Friday, May 29, 2015

Celebration Week #1: The "Aha" Moment & 5 Favorites

Per Nana~
There were so many favorite recipes it is difficult for me to select just a few. 
If I had to pick just one, I would choose the Herbed Olives because it is a recipe
 I make over and over again. I love having them on hand because they go with 
everything - lunch, cocktail hour or just plain munching.   When we originally 
prepared this recipe I had a plumber/contractor working on a new bathroom in
 our house. I started sautéing the herbs and spices and suddenly I hear someone
 saying "Mrs D, you're killing me with that aroma". I just laughed. 
I think my "aha" moment really hit when I decided after cooking the Twenty 
Minute Honey Glazed Duck Breasts that I could cook just about anything. 
 They turned out fantastic. Then there is the Pâte à Choux, which sounds 
difficult but is actually easy.  Without that technique I would not have been 
able to conquer the gorgeous pastry known as Paris-Brest.  Learning how to 
make a sweet tart dough gives you an opportunity to prepare some of the
 most delicious tarts which look so professional and elegant.  
Dorie's instructions are plain and simple and when she tells her stories about
 each recipe it is truly a joy to read.  There is always a "bonne idee" (French for
 "good idea") that works well if you have to make a substitution for ingredients, 
like chicken for veal or shrimp for scallops.  If you can't find an ingredient or 
one doesn't work for your family it is wonderful to have these options offered. 
Gérard's Mustard Tart
I have been cooking routine family recipes for many years but I found that following 
along with a specific recipe is fun.  I came across so many different techniques
 that I had not tried before, such as peeling celery, removing the "germ" from 
garlic or preparing orange segments (supreme) for a tart. These little tricks of
 the trade make a big difference.  I could go on and on but will just conclude by
 saying this has been a fantastic experience and I have enjoyed every minute. 
                                                                      Five Favorites:

  1. Herbed Olives
  2. Gérard's Mustard Tart
  3. Slow Roasted Tomatoes
  4. Rice Pudding
  5. Veal Chops with Rosemary Butter
Per Tricia~
If I had to pick one "Aha" moment from this adventure it would be my 
experience in posting the Almond Orange Tuiles. I say posting instead
 of cooking because the lightbulb went off AFTER the dust settled. 
We made these fancy little cookies in December of 2013, about halfway 
through the adventure and far enough into it that I had a firm trust in 
opening the recipes and following Dorie's instructions. I didn't worry about
 things being too complex because at this point I had learned to trust that
 Dorie would provide great instruction through anything on the pages. 
And had also learned to read the P's and Q's section of our site :)
Like the Nike slogan, at this point we would all "Just Do It". I benefited not 
only from the P&Q's that week but also Nana's delivering one of the key 
ingredients (blanched almonds). But the rest of the ingredients were 
purchased at 8pm on the Friday night the recipe was to be made
 and then taken home to cook at that later hour.  Tuiles are a fragile 
little cookie that involved some timing issues. And other hazards. 
But two years into it and with all that help, I really just dove in because it was 
simply habit by now. No waiting to find the perfect block of time or occasion 
to make a special little cookie. "Every week" means discipline and that you have
 made something part of your life, and the community members along with it. 
The realization hit when I read the comments we received along with my 
peer's posts, with the lightbulb going off that I had come a very long way, 
 with help on that journey. I absolutely would not have spent a Friday evening
 testing a challenging cookie recipe just to test, and share, it were it not for this 
book and group.  But what an adventure it was. That cookie and the rest of 
the book. No looking back, just lots of opportunities ahead in the kitchen. 
Five Favorites:
1. Beggar's Linguine.  This combo simply should not work, but it is crazy good. Folks I serve it to always end up asking for the recipe.
2. Goat cheese and strawberry tartine - Strawberries, goat cheese, balsamic and pepper. Who knew it would be addictive ?

3. Sable Breton Galette with Berries - Breton cake from my family "kicked up a notch" and just gorgeous.
4.  Twenty Minute Honey Glazed Duck Breasts - my guys adored this.
5. Cheesy Crème Brûlée - already decadent, I made it more so by serving it on home made bread toasted. I learned fellow Doristas refer to such a recipe as "stuff on toast". This wins the single recipe that added the most pounds award.....

 Happy French Friday ~


    1. I love your aha moments and each of your top 5 lists. We all have come a very long way in this cooking journey haven't we? :)

    2. I love both of your thoughts on this one. This has been quite the ride, hasn't it? I guess with cooking, there's always something new to learn. I love both of your choices for favorites, though I also found it nearly impossible to narrow it down. I love the "most pounds added" award!

    3. The herbed olives almost made my short list and were definitely on my long one! Great work, ladies!

    4. Yup we had a lot of the same choices! So interesting to read both your takes on this - like when I chose the recipes along then went through them with Neil, interesting to see someone else's view! Such a fun post!

    5. I'm charmed by your can-do spirit. And just knowing you ladies worked on this little project together warms up my heart even more. Great picks, Tricia and Ro.

    6. Veal chops would have made Bill's list---as all of the duck recipes. You've reminded me that I need to make those strawberry tartines and beggars linguine again, Love the reflections from you both!!!

    7. Great moments you two! My grandmother used to make tuiles but she never showed me how so that week was one of my favorites as well. Strawberry tartines and those herbed olives! Great choices and I think you are the only one's to list them!

    8. Nana I love your choices they really range from the simplest like the olives to the complex Brest what a breath of recipe we have cooked. Tricia the tuille was a shocker to me. I am the least experienced baker of the bunch and mine came out so well and we loved them. I've never made them again. I have to get up my nerve soon.

    9. Oh my, both of you came up with wonderful choices! I enjoyed reading each of your posts, and the reasons for your picks! Tricia…most pounds gained recipe…laughing out loud! I couldn’t pick!
      Too many delicious recipes and only 5 choices! Nana I did love those olives, and forgot all about them…thanks for reminding me! Happy weekend, ladies!

    10. You both came up with some wonderful choices! And I identify with your aha moments so much. It's amazing what we've all accomplished through this process. I especially love your story about the contractor, Nana - our adventures in cooking through this book have been shared with so many others, in big and small ways.

    11. Ladies loved reading both of your lists. Looks like Tricia and I had more in common with our lists. I am getting such great information to keep cooking this book. I am also getting very hungry.

    12. Nana, I agree that it was an aha moment to understand that we can all cook just about anything. I never would have dreamed I could cook edible seafood and duck before this group, but voila - now we all have. Tricia, you are one of the sole survivors of the almond tuiles - mine did not work so I just gave up on them. Yours look beautiful!

    13. Such a great post you two ladies!! I had forgotten about the olives! How could I??? So many delicious-looking photos, and such an interesting couple of lists. A couple of yours will show up over the next couple of weeks. This was a fun project - and so great to see what you chose!

    14. What great choices the two of you made and not one crossover. That's interesting. I loved all three of her duck recipes. I love duck but never thought it was worth the $$$ to just cook it for me. With those three recipes I could halve them and enjoy one of my favorite meals. I also like those olives. When I serve them, Ro, people always seem to understand that they are special and not from the deli section of the local grocery store. And, that delicious Paris-Brest? I waited a week and posted late so I could read everyones' post before attempting that myself. I pulled it off. Not the prettiest PB on the block but who cared. It tasted good and I tried my best just like you both did for 4 1/2 years. Wonderful post. Many memories.

    15. It's so much fun seeing all these lists! Nana, I keep meaning to make those Herbed Olives again, but I never seem to get around to it. I really should do it! Tricia, your Sable Breton Galette is just gorgeous; I can see why it's a favorite. I love both of your "AHA" moments.

    16. Tricia, I think you are the ONLY one to include the tuiles on their list. And I remember you telling me you didn't think of yourself as a good cook:) You are one of the few to successfully produce tuiles, you know? The Strawberries and Goat Cheese Tartines were one of my favorites too. I have made this several times and it should have been on my list! Nana, I agree with all your selections. The olives are nice to keep on hand but actually I'm typing this at the cocktail hour and I think I'd better go grab one and I just happen to have some Herbed Olives on hand! Nice work ladies.

    17. What great, and very different, lists. I am so enjoying this trip down memory lane, seeing what everyone picks as their favorites. The only danger is that reading these posts always makes me hungry... and also makes me want to repeat all of these again.

    18. The story about Nana torturing the contractors with delicious cooking smells is pretty priceless. I think our next venture should be French Fridays with Nana - I have a feeling that Nana could give us all a run for our money.
      I love all of your choices. I am glad that you included some "fat stuff on toast", Tricia!

    19. I really enjoyed the process of making the duck and how it turned out and the resulting duck fat but still cant get past the taste - it's not my favorite unfortunately... unless its well cooked - more than Dorie says :)

      I still love following all of yours and Nana's adventures! :)

    20. What fun lists! Nana, thanks for the reminder about those olives. I always forget how good they were. Tricia, your post made me think I should try making the tuiles again. Mine didn't come out at all. Yours are quite impressive looking!