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!

Friday, September 2, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - corn soup

Nothing says summer more than fresh corn (and fresh tomatoes...but they play no part in this week's FFwD recipe).  Corn soup sounds pretty simple...straight forward and easy.  And guess what?  It pretty much is.  First, you cut the corn off the cob (Dorie suggests doing this in a big bowl and it worked great...I've always done it on a cutting board and ended up with corn everywhere.  Score 1 for a new tip from Dorie!)

Boil some whole milk and add corn cobs (this is my favorite part...I love that we use the corn cobs to infuse the milk with the essence of corn!)

Then you gently saute onions in butter until they glisten, but do not take on any color.

Then you add in the other veggies and saute until tender.
Amazing colors!
Notice the lovely herbs in the pan?  The rosemary is from my herb garden (a term I totally use loosely, as the herb garden has two herbs right now...rosemary & basil...but hey, it's plants in the ground so it qualifies as a garden).

Also, I wasn't suppose to put the herbs in the pot while the veggies were sauteing, so I had to fish them out and then add them with the liquids a bit later.  Jeez, if I'd read every word of the recipe before I start, I wouldn't have to fish rosemary and thyme out of a hot pot.  After sauteing the veggies, you add the liquids and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Then you pick out whatever herb stems you can, use your immersion blender and blend it all up.  Dorie says if you want really smooth soup, put it through a sieve...I didn't want really smooth soup. 

I loved how the carrot added a little color (unfortunately, I had to use white corn, so my soup was not an amazing yellow, but it was still pretty enough).  I'm going to serve the soup for lunch later today with Dorie's suggested crumbled bacon (my own home made bacon of course) and a bit of sour cream (can't find creme fraiche close to home).  The soup on it's own is really light, flavorful and delicious, can't wait to try it with the bacon and sour cream.
Not nearly as pretty as when it was cooking.
 Curious how my fellow Doristas did this week and what wonderful modifications/additions they might have made to this recipe?  Well check them all out here.  Might I also suggest getting Dorie's book and making this lovely summer recipe yourself.  You'll thank me, really!