Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spur of the Moment Vegetable Soup

Nothing says "comfort" like home made soup ~

Per Nana~

This was an amazing soup.
Dorie suggested many alternatives for this soup, the variety of 
vegetables are endless. I decided to use a combination of carrots,
 parsnips, and potatoes.  I had never cooked a parsnip until we started 
cooking with Dorie  and I really do like the flavor it gives to the dish.
After cooking the onions, celery and carrots, I added thyme and rosemary.
Once the potato and parsnips were softened,  I pureed the soup.
 The result was a perfectly smooth soup that was so tasty.
For Sunday night's supper, I served our family's famous fried provolone 
sandwiches along with a bowl of this delicious vegetable soup. 
 It worked perfectly together. Hubby said this was a keeper so I
 guess it passed the test.  Thank goodness.
Per Tricia~
Spur of the moment or not, this recipe was not happening.  
We had an eventful last week enjoying fall foliage in Vermont .......
while simultaneously  comforting our homesick son in Italy and 
ultimately coordinating his return to the US.  Let me tell you that
 I could have used some of Nana's soup and those provolone sandwiches
 - I can not even tell you how amazing those things are.  
I am going to make sure she adds directions on the blog 
next week because they are OFF THE CHARTS
But I will gladly share the photos of our adventure at the cheese farm.
Next week I will add photos of the cooking class we took and hopefully 
share a late entry to the "spur of the moment soup" category :)
The farm is "Consider Bardwell Farm" in West Pawlet, Vermont. 
 For the longest time I thought the name was some type of 
marketing gimmick  like "think of Bardwell Farm first" or such.
  But no, it was the actual name of the original owner.
 First name- Consider, last -Bardwell. 
Established in 1864.  They produce award winning cheeses from goat
 and cow's milk.  They host tours, farm dinners and special events throughout
 the year but they also have a self serve store open all the time.  Yup- help 
yourself and leave the cash or a personal check. I have not seen this 
anywhere other than Vermont, which is one of the reasons I love it.
Their website is fabulous so feel free to take a peek.

You can now even buy their cheese through their site- but it is interesting
 to see their list of wholesalers, retailers and exclusive restaurants that serve
 their cheese. The owner, Angela Miller, even authored a book "Hay Fever-
 How Chasing A Dream on A Vermont Farm Changed My Life". 
 I have a copy and have thoroughly enjoyed reading her adventures as 
a prominent literary agent in NY City who seeks balance by investing
 in the cheese farm and juggling both lives and lifestyles.  It is tough work.
After we visited with the goats and other animals we headed to
 the farm next door for pie. Again, a till for leaving cash and the
 honor system in play. My 18 year old started out as" humoring his
 mother" but ended up taking far too many i-phone to convince
 anyone he was not impressed.....
When we got home and Googled we found a wonderful video from non
 other than Gesine Bullock Prado where she visited Consider Bardwell
 Farm and then makes and incredible goat's milk cheesecake.  

Gesine visits Consider Bardwell (click to see video)

If you have not heard of this baker and cookbook author, Gesine is Sandra
 Bullock's sister and a lawyer by trade who gave up Hollywood for 
Vermont and baking.  She has several websites and I enjoy them all. 
The one below has numerous videos that are awesome.
In closing, both sons are now home and I am referring to them as the 
"Boomerang Boys".  While they ended up home for different 
reasons,  I secretly think we owe it all to Dorie and their missing the  
 French Friday adventures far too much.......

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crispy Crackly Apple Almond Tart

Or in our cases, "super easy frozen puff pastry tarts"....
Per Nana~

This week I decided to use Dorie's "bonne idee" for the tart recipe because
 I don't do well with filo dough.The only time I enjoy filo is when it is made 
into Baklava by a great baker.  (or any baker) So I used the puff pastry 
instead and made apple tarts.  I defrosted the whole package and used both
sheets of dough.  Made one into 
rounds as Dorie suggested, and the other 
was cut into four squares. Not perfect, but turned out sort of rustic looking....
Anytime I make a tart or pie I usually coat the apples with a mixture 
of cinnamon and sugar, and I did the same for this little tart. 
 I find it gives the apples a nice flavor.
 Hubby was quite impressed and thought they were very 
professional looking.  Ha! With the trimmings from the first 
piece of dough, I placed an apple slice or two and rolled them. 
These were really cute, and I want to try that again with more puff pastry
 and make little apple or pear rollups or small turnovers. I am looking 
forward to seeing the results of the original recipe for this week and to see 
what the rest of the Doristas did with it.

Per Tricia~ 
While I feel a bit guilty that I opted for the short cut "Bonne Idee"
 this week, I am SO pleased with the results. My older son and I are in 
Vermont this week and found a new brand of puff pastry at the local 
market.  This ready to go pastry was pre-cut into medium sized squares - 
making playing around with topics the toughest part of the job :) 
We were inspired to play around with options on the sweet side. 
 We bought some local apple walnut spread ........
and played around with that and fresh apples and toasted walnuts,
covered with organic Turbinado raw cane sugar.  The others were 
fresh pear with a fig spread and sugar.
The possibilities are endless and I love the thought of using leftovers 
as well as "gourmet" ingredients. This recipe is just what we need around
 here as we indulge in more cheese boards and appetizers than we do at home.  

And apres ski desserts ?  Yes please ! 

We also had an adventure taking a French Cooking class this week at 
Cafe Provence in Brandon, Vt and visiting a wonderful local goat farm.
 Will get organized and share some photos next week !

Friday, October 5, 2012


Not necessarily a dish we expected to find "Around My French Table",
 but are we glad we did !

Per Nana ~

Hummus, either you like it or you hate it.
I liked it and Hubby hated it.   Actually, I think  the word "sawdust"
 was mentioned  in his description. Nothing to worry about though 
since I only prepared half  the recipe.
When I opened the container of tahini and stirred it,  it reminded me
 of Trader Joe's peanut butter.  (Not the recalled kind)
My thoughts were to possibly use it as a spread, but when I tasted 
it I changed my mind. The taste was pretty gross and I had my
doubts about putting it in the hummus, however,
 it all worked out well.
The ingredients blended well, and turned into a really smooth hummus.  
I would like to try this again and add some red peppers to it, or  other flavors.

Per Tricia ~
My kids are big fans of hummus so it was fun to make it from "scratch". 
 I had to chuckle because my husband kept saying "this all came from 
one can" - he couldn't believe a single can of chickpeas could yield
 such results.  Nana, ahead of the game as usual, hooked me up with the
 tahini - making this all the more of a cinch to prepare.  I admittedly
went a bit heavy handed on the garlic this time and ended up adding 
about twice as much reserved chickpea liquid as Dorie suggested - but 
that is a matter of taste regarding consistency.  Like Nana- we all
 liked it and many suggestions were given regarding how the taste 
testers wanted me to tweak it next time.  Not many folks consider "trying 
to make it taste like Costco's" to be a compliment....but it is in this house :)

Since the dish was so easy I had more than enough time to play
 catch up on that eggplant tartine I missed. I had fun trying a 
"graffiti eggplant"  along with the standard version.  
After combining all the ingredients I honestly did not expect to care 
for this one - but I did. It was a lovely combo with a great texture.  
A lot going on and it all worked. 
 My guys enjoyed it as well and said while a little messy to get 
onto a fork - it was more than worth the effort.  
Of course they didn't cut up all those veggies.........