Thursday, December 29, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - cauliflower-bacon gratin

What happens when you combine this

With this

And a whole lot of this?

You get this!

A really amazing side dish, that might actually become an addition to our annual holiday table (and that's saying a lot!)  I made this dish early in the month to serve with the chard-stuffed pork roast.  It was a great compliment to the pork.  My guests and my boys gobbled this up.  My sister suggested that we add it to our Thanksgiving repetoire.  I said sure, great!  What current tradtional side dish can we cut?  She laughed and said, none...just add this!  We'll see next year.

Speaking of next year, Happy 2012!  This will be my last blog post of 2011...and all I can say is goodbye 2011, hello 2012.  I'm looking forward to great things in the coming year (including lots of great food with my fellow Doristas).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - creme brulee

Our evening started with these (yep, Dorie's gougeres).

And ended with this (yep, Dorie's creme brulee). 

In between was Dorie's go to beef daube.  It was a great meal.  Except one of the creme brulees did not set and I need a new torch (the reason for the very sorry "brulee" on my creme brulee).  Other than that...yummy!

I don't have much to say this week.  We in the Irey household are enjoying the holidays stress free this year as our Altadena house closed on Dec. 15th (finally, after a long, extremely painful (not kidding here) escrow).  May your holidays be stress free and filled with love and light and happiness.  Yep, that's about all I've got.  Maybe my fellow Doristas have more to say this week.
PS...for those who noticed...I too think it's wierd that both photos are green and yellow!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - potato chip tortilla

Did you know that I'm a tennis player?  No???  Well I am.  Not a great tennis player, and many days not even a good tennis player.  But a tennis player I am.  When we moved to Coronado, my first order of business was to find some folks to play tennis with.  I pursued this with a vengeance.  Eventually, my persistence paid off and I was able to join a weekly round robin women's event.  16 to 20 women play each week.  There's a good mix of talent and a great mix of personalities. Many weeks, after we play, we share some food.

Each week, this is a chance for me to make something fun and impress my fellow tennis players.  Most weeks, this has actually worked.  At one point, the organizer informed me, it's ok if you can't play this week, just come for the lunch...with something you've made.  I laughed out loud.  I know the way to any one's heart is through the stomach.  And while I might play a game where love is part of the score, I get to show the real love by providing a home cooked treat to my fellow tennis aficionados who are from Coronado (hey, it rhymes!).

So, 9 long weeks ago, I injured myself on the court.  Leading to my inability to play the game I love.  Leading to great sadness on my part. While each week I've been hoping to resume my game, my body is not cooperating.  Oh well, the ladies still invite me to the weekly celebrations, so I get to cook and visit.

I decided that Dorie's potato chip tortilla was the perfect appetizer to bring to our holiday tennis luncheon.  Easy to make, easy to serve, hopefully tasty.  (I think St. James actually doesn't like the fact that I'm quite willing to try a new recipe out for the first time for an event or a get together or a party...although the other night I heard him bragging to some of our guests about that exact fact.  There is always a risk of serving a new recipe to guests...but I can always order pizza...right?  And given that there are about 85,689 recipes that I want to try, I don't really like to cook the same things over and over (except for Jacques Torres' chocolate chip cookies and King Arthur's no-knead bread, which I would make daily, if allowed to).

The secret ingredient to this egg casserole is potato chips...although it's not much of a secret...cause it's in the name!  It becomes a secret if you don't tell those you are serving the dish to what the name of the dish is, because when you try it, you cannot tell that there are potato chips in it.  It just tastes like potato.

All the herbs I used in this "tortilla" were from my herb garden, as well as one lone jalapeno that has been wondering when it was going to get picked.

I'm going to confess, I must have over-cooked this a bit.  It was a tad dry.  Also, I didn't use enough salt, as I thought the salt from the potato chips would be more than enough.  If I were to make this again, I might add a bit of cheese (maybe even cream cheese) to add a bit of creaminess.  For my tennis lunch, I cut it into bite-sized pieces and served with toothpicks.  The plate was empty at the end of the I'm hoping folks liked it.  To see how my on-line friends fared this week, click here.  Have a great week and take time to enjoy the holidays.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - chard-stuffed pork roast

Oh how I love December.  And I have to say that the recipes that have been selected for French Fridays with Dorie are so perfect for the season.  This week's recipe was a lovely chard-stuffed pork roast.  Really a simple recipe.  You make the swiss chard stuffing by sauteing onions and garlic and the chard and then add raisins (or cranberries...which is what I used).  I used red chard and the color of the stuffing was very Christmassy! 

Beautiful Chard

Then you butterfly your pork roast, stuff it, tie it up, smear the top with olive oil and cracked pepper and coriander seeds and roast it.  Simple and quick.  You can make this in about an hour (with 40 minutes of that being cooking time).  Great for a not too busy weeknight or weekend.

Butterflied and stuffed

All dressed up and no where to go (except into the oven)

Out of the oven, resting
Such a lovely dish!

I invited one of my sisters and her daughter over since I knew we were going to have a lot of food.  At the last minute St. James invited a tennis buddy also, so we had a nice group.  Everyone loved the pork roast (and the rest of the dinner, some of which I will be writing about later this month).  I loved, loved, loved the crust and the stuffing and the pork.  All so perfect together.  I honestly think I'll be adding this to the monthly repertoire. 

Do yourself a favor...put Dorie's book on your Christmas list...and then cook from it.  It's such a treat!  Check out my fellow Dorista's pork roasts here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - matafan (fluffy mashed potato pancakes)

Yeah, back on the Dorie band wagon.  The couple of weeks before Thanksgiving were a little crazy and I actually did not cook one Dorie recipe for Turkey Day, so I didn't post last week either.  Ah well.  I'm so much gentler with myself and felt no remorse at all.  However, I did feel a bit of pressure to make sure I posted this week!  Lucky for me, we were making a relatively simple recipe, at least in the number of ingredients (only 5 - potatoes, salt, flour, eggs, milk).  The recipe itself had a few steps, but with the ever helpful Ethan by my side, we were able to make these for a weeknight dinner.

Baked on a bed of salt.
Luckily, I remembered at 3:30 that the potatoes needed to bake for 1.5 hours, so in the oven they went.  On a bed of salt.  How fun!  I have no idea if it had the desired effect (drying out the potatoes as they baked), but my potatoes definitely did not seem to have any extra moisture in them (I wonder if anyone saved the salt, I didn't, but probably could have). 

Love my ricer!
After baking, I got to "rice" the potatoes.  I love my ricer...I just don't use it very often.  Mainly because I usually have 5 lbs of potatoes to rice, which takes forever.  But with just two potatoes, it was the perfect tool for the job. 

On a side note, Dorie says to only use Russets, not Yukon Golds and definitely bake, don't boil.  For Thanksgiving, I was making The Pioneer Woman's fantastic mashed potatoes (which I have made at least 50 times) and using Yukon Golds.  Those gosh darn (this is definitely the G version, the actual version had a hard R rating) potatoes melted away to nothing when I boiled them.  Literally, there was nothing left of the potatoes (I had to make potato soup out of them and start again).  Luckily, I was making them the day before (since they are sort of like a casserole and can go in the fridge and then the oven after they are mashed) T Day, so I was able to make another batch with Russets on T Day.  Anyone ever have that issue with Yukons?  It's happened to me twice now and I don't think I'll ever use them for mashed potatoes again.

Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, Ethan gladly beat the egg whites as I riced the potatoes and make the pancake base.  As I was making it, I was reminded of a grougere or pate a choux dough.  It had the same consistency and beautiful golden color from the egg yolks. 

Have you seen a more lovely pancake batter?
Alas, as I was adding the beautiful egg whites that Ethan had so lovingly beat to firm peaks, I realized I'd not salted or peppered the dough.  After the egg whites were folded in, I thought it was too late and didn't want to deflate the dough.  So I added a bit, but not much.  When I cooked the pancakes, Dorie says to flip them after the little bubbles form and pop in the batter, just like a regular pancake.  Well, I don't know about others', but there were no bubbles in my batter upon cooking.  So, I just turned them when the bottoms were done.

Cast iron is perfect for these beauties!

Before butter and syrup.
While we enjoyed the pancakes, Ethan's remark was "they need salt."  I laughed.  At least salt is easy to add at the table.  I think these would be terrific with a little onion or maybe some cheese mixed into the batter.  They tasted like a potato omelet, only very light and airy.  We did add butter and syrup, just cause if it's a pancake, it's gotta have butter and syrup!  We liked them enough that I think we would try them again.  Also on our plate for this dinner was Dream Dinners' French Onion Chicken (probably my favorite DD chicken dinner of all time) and some steamed broccoli.  All in all, a relatively healthy and satisfying fall (almost winter) dinner.  Wondering how my fellow Doristas fared this week?  Find out here.  Have a terrific week and enjoy the holiday season!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - spiced squash, fennel, and pear soup

Happy Friday.  I'm actually writing my post on Friday at 5:38 am...cause I couldn't sleep.  I got up to read, and then remembered I hadn't done my Dorie post yet.  I made this terrific soup for the starter course for our Sunday dinner.  It was my middle sister's birthday, and she had requested her favorite meal (breaded pork chops, mashed potatoes, white gravy and white corn).  I decided that this soup would be a great start to this festive dinner.  As it turns out, I was spot on.  As she came in to the house and saw what was cooking, she said  "Butternut squash soup is my favorite soup, did you know that?"  I happily admitted that yes, of course I knew!  Under my breath, I also said it's for FFwD this week too.
Aromatics sauteing!
Well, that cat's out of the bag, but I'm glad the universe conspired to align my birthday sister's dinner with the week we make her favorite soup. (Who's we, you ask?  Check out all my fellow Doristas who are making their families oh so happy every week by cooking along.

This was a fairly simple soup, just roast your squash (I used butternut), saute the base of ingredients (minus fennel, because my store didn't have any...ugh!), add the roasted squash and stock, simmer for a bit, add the pear (for me the best part...I loved how you could feel the little granules in the pear...reminded me of when my sis and I were kids (like 6 or 7) and we loved to eat jars of baby food.  Don't know why, but we did.  I remember the pear baby food.  So smooth, creamy and with just those little granules.  Of course, you can get the same result by just eating a really ripe pear.

Everyone loved the soup (we were 10 for the dinner), except hubby.  He said it tasted like curry.  I asked him how that could be since there was a speck of curry in this soup!  He just shrugged.  I'm starting to think maybe he doesn't like ginger or cumin and just thinks it's curry.  I see a little experimenting coming soon.

Not such a pretty picture, but it was good soup!
Only got two photos this week (and the final dish I didn't remember to take until I'd already started eating...oops!)  But that's ok.  I love that I was so caught up in the cooking and being with my family that I forgot I was doing a dish for Dorie.  That's the way life is suppose to be.

Happy Veteran's Day and a big thank you to all who have given so much so that we can continue to have to much.  Living in Coronado has given me an even greater admiration for the men and women who serve our country.  Especially watching all the hot SEALS train every morning on the beach as I drive Ethan to school (and when I say HOT, I'm not talking about their temperature!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - twenty-minute honey-glazed duck breasts

 Unbelievable, right?  Duck in 20 minutes?  Well, Dorie didn't lie...I got home at 5:15 and had dinner on the table at 6:00 pm...had to wait on the darn rice!  We all like duck at my house, but I rarely cook it (but when I do, I cook it rarely...hee hee hee.)  Ethan was excited when I told him we were having duck and the whole time it was cooking (all 20 minutes), he kept saying, "boy, something sure smells good!"  So cute.  The duck was very simple, quick and fairly tasty. 

Crispy skin and lovely sauce
Even though I went to my favorite meat store in San Diego (Seisel's), I've got to say the duck itself wasn't fabulous, just ok.  It had no real ducky flavor at all and except for the thick skin and layer of fat, it could almost have been chicken (almost, but not quite).  Which was too bad, given that it was $13.99 a pound (and I bought two pounds).  I wonder if there is a better, less expensive way to buy duck.  I'll have to investigate.
Look at that beautiful, rare duck

We've had a bit of a cranky week at my house, culminating with all three of us having a crappy day on Thursday.  The boys are off camping this weekend and I hope the fresh, COLD mountain air clears their heads and brings them back in a good mood.  I plan on cleaning the house top to bottom, certain to put me in a fabulous mood.

Have a great week and check out my fellow Doristas' creations here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Pumpkin stuffed with everything good

A funny thing happened to me last week.  After returning from my cruise (where I had a great time and got to see beautiful sights like this:)

Well, this wasn't so beautiful, Miami on the day we left

Jamica, beautiful!


Grand Caymans...could have stayed forever!

Went to Hell & back!

Miami upon return
I thought I was suppose to make Dorie's Pumpkin stuffed with everything good.  So I did...and it was.  The funny thing was I was actually suppose to make pissaladiere.  Oops!  When I discovered my mistake, it was too late to slap together the pissaladiere, so I missed another week of FFwD.  Oh well.  I was still in vacation mode and didn't mind too much.


I stuffed the pumpkin with herbs and bread and cheese and BIG hunks of ham that I had leftover from one of the most amazing hams we've ever had.  The pumpkin looked amazing and the boys and I could hardly wait to dive in.  Unfortunately, the boys deemed it "just alright," not great.  I think the bread was the issue.  While I let the bread go stale (by putting it cut up on the counter all day), I think it really needed to sit out overnight.  It was very mushy and a little unappetizing.  Everything else tasted great and leftovers the next day were very tasty.  This is something I'd try again, with a few tweaks. It certainly is a perfect fall supper!  Check out my fellow Doristas pumkins here.


Artsy shot

Thursday, September 29, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - deconstructed BLT and eggs

This week, we did a little bit of deconstructing for our Dorie recipe.  We took the always delicious BLT, separated the ingredients, added eggs and made something that was...drum roll please...not quite as good as a regular BLT.  Don't get me wrong, this salad was very good and the boys and I ate every bite (we each had a huge portion).  But, as I ate each bite, I kept thinking that it just wasn't as great as taking a bite of a BLT.  Something about the perfect ratio of bacon, lettuce, tomato, bread & mayo that you get in each bite of a BLT was just missing from the deconstructed version.  Try as I might to get a little piece of each ingredient in a bite, I just couldn't quite do it.  Partly because my bread cubes were probably too big (tasty, given that they were sauteed in bacon fat, but too big!) and partly because there were quite a few individual ingredients, making the navigation of getting them all on the fork difficult.

Love, love bacon!

My favorite part!

Two things went amiss for me in the recipe.  I forgot to bake my homemade bread (it was all ready, resting in the fridge, and I completely forgot to get it out and bake it before I started the salad.  Ditto for the homemade mayo...completely forgot to do it until I got to the end of the which point we were all starving and I was not going to take another 20 minutes to make mayo.

 While the salad was good, it seemed like a lot of work to make all the pieces.  I can make a BLT in as long as it takes to cook the bacon (maybe 20 mins)...this salad took almost an hour.  Maybe I'd make it to impress company, but if it's just the boys and I, I'll go with a regular BLT next time.  To see the wonderful concoctions that my fellow Doristas made this week, take a peek here.

Next Friday, I am flying to Florida and boarding a cruise ship to the Caribbean (Jamaica anybody?).  I'm hopeful I can get next week and the following week's posts done and in the que before I leave, but if not...I'll post when I return.  Everybody have a great couple of weeks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

french fridays with dorie - honey-spiced madeleines

It's been quite a week at my house.  Ethan ran in his first cross country meet (and finished the race with a good first-time time), I went on a two-hour kayaking adventure that had the opening scene from Gilligan's Island written all over it (including rapidly approaching ominous weather) and from which my arms my never recover. Sophie, our beautiful black lab got spayed at the ripe old age of 4 (think major abdominal surgery in your twenties...that's what it was like for her) and our lovely Cat 1 (also known as Padme) had all of her teeth except 6 pulled due to a terrible mouth infection (both pet surgeries were performed on the same day, as I truly believe misery loves company).

Even with all that going on, I was able to make this week's FFwD recipe of amazing honey-spiced madeleines (click link to see how my fellow Doristas did this week).  First, I got to go to a great cooking gadget store here in San Diego to buy some madeleine pans.  They had a regular sized pan and a mini, so I bought both.  The ingredients for the cookies/cake are simple and things I usually have on hand, so no super market surfing for me this week (hallelujah!).  Madeleines are one of Ethan's favorite cookies and the addition of holiday spices and orange zest made these a total winner.  I made 20 minis and 6 regular sized ones.  I knew when looking at the recipe that it wasn't going to make many, and I really should have doubled it.  The minis and three of the regular sized cookies were eaten within minutes of coming from the oven and the other three were demolished the next day.  No chance for these to go stale and be dipped in sirree bob!

Only issue this week with the recipe was my non-stick pan...the cookies browned blacked very quickly.  Luckily, they didn't taste burnt, but they sure looked it.  All in all, a new go-to cookie recipe for something a little different and completely yummy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - cinnamon crunch chicken

This week's French Fridays with Dorie's recipe was a simple chicken dish.  It took 15 minutes to prepare (it took me much longer to drive to 4 different grocery stores to find the damn speculoos!  But that's starting to be an old story, so I won't bore you with it.).  Unfortunately, we all agreed that it was not very fact it didn't have much flavor at all.  For the recipe, you brown some chicken, and then add creme fraiche (I used heavy cream, because if you thought it was hard to find speculoos, don't even get me going on creme fraiche) and broken up speculoos (a Belgium cinnamon cookie).  When you chop up the speculoos, Dorie says to leave some chunks, some little bits and some cookie powder.  The cookie powder helps thicken the sauce a bit and adds flavor, just not enough in our opinion.  Having said that, the boys cleaned their plates.  It wasn't a bad dish, just not great.  I'm really curious to see how my fellow Doristas did and what modifications they made to turn this into a fabulous dish.

Friday, September 9, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach

My cool burner covers.
Ahhh, comfort food.  What is it about the fall that just demands comfort food?  All I know is that I am always delighted to answer that command.  This week's FFwD recipe is all about comfort food.  Any recipe that starts with the word creamy is going to be ok with me...add cheesy & garlicky and I'm sold. The recipe calls for Arborio rice, which I happened to be out of.  I thought, no worries, Vons will have it.  I am sadly discovering that the Vons in my little beach community is woefully inadequate.  I mean, what self-respecting grocery store doesn't have Arborio rice?  After my first try at Vons, I then stopped at the little grocery store (cutely named "Wally's") to see if they might have it.  After searching high and low I did find the Arborio rice...thank goodness.  I realized I am going to have to look at the recipes at the beginning of the month and make a plan for sourcing the more unusual ingredients early in the month (although, really, in who's world is Arborio rice "unusual?")

Anyway, just a long way of saying that I had to hunt for the damn rice this week...but it was well worth the trips.  Dorie uses one of her favorite tricks with boiling the rice in chicken stock.  This infuses the rice with a fabulous, hearty flavor (it's great to cook pasta this I've discovered in another of Dorie's recipes...her dressy pasta "risotto."  You add some sauteed onions, garlic, spinach, Gruyere (I used the smoked Gruyere...holy toledo was that the right call!) and cream to the rice and you have a dish that everyone in your family will be asking for more of (at least they were in my family...luckily there are only three of us, so there was a bit leftover for lunch, yeah!!)

Pictures aren't fabulous this week.  While make the rice, I was also making a chicken dish that I was creating on the fly.  I had four pots going at the same time (and trying to make egg salad for lunches too).  That old multi-tasking snake is raising her evil head!  The chicken turned out really well (I just sliced up some raw breasts, sauteed them in a little oil with salt and pepper, deglazed the pan with white wine, stirred in a little cream of mushroom soup, heated it through and then finished it with sour cream...darn if it didn't taste fabulous!), but with stirring all the different pots...photographs weren't high on the priority list.  (It's all my stove's fault...damn electric stove is so unforgiving, it makes cooking multiple things difficult because you can't adjust the heat quickly when you need to.  I'm really looking forward to installing a new stove top, sometime soon.)
My son is in his second week of middle school (at his new school) and is settling in really well.  He's going to start running on the Cross Country team this week and I'm excited to go to his meets and cheer him on.  I've been on pins and needles all summer worrying about how he would like his new school.  I'm more than relieved that he really loves it.  I can actually sleep well again!  Moving is always so much fun (not), it's nice to finally feel like we are settling in.

Click here to see all the other amazing FFwD participants this week.  Have a terrific week!