Thursday, February 3, 2011

Basque Potato Tortilla: French Fridays with Dorie

Duck Sausage:
3 lbs duck meat, boned and trimmed.
1 lb pork back or panchetta.
4 cloves garlic.
3 oz dried blueberries.
1 oz unseasoned breadcrumbs.
2 tbs kosher salt. 1 tbs ground black pepper.
1/3 cup dry white wine.
1/2 tbs sage.
1/2 tbs thyme.
sausage casings.
Cut duck and pork back into pieces that your grinder can handle. Crush garlic and add. Add all the remaining ingredients except breadcrumbs and let sit in refrigerator overnight. Grind meat and pork back or panchetta together on coarse setting. Add breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Pan fry small piece to test seasonings adjust as needed. Stuff into casings and store. It is nice to break up the duck yourself so you can render the fat for confit etc. and use the carcass for stock.

One of the great things about frittata or in this case it is called tortilla is its incredible variety. The combinations are endless and it is a staple in our house. It is a great solution for those nights when you want something that doesn't take much time and isn't elaborate.
Here is just one of the classic variations of this favorite. Potato, onion and sausage. I like this one for it's rustic nature. This can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Served with a salad or as tapas with wine. I happen to like it for brunch or breakfast with a homemade chili catsup of roasted tomato.

I was given some lovely duck sausage that a friend had made. What better than potato, onion and duck fat!! Once again Dorie has given use an easy recipe to tweak to our own specifics.
As usual on French Fridays with Dorie, I do not post the recipe but it can be found in Dorie Greenspan's cookbook: Around my French Table.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moroccan Chicken Bistilla with Cucumber and Sour Cream Salad: French Fridays with Dorie

Cucumber and Sour Cream Salad:
1 English cucumber sliced very thin on mandolin.
1/2 cup sour cream.
2 tbs white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar.
1 tbs sugar.
1 tbs parsley chopped fine.
1 tbs cilantro chopped fine.
1 tbs mint chopped fine (optional).
2 splashed Tabasco.
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
Slice cucumbers thin in mandolin. Place in colander salt and place a weighted plate on top for 1/2 hour to drain. Mix together sour cream, vinegar, sugar, herbs Tabasco . Add to drain cucumbers. Salt and pepper to taste.

This week with the French Friday with Dorie group we went to Morocco with a traditional Bistilla. A sweet and savory chicken filled pie.

When I think of Morocco I think of it as the doorway between Europe and Africa. I see Its palm trees, Argan oil, honey, nuts and raisins...Its beautiful places like Tangier's, Casablanca and Marrakesh...Its rich spices of saffron, mint, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, coriander...Its lovely oranges, olives and lemons.

This dish didn't disappoint. Both savory and sweet, wrapped in the thinnest of pastry. It has an incredible blend of tastes and textures. All of which reminded me of Moroccan cuisine. Aromatic cinnamon, exotic saffron, sweet cilantro, pungent ginger, sweet honey and crunchy almond which I flavored with orange flower water. Not to mention that this is a do ahead dish, great for entertaining. With that being said, how can you go wrong! We enjoyed this with a crisp citrusy white wine and a perfect cucumber salad which went extremely well with the Bistilla.

As with all my Friday post I will not be posting the recipe but it can be found in Dorie's great and user friendly cookbook: Around my French Table.

"Rooted in Africa, watered by Islam and rustled by the winds of Europe." Morocco appears mystical, magical and foreboding all at once. Kinda makes me want to go there!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Heirloom Beans with a Guajillo Chili Sauce

1 lb bag Yellow Indian woman beans or dry bean of your choice.
1 lg Spanish onion.
2 lg tomatoes.
3 cloves garlic.
2 tbs olive oil.
2 tbs Mexican oregano
Chicken stock to cover beans 1 inch over beans. 4- 5 cups.
Salt and pepper.
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley.
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
Soak beans over night rinse and sort.
Roast the unpeeled garlic, onion and tomato in dry skillet on med heat until slightly charred. Turning frequently. Add 1 tbs Mexican oregano and remove from heat. Let cool. Peel garlic and onion. Chop onion, garlic, tomato and pulse in a food processor. This is called a Sofrito. Add 2 tbs olive oil into dutch oven or lg bean pot and heat until glistening. Add mixture from food processor to pan and cook over med heat for 15 to 30 minutes stirring frequently as not to burn. Add beans and chicken stock,1 tbs mexican oregono and bring to boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste after the beans are cooked. Add chopped herbs to bowls when ready to serving.
For the chili sauce:
6 medium dried Guaillo or Ancho chilies Seeded and stemmed.
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil.
2 tbs cider vinegar.
3/4 tsp oregano.
1 tsp salt.
Toast chilies in a hot dry pan. Remove and cut very small dice. I use scissors. Heat oil in small sauce pan over med heat. Add chilies stir for a moment. Remove from heat. Add vinegar, 3 tbs water, oregano, salt and set aside for 1/2 hour. Serve over beans.

I make a lot of beans. So every year I stock up on my favorite varieties from . Such a great company owned by Steve Sando of Napa Valley, California. He markets old fashioned heirloom beans and has really become a cult favorite. He grows and sells the rarer, older, more intensely flavored beans. Grown fresh every season. You have to get your order in because when the beans are gone they are gone until next year. As well as being the supplier to many a famous chef, such as Monsieur Thomas Keller he also supplies Moi. So I guess Thomas and I have something in common!

This recipe is a favorite of mine. I use Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman beans which are an incredibly creamy, dense bean that won't fall apart with long cooking. I use a dry roasting technique that they use in Mexico to create an amazingly deeply flavored sofrito that adds such a remarkably distinct flavor. The Guajillo Chili sauce gives this a delicious and picante flavor that is unmistakable. I served this with dollop of mexican crema and a tablespoon of the chili sauce on top. Perfect with some very cold Mexican beer.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake: French Fridays with Dorie

Glazed Orange Slices with Tea Infusion:
Adapted from Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice.
3 organic unwaxed oranges sliced thin.
1 1/2 lbs Granny Smith apples.
2 cups caster sugar.
3 cups water, plus 1 cup water, plus 1 cup water.
5 tbs Earl Grey tea.
Rinse apples, quarter them without pealing or coring. Cover with 3 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Collect the juice by pouring through a Chinois. Discard apples. Filter juice a second time through a cheese cloth. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next day ladle 2 cups of the apple juice (leaving the sediment behind to ensure a clear jam.) Meanwhile steep tea in 1 cup boiling water set aside. In a preserving pan poach the sliced oranges in 1 cup water 10 to 15 minutes. Add apple juice, 1 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 2 cups caster sugar. Bring to boil, stirring gently. Continue cooking on high for 15 minutes stirring gently and skimming vigilantly. Add the tea infusion to pan. Check set: Candy thermometer 221 F or to desired Constancy. Ladle int sterilized jars and seal.

These sliced whole pinwheels give a jewel-like appearance and a very intense flavor. They are a wonderful addition to any dessert and go remarkably well with chocolate delights such as this chocolate mousse cake that the French Fridays with Dorie group made for this week. One of the unique attributes of this dessert was it's "two-tone" texture. Crisp on the outside, moist and light on the inside.
Similar to the molten cake made classic by Jean George Vongerichten in the 1980's at his New York City restaurant Lafayette. The batter is lightened up with whipped egg whites and baked two separate times. Once for the lower layer and then again after chilling. A fun spin on a brownie.
I served this with some tea infused orange sliced conserves and a cup of tea from my favorite maison de the francais.

"Giving chocolate to others is an intimate form of communication,a sharing of deep dark secrets."
Milton Zelman.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Cauliflower Soup and a Review of Heidi Swanson's new cookbook: Super Natural Every Day

Cauliflower Soup with Aged Cheddar and Mustard Croutons:

From Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking Every Day.
6 oz. artisan whole wheat bread torn into 1 in. pieces.
2 tbs unsalted butter.
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil.
11/2 tbs whole grain mustard.
2 tbs unsalted butter, or olive oil.
2 shallots, chopped.
1 onion,chopped.
1 lg potato,peeled and cut into tiny cubes.
2 cloves garlic,chopped.
31/2 cups vegetable broth or water.
1lg head cauliflower cut into small florets.
2/3 cup grated aged Cheddar.
2 tsp whole grain mustard.
extra virgin olive oil to serve.
Preheat oven to 350.
To make the croutons, put the torn bread in lg bowl. In small saucepan melt butter. Whisk the olive oil, mustard, and salt into butter. Pour over bread and toss well. Then turn on baking sheet . Bake for 10- 15 min. For soup: Heat butter in lg pot. Stir in shallots, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Saute until onions soften. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook for 4 mins, just long enough for them to soften. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to boil. Stir in the cauliflower. Cook, covered for 3-5 minutes, just long enough to become tender. Remove from heat and puree. Stir in half the cheddar and the mustard. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese, some croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.

I can't tell you how excited I was to be given an early release of Heidi Swanson's new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, set to be released in April by As a blogger and a Bay area resident I veiw Heidi as.....well lets just say a Goddess. There are very few food blogger's that do not have her site on their blog roll.

I admire her unique and creative cooking style, her authentic voice and her commitment to introducing all of us to natural and sustainable foods and how to use them. I give a lot of credit to her for making me conscious of my own environmental footprint when it comes to the foods that I buy and the practices I support.

This cookbook feels more personal than even her first. It is like reading an edible autobiography. She talks about her personal food values, where she shops, her pantry, her equipment as well as her own kitchen. Even with her ever expanding database of recipes on her blog her cookbook is still alluring. I can't wait for number 3 and 4!!!

Set with beautiful photography unique to Heidi, along with the most amazing recipes, her book holds the promise of great food with just a few ingredients. We also get a very personal glimpse of what makes her Heidi. It is everything we could ask for in a second book and more. The dishes are in her classic style with a few more twists. Perfect partnerships with whole natural foods in very creative pairings. These are dishes that we can all enjoy at home every day.
Thanks Heidi!!!! I'll be cooking my way through your newest cookbook one fabulous recipe at a time.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gnocchi a la Parisienne: French Fridays with Dorie

Gnocchi a la Parisienne

This week we made a french gnocchi which was made from pate a choux, a versatile dough made by cooking flour and water together until the flour cooks, after which eggs are added. Then gently pouched in water. Here in Dorie's recipe it is served in a bechemel and baked until golden brown.

I have to say when I first saw that we were cooking Gnocchi a la Parisienne I knew right then that I would want to change it up. No offence to Ms. Dorie or her dear friend Paule Caillat, but if I go to the trouble of making gnocchi (whether it be the Italian way with potatoes or the French way with Pate a choux) I want to showcase that ingredient. Unfortunately with Dorie's recipe I felt the gnocchi was lost in the sauce and tasted rather like french mac and cheese.

I far prefer the Thomas Keller version which he serves at his lovely restaurant in Yountville, California In his gnocchi "Dough" he includes numerous herbs, mustard and cheese. Then the gnocchi are sauteed in olive oil until lightly browned. I have seen Mr. Keller saute these with tiny squares of butternut squash along with all sorts of mushrooms. In the restaurant they are changed according to the seasons. There are many different variations that you can do with this dish. Which is what I think cooking is all about.

I think this herbed version lends itself to earthy mushrooms. You could use : Hen in the woods, Thimble Morels, Shitake. I used some wonderful Chantrelles that were foraged in Oregon and some fresh young leeks sauteed in a beurre noisette (Brown butter sauce) and seasoned with some fresh thyme leaves. But you can use any mix of vegetables and seasonings you wish .

A few tips: Make the Gnocchi in advance and freeze. Then it can be pulled straight from the freezer and added right into the saute pan. Season with salt all the way thru the various steps. Use a slight drizzle of white wine vinegar in the sauce. It serves to punch up the flavor a bit. has a link of Mr. Keller cooking his Parisienne Gnocchi. These were wonderful, tasty little pillows of divine goodness, that I could enjoy weekly... but I might gain a few pounds.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Beluga French Lentil Salad with Fresh Peas and Radish

Black Beluga Lentil Salad with Fresh Peas and Radish:

1 cup black beluga lentils.
2 cups chicken stock.
1 cup fresh shelled peas slightly blanched in salted water 1-2 mins.
4-6 cherry belle radishes sliced very thin and blanched 1 min.
3 Tbs good finishing olive oil.
1-2 tbs fresh lemon juice.
freshly cracked black pepper.
serve over baby arugula or watercress.
Sort lentils and rinse well. Add to 2 cups chicken stock. Bring to boil. Turn down to simmer and cook until just tender 20 mins or so. Drain and reserve. Add blanched peas , radishes, olive oil and lemon juice. Stir gently. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over baby arugula or watercress.

A wonderful lentil salad I made for lunch the other day with some frozen fresh peas I had from earlier in the season and some beautiful Cherry Belle radishes I saw at Whole Foods.
Black Beluga lentils have a mild earthy flavor and hold their shape as well as their texture. Which makes them perfect for salads. I like to cook mine in chicken or vegetable stock which doesn't take away from their original flavor but seems to add a richness to the dish. These lentils glisten when they are cooked which makes them look like beluga caviar, thus the name. I also like to use them on bruschetta because they mimic caviar.

This is such a good example of how you can take something so simple as black lentils and really make them pop with surprise and delight simply by adding some beautiful colors and a simple dressing.
The peppery crunch of the radish and the sweet, barely cooked peas create a wonderful play on color and texture.
I served this over some baby arugula that I couldn't pass up at the market, some sliced toasted garlic baguette and a crisp white wine.