Friday, January 28, 2011

French Fridays With Dorie - chicken b'stilla

Do you ever have those times where every gosh darned thing just seems to go wrong.  Like someone is trying to tell you, get off this path...avalanche is coming?  Well, my experience with this recipe is kind of like that...but with a happier ending than being buried alive in a mountain of snow.

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.

18 comments:

yummychunklet said...

How funny about the saffron and corriander! I ended up buying $20 saffron because I'd never cooked with it before and really wanted to try it. But, I'm going to think twice about buying it again. I'm glad your family liked the dish. It looks great!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Ah, another planner! I always try to make my FFWD way in advance too but sometimes it just doesn't work out! I am so glad everyone loved this dish :-)

Allison said...

What a delightful story. I just love your writing and that you actually nuked the filo! I don't have a microwave so I save myself from that temptation. You rock!

Ms. Hobby said...

It seems like it all worked out in the end! Great story!

I think a lot of people had trouble with the dough.

DessertByCandy said...

What an adventure! I'm sure we would have love to see your chicken basquaise too. :)

PattiCake said...

I haven't had a chance to make this yet. Maybe if I start now I'll be able to enjoy it Sunday (if I don't get side tracked by an avalanche as well). Great post!

Elaine said...

I'm so glad that everything turned out well in the end. Some days or even weeks are just like that. It looks so good and I really like it in the ramekins!

Candy said...

Love, love your story!! What persistence! Sorry about the filo. The mini ones look particularly lovely. Glad you liked it in the end!!

Anne-Marie said...

Maybe it was the phase of the moon this week? I had a similar day on Thursday. Glad you stuck with your quest to make the b'stila. I'm so impressed how yours came out of the pan! Beautiful!

Cher said...

Cute story! I always go to the international aisle first for stuff like that (the Latin American section usually has all those spices at a great price). Glad you stuck it out. Sometimes the avalanche is just too close to see (I am having one of those evenings in the kitchen, I just overflowed a cake into the bottom of oven - pew.)

Betsy said...

I'm glad you survived the fillo dough. The end result looks good. I especially like the mini-pies. I'm impressed with all of your organization. I am so not a planner. Though it all comes together somehow. Congrats on your new store and your well-deserved blog award. I enjoy reading your blog each Friday.

scrambledhenfruit said...

The filo and I had words as well. (Or I had words with the filo.) Even with that though, we really liked it.

Frolicking Night Owl said...

Thank you for the very kind comment that you left on my blog! Love your personal sizzed b'stilla!!

Kris' Kitchen said...

I love the smaller sizes...that is what I will do next time...this recipe was HUGE! For all the troubles it appears to have turned out quite nicely for you. Hope you have a better week but...it is nice to try new things, and maybe you and filo will be friends next time around.

Ann (napangel) said...

Your b'stillas look wonderful! I love the small dishes.

I loved the chicken filling so much, I might just serve it with jasmine next time.

Kathy said...

Your story is so charming and funny. I do things like that all the time. I actually mixed up the weeks and made the b'stilla a week ahead of everyone else. Great place to get spices is Penzy's online. Very good prices and always fresh!

Trix said...

How funny! What an ordeal! - it's a good thing you liked the finished product, right? I don't like working with filo either, it's so finicky.

acookingmizer said...

I used a springform pan and it unmolded just fine and then fell when I sliced into it. darn. it was a sad and frustrating moment. oi. Top Chef would have voted me out. Just sayin'. Glad you liked this one, I didn't like it hardly,... just got around to making this one this week.