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".
...my 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. 
Yay. 


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~
Lovely.
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 !

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Provençal Vegetable Soup















Per Nana~
The ingredients in this recipe are best used in summer when everything
 is so garden fresh. It was actually perfect today as the temperature 
was in the mid 70's. It is really "light" compared to a winter soup.
  I agree with Susan (www.CreateAmazingMeals.com) about when to
add the pasta. I always cook pasta separately, no matter what dish 
I add it to since it swells and absorbs all of the liquid. 

I am also sorry to admit but I purchased pesto in a jar as I do
 not need a  bag of pignoli nuts from Costco at $28 a bag. I finished
 the
 dish with basil and shredded Parmesan cheese.


It was perfect with a fresh tomato salad that I topped with basil leaves. 
I just love summer and all the fresh veggies available.  
Per Tricia~
I was momentarily skeptical when I read that this week we were doing 
a soup, but only momentarily. I loved the idea of using the summer's 
bounty in any way I could .....and this did not disappoint.

 A great recipe choice, selected by fellow Dorista Teresa (www.onewetfoot.ca). 

                     Prep was a bit time consuming but since the recipe called for items
                          going in every 10 minutes or so, I always seemed to have just 
                             the perfect amount of time to get the next item in the pot.

I also planned to skip the homemade pesto and just go with basil garnish, 
but changed my mind at the last minute. And I am ever glad I did.
 Dorie's pesto recipe was lovely and we enjoyed it in the soup, on the toasted
 bread (along with more cheese :) and tomorrow it will be in a pasta dish. 
This recipe was a great reminder that soup is the perfect way to 
use up what is on hand- even summer's fresh bounty. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

We're back !  And we are delighted to be here ~

Per Nana:
It is definitely good to be cooking with all of the Doristas again. 
These past months have been a bit of a challenge, but we have so much to
 be thankful for. Jim has come through this ordeal with flying colors and
 a little bit thinner. We are now planning to celebrate our 60th wedding
 anniversary with family and friends in October. Tricia, Jim and I would 
like to thank everyone for all of their prayers and good wishes. It's a 
wonderful feeling to have such good friends at a time like this.

 Thank you all. 

This week's recipe was an absolute delight and certainly one of the easiest.
 I love poached eggs and never have a problem preparing them, but
 I wasn't sure if I could eat these coddled eggs. 
I set the timer for 5 minutes, and then set it again, the result was
 perfect hard boiled eggs with pate. They were delicious and I will surely
 do this again, but next time I will trust Dorie's judgment on timing. 
Per Tricia:

It has been a long few months and I echo Nana's sentiments
 about missing our FFWD, the recipes, the advice from Dorie 
and of course, our Doristas.  We are FINALLY back because I got a 
stove installed last week. Not replaced, but installed for the first time-
 which you can imagine impacted our participating in FFWD. 
I have had an adventure in  moving but I am still nearby to Nana. 
Just not next door, so as Betsy suggested, I will indeed need to step 
up my game regarding ingredients and prep. (though we all know 
she will likely drive those little tupperware containers right on over too.......) 


Now for the recipe. 
 I used organic eggs and opted out of the truffles. 
I substituted a terrine that I treated my hubby to last 
year as a souvenir of my trip to France with Nana. 
I chose the pork with chives and it was lovely. 
Stand we visited at the Blois market 
It also brought back wonderful memories of the town-Blois- I 
purchased it in, the store itself (Comtesse Du Barry), and Blois' 
weekly market that we enjoyed visiting.  Hmmm, now that I think
 about it we could both use another vacation...:)
Blois, France- taken last year, the Loire is down to the right. Lovely. 
 Back to the recipe.
 I have no idea where my ramekins are since we still have 
4 large "PODS" and a moving truck of stuff to get through. 
My old painting in it's new house-
Luckily I did come across heart molds from our coeur a la creme
 adventure. A bit of tin foil saved the day for the holes in the 
molds but aside from that, the recipe could not be easier.
 I had all 3 taste testers on deck and they all raved. 
And that is not because they are tired of grilled food. 
Now, to get a kitchen sink installed..... 

It is good to be back indeed.  
Happiest of French Fridays to all ~ 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India




Per Nana~
This week's recipe for vegetable barley soup with a taste of India
 was interesting. Hubby totally loved it but I did not care for the
 spice flavor. The texture was wonderful and the barley cooked to
 perfection in just under one hour. 
Tricia was kind enough to prepare the Garam Masala from the 
recipe supplied by fellow Dorista Alice, and she shared that with me. 
I was surprised that with all that spice, it was not exceptionally spicy or hot. 
I am not sure what I expected, but I did add some hot sauce to it. 
Hubby enjoyed it "as is".
 That said, I would definitely prepare this soup 
again using only the vegetables and barley.
Per Tricia~
We loved it. 
What a surprise, and not because we expected to dislike it, 
but simply because we had no idea what this was going to taste like. 
Only my husband and I shared the recipe with this week and that may have
 been for the best because we ended up wolfing down this wonderful concoction. 
I thank Alice (www.acookingmizer.com) for sharing the homemade
 garam masala recipe. I have enough different spices accumulated 
from  the various "Around My French Table" recipes that when I read 
Alice's list I knew it was time to put some of these to use. Suffice it to say that
 my house had QUITE an aroma for a day or two after making the spice recipe.
 And my sinuses are still recovering.
I remembered to throw in the bay leaves after snapping this photo ~
 The aroma was very unusual to us, very aromatic and potent. 
But taste is another thing. And the taste was just wonderful. 
Quite exotic for a cold Spring day which unfortunately involved yet another 
snowfall, and for which this warm comfort food was much appreciated. 
Another wonderful bowl from "Two Mountain Pottery" in Shaftsbury,Vermont~
My version turned out wonderfully spicy (I may have been a bit heavy
 handed with the red pepper flakes). It was delicious and is a keeper for sure.  
The snow, however, can leave immediately.....

Happy French Friday ~