Friday, December 30, 2011

cauliflower-bacon gratin - French Fridays w/ Dorie

This week's dish was very simple to make and the first time I had to make a vegetable dish for French Friday's with produce from the market. I did splurge and get an organic cauliflower and it didn't cost that much more than the conventionally grown one.I won't be able to tell if it made a difference or not, but I thought this dish was very good. My mother told me about this recipe a while ago. She made it twice and loved it so much, she ended up eating to much and hasn't trusted herself to make it again.

Well, I ate real ice cream today so couldn't go the full-fat route. The market only had 2% milk the other day so I had that available as well as 1/2 & 1/2. I decided to use a full head of cauliflower but cut down the egg mixture by two-thirds. I used 3 eggs, and poured 2/3 of a cup of 1/2 & 1/2, thought about it some more (looked at the calories) and poured it back in the carton and got out the milk. I ended up using 1 cup of 2% milk and 1/4 cup flour. I added probably more bacon than 1/4 lb. and 1/4 lb. cheese (sorry, low-fat again).

I'd say we all enjoyed it. I told my daughter she wouldn't even taste the cauliflower, just the cheese and bacon. She said, "yuck, I can taste it." I asked what she could taste and she said, "broccoli". She thought the cauliflower tasted just like broccoli. She did, however, eat all of what I gave her and I don't think it was just because she wanted the pop-rocks for dessert.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

crème brûlée - French Fridays w/ Dorie

I'm embarrassed to post about this one. Should have been fairly easy. In fact I managed to squeeze it in with my 1/2 day at work and finishing up some other holiday tasks, but that appeared to be the problem. As not yet learned from Julia Child, don't put something in the oven and then run off to play tennis. I didn't play tennis, but I did get impatient when the custard wasn't set after close to an hour and consulted another cookbook for baking times. The other book said one hour at 350, so I thought, "let me bump up the temp a bit and get this over with, I have other things to do." So I did, and then forgot to really keep an eye on it and it got a tad overdone. I took them out of the oven as they boiled away, not looking much like crème brûlée but more like something you'd find in a lab. So we went from this:

To this:

See how nicely it separated?

I did wonder about the jam being disturbed when I poured in the custard, but then I wondered if that was the intent. Without seeing a photo, I had no idea, so I'm curious to see what other FFWD followers look like. I actually liked the flavor of the custard but maybe got too sweet from the jam? I'm not a huge fan of sweet, but burnt marshmallow is a different story. So, on with the torch.

Just so happens that we gave our dessert blow torch away recently. I was already to go to the broiler when I realized Alan must have one, and he also doesn't have a problem using it. I do. Ever since I blew up that lighter in 3-d class years ago, I've shied away from them. Alan had read up on the proper way to carmelize creme and learned that you should apply the torch for a few seconds then pull it off, let it cool and do some more. He did great, but the first one didn't officially make caramel but did a nice burn and turned the experimental maple sugar into what tasted like toasted marshmallow.

The good kind that you set on fire and use to melt your chocolate bar. So we all tried it and it was our favorite. You could taste the maple too! The second one was just brown sugar, as the recipe recommended. That one caramelized as it should have, but didn't taste as good. Again, too sweet. I have two more left without any topping. I'm going to try one plain and see how sweet that one tastes and then do the maple again on the last one. Not sure when we'll get to eat it, as well be out of the house again today and tomorrow. Maybe have to try it for breakfast again!


Decorated yesterday with Shara. She was very impressive with the pastry bag! We had a very nice time with these.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cookie Madness!

Over a week ago the baking of the cookies began. This is an annual tradition for many households and ours is no exception. I told Shara & Alan we'd have a meeting after the holidays and see if they were ok with being a cookie widow and cookie orphan. I actually think this year I'm not being as obsessive as in the past.

Caramel filled chocolate cookies
So far, this is the list:

fruit/nut flavored
Date pinwheels

  • Date-Nut Pinwheels - from: Betty Crocker's Cooky Book - brought it back from my mothers a few months ago. Loved this book since I was a kid, mostly for the great pictures. Now I realized that the recipes are rather vague and don't go much into technique. I do know enough now to figure out how much to beat the butter, but for a beginner baker, this wouldn't be a good title, unless it's been updated.
    As for the cookies, these taste great but I need more practice on getting them round.

spicy / minty

  • Minty Chocolate Slices - variation on "Red-Hot Chocolate Slices" - think I should have stuck with the original but wanted to keep it more natural.
  • Big Soft Ginger Cookies - added in some drained, crushed pineapple and left out the cloves.

sugar / shortbread



  • Black pepper biscuits - be generous with the flour right at the beginning. Takes at least a cup more than called for.

Interesting scrap scape

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Potato chip tortilla- french fridays w/dorie

Talk about low expectations. Another discounted recipe due to my ignorance and small mindedness. That's rather harsh. More of a lack of imagination and something to do with my not eating potato chips. Anyhow, I was very excited to have such a simple dinner to make and especially during a busy time of year. Thank you to those ffwd participants who voted for this one because it certainly wasn't me.

I had some Terra chips in the house. The original mix with "A seasonal mix of root vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip, batata, taro, yuca)". So I crushed them up in the bag really good. Sorry but I don't like to get my fingers greasy! Then I decided to go with my gut and saute the chopped onion and add it to some cubed, frozen basil and frozen garlic cube. I seasoned the eggs well with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and ancho chili.

I read again about the size of the pan and at first didn't believe it would all fit in my small omelette pan, but didn't want to have it be too thin, so tried it. It worked great and wow, I think it was the onions. It was really sweet, salty from the chips and my forgetting about that added salt source, and surprise, potatoey. All of this together tasted so good and as Alan said, "this tastes bad for you". What a nice compliment!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

kale-stuffed pork roast - French Fridays w/ Dorie

One other FFWD member commented that this got her daughter to eat her vegetables. I had the same experience. I think if I can put meat into all meals, the vegetables would be easily eaten. This was a terrific dinner to make on a work day. It helped that I got home early today, but even if I didn't, it took no more time than any other dinner and really seemed like a much more elegant meal that could be served at a dinner party.

I didn't have any swiss chard available at my local farm stand, but they had a gorgeous bunch of kale. We decided that super-fresh kale trumped the chard called for in the recipe. So I cooked the filling a bit longer than chard would have taken, but all else remained the same. I wasn't sure if all the filling would fit, but it did!
I really don't like working with meat, but I did and it tasted great. My roast didn't have hardly any fat on it, so I didn't get that nice, crispy top that others had. One thing I needed to do differently was position the thermometer closer to the middle of the roast. I didn't want to hit the stuffing and throw off the reading, but it was in too close to the surface and I had to throw the slices into the microwave for a few seconds. Fortunately it didn't change anything, other than making it a little safer, I assume.
This was a keeper. I served it with a grainy mustard, as suggested, but think it would be good with a brandy sauce too.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

Pamela from Feral Homemaking was sweet enough to nominate me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you, Pam! I met Pam at the farm stand I frequent and I always enjoy when I'm able to spend some time talking to her. Check out her site, she has a lot of good ideas and she's got a great sense of humor.

The Liebster Blog Award is a great way to get traffic to blogs you like but that aren't widely known.  The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them.
  2. List your top five picks (who have less than 200 followers) and link to them, telling a bit about each one.  Leave a comment on their blogs to let them know you've nominated them.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Have faith that your followers will do the same to other bloggers.
  5. Have fun!
So for my top 5 blogs...
To be honest, most of the blogs I frequent are the usual biggies - allrecipes, epicurious, myrecipes,

The first one has to be EatingPlaces. Let's give a shout out to nepotism! Yes, this is my niece, Liz. She's an optimistic, energetic young woman who's inherited a love of good food - good in every sense of the word - for your mind, body, and the Earth. I love hearing about her experiences and learning about what's happening in the Boston foodie world.

Each week I have to check out my fellow French Fridays folks and I always take the time to find out what's happening in Cher's life on her blog, "The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler..." She's honest, humorous, and caring. She's also a top-rate writer.

Ok, another FF person - Adriana at lives in Puerto Rico, and I often learn some interesting tidbit from her.

A great local resource for what to do with local, New England, vegetables can be found at Stillman's Farm blog. They post recipes as well as other issue of importance. I actually found their link through another FF member, Betsy, who also lives fairly close to me. I find I can relate well to what she writes on her blog, "A Plateful of Happiness".  

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

No Knead Bread

Tastes great. Really need to know how different it would taste when still warm. I may heat a couple pieces up. It's actually moist inside, and cold. Yes, needs to go into the oven for a few.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

No Knead Bread

Ok, I haven't tasted it yet, but it smells and looks so good I had to write about it now. I read about this book through my nieces' blog and thought I had to give it a try. I got a copy from the library before deciding if I'd buy it or not. If it tastes as good as it's smelling, I will certainly make a purchase.

Jim Lahey wanted to create a rustic, chewy, holey bread like what he experienced in Tuscany. He researched and figured out if you do a very long rise, you don't have to knead because the fermentation time creates the structure and gluten just as well as kneading does. There's very little yeast because he didn't want a yeasty taste to the bread. It's very simple and hopefully it will taste great because I'd love to have this be my weeknight go-to loaf of bread.

I happened to not make the basic bread but went on to the next version which used 1 part wheat flour and 2 parts white flour. Assuming it does taste good, I have to change when I start the process. I began reading the book last night and ran up and got the dough together so I could bake it tonight. It takes 12-18 hours of rising, then another 1-2 hours for the second rise, then about 45 minutes to bake, and another hour to cool. So that's about 21 hours total. If I want to serve it at dinnertime, say around 6 PM, it has to go in the oven no later than 4 PM. That won't work on days I have to go to work, but I could bake it in the morning, before work. To do that, I'd need to only do a 12 hour rise, which is what's on Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery site, so that should be enough. Then I would start it at 5 PM, have the 2nd rise at 5:30 AM and bake at 7 AM. That would still get us to the bus stop on time and let the bread cool for the day.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

matafan (fluffy mashed potato pancakes) - French Friday's w/ Dorie

Got an early start on this one. I had some beautiful potatoes left over from the CSA that didn't get mashed last week. They weren't Russets, but Yukon Gold. They were cleaned and set on their salty bed this morning, waiting for the oven to turn on at 4:30 PM. The potatoes weren't that big, so I didn't think the'd take the full hour and a half to make. Turns out they did bake for that long since I didn't get home to rescue them until after 6 PM. I had visions of our house burning down. Fortunately it didn't but I was nervous until I turned the corner and didn't see any flames.

So I got them out of the oven and the skins were nice and crispy. I split them in 1/2 and scooped out the flesh. The skins looked so good, I couldn't throw them away so I sprinkled them with some shredded cheddar and put them in the oven. I didn't have time to put the potatoes through a strainer so just used the spoon and did a basic mash. All looked very good and I seasoned with salt and pepper before frying in a little butter. They looked beautiful. I even took some cheddar and sprinkled it on top of it before flipping, so the cheese got nice and crispy. These reminded me of my mother making mashed potato pancakes with leftover potatoes. She'd mix in an egg, cheese and sauteed onions. I think that was the key, the onions. These were very bland and I thought I added in enough salt. We tried them with maple syrup and of course they were good, but I think they should have been able to stand up on their own. I loved the texture and think I'll keep the process but add in the onions like mom used to make!
crispy potatoes

topped with cheese

pancakes paired with crisp potato skins

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Goodies


pancetta wrapped dates w/ pomegranate glaze - we stuffed these with pecans and parmagiana reggiana. I couldn't detect the pecans, so wasted calories there, but the parm cheese was wonderfully nutty. I liked it better than bleu cheese. The glaze was simply pomegranate juice with a little balsamic, boiled down until thickened.

spiced squash & pear soup w/ roasted pears & fennel & pumpkin seeds - this was the Dorie recipe from earlier in the month. I sauteed extra pears and fennel and it made the soup much more enjoyable. It needed the extra texture, I thought.

hummus w/ pita - Thea's specialty and as usual, a big hit.

chinese-style cured salmon - this was from Barbara Tropp's classic, China Moon Cookbook. I wasn't sure how this would go over. First, I didn't care for the smell of the peppercorns. Second, most of my family don't eat raw fish, though they do love lox and gravalax. It was really my daughter pushing for this one because she loved Dorie's "salmon in a jar". I was concerned it would be spicy and she wouldn't like it either. So anxious and fretting, I sliced it and platted it, along with orange pickled carrot coins, pickled ginger and pickled daikon, all from China Moon. It was a hit.

Forward to Saturday - I thought it had been too long to eat the leftover fish raw, so I roasted it for about 15 minutes at 425. I served it on top of mesclun tossed with cilantro, jasmine rice, stir-fried kohlrabi w/ China Moon orange chili oil, and the pickled vegetables. It was so good! I wish I took a picture.

mashed potatoes & cider gravy
bread stuffing - my daughter was a huge help, cutting up the 2 1/2 challah from Whole Foods.
brussels sprouts w/ chestnuts & lemon - roasted until browned and tossed with chopped lemon peel, chestnuts, and a bit of lemon juice. They were just alright. I made sprouts the previous week and got them really crispy, as suggested by Kelly at Langwater Farm. These needed a little longer in a hotter oven.
Winter squash stuffed w/ swiss, cream, bread & bacon; dorie's pumpkin stuffed with everything good. Red courie squash was the best. The carnival s squash was a little less seedy and creamy.
Cranberry-glazed sweet potatoes - this was so good I can't wait to make it again.

mocha mousse with Sichuan peppercorns
tres leches cake - liz
apple pie w/ginger, lemon whole wheat crust - I've been eating this for breakfast every day and finally finished today. Obviously most of it wasn't eaten, but that's ok, more for me!
pecan pie - jill
Vegan pumpkin pie tarts - recommended by my co-worker friend. I baked these in mini-filo tart shells and topped with a little maple sugar and chopped, toasted pecans. I had to re-crisp them up before serving.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chinese style cured salmon

Sizuan peppercorns are rather stinky, but I'm hoping like with the 5 spice chicken made last year, I didn't like the smell but the finished product was a while different beast.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

braised cardamom-curry lamb - French Fridays w/ Dorie

Another one done on the quick. Yesterday I stopped at the market on my way home to get the lamb. Boneless leg of lamb happened to be on sale so I picked up a 2 lb. package. Next to it were beautiful looking lamb chops, but they were about $3.00 / lb. more expensive, so I passed on them, also figuring the lamb would be nice and tender as it was going to cook for quite a while.

I got home and rushed to get the prep work done as soon as possible. I had about 1/2 hour before we needed to run out to the parent-teacher conference and I didn't want to leave too much for when we got home, since that was going to infringe on my relaxation time. Can't have that! So I got the onions and garlic cooking with the curry and cardamom and wow, what a fantastic aroma. Then on to clean and cut up the potatoes and then apples. Unfortunately I only had Macintosh apples, not the recommended firm/tart kind. More on that later. Basically all but the meat was done, so this really isn't a difficult dish to make. 

Now, after the conference and putting sleepy child to bed, I got going on the meat. I learned a good lesson. The chops may have been $3 more a pound, but I had to discard at least 1/2 lb. of fat from the leg of lamb roast, and it took me a good 1/2 hour to trim it. I put everything in my slow cooker bowl, seasoned it, covered it and put it in the fridge until morning.

Morning - before leaving for work, I put it in the slow cooker and read how to convert a normal recipe. If conventional time is 50 minutes to 3 hours, cooking time on low should be 8 to 16 hours. I set it for 8 hours. The meat was cooked perfectly, as were the potatoes. The apples disappeared and I was able to find a couple pieces of fig, but we were all crunching every so often on the seeds. It also didn't look very appealing. I'm going to be interested to see what other FFWD attempts look like. I'm guessing much better! It did taste good though. The curry I used had a little bite to it, and as I mentioned, the lamb tasted very good and it wasn't at all greasy. All that work did pay off. What I missed were the vegetables. It needed more texture for me. I think, if I make this again, I'd put in carrots and/or sweet potatoes.
I served it with Jasmine rice cooked with carrots and leftover kale.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

20 minute duck - FFWD

Sunday turned into a very French day for us. We had the squash soup as well as the put-off 20 minute duck. Most of the week, Shara was saying, "duck, gross!" but who ate the most? My little carnivore. It was very simple to cook and a great way to prepare duck because all the fat rendered off and it was cooked perfectly. Alan didn't like something with the sauce, but couldn't put his finger on it. I loved the whole thing. I served it with rice and simple Brussels sprouts.

spiced squash, fennel, and pear soup - French Friday's w/ Dorie

Cheese Squash
After missing making the duck in time to post on the FFWD site, I made sure to get this one done early. Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for it. My daughter and I were going to go for a hike to search for a geocache, but she decided she's rather go out and play with her neighborhood friends. I took a look at the next "assignment" and couldn't believe that the squash Dorie recommends using just happened to be sitting on my front steps. What were the chances a Long Island Cheese Squash happened to be the heirloom squash I took from the CSA a few weeks back?  I took the squash, carved off the top (with a saw from pumpkin carving) and scraped out the seeds and "guts". I roasted the cleaned squash, thinking I'd use it as the bowl to serve the soup.

I still needed the pears and fennel so took a trip to the farm. Unfortunately they didn't have any fennel this late in the season, but I did get some cute little Bosc pears. I actually had put fennel fronds and stems in the freezer, from a bulb this summer. I figured the stems would be ok for this. So I followed the recipe, sauteing the onions, fennel, ginger, etc. The squash didn't roast up as I thought it would. As you can see from the picture, the skin of a cheese squash is no where near as thick as a pumpkin. But it made it fairly easy to scoop out the flesh and add it to the other vegetables.
roasted Cheese Squash
I also started throwing out the water/juice from the cavity, but then realized I should add it to the soup. I put in about a cup of the juice, along with chicken broth.

We toasted the seeds, tossed with some curry powder. They were tasty and seemed to go with the cumin in the soup. I was really surprised to see cumin in the list of ingredients and am not sure I liked it. The other problem I had with the soup is the flavor was so dependent on the sweetness of the pears, fennel and squash, if any one of these weren't perfect, the flavor wouldn't hold up. I really don't think the vegetables I had were strong enough to give enough flavor to the soup. Obviously having a fennel bulb would have made all the difference, I'm sure. It wasn't bad, and was actually enjoyable, but it was too mellow for my taste, even with the lemon and pumpkin seeds. I froze what was left and am going to serve it at Thanksgiving. What I think I may do is saute or roast more pears and fennel to mix in. What may be neat is to puree the pears & fennel and swirl it in before serving.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

twenty-minute honey-glazed duck breasts - French Fridays w/ Dorie

OMG this recipe was perfect for a Friday after a long work week. I was excited for such a simple, elegant meal. This morning I cleaned the Brussels sprouts from the first Winter CSA share. I thought I'd make some couscous with craisins and nuts and if I was really motivated and had time, mash up a little sweet potato, also from the CSA. I first thought I'd go get the duck during the day, but didn't have a chance to leave work. Then I thought I'd get to B.J.'s on my way home. Then I realized I was going to bring Alan to pick up his bike and before I even left work for the day said, nope, I'll make it Savory Saturday instead. So I'll stop by a Whole Foods and get a good duck breast, rather than a frozen one I'm sure I'd have ended up with. And since it's such a simple dish, maybe I'll end up doing more interesting sides. I can now take a look at what the other FFWD members and get inspiration, ideas, and motivation!

This week was not like me, other than one meal. It didn't fully succeed, but I liked the concept and now know how to make it better next time. I sauteed garlic and added in sweet potato cubes that were pre-steamed in the microwave, leftover Brussels sprouts, chopped, and then torn kale on top. I covered it to cook the kale, then mixed it all up with salt & pepper. My idea was to make hash and eggs. So once the kale was cooked, I made 3 wells, added some butter in each and then a couple of eggs. I did this in my big cast iron pan and then realized the cover I put over it wouldn't make a seal so I fiddled too long and finally figured out I needed to add some water to make steam to cook the eggs. Well by then the eggs were hard, but everything tasted pretty good. I will make this again because I had visions of the yolks running over the vegetables and making a rich sauce. And it's perfect for a weekday.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Halloween Fun

Last weekend we had a fun foodie art project. My daughter and I made disgusting fingers cookies.
They may have looked disgusting, but they tasted good. I took some advice from the reviews and used the following: 1/2 tsp of salt, 3/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of cardamom.
Refrigerate dough about an hour, then cut slices off the dough disc to make square "fingers" then lightly rolled it into a rounded finger. - this was great advice because we didn't have to handle it much at all. We stuck the almonds on with jam before baking, then took white chocolate and colored with red food coloring paste. It didn't get dark enough so I added a bit of dark chocolate too. We brought a basket of these trick-or-treating with us, to give out to the grown-ups that had to stay home and give out the candy. It's a fun surprise. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Schweddy Balls

Yesterday at the market, my daughter and I had a very fun time. Too much fun, which lead to bringing home too much ice cream. Normally I only have Edy's Light, or similar, but I love Edy's. She talked me into getting Ben and Jerry's. She was introduced to it in Vermont on our vacation last summer, then had it again at her bubbe's and yesterday saw it at the market and said, "oh mommy, can we get a pint? This is the flavor I had at bubbe's! It's Vermont's finest!" I took a few minutes and noticed they also had the coveted and very difficult to find "Schweddy Balls" so I caved. I told her we couldn't get both the Ben & Jerry's and her ice cream sandwiches, because when it comes down to it, she will forget about it and not eat much, and I'll be the one to finish it anyway! So we now have 1 1/2 pints of Ben & Jerry's and 2 containers of Edy's in the house. As well as 1/4 (maybe a little less) of Crescent Ridge Eggnog Ice Cream from a dinner party last weekend. Let's take bets on how long it will all last!

As for the Schweddy Balls, meh. The lightly rum flavored vanilla base is very good, but the balls don't work for me. I suppose some of the fun is not knowing if you're getting a crunch or a chewy one, but either way, they're just ok. I will have to control myself with the vanilla caramel fudge pint. Now, that flavor is delicious!

As for the controversy, there's nothing said in the skit that should even sound off-color, unless the listener has a "dirty" mind. My daughter could listen to the skit and not get it at all and wonder why everyone is laughing. If you get it, then you must be aware of the reference. If you're offended, so be it. I don't think SNL was thinking of this as humor to elevate our thinking to higher levels of understanding. Those who are familiar with, and love, NPR, probably have the biggest laugh because we get how silly this really is - on many levels, and the million mom's just adds a level for me. Bottom line being about taste (and I'm talking about the one in my mouth, from the ice cream (ha ha)) of course, I'd like the rum balls to be creamier and if they want a crunch, maybe chocolate covered toffee?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin stuffed w/ everything in the refrigerator - French Fridays w/ Dorie

From last Thanksgiving

This was the first recipe I made from the book. In fact, this recipe was the reason I bought the book, after hearing an interview with dorie on npr. I took license with this recipe since I've made it 2x before. For last year's Thanksgiving, I made in two Kabocha squashes with leftover baguette from Iggy's, 1/2 and 1/2, scallions, Gruyere, very good bacon, onions, and pretty much according to the recipe. It's like a quiche Lorraine in a pumpkin.

This time I thought I'd experiment and put in 2 stalks of kale (obviously just the leaf part), leftover onions, olives & anchovies from last week's pissiladaire, stale, wheat baguette from Iggy's, bacon, Parmesan, and chicken broth. Had it been cooked an extra hour, it would have been great. But I did it for the 2 hours recommended and it wasn't near enough. I think because the kale needed a lot more time to cook, but my pumpkin wasn't nice and creamy yet either. It was a sugar pumpkin, but very yellow inside. The flavor was good, but again, about an hour more cooking and it would have been where it should be. I'll finish off the baking tonight and update with the results.

What I didn't mention is that I was almost in tears because I was really hungry, tired and wanted a good dinner. Had also not picked up ice cream for myself because I was being strong and knew a nice meal would be waiting for me. Once I had a little food in me, and a little wine, my spirits picked up and I realized it wasn't the most horrible thing I've eaten and was actually ok, just not how yummy I know it can be.
Stuffing - how's this all going to fit?
But it did!
Not wrinkly enough and too soupy - not done yet.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

pissaladiere - French Fridays w/ Dorie

When I first saw this recipe in the book, I didn't fully read it because I remembered seeing pissaladiere from one of my mother's Bon Appetites, long ago, and it just didn't appeal to me. Or maybe it wasn't worth the bother? I don't know but something didn't work for me. Maybe if someone had given me a taste, or made it a FFWD assignment, I would have changed my mind. Oh, guess I did!

This morning I made the dough and became skeptical. It wasn't the right texture and certainly not firm enough, but I put in the recommended flour and double-checked the rest of the measurements. I know dough changes as it "matures" so didn't want, or have time, to make any adjustments. I put it in the refrigerator because I had to go to work. When I got home, I took out the dough and put it in a warm place to come to temperature and rise. As instructed, while that was happening I made the onion topping.

The recipe is super easy, but it does take a lot of time. I loved the topping and as soon as I put in the mashed anchovies, the smell was heavenly. So back to the dough. I don't know if I just needed to put in more flour or because I used 1/2 cup whole wheat, but this was very, super-soft. I did end up using more flour to knead it a little and it improved a bit but the thought of rolling it out was making me rather nervous. I decided to put down parchment, poured out the dough, and cover it with plastic wrap. I then used a rolling pin to roll it out thin. It did get thin, but then I panicked as I started to peel off the plastic wrap. But no fear. After I got the sticky edge off, the rest pulled off easily.

Then I put on the onion mixture and then my daughter took a video, I think, while I decorated it with the anchovies and olives. Then as I put it in the oven, I remembered I wasn't supposed to put on the anchovies and olives until after it baked. Oh well, it was already close to 7 PM and this needed to get cooked! So in it went and and wow, what a great smell.

I still don't think the dough was as it should be, but it did taste very good. It was a little salty, maybe too salty with the extra anchovies. I will leave them off next time and just use the onions and probably the olives, but fewer. I wonder if anyone else used Parmesan cheese? I feel like it was asking for it but maybe that would add too much salt as well. I hadn't put in any extra, though the recipe called for it, but I was liberal with the black pepper.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More food photos from Monterey

Crêpes of Brittany! - spinach & caramelized onions

JuJuBee - sort of like an apple but not juicy and sweet,
but has a pit like a date - apparently good for the digestion

ornamental eggplant - very neat. Looked like tomatoes.

One of a plethora of fresh figs -
about 5 varieties in the container.
This kind was the best. Can anyone identify?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dine Around

Before I got to the conference, I registered for a dine around. This is organized by the conference and there are several restaurants and topics to choose from. I selected the topic about serving your community and the restaurant was Montrio Bistro. As the rest of the people who were there, we selected for the restaurant, more than the topic. Good choice for all of us. The company and the food were well worth pulling me out of my mood to be anti-social. I happened to talk quite a lot to very interesting people, mostly 2 smart and fun women from Wisconsin (who didn't even work together, but knew each other) and one former school media specialist, now turned asst. director for a public library in CT. There were other people at the table, but we were on one end and our conversations didn't mix too much.

For dinner, I started with an interesting cocktail - Corazon Valiente; mezcal (a smoky liquor made from the agave plant), blackberry-plum shrub, lemon and agave nectar. It was pretty strong, but once I had a few sips, really nice and refreshing.

I didn't want a full entree, plus I wasn't in the mood for meat, so I selected an absolutely wonderful salad of poached pear, warm nut? crusted goat cheese, and mixed field greens with candied pecans.

I also tried another appetizer - the baby artichoke - smoked bacon risotto with spinach and parmesan. It was very good, but I seriously enjoyed the salad the most. Of course I couldn't skip dessert, so had the Chocolate Ganache cake. This would have been a fairly standard dessert, though perfectly creamy/fudgy and not very sweet, had they not served it with a small scoop of coffee ice cream and drizzle of caramel mousse and stout caramel. Looks alone probably made this taste fabulous.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria - grilled eggplant, roasted fennel, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, a whole roasted bulb of garlic!, marinated calamari, mushrooms, garlic spinach, feta cheese, on lettuce. I was in heaven. Ate it outside, looking at the water, (flocks of birds flying overhead were a bit much), but it was the perfect lunch/dinner for me!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pics for french friday

Blini and pumpkin totam from langwater farms.
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