Monday, February 27, 2012

FFwD - Cheese Topped Onion Soup Part Deux

Delicious Cheese Topped Onion Soup!
NOW I see what some of the other French Friday cooks were raving about!  Its all in the caramelizing of the onions.  If the onions don't go through that long, slow caramelizing process the flavor just isn't there.  I opted for a combination of vegetable and beef broths, but I DO see how the chicken broth would be good, lighter, maybe a good summer soup if you like soup in summer and I do!

In my first attempt with this recipe I didn't have time to let the onions cook.  I turned the heat down too low and after 2.5 hours I finally got a CLUE and turned the fire up but it was too late.  I had places to go and people to see (also known as meeting a friend for drinks) so I gave up, fried the onions and put them on burgers.

Other than the time involved in caramelizing this soup is easy and comes together really fast once the onions are done.  I loved it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

FFwD - Cheese-Topped Onion Soup

My first French Friday fail!  Oh we've enjoyed some of the dishes more than others.  Maybe one component of a dish was not our favorite but this is the first time we just didn't get it all.  Simply did not work for its first incarnation that is!  So I tried to deconstruct it.  What do you do with 4 pounds of cooked onions?  I don't know about the rest of the world but if you're from Oklahoma you think Onion Burgers!

Oklahoma Style French Onion Burger!

I had some questions about the recipe from the beginning.  This was one time I REALLY needed the P&Q section we used to have!  Not complaining...I know Laurie has a whole life apart from us...I'm just saying.  In studying other recipes and calling on experience I think the problem was two fold for me.  My onions didn't caramelize, not even after close to 3 HOURS!  And I used a big pot,  like 7 or 9 quarts.  The other issue was the chicken broth.  I wondered how to get the full rich flavor of a delicious soup using chicken broth but I decided to try it.  I felt like I needed to roast beef bones and then gently simmer for hours.  If Dorie says you can get a delicious soup using chicken stock (and she has said French cooks often using bouillon cubes for broth) I was willing to try it with packaged stock.

What I learned is you can probably do that with deeply caramelized onions as the recipe calls for but not with onions that have cooked but not caramelized...after almost 3 HOURS!  What's THAT about?  I think I just had too many onions at too low a temp.  Yes, I said too low.  I hope to try the recipe again this weekend using 1/2 the onions and beef stock.  I can't wait to see what the other French Friday cooks experienced.  This is a resourceful bunch that always seem to pull off success after success!

In the words of the Seinfeld Soup Nazi "No soup for you!" I mean us.  We're stuck eating delicious French Onion Burgers:)

Friday, February 17, 2012

FFwD - Mussels and Chorizo With Pasta

Mussels and Chorizo with Pasta
There have been so many firsts as I've cooked along with French Friday with I can add cooking mussels and Spanish chozio!  I'll admit I was nervous about the mussels.  Filter feeders seem kind of iffy to me and I live in Oklahoma.  How fresh can they really be?  How fresh do they need to be?

Thank you Google!  Need to know how to buy mussels?  Google.  How to clean, cook, or debeard? Google!  What is debeard?  You got it, Google!  Betwen Dorie and Google I managed just fine.

The recipe calls for 4 pounds of mussels but I used 2 and I'm glad I did.  2 pounds were plenty if you serve over pasta.  And speaking of pasta.  We've cut way back on the amount of pasta we eat but this is the one we LOVE.  I've searched for a whole wheat pasta but haven't found one that really works for us.  When I make my own I use 1/2 semolina and 1/2 whole wheat.  There isn't always time to make home made though and this was one of those times!  Artichoke flour is substituted for part of the wheat flour and it just plain tastes good!

Our French Friday feast was shared with a friend and it was pronounced a success by all...including me.  And one more thing.  Dorie says have lots of crusty bread on hand if you are not serving this over pasta but I would say have bread on hand even if you are serving it with pasta!  The juices are fantastic and you will want to soak up every last bit of them with a baguette!

Check out the French Friday site to see what the other cooks thought of this dish.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TwD - Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

Chocolate Truffle Tart
I like chocolate.  My husband likes chocolate.  Our children like chocolate too but that's beside the point since neither of them will be sharing our chocolate treat...and this has plenty of chocolate.  Chocolate crust, chocolate filling and chocolate chunks.  Bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and cocoa.  A veritable cornucopia of chocolate.

This recipe is from David Ogonowski.  There's even a You Tube video of David appearing with Julia Child baking the pie.  The video is helpful as it assured me that I was on the right track with the crust.  Its pretty crumbly and it was good to see David's dough very dry and crumbly and how he brought it together.

The recipe calls for 6 individual tart pans.  I have tart pans.  I know I do.  I DO NOT know where they are.  After spending almost an hour looking for said pans I gave up and used my 5" x 13" tart pan.  I kind of love this pan anyway and I think it makes a beautiful tart, at least it does when I can get it out of the pan and this tart came out perfectly!

A chocolate cookie like crust with a sort of chocolate chess filling and loaded with chopped milk and white chocolate and either chopped biscotti or amaretti.  I used amaretti which dissolved into the chocolate filling giving it an almond flavor that was quite nice.

I thought this tart was good but my husband loved it!  He said its the best chocolate thing (I believed he was referring to pasty items) he'd ever tasted.  He said it was like the best brownie only better.  Then he asked for another piece.  Enough said.

February 2012
And since this is a food blog and I can't help myself here's my favorite little eater with his beloved Puffs:)  I can't wait to bake him treats!

Be sure you visit the other blogs and see how everyone else fared.  There are cooks from all over the world and all different experience levels.

Every recipe is hosted by different bakers.  Spike and Steph hosted the tarts and you can find the recipe on there blogs/

Friday, February 10, 2012

FFwD - Nutella Tartine or KISS

Homemade orange marmalade!  Doesn't it look delicious?  Well its not!  My husband, who will quite frankly eat most anything, told me to throw it out.  If you've ever made orange marmalade you know its kind of preparation intensive.  So for one of the quickest, easiest French Friday recipes we've had, seriously, maybe 15 minutes, I spent 1/2 a day working on it, more if you count the time it took trying to find bitter oranges and hazelnuts...and I didn't find either!

This little tartine is simply buttered toast, orange marmalade, nutella, salt and hazelnuts.  Dorie suggest using brioche or challah but I used slices from the incredibly good white loaf I had baked for Tuesdays with Dorie.

Since the orange marmalade was a bust I used the wine and raspberry jelly I made this summer and since I couldn't find hazelnuts I used pecans.

I loved the sweet and slightly tart taste of the jelly with the buttery goodness of the bread accented by the deliciousness of the nutella.  Add the crunch of the pecans then the bite of the salt and voilá, a quick and easy and very grown up treat!

To top it off,  I ran around town to the grocery stores I thought most likely to have Seville or Blood oranges for the marmalade and hazelnuts for the tartine with no luck.  Last night I was in the small and often under stocked grocery closest to me only to find Blood Oranges for 99¢ a pound!  I bought one and used it in a much needed drink!

Relaxation in a glass!
Be sure and see what the other French Friday cooks did!  And remember, sometimes KISS, keep it simple stupid, is best:)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Latest Project - TwD - White Loaves

Several years ago I bought a beautiful bread book called Dough by Richard Bertinet.  The pictures are gorgeous and he advocates a kneading technique I'd never heard of.  There was even a video to help convey the Bertinet technique.  Problem was my bread didn't come out.  It didn't rise or the texture wasn't right or the flavor didn't pop.  I googled Richard Bertinet trying to figure out where I was going wrong only to learn that he teaches bread classes at his shop in Bath, England.  When my husband suggested I sign up and go I jumped at it!  There I learned many things...not the least of which that mistakes had been made in the translation from metrics to American standard.  In other words most of the problems I had were due to poor recipes, the ratios were wrong!  I've been kind of hard on cookbook authors ever since. (These errors were corrected in subsequent editions, only the first printing has it wrong.  I know you might love him and his books.  I do too but I'm still bothered about the experience!)  I see buying a cookbook as entering into a contract.  I agree to follow the recipe and the author agrees to provide recipes that produce the stated results.  If I DON'T follow the recipe (I know folks, but it happens) I can't blame the author but I DO EXPECT recipes with proper ratios!!  Until my Dough experience I didn't really understand the responsibility a cookbook author has.

Off my soapbox and moving on to Baking With Julia.  Dorie Greenspan wrote this cookbook based on the PBS series of the same name that aired in 1996/97.  I saw a few of the episodes but that was a much busier phase of my life and I was probably at either a soccer or hockey game for most of the episodes.  For over a year Julia Child featured different renown bakers preparing one of their signature products.

Now Tuesdays with Dorie.  I was late to the party for the original cooking group based on Dorie Greenspan's book Baking, From my Home to Yours and organized by Laurie Woodward but now Laurie has launched another Tuesday group based on Baking With Julia!  Here's our first recipe. White Loaves.

This is the best white bread recipe I have ever made.  I want to repeat that.  This is the best white bread I have ever made!  The recipe works like a magic formula that's been handed down from baker to baker in whispers.  I even substituted (see, I told you it could happen!) white whole wheat flour for 1/2 of the bread flour because I have a husband fighting off Type 2 diabetes and I try to complicate every carb I possibly can.  Those simple carbs are the bane of the diabetic!

Anyhow, this bread had it all, rise, texture AND flavor!  Great directions, simple recipe.  I'm a happy Dorista!  Stay tuned for Chocolate Truffle Tartlets in two weeks! All the Tuesday Doristas can be found at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Friday, February 3, 2012

FFwD - Gorgonzola - Apple Quiche

Gorgonzola - Apple Quiche = Deliciousness

"This is delicious!"  "No, I'm serious.  Do you know how delicious this is?"  Well, yes I do know how delicious it is!  Big hit at my house!

One thing I couldn't figure out, though, had to do with Dorie's description of Gorgonzola as mild and sweet.  I've never tasted mild or sweet Gorgonzola.  Then I noticed the 'dolce' next to 'Gorgonzola' in the ingredients list.  I confess I had to google it and guess what?  Gorgonzola dolce is the milder, sweeter cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk then aged 3 months.  If I had read the recipe carefully I would have bought the milder version and would have had a different quiche!  But who knows if we would have loved it as much!

In the interest of health and nutrition I used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all purpose flour for the crust.  It had great flavor but was a bit more crumbly than it would have been using only all purpose.  Next time I make pie crust I'm going to try using 3/4 whole wheat.

Don't know about the rest of the Doristas but I'm ready to cook something that's EASY to photo!

Here's how to get to the other French Friday cooks!