Friday, March 29, 2013

Lemon-Steamed Spinach

Quick, easy and Spring green ~
Per Tricia~

I was delighted that we ended up with a recipe that was more 
of a trick/technique than a standard recipe on this busy week.  
We celebrate the Easter holiday and while Nana is carrying the load and 
treating both our families to the Easter meal- it was a particularly busy 
week nonetheless. A perfect week for an easy recipe and I put this one to
 the test when I bought the spinach after 9 pm this evening.  The dish was
 knocked out within minutes of my arriving home from the grocery store.
Bonus points before I even tasted it :)
I could not believe that dressing the spinach before steaming it would work
 but it did and my husband raved about it.  Yes, he gets spinach snacks at
 9:00 at night and is happy to taste test any "Dorie food" at any time :)
 I had not dressed spinach with grated lemon zest before so he really 
enjoyed the flavoring while I appreciated the  technique and the lovely
 aroma as  it steamed - the lemon zest smelled wonderful.
My new taste tester.  Still getting used to the fact that cats can jump where dogs
 cannot- and no worries-my family did not get this portion to eat
 Happy Easter and Passover to those that celebrate ~
Per Nana~

I do not own a steamer so I improvised, as you can see from my photo.
Normally when I cook spinach I use olive oil with a bit of crushed red 
pepper and garlic.  As you know, spinach cooks very quickly and is 
done in a matter of minutes. This recipe was a nice change. 
I liked steaming the spinach and we enjoyed the flavor of the lemon. 

 All in all, this was a lovely side dish that I served with fish fillets. 
 Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ispahan Loaf Cake

Finally, the infamous "Ispahan" adventure ~ 
Per Nana~
For some unknown reason, I was prepared to dislike this recipe
 because I thought it would turn out to be pink with all those rose 
flavored ingredients.  There is something about the color 
pink in food (especially a pink frosted donut) that turns me off.  
However I was really surprised it looked like a normal loaf cake when 
I removed it from the oven. The texture was so perfect and moist,
 and surprisingly (for me) - it came out of the pan in one piece. 
 I did not have any raspberries so I improvised by adding a few drops
 of Penzey's "Raspberry Enlightenment" where the berries should have been.
  I'm sure it wasn't as pretty as fresh berries, but the flavor was there. 
It is a very delicious cake and we enjoyed it plan, without any topping added. 
 Hubby claims this one is a winner.
Per Tricia~
Between the unusual name and the elusive ingredients, 
I expected the  result of this recipe to be exotic.
The cake was lovely, with flavors that typically are not found
 in  my kitchen (but will be with that large bottle of syrup 
and extract......) but were absolutely delicious.

We loved it.

  I made a raspberry coulis for the top and it felt very
 special for a weeknight ~
~ Happy French Friday ~

Friday, March 15, 2013

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup

As expected- the aroma was lovely. The color- not so much :)
Per Tricia:
This week I enjoyed my older "taste tester" being home from college 
on Spring Break, so apologies for the distinct lack of comments left 
for my fellow Doristas. I did manage to make this soup (plus the prior 
week's Cheesy Creme Brulee in duplicate, then triplicate.....for the family
 to enjoy over homemade bread !!) and perhaps more importantly -
 found time to sign Nana and I up for the IFBC in Seattle. 
We are SO EXCITED to join our fellow bloggers and can not
 wait to meet you all in September.  Now back to the soup :) 
I would not have added the orange zest without Dorie's suggestion and
 the aroma was indeed lovely without the taste being overpowering. 
I make homemade soup fairly regularly and this was nice, but I
 probably will not add it to my short list of repeats. 
It was an achievement to locate the actual lentils du Puy- that was the
 toughest part of the assignment as this is a very easy recipe otherwise.
 My taste testers all enjoyed it. In lieu of the cob smoked bacon that is 
still waiting to be cooked, I added smoked kielbasa pieces on top with 
Greek Yogurt and that was a big hit. Nice, but not a repeat for us.

Per Nana:
This week's FFWD recipe is for another pureed soup, this time using lentils. 
 I used Green lentils from Wegmans but Tricia found some lentilles
 du Puy in a local health food store and shared them with me. 
 I am saving them and will prepare this recipe again, or even try Dorie's 
French Lentils (the basic recipe) on page 367 in "Around My French Table".
The flavors were very strange to me. Overall I think the addition of
 ginger turned me off. While the vegetables were cooking they looked 
so delicious that I could have eaten the lentils without pureeing them. 
 It is not the prettiest color for a soup but it was okay.
 I really prefer the lentils as a soup without pureeing them because I 
like to mix some Ditalini pasta to it with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

Happy French Friday~

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cheesy Crème Brulee

Adventures with a savory version.....

Per Nana:
If the torch doesn't work, just torch them in the broiler.  
As you can see- I almost had a catastrophe on my hands. 
 After baking the Crème Brulee on parchment in the oven, I
 realized  that the torch was out of fluid and decided to just run
 them under the broiler to finish.   I prepared two of the molds
 for Hubby and myself and put them on the cookie sheet.  

I totally forgot about the parchment paper and the fact that it 
does not broil well, as you can see. When I went to double check 
on the browning, out came the flames. Surprisingly, the only 
thing burning was the parchment.  These were really good. 
We loved them and, lucky me, I have four more to enjoy.  
I used a combination of Monterey Jack and Pecorino Romano
 cheeses because I had both in the fridge and the blend was excellent. 
 One other comment is that baking them at 200 degrees did not work 
well  for me so I turned the oven to 300.  This would make a 
fantastic appetizer  since it can be made ahead and finished as 
needed. Definitely a winner in our house.

P.S.~ for those curious about how my frozen "coeur  a la creme" fared-
 hubby and I enjoyed two from the freezer and they were wonderful.
 They freeze beautifully.
Per Tricia:
What can I say- I love Crème Brulee and now I love it in
 a savory version as well. Like Nana, I ended up using cheese 
I had on hand (shredded cheddar and parmesan) and this could be
 an amazing way for me to  clear the cheese drawer in the future.  
 My taste testers also loved this and I have to say the
 aroma in our kitchen was amazing.

 We did use the torch on one but found it to take a while so I
 put the rest under the broiler. Overall a lovely recipe.
I am also sharing a very basic chicken recipe which, believe it or not, I got from the new bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce I bought last week for the "Chicken Diable".  It is crazy easy and crazy good. If you enjoyed the kick the Worcestershire sauce added to last week's recipe- you may want to try this. My family went nuts and I ate so much of it I will not admit to the actual quantity :)

~Savory Balsamic Chicken ~

  • 6  (4 oz) boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup  (yes, this much - you better like this ingredient :) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dip both sides in flour. Heat one tablespoon butter and oil in large skillet, cook chicken four minutes on each side or until juices run clear (be sure internal temp reaches at least 165 degrees). Move onto serving dish. In same skillet, add remaining ingredients, bring to boil and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter and pour over chicken.

Happy French Friday !

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chicken Breasts Diable

The Devil is in the details indeed.......
Per Tricia:
Dorie explains that "Diable is the French word for Devil".
  Devil indeed because while we enjoyed this quick and tasty dish- 
the mustard I ended up using was too strong for our taste. I knew 
something was wrong when my husband tasted his chicken 
(the only taste tester I had this week) and said nothing.
 He was waiting for me to try mine. Whoa.

 That Trader Joe's Dijon that was both grainy and from France
 (like it was MADE for Dorie's description) had a bit too 
much kick for us. As in "clear your sinuses" kick.  

But all the same we could tell that with a bit more mild mustard 
this recipe would still be a keeper. The contrast with the Worcestershire
 sauce was lovely and not a combo I would have thought of on my own.

Per Nana:
This week's recipe was absolutely delicious and the sauce was so good. 
Dorie's suggestion of Filet Mignon Diable sounds scrumptious, and
 I would like to try this with pork tenderloin.  I cut two chicken breasts 
in half horizontally because they were a bit large and by doing this I did 
not have to pound them down.  For the sauce I used MAILLE Old Cafe
 whole grain Dijon mustard which was really sharp- just the way I like it. 

The sauce came together beautifully and we were pleased with the results. 

Hubby enjoyed this and I will definitely be making this recipe again.  
It really is quick and easy to prepare.