutes and away I went.  
 The result was a very burnt and crispy pissaladiere.  

I  prepared the dough a day early,
 and today I sauteed the onions. 
 The kitchen smelled absolutely wonderful.  

After baking for 20 minutes I topped it with the anchovie
 and olives.  Since I could not find any Nicoise olives at the
 market I substituted pitted black olives.

Even though this turned out well done and very salty
(thanks to the anchovies), hubby and I enjoyed it very much.
This is a fun recipe to make and I plan to
 try it again with other toppings.
Per Nana:  Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon &  Creme Fraiche
To celebrate our 57th wedding anniversary this week
 I decided to use this week's recipe for Sunday Brunch.
Buckwheat blini with smoked salmon and creme
fraiche  was perfect for the occasion served
with a lovely fresh fruit salad.

I made the batter on Saturday, let is rise as directed,
and then chilled it overnight. On Sunday morning I added
the eggs and continued with the recipe.

The blini cooked nicely and I kept everything warm in the oven,
along with hubby's favorite bacon. Even though the blini looks
like a small pancake, it is not, and I did not care for the flavor. 
 I'm not sure if it was the buckwheat flour,
 but to me it was tasteless. 
 Perhaps it is an acquired taste. 

 Smoked salmon and creme fraiche, which I love, did not help.
Sad to say, hubby had his with Mrs. Butterworth and enjoyed
 it more, with bacon on the side.

Per Tricia :

All I have to show for the last two French Fridays are some great pictures of tasty San Francisco memories :) No need for me to surprise everyone with how utterly gorgeous that city is - or how wonderful the food.  I will just share a photo or two and some of the highlights.....enjoy !
While Nana was happy celebrating her amazing 57th anniversary,
 my hubby and I were celebrating our 22nd in the city by the bay.
Highlights included the standards:
 Ferry Bldg Farmers Market - almost feel guilty seeing such gorgeous fresh produce when you are not cooking.  We enjoyed a roast pork sandwich on Acme Bread that was insanely good. My Aunt said she had not had a sandwich like that since she lived in Italy and that she planned to go back simply to have that sandwich again.   

We also learned that if you just pick the longest lines you will end up with the most amazing things....:) Also visited Miette bakery here, Sharfenberger chocolates, Cowgirl Creamery, Recchiuti chocolates, etc. My kids made out like bandits with gourmet gifts.
 Molinaro salami company - a family staple.  We never leave town without their cured salami (hot and regular).  My bag was so heavy that the salesman pointed out they ship.  Knew it but thought it would be fun to buy in person.  Until we had a lot of explaining when the salami registered as an "explosive" under testing at airport screening....we will ship indeed.
 See's Candy - again a family staple.  I grew up on See's being a guaranteed present and holiday treat when my Uncle & Aunt from SF visited. I am a card carrying member of the "Marshmint Club" but also love their peanut brittle & molasses chips dearly.
Tartine Bakery- so glad I researched this because the sign was virtually non-existent.  The rule of "follow the lines" does work well here. Can not rave enough about the baked goods.  I had a ridiculously yummy chocolate banana tart for breakfast and we even brought my Aunt back later that day !
Bi-Rite Creamery - great that it is literally up the street from Tartine in the Mission District.  I was hoping to try their amazing ice cream and got a cone with both "salted caramel" and "snickerdoodle".  Awesome !
Berkeley CheeseBoard - fun. We were headed to Alameda and had to kill some time in morning, so we stopped here to sample coffee and fresh baked goods.  Too early for lunch or dinner at Chez Panisse across the street.
 My Ivy - Thai restaurant on Divisadero in Pacific Heights.  Lovely and super sweet folks.  This place exceeded our expectations and we will visit again. 

Frankie's Bohemian - Czech restaurant also on Divisadero - across from My Ivy.  This place was a real kick - awesome food and drink in a very casual little neighborhood "joint".  Spaetzle is their homemade speciality.
Original Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes - fun to visit and the town had a surprising (to us) number of Zagat rated restaurants. Had a fabulous lunch and were not surprised to learn later that the Tartine folks started out here.
We enjoyed many other great meals in various locations (not to mention all the treats that should have ruined our appetites :) but the mostly unheard of and amazing time was our trip out to the tip of Alameda to the "St George Spirits/Hangar One" distillery. 
I had read about their Wasabi Vodka years back and while I missed out on that small batch - I have bought via their catalog on many occasions over the last few years. Chipotle Vodka and various small batch, European method brandies and spirits.  The selection at the site was far more extensive.
We took a "spirits" testing at 12 noon on a Friday and had a blast.  It sits in an old hangar right out on the water and was industrial gorgeous.   We opted to do a full tasting- a la "when in Rome"..... 
Scared at first, we were told the total alcohol would be similiar to one cocktail or so.  Not sure about that one but we did buy a lot on the way out (hey, we can't get this stuff in PA :) and made it safely back over the bridge.
  PS- if you get a chance to go- on weekend they do tours but it is much more packed.  They do testings only during the week and it is so empty it is fabulous. Just get someone to drive you back over the bridge....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Olive Olive Cornish Hens

"La Rentree". The re-entry indeed. 

Nana and I encountered this term throughout our recent visit to France.  Fall in France means the "re-entry" to work, school and virtually all other non-vacation activities. 

It was enjoyable to see how the French transitioned, but we soon enough had to face re-entry ourselves.  Let's just say that our re-entry involved taking a 3rd week off the FFWD routine.  

Having to only cook a Cornish hen with a bit of tapenade and spices this week proved to be a much easier transition.  Thank you all for the well wishes regarding our trip.  When we have fully completed "La Rentree" I will post a separate link with photos and specifics on our trip, but suffice it to say that it was lovely.  Like French Fridays and Dorie, France does not disappoint.

Per Nana :

(this should be the title of our post)

We have been in this house for 13 years and that
 is the first time I have set off the smoke alarm.
A 500 degree oven can do that, to say nothing of
the mess that little bird made of my oven.
That being said, the recipe was fantastic. 
 Even though the skin was crispy and well
done, the white meat was not dry. 
 I thought the amount of tapenade was perfect,
as it can be quite salty, but I think the
 lemon actually helped on that score.

This is a recipe that I will definitely make again. 

 Per Tricia:

Unfortunately, this is a recipe
that I will NOT make again. 
But not because we didn't love the taste....
I can not handle dissecting that poor
 little bird to get the spine out.

And even though Nana gave me the heads up about the smoke
 alarm, it didn't keep mine from going off by the 20 minute mark. 
Since I cooked it for 28 minutes, even my younger son was
 declaring that this "better be good" after listening to the ruckus.

(Though I have to admit this was not
the first time the smoke alarm went off in MY house. 
My husband used to joke that it was our "dinner bell".)

This recipe was very simple and quick.
  I love the idea of a quick prep and the end result looked
 gorgeous with all it's crispy skin.  We very much
 liked the taste of the tapenade. 
 I am used to putting spices under my poultry skin
 but adding this ingredient was a new one for me.

 My family raved about it so while I may not be
 revisiting it, I will not be surprised to see my
 fearless hubby in the kitchen with page 225 open
 and a large knife in his hand......