Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Strawberry Shortcakes, Franco American Style ~ Baking Chez Moi

Per Nana ~
This week's recipe for strawberry shortcakes could not have come at a better time. 
We were celebrating Jim's 84th birthday and this seemed perfect. 
The recipe for the ladyfinger batter was extremely easy to prepare. I started 
to pipe the batter onto the penciled circle design but it turned into a big mess 
so I used a spoon instead. I have to work on that piping technique a bit more.  
I made the roasted strawberries for the filling but I am not sure what went 
wrong so I omitted them and used fresh berries instead. The flavors of 
balsamic vinegar and lemon did not work for me. 
The little cakes were delicious with the homemade whipped cream 
and fresh strawberries - a definite repeat. 
Per Tricia ~
Having enjoyed these a bit early at my Dad's birthday,
 I knew the recipe was a winner and they would be delicious. 
Like Nana, I went with the fresh berries though I have heard amazing things about 
grilled and roasted strawberries so need to play around with those myself. The 
piping Gods had pity on me as I prepared this one morning early before work
 (5:30 am is not a time to fill a piping bag.....) and I lucked out on that front. We have 
been having a heat wave and I could not bear to turn on the oven in the evening. 
I have to admit that I loved being able to prepare Ladyfinger batter from
 scratch (never thought I would tackle this) but since I enjoy biscuit type
 shortcakes I was not prepared to like this one so much. I was wrong. The prep 
was not as bad as I anticipated and the cakes were so lovely it was well worth it. 

Another winner from this amazing cookbook. 

This marks another Tuesday recipe testing 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, June 19, 2015

The Grand Finale

Per Nana~
When Tricia signed us up for "French Fridays with Dorie", I knew nothing
 about the world of blogging. Four and a half years ago I had no idea what a
 blog was.I was skeptical about this - cooking and posting for other people to
 see my results. However, it didn't take me long to get in the swing of things 
and I have loved the experience it has brought me. 

Each week Tricia and I did our own cooking, sharing ideas and thoughts about the
 week's recipe and had a lot of laughs at our disasters.  A few times we even worked 
on a recipe together (really, how many eclairs does a family really need ?)
Many times we shared our results, especially when she was still living next door. 
Back then I knew if I made the full recipe there were plenty of taste testers to 
help me out. Once the boys left for college and Tricia moved away, I had to 
start cutting the recipes in half for the two of us. 

After our wonderful trip to Seattle, where we met so many Doristas face to face, 
we realized it was like meeting old friends.  A great time for all and I know we
 all felt the friendships immediately. As for meeting Dorie and her husband
 Michael,it was quite a thrill. They are so nice, so gracious and the both make 
you feel so very special. If you were fortunate enough to go to one of Dorie's 
book signings, Dorie remembered you and made you feel welcome.

These are the special moments that make us all Doristas.
This is a sad time for all, posting for the last time in FFWD, but I know we 
will continue to keep in touch and be friends. 
A special thank you to Mary and Betsy for all their hard work keeping this journey
 going. For Trevor, whose interesting blog is filled with humor, thank you for your 
work designing the Dorista tote bag, our diploma, etc- I am sending you a big hug.  
Thank you Alice, for your wonderful idea of a Christmas Card exchange, which is 
something that Jim and I look forward to each year.  To Laurie W. for organizing 
this whole project. And a thank you to all our Dorista friends, past and present, 
who have left comments, posted results and otherwise shared their lives as well as
 their recipe results with this group on French Fridays.
For my final recipe I decided to show my true French colors and
 prepare crepes, something I think would make my mother proud.

 They were delicious and I don't know why I don't make them more often. 
Yes, I do remember - they are fattening :)
Per Tricia~
I echo my mother's sentiments about our involvement and our gratitude.
She said it beautifully.
 One additional and key thank you that I must share is to send a huge 
to my Mother- for agreeing to go on this (and many other....) adventures, 
for always being game to try something new, for not being afraid to fail and
 even post pictures of a kitchen disaster on the internet. For agreeing to learn
 how to take photos and get them posted to a blog. For making sure I knew we 
had a "weird" ingredient coming up and either running reconnaissance to
 Wegman's or even ordering it weeks ahead of time from Amazon. 
For preparing perfect little blue tupperwares of "mise en place" for me when you 
know I likely did not have the ingredient, or the time, that week. For being patient 
when I explained "we'll be posting late tonight Mom -it's still Friday" on more
 than one occasion. For believing in the good of people, even when the "internet"
 gets such a bad wrap for establishing relationships. For being known as "Nana", 
with the greatest endearment, by so many people who are not her grandchildren. 

And for continuing to teach me discipline, perseverance and commitment by 
example - not just by word. I could not have done it without you and 
 on this fun little lark has turned into the adventure of a lifetime, filled with 
priceless memories that expanded to include family and friends. 
Thank you. 
And so I will end where I began. 
While I am the first to admit some of the recipes during this time have been a blur,
 I can still vividly recall our first recipe - Marie-Helene's Apple Cake.  Excited for
 this new adventure, we took a trip to our local "Sur la Table" to find the requisite 
8 inch springform kids buying school supplies for a new school year. 
 We have since learned that you make due with whatever is on hand and adapt
 accordingly. You see, we didn't just learn recipes. We learned to trust -  trust in
 ourselves, in others, and in the outcome being perfectly ok no matter what
 happened. The fact that the cake was so delicious gave us a lovely introduction 
to "Around My French Table" . While we don't publish the recipes as a rule,
 since this is one that Dorie has posted on the web I am happy to share it now. 
Just follow the link  below and enjoy ~

Happy French Friday ~

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Celebration Week #3: Play It Again Dorie

and the 
Mother (and Daughter) of All Make-ups
- Part II
Per Nana~
I have selected Dorie's "Chicken Breasts Diable" for this week's repeat
 recipe, something that goes over well in our house. The first time I prepared
 the recipe I thought the sauce, consisting of white wine, heavy cream, with 
mustard and Worcestershire sauce was out of this world. I have used it on
 pork tenderloin as well as beef, and it never fails to give a delicious flavor.  

I even served it again this week, along with homemade macaroni salad and 
sliced tomatoes with fresh basil I am growing in containers. 
My next project for all that basil it to make pesto...
This morning we drove to our local farm stand to see if they were open for the
 season and upon inquiring, managed to get 11 small zucchini blossoms.
 I was so happy because when I made Dorie's "Shrimp Filled Zucchini 
Blossoms" I could not find any and had to use a substitution. 
I stuffed the flowers today with garlic and herb chèvre cheese, 
coated them with tempura batter and fried them. 

Delicious and another "play it again" recipe !
Per Tricia~

Phew. I had no less than FIFTY makeups to complete and after a few marathon 
sessions (the likes of which have previously only been applied to Netflix binges)
Like Nana, I am now caught up and ready for my "graduation badge" :)

Spoiler alert, there are many photos coming so feel free to just scroll very quickly
 past them. We chose to include all of our make-ups by posting one picture to 
memorialize the recipes. That's what we planned to do with this adventure. 
Our goal was for each of us to "cook the book". 

Before the make-ups however I will share that my
 most repeated recipe is "Beggar's Linguine"
There have been many favorites from this book but somehow the unusual combo of
 sweet, salty, crunchy and soft that this pasta dish covers really appeals to me. I try to
 keep the ingredients on hand so this also helps out.  A close runner up is the strawberry
 goat cheese tartine, which taught me that if you have hearty bread, soft cheese and fresh 
strawberries you need to run and find your pepper and balsamic vinegar. YUM. 
The Make-ups ~
1. Shrimp Filled Zucchini Blossoms Bib Lettuce - Lovely. More tempura in my future.
2. Green As Spring Veal Stew - Gorgeous. Enjoyed the veal but not a huge fan of dill so likely not a repeat. 
3. Cinnamon Crunch Chicken- I mashed my Speculoos a bit too hard but this was delicious. How lucky that Speculoos were another make up dish and I had fresh ones on hand !
4. Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flan - My husband adores these. Crazy easy, sans the waterbath part. 
5. My Go-To Beef Daube- bacon and a bottle of wine in there, what's not to love ?
6. Blueberry Mascarpone Roulade- a production but what a WOW factor. And delicious !
7. Herb Speckled Spaetzle Dumplings - Lesson learned; don't attempt spaetzle without a spaetzle maker. Delicious comfort food regardless of the shape. 
8. Bacon, Egg & Asparagus Salad - perfect for this time of year.
9. Michel Rostang double chocolate mousse - excited to finally make this and it didn't disappoint. YUM.
10. Tomato Cheese Tartlets - Perfect summer treats and great for guests.
11. Cocoa Sablés - Crazy good. Just crazy good.  
12. Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts- Impressive with little effort. And delicious, did I mention delicious ?
13. Coconut Friands - Yummy but they go down a bit too quick in this mini muffin size :)
14. Caramel Topped Semolina Cake - lousy photo, great cake. The burnt looking part is actually delicious caramel that got a wee bit too much color but tasted divine. Looks aren't everything....
15. Visitandine - lovely vanilla cake. Hubby adored it so a keeper for sure.
16. Deconstructed BLT with Egg- who doesn't love a good salad, especially with homemade croutons (wheat rustic bread, not burnt :) tossed in bacon fat. 
17. Storzapretis- My nemesis. Delicious finished dish but crazy amount of work involved for this lazy cook....
18. Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes- Lovely. I adore prunes so no surprise this is a keeper. And the tagine gets more play.....
19. Quiche Maraîchère - lovely but my heart belongs to Gérard's Mustard Tart.
20. Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarine - creative, unusual and wonderfully delicious combo. Hubby loved it and wants it again soon. 
21. Gérard's Mustard Tart - ADORE. I absolutely love this recipe- an all time favorite. It is possible I even hide leftovers in the salad drawer so others don't find it......
22. Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup - well, I tried it. Once.
23. Cold Melon Berry Soup - the first time I ever put a cantaloupe in the Cuisinart. Refreshing.
24. Crab Avocado "Ravioli"- no pasta involved. Adventure but not a repeat- too fussy for us. 
25. Guacamole with Tomato and Bell Pepper- nice guacamole. Also reminded me to make guacamole at home more often. 
26. Speculoos - love this cookie, the taste and all the memories of Paris it brings to mind. 
27. Spur of the Moment Veggie Soup (Stone Soup) Carrot Style - good reminder to use up on hand veggies in soup.
28. Swiss Chard pancakes - had fun with the colored chard. Surprised at how lovely these savory cakes were. 
29. Mushroom & Shallot Quiche - I don't even like mushrooms and I enjoyed this one. Hubby flipped over it. Keeper for sure. 
30. Lime, Honey and Beet Salad - delicious but my fear of red stains on everything will preclude this being a repeat.....
31. David's Seaweed Sablés - surprisingly rich savory treat. The cat adored the leftover Nori.
32. Fresh Tuna, Mozzarella & Basil Pizza - Hubby adores sushi grade tuna and adored this recipe. 
33. Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese - truly just like Boursin, simply delicious. 
34. Minted Zucchini Tagliatelle - refreshing but next time I will make tagliatelle pasta and add mint and chopped zucchini :)
35. Skate Cod with Capers, Cornichons &Brown Butter - another unusual and delicous combo we wouldn't have tried otherwise. Hubby raved. This one is on the short list. 
36. Chicken, Apples & Cream a la Normandy - lovely. I dodged the mushrooms and enjoyed the rest. 
37. Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger - lots of fixings in there. We found the texture to be to soft and like "meatloaf" for us. We are old school about burgers :)
38. Hachis Parmentier - inside

38. Hachis Parmentier - outside 
39. Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa - Perfect for summer. Lovely dressing.
40. St. Germain des Prés Onion Biscuits - using these small biscuits for "nibbles" is a great idea.

41. Braised Cardamom Curry Lamb - not big fans of curry but this was a nice change, even if not to be repeated. Plus I got the use the tagine again :)
42. Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon - the buckwheat part we could take or leave but the smoked salmon and blini combo is a keeper. 
43. Smoked Salmon Waffles - salmon on the inside and out. Genius. I couldn't wait to dive in and they did not disappoint.
44. Salmon & Potatoes in a Jar - or jars. I came, I saw, I prepared it. Hubby ate it....
45. Cod & Spinach Roulades - one of the biggest adventures in the whole book, in my opinion. I kept re-reading the recipe because I could not believe the steps. Cod in a Cuisinart, then make a sausage shape filled, rolled and tied with Saran Wrap. Which you then put in a steamer. I was certain the whole package would melt. Of course it did not. 
46. Salmon Rillettes - the third type of rillettes from this cookbook, also our favorite. 
47. Chunky Beets with Red Onions - dodged the permanent stains but next time Hubby will need to order them when out.

48. Socca from Vieux Nice - can't recall the last time I cooked at 500 degrees. Fun but not appreciated enough to repeat. I'll just go to Nice for this one......
49. Pissalaière - I wanted to try making this once and I did. Repeats will include different toppings. 
50. Wheatberry & Tuna Salad- lovely for the summer. I need to use Wheatberries more often.

Violà- we are both done !

Happy French Friday ~