Thursday, April 26, 2012

navarin printanier - French Fridays w/ Dorie

I'm glad the weather started cooling off a bit for this week's lamb stew. I'm also glad I had a day off to allow for the time cooking needed to make the meat very tender. I got a butterflied leg of lamb on sale at the market. It was 3 1/2 lbs. and after trimming, came out to the 3 lbs. needed for the stew. I followed the instructions pretty strictly, though I think there are places where it wouldn't make a difference if I cut corners or not. Looking back, I probably could have left out a few steps. One that I won't do again, unless other Doristas think it was worth it, was sauteing the vegetables in butter. I did this in a pot, rather than a pan, so didn't get the deep browning that I could have, but even still, I'm not sure that it added anything of significance. What it did do was make the most wonderful smell in the kitchen. I suppose that's worth something!

The lamb tasted wonderful and wasn't at all gamy. The only way this stew differed from the stew my mother taught me to make, was in browning the meat and adding turnips, and using beef. My mother and I would lightly flour the cubed meat and then saute in oil where Dorie saves adding the flour until after the meat browns and before adding the broth. It's much easier that way and I didn't see any noticeable change.

The other tip I'm glad I followed was in the prepping of the boiling onions. I almost didn't listen to the instructions - boil the little onions for a minute, then slip off the skins. Really? Would that really work? Yes, it did! I can't believe how many Thanksgivings we spent crying over peeling the little onions. Then one year I suggested using frozen onions and they were ok, but not nearly as good as fresh ones. Now I'll be making these often. They're so sweet and tender. I do remember some of the frozen ones being a little tough. So mom, you have to try them this way. Just boil a pot of water, add the onions and boil for about a minute, drain, cut off the root end, then slip off the skin. Amazing!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Friands

Second version, with the blackberry.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

coconut friands - French Fridays w/ Dorie

Awesome, but when I ate the one little scrap that broke off of a "cakelette", the first thing I thought was, "coconut macaroon!". That's just what these are like. The only difference between these Friands and a traditional Macaroon is the flour and butter, which does affect the density/texture.

Dorie's recipe says to whisk in each ingredient, one at a time. I whisked the egg whites, no problem. I then tried to whisk in the coconut and immediately realized I'd have to change to another "whisking" implement.
coconut in the egg whites

finished "batter"

This was much too thick to mix in with anything but a spoon or spatula, so I switched to a spatula and had a much more pleasant time of things. Then in went the sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, and then the whole stick of melted butter. I did put the whole thing in and will probably put in less next time. I haven't eaten one yet, so maybe it is necessary, but there was so much butter oozing out of the cakes when I pulled them from the oven, I can't imagine it is. Will be interested to hear what other FFWD members say about it.

I topped each with a thin slice of strawberry before baking. I was planning on using fresh blackberries and raspberries but didn't buy them in time.
I have a feeling this is another recipe that I'll be making again. They were so easy and look so beautiful and elegant. I've seen other people's friands around the web and want to use different shapes for the molds next time. They'd make a lovely platter on a buffet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mac & Cheese Dinner

Pasta w/ cheddar & gorgonzola, sauteed sweet potatoes & onions, baked with prosciutto and crumb topping, served with roasted cauliflower cutlets.

Got a 10 on Shara's scale (and 10 was the best), along with a thumbs up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bobby Flay Inspired Dinner

roasted salmon on a bed of citrus/cilantro slaw w/ guacamole & mango puree

Thursday, April 12, 2012

sardine rillettes - French Fridays w/Dorie

I really couldn't imagine what this would taste like, similar to other FFWD members. I happen to be a big fan of the canned sardine, so I wasn't scared, but how to make a meal out of this was my challenge. I had one can of sardines and decided to make 1/2 the recipe, since it was just the three of us and I couldn't imagine we'd want to eat this by the spoonful. Shara, it turns out, would have been happy to! Alan, who doesn't love sardines, still liked it but not nearly as much as we did. We took Dorie's suggestion and had it on Triscuits but Wheat Thins were also good. The Triscuits actually were best - their flavor didn't interfere with the rillettes and the Wheat Thins were a little too sweet in comparison.

For the rest of the meal, we had picky, party type food. I put out a little bowl of cornicions and olives and had a pile of Mesclun on each plate with some cucumber spears. After much research I let my nose be the final judge and used the leftover, decorated Easter eggs to make deviled eggs. We decorated the eggs using various natural dyes - onion skins, turmeric, purple cabbage, so I wasn't worried about anything bad seeping through. I did get rid of the eggs I let soak overnight, so I wasn't completely crazy. They were in a fairly cool place on Easter as well. It turned out to be a very good meal, though I was oniony most of the night and I only used scallions! I also used some dried dill. The flavor of the dill didn't stand out, but I can't be sure it would have made a difference leaving it out, so I'd do the same next time. And there will be a next time. This is perfect cocktail party food.

our natural-dyed Easter eggs
 eggs boiling in purple cabbage and grape hyacinth 

eggs boiling in turmeric and annato seed

light cream cheese, dill and smoked paprika

sardine rillettes

Thursday, April 05, 2012

asparagus & bits of bacon - French Fridays w/ Dorie

I'm hoping not to eat too much asparagus because I don't want to get sick of it as I normally do this time of year, but boy, this is a great way to eat it. Alan, who really doesn't care for asparagus unless it's roasted to a crisp thought this didn't even taste like asparagus. I used white asparagus since it was on sale and looked very pretty. I needed to peel them because the skin was very tough. However it peeled very easily with a vegetable peeler. I then cut them in pieces about an inch or so and steamed them in my Pampered Chef microwave steamer. While they were steaming I sauteed some chopped onion in a little bacon fat. I had cooked bacon earlier in the week to use in a broccoli salad and then on pizza. Really gearing up for Passover with all of it! Which is what I was thinking as I sauteed the onion and added in the crumbled bacon - at least I didn't make it right on Passover. I had some lemon cut open already from the broccoli salad and added the juice right to the onions along with a bit of walnut oil. There were so many seeds in the lemon, that made it into the pan, fishing them out was the part of this recipe that took the longest time. It was really a quick dish to throw together and the flavors all worked perfectly. Maybe next time I'll add some toasted walnuts. Another keeper!

Keeping with thinking of Passover, I found Smitten Kitchen's Raspberry Coconut Macaroons last weekend and knew i had to make them. I loved that she doesn't like really sugary macaroons and mixing in the raspberry is genius. I didn't get raspberries but blackberries instead. I used unsweetened coconut, about 3 cups, and maybe 1 1/2 cups of regular flake coconut. I stuck with her recommendation for 2/3 cup sugar and then mixed in the 1/2 pint blackberries, almond extract, and 3 egg whites. I played around with the size of the cookie and think the larger ones give more texture variation. The little ones look so cute though! My mother didn't want me to bring any to her house for the holiday because she is already planning on several desserts, but I have to share these with the family. I'll also be bringing a bunch to church for Easter Sunday. No one signed up to bring goodies, so we're all going to chip in.
sort of icky looking, but berries were very juicy
Forgot to mention the ice cream concoction Shara and I thought up together. After hearing about Ben & Jerry's Banana Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt flavor, I thought we could do the same at home. I suggested taking vanilla frozen yogurt and mashing in bananas and swirling in peanut butter. Shara did one better and suggested Nutella. Yeah, Baby! We'll make that again. And maybe play around with other mix-ins too.
toasty, crispy, berry goodness!