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.