Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cranberry Crackle Tart ~ Tuesdays with Dorie

Per Tricia~
Team work in the kitchen involves splitting calories as well as work. 
 Nana graciously agreed to do the heavy lifting for Thanksgiving and 
delighted us with a spectacular meal. No surprise there.  We delivered 
the organic turkey from Vermont and she did the rest. Yes, we are
completely and utterly spoiled. And very thankful. 
My easy assignment ? Knock out the Cranberry Crackle Tart for the 
blog. Note to file, Nana is not a huge fan of cranberries but does make 
an outstanding orange relish with them each year. Just not tarts.
The recipe offers options regarding the type of crust to use and I chose the 
sweet tart dough (pâte sablée) for this go around. In fact, I recalled using 
Dorie's recipe for this crust before and promptly made a second batch that
 went right into the freezer. It is so easy to whip up and have on hand- 
all the more important with the holidays closing in.
crust baked, filling ready to be baked~
And even though we are all settled in our new home, I am months away 
from truly "finding" all the items stored and packed away in the process.
Case in point, my hand mixer and my pie weights. I crossed my fingers
 that the KitchenAid would do the trick for the meringue and it
thankfully delivered. For the pie weights I was more desperate creative-
 using my younger son's rock collection from several years back. 

Yes I did. 

I have to say that I was a bit intimidated when first reading the recipe
 between the dough prep, the meringue and then incorporating whole 
cranberries -but it truly was not a difficult recipe and the results were fantastic. 
 My favorite moment was when my younger son walked into
 the kitchen and saw the finished creation. 
  "That's really something. What is it ?" 
In full disclosure, I had decided by the second "wow" that this was 
a "company worthy" dessert and that I had to remember this for the next 
time we have guests.  He looked completely incredulous that I could have 
caused such a creation to come out of the oven. I probably should have
 been insulted, but instead I reveled in the moment. Opportunities to 
impress do not come along as easily now that the boys are older :)

This was obviously a seasonal choice for us but the concept of mixing the 
fruit with the meringue and baking it over the crust that had been layered
 with jam is one that lends itself to change ups between the seasons. I look 
forward to playing around with this one as well as enjoying it again
 next year with the cranberries.

This marks our second recipe as we cook along with the "Tuesdays with Dorie" online group.  Please note that we do not post the recipes, per the group rules, but we do encourage others to RUN out and buy their own copy of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking Chez Moi".  Better yet, buy the book and join the group ! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Béatrix's Red Kuri Soup (ode to)

Per Nana~
No red kuri squash to be found so I substituted butternut squash instead. 
This is definitely a winner, one of the best soups I've made. I've tasted
 butternut squash soup before but did not care for the flavor, however, 
I think the addition of the leeks really made this a truly scrumptious creamed soup. 
I prepared half the recipe, which was more than enough for us. 
After pureeing the soup in the food processor I thought it was 
too thick so I took Dorie's advice and added milk. 
For a garnish I prepared some garlic toasts and topped the 
soup with some goat cheese. We both agree that this will definitely be a 
repeat, it was so creamy and smooth- simply delicious. 
Per Tricia~
Like Nana, I also took inspiration from Dorie's Bonne Idée and went 
with the butternut squash. In lieu of the chestnuts, however, which Dorie 
explained when combined with the butternut squash resembles the 
flavor of the red kuru- I went with toasted pine nuts. 
The aroma in my kitchen was out of this world. We love a good 
creamy soup and this rich version hit the spot.  And made a ton !  
We tried it with toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top and then sent a 
version with a French baguette slice and Emmental cheese under the broiler. 
As expected, that was the way to go.  Yum.
 Since we have lots of left overs I plan to tweak spices and seasonings as we try
new each bowl. It is a perfect accompaniment for the delicious Thanksgiving 
leftovers. This will be a repeat for sure but I am also keeping my eye out of 
the elusive red kuri squash and can't wait to try its unusual flavor. 
A quick comment about Béatrix, though not the one Dorie named the 
soup after :) My older son turns 21 at midnight on this very French Friday. 
He was born in 1993, which happened to be the 100th anniversary of 
 Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit". His nursery was dubbed the 
"shrine to Beatrix Potter" and I could not believe the serendipity of MY 
selected theme having a monumental year just as MY first born needed
 a nursery. Well played indeed. And now the kismet of cooking a
 "Beatrix recipe"on his special day. The stars are aligned indeed. 

Neither boy ever did much care for the stories - but they did like this soup :)

Happy French Friday ~

Friday, November 21, 2014


Per Nana~
 When I first read the recipe for this week's selection I knew this would be a winner. 
The combination of ricotta cheese and spinach is a favorite. 
 I love cannelloni stuffed with spinach, spinach ravioli, as well as fresh
 spinach simply sautéed with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. 
This recipe is a bit difficult to work with, everything must be handled gently. 
After boiling the water it must be returned to a simmer in order to cook the 
storzapretis or they will fall apart.  Just in case hubby decided he didn't care
 for the recipe, I had left over beef bourguignon for him. After I baked the
 storzapretis they looked and smelled fabulous and I knew I would love them.
 Guess what - Hubby did too. 
We have both decided that this is one of the best 
recipes from "Around My French Table".
Incidentally, Hubby calls them "ravioli without pasta". 
Good description. 
Per Tricia~
Sorry all, but this will be added to my make up roster. 
In the meantime I look forward to reading our fellow blogger's results ~

Happy French Friday !

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pan-Seared Duck Breasts without Kumquats

Per Nana~
This week's recipe is for pan-seared duck breast with kumquats. 
After reading of the difficulty other bloggers were having to find 
kumquats, I decided to use tangerines instead and hope they had
 enough flavor for the syrup. 
I did not have a fruity wine to use in the sauce so I substituted an 
aperitif wine called Dubonnet instead.  The sauce came together 
well and the taste was pleasant. 
I really enjoyed the duck with the slices of citrus, they really 
complimented each other perfectly. This is definitely a recipe I 
will be repeating, knowing how easy and simple it is to prepare. 
Per Tricia~
My family has really enjoyed the duck recipes from Dorie Greenspan's 
"Around My French Table" and this week was no exception. 
Although I was disappointed to not locate fresh kumquats, I am now
 having fun keeping my eyes open so I can taste them when they are in season.  
My favorite moment of the kumquat hunt was when the salesperson in
my local produce market explained that they "had lots of weird ingredients,
 just not the weird stuff you want". Fair enough. 
In a completely different direction, but still citrus flavored, 
I simply subbed canned mandarin oranges.
 And yummy.

 I drained the cans and just followed the recipe. I also used the delicious 
Saratoga Olive Oil Company's balsamic vinegar which I scored the last 
time I was visiting fellow Dorista, Cher (  
Need to get back up their with Nana to visit both :)
 Another fun revelation this week was that you could buy small
 containers of wine which are effectively "juice boxes" for adults. 
I had never seen containers so small - about 2 cups. Fabulous for 
needs like this recipe, though the salesclerk did not seem to 
appreciate my "juice box" reference. 
As expected the recipe was straight forward, easy and the results delicious. 
I unfortunately gave my duck a bit too much heat or time in the pan and 
it was cooked more than I aimed for, but still very good. The taste testers were 
delighted and we will gladly revisit this one again. Hopefully with kumquats. 

Happy French Friday ~

Monday, November 10, 2014

Palets des Dames

Per Nana~
As we start our journey of baking from Dorie Greenspan's newest book, 
BAKING CHEZ MOI, our first recipe is a delightful cookie with an almost
 cake like texture.  Called Palets des Dames, it is a simple recipe consisting
 of butter, sugar, eggs and flour with a flavoring of vanilla added. Once they
 are baked and have cooled they are then dipped into an icing made with
 confectioner's sugar and whole milk. At this point Dorie suggests adding a
 drop of lemon flavoring but in my case I added almond extract.
 I am not a fan of lemon flavors. 
However you could add many things to the icing as well as decorate the 
cookie if you wanted to be creative.  This recipe would be a lovely 
addition to a Holiday cookie collection since it is an easy recipe that
 can be frozen and then iced later. 
Per Tricia~
We had a tradition when my kids were in elementary school that involved
 taking a 1st day of school photo with all the kids at the bus stop.
 Yes, we took the standard shots with the kids but also made a point of 
getting the annual shot of the group's new shoes.  Yup. 
It was dubbed "new clean sneaker day" by my friends and I.  
The parents had all agreed that this was the only day that all the kids
 would have new sneakers at the same time. (or clean sneakers :) 
Weird, yes. Real and special ? Check and check.  
Why mention this now ?  
I kept thinking about those first day shots as I gazed at my clean and brand 
new copy of BAKING CHEZ MOI, and then looked at my much loved and
 oft used copy of AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE. Four years into that
 adventure, the book is looking a bit rough around the edges. My BCM 
copy will likely show war wounds soon enough and I look forward
 to each splatter and stain. And yes, I took a pic of the new book :)
Now for this week's cookie recipe. 
I have wanted to make these since viewing the results from those bloggers 
who celebrated Dorie's recent birthday by testing these cookies. 
A fan of lemon flavoring (which you can see I did not inherit) in just
 about anything, I was certain I would love these cookies. And I was right. 
 The only tweak I made to the recipe is that I had to make twice the
 amount of icing called for, but was happy to do so. I think that my icing may 
have been a bit heavy handed, but no one was complaining. I added some
 decorations to celebrate the season. Both taste testers loved the results 
and I plan to make another batch with almond flavoring in the very near future. 
We are off to an excellent start on the "cook the book" adventure for 
BAKING CHEZ MOI and I am looking forward to each new recipe. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jerusalem Artichokes (Soup, and Roasted with Garlic)

We could not locate the Jerusalem artichokes a few weeks back so made that a makeup week. Finally secured, we tested both of Dorie's recipes from "Around My French Table" this week. 

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic
Per Nana~
After checking a few supermarkets in the area searching for the 
Jerusalem artichokes with no luck, Tricia was able to locate them 
at her local farmer's market. 
Unfortunately, there really isn't too much to be said for this vegetable. 
It does not have much flavor so I tried to spice it up a bit.  It went well 
with the slices of garlic and looked nice when roasted, but I really did not 
care for the vegetable.  I look forward to seeing how it does in the soup
 recipe but on it's own it did not impress. 
Per Tricia~
I was very excited to try this veggie, given all the hoopla about locating them.
 Frankly I didn't think a roasted veggie with garlic could actually
 go wrong,but this one proved otherwise. Big time. 
While I didn't mind the adventure of procuring the "sunchokes", I did find the 
novelty wore off when I tried to peel the bumpy, awkwardly shaped little things. 
( I also decided the skin would be just fine roasted....)
Overall, I found the results to be extremely bland, even after roasting with garlic. 
I enjoy other "bland" foods such as rice or potatoes, but the Jerusalem artichokes
 did not have any redeeming qualities in my book. Hubby tasted one and called it
 a loss and my son would not take a bite. Ironically, the toughest ingredient
 to find recently ....ended up in the garbage disposal. The recipe was simple enough
 but if you don't care for the star ingredient, it just doesn't matter.
At least we learned what this "new to us" veggie was all about.  
And to double check the next time we reach for fresh ginger.......

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Per Nana~
This week's recipe for Jerusalem artichoke soup is the second time
 in a month that we have used this vegetable.  When we first roasted it
 with sliced garlic I did not care for it but I was hoping that when we 
prepared the soup, adding leeks and onions and then cooking it in
 broth would improve it. Unfortunately, it did not. 
I found the end result extremely bland.  
Rather than use the parsley coulis, I decided to add some Parmesan
 cheese on top and a bit of chopped parsley.  I am sorry to say that this 
recipe did not go over "big" in our house. 

Per Tricia~
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". 
So goes the old saying and that is exactly what went through my mind
 this week when we hit round two for Jerusalem artichokes.
I made the executive decision to sub potatoes and create a soup that had
 a chance of my family eating it. We have enjoyed all of the soups from
 this cookbook and this one, sans the sunchokes, was no exception.  
Potatoes and leeks are a well known combo and given the chill that has 
hit the air, I doubled the recipe and was glad I did. We all enjoyed it and
 I know I will be reaching for this book when I want to make a soup even 
if I don't have the exact items called for- as usual Dorie provides
 a roadmap and liberal allowance for creativity.

Happy French Friday ~