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!!