Thursday, August 25, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - cafe salle pleyel hamburger

I love the look of this photo, even out of focus and overexposed.
This week, my fellow Doristas and I had the lovely task of making hamburgers.  But, not just any ole plain hamburgers, no, these were fancy, schmancy french hamburgers.  With ingredients like capers and cornichons (little french pickles, not miniature corn) and tarragon and sun dried tomatoes and Parmesan and onion jam.  The onion jam was very simple to make (just boil chopped onions with coriander, butter and water until it's, well, jammy).  Mine came out with a lot of liquid left, but I just drained it off and it was fine.  For the burgers, you add all the chopped ingredients to the meat, form burgers, grill and eat.  Simple, a little elegant and delicious (at least for some of us).

I made these burgers for some LA friends who came to visit us for the day.  I knew some of my guests were not adventurous eaters so I made two plain patties, just in case. 
On the grill, see the plain one?
Turns out I should have made three as St. James did not like the french burger.  In particular, he didn't like the tarragon, because he doesn't like licorice/anise flavored things.  (I have a sorry confession, I guess I've only used dried tarragon before.  I had no idea that tarragon was so anisey (is that even a word?  Well it is now.).  I love anise and all things licorice flavored.  So, imagine my surprise when I start chopping the tarragon and am overwhelmed with the scent of licorice.  I was so excited.  I didn't really think too long about the fact that St. James might not like these (the thought did cross my mind, but then I thought...maybe he won't notice).  I even mentioned it to my friend...let's see if St. James notices or just eats right through it. 

After about three bites, St. James these have anise in them?  I coyly say no, just tarragon.  He says, well, what does tarragon taste like...and then I have to spill the beans.  He didn't take another bite.  Too bad...Ethan LOVED them and ate the leftovers for three more days.  Next time, I'll make a plain patty for St. James and Ethan and I can love these on our own.

I had a little ketchup and mayo on mine, couldn't help myself.

Friday, August 19, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - eggplant caviar

When I started on this week's recipe, I thought to myself "no one is going to eat this, except me."  I love baba ganoush and this recipe looked similar.  I was under the impression that most of my family didn't like eggplant...boy was I in for a surprise.

Now that we are in Coronado, near my two sisters and their families, I've been doing Sunday dinners.  I've always loved Sunday dinners...a time to cook a more leisurely meal and share it with friends and family.  Growing up, Sunday dinners were a time to regroup and get ready for the coming week...and to eat a fantastic meal.  My grandmother made some amazing Sunday dinners.  This woman was the epitome of the concept food is love!  I know that she is why I love to cook and the reason that I show my love for people through food.

I'm currently doing a 42 day Jump start to Permanent Weight Loss coaching program with my good friend Katie McClain (check out her awesome coaching website) and we are exploring the thoughts and feelings we have around food.  It's a very interesting program and I'm uncovering a lot of emotions that I have related to food.  Some good, some not so good. 

Eggplant, shriveling in oven.
I'm thinking about my grandmother a lot.  She was a great cook, loved to cook for our family and had a constant battle with her weight for as long as I knew her.  She was a petite woman (4'11" with heels) and obsessed about her weight.  She was of the mindset of those that diet all week and then eat well on the weekends...except for the bowl of vanilla ice cream with strawberries that she had every night.  She never did find the happy medium where she was happy with her weight and with what she was eating.  I'm hoping to break that family pattern.

You are probably asking yourself what this has to do with eggplant caviar?  Well, even though I didn't think anyone would probably eat it, I decided to make it for our appetizer for Sunday dinner.  Along with two loaves of my amazing homemade bread (check out the recipe here).  Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised.  There were 10 of us and the eggplant caviar and bread were demolished...quickly!  When the nieces heard we were having "caviar," they looked at me and asked what was in it.  I assured them there were no fishy eggs anywhere in sight, so they happily gave it a try. 

Oohs and aahs followed.  I am so happy that everyone enjoyed this quick, simple and healthy appetizer.  I'm a little disappointed that there were no left overs.  Everyone agreed that I need to bake three loaves of bread for our next Sunday dinner.  (For dinner, I made Dorie's fresh orange pork loin, dressy pasta "risotto" and her top secret chocolate mousse.  I'll wait to share details when the group cooks these dishes...but let me just say...if you haven't made the dressy pasta "risotto" need to make!)  See how my fellow Doristas enjoyed their "caviar" at French Fridays with Dorie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - salmon and potatoes in a jar

I have a feeling that there are two camps among my fellow Doristas about this week's Dorie recipe.  There will be those that love it and those that won't try it.  Then there's those that wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, but made it anyway.  I wonder which camp I'm in.  If you guess the ten foot pole camp, you're right!  I am not a huge seafood fan, however my boys are.  So, I decided to make this, knowing that there was no way I was going to actually try the salmon (I can eat cooked salmon...but not happily).  But, since I'm attempting to get back on track with my French Fridays with Dorie, I didn't want to skip this.

Basically, you brine the salmon over night, and then layer it with aromatics in a cute jar and top it off with olive oil.  My photo is pre-olive oil.  After adding the olive oil, the jar was not quite so pretty.  You also make a jar filled with par-boiled potatoes.

It really is a lovely presentation.  I tried the veggies and potatoes and unfortunately was not impressed with the flavor at all (basically I just got oily veggies). St. James tried the salmon and said it was good.  Yeah!  I still couldn't bring myself to try it.  However, lest you think I am so set in my ways that I can't try anything new...look what I did try this week:

That's right, I tried raw oysters (two to be exact) and I didn't die.  They were ok...not something I'll run out to eat all the time, but at least I got over this hurdle.  I know you're probably thinking, heck, if you can try a raw oyster, why not the raw salmon...don't know...just can't.  Don't judge me too harshly...maybe one of these days.

Check out how my everyone else fared this week at French Fridays with Dorie.

Friday, August 5, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - simple slow roasted tomatoes

Last week I was very focused on single-tasking and that was completely appropriate for our citrus terrine.  This week, if I maintained my single focus, I would have been staring at the oven for three hours.  So, I did do a few other things while my tomatoes were "slow" spend the afternoon at the beach!  Dorie's recipe this week for our French Fridays with Dorie was super easy.  Cut up some tomatoes, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper (and garlic and rosemary, if you are so inclined, and I was) and put in the oven for 3 hours.  What comes out is a sweet jewel of tomatoey goodness.  Easily served with a variety of things or eaten straight off of the pan (as my son did). 

I paired our slow roasted tomatoes with a lovely breaded tilapia (along with a lemony basil pesto sauce...perfect together).  We had a little cauliflower and large grain cous cous also (all of which were great with little bites of tomatoes too)!  A lovely summer dinner.

Have you seen these before?  I just discovered these incredibly cute and functional graters at the farmers' market.  You just rub your garlic or ginger, or nutmeg or cinnamon, or Parmesan cheese or chocolate or whatever else you want a fine grate on, back and forth against the raised tines.  In seconds, you have the finest grate imaginable.  If you come across one of these, snatch it will not believe how much you will love it! still with my iphone, but using fun!