French Frdays with Dorie

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.