Friday, September 30, 2011

FFWD Deconstructed BLT and Eggs

Deconstructed BLT and Eggs
Almost one year ago, I started my blog so that I could cook through "Around My French Table" with an online cooking group. So it seems appropriate, that my 100th post would fall on a French Friday! When I started my blog, I had no idea how much pleasure it would bring to me. It has introduced me to some  wonderfully talented bloggers with like interests. Over the last year these bloggers have become my virtual friends! I look forward to reading their blogs and enjoy their comments on mine! So thanks everyone for your support and interest!
Todays FFWD recipe is for "Deconstructed BLT and Eggs". My husband has been on South Beach for about 3 weeks now, so I thought.. uggh another salad.  But it did fit our dietary needs this week so, I took the turkey bacon out of the fridge and started to construct my Deconstructed BLT! I used a bag of mixed lettuce, since that is what I had in the house. I'm trying to use up all the food in my fridge before we leave for vacation. I boiled my eggs the day before.  I peeled the eggs, fried up the bacon and bread cubes, then mixed up the dressing. I had just made Dorie's Oven Roasted Tomatoes and had about a half cup leftover. I used them instead of sun dried tomatoes in the salad. They were so good!
This salad was delicious. Between the bacon, oven roasted tomatoes, and eggs the flavors were wonderful. Even my husband, who has been eating a lot of salads lately, commented how delicious this was and he didn't even get to eat the croutons! Since this was our dinner, I served it with grilled chicken. I will definitely be making this again. It's a keeper!
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans book "Around My French Table".

Delicious! Loved the bits of bacon with the eggs and mayo!

This has nothing to do with my post...I just wanted to share my beautiful hydrangeas picked from my yard! So perfect for fall!

Friday, September 23, 2011

FFWD Classic Madeleines

Classic Madeleines
I was really happy to see Madeleines on the agenda for this weeks French Friday. They happen to be one of my favorite little cakes. Just right to have with a cup of tea. I chose to make the classic version because, I love the slightly lemony flavor of the classic. I do plan on making the honey-spiced Madeleines for the holidays. Madeleines are little sponge cakes with a distinctive shell like shape. They are baked in a traditional moulded pan. The batter is very much like a genoise batter, according to Dorie. Through the years I've made raspberry, chocolate, coconut and rosewater flavored Madeleines. I've made them for showers, luncheons and just to have with my tea.
Some tips that are important when making Madeleines is to be sure you chill the batter before you bake. If you're in a hurry, you can bake them without chilling but, chilling is what will give them that characteristic hump. It also will give you a better product.  Make sure to butter the moulds very well and refrigerate until ready to fill. I don't usually flour my moulds because, I find that it clumps and does not allow the Madeleines to get those pretty ridges.  These are such lovely little cakes and I know I will be making them many more times. This recipe has been shared by Dorie on her blog. You can find it here.

My very heavily buttered pan

My lovely Madeleines

With my tea

Bon Appetit


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women In Food # 16 Maida Heatter Bittersweet Chocolate Biscotti

Bittersweet Chocolate Biscotti

This week we are honoring Maida Heatter as number 16 on Gourmet Lives list of the 50 most influential women in food. I own several of her cookbooks but, really didn't know very much about her. 
She was born on Long Island and was raised in Manhattan. Her mother was an English teacher and her father was Gabriel Heatter; a well known radio commentator of the 1940's and 50's.  After high school, she enrolled in NY's Pratt Institute, where she earned a degree in Fashion Illustration. Shortly after graduation she began working for the NY Herald Tribune, as an illustrator. Not long after she started designing and making silver jewelry. She created a line of jewelry and hand painted scarves and ties for Macy's.  In the late 1940's she moved to Miami Beach, where she met her husband Ralph Daniels, a National Airline's pilot. In the early 1960's she and her husband opened a restaurant in Miami Beach called "Inside". She gave up her jewelry design business and started to bake for the restaurant. I guess you could say the rest is history! 
Maida aka "The Queen of Desserts" is the author of nine dessert cookbooks. Her "Book of Great Desserts" was a NY Times best-seller and won the James Beard Award. She is a member of the James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame and, Has been named to Cook's Magazine's Who's Who in Cooking.
According to her bio, she continues to bake joyfully from her home in Florida.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Visit To Eataly NYC

200 Fifth Ave.
My husband and I just spent the weekend in NYC. It was our anniversary, and we decided it would be fun to spend a few nights enjoying the city. A show, a few nice dinners and a trip to Eataly (for me). For those of you who don't know of Eataly, it is located downtown at 23rd and 5th ave., just across the street from Madison Sq. Park and next to the Flat-iron building.  Eataly is housed in a 50,000 sq. foot building, and is a very unique Italian market place. More accurately, it is an amazing food emporium! It is the creation of Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joseph Bastianich. It has six sit down restaurants, including a beer garden on the rooftop. I never got to try any of them. We planned on doing Eataly our second day but, our plans changed. On our first day, after lunch at the Stage Deli, we decided to go downtown. Not the smartest thing I've ever done. All this wonderful Italian food and I wasn't hungry. I did stroll through the store and buy some wonderful Italian goodies to take home. My favorite being a jar of Chestnut Jam. Things were pricy, or you could say upscale! But it is NYC. Definitely an experience! There were isles of pasta, wine, artisanal cheeses, beautifully baked breads, cured meats and fresh fish. An espresso bar, with a gorgeous espresso machine. A gelateria (gelato stand) which I would have loved to sample but, my husband is on South Beach, so I didn't want to tempt him. I understand it could get quite crowded. However, we visited on a thursday, late afternoon and it was really easy to explore. Not at all crowded and I didn't have to wait long on any line. I could have spent  hours perusing the many isles but, this was not my hubby's favorite thing to do. So, because it was "our" anniversary, we left after about an hour with a taste that still has not been satisfied!
I'm already making plans to do a day in the city with a girlfriend, so we can explore this unique market at a slower pace.

23rd. St. entrance

A wall of jams, preserves, honey and coffee. I wanted to buy some chestnut honey before I left and forgot  it

Imported Coffee

The Espresso/Cappuccino Station

Chocolate anyone?
Isles of pasta
Bakery is overseen by Nancy Silverton of the renowned La Brea Bakery 
My goodies from Eataly
My husband waiting "patiently" for me! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

I really like a slice for breakfast

Along with summer comes natures bounty. With summer ending, I'm trying to preserve some of that freshness to enjoy all winter long. This year my garden didn't give me many tomatoes. I had 7 chipmunks (trapped and relocated) living and tunneling through my garden. They ate their way through my tomatoes as fast as they would turn pink. And oh how they loved my berries! But, my zucchini was plentiful.  I'm always looking for ways to use them up! As I run through a list of possibilities in my head,  I'm reminded of the Forrest Gump movie and the shrimp possibilities...zucchini fritters, zucchini quiche, zucchini cakes, zucchini incorporated in the cheese filling of my stuffed shells, grilled zucchini and then there is zucchini bread! I remember when my kids were young, they were very picky about their veggies. Zucchini bread was something they always loved and, I would smile slyly as I cut them an extra slice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

FFWD Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach

Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach

For the third time in twelve days we have lost our power. The first time was due to Hurricane Irene. We were luckier than most because, we only lost our power for about 20 hours. Then two days ago, after some thunder storms came through, we lost power again...right in the middle of Rizzoli and Isles! One of my favorite shows! It wasn't out for long this time and we got it back before morning. Then last night we had a slew of fierce thunderstorms come through. Once again we have flooding all over the area and our power was knocked out one more time. This normally wouldn't bother me but, I wanted to get my cooking done today for French Friday. I will be leaving in the morning to visit my daughter and her family on Long Island.
So I decided to make the rice on my outdoor gas grill. This rice is similar to a risotto except you add all the liquid in the beginning. I've made Italian risotto before. You cook your rice in butter or olive oil, then add a small amount of liquid, a little at a time, to get that creaminess that risotto is known for. So, I took my pot with the chicken stock in it out to my deck and turned on the burner.  When it started to boil I added the rice and lowered the heat. At this point, I got my spinach ready to take its place on the grill burner and chopped the onion and garlic. I couldn't cook the spinach until the rice was cooked so I just had everything ready to go....and then my electric came back on. This was about 3 p.m. I brought everything into the house and finished the cooking. Everything just fell right into place and my rice turned out really wonderful. I truly enjoyed this dish. It was creamy, due to the added cheese and heavy cream, and had a really nice texture. The spinach added another layer of flavor that I really enjoyed. Is it risotto? In the end, I agree with Dorie, good creamy rice is good no matter what you call it!
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table" which is really worth buying! Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Cooking the rice on my grill

Rice added to the pot

Everything mixed into the rice

My lunch....Yummy!

This is a little stream that is down the street from my home.

It water breached the bridge and the roadway has collapsed.

Just a quiet little stream!!!!!

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Woman in Food-# 14 Elizabeth David-Orange Almond Cake

Nice texture...lovely cake
Honestly, Elizabeth David is someone I had never heard of.  She was picked by Gourmet magazine as being one of the 50 Woman Game Changers in Food.  British born in 1913, and definitely ahead of her time, she was seen as a "Saucy Dame"! In one of the articles I read, they referred to her as the Julia Child of England.  Born into money and class, she studied art in Paris and was a bit of a rebel. Elizabeth traveled the world during WW2, then came back to England and started writing about food.  In 1950 she published her first book on Mediterranean cooking. She wrote seven books in all. Her last work published in 1977 "English Bread and Yeast Cookery", got people across the United Kingdom baking again in protest of mass produced bread. She was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1982 and died in 1992.
I decided to make Elizabeth's Orange and Almond Cake. I thought it sounded different and loved the fact that it was made with almond meal (which I happened to have in my pantry) and orange juice! This cake was different...definitely a mediterranean flavor. I had orange blossom water, so I used it! The texture was really nice but, not sure about the flavor.  It was not sweet and the orange blossom water seemed a bit overpowering...and I love orange blossom water. This cake calls for 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water...I would cut that to 1 teaspoon. It was a good cake but, I think I would make some changes if I were to make it again!

Folding in the egg whites

Pouring into prepared pan

I think next time I would make this in a spring form would not release from this pan!

Texture was very nice and the whipped cream added a nice break from the strong flavor of the orange blossom water.

Tea and cake anyone?

Elizabeth David's Orange and Almond Cake

PG  Tested

I was intrigued by this cake, made with no wheat flour but rather almond flour or meal and bread crumbs. It is as Elizabeth David describes it at the end:

The juice of 3 oranges, grated zest of 1 orange, 6 tablespoons dry bread crumbs, 1 cup ground almonds or almond meal/flour, orange blossom water, 4 eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, heavy cream.
Mix together the orange juice, grated orange zest and bread crumbs, add the ground almonds and, if available, a tablespoon of orange blossom water.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until almost white. Add to the first mixture. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into a square pan, buttered and sprinkled with bread crumbs, and bake in a moderate oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
When cold turn the cake out and cover the top with whipped cream (about 1/3 cup).

Very good and light.

Thanks to Mary of One Perfect Bite for taking us on this journey! The following bloggers are also honoring Elizabeth David. Hope you'll visit them. They are all great cooks who have wonderful blogs. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Concord Grape Jam

About 4 years ago, I was lucky enough to find a treasure trove of concord grapes growing on my property. They were growing so nicely along the ground and climbing up on an old picnic bench that I had stored out by my shed. I visited them quite often to make sure I kept them off the ground, putting a few small garden trellises under the growing vines. Summer was coming to an end and, my grapes were turning dark purple. They were ready to be picked! Those grapes made the most wonderful grape jam.  The following spring my husband put up a grape arbor, and I've had the good fortune to be the recipient of those flavorful concord grapes ever since!
Late August early September is the season for concord grapes in NJ. As I walk out by my grape arbor, the scent of these grapes permeate the air. They have the strong aromatic fragrance of a freshly opened bottle of red wine or the Welches grape juice my mom used to buy for us when we were kids. I always remember my mom making this wonderful grape jam when I was a kid. A friend of hers would bring her a basket of grapes every year that she picked from her yard. I still use my mom's  old recipe from Sure-Jell. The recipe is folded, cracked and hard to make out...but every year I pull it out and follow those instructions just like my mom did.
My mom's old recipe sheet...this happens to be the jelly side
Beautiful grapes growing on my arbor
Our grape arbor

This is just one colander full of concord grapes

Concord Grapes grow wild in most of the northeast. They have a dark purplish black skin, and are often covered in a harmless layer of white bloom. They're usually less sweet than traditional grapes. They are also a "slip-skin" variety of grape, which means that they pop right out of their skin when you give them a little pinch. The wild grape is smaller then your cultivated grape and has several pits in each one.
This year I was able to pick enough for two batches of jam. After I slip the skins off the grapes, I put the skins in a food processor and process. I then add the skins to the grapes and cook them down. After that I put the boiled fruit through a food mill. The result is a thick wonderful juice that makes an amazing jam. A time consuming job but, if you tasted this jam you would think it was well worth the effort! Recently I found a recipe from Sure-Jell on the Kraft web-site that is the same as my mom's. I've shared it here for you.

Slipping the skin off one of the concord grapes 
Grapes that have had the skin slipped off
The skins
The skins being processed in food processor
Pulp and grape skins mixed together
Stirring the Sure-Jell into the pot of grape juice
After I ladle the jam into the jars and seal them,  I turn them upside down for 5 minutes....this is called the inversion method...I use this rather than the water bath method. I would only use this method on jams and jellies because the liquid is at such a high temperature.
Some of my Grape Jam ready to give to friends and family

Sure-Jell Grape Jam

what you need

6 cups prepared fruit (buy about 4 lb. fully ripe Concord grapes)
1 cup water
1 box SURE-.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
7-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

make it

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

SLIP skins from grapes. Finely chop or grind skins; set aside. Mix grape pulp and water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 min. Press through sieve to remove seeds. Combine skins and pulp. Measure exactly 6 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.

STIR in pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

FFWD Corn Soup

 Fresh corn and fancy corn stripper...another gadget to add to my drawer!

Hard to believe this is the last friday of summer! Technically the Fall season begins on September 23 but, for me, this weekend signals the end! School will be starting next week for most of the kids in the north east, and the days are getting shorter! Most of us have been cooking with Dorie for almost a year now. Funny how fast the fridays seem to run into each other.
This week's pick was for Corn Soup. I've had corn chowder before, wonderfully thick and flavorful with plenty of potatoes, but I never had Corn Soup.  I stopped at the farm stand for a dozen ears yesterday. I always like to buy several dozen to strip of its' kernels and freeze for winter. Last time I was at Williams Sonoma I bought a corn stripper. A very cool gadget which I just had to have. However, I'm not sure it works any better than a knife.

This soup starts out with stripping the ears of corn, putting the cobs into a pot with milk and bringing it to a boil. Then let it simmer while you prepare the rest of the soup. Melting the butter in a large soup pot, you add the chopped onion. Let cook for about 5 minutes then add the celery, carrots, garlic and the corn kernels, simmering for another 10 minutes. At this point, you add the water, and the milk with the corncobs to the pot, along with the herbs. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Then remove the cobs and herbs. Puree in small batches in a food processor or with an immersion blender. I also made the garnish leaving out the bacon. I served this with a tablespoon of sour cream on top along with the garnish.  
This soup seemed to lack something. It was good but not great and, although I enjoyed a bowl for lunch, I don't think I would go to the trouble of making it again. My husband didn't like it at all (He thought it should be more hardy).  Sometimes you hit a home run, other times just a base hit!
Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone! 

Stripping the cobs
Cobs simmering in the milk

All the veggies 

Everything simmering for 20 minutes
The finished soup...good but not great!
This recipe is from Dorie Greenspans book 'Around My French Table". To see how other Doristas did with this recipe check it out here.