Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake: French Fridays with Dorie

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake: Week Five

Apples are a fall orchards bounty. Having an apple tree myself, I'm always looking for a new recipe or idea to try. This weeks choice for French Fridays with Dorie gives us a very moist, rum spiked beauty.
Apples are one of the most ancient of fruits. Having been around for over 750,000 years, they are linked to luxury, love and sexuality. Gotta love it...You can't really go wrong with that.
This cake was unbelievably moist and very flavorful. It uses such simple ingredients that we all have in our cupboard. ( Yes, I had the rum!!) You can whip it together in no time on a cool Autumn day. Which makes it nice for company. All you need is a whisk and a bowl.

Even better the next day. My husband made French toast out of this the next morning. Dredged in egg and lightly cooked until golden crisp in butter. Served with thick sliced bacon and maple syrup. Delicious!!! I have to say I liked this even better than the cake. Of course, I was eating it with bacon, so what can I say.

Each season brings it's unique array of edible delights and aromas... The smell of apples and cinnamon wafts through the house. This cake screams fall.
Like all of the Friday posts I won't be sharing recipe's. I encourage you to pick up Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook Around my French Table.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gazpacho Salad with Candies tomatoes

Candied tomatoes:

1pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup water
1 Tbs kosher salt
1Tbs crushed red pepper
31/2 piece baguette cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic pressed
1/4 lb haricot verts
1 English cucumber seeded and sliced
3 scallions chopped with some of the green
1 Tbs sherry vinegar
1Tbs olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

To candy the tomatoes: Bring saucepan full of salted water to boil. Prepare a ice bath and set near stove. Blanch the beans until just tender 2-3 minutes. put in ice bath. Remove and place on towel to dry. Blanch tomatoes until skin bursts quickly remove to ice bath. peal and set aside in glass bowl. Discard water. In same saucepan simmer water, sugar,salt pepper until salt and sugar dissolves.simmer 5 minutes. Stain sauce over the tomatoes and let sit 40 minutes. Prepare croutons- cut baguette into 1/2 inch cubes place in bowl and drizzle with olive oil and pressed garlic stir to cover. Place on baking sheet and bake 325 until golden brown. In medium bowl toss tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, scallions, vinegar and olive oil. Salt and cracked pepper to taste.

I had this salad on one of the San Juan Islands one summer and loved it. It was a beautiful warm day on the water and this was the perfect refreshing salad to share with good company a great Pinot Grigio. There are many ways to make this. Just think what goes into the famous Spanish cold soup and deconstruct it. This recipe which was adapted from Andy Nusser's recipe in Food and Wine years ago has these amazing candied tomatoes that I love. They have this kind of sweet hot taste that adds so much to this very simple salad. If your a bit more hungry add some shrimp or chicken and it becomes a great meal. Certain foods can really evoke memories of wonderful places and people and every time I make this I want to be back on those beautiful islands watching the orcas and imagining what life would be to live there... One day......


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hachis Parmentier-week Three French Fridays with Dorie

Hachis Parmentier with Balsamic Braised Beef-Week Three

This week for French Fridays with Dorie she choose Hachis Parmentier the quintessential date dish. It is a meal my husband adores. Most men if they had their druthers would have a steak and a potato every night. Or for that matter, in my house, I would have to include my daughter who is a self proclaimed carnivore. This dish is the pinnacle of the concept of meat and potatoes. What Daniel Boulud chooses to cook at home for himself. Hellllllo I think I'll try it!!!

I chose to use a recipe of my own for the beef segment of this dish . The piquant and hearty flavor adds so much to the meal.

Balsamic Braised Beef:
1 3 lb chuck cut into bite sizes cubes

flour for dredging
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar diluted in 1 1/2 cup water
2 yellow onions sliced
4 shallots sliced
1/4 cup pitted dates chopped
Season beef with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. In large dutch oven add olive oil and cook beef in batches until browned. Reserve in a bowl. Add 1/2 vinegar and water solution and scrape fond from bottom of pan . Add the rest of the liquid along with the remaining ingredients. Stir. Place in 325 oven for 2-3 ts. hours stirring every half hour.

Serve this with a nice full bodied red wine and a crisp green salad to cut the richness and you are set.


Chicken Pot Pie with Herb-Infused Crust

Ingredients: Filling
1 chicken cut into small pieces
2 yellow onions chopped
1 cup each butternut, sweet potato, carrot,Yukon gold potato cubed 1/2 inch
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup butter
1cup each celery and brown mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup flour
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp thyme, sage, marjoram or 1 Tbs Bells seasoning
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter cut 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cream cheese
1 Tbs. julienned sage
1tsp chopped thyme
1/4 cup cream

Comfort food...We all need it. We all want it...and then there are times that we need it more than others. There is something about a pot pie that remains, to this day, evocative of homemade comfort food. Wonderful especially on a cold fall or winter day or when we are feeling blue.
I think we have already established how I feel about comfort foods. I love them and I think this familiar blend of poultry, vegetables and pastry is a part of American culture.

The crust recipe comes from Four and Twenty Blackbirds http://www.birdsblack.com/ a great pie shop in Brooklyn. It gives these pies such a rich crumbly crust that you can incorporate any fresh herbs that you like. I prefer sage and thyme with this. Such a great topper for the flavorful filling of a variety of sweet and savory roasted veggies all in a velvety filling. You really want a crust that you can crack into and this one is it. A simple impressive dish that can be prepared ahead.

Preheat oven to 425
Toss vegetables in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn out onto baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes. Turning midway. Prepare crusts by placing flour and salt in food processor. Cut the very cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Add butter first then the cream cheese and herbs pulse to small peas. Add enough cream to bring the dough together. Roll out on floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into circles about 1/2 inch larger than your ramekins. Bake at 375 until very lightly browned Set aside.

Melt butter in skillet. Saute onions, celery and mushrooms until slightly browned. Add your herbs or 1 Tbs of Bells seasoning. Add flour and cook for several minutes. Add the chicken stock one cup at a time stirring until smooth and you reach your desired consistency. Check your seasoning add salt and cracked black pepper as needed. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

Add chicken and roasted vegetables mix together. Put mixture into the ramekins. You can stop at this point and wait to finsh. Bake the filled ramikins at 375 until edges are bubbling. Place the crust on the top. Brush with an egg wash. Bake until golden brown.

You can make these with homemade chicken stock and roasted chicken or canned chicken stock and a rotisserie chicken from you local market. The effort it takes to have the mise en place makes up for the do ahead that this meal provides.
In the winter season we look for something to ground us in our lives. Food can have that effect. Those seasonal aromas tether us to the earth in a very real way. Enjoy this meal with a nice warm fire and good friends and feel how wonderful the home hearth is.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup: French Fridays with Dorie

Spicy Vietnamese Soup: Week Three

In this weeks recipe I served the noodles the Vietnamese way, in the serving bowls not in the soup, or they become soggy. The same holds true for any crunchy add ins like bean sprouts etc.

Tip for carnivores: I crisped up the chicken skins in the oven and cracked a few pieces for each bowl as a garnish. OMG sooo good!!! IS CRISPY CHICKEN THE NEW BACON!?! Momofuku's David Chang thinks so.

No matter where you live food has the power to transport you. This week I took a trip to Vietnam with Dorie's wonderful soup recipe. It brings back memories of that fresh and distinctive cuisine that I don't get to experience all that often. I do have a few favorite Vietnamese restaurants that I try to get to when I can: http://www.monsoonrestaurants.com/ in Seattle http://www.slanteddoor.com/ in San Fransisco and http://www.xyclorestaurant.com/ in Oakland. All three of these restaurants marry traditional Vietnamese cuisine with pacific northwest innovation and are fabulous.

This soup gives us an opportunity to broaden our food horizons. Fresh and lively it has many of the ingredients that symbolize Vietnamese food: coconut milk, chili's, fish sauce, ginger. I love that there is a certain authenticity and purity to this dish. It was so flavorful. When I first used fish sauce I was scared to death. I thought there is no way I would like it. But it is like anchovies in sauces, it melts into the dish and adds a certain depth that you just can't get without it. Be brave. Neither one tastes like fish in the end.

I love to cook from Andrea Nguyen's book: Into the Vietnamese kitchen from Tenspeed press. It gave me more confidence to use ingredients that I was not familiar with and in doing so I've been able to explore a way of cooking that I would never have tried.

As with all of my Friday posts I will feature a Dorie Greenspan recipe for our group French Fridays with Dorie. The recipe will not be shown but I encourage anyone who enjoys these Friday posts to pick up Dorie's newest cookbook: Around my French Table or for that matter join the group and cook along.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Walnut Chicken Orzo Salad with Cranberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cups orzo
4 cups chicken stock
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup walnuts roughly chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tbs Balsamic vinegar
Lots of cracked pepper
Salt to taste
Season Chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill. Cut into bite sized pieces and reserve. Bring chicken stock to boil, add orzo and cook to package directions. Drain. In large bowl add orzo, chicken,walnuts, cranberries and stir. Whisk oil and vinegar together and add to salad. Add cracked pepper and salt to taste. Is best with a lot of pepper. serve either warm or cold.

Like most of my favorite recipes this one is really easy to put together. It tastes good the day you make it but it is even better the next day. I personally think orzo gets a bad rap. People tend to think of it as a little old school. But I like to use it as a base for salads. I think if it is cooked in chicken stock it has a certain richness that you can't get from rice. I like to add things that make it feel less like a pasta and more like grain. Just make sure not to over cook so it has some bite left.

This salad has a certain holiday feel to it with the walnuts and the dried cranberries. With fall in the air I'm beginning want to make all those favorite recipes that remind me of family get togethers and the cool weather. The balsamic in this salad adds some depth and the pepper gives it the spice it needs to stand up to the sweetness of the cranberries. It is one of my go to salads that packs well for lunch or a party. I hope you enjoy this one it is one of my families favorites.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gerard's Mustard Tart-French Fridays with Dorie

Gerard's French Tart-Week Two

David Lebovitz would say in France tarts are not considered special occasion fare. Nor are they in my home. I have to say I do make a lot of tarts and quiches... but I always cheat and use a store bought crust. It does make for quick work in preparing dinner.

But for French Fridays, I of course, made my own crust. Ha Ha!!! Flour and butter everywhere. The counter, the floor, possibly even the ceiling. I had to break out the Dustbuster. It was lol funny. I looked like a mad scientist, making this easy spot of dough. Lordy!!!

I took Dories advice (obviously I don't bake) to make the dough ahead of time and freeze the tart in the tart pan so I could just pull it out and cook...That I can do. I know that the French view entertaining as a joy not a chore and freezing the dough really helped with my attitude. In fact I made two batches. One for next time.

At first glance this tart reminds me of a sunflower or a bicycle all gussied up for a parade. It's not only a feast for the eyes but also a celebration for the palette.
Okay, I'm a convert. I will never and I say NEVER buy store bought crust again. The crust was so flaky and buttery. The tart was light. There was a little kick from the mustard and the lovely veggies that had sunk to the bottom filled the entire tart with the soft flavor of the leeks and carrots. Truly a wonderful recipe. Thanks Dorie and Gerard. I wish I could visit Gerard and Sylvie's Bed and Breakfast. But I can dream...

I can imagine all the sweet and savory tarts lined up in the patisserie windows in France. How beautiful and festive they all would look...and somehow it makes me want to slow down.

You know the French...they have the art of enjoying friends, family and the present down to a skill. My mother was French and Boy could she ever enjoy life. She took the time to savor it All.

La Joie de Vivre is something I will need to perfect in this lifetime.

I encourage anyone who is enjoying the Friday recipes to purchase Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook Around my French Table.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Tortilla Soup

For broth:
10 cups chicken stock
3 bone in chicken breasts fat removed
1/2 lg Spanish onion
3 cloves garlic smashed
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 Tbs Mexican oregano
For Sofrito:
1 chipoltle chili
1/2 Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
2 lg tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 tsp adobo sauce
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
1 pkg corn tortillas cut into strips
1 tbs olive oil
It was a little cloudy today and thunderstorms are in the forecast. So, hurray!! I made my first soup of the season. I love soups. They are the ultimate comfort food. It makes me want to curl up with a good book. Few aromas spark an appetite like that of a simmering soup. It's a wonderful soul warming food filled with wholesome fresh ingredients. I think one of the real pleasures of a tortilla soup come from the garnishes. It's a very interactive experience for your. friends and family. The creaminess of the avocados, the crunch of the tortilla strips and the gooey tang of the cheese.

This soup starts with a Sofrito. Which is a combination of aromatic ingredients that have been cut or pureed and then slowly cooked in oil for at least a half an hour. There are many cultures that have their own sofritos: French has mirepoix. The Holy trinity in creole. Refogado in Portuguese. Soffritto in Italian. It is a classic base for lots of savory dishes. Soups, stews and gravy's.


Add stock,onion garlic,cilantro,oregano and chicken breasts to large stock pot. Bring to boil and turn immediately down to low..simmer for 30-45 min until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken. Shred chicken and strain stock and reserve. Using 2 forks to shred the chicken is a great trick I learned from a girlfriend that makes a lot of tamales. God forbid you have chunks of chicken in this soup it has to be shredded.
In the food processor add sofrito ingredients except olive oil and process until smooth. Add olive oil to heavy stock pot and cook sofrito for at least 30 minutes.

It should lose most of its liquid.

Add chicken and stock to pot and simmer. Place the strips of corn tortillas into bowl and coat with olive oil. Preheat oven to 400. Place tortilla strips on baking sheet and bake in oven until brown and crispy. Serve with garnishes to include: shredded cheese, green onions,cilantro,avocados,tomatoes and sour cream.

This is one of those soups that I go back to often. It happens to be one of my daughters personal favorites. Now that she doesn't live at home, I can easily freeze and have ready when she visits.

It has plenty of flavor and is great for a chilly day. Indulge your senses with this spicy rich soup.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Bread

4 cups white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

2 tsp fine salt

1 1/3 cups warm water

1 cup shredded sharp cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary

1 lg bunch seedless grapes


Using a stand mixer: fit the dough hook and add flour,yeast,salt and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, then add cheese, rosemary and oil mix for 10 minutes until smooth and silky. Shape dough into a round and coat with a little extra olive oil. Let rise in clean bowl covered with plastic wrap. When it has doubled in size turn out to a lightly oiled baking sheet measuring 10 by 14 inches.

Press dough in with fingers right into the corners. Let rise, covered for 30 minutes or until the bread looks puffed up . Press the grapes into the dough to cover the top pressing deep holes into the surface and drizzle the top generously with olive oil sprinkle with salt and rosemary.Preheat oven to 500. Bake for 10 minutes then turn oven down to 400 and bake for 10 minutes more. This bread is best eaten warm with a drizzle of honey.

Wine harvest is a special time of the year. The trees start to lose their leaves, the air turns crisp and there is a certain amount of excitement for the next years harvest. As the season draws to a close traditions abound. One being a festive celebration and a hearty meal after a long day of picking grapes

I've always had a fascination for bread. The smell, the kneading and the rising. The ebe and flow of the whole process.

Here is my version of Schiacciata co luva. A grape bread traditionally seen all over Italy in September on into October. No matter where you live food and wine have the power to transport you. This bread does that for me. The grapes bursting their juices into the dough which absorbs it. The smokey caramelized flavor you get around the edges. Honey, olive oil and Maldon salt create a finish to the rustic Focaccia that will make you want to make this every year.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Gougeres- French Fridays with Dorie

Gougeres: Week One

First and foremost let me thank Dorie Greenspan for writing all her many wonderful cookbooks.
A big thanks to Laurie Woodward and the group of people who work to organize and keep this fun group running: Rachel Alverez, Joel Brown, Alison Coombs, and Travis Wilson.

Fridays will now become the day I post for French Fridays with Dorie. Hopefully for many weeks or should I say years to come. For all of you who don't know what this is, lets just say it's an online cooking group that is working its way through Dories newest cookbook: Around My French Table. Which, by the way is a pleasure to work with as well as being extremely beautiful .

To the FFWD community at large. I look forward to enjoying your blogs, pictures and insights. As well as getting to know you during this process. Let the fun begin!
Aside from enjoying the simplicity of this pliant shiny dough my mind is working overtime with the versatility of these wonderfully golden lil gems. Lets see.... you could make them tiny as in amuse bouche or use them for mini sophisticated sliders... You could serve them sweet or savory as in beignets or filled with a cheesy wine reduction... They could be split and layered with prosciutto and fruit or filled with smoked trout or crab. The list goes on and on. This was the perfect pick from Dorie to get all our creative juices flowing.

The smell coming from my kitchen is nothing compared to the fragrance that escapes when you tear open one of these delicate shells. They are simple yet sophisticated. Rich yet airy. I took Ms. Greenspan's advice and baked with a glass of Champagne ..Oops!! I mean, served them with a glass of champagne.

Bon Appetit