Friday, December 19, 2014

FFWD ~ Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Almonds ~~~ Orange and Olive Salad

FFWD ~ Orange and Olive Salad

This week, for French Fridays, we have a very simple salad…another gift for the holiday season! This lovely Orange and Olive Salad took me about 10 minutes to prepare. I was not expecting to like it, but surprisingly I did! Three main ingredients, onions, oranges and olives! A little olive oil, salt and pepper, and that’s it! Simple and delicious! This was not going to fly with Bill; he never eats raw onions (or any kind). However, I genuinely enjoyed the salty-sweet flavor of this salad! I used some Blood Orange olive oil that I had in my pantry, and loved the extra touch it added. This salad was a winner! I would definitely make it again, next time for company! I think I could even make a Bill friendly version (nah)!  Now onto the Lamb Tagine with Apricot and Almonds, that I missed last week!

Company worthy salad…loved it!

I have been anticipating this dish for quite sometime! Moroccan flavors have always intrigued me! When I couldn’t get to it last Friday, I was somewhat disappointed, and was determined to get it done during the week!
I was all ready to start this intriguing dish on Sunday. However, when I pulled out my Tagine, I realized it needed to soak for 24 hours! What?? It’s been sitting on my kitchen counter for over a year, and I never realized it needed seasoning. Once again I put all the ingredients away, and soaked my Tagine! Monday morning I finished the seasoning process, and started my Lamb Tagine.

A Tagine is a North African dish, popular in Morocco and Tunisia. Moroccan Tagine dishes are slow-cooked savory stews, usually made in a clay pot of the same name. They can also be prepared in a slow cooker or Dutch oven. There’s nothing like a braised stew or pot of soup simmering away on the stove this time of year…it warms your soul!

FFWD ~ Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Almonds
First browning the lamb, and then sautéing the onions and garlic. Once they’re softened, add the spices along with some tomatoes, chicken broth and apricots. Cover it and pop it into the oven for a long braise.  After reading the posts from last week, I decided to add carrots, along with the apricots. I thought they would make this dish more husband friendly. The aroma of the warm spices, as this Tagine braised away in the oven, was intoxicating! It permeated my kitchen and warmed an otherwise cold damp day! 
Tagines are usually served with couscous or bread. I chose the couscous! This was a thoroughly enjoyable dish that I know I will make again. Even Bill enjoyed it! Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Around My French Table”. Since it’s been published on Dorie’s blog…I shared it below.  To see what the other Doristas thought of this recipe check it out here.

The tagine was finally christened, after a year of sitting on my counter!

Looking forward to using it again
Notice the deer eating the salad…I didn’t until I downloaded the photo
An utterly delicious dinner…a winner for sure!
Bon Appétit

from Dorie Greenspans blog
Makes 4 servings
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 pound moist, plump dried apricots
About 6 tablespoons olive oil
About 1 3/4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed, cut into cubes about 1 1/2 inches on a side
4 medium onions, peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, trimmed, germ removed and finely chopped
One 14 1/2 - ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, or 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked (I do this in my mortar and pestle)
2 pinches saffron
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
About 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Couscous or rice, for serving
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
If you're using the bouillon cubes (it's what Francoise uses), drop them into a medium-size bowl and pour over 1 3/4 cups of boiling water; stir to dissolve.  If you're using chicken broth, bring it to the boil, then pour it into the bowl.  Add the apricots to the bowl and let them soak and plump while you prepare the rest of the tagine.
Put the base of a tagine, a heavy, high-sided skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil.  Pat the pieces of lamb dry between sheets of paper towels, then drop them into the hot oil - don't crowd the pan; work in batches, if necessary - and brown the meat on all sides, about 4 minutes.  Lift the meat out of the pot and onto a plate with a slotted spoon.  Season the lamb with salt and pepper.  Pour out the fat that it's in the pan, but leave whatever bits may have stuck to the base.
Return the pan to the stove, adjust the heat to low and add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil.  When the oil is warm, stir in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, just to get them started on the road to softening.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 10 minutes, adding a little more oil, if needed.  Add the chicken bouillon/broth to the pot as well as the coriander, saffron - crush the saffron between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pot - ginger, cumin, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves.  Stir to mix and dissolve the spices, season with salt and pepper and spoon the meat over the base of vegetables.  Top with the plumped apricots, seal the pan with aluminum foil and clap on the lid.  Slide the pan into the oven.
Bake the tagine for 60 minutes before carefully lifting the lid and foil and scattering the almonds over the meat.  Recover the pan and allow the tagine to bake for 15 minutes more.  (This seems like a tease to me - you open the lid, get a deep whiff of the tagine, see how beautiful it is and then have to wait another 15 minutes before you can dig in.  Sometimes, I skip this step and just save the toasted almonds to sprinkle over the tagine at serving time.  I give you permission to do likewise.)
Serving:  Of course, this should be served as soon as it comes from the oven.  If you've cooked it in a tagine, sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the meat, bring the tagine to the table and serve directly from the pan.  If you've used a skillet or Dutch oven, transfer the tagine to a warm large serving platter and dust with cilantro.  While you could serve the tagine solo, it would be a shame not to offer something to go with the wonderful sauce.  I serve either couscous (cooked without spices in chicken broth or water) or white rice.
Storing:  Like almost all braised dishes, this one is a good keeper.  You can make it a day or two ahead and, when it's cool, cover it well and keep it in the refrigerator.  If you make the dish ahead, I'd suggest you only add the toasted almonds when you reheat the tagine for serving and, of course, hold off on the last dusting of cilantro.

Friday, December 12, 2014

FFWD ~ Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup

FFWD ~ Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup
I am totally off kilter! Today is French Friday, and our recipe is for Lamb and Apricot Tagine. I bought all the ingredients, and had every intention on making this dish. I even own a Tagine, a gift from my daughter-in-law and son! But as fate would have it, the Tagine didn’t fit into my life this week.

A few weeks ago, our group made Béatrix’s Red Kuri soup, and I missed it! I even bought a beautiful Red Kuri squash, from my local farm stand, weeks in advance.  My plan was to make it for Thanksgiving! And as most of you know, I spent Thanksgiving in Florida at my son’s house. For several days I packed all the food and equipment I would need for our feast.  My hand held mixer…packed, pie plates…packed, homemade cranberry sauce, piecrust, and date-nut bread…packed, packed and packed! I was ready to travel south!

When we arrived at the beach house, and unpacked, I realized I left the squash sitting on my kitchen counter. OH NO! So I just skipped FF’s for that week! My bad!! (lol)

Loved…loved this soup…thick, creamy and full of flavor!
Fast forward a few weeks. I get home and see my lovely Red Kuri squash still sitting on my counter, and it was looking rather sad! The stem end was getting a bit soft however, it was a large squash, so I cut the end off! The rest of the squash was beautiful. I scooped out the seeds, and proceeded with Dorie’s recipe.

Cutting the elusive Red Kuri squash…the skin is thin and easy to cut through

I should mention the trouble I had sourcing this squash.  I was finally able to find one in October, at a local pumpkin farm…go figure!  I hadn’t heard of this variety of squash until I saw it in “Around My French Table”.  The farmer told me it is in the Hubbard squash family. In France, it is known as Potimarron, due to it’s chestnut flavor. The best thing about preparing this soup, with the Red Kuri squash, was it doesn't need to be peeled! 

I absolutely loved the simplicity of this soup! The end result was creamy, slightly nutty and oh so delicious!! Did Bill eat it? A big fat NO! After enjoying several bowls, I froze the rest. I thought I’d serve the remainder over Christmas week! Happy Friday, everyone! 

A little side note…While I was having such trouble sourcing this squash, I found a site that sold seeds. I bought a pack, and will be planting them next year in my garden…hopefully with success!

This recipe is from “Around My French Table”. Dorie shared this recipe on her blog…so I’m sharing it with you! It can be made with butternut squash as well. To see how the other Doristas did with their Tagine, you can check it out here.

This was my wonderful lunch as I put up my Christmas tree

The seeds!

Adapted from Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan

For the soup:
1 red kuri squash, about 3 pounds
3 slender or 1 1/2 larger leeks, white part only, trimmed, split lengthwise and washed
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
Salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg

For the garnish (optional):
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and cut into tiny dice
About 1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or walnuts
About 1/2 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream

To make the soup:  Scrub the red kuri squash under water, using a brush, if necessary, to scrape off any stuck-on dirt.  With a heavy chef’s knife, cut off the pointy tip of the squash, then cut the squash in half from top to bottom.  Scoop out the seeds and the strings that bind them, then cut the squash into 1- to 2-inch chunks, shell and all.  Toss the squash into a large casserole or Dutch oven.  Cut the leeks into inch-thick slices and put them in the pot, too.  Add the milk and water, salt generously and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the soup about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft enough to mash when pressed lightly with the back of spoon.
Using a hand-held immersion blender, a standard blender or a food processor, puree the soup until it is very smooth.  Depending on how much liquid boiled away, you may have a thick soup and a decision to make:  leave it thick (I do) or thin it to whatever consistency pleases you with either more milk or more water.  Taste for salt and season with pepper and nutmeg.  Heat the soup if it’s cooled in the blender or if you’ve thinned it – this soup is at it’s best truly hot.
Serving:  If you’re using the apples and nuts, spoon some into the bottom of each soup bowl and ladle over the hot soup; top with a little cream.  
Storing:  The soup will keep for up to 4 days in a covered jar in the refrigerator (it will thicken as it stands, so you might want to thin it when you re-heat it) and for up to 2 months packed airtight in the freezer.

Bonne Idée:  There are so many flavors that go well with this soup that you can make the basic soup and serve it several different ways.  You can top the soup with olive-oil sautéed bread cubes – toss some shredded sage into the skillet along with the bread; thin slices of toasted baguette sprinkled with grated cheese and run under the broiler – use a nutty cheese like Gruyere or Emmenthaler, or a blue cheese like gorgonzola or Roquefort; or sauté some cooked chopped chestnuts (you can use bottled chestnuts) in a little butter or oil, season with salt and pepper, chopped fresh thyme or sage, and either spoon a little over the soup or, better yet, over the crème fraiche, if you’re using it.
Another Bonne Idée:  Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup.  If you’re intrigued by the flavor combination of squash and chestnuts, the pair that come packed together in potimarron and red kuri squash, but you can’t find either squash, you can use butternut squash – choose one that’s 3 pounds, remove the rind and cut the flesh into small cubes – and add 7 ounces of shelled chestnuts to the mix.  You can use jarred or vacuum-packed chestnuts.  Look for packs of chestnut pieces – they’re perfect for purees and less expensive than intact nuts. 
Article printed from Dorie Greenspan - On the Road and in the Kitchen with Dorie:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#Blogger C.L.U.E. ~ Chocolate Pecan Fudge

Chocolate Pecan Fudge

It’s time for the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society again! This month, it’s all about the food our grandmothers cooked. My secret blogger this month is Stacy of Food Lust People Love. She lives in Dubai, and has lived overseas for almost 27 years. She is originally from Louisiana, and her southern roots show with the recipe I’m sharing with you today. Her blog had so many wonderful recipes that I would love to try, but this month it’s supposed to be something her grandmother would have made! After searching her blog for several days, I finally found this Pecan Fudge recipe that she said is just like one her grandmother made.  I adore fudge, and it seems like a perfect recipe for this time of the year. I think fudge is a great gift to bring to someone over the holidays, and it looks so pretty on a cookie platter. A lovely treat to enjoy during the Christmas season! 

This fudge was easy and so very good!
A perfect treat for the holidays!!

Chocolate Pecan Fudge
adapted by FoodLustPeopleLove 

2 scant cups or 440g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons or 85g butter
1 cup or 237ml heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 cups or 205g of marshmallows
3 cups or 525g of semisweet chocolate in bars, chopped up, or chips
1 teaspoon or 5ml vanilla extract
1 cup or about 105g of pecans

Chop half of your pecans rather coarse and the other half into finer pieces.
Line a 9in x 13in (approx. 23cm x 33cm) metal baking pan with parchment.

Add the sugar, salt, butter, cream, and marshmallows to a large saucepan.
Cook the mixture over medium heat until the marshmallows and butter begin to melt, about five minutes. Once the marshmallows have melted, bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for five minutes. It will bubble all over the place and darken slightly. Take the pan off of the heat.          

Add the chocolate and vanilla and mix it all together until the chocolate has melted and everything is nice and smooth.  The oil started to separate out a little so I just mixed quicker and it seemed to come together again.
Working quickly, add in your coarsely chopped pecans and mix thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into your lined baking pan, spread out with a spatula or spoon and sprinkle quickly with the finely chopped pecans.
Let this sit at room temperature for at least three hours or chill it in the refrigerator atop a cooling rack so that air can circulate around the pan for about half an hour before you slice it. 
Cut into squares. This fudge will keep at room temperature for 10 days in an airtight container.  Or on a plate covered tightly in cling film.

Check out the other sleuths of Blogger C.L.U.E.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TWD ~ The Rugelach That Won Over France

TWD ~The Rugelach That Won Over France

We have spent the last two weeks down south.  First celebrating Thanksgiving with our two sons, daughter-in-law and grandsons, and then enjoying a little R&R in Florida. It was a wonderful break from the cold and snow in the northeast! However, all good things must end! The last two days were spent on the road, trying to get home before the next storm. 

After unloading the car, putting groceries away, and making a quick dinner, the last thing I wanted was to start a baking project. In spite of that, I didn’t want to miss the latest pick for Tuesdays with Dorie! Rugelach was on the agenda this week! They happen to be a favorite cookie around my house during the holidays. I have a favorite recipe that was given to me by a friend, years ago. But this week it’s about TWD.  I grabbed my copy of Baking Chez Moi, and read through the recipe. Realizing it needed to rest in the fridge for several hours, I pulled out my food processor and mixed up the dough before I went to bed.  It really was quite easy to put together. 

These were utterly delicious

Dorie’s delicious Rugelach are filled with shredded coconut, toasted pecans, dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries. I threw all of these ingredients into the food processor, and pulsed a few times to chop and mix. The dough is rolled out into a 12 inch square, cut in half, brushed with some melted butter, and sprinkled with a cinnamon-sugar mix. The chocolate-coconut mixture is then strewn on top. 
Dorie’s recipe uses a basic dough, which combines cream cheese, butter, flour and salt. It is wonderfully flakey, and has a consistency similar to puff pastry.

The pastry has such a lovely texture…it was flaky and buttery

I read all the P & Q’s this week, and decided not to freeze my dough; instead I refrigerated it for about an hour.  Many people were having trouble cutting the frozen dough, but mine sliced beautifully! I also dropped the temperature to 375°. Those were the only changes I made to the recipe, and was glad I did. I ran into no real problems with this cookie. Thanks to everyone for their input on P&Q’s.
I only baked half the recipe…the rest of the dough is in my freezer. I will bake them up next week, just in time for a little get together I will be hosting! Happy Tuesday everyone!

You can find Dorie’s recipe for Rugelach here in an interview she did with NPR. And check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers here.

The dough was brushed with butter, sprinkled with a sugar-cinnamon mixture, and then the nut mixture is strewed on
Rolled, cut and ready to bake
Oh so good!
Perfect with a cup of tea!

Friday, December 5, 2014

FFWD ~ Tartine de Viande des Grisons

Tartine deViande des Grisons

This week, for French Fridays I was gifted with a non-recipe! It took no time to put together, and didn’t even interfere with my walks on the beach! After two weeks in Florida, we will be heading north tomorrow.  First to Atlanta, to say good-by to my son and his family, and then on to New Jersey to get ready for Christmas! The weather has been unseasonably warm here for the beginning of December.  We are sure to miss the warmth and sunshine, once we get home to face the cold of winter! Now, on to the recipe…or non-recipe!

Whether you call it a Tartine or a sandwich…call it tasty!

Our FF pick for this week is for a Tartine, French for sandwich. The Tartine de Viande des Grisons is an open faced sandwich, calling for a nice rustic bread, toasted on one side, in a fry pan with a little olive oil. The bread is then smeared with some butter, and a layer of prosciutto is placed on top. It is then drizzled with a bit more olive oil, and scattered with chopped nuts. This was really easy, and definitely a non-recipe! In spite of that, it was quite enjoyable as an afternoon snack!  That’s it folks!  
While you are reading this post, I will be in the car driving north! I plan on catching up with everyone over the weekend! Happy Friday! 
This non-recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook, “Around My French Table”. To see what the other Doristas thought of this one, check it out here.

A lovely afternoon snack
 Sunrise at Seaside beach…I will miss you!

Monday, December 1, 2014

TWD ~ Cranberry Crackle Tart

TWD ~ Cranberry Crackle Tart
This Thanksgiving was all about breaking with tradition! My son and daughter-in-law were not coming to NJ for Thanksgiving this year, and asked us to join them in Florida to celebrate Turkey Day! My other son thought this also sounded good. So, I thought, why not change things up a bit this year? Letting go!!

This was a huge shake up! I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for almost 40 years in my home. I’ve seen many changes through the years, and cooked my share of turkeys! This year there would only be seven of us! That meant less food, and the men (under my son’s supervision) fried the turkey. I was totally surprised at how quick and delicious this method was. Letting go!! We decided two pies were enough! Of course, we had to have our beloved pumpkin pie! My grandson and his mom took care of that! So pretty and delicious! But you’ll have to take my word! I wasn’t able to get any photos before it was gone!
Amazingly delectable…a new tradition in my house! 
Traditionally I bake a cheesecake, and an apple pie, in addition to the pumpkin pie. However, this year I chose to go with a totally untraditional tart, picked by our TWD group!  I made this wonderfully delicious tart for Thanksgiving, and this was the first moment I had to blog about it! We drove to Florida from Georgia on Tuesday, then spent Wednesday baking, and getting ready for the feast!

I made my crust before we left NJ, and froze it. That made the tart assembly quite easy! First, I rolled out the dough, and blind baked it! I had no pie weights with me, so I used rice…it worked great!  I remembered to bring my hand held beater, and although it seemed to take longer than usual to beat the egg whites to soft fluffy peaks…it worked!  Fold in the fresh cranberries and bake! It was amazing! I loved this tart, and know that no matter where we have Thanksgiving next year (I’m thinking it will be at my house in NJ) this will be a new Thanksgiving tradition! Ok, I haven’t totally let go!!  Hope everyone had a marvelous holiday! 

As a side note…my area of NJ was hit with an early snowstorm, leaving about 7 inches of heavy, wet snow behind, and a loss of power for 24 hours! Providence or what?

If you’d like to bake this wonderful tart for yourself, it can be found in Dorie Greenspans new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. Dorie has also posted the recipe on her blog, you can also find it there. To see what the other members of TWD thought of this tart, check it out here.   

Tart crust, baked and spread with my homemade raspberry jam and the beaten egg whites with the cranberries folded in
 Sorry to say not too many photos…This one was taken the next day…still so good!
The turkey fryers
So….how many men does it take to fry a turkey?
The fried turkey….scrumptious!