Friday, May 22, 2015

FFWD ~ Chicken in a Pot: Garlic and Lemon Version

FFWD ~ Chicken in a Pot: Garlic and Lemon Version

As I struggle to come up with just the right words for this post, I am feeling sad, accomplished, gratified, and grateful! This is the last recipe to complete in our French Fridays with Dorie journey.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for four and a half years. The recipe we saved for last is the cover recipe. So now, I get to write for the very last time...This week for French Fridays our recipe is, Chicken in a Pot: Garlic and Lemon Version.

My son loves to cook. For his birthday a few years ago; I sent him a copy of “Around My French Table”. Chicken in a Pot is a recipe he has made many times, and is one of his favorites. The last time I visited him, we made it together. It’s a little time consuming to get all the veggies cut up, and ready for the pot. But once it’s put together, it braises in the oven for about an hour.  I made a jar of preserved lemons a few months ago…little did I know that I would need them for this dish. They were perfect! I used a whole chicken, which I browned on all sides, before adding it to the pot. I also used a combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. This was a winner in my house, although I would have rather cooked it on a cold winters day. It is perfect comfort food. A two thumbs up from both my hubby and me!

The chicken sits on top of the veggies and braises for about an hour

Four and a half years ago, I embarked on an adventure, with a group of fellow bloggers, to cook through Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Around My French Table”.  It was a way to fill my newly retired days. It was also a huge leap out of my comfort zone! My computer skills were limited at best. For some reason I thought, "I can do this"!!  Little did I know how passionate I would become about every aspect of blogging. It was no longer just about the baking, or the recipes. It was about the friendships that spawned from our FFWD group. It has bonded us! We are kindred sprits of the foodie world. Then a funny thing happened, it also sparked a love of photography in me, which I continue to explore and strive to improve upon. And those limited computer skills…they’ve gotten quite good!  Who says, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?

We still have four celebratory weeks left to share as a group but, this is the end of our French Friday picks. The last recipe we will be blogging about as a group. There are several thank you’s that I must share! First and foremost, a special thank you to Dorie Greenspan, for allowing us to cook through her fabulous book! I have developed a deep love of French food and culture because of it! Dorie has been gracious and generous to our group of Doristas! Another big thank you to Laurie Woodward, the founder of this incredibly terrific group. It has enriched my life in ways I didn’t think possible. With much appreciation for their hard work, and for keeping our group on track each week, a great big thank you to Betsy and Mary. And one last thank you from me to Trevor…for coining the name Dorista! I am so proud to be a Dorista!  Happy Friday everyone!

I made these preserved lemons last fall…glad to have them on hand
Sautéing  the veggies
 Place the chicken on top...
 Add the crust to seal the pot
Chicken was moist and delicious
And for the last time, with sadness in my heart...Happy French Friday everyone! 

Chicken in a Pot: the garlic and lemon version
by Dorie Greenspan, “Around My French Table”                                                                                                                                                                                                     makes 4 servings


1⁄2 preserved lemon, rinsed well
1 cup water
1⁄4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 same-sized pieces (you can use white potatoes, if you prefer)
16 small white onions, yellow onions, or shallots
8 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4 garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 thyme sprigs
3 parsley sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
1 chicken, about 4 pounds, preferably organic, whole or cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
About 11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
About 3⁄4 cup hot water


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using a paring knife, slice the peel from the preserved lemon and cut it into small squares; discard the pulp. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, drop in the peel, and cook for 1 minute; drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are brown on all sides. (If necessary, do this in 2 batches.) Spoon the vegetables into a 4 1⁄2- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other pot with a lid and stir in the herbs and the preserved lemon.

Return the skillet to the heat, add another tablespoon of oil, and brown the chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks. Tuck the chicken into the casserole, surrounding it with the vegetables. Mix together the broth, wine, and the remaining olive oil and pour over the chicken and vegetables.

Put 1 1⁄2 cups flour in a medium bowl and add enough hot water to make a malleable dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, turn out the dough, and, working with your hands, roll the dough into a sausage. Place the dough on the rim of the pot -- if it breaks, just piece it together -- and press the lid onto the dough to seal the pot.

Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Now you have a choice -- you can break the seal in the kitchen or do it at the table, where it's bound to make a mess, but where everyone will have the pleasure of sharing that first fragrant whiff as you lift the lid with a flourish. Whether at the table or in the kitchen, the best tool to break the seal is the least attractive -- a screwdriver. Use the point of the screwdriver as a lever to separate the lid from the dough.

Depending on whether your chicken was whole or cut up, you might have to do some in-the-kitchen carving, but in the end, you want to make sure that the vegetables and the delicious broth are on the table with the chicken.

If the chicken is cut up, you can just serve it and the vegetables from the pot. If the chicken is whole, you can quarter it and return the pieces to the pot or arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter. Either way, you don't need to serve anything else but some country bread, which is good for two things: spreading with the sweet garlic popped from the skins and dunking into the cooking broth. One of the reasons I like to bring the pot to the table is because it makes for easy dipping.

If you have any leftover chicken, vegetables, and broth (what we call "goop" in our house), they can be reheated gently in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave oven.

Bonne idée:
You can save yourself a little time and some cleanup by using store-bought pizza dough to seal the pot. If you use pizza dough, it will rise around the pot.

Friday, May 15, 2015

FFWD~Ispahan Loaf Cake #FoodRevolutionDay

FFWD ~ Ispahan Loaf Cake
This week my French Friday post is a make up. It also participates with Food Revolution Day!

Today is Jamie Oliver's fourth annual Food Revolution Day! It’s a day of global awareness and action, created by Jamie Oliver and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.  It’s all about getting people inspired, to learn about the food they eat, and how to cook it!  It’s also about getting our children to make healthy choices. 
I have five grandchildren, who are all quite savvy in the kitchen. My grandsons make fresh fruit smoothies, for after school snacks, choosing fruits they delight in! My granddaughter may be a chip off my block. A future Food Blogger, she is baking her way through the “Tate’s Cookbook”.  She likes bringing the treats she bakes to her classmates at school. She is eleven! I am such a lucky grandma. My children are teaching their children to eat healthy, to enjoy their food, and how to prepare it. 

Or you could call it my nemesis 
My grandchildren and I have cooked and baked together many times! We’ve made pies, cookies, bread, crepes and other wonderful treats! They are the lucky ones. Thanks to their moms and dads, they are learning about food early! 

Our next little foodie…taking photos of her pies!
Get involved!
Mardi, our Dorista Food Revolution Ambassador, asked us to choose a recipe from “Around My French Table”, and write about what we’ve learned from it! I chose a recipe that has been my nemesis! What I learned from it?  To persevere!  

I’m quite intrigued by exotic flavors! They are the flavors I grew up with. The flavors of Lebanon and the Middle East! They are also the flavors that bring back memories of my grandmothers’ kitchen. Orange blossoms and rosewater are used in pastries throughout the Middle East. When I read, the Ispahan cake was chosen for our French Friday rotation…I was so in!! 

The not-so pretty first loaf

Pierre Herme is the pastry chef who inspired this cake, and started the rose-raspberry craze in France.
I referred to this cake as my nemesis because, when it was picked way back in March 2013, I made it twice. Both times it took me down! The first time, as I attempted to turn it out of the pan, it fell, and broke into pieces. The second time, it came out fine, but I had used almond meal instead of flour (a bad choice). The cake came out brown, not the pretty yellow that I was hoping for. Here is one more attempt, and I think I finally got it!  Happy Friday everyone! And Happy Food Revolution Day!

I made this delicious Rose Syrup…you can find the recipe on Epicurious
Looking good!
Loved this cake….glad I persevered!
Bon Appétit 

Ispahan Loaf Cake
by Dorie Greenspan from “Around My French Table"

Note:  This cake calls for Rose Syrup, NOT Rose Water!
2.5 tbsp Rose Syrup  
2 tbsp whole milk
2 C almond flour
1 C confectioner's sugar
3 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg at room temp
2.5 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 tsp rose extract
1/2 C plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pint raspberries (but I didn't use that many)

Center a rack in oven, preheat to 350. Butter a 9x5 loaf pan and dust with flour. 
Stir rose syrup into milk. 
Put almond flour and confectioner's sugar in a sieve set over a bowl and stir to pass them through. Or, if you're me, just put them in a bowl. Whisk together. 
Beat egg whites in another bowl until they start to hold their shape, then gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites hold "firm, glossy peaks". Slide the egg whites into another bowl (and don't worry about cleaning the mixing bowl before carrying on).
Put almond-flour mixture and butter into mixer bowl and beat for 3 minutes or until very smooth.
Working at med speed, add egg yolks one at a time, beating for a minute after each. Then beat in whole egg. 
Add rose-flavored milk and rose extract and beat one more minute.
Give the egg whites a quick whisk and stir 1/4 - 1/3 of them into the batter. With a spatula, and a "light touch", alternately fold in remaining whites and all-purpose flour into batter, "as quickly and gently as you can, folding in flour in 3 additions and whites in 2". 
Scrape 1/3 of batter into prepared loaf pan, spread to even it.
Make 3 rows of raspberries down the length of the pan - dont let berries touch the sides - and then cover with half the remaining batter.
Make 3 more rows of berries, top with last of batter.
Lower oven to 300 and bake for 55-65 min or until a knife comes out clean. 
Transfer to cooling rack, let rest 3 min. Unmold, invert, let cool to room temp. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blogger #C.L.U.E. ~ Vanilla Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone and Raspberries

Vanilla Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone and Raspberries

May has arrived! Our lilacs are in bloom, my garden is ready to plant, and it’s time for Blogger C.L.U.E! This month we are in summer mode! Our clue was berries! The search was on! The blog that I’ve been searching is Lea Ann’s lovely, and delicious “Cooking On The Ranch”!  Berries are a favorite for me! I grow a few varieties in my backyard including red raspberries, blackberries, and black raspberries. Summer means jams, galettes, pies, and cobblers. You can never have too many good recipes for using those berries! Oh, I do love summer!

Lea Ann’s blog was really a treasure trove of impressive recipes to browse. I found so many wonderful dishes I’d like to try! Lea Ann is a Denver area food blogger.  Her blog demonstrates her love for many different kinds of food; in particular she enjoys Mexican, and recipes that reflect the flavors of the West.
It also looks as if Lea Ann and I share a favorite pastime…seems we both love bird watching!

I topped my very warm peaches with the Mascarpone…it started to melt…so yummy!

The recipe I chose from Lea Ann’s blog was "Vanilla Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone and Raspberries". It was quite easy, and absolutely delectable! My peaches weren’t the mid-summer peaches, that are amazingly fragrant and full of juicy flavor, but they weren’t horrible either. My grocery store had just received their first shipment of fresh peaches, from California. I was quite happy to find them! Once they were roasted in the sugar syrup, I served them over pound cake. We enjoyed this delightfully simple dessert, as a late morning treat with our tea and coffee!  

This is the kind of dessert that is quick, easy, and makes an ordinary evening special!! And did I mention delicious!

Author: Highlands Ranch Foodie
Serves: 4

2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole peaches -- firm/ripe/halved
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 package raspberries
Vanilla dessert shells

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large shallow baking dish combine butter, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla. Add peaches and turn to coat with butter mixture. Arrange, cut side down in a single layer.
Roast until peaches are tender and cooking liquid is syrupy, 15 - 20 min, brushing with cooking liquid halfway through.
Serve peaches warm or at room temperature topped with a dollop of mascarpone and raspberries in dessert shells. Drizzle with cooking liquid.

Lilacs in bloom

Our Bloggers and their Berry delicious recipes!  

Friday, May 8, 2015

FFWD ~ Seafood Pot-Au-Feu

FFWD ~ Seafood Pot-Au-Feu

This week for French Fridays, we are making our last seafood recipe, Seafood Pot-Au-Feu.  Although I’m glad to be done with the fish chapter, I’m sad to say there is only one recipe left on our journey to cook through Dories' book!  Since we are all reluctant to end this adventure, we will have a few celebratory weeks, and then it’s over! Four and a half years of cooking together. Making friendships I would have never imagined, when I blindly joined this group in October of 2010!

A week-night dinner turned special

Without further hesitation, here is our last seafood recipe! Dorie referred to this as "the classic pot-au-feu’s, lighter, brighter, quicker cousin, a dish for spring or summer”.  It was a perfect choice for this week! We have been enjoying spring temps in the low 80’s. I’ve been in my garden everyday, preparing the soil for new plantings. Having a fairly easy dish for dinner was a treat I was happy to enjoy!  I started the broth and veggies early in the day, which made getting dinner on the table quite easy! 
I found the cooking times to be a bit off in this recipe. My potatoes were not soft enough, after simmering for five minutes. However, I followed the recipe and continued as written. The broth was rich and delicious, and the combination of seafood in this pot-au-feu was wonderfully delectable.  Still, I found the veggies needed a longer cooking time.  I made the full recipe for the two of us, so we ate it as leftovers the next night. Viola! The veggies, having an opportunity to soften over night in the fridge, were much better the second day, and the flavors seemed to meld nicely. Some people don’t enjoy leftovers, but in my house we love them!  Happy Friday everyone!

Wonderfully delicious…if you make the broth and veggies earlier in the day…quite easy to put together for dinner!
 This may be the last seafood dish, but it certainly isn’t the least!
Loved this one!! 

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Around My French Table”. I found a very, very similar version on-line. So similar that I would credit it to Dorie, although the poster did not! To see what the other Doristas' think of this recipe check it out here.

Seafood Pot Au Feu

6 cups Chicken Broth
1 cup of water 
1 tsp. of minced ginger
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
4-5 gold / red potatoes, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into quarters, and then sliced lengthwise
1 leek, sliced white and light green part only
1/2 lb of snap peas
4 green onions, sliced
4-5 large mushrooms, sliced
1 lb of mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 lb of sea scallops
1 lb of salmon

In a large dutch oven, heat the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, covered. Add the bay leaves and ginger, simmer for 5 minutes. Add in the potatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes, until a fork can pierce easily. Add the carrots, leek, green onions, and simmer covered for 5 more minutes. Add the sliced mushroom, and simmer another 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove all the vegetables into a large bowl, set aside. With the heat on a low simmer, add the cleaned mussels to the pot, cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes, once the shells start to open, remove them to a large bowl. Once they're cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from the shells, and discard any that did not open. Add the salmon to the pot, simmer for about 6 minutes, covered. Add the mussels with any juices from the bowl, scallops and the rest of the vegetables including the snap peas. Cook on low for 10 minutes more. Serve and enjoy!