Friday, December 19, 2014

Orange and Olive Salad

Per Nana~
The recipe for this week was a simple salad made with sliced oranges, 
onions and olives. It is a combination of ingredients that I would never have
 thought to use together, but somehow it was refreshing. I only made a quarter 
of the recipe as I knew it would not go over well with Jim, and I was so right. 
I peeled and sliced the orange and drizzled oil on them, then I added the onions 
and topped with the olives. I used dried olives from the Italian deli, plus salt and 
pepper. I will admit, I was not overly excited. I do think the onions were too strong
 and perhaps if I had used a different olive oil, something more flavorful, it might
have been tastier. It certainly made a pretty presentation. 
Per Tricia~
Calling this a salad almost felt like a stretch, but one I was delighted to make. 
In the busy week before Christmas I was not looking for any challenging projects 
(Bûche de Noël, I am looking at you.....) and I can't tell you how happy I was
 to find out this recipe basically consisted of slicing an onion over some oranges. 
Never mind at all that we were then sprinkling on olives, olive oil, salt and 
pepper- this was EASY.  So easy in fact that the recipe could have asked me 
sprinkle just about anything on and I likely would have enjoyed it just for 
the simplicity alone. But guess what ? It was pretty darn fabulous. 
My husband kept saying that he couldn't believe how good the combo was. 
We like dishes that balance sweet and savory but this also balanced the
 crispy onion texture against the moist olives and oranges. It somehow just 
really, really worked. Once again, Mrs. Greenspan comes through.  
I used the Australian olive oil I splurged on at Williams Sonoma but 
unfortunately did not pick an adequate grocery store for my official "olive 
procurement"  trip and when they didn't have the Niçoise ones I just subbed 
out small black ones. Normally I enjoy the hunt for ingredients but I am
 a bit stingy in the "do over" category during holiday craziness. I know
 that the recipe will simply be that much better next time:)
 This is a very refreshing dish for the winter months and I plan 
on revisiting the recipe many times in the future.
I would just like to add that I have been enjoying the holiday card 
exchange with the Doristas (and Dorie !!) again this year and it has truly
 become a very special part of my holiday season. Each card has made
 me smile and the sentiment, not to mention any recipes shared, carried
with them bring exactly the joy that we hope to find during this season. 

Happy French Friday and Happy Holidays !

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lamb & Dried Apricot Tagine - French Fridays with Dorie

Per Tricia~
Even though this is a "French Fridays" recipe I have to share some exciting 
"Tuesday" news. We have a wonderful new addition to the Dorie community 
- my former neighbor, Nicole. She was the sweetie who bestowed some 
gorgeous heirloom tomatoes on me this summer - on the precise day I
 was knocking out a FFWD recipe that required tomatoes. Serendipity. 

Tomato Provençal 
She mentioned she had an interest in the whole cooking/blogging concept 
and with the roll out of "Baking Chez Moi", she made it official. To say I am
 delighted would be an understatement. Please do check out her blog and send
 her a warm welcome. And yes, she put me to shame with the amazing
 accomplishments she knocked out her first post....she is a natural !

Now for story #2. I bought a tagine while in DC on business and did
 not even know exactly what it was. I am not proud, but I am honest. 
I found the item in  an antiques/catch all shop and I "caught all". 
I simply could not resist the stunning green color of 
the pottery. Even my cat is quite fond of it. 
Yes, this is the "fond" look- taken a day before making the dish so no worries -both tagine and counter were cleaned ! 
 I later researched to find it's intended purpose .......
but had yet to actually use it. (Hangs head in shame) 
I'm so pleased I could christen it with a recipe from
"Around My French Table" and such a yummy one at that. 
I lucked out with the boneless lamb shoulder at my local
 butcher shop and even had saffron on hand, not to mention
 most of the other exotic spices. 
Rather than using chili's I subbed the "piment d'espelette" 
that this group has come to know and love, and traded ground ginger 
that I had on hand for the fresh grated ginger of the recipe.  
As promised, the aroma was intoxicating and the end result
 was a comforting winter's meal- a sort of exotic comfort food.  
It would have been even better if I remembered to add the sliced almonds on top........
 I served it over French Couscous. 

The tagine is now slated to get a lot of play this season, thanks to Dorie. 
Per Nana~
This is such a perfect recipe for a cold winter night.
 I could not find the boneless lamb shoulder so I went with a small
 2 1/2 lb boneless leg. Hubby was intrigued by all the ingredients going 
into this dish so he offered to help. I asked him if he would cut the meat 
into stew portions,which he did. There was a lot of trimming on this 
piece of meat- fat, silver skin, etc. and I think he was sorry he offered.
 However I must admit,he did a great job. 
I haven't had lamb in years and this was so tender and delicious. 
All the ingredients blended together beautifully and the flavor was 
extraordinary. I served this wonderful tagine over Acini di Pepe, 
which is very similar to couscous. It was so delicious.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Rugelach That Won Over France - Baking Chez Moi

Per Tricia~
I was a bit worried about the difficulty level of this recipe, given 
some of the feedback from our community's P's and Q's this week.
 But I was pleasantly surprised at how the instructions truly did come together, 
thanks to the very detailed "hand holding" that Dorie provides in this recipe. 
getting a square shape to my rolled dough was one of the more challenging parts ~
While she can always be counted on for making you feel as though she is
 right there in the kitchen providing instructions, I thought this recipe was 
particularly good (and much appreciated) example of this writing trait.   
It was also the reason why when I read her words about "this is 
easier to read than to do", as part of her instructions for rolling
 up the stuffed dough.....I actually got a bit scared :)  Luckily I had 
no problems creating the rolls and even opted out of chilling. 
I simply cut and baked after applying the egg wash and sugar. 
 It all worked like a charm and was far less labor intensive than
 anticipated. And it was well worth it. The cookie is phenomenal and 
was a huge hit in my house. It is easy to see how it "won over France". 
The dough is simply out of this world and we thoroughly enjoyed
 the filling's mixture of pecan, coconut, cherry and chocolate. 
The aroma alone is reason enough to make this cookie but the taste
 is simply out of this world. This may be my new favorite and will 
absolutely be gracing the holiday dessert table this season. 
Per Nana~
When I first read this recipe I knew it would be good. 
The combination of butter and cream cheese with a bit of flour made
 a wonderful dough that rolled out well after chilling it for two hours. 

The filling of coconut, chocolate, pecans and dried fruit only made it
 better. In my case I used golden raisins instead of cherries because that 
is what was on hand. Unfortunately, when I removed the rolls from the
 freezer after one hour they were so hard I could not cut them. 

They cracked and the filling was falling out. I did not understand how to 
arrange them on the cookie sheet "seam side down". I tried standing them
 up but they collapsed. Fortunately I only baked one tray that way and after seeing 
how that turned out I laid the rest of the slices down and had no trouble. 

I was amazed that the dough turned out so flaky. It looked like puff pastry. 
I plan to do these again before Christmas but I think if I chill the dough in the 
refrigerator it might be easier to slice, or perhaps I will make them in the
 traditional crescent shape. Not matter the shape of these cookies,
 they were so tasty we could not stop eating them. 

 Happy French Friday ~
This marks another recipe completed 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, December 5, 2014

Tartine de Viande de Grisons

Per Nana~
The tartine that I prepared this week made me think of one of our favorite
 places in Paris called Le Rubis (1st Arr.) at 10 Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. 
Jim and I made this a definite destination each time we visited Paris. 
After a day of sightseeing and walking all over town, 
we looked forward to relaxing a bit and would stop in 
Le Rubis in the late afternoon for a Kir Royale.  
We would order either the plat du fromage,which consisted of 
bread slathered with butter and slices of cheese spread on top, 
or a plate of country style bread with slices of charcuterie. 
It was so rustic, and absolutely delicious. 
For my tartine I used a hearty country bread, buttered and topped it 
with prosciutto. After adding walnuts I drizzled olive oil on top. I only
 prepared one tartine and served it as an appetizer before dinner. 
Simple, easy and very enjoyable.

Per Tricia~
In the midst of the holiday craziness I found that this recipe also 
had me reminiscing of Paris.  Or perhaps dreaming of a get away ? 
Either way, my mind focused on the bread as much as the toppings. 
I of course wish I could have used the famed pain Poilâne for this 
one but instead I got a hearty country loaf at the local grocery store. 
Luckily, like Nana, I was able to use my souvenir 
bread knife from a prior trip to the 6th Arr.  
A special treat was that I recently purchased a print of a Poilâne loaf
by the wonderful artist Mike Geno. He is a Philly local and a foodie at heart, 
but he has become well known for his portraits of cheese. Yes, cheese. 
They are glorious. Not one to be limited by a single food group, he has 
also done paintings of pastries, bacon and a few other delectables. 
Another favorite of mine was his cannelles painting, as I just recently made
 those little lovelies at home also. He is fabulous- do check out his link:
Now on to the tartine. With endless creative possibilities I opted to simply
 recreate the version Dorie shared with us. I would love to try the air dried beef 
(viande de grisons) she enjoyed but had to "settle" for prosciutto. The walnuts 
were a lovely addition and I drizzled walnut oil over top. Lovely, easy and a
 very good dinner along with some soup during these hectic holiday evenings.

Happy French Friday~
Taste Tester/Younger Son Chase, Tricia, Dorie, Nana
PS- for those not on Facebook, here is a shot from our visit to Dorie's 
book signing this week in Manhattan. It was phenomenal, just like her. 

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 ~