Let me explain my FFwD process, so you get an idea of how organized I think I am (but turns out, not quite so much in reality). Laurie over at the FFwD site usually posts the month's line up of recipes at the beginning of the month (or maybe a week earlier). I take a look at what we'll be making and I put cute, little thin bright pink stickies on each of the recipes in my around my french table book. This way, I know what we're making and it's easy to flip to the recipes without constantly consulting the internet. I also read all the recipes at the beginning of the month to decide when I'm going to cook them (in case I'm going to do them in a different order...but also to have the ingredients in my mind so if I see a great sale or the farmers' market has a fabulous item one week...I know to pick it up). I'm so clever...I'm sure many of you use this system too. But your stickies might not be bright pink.
For January I used this process and marked paris mushroom soup, gnocchi a la parisienne, michel rostang's double chocolate mousse cake and chicken basquaise. The first three recipes went off without a hitch! On Sunday, I planned on making the chicken basquaise. I made a shopping list and bought onions and peppers and chilies and tomatoes and chicken and some fresh basil and thyme. This recipe calls for a lot of peppers and tomatoes (which are of course out of season...I hate buying tomatoes out of season and never do...but for Dorie I did it!)
I get home from the store and sit down at the computer for a short break. I see in my Google Reader that there's a new post over at FFwD...the P&Q's for this week's recipe. I think, we'll I'll just pop over and see if any one's posted any suggestions or tips (that's one of the great things about this adventure...I'm doing it with lots of other really experienced cooks who always have great tips to make things easier).
When I hit the link for the P&Q's, I think, how odd...that picture doesn't look anything like the picture of the chicken basquaise in Dorie's book. I then thought, hmmm...Laurie must have made some interesting modifications to the recipe...like omit all the peppers and chilies and add filo dough. (Aren't you glad that you get to see how my brain works...or doesn't work in this case.) Seriously, it took me reading a couple of the comments left in the P&Q's before I realized I had the completely wrong recipe. We weren't making chicken basquaise...we were making chicken b'stilla! As the immortal Homer says "Doh!"
Now I need to do a new list and add things like filo dough, coriander, saffron, lemon and honey. Then, I turn to St. James and ask him if he'll run to store for me (I hate going to the store twice in one day)! He agreed and off he goes. The only thing I told him is if the saffron is $10 or less, buy it...if it's more...don't get it. St. James comes home with the goodies and tells me it's my lucky day...the $20 saffron was on sale for $10! Yippee!! Then, as I'm looking at things he bought I see that he's bought ground cardamon instead of coriander. And, I laugh! Because when I was buying cardamon for the carrots recipe in December, I accidentally bought caraway seeds (which I HATE) and didn't discover it until I got home and then had to go to two more stores to find the cardamon seeds. So, when St. James brought the wrong spice home, I just laughed and said we could live without the coriander and started cooking. I figured, we like the cardamon seeds, so we'd like the ground cardamon and I'd just keep it...maybe I'd put it in this recipe instead of the coriander. As I was throwing away the grocery receipt, I saw that the total was $30. I thought, why would it be $30 for saffron, filo dough, lemons and cardamon, even with the $10 saffron? Would you believe it, the cardamon was $12!!! St. James never looked at the price...only at the price on the saffron. Too funny!
I took the cardamon back Monday morning...I sure didn't want it for $12 when I still have a jar of seeds in my pantry. Vons didn't have any coriander...jeez! St. James felt bad and decided he needed to find me coriander, so off he went...to a different store and found it for me. Are you starting to see why I'm thinking maybe I should just get off the chicken b'stilla path? No you say, not really!
Well, after marinating the chicken over night (which smelled heavenly) and then cooking the chicken on Monday morning, I was ready to put the chicken together for dinner that night. This is where the final straw comes in for me. I call it the battle of the filo! I've discovered, filo and me...we are not friends! Not at all! Did you know that you need to thaw your filo for 4-6 hours (or overnight) before you use it? Did you know you should read the instructions on your filo the day before you want to use it, not 5 minutes before you want to use it?
At this point, the chicken and sauce are done and they smell so good, Ethan is coming in every 5 minutes to ask when dinner will be ready. I'd made the mistake of letting him sample the sauce and he loved it, so there was no way I was going to be able to say...for another night...sorry...we're having this tomorrow because your mom can't get her act together and read the box to thaw the filo in time.
Nope, he was definitely not letting this dinner go past one more day. So, I did what all resourceful women do...I stuck the damned frozen filo in the microwave! Unfortunately, the filo had the last laugh. Let's just say...you don't want to nuke filo to defrost it. It makes what is already a very temperamental dough just have complete conniption fits! Once again, many bad words were uttered in my kitchen as I attempted to mold the filo to my will. In the end...I think I won. The dish tasted amazing! Really amazing...both St. James and Ethan had seconds...and ate it the leftovers the next night when I was working (without me telling them to). St. James and I both agreed that a few raisins in the dish would have been perfect.
The chicken has a wonderful middle eastern spicy flavor with the cinnamon giving it a sweet undertone. You also sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top of the filo crust...yum! Dorie's right, this dish doesn't hold over well, just because the baked filo gets soggy...but the flavors are still great the next day. In the end, it was a great dinner...I'm just not sure what all the drama was about leading up to it! However, as you probably noticed, I was too frazzled to take any process pictures, so we just have the end result. I actually risked it and unmolded the pie...I know I was living dangerously...but it came out of the pan with no issues.
I had extra filling, so I made two miniature b'stilla's also. They were quite cute...and just as yummy!
Sorry for the long post...I'm amazed if you made it this far! Also, sorry for the sucky pictures...that's a whole story in and of itself...which I will spare you!
Wonder how my other FFwD friends fared? See their adventures here.