French Frdays with Dorie

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tropical Crumble (TwD 8/16/2011)

Despite the fact that this crumble contained bananas - the most repugnant fruit on the planet, I found it was rather tasty.  It is a much better use for a banana than banana bread.

It was quite easy to put together and baked up in no time.  My only issue was with the streusel topping.  Imagine my surprise at that, considering that I absolutely adore streusel toppings.  I found this one to be a bit too heavy on the butter, though.  It really did not make that much of a topping.  I felt the butter melted into the filling and did not make a crunchy topping - and that is what I feel streusel should do.  In fact, I only used one-half of the streusel on this dish.  I saved the other half and mixed it with some oats, flour and additional pecans to make a topping for a blueberry-peach crisp I made last week.  Sorry - forgot to take photos of that.  It was delicious.

As easy as this is, I cannot imagine myself ever making this again.  I despise bananas and I am not overly impressed with the mango.  In fact, I am going over to the despising side of mangoes simply because I find them so annoying to cut up.  I don't have a mango cutter and I am not going to invest in one just for the few mango recipes that Dorie uses.  So, I'm always trying to slice right up against the seed and I either don't cut deeply enough or I cut too deeply. 

I was glad to find, however, that there is a method to making bananas more palateable.
Sorry about the lousy photo - it was night and I was tired - plus I am not a good food photographer.  Maybe one day . . .

Friday, July 22, 2011

TwD: Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake (6/7/2011)

Wow, time really does fly, doesn't it?  No matter if you are having fun or not - before you know it a month or more has gone by and you haven't posted a notice. 

As per usual, I have been baking (for the most part) along with the group, I just haven't been posting my results.

I made this cake several weeks ago and took it into work with me.  It was highly popular, moist, tender and chock-full of berries, in fact, I think the next time I make it, I may cut back a tad on the berries.  It was so popular my only photo is of an empty pan! 

Just the crumbs!

In case you have never seen a Magic Line pan, I wanted you to see it.  I have two now - an eight inch square and a nine inch square.  These pans are fabulous.  They release really well, they are perfectly square and brownies or cakes baked in them just come out as evenly baked as anyone could want.  I got mine at Sur La Table and plan to get a couple more of both sizes so that I can do square layer cakes.

This recipe was selected for us by Cindy of Everyday Insanity.  The recipe is posted on her superlative site . . . but you know I expected you to have purchased the Book long before now!

Monday, May 30, 2011

FFwD: Bacon, Egg and Asparagus salad (5/20/2011)

I have been hoarding the last of my Agriberry asparagus to make this salad.  I finally remembered to buy eggs at the Farmer's Market this week.  Last night I made half this salad for dinner.  As I love dressing I made the entire amount of that.  I used about half of it last night and the rest on my luncheon salad today.  Normally, vinegrettes are not my favorites but this one was really good.  I was not able to find sherry vinegar so I subbed in cider vinegar and it was quite tasty.

Farm fresh eggs, thick sliced bacon, yum!!

Either Dorrie likes her asparagus cooked more than I do or her thicker spears were/are a lot thicker than mine, but I found four minutes to be far too long to cook the asparagus.  I don't generally boil asparagus, I usually steam it for about two minutes but I went ahead and boiled it for four minutes.  I definitely thought it was overcooked.  Other than that, I was delighted with this salad.  I am not a soft-boiled egg kind of gal, so I faced that idea with a bit of a queasy stomach, but I trust Dorrie and persevered.

I thought my eggs were so pretty.  How bright and colorful are these yolks?  They are almost orange!  If it has an influence (and to the best of my knowledge, it does not) these eggs were brown shelled.

The salad greens I used came from the BJs superstore.  They were sold in a large tub (isn't everything?) and marked artisan lettuce (I believe).  At any rate, the tub contained some six heads of different "exotic" lettuces which were/are quite lovely.  It contained a head of frisse, two heads of something with reddish leaves and three heads of some other green lettuces.  I am (obviously) not a lettuce officianado so I do not know the other particulars.  If the list of lettuces contained was printed on the packaging, I never noticed it.  However, I am quite enjoying this selection and do highly recommend it.

I used thick sliced bacon - I think it is Oscar Meyer - just some grocery store brand, but it worked out quite well, also. 

FFwD: Cardamom Rice Pilaf (05/27/2011)

When are they going to invent the ability to send odors across the internet?  You would swoon to smell this fragrant rice dish.  It was divine.  I served it with tender asparagus spears and baked fish fillets.  Yummy.  I don't remember how many servings Dorrie told us to expect, but I got two.  I had half the rice for dinner and the other half for lunch the next day.  Did I tell you I love cardamom?  Yep, it is my fave.  It even makes rice, which is generally a chore to consume, quite the pleasure.  I make have to try cardamom mashed potatoes - it doesn't sound very appealing - but really - two great items?  It must be killer - I will let you know.

FFwD: Spinach and Bacon Quiche (05/13/2011)

You know what the problem with doing the recipes ahead of time is?  You forget to post them on time.  I must work on my timing.  It is abysmal.  I am somewhat ahead of the recipes for June, also.  Anyone care to take bets on when these little devils will be posted?

Spinach Bacon Quiche - Golden Brown Goodness

Spinach and bacon quiche.  I enjoyed you immensely when I parook of you, lo these many weeks ago.  I recall you were ridiculously easy to toss together.  I had only one minor issue - well, okay two.  As is ususal for me, my crust refused to my instructions not to slither down into the pan.  What do I have to do to get a crust that remains firmly upright in my tart pan? I know, I know Dorrie the crust goddess implores me not to pull on my crust as this pulling will show up later as shrinkage.  I try, really, I try to gently lay the crust into the pan, to ease the excess crust around the pan and to allow ample time for cooling in the fridge or the freezer. I  thought I had done all of these things, but shrinkage I had.  I also had a mighty tasty shell for my quiche so all is not lost in my land of tart shell assemblage.  I shall continue to endeavor to create both a beautiful and tasty shell in the future.  But, until both of these qualities merge for me, I am grateful that I at least have the later down pat.

A thin slice of deliciousness
 I prefer my quiches to be of the plumper filling variety. I did find that my cravings were not satisfied after eating a serving of this quiche.  I would very much recommend accompanying this quiche with a salad or you will be back looking for more fairly soon after eating your fair share.  With all of the bacon and spinach - you can see there was little room for the egg!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

TWD: Oatmeal nutmeg Scones (5/24/2011)

These may be my favorite scones that we have made so far.  I thought they were incredibly delicate in flavor and texture.  I made mini-scones, stealing the idea from one of the other bakers.  I've had my mini-scone pan for a number of years, but I don't use it very often.  I love the idea of mini-scones, but I hate cleaning the individual little indentations of the pan.  It might not be such a pan if the pan weren't so heavy, but it is and they are, so mini-scones don't hit my play plan all that often.  I have got to stop being such a lazy slob because mini-scones are absolutely adorable.

I checked my stash of dried fruit and all I had were a variety of raisins, none of which struck my fancy and some dried pineapple, dried paypaya and dried banana chips - I found the thought of any of those repugnant with nutmeg, so I elected to stick with the recipe as written.  I was very glad I did.  The oatmeal sort of stuck up on me and would give a bit of substance to the bite just as I was thinking, oh these are almost too light.  Nope here came oatmeal to say, wait a minute there missy - too light?  I think not, here is a bit of down to earth flavor for your little teeth to mull over.  They were not too light - not too heavy - just right. 

If you are so foolish that you do not own this book, you can find the recipe on Patricia's lovely site: Life with a whisk.

Basic marbled Loaf (5/3/2011)

I elected to bake the coffee/cardamom variation of this week's selection.  Cardamom is fast becoming my very favorite spice.  I don't know what my very favorite spice used to be, but now it is far and away cardamom.  Lemon is still my favorite flavor profile, followed very closely by mint and then chocolate - but cardamom is such a delightful spice - it works so well in both the sweet and savory world, how can it be beat?  And, when paired with coffee?  As Tony the Tiger would say . . . it's terrifficcccc - I have no idea how many rr's ff's or cc's Tony would have inserted so I have randomly sprinkled my word, terrific, with so many that I had to use a dictionary to remember how to properly spell it when I wanted to use it correctly!

As per usual, I got carried away when it came to the marbling, so I ended up with something more asking to blobbing it.  My bad.  The taste of the cardamom was wonderful, but it really overwhelmed the coffee flavoring.  The scent of the coffee was there, but the flavor of the coffee was essentially non-existent.  I'll up that ante when I try this cake again.

Carol from The Bake More was our hostess and she posted the recipe on that blog, but you purchased the book, right?

TWD: Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits (5/17/2011)

I fully expected not to enjoy these biscuits.  I really don't care for the flavor of maple, but either Dorrie has finally made a convert of me or the maple syrup I last purchased was not of superior flavor or the flavor just wasn't pronounced in these little gems.  Either way, I quite liked these.  I already knew that I love the bite that cornmeal imparts to things like biscuits and biscotti so that was a done deal the maple surprise was an added bonus.

Additionally, I am quite the lazy cook, so I liked not needing to take the time to roll, cut and shape this dough.  A quick scoop and plop onto the baking sheet and my biscuits were ready for their appearance in the oven.  They looked quite nice - very uniform - I love scoop baking.  I have several sizes for (hopefully) any and all occasions.  I used my medium scoop on these, I believe.  I got twelve as I recall.

This recipe was chosen for us by Lindsey of A little something . . . sweet and she posted the recipe there, check it out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

FFwD: Mustard Batons

Well, I definitely cannot twirl these batons - at least not as a majorette's baton is twirled - I could perhaps twirl these as Groucho would once twirl his cigar - but it isn't about the twirling - it is about the eating.  And, as Alton would say, these are Good Eats.
Supremely easy to make, they can be frozen until needed, and apparently you can fill them with items far more exotic than mere mustard!

I am a plebeian, though, so mine were filled with mustard, as the instructions indicated.  I used a grainy Dijon in half my batons and a regular Dijon in the other half.  I baked a few of each for sampling.  I quite enjoyed them both, but the ones with the grainy mustard are far superior.  They have a much more pronounced taste - I also believe I did not use enough mustard.  I squirted it on or spread it on, instead of measuring out the proper amount and I think I could have upped the baton's contents by at least another third, if not entirely by half.

Batons masquerading as NE Doggie Rolls
 I love the idea of spreading them with other things, a tampenade, as Dorie suggests or a pesto as someone else suggested.  And, then filling them with non-savory items is also a possibility.  They are a great finger food. 

All we need to do is add our imagination to the possible contents and we have a gold mine.  I have squirrelled the remainders in the freezer, just waiting for someone to visit so I can wow them with my batons!

And check out this stirling example of my non-existant photography skills - I managed to make mustard batons look like New England Doggie Rolls - which - in case you did not know - are so much better than the average hot dog bun that it is not even remotely funny!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

FFwD: Quinoa, fruit and nut salad

I did not really expect to enjoy this dish very much.  I generally find I am not overly fond of dishes like cous-cous and I equated the quinoa with that.

I made a half-batch of the quinoa, nuts and fruit.  I accidentally made a full-batch of the dressing.  This is fine with me, I do love lemon juice. 

I did not serve the quinoa atop salad greens, I just consumed it as a side dish.  I thought, hmm, okay, nothing special, but not bad.  I found the freshness of the lemon juice to be quite nice.  I had not given the dish much time to meld, though.  So, I covered it and left it on the counter at room temperature overnight.

This morning, I took out a container of vanilla yogurt (I rarely do plain) and plopped a whole serving of that atop a large bowl of the quinoa.  I must say, this stuff makes a wonderful breakfast.  I had used raisins and craisins as my fruits and pine nuts and toasted walnuts as my nuts.  Excellent choices, though I believe golden raisins would be a better choice than the dark ones I grabbed initially.  I still have a bit left and shall have it for breakfast, with yogurt, tomorrow. 

It is difficult to eat a healthy breakfast like this while one is busy patting themselves on the back for being so virtuous, but I managed.  Truth be told, my shoulder is a tad sore from all that backpatting!  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FFwD: Garlicky crumb-coated broccoli

I love the diversity of recipes in this cookbook.  One week it is something extraordinarily challenging and the next week, it is something as simple as steaming broccoli.  And, it makes no difference if the recipe is complicated or simple - the food is excellent.

Apparently I did not trim my stalks into small enough sections because it did take an extended time period for my broccoli to tenderize.  I could have used a touch more butter or a skosh fewer breadcrumbs, but in general, I thought this combination was interesting and tasty.

I am probably the most boring vegetable cooker on the planet, so anytime someone points me towards an easy way to add flavor to my veggies, I am grateful.

I paired this with the recipe for April 29 and will post those photos on that date.  Be forewarned - broccoli and bifstek are a great combination!

TwD: Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp

I do love me some crisp.  When other people are talking about making cobblers, I always think, blah, make a crisp.  And, this one was quite nice.  I found the taste of the crystallized ginger quite noticeable, though my other tasters did not seem to notice it at all.  I thought it added a very interesting punch to the flavors.

I had purchased some frozen rhubarb a while back and used that in this dish.  I thawed the sliced rhubarb, drained it, patted it dry and then sliced their slices into thinner slices for my use.  The recipe calls for about a pound of rhubarb and my frozen fruit contained just 10 ounces.  However, it nicely spread across the top of my crisp.

I am especially fond of crisps which use oatmeal in their topping as I am of the opinion that oatmeal is healthy and therefore I can eat twice as much of this crisp as I could one just covered with a sugary crisp coating.

I was quite disappointed in my strawberries, though.  I knew it was early for the berries, but I hoped these would actually have some flavor and be red throughout.  No such luck.  They looked like strawberries, they even smelled like strawberries, but they were impostors.  I hulled them and sliced them and found myself looking at white hearts with a red rim.  The only juice produced for the filling came from the liquefied sugar. 

However, this week, I am going to pick up some fruit from the Farmer's Market and give this crisp another try.  With any luck, I will be able to get fresh rhubarb - if not - I will happily use the frozen again.  But, my berries will be lush with flavor.  I am sure a crisp that I thought was mighty fine is going to be reclassified as outstanding. 

Sarah made this choice for us and has posted the recipe with some very tasty looking photos, here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FFwD: Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce

Scallops with just a drizzle of Caramel-Orange Sauce

If I could have changed anything about this dish - it would have been the price I paid for these scallops. $19.95/pound!  I only made one pounds' worth.  They were excellent scallops and they divided nicely among three people.  Okay, if I could have changed two things - the second one would have been the amount of sauce I had. 

I was not expecting to be delighted with the sauce.  I thought it sounded unique, perhaps quirky - no - I am unimaginative, it sounded weird to me.  But, Dorie suggested it, so I was definitely intrigued by its possibilities.  I loved this sauce. 

While making the sauce I had the sugar caramelized nicely.  Then I added the orange juice - scared myself half to death because my sugar seized instantly into one rather unappealing blob.  I kept the faith, though, and just kept on stirring.  As the juice heated the blob disintegrated.  Then the magic of reduction occurred and voila - orange caramel sauce! 

I then served it as Dorie suggested with the herbed glazed carrots.  And, boy were they a hit?  My guest liked them so much she asked for them again the next day.  SCORE! 

This group just keeps getting better and better.

Scallops, Basmati Rice, Spiced Glazed Carrots - YUM!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

TwD: Corniest Corn Muffins (3/8/2011)

I inadvertently used the last bit of my corn on the Monday before we were to make this recipe.  Who knows how many trips to the grocery store later, but corn finally made its way back home with me!  I used frozen white shoepeg, so you can barely see the kernels in the photo.  However, they made a huge difference in the moistness of these muffins. 

I can tell you, my mother would have hated them.  She had this New Englander's thing about sweetened corn bread (or muffins).  She would always say it was wrong, johnny cake is apparently, supposed to be completely unsullied by the introduction of sugar.  I swear, I think it must have been like eating grainy sawdust, give me a little sprinkling of sugar any time! 

And, feel free to add the corn kernels, as well, because they are such a pleasant surprise.  Jill of My Next Life made this very wise selection and has the recipe posted there.  I, would, of course, buy the book to have my very own copy, but you do what you think is best.

TwD: Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins (03/15/2011)

These muffins really clinched it for me.  The currant is delightful.  I don't ever remember using them before I joined this group, but now I find them indescribably delicious!  I don't remember them being commonplace in the market, but perhaps I just wasn't looking.  I used the last of my King Arthur's Flour currants in this batch and picked up some new ones at the Fresh Market.  What a surprise I got when preparing to make the Beggar's Linguine, the Kroger carries currants as well.  (P.S. They also carry dried figs - who knew?)

Citrus is my all time favorite flavor with lemon leading that pack.  The freshness that flavor gives to these muffins is great.  I will add these to my, must have on a brunch table pile of goodies.  Thanks for this great selection, Lauryn, her site Bella Baker has the recipe, as does the book, page 7.  Check-out her work for Hamilton Jeweler's Diamond Noir celebration.  Her table was elegant, the food she prepared exquisite, I am sure it tasted even better than it looked.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TwD: Honey Nut Brownies

I expected these brownies to have a rich dark chocolate flavor, but I found they were a bit bland instead.  I quite enjoyed the flavor of the toasted nuts but the body of the cookie was a bit disappointing.  In fact, if I had to come up with a one word description for them it would be B-O-R-I-N-G.

I ran out of honey at about the 3/4 cup mark so I completed that ingredient by using Lyle's Golden Syrup.  I noticed that the syrup was a few shades darker than the honey but other than that, I think it was a good substitute.

It took these brownies at least one hour to finish baking.  In fact, when I took them out at about the 65 minute mark they were still testing as unfinished.  I could tell that the edges were getting quite well done, though, so I finally removed them anyway.  They look almost as if they were made in layers. I think this is because the top portion was slightly underdone.  I suppose I could have tried putting foil over the edges of the pan, but it just seemed like too much effort. 

I don't think I'll give these a go another time, but I will definitely remember to toast my nuts before using them.

You can find the recipe in the book, of course, or at Suzy Homemaker's website.  She chose this week's recipe.

Friday, March 11, 2011

FFwD: Beggar's Linguine

Once again Dorie amazes me.  I saw the contents of this dish and my first thought was - and she liked this just by hearing about it?  How often I am reminded of my completely unsophisticated and unschooled palette.  I thought this dish sounded pretty awful up front.  Truth be told, I don't know if I have ever eaten a fig that wasn't pureed into the filling of a Newton.  (P.S. Fig Newtons are the bananas of the cookie world for me - I don't eat them often, but when I do I pat myself on the back for my healthy choice.  Unlike bananas they don't leave one with fuzzy teeth!)

I was too lazy to cut this recipe down into proportions for one so I have a few meals left in the leftover department.  I am sure Dorie is correct that these will not be as good as the dish is immediately after cooking - but when you live alone you eat a lot of left-overs that aren't as good as the original.  Thankfully some dishes do improve with age.

I was delighted with portions of this recipe.  I have tried a brown butter sauce before but was never happy with it.  This one was pretty close - the smell was absolutely divine.  I had been dithering over whether or not it was the color of hazelnuts - it surely smelled nothing like hazelnuts.  So, I kept the sauce simmering away for a few extra minutes.  I was so glad I did, suddenly, it came together, the fragrance was terrific and the color was decidedly dark. 

In general though, I am on the fence for this one.  As usual my coarse chopping looked more like a fine powder, so that needs work.  The flavors worked together so much better than I anticipated.  But, I found that the tiny little fig seeds were highly intrusive and gave my dish a fairly grainy feel.  I did not care for that - while simultaneously being surprised that I liked the sweetness of the figs against the buttery sauce. 

I definitely think I would prefer to serve this as a side dish and not as my main dish.  I am going to try it again when I have some willing victims to feed.  I used the zest of an entire orange and would not have minded even more.  I love how the zest brightens a dish.  These little things really do make a huge difference.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

FFwD: Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

Another excellent selection from the new book.  This quick bread has a bit of an Irish soda bread flavor.  It comes together in mere minutes and has a really nice flavor both immediately after baking and a day or so later.

I used two kinds of cheddar cheese for this one.  I used an extremely sharp white as the grated cheese and a yellow cheddar for the chunks.  A few chopped chives and voila - festive bread. 

I actually found that I prefer the center pieces of this bread to the heel of the loaf.  Usually I am like a dog with a bone over the heel, so this did surprise me.  I found the heel to be a bit crumbly.  Still tasty, but the texture was strange to me.

I am eager to try this bread with a new variety of cheeses and some different spices.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TwD: Toasted Almond Scones

I drove down from Delaware yesterday and stopped at Starbucks.  I got a scone along with my latte.  Big mistake, I am sure it was made sometime this year, but I am not sure it was made within the week.  Talk about dry and tasteless.  I swear that company is single-handidly going to ruin the reputation of scones everywhere! 

Fortunately, Mike of Living out West, chose Toasted Almond Scones for our weekly baking adventure.  These scones taste the way scones are supposed to taste.  They have just a touch of sweetness, the toasted almonds are added in three forms, almonds we toast and grind, almonds we toast and chop and almonds which toast themselves on top of the scones while the scones are baking.  In addition, we added just a hint of almond extract to the liquid ingredients.  Delightful.

Of course since I can't seem to do anything right the first time anymore, I did burn the living daylights out of my first cup of almonds.  Honestly, do they have to go from albinos to crispy critters in the blink of eye?  I say no, but my eye was probably blinking for more like three minutes than three seconds, so I have only myself to blame.

Luckily I had more almonds in the freezer so I was quickly able to rectify this error.  Other than that, I had no problems with this recipe at all.  I love that in a recipe. 

For those folks who find they overwork their dough trying to incorporate the butter, I do have a suggestion.  Keep your butter in the freezer, then when you are making pastry, grate the necessary amount into your flour mixture.  It is then super easy to mix into the dry ingredients, it is predisposed to make small chunks and the clumps that stick together make the larger pieces that make pastry so light and flaky.  This is especially helpful for unsalted butter since it keeps for such a short time in the refrigerator.

Check Mike's blog for the recipe, some great photos and some serious dedication - five rounds of scones!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TwD: Cardamom Crumb Cake (12/21/10)

I was late making the cardamom crumb cake.  I caught up with the little devil a few weeks ago.  I was pre-destined to like this.  I love coffeecake type desserts, I love struesel toppings and I think cardamom was invented by the gods and then delivered to earth.

And, all of the above is still true, however, I did find the flavor of this cake to be a tad more subtle than this (hammer wielding) spice nut prefers.  I think perhaps my cardamom had some age on it, so I have it on my Penzey's list and will pick some  up next time I am there.

I will then redo the cake and see if is as wonderful as I expect it to be.

The recipe was chosen by Jill and is posted on her blog, appropriately named: Jill's Blog.

TwD: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

Hooray, cookies!  I do so love a handheld treat.  I made a half batch of these little gems.  I am also quite enamored of a recipe that splits in half ultra-easily.

I got a yield of about 30 cookies from a half batch.  I used my small scoop to form the cookies.  I probably should have given them a gentle nudge after putting them on the cookies sheets.  One or two were a bit bulbous in the center.  They are the chewier version of all I made.

These are quite chocolately, a flavor profile, I heartily endorse.  However, I found the appearance of the albino oat flakes to be a bit off-putting.  On the other hand, I always claim anything with oats in it is healthy, so I do approve of these cookies being a braggards about their healthy content.  These are so chocolately, in fact, that I actually drank that milk (in the photo) when I ate those cookies.  I believe that would be second class of milk in the last four or five years!

Caroline and Claire of Bake with Us selected this week's recipe and it can be found on their blog.

Chocolate Almond Tuiles

My brother gave me a copy of Presidential Cookies (by Bev Young) for Christmas.  I have been quite eager to make something, but being alone and baking weekly with Dorie, I rarely have a need for extra sweets.  However, last week, I palmed off my bread pudding on my meeting mates and it left me with a few homeless egg whites.

So, I started leafing through my cookie cookbooks.  Immediately, I considered making something with a meringue base, but all the recipes I saw called for two egg whites, except one.  It called for four (which was how many I had on hand) but it yielded a massive amount of cookies.  Since it involved leaving the trays in the oven for a couple of hours, I figured it wouldn't be the best choice.  Seriously, how is that supposed to work?  You can only fit so many trays into the oven at one time.  Are the other shapes just supposed to sit on the counter and wait their turn?

In flipping through Presidential Cookies, I saw a recipe for John F. Kennedy's favorite: Chocolate Almond Tuiles.  Now, I missed making tuiles with Dorie a few weeks ago.  I can't remember why, but I am sure it was a very good excuse!

So, I thought, perfect, I shall dip into JFK's history and whip these bad boys up.  First, let me say, I am underwhelmed with the instructions Ms. Young provides.  She says to chill the batter for one hour.  I did this, then she says to spread it onto parchment paper.  I managed this, but it was difficult.  I was unsure of how thick to make the tuiles and was guessing at how much batter to spread.  In addition, the batter did not want to spread, it wanted to stick to the parchment and lay in a lump.  I persevered and managed to form some fairly round shapes.  I then baked them and as suggested, lay them over a rolling pin to form the curved tile appearance.  What a pan in the hiney that was, I should have lay them down so that the part from the cookie sheet was forming the curve.  Sometimes I did, sometimes I put the top part on the rolling pin.  I realized afterwards that one way meant the ugly bottom was the eye catching part of the cookie - duh.

And, let me quote the directions for forming the cookies:
   1 -Make a circle template by cutting a circle in a thin piece of cardboard or plastic (about 3.5 inch diameter).
  2 -Several other steps are inserted and then -
  3 - Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place the template on it.
  4 - Using a small spatula, spread a small amount of batter evenly over the template.  Carefully lift the template off.

Am I dumber than the average bear or is this confusing to you, also?  I can assure you, if you spread the batter onto the template there will be no removal of said template from the batter.  I finally decided that what I would do would be to draw circles on the back of my parchment paper and then spread the batter within those circles.  That worked pretty well.  Maybe Bev meant I should place the template under the parchment, but that is just too annoying for words.  My circle idea was much closer to genius than her stupid template.

The tuiles tasted okay the first day (I made them Sunday) but I actually prefer them a couple of days later.  The first day I found them to be extremely cakey or crispy - depending on their thickness.  Now, two days later they are pleasantly chewy. 

I remain convinced however, that JFK was so happy with these tuiles because he did not have to form the little bas**rds!

I forgot to mention, the almond flavor in these tuiles comes from almond extract.  It will be interesting to substitue a little ground almond for some of the flour to enhance that flavor and alter the cookie's texture, slightly.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TwD: Bourbon Bread Pudding

I should change the name of this dish - I did not make Bourbon Bread Pudding.  I had no bourbon and I wasn't about to go out and buy a bottle just to get one tablespoon.  Instead, I made Grand Marnier Bread Pudding and it was a smash hit at my meeting.

This is the only photo I have:
I even tried a bit of the pudding myself.  It was okay - mind you I am not particularly fond of bread pudding so okay is a fairly high bread pudding ranking from me!

I used orange extract instead of almond extract to enhance the flavor of the Grand Marnier.  I really did not taste the liquor particularly, but it did give the pudding an absolutely fabulous scent.  When I checked it in the oven and when I pulled it out of the oven, it smelled excellent.

I used Challah for my bread base.  I wanted to use raisin bread but the store only had some incredibly dense form of that and I felt it would not be suitable for this dish.

I found this pudding extremely easy to pull together and like this method much more than some of the other versions we have made.

Friday, February 4, 2011

FFwD: Basque Potato Tortilla

I was quite looking forward to this one.  I love potatoes, I have days when all I eat are potatoes, fried potatoes with cheese for breakfast, boiled potatoes with butter for lunch and a baked potato for dinner.  That is my idea of comfort food. 

I was not, however, enthralled with the way this turned out.  Surprisingly (to me) I really did not have issues with flipping out the tortilla.  I used my Le Cruset cast iron frying pan.  I use it all the time for oven pancakesand they come out of the pan just fine (but they have lots of incentive, i.e. shortening).  I fully expected the eggs to cling tenaciously to the pan and refuse to yield, but other than a slight rim around the top, it came out quite easily.  Well, as easily as anything can when one can barely lift the pan to flip it over!  I swear, Dorie must have some well developed forearms, because I could not hold the receiving platter and flip the pan simultaneously.  I ended up being grateful for the slight hitch around the top.  It gave me the time I needed to invert the frying pan over the receiving platter.  I used two hands on the frying pan and had the platter waiting eagerly on the counter. 

I fried up some crispy bacon to go with the tortilla and set down to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  And, then I decided several things had gone wrong.  Number one, I subbed a bit of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika for the traditional basque spice.  Number one-A, I did not sub enough of those two spices.  I barely even noticed they were in the dish.  Number two-my potatoes were not done as well as I thought they were.  I contemplated cooking them in a non-stick pan and then switching to the oven-proof pan later, but I decided to use the same pan.  Next time, I will do the potatoes in a non-stick pan and truly get them golden (all-over).  Number three, this dish needs cheese.  Come on, eggs, potatoes, what comes next?  Cheese.  Number four, I prefer this dish closer to hot than to room temperature. 

Maybe this is because the temp in my house hovers at around sixty degrees and at room temperature this tasted slightly chilled or maybe it is just because that is what I am accustomed to eating.  Either way, I have reheated some of the left-overs and liked them better than the original slice.  Reheating served me well, I was able to get my potatoes farther along in the cooking and I tried the dish in a hot state.  Next time I reheat a bit it will have some cheese tossed onto the top.
And the next time I make this, from start to finish, I will definitely up the ante on the spices.  This dish wasn't a hit right off the bat for me, but I definitely think it has potential.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TwD: Nutty, Chocolatly, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Add a dusting of confectioner's sugar
After carefully reviewing the P's & Q's for this recipe I reserved a bit of batter when filling the pan.  I think the amount of swirl we made for this cake was a bit extreme.  However, I was able to cover my filling with batter thanks to the tips.
Swirly Bundt Slice

Once baked, the swirl was very pronounced, but it did not look as though it were done in multiple layers.  This was one of my better slices for showing the distribution of swirl.  I will use a bit less swirl the next time so that the division between the layers of swirl will be more obvious.  Having said that, I quite enjoyed the flavors and taste of this swirl.

Actually, I quite enjoyed this entire cake.  I had a slice while it was still warm from the oven.  Oh, my - fantastic.  However, I did not think the texture of the cake was anything like a pound cake.  Mine was very light and fluffy.  It got a bit dryer as time advanced, but it was never as dense as pound cake.  I really, really liked this warm.  It was good at room temp and good the next few days as well.  But, when eaten warm the chocolate in the swirl is still very close to liquid and that is just a real treat.

Mixing the orange zest into the sugar is so smart.  It really enhances the taste of citrus.  I had never used that tip before baking with Dorie, but I will always do it from here on out.  Divine. Jennifer has posted this recipe at her site, Cooking for Comfort.

TWD: Great Grains Muffin

I love muffins, they are such a delight to make.  So many different flavor combinations, quick cooking, and no mixer needed.

I cut this recipe in half and got eight muffins in my batch.  I swear I do not know how Dorie only gets one dozen out of the full mixture.  I always get at least 18 from a full batch.  I even bought new muffin tins a few months ago to ensure I had the proper normal sized ones. 

I think the thing that took the longest today was allowing the melted butter to cool.  Funny, I was just looking at a biscuit recipe yesterday, it said to mix melted butter into buttermilk before adding it to the dry ingredients.  Apparently the cold buttermilk solidifies some of the melted butter.  This acts a bit like the cutting of cold butter into flour does, the larger pieces melt slower than the smaller ones giving you a lighter finished product.  I haven't made them yet, but they seem a lot like Dorie's cream biscuits (one of my favorite-ultra easy recipes). 

At any rate, my biscuits were made with molasses instead of maple syrup.  Because I could not find my maple syrup and I wasn't going to go and buy a new bottle.  I know I have one somewhere.  Plus, I don't care much for maple and I adore molasses, so win-win for me.

The molasses really give you a darker hue to your crumb, but I like that.  I also quite liked the al dente crunch provided by the corn meal.  I had forgotten I used the meal and when the muffin had the tiny resistance I thought, what is going on -- then of course, my genius kicked in and I remembered.  I used  a handful of chopped walnuts and a handful of raisins as a bonus in my muffins. You can find this recipe posted by Christine at Happy Tummy.  (Love that name.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

FFwD: Chicken B'stilla

The entire time I was making this recipe I was in love with it.  It smelled divine, it looked so good.  My sauce was smooth and creamy.  I was so eager to taste this, I was sure I was going to make a bad pun about the name - Be stilla my heart - was all I kept thinking.  All through my preparation I kept thinking, my God, this smells intoxicating, I can't wait to eat it.  And then, I tried it.  And, you know what?  It wasn't intoxicating anymore.  In fact, it was rather a taste let down.

Chicken B'stilla

The dish turned out beautifully.  I mean look at it.  Perfect shape, fantastic color.  And you know?  I found it disappointing.  I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't there.  It had everything going for it during preparation.  The only thing that did not track as I expected was the sauce reduction.  That took well over thirty minutes.  Maybe I did not have the heat up high enough, it was boiling briskly but the reduction was quite slow to take place.  Eventually, though, it was reduced sufficiently.  I added the eggs and honey, fearful that I would end up with scrambled eggs - but no - my whisking was sufficient to avoid that horror.  But still, when I tasted my slice, I wasn't thrilled.  It did not have quite the punch I was expecting.  It packs a nice presentation, though, so I will keep it in mind for the future.  I'm eager to share it with someone else to see how they feel about it.  I don't have high hopes for the longevity of the lovely pastry, but perhaps the filling will evolve (for me) and I will once again be having heart palpitations over this dish. 

Chicken B'stilla by the slice

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FFwD: Gnocchi a la Parisienne

I ask you?  What is the point of making the recipes on time if one forgets to post about them?  In my defense I did go out of town on Friday - however - I made the gnocchi a few days early to accommodate that.  Such is life, I am terminally disorganized!

I did not realize that gnocchi came in different flavors or could be made using so many different techniques.  I am an avid watcher of Top Chef and have seen Fabio make gnocchi - what? - five times?  Whatever, I always thought it had to be made with potatoes.  I also thought it was rolled into the snakes and then snipped.

What a surprise to learn that it can be made from pate a choux dough.  Such fun.  I have only made this one other time -at Sur La Table - when I took a class.  We made gougeres, I shall be making them again when I get to that recipe.

I found the gnochi themselves to be very easy to make.  I found the bechemel sauce to be a trifle odd.  It ended up being inordinately thick.  I should have thinned it down, but I thought, let me just bake it and see what happens.  I thought it might spread a trifle while in the oven.  It really did not.  The gnocchi did puff up beautifully.  They were light fluffy and delicious.  They were also quite rich.  I like rich food - I've rarely met a fat I did not like (I'm looking at you margarine) but I think the butter on top pushed this into the too much of a good thing category.  Next time, if I put any butter on the top at all, it will be less than half of what this recipe called for. 

I definitely want to try freezing the gnocchi for future use.  I wish I had only baked a small portion of these and saved the rest.  Next time.

TWD: Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

What is it with me?  Give me a complicated recipe and I am fine.  Give me something as simple as these muffins and I am a disaster zone!

I was a smidge surprised by the batter for these muffins.  I whisked together the liquid ingredients and found the mixture to be quite thick.  When I added that to the dry ingredients I was a trifle worried that I was overworking the dough.  Perhaps I did, incorporating the two mixtures required a bit of elbow grease.

Muffin craters

As always I found that I had more muffins than Dorie projected.  I had sixteen versus the twelve the batter was supposed to yield.  I tested them after about 13 minutes and they seemed to be done.  The inserted tool came out completely clean.  The tops were barely showing any color, but I removed the muffins anyway.  (Nasty buzzer sound) Not a good idea.  After about four minutes many of the muffins had massive craters in their tops and it was apparent that they were in fact still undone in their centers. 

Albino muffins - before the rebake
 So, back into the muffin tin they went (thankfully I had used paper liners) and back into the oven.  Of course, I forgot about them, so they are now a much darker brown color.  They are however only slightly dry.  The flavor is quite nice.  I will definitely make these again, but I think I will use fewer poppy seeds, there just seem to be so many.  Thanks for making this choice, Betsey of A cup of sweetness chose these.  You can find the recipe on her site or you in the book - page 10.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TWD: Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

As is my wont, I failed to carefully read this recipe before starting.  I had skimmed over it and thought, lovely, easy recipe.  Then I got to the part where it said, chill for at least 3 hours and I thought, well, never mind what I thought, let's just say unladylike words filtered through my brain and one or two may have passed through my lips.  It isn't that chilling the dough is difficult.  It is that, once again, my photos would have to be taken without the benefit of natural light.  Drat!  I hang my head with shame each time I look at someone else's elegant photos and I vow to at least take mine with the beneficial natural light.  However, being an inveterate sluggard, I rarely manage to stick to that vow.

I was a bit surprised to see the step of chilling, I've never done that before when baking madelines.  I've also never made chocolate madelines before.  I think previously I have done plain and lemon.  I haven't made madelines in a few years.  I don't know why not.  They are quick easy and impressive. 

I thought I had incorporated my melted butter thoroughly before chilling the dough.  I found when I removed it from the refrigerator that I had not.  My dough had striations of fat running through it.  Not very attractive.  Nonetheless, I persevered.  I loaded the batter into the mold and baked.  My madelines were massive.  They more than overflowed the pan.  I think I could have made at least four more cookies if not six with the batter I had. 

For appearances sake, I trimmed the excess baggage from my cookies.  Not being a wastrel (just a sluggard) I forced myself to eat the trimmings.  I must say, a chocolate madeline is a fine thing.

I let them cool down (one did break when removing them from the pan) and then I proceeded to attempt to stuff them with fluff.  I suck at stuffing cookies with fluff.  First of all, despite Dorie's instructions to insert the piping tip into the flat side of the cookie, I stuck it in the narrow bottom.  This caused one or two of my cookies to split.  I shall cleverly eat that evidence.  I'm not a big fan of marshmallow fluff so the paucity of this ingredient in the cookie will not be missed by me.

My ganache came together easily and I started dipping the cookies.  Looking at some of the other's photos I see that my cookies were not as smooth as theirs - or my dipping is not as pristine.  I don't know the specific cause but I see other madelines that look smoothly and professionally covered whilst mine look like they had a hit and run accident with a ganache bowl.  I am jealous, but console myself with the fact that my cookies are tasty.

If you want to see professional looking madelines, visit Effort to Deliciousness.  Margot selected this recipe for us this week.  It was a fine selection.

Friday, January 7, 2011

FFwD: Paris Mushroom Soup and Spiced Butter Glazed Carrots

Like Laurie I had a bit of trouble getting mushrooms this week.  I got them, that wasn't a problem.  The problem was they weren't the newest kids on the block.  I don't know if you are aware of it, but one of the signs of an older mushroom is that the gills just keep getting darker and darker.

In fact, here is one of the few produce facts I know, if you are purchasing mushrooms, you want to find ones that are totally tight to the stem.  The older the mushroom, the more the cap pulls away from the stem, the darker the flesh of the mushroom gets, and the gills get very very dark.

They still taste okay when the gills are a bit dark, but the moisture they eliminate is not especially pleasant to regard.  In fact, it will remind you quite a bit of watery mushroom soil.  This is, by the way, not something you generally want to contemplate eating!

However, I am accustomed to this and proceeded with my soup preparation, regardless of the color of my mushrooms' liquid waste.  I ended up with a soup that will never win any beauty contests.  It tasted okay, but I actually prefer my go to mushroom soup recipe.  That recipe is in the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook and for whatever reason, it always turns out fantastic for me. 

I am definitely going to give this soup another try - when I can get truly white - white mushrooms!  I prefer a lot of mushroom slices in my soup, so I pulled a few spoons-ful of sliced mushrooms out before I blended the soup.  I topped it with a dollop of sour cream, which proceeded to fall to the bottom of the bowl!  I forgot to pick up creme freche.  I remedied that today.

A few days ago I made the spiced butter glazed carrots.  Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables.  These were delightful.  I adore cardamom, so I was quite pleased to add it to my pan.  I like to cut carrots on the diagonal and then cut those slices into matchsticks.  I left these in the diagonal slice condition.  A few minutes later and I had tasty fragrant carrots.  I am quite enjoying these.  Encountering the small slivers of garlic is like finding the prize in the King cake.  Happiness.

02/08/2011: Update to the Paris Mushroom Soup: I found pristinely white mushrooms at the store yesterday.  So, I scooped them up and ran home to make this soup over again.  Just look at how much more appetizing last night's version of this gem was:

I made the salad in my bowl this time and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the green onions.  Normally I despise any form of raw onion, but it totally worked with this soup.  I am glad I gave it a second chance, the taste was so much better without the debris from the dirty mushroom gills.  I still prefer my cream of mushroom soup recipe from Good Housekeeping for cream of mushroom soup - but this is an excellent soup for the days when you want a lighter more springlike flavor.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

TWD - Midnight Crackles

Mmmm, dark chocolate, soft, chewy cookies.  Excellent choice!  I quite enjoyed these cookies.  I used about 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate.  I wasn't worried about them not being as tasty if I used all bittersweet, I just had a small stash of semi-sweet chocolate that was getting some age on it.  Chocolate, unlike wine (which you can't prove by me) does not generally improve with age.  I know the bloom doesn't much affect the taste - but it is just so darned ugly.

At any rate, my only issue with these cookies was the initial chocolate melting.  We were to melt the butter, sugar (brown) and chocolate over low heat until it was smooth and shiny.  Mine was never really smooth. I  could always see the crystals from the sugar in the melted mixture. I  gave it some extended time on the burner - over 30 minutes, but I saw no evidence that the crystals were going to turn into shiny smoothness, so I finished mixing the dough with the shiny, but gritty chocolate mixture.

The dough seemed to come together with no issues, I divided it and put the two halves in the refrigerator.  After an hour or so I pulled it out and began to make balls of dough.  The edges of the dough were rather firm, but the center was totally malleable.  The only minor issue I had was pressing down the colder balls of dough.  I guess the larger lumps were the correct size because some of my smaller ones did more cracking along the edges than in the middle.  In general, my cookies were quite a uniform size and did not develop sway-backed centers - they stayed round and puffy.

In a very few instances when I bite a cookie I get a sensation of sugar and wonder if I really should have tried for a totally smooth melted mixture,but it is rare and it is not an unpleasant taste, just a slightly gritty texture. 

I have three dozen in the freezer, gave away another dozen today and have been munching on them pretty regularly.  The yield was great - close to sixty cookies 

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm back with Beef Daube, Potato Leek Soup and Not Just for Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake

The question is, am I better than ever?  Well, one can but dream.  I rarely make New Year's Resolutions.  For me they tend to be New Year's Eve Resolutions and last about that long!  However, this year, I am vowing to be a better blogger.

To that end, I have been trying to catch up on my all of the Dorie recipes.  This doesn't just mean Tuesdays with Dorie.  I am also now a member of the group French Fridays with Dorie.  I have the suspicion that I am going to be a fairly silent partner in this group as I can not get its website to cooperate with me in the least.

Apparently I am a word press moron.  I get logged in and get taken to my profile.  That's it folks.  If I want to see the website contents I have to look from an unlogged in perspective.  Rather daunting since we get to vote on these recipes and I love to spread my opinion as far as I can.

I have made two of the French Friday dishes so far.  I made the Beef Daube and the Potato Leek Soup.  I am accustomed to be stunned by how tasty Dorie's recipes are and the Beef Daube is no exception.  It took me a bit longer to pull it all together, than I expected, but the taste was worth it.

After browning the beef cubes, I slowly cooked the onions and shallots.  I added the beef, carrots, and parsnips to the pan and prepared to add the red wine.  I used a delightful Yellow Tail Shiraz - not because of the taste - I have no wine taste buds.  I bought it solely based on price.  I know, I know, cook only with something you would drink by the glass - but honestly - they all taste the same to me - that being the case, I figured saving seven or eight bucks was the wise choice. 

I then learned that I had no clue how to work my Pampered Chef corkscrew.  I am positive I did it wrong because (a) a little metal thing and some plastic shards came off of it and (b) it barely budged the cork.  However, with the help of a paring knife and infinite patience I was able to work the blasted cork out of the bottle.  Oh, for a saber and the skill to simply lop off the top of the damned bottle!  After a quick visit to Sur La Table, I am prepared to open bottles without a sword, once again.

Regardless.  The stew simmered for the requisite 2.5 hours and when pulled from the oven, it both smelled and tasted divine.  Don't judge it by this mediocre photo. I have been eating the stew for the last few days and it is getting a little forlorn looking.

I am still slightly undecided about the potato leek soup.  It has a lovely pale, pale green color to it and a nice flavor.  However, it is decidedly leek and not so decidedly potato in nature.  I think it may be a soup that is tastier on the second day, so I shall make my ultimate decision after it chills for a time. 

I pureed my soup with my immersion blender - a tool I rarely find the opportunity to use but am liking more and more every time that opportunity does arise.  I chose to do that because I got a bit sidetracked when making the stew and it boiled longer than necessary.  I actually thought it was a lost cause.  I swear that blasted milk had separated into water and whey!  Tres gros!  However, a few quick swirls with the blender and I had creamy loveliness. 

If I am still on the fence after my next tasting, I shall boil up a potato or two and toss them into the pot.  I am sure their addition will bring this soup from pretty good to fine and dandy.

Finally for Tuesdays with Dorie, where have I been all these weeks?  Well, sometimes baking and not posting and sometimes not getting my act together to bake.  I have certainly made more of the last few months selections than one can tell from my blogs and I will get those postings online as soon as is feasible.  I made the cranberry shortcake several weeks ago.  I absolutely loved this cake. 

I must have spread my jam more thinly than was anticipated because I had quite a bit of the jam remaining.  I wanted to make more of the jam for Christmas presents, but I never saw cranberries in the grocery store this year.  Most have been another blight of some kind!

Everyone who had a taste of this cake pronounced it excellent.  It was easy and quick to bake and will definitely become part of my go-to repertoire.