Thursday, December 29, 2011

FFwD - Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin

This is the perfect dish for any occasion where you want to impress!  Serve it with a nice side salad as we did for dinner or Blackberry Farms Pickled Beets and Strawberries as we did for lunch the next day.  Our daughter-in-law gave my husband a jar of this deliciousness for Christmas and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves beets.  This is a great way to serve cauliflower when you want a treat but I've just discovered roasted cauliflower and love, love, love it!  20-30 minutes in a 375 degree oven and it needs nothing but olive oil and salt.  Its my new favorite veggie!

I didn't make last week's French Friday recipe, creme brulee, because I'd made it several months ago and   just didn't care for it.  The creme brulee recipe I usually use is The Barefoot Contessa's.  This is easy and works every time! I made it this week using fresh raspberries and Chambord instead of Grand Marnier. I liked Dorie's idea of using jam in the bottom of the ramekin but it didn't work that well for me.  The fresh raspberries are much nicer. Who doesn't love creme brulee?

Be sure and read what all the French Friday cooks think of the cauliflower-bacon gratin.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Clementines and Christmas Fruit

When I was a young child my brother and I would dump out the contents of our Christmas stockings to get to the sweet, bright orange stuck way down in the toe of our stockings.  I know its hard to believe in today's world but we actually anticipated with pleasure the single orange we always knew we'd find there.  In the 1950's a lower middle class child didn't have oranges anytime they wanted one.  Do they in today's world?  Would they want one in their stocking?  I honestly don't know....

Starting in November Clementines arrive in the local grocery stores.  My husband and I watch for them; anticipating their arrival with as much pleasure as my brother and I once anticipated our Christmas oranges.  My brother is gone.  Its nice to have a Christmas fruit to recall the happy Christmases of our shared childhood.

Friday, December 16, 2011

FFwD - Potato Chip Tortilla

As Dorie says this is a "FAST"..." version of the traditional Basque tortilla".  And its not bad, not bad at all.  My problem is coming up with one good reason to put potato chips in my tortilla. (I mean one reason beside the obvious one that its the recipe for this week.) I seriously considered passing, yet again, on this recipe but its so simple I gave it a go. Next time if I don't have the time/inclination to peel and cook potatoes for my tortilla I'll pick up a package of prepared potatoes in the dairy case.  I'd rather save my potato chips to go with a tuna sandwich.

That sounds bitchy, doesn't it?  Its not my intention.  Maybe my frustration over the photography is showing.  The picture taking has become more important to me than the cooking!  I sit around thinking of recipes to make so I can take pictures of different things.  I'm investing in equipment, hoping to make my life easier and my pictures better and it still took me over an hour to get this shot!  Actually, as I think it over, this was one of the first shots I took!!!  I might be getting Christmas Crazy!

You'll want to see what other French Friday cooks thought of the recipe!

Friday, December 9, 2011

FFwD - Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast

This is good! I mean it...this is seriously good!  I have never stuffed a pork loin before and it was easy, easy, easy.

Along side the roast I served mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas that Aunt Ellen grew in Tennessee, put in her freezer and brought us over Thanksgiving.

My husband was in heaven and thinks we should have this exact meal for our Christmas dinner!

One thing I would do differently though is save the lovely red chard for another recipe.  Pork oozing red is a bit disconcerting to some.  Red is all my grocery store had, though, and I wasn't driving all over town hoping to find green chard.  It is lovely, isn't it?

The recipe calls for coriander seeds along with peppercorns to be crushed and rubbed (and salt, of course) on the outside of the roast but I used ground coriander and ground pepper and added just a bit of garlic to the mix for a delicious and spicy crust.

French Friday cooks are asked to not post the recipe but its already on the web at The Sated Palate.  If you want to try this recipe before you buy the book who could blame you?

Check out what the other French Friday cooks have to say about Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 30, 2011

FFwD - Deconstructed BLT and eggs

This is a good salad but somehow I have nothing more to say about it.  Well I could say I should have halved the recipe!

When I googled the oeufs mayonnaise Dorie talks about in the introduction I came across this blog Sophie Cuisine.  Its in french but the link is a translated page.  I love the "yes, yes they say it all. But I say: No brainer" about how to boil eggs.  Cooks are a pretty opinionated bunch about lots of things, aren't we?

We enjoyed this salad but in America its a pretty basic dish.

I just read over my post and realized if anyone not participating in FFwD read this it would make little sense!  Mais bon...

See what the other French Friday cooks thought about this one.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

FFwD - Honey Spiced Madeleines

These are my honey-spiced madeleines.  Sad don't you think?  The flavor was good...I got a few ridges...they're kind of a disaster though.  The sticking was only one of the problems.  The texture was off.  I had no honey on hand so used brown sugar and agave syrup.  Maybe that's why they stuck.  There was simply no 'rapping' or 'gently prying' them out of the pan.  I had to dig them out!

I've made madeleines several times with only minor sticking problems.  I think it was the idea of having to photograph them.  It made my madeleines insecure about their appearance.

Since I didn't want to be defeated I decided to try again.  I was going to use Dorie's Classic Madeleine recipe because the honey-spiced ones were tasty but I like the light pure flavor of the classic madeleines. Then my new Bon Appetit arrived with an Orange-Blossom-Honey Madeleines recipe and I decided to give it a go because I have this goal of cooking at least one recipe from every food magazine that comes to my house.

These stuck only a tiny bit and I was able to 'rap' and 'gently pry' most of them out of the pan.  I was running out of light so didn't get a photo but I even got one perfect madeleine with the bump!  I wonder if the sticking issue was due to the agave syrup/brown sugar combo or because I chilled them in the pan.  On the second try I chilled the batter before filling the pans.

One bump out of 22 madeleines made from the same batter in the same pans and baked in the same oven. Makes me wonder if the bump has something to do with how the pan is filled.  I need to ask my pastry chef friend if that is the secret!  And by the way...these madeleines are very good but the orange blossom aspect might be over rated.  Any honey would do!

You'll want to go by the French Friday site and see what the other FFwD cooks are up to.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

FFwD - Corn Soup

Note to self  - do not use white bowl to serve white soup!

This picture does not do justice to the soup!  I made a few changes to the recipe such as 3 ears of corn did not seem 'corny' enough so I used 6.  Also instead of 2 cups of water I used 1 cup of vegetable broth.  It is delicious this way.  Sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top and voila!  Delicious!

I found a crispy baked kale recipe on someone's blog and now can't find it again.  As soon as I do I'll post a link because its yummy!  I used decorative kale because that's all my grocery store had but you can use green kale.

I think I'm caught up now!  All my FFwD posts are up to date...I think.  I'd better go back and double check, though.

French Fridays with Dorie

FFwD - Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach

I'm trying to catch up on my French Friday posts.  I have reasons for my procrastination, good reasons!
One of my good reason:)

This week's recipe is what I call a short cut risotto.  I have a friend who works in a restaurant and told me about this technique.  You parboil the rice in chicken stock and then finish it as you would traditionally  by adding stock a ladle full at a time as the rice absorbs it.  That's why if you order risotto in a restaurant you can be served in under 45 minutes!

This is fast and easy, especially if you cook the spinach in advance.  I doubled the garlic and added crushed red pepper flakes.  Next time I will halve the cheese but we really, really liked this!  I'm sure I'll make it again and again!

Don't forget to stop by the French Friday website to see what the other FFwD cooks did this week!

FFwD - Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken

Since I couldn't find speculoos, a thin, buttery cinnamon and spice cookie, that the recipe calls for I used the next best thing an American cook might consider...Teddy Grahams! Admittedly there wasn't much crunch but  one must make do with what one has, n'est-ce pas?

This recipe has only three ingredients, chicken, cookies and creme fraiche.  I think it needed a few more.  It was a bit bland. Truthfully, mine became a kind of cinnamon pepper chicken in creme fraiche and I ask you, what's wrong with that?  While the recipe as a whole didn't excite me I was happy to cook with creme fraiche.  I see it in recipes all the time and Dorie often recommends it in her recipes but I never actually tried it.  Dorie's right...sour cream isn't the same thing...not at all!  Its more like a cross between buttermilk and sour cream with a tad of heavy cream thrown in.  I'll warn you though, it is a bit pricey $5.99 here in OKC for a 6 oz. tub!

Check out all the cooks in our French Fridays with Dorie project.  We have fun and learn tons.  You might even want to join in!

Friday, August 26, 2011

FFwD - Cafe Salle Pleyel Hamburger

I don't know if I'd call this burger "forbidden, illicit, or subversive" like the recipes originator did but I would call it good!  The combination of tomatoes ( I used slow roasted tomatoes from a previous French Friday recipe), capers, cornichons, and spices add a dimension not common in a good old fashioned American burger, but it is very good.  Fusion food is popular these days and this is a good example of the fusion of the best of two cooking traditions.

The onion marmalade was the only disappointment.  It wasn't very marmaladey...just boiled onions with a bit of a coriander flavor.  The recipe calls for 20 minutes of cooking one medium red onion in a cup of water.  Coriander, butter, salt and pepper are the only other ingredients.  I cooked it much longer than called for, more like 45 minutes and I still poured off water before serving.  If I used this recipe again I'd caramelize the onions first and use 1/4 cup or less of water.  I'm eager to read what the other French Friday cooks thought of this.  They are a creative and opinionated bunch of good cooks!

Friday, August 19, 2011

FFwD - Eggplant Caviar

I think I have food malaise.  Does this sound like a condition registered and certified by the American Medical Association or perhaps the American Psychiatric Association?  I'm behind on my Dorie posts even though I'm getting up to date on my Dorie cooking...maybe its blog malaise not food malaise...humm, something to ponder.

Dorie's eggplant caviar is good.  We enjoyed it immensely and made plans to share it with friends this weekend but somehow I'm not excited about it.  My husband loved it and said it tastes like guacamole.  Maybe that's why it didn't excite me.  I'm all in favor of eating a variety of vegetables but I want eggplant to taste like eggplant not avocado.  I feel like I'm being a grinch.  Wait until you see what I have to say about next week's French hamburger!  Check out the other French Friday cooks.  They always have great ideas and fun posts!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me - Best Ever Banana Cake

I was going to skip this birthday; 59 is just depressing!  It feels like an ending.  A friend suggested I follow in her footsteps and go straight to 60.  Be 60 for two years.  Nines are endings but tens are beginnings!  Do you think that's true?  Feels true.

This has been an action packed year with so much to be grateful for.  I haven't had birthday depression since I turned 30 (that was a hard one) and it snuck up on me this year. Truth is 59 makes me evaluate where I am, where I've been and where I'm going and I don't like some of the things my evaluation reveals.

 In another day or two I'll pull myself up by my bootstraps and make a plan for being who I want to be.  For the next few days I'm just gonna eat the Best Ever Banana Cake.  I might eat it all!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

FFwD - Citrus Berry Terrine

I love grapefruit jello!  Let me rephrase that...I love jelled grapefruit juice...especially if you put in a few pieces of fruit.  Who knew jelled stuff could taste so good?

Served with a dab of whipped cream it makes a cool, refreshing and delicious dessert on a hot summer's evening.  Something different and delicious.  I can't wait to jell lots of juices!  And I halved the recipe because I didn't think we'd be that into it!

Check our all the French Friday cooks!

Friday, July 22, 2011

FFwD - Coconut-Lemongrass-Braised Pork

I'm late posting and can't think of anything to say about food.  I have this little distraction visiting me!  How am I to think about food, write about food when all I can think of is this little monkey, our first grandbaby?

Luckily for me this week's recipe is easy and delicious.  Dorie suggests using pork butt and I was tempted to use a leaner cut like a pork loin but I had just heard Dr. Zorba on NPR talking about eating fat and how the French eat foods higher in fat than we Americans do.  He said the French eat smaller amounts of good food while Americans eat
large amounts of bad food.  My plan was to use the fatter cut of pork and eat less.  Good plan but I don't know that I ate less.  What can I do?  I am American!  Just have to work out a little more I guess.

The French Friday website is temporarily down but should be back up and running by Monday.  Stop by to see what the other cooks have done.

Friday, July 15, 2011

FFwD - Cold Melon Berry Soup

I liked this......I'm just not sure what to DO with it!  Does that make sense?  I tried this recipe a couple of different ways and like it best without the berries and melon balls called for in the recipe.  That way its more like a slushy than a soup.  I tried no topping or topping it with a slightly sweet white wine as Dorie suggests and then I tried topping it with a bit of Sofia Blanc de Blanc and decided that's my favorite.  This is flavorful and refreshing but maybe my palate isn't refined enough for this soup.  Next time we're invited to our friend's house for an afternoon of sun and swimming I think I'll take this and some cheese straws and see how it works.  That might be the perfect serving setting for this cold soup!  Don't forget to check out everyone else's efforts. French Fridays with Dorie

Friday, July 8, 2011

FFwD - Tomatoes and Salmon en Papillote

This is a good and simple recipe and I ruined it!  First I was running behind so when the closest supermarket didn't have fresh salmon I bought frozen.    I've successfully used frozen fish in the past but this was not one of those times.  The fish was bland, dry and over cooked.  I'm still trying to figure out how salmon (package said fresh caught so it should have been flavorful), basil, rosemary, lemon, tomatoes and onions could be bland!  And I think 8 minutes would have been long enough.  Do you see those potatoes, though?  They were to die for.  I had a couple of new potatoes left over from my warm weather vegetable pot au feu (still playing catch-up) so I boiled them then sauteed them in olive oil and butter.  To Die For!  Stop by the  French Friday site to see what everyone else is doing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake - Bon Appetit

I have a goal!  Cook at least one recipe from every cooking magazine that comes through my house.  I'm not at 100%.  I'm not at 30% but I'm getting better.

July's Bon Appetit, one of my favorite magazines, especially since Gourmet is gone (sad).  We loved this cake just as it is but I'm eager to try it with frosting.....maybe orange marmalade cream cheese....and with other fruit.  Its easy to mix up but one word of caution, the recipe says bake 1 hour and 25 minutes.  I used a 9 inch springform pan and it was done in just over 60 minutes.  Watch it closely!

The nice folks at Bon Appetit very kindly make this recipe available on their website. Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

Friday, July 1, 2011

FFwD - Chunky beets and icy red onions

I've added several new recipes to our regular meal rotation since joining FF but the past part is the techniques I've learned and icy onions is one of them.  Icy onions on chicken burgers takes them from good to oh la la!
This salad is simple and delicious.  The earthy flavor of the beets and the crunchy mildness of the icy onions blend perfectly with the slightly sweet/slightly tart dressing and oregano accents and marries all the flavors into a perfect bite of deliciousness!  If you think you don't like beets try this salad.  You might change your mind.  Be sure to check out all the french friday cooks at french fridays with Dorie.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happily Playing Catch-up with FFwD

Its almost July and I missed most of April, all of May and cooked most of June's recipes last night! These are two of the reasons I'm so son had a wedding and the other son had a son!  So much happiness in our lives this summer; but it has been difficult to cook.  I'm back, though, and hope to get caught up soon.

This week's FFwD recipe for mozzarella, tomato, and strawberry salad is a marvel!  My first bite was a strawberry sprinkled with olive oil and fleur de gris!  Amazing!  Delicious!  I was working on a time crunch and after making a trip to my local cheesemonger was thrown when he said they were out of fresh mozzarella.  He questioned me about what I was planning for the mozzarella and suggested I try casatica.  Casatica is made from water buffalo milk and has a texture similar to mozzarella but also has a bitterness that is quite pleasing.  This is a perfect summer salad and I'll make it often.  Check out all the other French Friday cooks at French Fridays with Dorie

Sunday, March 20, 2011

French Fridays and the Super Moon

What better way to moon gaze than a french friday patio dinner....even if it is Saturday! Some of our recipes for March were so good and easy! They demanded a repeat!  I know many fellow french friday cooks didn't care for Beggar's Linguine but I loved it and wanted to try it with homemade pasta.  My pasta was light, tender and delicious but with this dish I think I prefer the chewier texture of packaged dried least until I can figure out how to duplicate the texture at home.

For dessert it was salted butter-breakups! This time I served them with chocolate sauce for dipping.

We drank Amorosa, a light California Champagne that's easy to drink....and easy on the budget!

Friday, March 18, 2011

FFwD - Salted Butter Break-ups

Buttery, salty, slightly sweet.  What else needs to be said. We loved it and will make it again and again. Dorie recommends sel gris but all I had was pink Himalyan salt. The pink salt made me think of David Lebovitz's Strawberry Frozen Yogurt and I had one bag of strawberries left in the freezer from last year's strawberry harvest. The cold tanginess was the prefect backdrop for the salty sweetness. Stop by the French Fridays site to see what everyone else has to say!

Friday, March 11, 2011

FFwD - Beggar's Linguine

This recipe was a huge surprise! I couldn't picture nuts, dried fruit and pasta....and cheese? It didn't register on my taste buds! But Dorie hasn't led me astray yet so I jumped right in. I was cooking for myself (sorry my usual FFwD eaters) so I halved the recipe.....another thing I like....a recipe that's easy to half. I made up the dish and as its coming together taste it. I feel it needs a little kick. So I add dried red pepper flakes. I plate it up and take pictures but its looking so damned good I have to put down the camera and start eating! That's a first. Yummmm!
Check out French Fridays with Dorie and see what everyone else is doing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

FFwD - Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

This could be called clean out the cheese bin and throw in whatever herbs you need to use up bread because that's what I did. Dorie gives several options for additions which gave me the courage to use up what needed to be used. For cheese it was cheddar and the unknown hard white cheese I've been working on for several weeks. For nuts I had almonds. For herbs the bit of leftover thyme and the new chives fresh from my garden...don't you love spring?! It was a warm, sunny day with little wind (always a consideration in Oklahoma) so we sat outside with one of our favorite beers, Birra Morreti, and our cheese and chive bread and felt quite sophisticated.  Also took some to the neighbors and they reported back that it was delicious and could they have the recipe please. I call that success.  Be sure to check out the experiences of everyone in the French Friday Group!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Thank you Allison at French Whisk!

Allison sent me a Stylish Blogger Award today! Really made my morning! Now for the hard part....I'm supposed to share seven new things about myself.  Here goes!

  1. I am a rower.  The year my youngest son went to college I needed something and I found rowing. Through rowing I've gained

 friends, fitness, confidence and peace.

  2. My mother died last year. This blog started because I had something to say about my mom. It was my first post Mom's Birthday Apple Tart.

  3. I cry easily.

  4. Favorite book - Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham

  5. My husband is an airline pilot. We call him Captain Gary because of a wonderful video he made for our daughter in law's 2nd grade class. He begins by introducing himself and his crew. When he says 'Hi. I'm Captain Gary' the entire family falls a little more in love with this kind and generous man.

  6. I garden like its my job!

  7. I am a Fly Lady:)

I want to pass on this award to

 Life on Autumn Trail
Mixed Grill Favorites

Friday, February 25, 2011

FFwD - short ribs in red wine and port

Step One - go to your bank and arrange financing.  Short ribs are $6.59 a pound and we need 9 pounds plus a bottle of wine for the ribs, a bottle of wine for the cook, and a bottle or two for dinner, and don't forget the port!

Luckily this is so good you'll be glad you invested the money and the time.  This is very easy to make; just chopping and time in the oven.  Be sure to invite someone special to share it with!

Dorie suggests making the ribs the day before if you have time and I think its an important step.  Short ribs have lots of fat and allowing them to chill overnight makes it much easier to remove most of it.

What elevates this recipe to amazing is the gremolata.  This was new to Italian condiment consisting of citrus zest, garlic and parsley or cilantro.....and it complements the robust flavor of the meat and gives it all a wonderful freshness.

Our good friends Al and Mary shared this with us and I think we were all in was amazing!  Something I'm trying to figure out is how to get good pictures of the food with a house full of hungry people.  Anyone have any solutions to this?

You'll want to read the other reports of the french friday cooks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vacuum Sealers

I think I need one. I know I want one. Wonder which one I should get....not the $400+ one that's for sure! Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, February 21, 2011

FFwD - Pancetta Green Beans

How could I have made these three weeks ago and still be late with my post?  My excuse?  I was out of town attending the baby shower for my first grandchild!  His name is Beckett and he will be here around May 22.  We're all a bit baby obsessed these days:)

When a recipe calls for pancetta I normally use bacon as until recently pancetta wasn't readily available in our grocery stores and when I could find it I didn't want to pay the price!  But for this recipe I used pancetta and I'm so glad I did. The sweet, smokey, salty taste was excellent with the crisp tender green beans. We loved this recipe and I'll make it again and again and again.

Be sure to visit the french friday site and check out everyone else's post.
french fridays with Dorie

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

This is so exciting!  Lola Kitchen's first ever award!  Thank you so much to Kathy 
Copy and paste, and pay it forward to as few, or as many SISTER bloggers that you feel deserve it. No rules apply...just mention who it came from: Thanking you in advance!

1. dancewhileyoucook
2.  inpursuitofhobby
3.  Life on Autumn Trail

Friday, February 11, 2011

FFwD - Orange Almond Tart

This is one of my favorite french friday recipes!  This is the kind of tart that makes everyone say "WOW" and "can I have another piece".  There are several steps but it is well worth the planning and effort involved to get it done.  I unintentionally didn't part bake my crust, just forgot that step, and it turned out fine.  I think the crust would have been better the next day but honestly it was fine the day it was made and mostly consumed.

This is something I'll make again and again and look forward to using pears the next time I make it.  The recipe calls for almond flour but I just ground almonds in the food processor and it worked fine.

When we were making speculoos Dorie said to put the dough between two pieces of wax paper for easy roll out.  This really works and its how I roll everything now.  I was telling my daughter in law about this and she says, yes that's how she always rolls dough.  How did I miss this tip?  Seems everyone has been using it for years and I'm new to the party!  The only thing is.....I'm maneuvering around the kitchen to anchor the waxed paper between my hip and the counter top as I roll the dough.  Its not a perfect system or maybe I've missed another tip!

Friday, February 4, 2011

FFwD - Basque Potato Tortilla

This recipe is very similar to the frittata we often have as a Sunday night supper.  In fact, about the only difference is the proportions of potato to egg....we like a little more egg and a little less potato.  This is a delicious and easy recipe that works for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I served it along side a beet salad with a lime dressing, but that's for another post!

  For dessert I played catch up again and made Marie Hélène's Apple Cake and Cinnamon Ice Cream.  This cake is a keeper!  One thing I would caution people on.....when using dark rum stick to one that's not too over powering.  I've tried Meyer's and all I can taste is rum but for this I used Bacardi's and its much smoother, complementing instead of dominating.  Check out everyone else's experiences at The French Friday website.   

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Molly, Marion, and Me

Fresh Ginger Muffins.  Molly Wizenberg over at Orangette has been cooking and blogging on Marion Cunningham's tried and true The Breakfast Cookbook.  I was the fortunate beneficiary of the Breakfast Cookbook when a friend decided to thin her collection.  Sadly, I've cooked from it very little.  Thanks to Molly Wizenberg and a cold morning I made the Fresh Ginger Muffins today.  I wish I could describe the smell....spicy, sweet, clean and fresh.....if I ever want to sell my house I'll put a batch of these muffins in the oven just before every showing!  If you don't already follow Molly at Orangette  you need to start!  You'll find the recipe there.

Friday, January 28, 2011

FFwD - Chicken b'Stilla

This dish surprised me!  I was ready to dislike it!  Each of the components were good but when you put them together I was prepared for a dessert like taste that didn't fit with chicken.  Instead the spices and small amount of sugar enhanced the chicken and made a delicious and satisfying dinner.  

I opted to make individual b'stillas since there were only two of us.  I prepared four individual b'stillas and put two in the freezer unbaked.  I'm eager to see how they turn out.  Any thoughts on whether I should defrost before baking?  Oh, one more thing...I used only a top crust.  It just felt right...and it was!

A funny thing that illustrates the difference between the food obsessed (me) and those who simply enjoy a good meal (my friend and frequent FF guest).  As I'm making the salad I ask "Which do you think would be better.......a sweet raspberry vinaigrette to complement the b'stilla or a tart basalmic vinaigrette to contrast with the sweetness of the b'stilla?"  She gets a deer in headlights look on her face and starts laughing.  She decided to leave it to me and I decided on the raspberry vinaigrette.  We agreed it was a good choice!

We enjoyed a Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer with dinner and Caramel Topped Semolina Cake for dessert.  This was a FF recipe the group made before I joined.  I have some catching up to do!  This cake was much better after setting for several hours.  My son had a slice when it had just cooled and the texture was confusing........not cake like but not flan like either.  After a couple more hours it was firm and with exactly the right sweetness when paired with whipped cream and fresh blueberries.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FFwD - Michael Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

This is a delicious little cake...very similar to the Flourless Chocolate Cake in my Williams Sonoma cake cookbook that I've made many times.  My sister bakes Molly Wizenberg's chocolate cake and says its easy and delicious; that recipe is also very similar.  Seems like most of us had issues with the batter oozing under the rim of the pan as it cooked.  I think that's an easy fix if we just leave the pan in tact, which is what I'll do next time.   Dorie is right with this recipe, its best when baked twice and served cold.  We liked it at room temperature but we loved it the next day when it was cold.  While we really enjoyed this cake its time intensive and Williams Sonoma Flourless Chocolate Cake is just as good and simpler to make.  While I want to try it again using the pan as a whole instead of setting the ring on a baking sheet I don't think it will become a regular at our house.  Be sure to go by the French Friday website to see how the other cooks fared.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

FFwD - Gnocchi Parisienne

This is good! Simple and delicious! The gnocchi was quite easy to make. I formed the little dumplings using the homemade pastry bag method.......a ziploc bag! It is definitely worth the extra step of folding in a whipped egg white for lightness and fluff. Its important to not overcook the gnocchi! They loose their shape and texture; a minute after they come to the top of the boiling water is plenty. I learned this the hard way.

I used the cheese I had on hand which is some no longer identifiable hard white cheese and gruyere. Dorie's recipe called for 2 tablespoons of butter dotted over the top which I omitted; not by choice I just forgot it and it was fine. This is a very rich dish and holds its own without the addition of more butter.

The bechamel! I was happy to learn on the french friday website that I wasn't the only one having trouble with the sauce. The roux was way too tight and I knew it would not make a creamy sauce but followed the recipe anyhow. I ended up quite irritated......ranting and raving while I waved my wooden spoon. My husband walked in on this scene, poured me a glass of wine and exited!

All was well with the addition of more liquid and straining the sauce but I was annoyed at myself for not trusting my experience and knowledge and blindly following a recipe that was not working for me! When it was put together and safely in the oven I pulled out my Larousse. I learned the classic assumption of equal parts butter and flour for making a bechamel means equal by weight. 40 grams of butter and 40 grams of flour for 17 ounces of liquid. In my kitchen that means 3 tablespoons of butter and just over 5 tablespoons of flour to 2 cups liquid. Weights are much more accurate and I hope some day recipes will get away from cups and spoons.

We shared our dinner with a good friend and it was agreed this is a keeper! Add a crisp green salad dressed with a tart vinaigrette and we had a fabulous meal.

Check out the experiences of all the french friday cooks at Next week its chocolate cake!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

FFwD - Paris Mushroom Soup

The holidays are over and its good to be home. I'm looking forward to a great 2011! Yes, I'm a resolution maker. Most of my resolutions have something to do with fitness and self improvement.......I'm an optimistic sort of person.

The French Fridays project is loads of fun, even if I am struggling to keep up! Hopefully, as we move into 2011 my schedule will sort itself out and I'll get my food done in a timely manner. Sound like a school teacher don't I?

The Paris Mushroom Soup is very easy to prepare but took me longer than it seemed to take most of the participants. Is it just me and my stove or what...........onions are never tender in 5 minutes!

Dorie recommends making a 'salad' of mushrooms, scallions, and seasonings, place it in the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup over it. I think the presentation is more interesting with the 'salad' on top:)

This soup is good but we didn't like it as an entree. This is more a soup course kind of soup. Or that's the way we see it. Be sure to stop by and see what the other cooks are doing. You might want to join in the fun!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spicy Sweet Carrots - FFwD

Traveling over the holidays, slicing my finger, these things have made posting difficult! We made the carrots for Christmas Dinner; luckily my son helped me with the carrots. My finger was not going to let me peel and chop carrots! Am I the only person having trouble finding cardamon pods? I used ground cardamon and feel like it wasn't as good. The other posts talked about how good their carrots were and ours were mediocre! For one thing I didn't use enough cardamom but I couldn't find a conversion for pods to ground. This is another recipe I'll try again when I find the pods.