Friday, December 27, 2013

Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

Per Nana~
One of the most delicious brunch treats to me is a
 plate of lox, with cream cheese, thinly sliced onions, 
sliced tomatoes and a few capers thrown in.
Slice  bagel or bialy and just assemble it in any order, it really doesn't matter.
 So delicious.  Must be the New Yorker in me....
This week's recipe for gravlax made me wonder if I could trust myself 
to prepare it correctly. I still think in terms of "raw fish".  I mentioned it to Hubby,
 asking "if I leave it dressed for 72 hours it should be done, right ???". 
 We figured that since Tricia's husband enjoys Sushi, this can't be too bad. 
Well, 72 hours passed and out came the gravlax. It looked great. 
I sliced it very thin and prepared the sauce. 
I was very proud of myself at this point because I tackled a recipe
 I always wanted to try, but didn't have the courage to until now.  
Thank you Dorie.
It was truly delicious. Since Hubby does not eat lox at all, 
I sent some over to Tricia's family to enjoy.
Per Tricia~
This was simply outstanding. And it could not have been easier. 
warmed spices being crushed ~
The biggest challenge, in fact, was getting the Progresso soup 
cans acting as weights to stay in place and then find open rea
estate in the Christmas week refrigerator. 

pressed for 72 hours ~
I was a bit concerned about it "being done", but I could tell by the 
dark coloring that magic had indeed happened over the last 72 hours.
I am not a big fan of lox or gravlax, but my taste testers always 
enjoy it at brunch so I was delighted to try this recipe. 

 It was a huge hit. 

In fact, my younger son devoured the entire bagel in the photo -
after adding more gravlax and sauce to make 2 opened faced sandwiches. 
He said he liked how much more "fresh" it tasted than the usual lox.
My hubby tried the cream cheese version as well as the mustard
 sauce and was surprised at how much he enjoyed Dorie's sauce.  
Thankfully it turned out well because Nana had raised the bar
 when she sent her care package over earlier in the week.
 Expectations were high :)

This is a keeper and I look forward to making it for brunches
 or perhaps as a wonderful appetizer with drinks. 
If I can just remember to start it 3 days early......

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recipe Swap Onion "Carbonara"

Per Nana~
When I first read through this recipe my reaction was "yuck". Imagine eating limp onions and adding cream sauce. Gross. Well let me tell you - this was a shocker of a recipe. I started out trying to cut it in half but then couldn't figure out how to split an egg yolk.  At Hubby's suggestion I decided to make the whole recipe, with the understanding that it would go in the trash if it wasn't great.
Quelle surprise ! 
 We loved it.  
 I steamed the onions earlier in the day and covered them. Sauteed the bacon and then at the very last minute put the whole thing together. FANTASTIC.  As I looked on the counter I realized that I forgot to add the parmesan cheese to the dish. When I finally added the cheese it was over the top in flavors. The results look just like linguine pasta with carbonara sauce. Unbelieveable.

Per Tricia~
The collection of recipes in "Around My French Table" NEVER ceases to amaze me. I have dabbled in low carb and tried many a carb substitute type recipe, but I can assure you I never heard about onions in lieu of pasta. And to find that it was Patricia Wells who shared the recipe with Dorie. Wow.  Of course I don't imagine they had Dr. Atkins in mind when creating this dish but it was a low carb revelation nonetheless. I personally enjoyed it in a smaller dose and intend to try it as a topping for chicken breast, but my hubby could not get enough of it as main course.  
I also had to chuckle because I realized this week that he basically says "oh, this is good" to every dish. (I am very lucky that way).  But typing does not do justice to the delivery that these same words get...... depending on how he truly feels. Suffice it to say that this week's was more like:"OH ! This is REALLY GOOD !"  Which of course completely distracted me from the onion dish and made me wonder what he had thought about prior dishes declared "really good"  :)

Well played, Dorie. Well played.
Merry Christmas !

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mme. Maman's Chopped Liver

Per Nana~
Hubby was in his glory this week. I made him chopped liver.  We both love chicken livers and I prepare them often to serve over rice. Being from the New York City area, chopped liver was always easy to find and it was an excellent appetizer to go along with a perfectly chilled martini or a glass of wine.
Dorie's version is so delicious and since we can not find it here in the suburbs of Philadelphia too easily, I am happy to have found a recipe to our taste. 

After reading all the comments in the P's and Q's section, I know many of the Doristas are skeptical about the recipe, but after the cleaning part is finished, it really is simple to make.
If you like liverwurst, you will love this recipe. Dorie said to brown the onions but I think I overdid that part a little too much, but it still tasted fantastic. No martini this time around, but I enjoyed a sandwich with mayo instead.
This is definitely a keeper for me. 
Per Tricia~
I should have had a martini in order to prepare this one. In full disclosure, I can not stand the smell of cooked liver. Nana teases me because if I stop over her house when she has made chicken livers I make it about 5 feet in the door before I declare that I can't stay. We have an understanding that if my husband would like some liver, he is to go next door. But this week, with hubby's help in cleaning the little livers, I dug deeper and prepared the dish. The funny thing is that I enjoy pate and have loved liverwurst since I was very young. In fact, my classic elementary school lunch was liverwurst on rye, with mustard. Go figure.

This recipe was  truly easy and I was completely delighted that the aroma did not get to me until the end. Unfortunately it also permeated the house so the "aromatherapy" lasted longer than I would have liked. But it was worth it because my husband really did enjoy this and said he will gladly make it himself in the future. He will have to .......
Happy French Friday~

Friday, December 6, 2013

Almond-Orange Tuiles

Per Nana:
A complete disaster for me. I prepared the dough yesterday and put it in the refrigerator overnight. When I looked at it today I thought this would work beautifully since it had such a nice texture. I formed teaspoon size little balls and it all held together well.  However, when I tried to remove them from the cookie sheet after baking, it just did not cooperate.

The first two cookies fell apart immediately but I managed to get three decent ones (sort of) on the rolling pin. I left the rest of them flat. My second tray was even more of a disaster as I could not remove them from the tray at all. They completely stuck and at that point I just gave up. 
The sad thing is, they were really tasty and the three that were curved were really quite decorative.  I actually used whole almonds that I blanched and peeled myself, and then finely chopped them. There must be a knack for making this cookie, but I certainly didn't have it. I am anxious to see how the rest of my fellow Doristas made out with this one.

Per Tricia:
"La Rentree" after our Thanksgiving vacation was definitely a brutal one this week, and not a good time for a fussy recipe. Reading the P&Q's just added to the anticipated stress. Luckily, I had Nana to the rescue and she delivered me almonds that she blanched and peeled. Yup, kind of hard to complain about having a busy week :)
I used "Pam" non-stick spray and my metal cookie spatula
I literally did the grocery shopping for this cookie at 8pm on Friday night, threw the dough in the freezer for about ten minutes and said a quick prayer or two :)
I also leveraged all the amazing advice that the Doristas shared in the P&Q's and my recipe came off without a hitch.

They looked amazing, tasted amazing and smelled fantastic. I first loaded up a big pottery platter but then decided they also needed a photo on my "good china". These seem like lovely "fancy" cookies and I think they would really impress company.

My hubby and I enjoyed these immensely and I will gladly make them again. I also want to note that I enjoy all of the tips and stories that Dorie has shared in this book - "Around My French Table", but the one she told about getting this cookie recipe from the chef (along with a sample of the dough to cook at home) really touched me. For those that have had the pleasure of interacting with Dorie in person, this would have been an easy exchange to understand. She is that special, and so are these cookies.

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sugar-Crusted French Toast

Per Tricia (& Nana)
It is appropriate that this recipe ended up on Thanksgiving week, as
 the results warranted much "thanks-giving". It was a vacation week of
 friends, family, new activities and old memories, all of which generated
 tremendous feelings of gratitude that wove into the results of this dish. 
The recipe is a fairly straight forward one for French Toast, with the
 biggest difference here being that you coat the outside with sugar
 as it is fried in the butter. I used a larger grained sugar -
 "Royal Duchess NatuRaw" natural cane sugar and it was perfect. 
That step of sugar crusting the toast really put the final results over
 the top. GENIUS.  This is my new favorite recipe from AMFT. 
I literally declared this to be "creme brulee bread" and the
 whole family heartily agreed. We had our local syrup out and ready to go, 
but the dish was so sweet there was no need. I only wish I had some
 strawberries or raspberries to have served along side. Next time ~

 What made it so extra special ?

  • Cooking it WITH Nana, as we enjoyed our vacation week in Vermont
  • Using eggs that happened to be sold by my favorite potter- Brian Flecker of "Two Mountain Pottery". We stopped at his home studio to visit and buy some great new pieces, and since he sells brown eggs we were all set for this recipe as well. Their coloring was gorgeous.
  • Adding the yummy Lagrima vanilla received at the IFBC into the batter. We also packed up the rest of those amazing Sahale snacks and Brookside chocolate covered Pomegranate seeds, Acai with Blueberry so we could share them this week (and not eat them all myself at home :). These treats brought back memories of the Seattle fun we had with the Dorie and the Doristas.
  • Sharing the French Toast with ALL our taste testers, and thanking goodness it was not the Salty-Sweet Potato Far week. Disclaimer, I had been the one who actually liked that recipe....but am not sure my taste testing sons would have prefered that over the French toast that we had all hands on deck for. 
  • My older son's 20th birthday is TODAY ! Happy Birthday Mr. Boston U ~
This was an especially fabulous French Friday. Nana and I hope
 everyone is having the happiest of French Fridays as well !

Friday, November 22, 2013

Salty-Sweet Potato Far

Per Nana:
When I first started to read this recipe I was excited. Bacon, potatoes,
 flour and egg batter.  Then came the prunes and raisins. Although 
I had all the ingredients, it took me a week to decide whether or not
 to prepare the recipe. I thought about leaving out the fruit but 
decided to go for it. The recipe is really very simple to make and since 
I was too lazy to take out my food processor, the hardest part was
 grating the potatoes on a box grater. 

Hubby enjoyed it and I did taste the far (after picking out the fruit) and 
it wasn't bad. That said, Hubby is on his own with the rest of it. It baked
 up quite nicely and the aroma was wonderful. I would like to make this again
 sometime, but I would use other ingredients instead of fruit. I also think
 cheese would make a wonderful addition. I am anxious to see what
 everyone else thought of this recipe.

Per Tricia:
I kept an open mind to this one, in part because I could not
 begin to guess how this was going to taste. That helped the cause.
Oh, how I love my Cuisinart......
Utterly no clue how this one is going to end....
 Hubby and I have been enjoying baked and mashed cauliflower 
lately so I thought it would be fun to do a "side by side"
 comparison and prepare this both ways. 
Potato Far
Cauliflower Far
The results ? I did enjoy the cauliflower as much, if not more. 
I simply simply substituted almond flour in lieu of regular.  I had to
 add a bit more liquid than the potato version, so used half and half. 
Potato Far
The results very much reminded me of a sort of warm raisin bun or scone, 
and it was a unique combo that we enjoyed and will absolutely make again. 
Cauliflower Far
This is officially getting file under the "who knew ?" category. 
My favorite category :) 
 And as usual, Dorie knew. That's who.

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chestnut & Pear Soup

Per Nana~
I can remember traveling through Burgundy, France, near the little village of Beaune, and in the back of the hotel where we stayed was the most beautiful private garden full of leeks and cauliflower so big - it was unbelievable.

Every time I need a few leeks for a recipe, I always see them in bunches of 3-4, way too much for whatever recipe I am making. Last week I was surprised to see them at Wegmans, nicely washed and cut into pieces, packaged and ready to go. How great is that ?

Unfortunately, I did not like this soup, cleaned leeks or not. I tried and only made half the recipe for the two of us, but it was still a bit too bland.
I had some deliciously fresh blue cheese that I added to the soup as a garnish, however it just didn't work for us.

That said, I have not given up on creamed soups.

Per Tricia~
Guess where I got my leeks ? Yup, lucked out. (Thanks Nana !) I also lucked out because I did not get to the soup as originally planned..... which worked quite well for my little pears, which ended up accidentally and perfectly ripe to perfection on the day I did knock out the recipe.

My husband and I loved this one. The taste and the texture. Which was great since I did not think of halving the recipe and instead had a nice big pot of it.  One thing I know I will tweak the next time around is to tone down the amount of fresh rosemary. 

I think my sprigs were a bit large and the flavor came dangerously close to overpowering the other ingredients. My husband commented that he didn't taste chestnut flavor at all. Since there was an almost $10 jar of that pot of soup, this did make me think twice. 
my little Turkey Day place setting pear candles got in the themed shot !
Nonetheless, perfect time of year for a warming soup and we enjoyed the novelty of the flavor combo.
Happy French Friday !