Friday, August 29, 2014

Chanterelles with Napa & Nuts

Per Tricia~
This week I finally got a chance to help Nana (for a change) 
after we ran into trouble locating the Chanterelles. Nana is an
 amazing "sourcer" of ingredients for our French Friday adventures 
so when she ran into difficulties I will admit I was a bit scared.  
As usual, however, I got lucky. 
A quick internet search under "Philly" and "Chanterelle" and I 
ended up on the Facebook page for "The Woodlands at Phillips".  
Located in Kennett Square, PA, (dubbed the mushroom capital of
 the world.......) "The Woodlands" turned out to be mushroom mecca.
Serendipitously, they had just posted about a fresh order
 of Chanterelles coming in this week. They were actually 
sourced from Washington State. 

Cookbooks, cooking tools, gifts, and yes,
 even mushrooms- they have it all.  

A few quick emails back and forth with the gracious folks there
 and I had two pounds reserved for Nana and I. 

Unfortunately Nana could not join me in the road trip the day they 
arrived but she is getting a raincheck because we will be back.

 Yes, we will definitely be back.

Now on to the recipe from "Around My French Table".
In full disclosure, I do not care for mushrooms. 
My curiosity was piqued and the road trip was fabulous,
 but that would not sway my tastebuds if they are not happy. 
Luckily, they were happy. 

I actually even ate a Chanterelle before cooking it and was pleasantly surprised.  

In fairness, the soy sauce added a flavor that was right up my alley. 
To top it off, the whole completed dish looked suspiciously like 
my favorite spicy cashew chicken from the Cheesecake Factory. 

It didn't taste like it but I did enjoy a serving and my mind was racing 
with ideas of what to serve this with, on, or in. My guys were all fans 
of  mushrooms before this week so it was no surprise that these were a hit, 
but they did get a kick out of the new variety. Another Friday adventure.

Per Nana~
I looked all over for Chanterelle mushrooms these past two 
weeks and finally gave up and purchased a package of dried.   
thought that I would reconstitute them and take my chances 
with this week's recipe, but for some reason I kept putting it off. 
This was one time when procrastinating paid off.
Along came Tricia with goodies galore from her trip to the mushroom farm. 
I am so lucky, and she even supplied the Napa cabbage too. 
The recipe was very interesting and never having tasted these mushrooms
 before, I did not know what to expect.  Everything blended together so 
well, with the nuts giving it the perfect crunch. I have some leftovers and 
am seriously thinking of cooking rice and topping it with these 
wonderful mushrooms. Now that I have used the fresh mushrooms 
I can not imagine the dried working with this recipe. 

Happy French Friday ~ 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Couscous Salad & Tomatoes Provençal

Another summer double header as we play catch up ....

Couscous Salad
Per Nana~
Couscous is not something I prepare often. Many people think it 
resembles "pastina" pasta but I definitely find a difference in flavor.  
This week however, using the couscous with all of the herbs and spices called 
for in the recipe made the dish quite interesting. Normally I don't use a lot of
 ginger or cumin in my cooking but it definitely worked well in this salad. 
Taking the easy way out for dinner, I served this 
salad with a delicious roasted chicken from Costco. 

Per Tricia~
This is definitely one of the recipes that gets filed under "never would have 
thought of these ingredients". Likely because I am not familiar with Moroccan
 cooking. But somehow, after four years of "French Fridays with Dorie". pantry IS prepared for Moroccan dishes.  I actually surprised myself that I
 could easily lay my hands on turmeric, cumin, and ground ginger-
 check, check and check. It was the good old cinnamon I had to hunt for. 
My how times have changed, but for the better. The family enjoyed it 
and hubby said it was a good option for him to take for lunch at work. 

Tomatoes Provençal 
Per Nana~
Adding to this week's post is a make up recipe for tomatoes provençal. 
Many thanks to Kathy for this selection, it was excellent and quite tasty.
 This is one recipe I will make time and time again. 
The mixture of herbs that I used were fresh basil leaves and chives, blended 
with finely chopped garlic. I baked the tomatoes for 30 minutes as instructed, 
and then I basted them. Another 15 minutes and they were perfect. 
I sprinkled some parmesan cheese over the tomatoes as Dorie 
suggested, and they were simply delicious. 

Per Tricia~
The spoiling continues. 
It is widely known that I am treated to both standard and hard to find ingredients by
 getting a special delivery à la Nana. This week my lovely new next door neighbor, 
Nicole, just happened to ask if I could use some of her garden fresh tomatoes.
Yes, she evidently raises amazing heirloom tomatoes and offered to share. 
Coincidentally, on the same night that I was planning to
 make the tomatoes provençal. Cue the choir of angels. 
Aren't they gorgeous ?  Yup - they were absolutely delicious too.  
This recipe was wonderful. Even though it involved turning on the 
oven in the summer, I will still do it again and again. All of my
 taste testers approved. And now they want a garden next year as well ...

 Happy French Friday ~

Friday, August 15, 2014

Roasted Peppers & Piperade Stir-fry

It was a week of peppers as we tackled this week's recipe as well as a catch up one....

Roasted Peppers:
Per Nana~
I make roasted peppers quite regularly, it is one of our favorite additions to a 
sandwich. Although Dorie suggests roasting them in the oven for 45-60 minutes, 
I have always broiled my peppers. They must be turned continuously to blacken 
all sides. I then place them in a plastic baggie and close it tightly to let the steam
 loosen the skins. After they have cooled they are so easy to peel. 
I did half of the recipe as Dorie suggests, and knowing Hubby, I made the
 rest the way he used to having his peppers prepared. I didn't think he
 would go for all the herbs on top, so I wanted to be prepared for anything. 
He actually liked both.
 Another way we enjoy roasted peppers is to serve them as an appetizer with anchovies. 
The combination is so delicious. 
Per Tricia~
Ironically it is because Nana is a ready source for roasted peppers that I never
 actually had to make any myself. Guilty. Which is a shame, now that I think about it.
 I am glad this week's assignment woke me up to making this treat at home. 

My family is also pleased, though they know they still have a better 
chance at getting more from Nana's house- she simply has a new
 wonderful way to prepare them added to her repertoire :) 
Piperade Stir-Fry:
Per Nana~
Since peppers are on the menu for this week I thought I would play catch up
 with my version of the piperade stir-fry. Using vinegar to caramelize the
 pepper in this recipe was new to me and I personally thought it added so much more flavor.
 I don't know which of these two dishes I prefer, they are both so delicious. The 
piperade was served with a cheese omelet but would also be great on a sausage sandwich. 

Per Tricia~
Easy, fun and as Nana said- that vinegar was a great component. 
One that I would absolutely not have thought of myself. 
Which makes trying all of these recipes from "Around my French Table" such fun. 
A great way to use the summer's bounty, I likely have a better chance of 
repeating the piperade during the warm summer months and will likely fall 
back on the oven roasting in cooler weather.  

The taste testers all approved of each pepper item this week, they simply
 wanted to know when the pictures were done so they could actually eat :)
Happy French Friday ~

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tuna Confit

Per Nana~
I wasn't certain if Hubby or I would like fresh tuna. 
It is not a fish I am familiar with (in steak form) so I only
 used a 1/2 pound piece for this recipe. When I saw the
 price of tuna I couldn't believe it - $24.99 per lb. 
 Luckily Wegman's also carried the preserved lemons. 
I am happy to report that we both loved this incredible recipe.
 I prepared the marinade and put the tuna in the refrigerator 
overnight. While I cooked the tuna the next day I prepared
 the salsa, which I also thought was just delicious. 
It had just the right amount of heat without overpowering the tuna. 
I forgot to buy tapenade so I decided to slice some black olives as a
 garnish.I am always buying black olives in 6 packs and this week there 
wasn't a can to be had in my house. We enjoyed this delicious recipe 
with fresh corn on the cob and beautiful farm fresh tomatoes. 

Per Tricia~
I also had sticker shock when I saw the price of tuna. 
Luckily Nana provided a "special delivery" and gave me her extra herbs, 
peppers and those wonderful preserved lemons  - that I had little
 chance of hunting down on my own this week.  
Yup- lucky indeed that I get this much help and lucky because
 this was simply a fabulous recipe. My guys all love fresh fish
 (plus Dorie's recipes) and were chomping at the bit to try this. 
I have to laugh because even with little containers of ingredients 
delivered to my door, I still managed to forget a few items.  The 
peppers Nana shared I mistook for sun dried tomatoes (no, I  didn't 
open the container until I went to cut them up...) so I opted out
 of that addition to the tuna. I also passed on the tapenade. I did 
find a purple pepper at my local farm and thought that would be fun 
for color, along with a yellow one to offset all the red of the salsa. 
I used some of my remaining "Martha Wrap" that is part
 parchment, part foil and it worked like a charm. 
As expected, they all liked it very much. 
And I can assure you that I would not have sprung for the
 fresh tuna nor added the combination of ingredients to it that 
this recipe from "Around My French Table" called for it. Which 
makes it all the more enjoyable of an adventure. 

Happy French Friday ~

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gâteau Basque

Per Nana~
I am not fond of fruity fillings, jams, etc. so I decided to make a pastry
 cream filling for my gâteau basque dessert.  Preparing the pastry
 dough was easy. It is very similar to the Breton cake that we
 make at Christmas time, except for the amount of butter used. 
When making pastry cream I always think it is going to be difficult, but 
it really comes together so nicely. Of course I never looked to see the 
amount of pastry cream Dorie's recipe needed, but let me tell you
 that the extra is fantastic with the fruits available now.
  Today I sliced and peeled peaches and topped them with the cream. 
It was delicious. Tomorrow - the blueberries. 
We are loving this wonderful topping. 
Hubby and I really enjoyed the dessert and I have to agree with
 Dorie about storing it in the refrigerator. The cake really stiffens up.
 It is still tasty but very "tough".
Per Tricia~
Just lovely.
I will absolutely be keeping some of this dough in the freezer, in the 
ready to go portions, for the next time I am entertaining. I thought the
 dessert was a great balance of "fancy rustic", if there is such a thing. 
I went with a pie plate since I have no idea where my cake pans are. 
And once the dough was ready it is a piece of cake (pun intended) to 
whip it together. I opted for a raspberry jam this go around but 
will try the classic cherry route next time. I will also try some
 fresh whipped cream on top, for looks and because I think it would 
be delicious against the biscuit type texture of the pastry. 
A winner all around, my taste testers easily understood when 
I relayed Dorie's backstory about the dessert and how popular 
it is in the Pays Basque region....and now in my kitchen too !