Friday, October 25, 2013

Muenster Cheese Soufflés

Per Nana~
I have never made a soufflé before in my life, but thanks to Dorie I definitely will try more of these fabulous recipes. I read and re-read the recipe over and over so that I would not screw it up, and it worked ! A beautiful concoction of cheese and egg that is absolutely delicious. I love Muenster cheese, as it is very creamy and has a lot of flavor, and it works perfectly in this recipe.

When Dorie says "serve now", she is not kidding.  I turned to get the camera and almost lost the beautiful soufflé. Hubby was raving over the aroma and when I gave him a taste of one he could not believe how delicious it was. 

Per Tricia~
While I have made soufflés previously, I definitely never used Muenster in the recipe. I am not a fan of "stinky cheeses" (as they are affectionately known) but they are not quite on my "do not call list" either. So I kept my mind open and simply tried to find the correct cheese. Believe it or not, in the kingdom of cheese that Vermont is known as, it is not so easy to find a Muenster. And a French Muenster ? Good luck.

I was very lucky in two ways- first my fellow Dorista Cher agreed to meet me in Saratoga Springs for dinner and second, she reminded me of an amazing gourmet shop in that city called Putnam's Market. I figured that since the city is known as a midway point between Quebec (one of the largest French speaking populations in the world) I had a shot. This store actually had a cheese ROOM.
Famed (and climate controlled) "CHEESE ROOM"
Surely a French Muenster, oui ? Non.
And on some days, even some official French Muenster. But not this time. Their helpful staff came up with a wonderful substitute from the Normandy region of France: Demi Pont L'Evêque.
This soft ripened cheese had a rind and was indeed smelly.
In fact, it is a good thing I loved - no, ADORED - the end product because my Styrofoam cooler did not carry it's own weight and my car stunk of residual "cheese stink" for the entire 6 hour trip back to PA. Yes, that is how much I loved the soufflé - I forgave the cheese.

I enjoyed the soufflé slathered on the bread in the photo, along with a thinly sliced fresh apple and a cold bottle of hard cider. I was in heaven. Even though I kept hearing the phrase "stuff on toast" in my head, I can not rave enough about this recipe. And I can't wait to share it with the rest of the family.  
I had a wonderful time catching up with Cher over a lovely "fresh to table" restaurant with fantastic homemade pastas. I also want to thank Cher again for her list of "to do's" that included the Saratoga Olive Oil Company.
The shop was a real treat and I bought some wonderful balsamics (fig, maple, pomegranate....) in addition to some gifts. Note the paintings of racing on all the walls- a pervasive theme throughout this horsey town. 
Happy French Friday !

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Dorie

In honor of Dorie's birthday I prepared a recipe that belongs to my Mother and was handed down from her Mother, my own "Nana".  My grandfather came from the town of Scaër, in the city of Brest, in the department of Finistere. Hence the love of Breton cake.

The cake reminds me very much of Dorie's famed butter sablés (if you have not already tried these from her Beurre & Sel cookie shop - you need to do so. Fast.) She refers to her French Shortbread sablé as having "butter, butter, and more butter" (not to mention a bit of bourbon and vanilla). 

That is exactly what I recall about this family favorite and so on behalf of Nana and myself, to celebrate Dorie's birthday I made a Breton Cake.

Happiest of Birthdays Dorie !!

Breton Cake

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) of salted butter, softened
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients together and place in a 9" square Pyrex pan. Brush an egg wash on top and make a grid design with a fork. Bake about an hour at 350 degrees. It is done when it is nice and brown on the top and outer sides.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Caramel-Almond Custard Tart

Per Nana~
This recipe was easier than I expected.
 I prepared the tart shell on Wednesday and put it in the freezer. 
I was very nervous about making the caramel. Dorie's description of
 adding the cream to the sugar mixture just sounded a bit scary.
Fortunately, it all went beautifully. (Sometimes I surprise even myself). 
 I toasted the almonds on the stove top, mixed the sugar and eggs
 with the milk, and then added the caramel.  
I thought it looked quite elegant while it was baking and 
when I removed  it from the oven it looked fantastic. 
I did not have any creme fraiche to top it off so I sprinkled some
 powdered sugar on top and added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side. 
 How decadent is that ? Loved it and will do this again.
Per Tricia~
The good news was that it smelled and tasted fantastic. 
The bad news was that even with the "white saucer" testing, I took 
my sugar off the heat too early and did not get the color I had wanted. 
But boy was this good. 

Love the shape when buying, hate it when rolling.....
no pie weights- improvising !
This is now my favorite recipe from the book.  (Full disclosure, I love
 sweets- and caramel in particular.) But this was amazing nonetheless.
Ready for caramel ~
Dorie's safety notes and description were spot on as usual 
and I think I can master getting a bit more color next time. 
And there WILL BE a next time. 
On another note, I did manage to set up Facebook last weekend and I 
thank all the Doristas who use this tool for the support and warm welcome.
 In the future I will probably post photos of side trips and such to that site 
instead, as I did with the San Francisco bakery "b. patisserie" that I 
mentioned last week. Just in case someone is not on FB and wanted to see 
them, since I mentioned it in my last post I did a separate post for those who
 wanted but did not see them on Facebook. (see prior post).

Happy French Friday !

b. patisserie -San Francisco

Marble topped tables, bright yellow chairs and fresh flowers- I'm in !
 On our recent visit my Aunt surprised us our first morning with amazing croissants. It was not until I scoured Chowhound for additional meal ideas that I found out that the new hot spot patisserie in her neighborhood was the source of the wonderful croissants !  She was as excited as we were to learn of all the fuss and read the background about the new(ish) store. 

The name is b.patisserie. It is closed on Mondays, which we learned on a Saturday night and this meant we would have to deal with a busy Sunday crowd. So like good tourists, we stalked the place. We walked home from Saturday night's Thai meal specifically on a route that would allow us to peek into the windows.
Macaron art above the coffee bar......
One of the wonderful things about the bakery is that it was specifically designed to have the kitchen in the open, so we could watch the "night bakers" working. 

As kismet had it, just as we stalked peeked inside, a smiling young lady came up the sidewalk and gave us a big hello.  She said she was a morning baker and was stopping by to say hi to her friends. She spoke to us for a few minutes, telling us about the bakery and asked where we were from and said she looked forward to seeing us back there in the morning.

And of course, her name was "Honey".  
lousy picture of a wonderful person- "Honey" is in the foreground.
 Even with this photo you can see the wattage of her smile !!
She was fabulous and even though the thought of a hot new bakery on a Sunday morning terrified me - we were going.

I was pleasantly delighted at how comfortable the busy bakery remained. And the decor- LOVE IT.  Many of the Doristas who visited Seattle recently learned or tested the famous Kouign Amann pastry at the Macrina Bakery. I had also discussed the pastry with Dorie herself (pinch me. seriously) at breakfast and needless to say I was hooked. 
Kouign Amann- "queen aman"
Guess what one of the house specialties is - yup.  Kouign Amann. We treated ourselves to the seasonal one with apple and cinnamon, and a chocolate one to boot. Oh my.

Honey was there as promised, along with other busy bakers and she gave us a huge hello and smile, treating us like long lost friends (and NOT the stalkers we were acting like).
starting to load dessert pastries for the afternoon.....
If you are ever in the Pacific Heights part of San Francisco I would heartily encourage you to pop in for a visit. And tell Honey we sent you :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Boeuf à la mode (aka great pot roast)

Per Nana ~
Hubby has been asking for a pot roast for quite sometime, so when I saw the selection on this month's list, boeuf à la mode, I decided it was the time to make him happy. I marinated the ingredients over night as instructed, but I added some parsnips since they were in the crisper. The wine I used was called Red Cat, from the Finger Lakes region of New York, a nice hearty, fruity wine that worked well.

Sunday morning I removed the veggies and strained the wine to boil it down. Unfortunately, it boiled over instead. My stove top was a complete mess so I had to stop and wait for it to cool, so I could clean it. When I attempted to measure oil to sear  the meat, the bottle slipped from my hands and spilled into the toaster.   (at that point I should have quit, but didn't know what to do with all the ingredients.) I finally finished browning the meat, and the veggies (which, incidentally browned nicely, adding such a wonderful flavor) and put everything into the oven.
After about 30 minutes I realized I forgot the anchovies and tomato paste. I took some of the wine/ broth mixture and melted the anchovies with the tomato paste and then added it into the pot. I added some boiled potatoes at the end, and served it with horseradish sauce. This recipe turned out to be the best pot roast I have ever made, and although there are many steps to the recipe, the end result is fantastic.

Per Tricia ~
Just back from another trip to the west coast (San Francisco with hubby) and I ended up marinating this meat on THURSDAY night. Egad. Still turned out well for Friday night's dinner. 

I can't recall the last time (was there ever a time ??) that I made pot roast, so it was tough for me to do a comparison.  The thing I did think was cool was how the red wine marinated the meat. That I never did - but will definitely try again. 
When I went to flip it after several hours in the wine, the line of demarcation was amazing. I was praying I did not get the wine on much else in the kitchen, and that it would all come off my white Le Creuset.  Win win win. Not bad for 5.99 worth of vino.

That's a lot of gold medals for the price......

Hubby enjoyed the tenderness of this meat and the flavor was lovely. For those who are keeping track- no, the anchovies from my "do not call list" did not make it in. I wondered about the impact but when I read Dorie's comment that it added a subtle flavor, I figured it would not hurt much by excluding it. 

The only thing I missed from the equation was having a pot filled with veggies (other than the onion and the token carrot and celery) when the meal is ready to serve. But mashed potatoes on the side were lovely too. I wish I had made the celery root puree we had made before- it would have been a perfect compliment.

Happy French Friday ! 

PS- we went to an amazing new patisserie in San Fran- will have photos next week !!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Per Nana~
This is a recipe that I was looking forward to making. There is absolutely nothing in it that I do not like, including anchovies. However I did not know that there was such a thing as a niçoise olive, which is only grown in the area of the Cote d'Azur on the French Riviera, but I came across some at the salad bar in Wegmans. I was actually going to substitute some Kalamata olives instead.

I used the baby Yukon gold potatoes rather than the fingerling because the fingerling came in all colors. Somehow, purple potatoes did not appeal to me. After I assembled the salad I dressed it with a vinaigrette using oil from the California Olive Ranch, which had an oil tasting presentation at the IFBC. It is a tasty oil and it blended nicely in the dressing. Hubby and I both enjoyed this for dinner and will definitely make this recipe again.

I just want to add that Tricia, our friend Patty ( and I attended the "Lo Salt" product session at the conference and it was very interesting. It is a Scottish company that now holds quite a bit of the UK salt market, as it was introduced there in the early 80's.  They are now expanding into the US. The product has 66% less sodium than regular salt and the taste is great. Today I switched the salt in our shaker and hubby never noticed the difference. 
Per Tricia~
This was a delight because it reminded me that I need to change up the usual salads I make, and that even items usually on hand can make a big difference. I am familiar with the veritable salad Niçoise but can't think of the last time I prepared one at home.

You can look thoroughly at the photos but you still won't find an anchovy. Sorry but I just don't care for them. I tried to "dig deeper" and try something new by venturing into what was described as outstanding sushi at the IFBC. As wonderful as it was, two bites was enough. I was just not a fan of the texture but I consider my effort to expand my horizons to count for the next few recipes that include items on my do-not-call list...starting with anchovies :) 
Dorie's Nicoise salad recipe got two thumbs up in our house. Hubby and I both loved it. A repeat for sure, and I will also be using her vinaigrette recipe more frequently too.

PS- I also enjoyed the LoSalt presentation ( have been using the samples they gave us for all my cooking. The taste is wonderful and after hearing the presentation from their sweet rep (with the distinctive Scottish accent), I find this an easy way to do something good for our health. 

Happy French Friday !