Thursday, April 26, 2012

Navarin Printanier

Also known as "lamb stew with spring vegetables".  A winner in our kitchens 
and with our spring temperatures going from outright sweltering back down to
downright chilly - stew was a welcome meal.

Per Nana:

What do you call navarin printanier if you do not use lamb?  Beef stew?

I spent a better part of this week searching for lamb to no avail.
The only piece I came across was at Wegman's and that was
 a leg of lamb. At the price they were asking, I certainly did not intend
 to make it into stew.  I can be very frugal sometimes (okay, call me cheap)
 but  since hubby and I are not big lamb eaters, I couldn't do it.  
Lamb chops, well now, that's another story.
Wegman's has the cutest 1" potatoes that I used, as well as the
 tiny white onions.  I have never cooked with these onions before and 
they are really nice, not too strong.  I was a bit apprehensive about 
using that much garlic with the onions, but it all melted away.

One thing I especially liked about this "stew" was the way the vegetables 
were prepared.  I think giving them some color before adding to the meat 
makes a huge difference in flavor. The recipe calls for a lot of prep work,
 and having used so many dishes, I was wondering if it was worth the effort.
Trust me, it was. 
 This was one of the best stews I have ever made, and I make a
pretty good boeuf bourguignon.  (at least that's what hubby said).

I hope someday I will be able to find a good piece of lamb to try this again.
I am anxious to see the results of all the other Doristas, and if they
 were able to find some nice lamb to make this dish properly.

Per Tricia:
Nana had already taken the pressure off when she decided to go with beef.  
Me and my wallet willingly joined her, acknowledging that it would have 
been even better, and certainly more "Spring" like ....had I used the lamb. 
 But a lovely stew it was nonetheless.......even after
 I forgot to add the peas until the first bowl had been served :) 
 I should have known when I took the photo of the ingredients that I 
would forget to add them at the end.  While this was no mean a difficult recipe, 
by the time I had all the items chopped, browned in sugar and combined 
with the meat...I had felt quite "done".  Serving it up I pondered again
 what made this a Spring dish (yes, the lack of lamb did not help) 
and realized I still had the peas to add in.  Even worse was that Nana 
actually dropped off the peas for me as she had picked up an extra box.  
Next time I will simply ask her to stick around to make 
sure the ingredients make it in.........
The onions were fun- believe  it or not I do not recall actually ever 
cooking  tiny onions like this. And definitely not in this manner. Exactly
 as Dorie described,  their skin came away after being blanched.
 They were a wonderful surprise addition.  The other addition
 that I am not used to, but did not yield a "surprise"  was adding 
the sugar when I cooked the veggies.  No shock that it made
 everything taste better.  I felt slightly less guilty since
 Dorie "directed me" to do it :)
My guys thoroughly enjoyed this one.  My younger son initially thought it 
was a bit on the bland side and by the time  he finished his second large bowl 
had uttered the phrase "I take it back..... I take it back" about a half dozen times. 
 My husband also made it quite clear that he would be more than happy to
 see this come across the table again - in any season. 
(Missing something green ??)

Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coconut Friands

Nana came through and tested this fun recipe....... while Tricia and family only " taste" tested the results this week.  Yum !

Per Nana:

This is such a simple recipe to make.  
If you have coconut on hand, adding the rest of the basic ingredients is a snap.
A wonderful  dessert to make if someone calls to drop in for a quick visit.
Since I had only sweetened coconut in the house I 
reduced the amount of sugar called for in the recipe and 
my friands were not too sweet at all.

I baked them for about 22 minutes and they turned out lovely.
The next time I prepare this recipe I would like to try some of 
the additions that Dorie mentions in her bonne idee. 

All in all, this is a great recipe and hubby and I enjoyed them.

Per Tricia:
My contribution, in addition to taste testing duties, will be to 
share a story about Nana's "Basel" plate in the above photo. 
I too have a matching plate from the same store in Basel, Switzerland
 purchased at the same time.  It was 20 years ago and  I joined both parents
 on a trip to France where we focused mainly on the Alsatian 
Rue de Vin (the wine road).  We enjoyed a magnificent trip through
 the wine country, consuming enough  Choucroute to last a lifetime. 
We did not tire of it and washing it down with the local Riesling 
and Gewurztraminer certainly helped.  One day we decided to cross
 border and investigate the nearby "big city" of Basel, Switzerland.  

We had a lovely time  exploring the town, but when we returned
 to the parking garage we found we needed Swiss coins to pay the meter ! 
Shops were now closing so we tried to find anything we could
 buy in order to receive the precious Swiss currency.  A local 
antique and decor shop accommodated us and we each bought a plate.  
This was "pre-Euro" and life has gotten much easier since then.  
 A special souvenir for sure, perfect for getting back into France
 or for serving Coconut Friands :) 

 Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sardine Rillettes

This one is near the top of the list of "recipes we would never have tried, were it not for "French Fridays with Dorie". 
Per Nana:
This recipe brought back a lot of memories of the 70's and 80's.  
Many a Saturday evening with friends consisted of a pitcher of 
Martinis or Scotch sours, with various homemade spreads or dips.
I often made a spread of sardines, chopped egg and mayo, or chopped 
clams with cream cheese on small rye bread,that I ran under the broiler.
  One of the first dips I learned to make was a package of Lipton's  onion 
soup mix with sour cream. Times have changed a bit, 
now I use Knorr's vegetable soup for the dip. Don't laugh,
 they are still tasty combinations today.  
I love the ingredients added to the cream cheese in this recipe, 
they give it quite a  flavor.  I decided to stuff a few peppadew 
with the mixture, topped with some capers.  Hubby loved that,
 he is a great fan of peppadews, and since I am not, I used some
 saltine  crackers with slices of petite pickles.

This spread is also great on sliced toast, and as I made the full recipe 
of two cans of sardines, I think that will be lunch for a couple of days.

Per Tricia:
To say that there was a bit of apprehension about this one would be 
an understatement.  I had no desire to try anchovies but I try not to let
 this come into play when it is "French Friday".   Plus, I was trying to keep
 my bias off the radar so that my taste testers would not be swayed.  
I was initially quite surprised when I opened the sardine can and found
 something that looked more like large pieces of tuna than "sardines". 
 This was actually the first time I ever cracked open a can and I was 
expecting teeny little silvery fish to be inside.  Since my tin consisted
 of boneless and skinless sardines packed in oil, it definitely resembled 
tuna in my book.  Phew.  Only hubby was on hand to test the recipe before 
the post and we both concurred that it was nice - like tuna with a "kick".
 In full disclosure I am not a huge seafood fan.  I thought 
I was bound to dislike the result - at best.   But it was definitely way 
better than I ever dreamed and my husband "officially" liked it.
  Regardless - it was a fun adventure and Dorie once again took me 
 happily out of my comfort zone.  As usual.  Happy French Friday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Asparagus & Bits of Bacon

A perfect and easy dish- we will be adding this to our Easter meal !

Per Nana:
I was not too excited about this recipe when I first read it, 
but surprisingly, it fooled me. Using the bacon with warmed
 onions  as a topping really kicked it up a notch.

I will admit I did not use the hazelnut oil or the lemon juice, 
simply because I had neither in the house at the time.  I did use 
EVOO (as Rachel Ray says), along with wine vinegar.  
I thought the combination was very good, but I will try 
the recipe again with the hazelnut and lemon.

It is a pleasant change for asparagus, as we usually cover
 this spring vegetable with hollandaise sauce.  
I do plan to make this for Easter dinner to accompany 
 a Smithfield Ham and roast potatoes.

Happy Easter to all ~

Per Tricia:
Nice and easy and very "spring-like". 
Any recipe that involves bacon  and onions is going 
to be a hit in my house and this was no exception.
 Not to mention that I love any opportunity to whip 
out my asparagus plate from Crate and Barrel :)

Happy Easter and Passover to all -
 I will be chowing  down with the whole family at Nana's !