Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lentil, Lemon & Tuna Salad

Interesting flavors and a new summertime dish.....

Per Tricia:
Nana is taking a well deserved week off and since I was able to find 
the green lentils at Wegman's, I jumped in to knock this recipe out.  
Lentils are one of those items that I was not always a fan of. 
The drab look, the taste, the aroma ...... "back in the day" I did not 
even want them on my plate. 

Amazingly, I have really come to enjoy them over time.  Since 
the other half of the family is Italian, we have enjoyed the tradition
 of eating Lentils after midnight on New Year's Eve.  Italian culture 
tells us that this will bring prosperity in the New Year.  Evidently the little
 legumes look like coins or such.  They do go quite nicely with Champagne
 and  I am never one to break tradition- French or Italian.  But the flavor
 combo of this recipe was a new one for me.  It was lovely and refreshing. 
I could see how Dorie tasted the dish and decided to add tuna. 

The only item I did not manage to locate was the "citron confit", but
 thanks to Google I learned that I could substitute 2 Tbs of lemon juice
  for each citron confit.  I also found many sites providing encouragement
 and directions for making this ingredient at home....but since I was knocking
 this out the night before the deadline and you need quite a bit of time for the 
lemons to transition into citron confit.....2 tablespoons of lemon juice it was !

The hardest part of this dish (once you locate green lentils and citron confit) 
is waiting for the lentils to cook.  It is truly that easy and will be a wonderful 
addition to the summer menu.  My hubby really enjoyed the flavor combo
but said he preferred the dish at room temperature rather than chilled.
  My older son performed taste test duties and declared it "good" 
but would like to add some Parmesan on top next  time.  
We add Parmesan to anything savory in this house....sorry Dorie :)
This was a keeper and I am really pleased to add it to my recipe collection.

Happy French Friday !

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese

Another wonderful "non-recipe" dish to be added to the entertaining arsenal.........

Per Nana ~

 In 1996, we were celebrating our 42nd wedding anniversary, so hubby 
and I  decided to rent an apartment in Paris.  We found a place in the 
Montmartre section,  a 4th floor (walk-up) and we were in seventh heaven.
 Surprisingly, the Montmartre is more than just a tourist section of Paris. 
 It is a neighborhood of lovely food markets, restaurants and every day living.

Each morning we went to the boulangerie for our fresh baguette
 or croissant, had our cafe au laite, and planned our day.  Life was good.
We toured Paris in our rental car, and visited the food markets in the area. 
 One day I just had to have fresh flowers for the apartment and since there
 was  a florist at the corner, we bought a lovely mixed bouquet of autumn 
colors.  When  we arrived home,  we realized we did not have a vase ,
 so we improvised with a wine bottle.  As I said, life was good.

We learned how to pay a parking violation, and how to beat the parking 
meters before they expired.  (Obviously a car is not necessary in Paris)
Found the local church, St. Jean de Montmartre, and the local
 liquor store, Nicholas, and lived the dream.
Each day at "happy hour" we went to the various wine bars. I have written 
of this before but our favorite is Le Rubis, near the rue de Rivoli, for our 
daily " kir royale" or "pastis".  A wonderful way to enjoy our retirement.

FYI, every year in the numbered years (even) the first Saturday in October, 
there  is a wine/champagne tasting going on to celebrate the harvesting of 
the grape.  Montmartre has one of the oldest vineyards in Paris,  Many stands
 were set up on the Place Du Tertre, offering glasses of champagne, etc.  
We were so lucky to have witnessed this event.

Point of interest, if you do not want to ride the funicular down from the 
Basilique Sacré Coeur, there are more than 300 steps to the bottom.   
I know,  I counted them on the way down.
This brings me to this week's recipe.

One night we were out to dinner near the apartment, and after dinner 
we normally finish our wine with a plat du fromage. That night I wanted 
something sweet so I ordered creme caramel,  hubby went for the fromage.
 On the menu was fromage blanc.  (White cheeseright?)  Out came this bowl
 of what looked like sour cream.  Absolutely tasteless.    

I was so happy that for my sweet tooth because I really enjoyed it.  
I do not share well.  Ha! Ha! When I saw this week's recipe I had 
to laughed  thinking of our experience. I decided that Wegman's 
was the best choice to find fromage blanc, but it was not to be,
  so I settled for ricotta cheese and it worked beautifully.

 Dorie suggests that you drain the ricotta, but I don't think this is necessary 
 with the type that is sold today.   I  believe  the draining is for very fresh
 ricotta cheese, the type that is made daily.

This is a really great herb cheese  that can be used with chips or spread on
 a cracker.  I used some with an avocado, and also with tomato.
It is a recipe that will definitely replace my sour cream dips for a while.
Merci,  Dorie.

Let me just add that all of this  month's recipes  were  winners and hubby 
and I enjoyed each and every one of them. Looking forward to June~

Per Tricia~

I am taking a bye this week as my older son graduates from High School 
on Saturday and I am enjoying the festivities and the moment.  Soon enough 
I will have lots of time for "Dorie food", even if I am shy a taste tester :)

Happy French Friday
 and Congrats to everyone celebrating Graduations ~

(PS- this October Nana will celebrate her 58th anniversary !)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Double Chocolate & Banana Tart

We have never met a tart we didn't like, and this week was no exception ~

Per Nana:

The selection for this week, double chocolate and banana tart, 
was excellent. I enjoyed using Dorie's "Bonne Idee" to make the
 chocolate Nutella tart, and I was very pleased with the results. 

The chocolate shortbread dough came together so easy and I pressed it into
 the pan before freezing  for 30 minutes.  When it was time to bake the crust 
it was not necessary to use foil or weights.  The crust turned out perfect. 
  I am going to try that with regular tart crust to see if it works as well.
After it cooled I covered the crust with nutella and chilled for an hour.
I have never made a ganache before and was quite surprised
 that is was so simple to prepare.

Because of the size and shape of the tart pan I had some ganache
 left so I dipped some sliced fresh pineapple for a treat.  A little messy 
to work with, but so delicious.  After the ganache had set on the tart I
 sprinkled some chopped hazelnut all over, and finally the banana slices.
Since the pan was square I made 4 rows rather than a circle.
  It was not as pretty, but at this point I could not correct the design
for fear of ruining the ganache. 
This was a fantastic dessert that I hope to use time and time again.

Per Tricia:
I was also very surprised at how easy the delicious and gorgeous 
the ganache was to prepare.  The bananas ? Not so much.  
I underestimated the amount of time it would take for all the "handling" 
of the sliced bananas. Individual slices that get coated in lemon juice ended 
up taking much longer than I originally anticipated and not far into it 
I wondered why I just didn't use strawberries instead. 
This train of thought actually started when I was flipping the individual 
slices that were sauteing in butter, attempting to get them all uniformly
 colored and not scratch my favorite non stick pan.  
The end result of this recipe was delightful to look at, decadent to taste
 and my guys just loved it. This will not be the last we see of this one 
and I look forward to revisiting this with the Nutella and chopped hazelnuts. 
And don't get me started on how much I love this chocolate pastry 
dough. This was the second tart I have prepared with it and it's one 
of my favorite recipes in the entire book. 

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, May 11, 2012

Provençal Olive Fougasse

This one will be filed under - enjoyed it but would turned this page in the
 book were it not for "French Fridays with Dorie".  Coming out of our comfort
 zones is one of the things we enjoy most about this experience.
Per Nana~

This week's recipe for FFWD is Provençel olive fougasse. 
I found fresh rosemary and delicious kalamata olives at Giant supermarket 
which were already pitted - which saves a lot of time.
I checked the recipe early and realized if I made it after dinner, 
by the  time  "Dancing With The Stars" finished
at 10 PM  EST, I could stir it and refrigerate over night.
This morning I halved the recipe, and found the dough so easy to 
work with. It rolled out perfectly and baking it was a snap.
I baked them separately so that when I went to Tricia's house
 for dog walking I could bring her family a treat.  
I added some crushed black pepper to the second piece of dough to 
give it a taste similar to an Italian tarallini (which is a round breadstick)  
and it worked  beautifully.  Very tasty.
Since bread is my favorite food item in the whole world, 
guess who ate the most.......
Per Tricia~
Yes, if you have not already figured out from prior posts ....
where Nana hand delivers measured  "Dorie Ingredients"....
the fact that she comes over to help with my Pug and Westie
 and delivers fresh fougasse should indicate how spoiled I am. 
 Not a bad life.  Although the preview of the delicious fougasse
 ensured that I could not take a pass on this one
 since my family now wanted it ~
Overall it was a very forgiving recipe. 
 Bread can be tricky but any recipe that allows for tv watching
 or "kid from school pickup" in between the steps is great in my book. 
 My husband and I particularly like Kalamata olives so this was 
a sure bet for us.  The kids enjoyed the bread in general.  
I had used the lemon zest and was surprised at how much
 I enjoyed the aroma - it was truly a lovely combination 
that as usual, I would not have thought of myself.
I would definitely consider making this again but I would not 
do it for company per se, as my creations were a bit too 
artistic (code for did not roll out into rectangle as desired) 
for "prime time" sharing.
One last funny note.  In last week's post Nana referenced that
 the fougasse would be a "whole new story".  This is hilarious.  
Even I was wondering what story she was going to tell this week 
 (I can't seem to remember yesterday lately......) but figured it 
had to do with our trip to Nice last year since olives were the
 theme.  Nope. No story.  She simply meant that the fougasse was
 an adventure for another day kind of thing- not that we had already
 had a specific adventure (relating to fougasse, anyway).   We 
were enjoying a dinner out in Princeton earlier this week after 
watching the kids play lacrosse and she casually mentioned that 
commenters were looking forward to the "story". I explained that I 
was as well and when she clarified what happened I accused her of 
"baiting the Doristas" and we both had a great laugh over the whole thing.
Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Almond Flounder Meuniere

This was not only delicious, but healthy as well !

Per Nana:

Simple, easy, and excellent.
I chopped some almonds and stirred it into the flour

 with the lemon zest. Quite a change from my usually 
panko covered fish , but soooo delicious.

I then topped it with the lemon juice, parsley and sliced almonds.

It was so tender and delicious, hubby kept raving about it.  
(Can't believe I did not get "however if you did this" comment),
Dorie did something right with this one  ~ big time !
Served with sauteed brussel sprouts and sliced 
tomatoes with chopped kalamata olives and grated 
pecorino romano cheese.  Excellent.

Added to this delicious meal was the side of provençal olive
 fougasse, which will be a whole new story of
 the "life and times of Nana and Tricia".

Per Tricia:

I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy this one was.  

The only thing I will say is that I just don't think I could pull off cooking
 this dish for company.  It was a bit too many messy steps, if you
 know what I mean, and a lot of watching at the stove for a few 
minutes here and there.  This is not to say that others could not easily
 swing this but suffice it to say that I know my own limits.  Plus, I 
typically have a glass of wine in hand when the guests are here and
 flipping the coated flounder as such would not have been a success.

That said, this dish was spectacular. 
 Truly "off the charts".

The flavor was sensational and I honestly can't recall when
 I cooked a piece of fish this well.  The one sided breading seemed
 to lock in the perfect amount of moisture.  My taste testers 
declared this to be a new favorite, with my 15 year old stating
 it was "easily the best fish I have ever eaten".  Wow. 
 And this kid loves fish ! I was glad I bought a big package 
of flounder from Costco, since it allowed me to triple the recipe. 
I plan to make this one MANY times again for a family supper.