Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TWD Blueberry-Nectarine Pie

This pie was absolutely wonderful…a lovely taste of summer!! 
This week for Baking with Julia we were tasked with making a Blueberry-Nectarine Pie.
I hate to say this but, this recipe caused me to rebel. First off, I have a favorite pie crust recipe. And because it has never failed me, I won’t deviate from it! It’s from Nick Malgieri…you can find it here.  It always rolls out easily, is easy to handle, and is wonderfully flaky! So when it comes to my pie crusts…Nick is the man!
Second, I was not going to cook half the blueberries on the stove, let them cool, add them to the rest of the fruit, to then bake in the oven! Having baked many pies, it seemed like a unnecessary step to me.  So I skipped that step and mixed my berries and nectarines together in a bowl, with the rest of the ingredients. That is, with the exception of the flour. I changed out the flour for two tablespoons of cornstarch and a tablespoon of tapioca! I really hate runny pies, and it’s been my experience that when I try to thicken my pies with flour, they never thicken sufficiently!  Oh, and just one more thing….I made a lattice crust!!  OK…I rebelled and I’m sorry but, this pie was perfectly delectable!! Happy Tuesday everyone!!

Our lovely hosts this week are my friend Lizzy of That Skinny Chick Can Bake and Hilary of Manchego's Kitchen. You can find the recipe for this pie on their blogs. Thanks ladies for hosting!! To see what other group members are doing you can check it out at the TWD webpage.

I make Nick Malgieri’s pastry dough…wonderfully flakey and tender…made with all butter and in my food processor.
Rolls out easily…the best
Nectarines and blueberries mixed with all the other ingredients
Brushed with egg and sprinkled with sugar….ready for the oven
I put foil around my outer crust so that it doesn’t  overly brown
Just out of the oven and ready to go to a dinner party!
It looked pretty….however, I never got a photo of the sliced pie
It was a perfect consistency and absolutely delicious!

Friday, July 27, 2012

FFWD ~ Lemon Barley Pilaf

 Lemon Barley Pilaf
This weeks French Friday recipe is for Lemon Barley Pilaf. Barley is a grain that I’ve used in very limited form; usually in soups or casseroles. I never thought of using it in a pilaf…and now I wonder why? This pilaf had great texture and wonderful flavor. I would have liked the veggies to be cooked a little more but, that’s just my preference.
This pilaf was a cinch to put together. I went shopping earlier in the day and, being a bit tired, I was hoping for an uncomplicated and straightforward recipe.  I was happily surprised by the ease of this dish.  Chopping the veggies was the hardest part of this recipe.  So chop I did…the onion (I used a shallot), a small carrot, half a red pepper, scallions (which I didn’t have so for color I threw in peas), and lemon zest.  Having my mise en place (everything ready for the pot), I started my barley cooking. You cook the barley as you would rice.  First melt a tablespoon of butter in the pot, add the onion, (cook but don’t brown) then add the barley. Saute the barley for about 3 minutes, then add the water, chicken broth, bay leaf, bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer until the barley is tender...about 30 minutes.  Now add the veggies, carrots first...cooking for about 5 minutes, then the red pepper. Turn off the stove and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the scallions and zest. 
This was really very good and even Bill liked it! Was it his favorite…well maybe not!  However, I would definitely make this one again; with a few changes that I think would work better for me. 
Happy Friday everyone!!

You can find this recipe in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or  here on Food.com.   To see what other Doristas are doing…check it out here.

Barley in chicken broth being brought to a boil
Chopped veggies
This was wonderful and I plan on leftovers for lunch…I love Dorie’s idea of adding chicken…next time!
An uncomplicated, easy dish for this French Friday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tickets to The Chew ~ A Day in NYC with Friends

I recently requested tickets to The Chew, a TV show taped in NYC.  It’s a food variety show starring Mario Batali, Michael Simon, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz and Clinton Kelly!
When I received the confirmation e-mail for the July 10th show, I was thrilled.  One of the benefits of living an hour outside of NYC is being able to take advantage of the free tickets that TV shows offer!  When I called my friends, they were all game to join me on this adventure into the city!   We decided to take the train…it just makes the trip so much more pleasant. We also decided that after the show we would take a trip down to Eataly, grab some lunch and do some browsing! Yay!!
Show day.  I set my alarm for five thirty a.m., made a cup of tea and left my house by seven a.m. to pick up my friends.  We had to catch the 9:07 NJ Transit train to Manhattan. We arrived at the train station with plenty of time to buy our tickets.  For some reason that Master Card commercial popped into my mind…round trip train ticket ~ $28!

We boarded the train and immediately began to catch up with girl talk and neighborhood gossip! An hour and a half later we arrived at Penn Station, where we grabbed a cab and headed for the ABC studios.  If you’ve never been treated to a NYC cab ride…let me tell you…wear your seatbelt!!  We serpentined through the city streets with my heart in my throat! Cutting off anyone or anything that was foolish enough to get in our way and arriving at the studio with plenty of time to spare!  Cab ride ~ $13!

The line for The Chew was already pretty long when we arrived.  We waited about twenty minutes before they opened the doors, and then were ushered through security, and into an area to wait for show time!

Our tickets!
The show was a lot of fun, although our seats were not great. However, they did do two segments right in front of our section. One of my favorite parts of this experience was the warm up guy. His name was RC Smith, and he was tasked with pumping up and entertaining the audience…a job he did very well! He was very funny, making everyone feel at home and relaxed!

RC Smith 
Carla Hall

This stock photo shows the view from our not so great seats!!
Filing out at shows end!!

Carla Hall was a hoot!!  She was very friendly, and animated! During the breaks she would come into  the audience, dancing and chatting with everyone!  Clinton Kelly was also very friendly, interacting with the audience during the breaks.  One thing I was not aware of, was how many support people are working on the set while they are filming.  People moving tables and arranging the next segment…directors giving directions from the sidelines with little headsets…etc.  Before long the show was over and it was time to head to Eataly!  Another cab ride…oh no!!

Eataly, NYC...200 5th Avenue  
I've been to Eataly before and posted about it  here.  It’s a fun place to visit…a huge Italian market place.  We decided to have our lunch there! We ate at La Pizza~La Pasta, which is a pizza restaurant located on the ground floor in this gourmet Italian supermarket/food court.  We waited a mere 10 minutes and were ushered to a balcony section, which was very private and overlooked the lower restaurant/store.  It was a perfect place to sit! We sat, chatted and took our time eating for at least an hour and a half. No one bothered or rushed us.  Our waiter was really capable and was always at hand, checking to see if we needed anything! We all ordered personal pizzas which could have been shared…but were not! We also ordered a lovely salad to share! They started us off with some wonderful crusty bread with dipping oil!  Not being a wine drinker, I had my iced tea while my friends all enjoyed some wine!  Lunch with friends ~ $30!

View from our table in Eataly
After lunch we took some time to check out the store, selected a few goodies to take home, and then headed for Penn Station to catch the train back to NJ. We left NYC during rush hour which was not the most pleasant time to leave.  Settling into our seats we were all quite tired, but continued to reminisce about our day until we arrived at our stop!  A wonderful, exhausting day with friends ~ PRICELESS!!

One of the treats I brought home from Eataly….Chocolate Boulé

Several of these photos are stock photos…we were not allowed to take photos in the studio until we were leaving.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

FFWD Salmon with Basil Tapenade

Salmon with Basil Tapenade
Happy Friday everyone!! Today the Doristas are making Salmon with Basil Tapenade.  I happen to love salmon. It is my very favorite fish, so this was a perfect choice for me.  However, salmon is not one of my husbands favorites and, stuffing it with olive tapenade was definitely not going to happen for him!  No problem. I decided to make one for me the Dorie way, and just grill his without any accoutrements.  That’s the way he likes it…uh huh uh huh!!
As I started this recipe I was thinking, what a waste of a good piece of salmon!  I persevered, and slit my fish as instructed. After all, Dorie seldom lets us down!  I purchased a jar of tapenade, that was made with kalamata olives, and that’s what I used. I added the lemon zest, lemon juice, basil and some rosemary; then stuffed my fish with a spoon instead of the plastic bag.  After all, it was only one piece of fish…the spoon worked just fine.  As everyone in the continental US knows, we’ve been in the midst of a heatwave. There was no way I was turning my oven on to 450°.  I decided to grill my fish using Dories method. I heated a piece of foil, coated with olive oil over direct heat.  I then added the salmon and browned each side. Finally I turned off a burner and let it cook for a few minutes longer…perfect!
To my surprise, I really enjoyed this dish. I would have really enjoyed making it for someone who might appreciate the wonderful flavors of the olives. Someone to ooh and aah over it with me! I’ll have to give this one a try the next time I have some company over! I served this with grilled asparagus and some brown rice…scrumptious! And Bill also enjoyed his plain salmon!!

You can find this recipe in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table”.  To see what other Doristas are doing…check it out here.

Kalamata Tapenade
Making pockets in the salmon
Ready for the grill
Looking good
Incredible!  I really enjoyed this one!

Friday, July 13, 2012

FFWD ~ Blueberry~Mascarpone Roulade

Blueberry~Mascarpone Roulade
I was very excited to make this weeks recipe for French Fridays.  Blueberry~Mascarpone Roulade.  A Roulade is a French term originating from the word “rouler” meaning “to roll"…a cake roll in English!  Cake Rolls are something I grew up on.  They were one of my mom’s favorite cakes to make. I remember standing by her in the kitchen as she would whip one up for no reason at all!  When I was a young girl my mom would bake treats for our school lunch at least twice a week.  Her repertoire included Salad Dressing Chocolate Cake, Tomato Soup Cake, and in that mix was her Jelly Roll Cake! So, before I actually started to learn to bake, I already knew the technique for a cake roll.  My mom used to let me sift the powdered sugar over her kitchen towel, and then I would watch her as she turned her cake onto that towel and rolled it up while still warm! When the cake was cool she would unroll and fill it with jam! I was so intrigued by this process, I couldn’t wait to bake my own!  It took me several years, after I married, to get the confidence to try one myself.  However, when I did I was quite proud of my accomplishment! I’m sure there will be many young bakers, who participate with FFwD, making there first cake roll this week, and feeling that same sense of accomplishment!  I however, was thrilled to get to bake this classic cake again, even if I am an old hand at it!

Blueberries in the sugar syrup
Drained and ready to add to the filling
I mixed my berries the night before. Boiling the sugar and water together, then adding the blueberries. Cooled it and then refrigerated it overnight. The cake was easy to put together.  In the morning, I sifted the flour with the cornstarch onto parchment paper, as Dorie suggested.  Then I separated the eggs, and beat the whites until starting to hold there shape, added the sugar, and continued to beat till stiff.  I then whisked the egg yolks and added about ⅓ of the whites to the yolks to lighten them before adding the rest of the whites and flour mixture.  At this point, you fold until incorporated. I used a jelly roll pan which is about 12x17. While the cake was baking I mixed up the filling.
My kitchen towel was ready when the cake came out of the oven, dusted with the confectioners sugar. Let the cake cool a minute or two, then invert onto a kitchen towel and roll up with the towel.  When cool, unroll and place filling on top, then reroll without towel.  Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.  I chilled mine overnight.  I also froze the leftover cake and it froze quite nicely.

This was a great cake that we thoroughly enjoyed!  It was also fun revisiting a classic that brings back so many wonderful baking memories!  It has definitely made it on to my “go to” list of cakes!
Happy Friday Everyone!!
You can find this recipe in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or here.  To see what other Doristas are doing…check it out here

Egg whites beaten stiff
Egg yolks with some whites folded in
Fold whites, yolks and flour mixture together
Spread in a jelly roll pan
Just out of the oven
Turned out onto the sugared kitchen towel….then roll up with towel
The filling
Unroll cake, spread with the filling and reroll…. refrigerate at least 2 hours

This is the lovely Blueberry~Mascarpone Roulade
Oh so delicious!!