Friday, August 30, 2013

FFWD ~ Floating Islands or Iles Flottantes

Iles Flottantes or Floating Islands

After weeks of French Friday picks, that were almost non recipes, we have a challenge! Leave it to the French to come up with a dessert, that’s a real show stopper, and yet quite easy to prepare.  I made mine over two days (chill time).  Day one making the Creme Anglaise custard, and day two making the meringue and serving! This was amazingly delicious!! So delicious in fact, I couldn’t eat it alone.  I had to share it! However, that presented a problem for me.  I was making them late in the afternoon, and I knew they would be perfect for dessert. That is perfect, if my husband hadn’t been on South Beach for two weeks now!  How could I indulge in such a heavenly dessert, without sharing it with him?  I felt like a saboteur!  I, who have been making carb free meals for him for the last few weeks, not to mention all the lectures I gave him on his health, was going to ask him to share these wonderfully delicious Floating Islands!  So, after we ate yet another carb free meal (I am so craving pasta) I brought out the Floating Islands!  “Are these on my diet” he asked?  “No" I said.  "But, you have to try these, they are incredible!"  Really!!  I so hate, eating something so wonderful alone!  I told him they were a reward for being so good, and sticking to his diet. OK, I know I was wrong but, these were amazing!

                                                              Oh my, was this over the top delicious!!
Making the Creme Anglaise was straight forward for me. I have made pastry cream and custard many times. Creme Anglaise is a custard sauce, that is on the thin side.  The water for the floating islands!  Tempering this sauce is important. That means adding just a small amount of the hot liquid to the egg mixture, until the mixture is acclimated to the heat.  I then chilled it immediately, by putting the bowl into a larger bowl of ice water and stirring every once in awhile, until chilled. Then refrigerate this sauce for several hours or overnight.

Whisking egg yolks and sugar
Heating the cream and milk
The ice bath
Now for the meringue or Floating Island!  I decided to go with Dorie’s Bonne Idee and poach the meringues.  This is the traditional way of making the floating islands, and I really wanted to give this technique a try.  It was  a bit messy, but not at all difficult. First setting a pot of milk over the heat and bringing it to a slight boil, and then a simmer.  Make the meringue and drop mounds into the pot of milk.  Poach on each side for a minute. Then remove and place on a dry towel.  The results were quite good, but I’m sure if I baked the meringue it would have been equally as good!

This was a delectable dessert and definitely worth the time and effort!  Ask Bill…he thought so!! Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans Cookbook “Around My French Table” .  It can also be found here. However, if you choose to make the Creme Anglaise you can find Dories recipe here. To see what my fellow Dorista friends have done, check it out here.

After making the meringues, make scoops and place in the heated milk…one minute each side
Remove and place on kitchen towel to drain…then move to parchment lined sheet pan and cool
These were just amazing!  So worth the effort!

Monday, August 26, 2013

White Bean, Tomato and Basil Salad

White Bean, Tomato and Basil Salad
Recently, I had the good fortune to win a case of Truitt Brothers Beans from Michelle@Je Mange la Ville .  They arrived about the same time my husband started his South Beach diet.  Trying to find things that he will eat, and things that are included on his diet is challenging, to say the least. As I’ve shared before, he has an aversion to many veggies.  However, South Beach is all about the veggies and protein! No carbs! This is a huge undertaking for the cook! Especially a cook who like to bake. So, as I was searching the web for some ideas using beans, I remembered a salad my friend had made when she hosted her Bunco.  Her salad included chick peas and several cloves of garlic.  My husband isn’t a fan of chick peas or a lot of garlic, so I came up with a variation of her salad. I switched out the chick peas for white beans. Since I have so many herbs growing on my deck, picking a handful of basil was no problem. I used red and yellow grape tomatoes, also from my garden.  Summer is a wonderful time of the year…isn’t it!  The result was so appetizing! Even Bill liked it!  It was quite easy and very tasty!!   The best thing about this very flavorful salad was, that it was healthy and quite filling.  It also was allowed on South Beach (except for the honey, but I’m not telling).

Looking Good!

White Bean, Tomato and Basil Salad

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups of mixed grape tomatoes, halved

a large handful of basil leaves, chopped (I used about 20 large leaves)
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing.  Then toss with the veggies. Chill for at least 20 minutes, allowing all the flavors to merge. I have made this salad several times and often add a diced cucumber to the mix. When my hubby is no longer on South Beach I think fresh corn would be a great addition.     

Truitt Brothers Beans…thank you, Michelle
Prepping the salad
Look at all that freshness from my garden!
Totally delicious!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crispy Coconut Chocolate Pie

Crispy Coconut Chocolate Pie

Need a last minute dessert…boy do I have one for you!  Four ingredients and you probably have them in your kitchen pantry.  This pie is so delicious and seductively decadent, your guests will think you spent the whole day baking. It comes from Martha Stewart’s cookbook "New Pies and Tarts".   The press-in crust comes together in seconds in your food processor.  Then it is pressed into a 9-inch pie plate and baked.  When it’s done, you fill the shell with the most magnificent velvety ganache.  I sprinkled a little coconut on the top, but I bet it would be lovely with some sliced almonds as well. Trust me…a wonderfully impressive dessert with just a minimum of effort.  Hope you’ll give it a try!

This pie is just amazing…so chocolaty and rich! 

Press your coconut crust into the pie plate
Make your ganache 
And pour into the baked coconut crust, then chill
Now enjoy this utterly delicious chocolate-coconut  dessert…it tastes like a Mounds Bar!

Crispy Coconut Chocolate Pie
from Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts cookbook

The crust:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
11 ounces (about 6 cups) sweetened shredded coconut

The filling:

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), finely chopped


Make the crust: 
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process butter and one-third of coconut until mixture forms a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining two-thirds coconut over mixture and combine with your fingers.

Place a 9-inch pie plate on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Press coconut mixture into bottom and up sides of pan to form crust, leaving top edges loose and fluffy. Place a foil ring over edge to prevent burning. Bake until center begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes; remove foil and bake until edges are browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: 
Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is combined. Pour into coconut crust. Refrigerate until filling is set, 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Friday, August 23, 2013

FFWD ~ Boulevard Raspail Corn on the Cob

Boulevard Raspail Corn on the Cob
Here in New Jersey, we take our corn seriously!  We actually are serious about all our summer fruits and vegetables! We’re called the Garden State for a reason.  That’s why when Boulevard Raspail Corn on the Cob, was picked for this weeks French Friday, I knew I was ready!  We eat a lot of sweet and tender corn in my neck of the woods.  I live in rural northwestern Jersey, and we are surrounded by corn fields.  Jersey Fresh  is our motto and, it is also a "campaign to promote our outstanding agricultural industry".  Anyone who lives in Jersey knows we grow the best tomatoes, blueberries and peaches in addition to the best corn.  Here’s some facts on my wonderful state, according to a New Jersey State web site:
"While most people associate agriculture with our nation's heartland, New Jersey is home to more than 9,800 farms covering 790,000 acres of farmland. The state is among the leaders in many forms of agricultural production. For example, New Jersey ranks: 2nd in blueberry production, 3rd in cranberry production, 3rd in spinach, 4th in bell peppers, 4th in peach production and 4th in head lettuce. The state also produces an abundance of tomatoes, corn, apples, strawberries, potatoes, hay, soybeans and nursery stock.”
Pretty impressive, right?  

I’ve been in NY City for the past few days with my husband.  We love to take advantage of the wonderful things the city has to offer.  Dinner, a show, a walk through Central Park, the Highline to name a few!  One of my sons lives there, and we always meet for dinner.  On our way home today, I stopped by my local farm stand and picked up some beautiful corn, just picked this morning.  I make corn on the cob quite often in the summer. Usually I just peel and boil it.  When I’m not boiling it I grill it but, this week Dorie suggests placing the ears in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, 20 minutes on each side, unhusked. Then peel, butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  That’s it! A non-recipe really!
Now, here’s where it gets tricky.  I’m not sure if this corn was absolutely delectable because of Dorie’s
roasting it in the husk, or our corn is just plain delicious!  I have to say, I think it’s a little of both. I loved this method for cooking the corn!  Easy, tender, moist and delicious!  Thanks to Dorie, I’ve learned a new technique for cooking our wonderful Jersey corn! Oh, and in our house we eat it on the cob. The good ol' American way!  Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table”.

Roasted corn on the cob
 The corn was so tender and cooked perfectly
 Boulevard Raspail Corn on the Cob served with roasted chicken and a lovely bean-tomato salad

This is one of my local farms and their corn maze…amazing! It’s also where I buy my corn.
Jersey Fresh!! My farm stand picks several times a day…first thing in the morning and in the afternoon
One of the many cornfields in my neck of the woods….an hour and a half out of NYC!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

 Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Are you ready for another Zucchini Bread?  I hope so!  My garden is overwhelming me with zucchini.  I’ve been adding them to everything I make.  So, why not another zucchini bread?  But, this one is zucchini bread with a twist. A chocolate twist!  If you’re a chocolate lover, this bread is for you!  It will delight everyone who eats it! The original recipe came from the Penzey’s Spice Catalog years ago.  It quickly became a family favorite. It’s the bread I would send in care packages for my kids when they were in college, to the delight of all their dorm mates. I’ve modified it a bit to my own taste. The original had more oil and sugar. I cut both back. I also like to sift the cocoa powder in with the flour.  It’s wonderfully decadent with an intense chocolate flavor. Sounds great doesn’t it? I enjoy mine with a smear of cream cheese.  Or, you could try it with some peanut butter.  Chocolate and peanut butter go great together. This bread has a slightly dense texture, and is very moist.  Honestly, who can go wrong with double chocolate anything? Try it; I know you’ll love it!

This recipe makes two loaves….I made two mini loaves and an 8x4
Intense chocolate flavor, and so moist
With my morning tea…heavenly!

Double~Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Penzey’s Spice Co.

3 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup natural cocoa powder
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
⅔ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp. flour
1 cup chopped nuts(optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.  Grate the zucchini and set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients. In another small bowl, coat the chocolate chips with 2 tsp. flour. This helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Add the flour-coated chocolate chips to the batter along with the zucchini and nuts.  Spoon the batter into two generously greased and floured 8x4 inch loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zucchini, Zucchini and More Zucchini or Wheat Germ Zucchini Bread

Wheat Germ Zucchini Bread
My garden has been very productive this summer. The zucchini plants are going crazy. If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know how fast this prolific plant will deliver it’s wonderful fruit.  It seems that, all at once, the onslaught of the zucchini begins. I’ve grilled them, used them in salads and given them away. That still leaves me with way too many.  So, when you have a ton of zucchini to use, you make zucchini bread! The bread I’m sharing with you today is from an old Farm Journal cookbook.  It’s been a favorite in our house for many years. A crunchy loaf made with nuts, sesame seeds, and wheat germ. The maple flavor gives this bread such a unique flavor.  Utterly delicious!  So, when your garden gives you an abundance of zucchini, you might want to try this zucchini bread!

The best zucchini bread ever!
Zucchini anyone?
Wheat germ,  pecans, zucchini and sesame seeds added to the batter

This bread is delectable…it’s my grandkids favorite.
And oh so good!

Wheat Germ Zucchini Bread

Prep Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hrs 30 mins
Yield: 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
2 cups shredded zucchini, unpeeled ( abut 3 medium)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sesame seeds (reserve 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top)

2~9x5 bread pans, greased and waxed paper lined. I use Pyrex glass loaf pans.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together into a small bowl.
Stir in wheat germ.
In medium bowl using mixer at medium speed, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, maple flavoring and eggs until thick and foamy, and sugar is dissolved.
With mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients.
Then add the nuts and sesame seeds along with the zucchini and blend gently into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Pour into prepared pans.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for about 1 hour until top of the bread springs back when lightly touched.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. .
When ready to remove from pans, slide a knife gently around the edges of the pans to loosen bread.
Slide the bread out and allow to cool completely on on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves

Friday, August 9, 2013

FFWD ~ Duck Breasts with Fresh Peaches

Oh no!  I forgot my garnish!  Just take the pictures, so we can eat!

I have been looking forward to this weeks French Friday pick for some time now. The recipe was for Duck Breasts with Fresh Peaches. I adore duck, but have never cooked it before. Actually, I’ve always been a bit put off about cooking duck.  That’s the best thing about Dorie…she takes me out of my comfort zone.  We’ve had a month of, very easy to put together recipes.  Some I ate by myself, because they were not Bill-friendly.  Although my hubby’s pallett has grown considerably, since I started French Fridays, there was no way he was going to eat the Dieter’s Tartine, or for that matter the Tzatziki.  However, I knew he would love the duck.

The week started out, by trying to find the duck breasts that I needed for this recipe.  My grocery store told me they always carry duck but, when I tried to buy it they were out. In fact, I started to doubt they really carried it at all.  So, I decided to go to a butcher about 30 minutes away, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. My week became crazy busy, and I totally forgot about the duck!  I started to clean out my garage with my husbands help.  One thing led to another, and before you knew it, I was painting the floor and walls of the garage.  Then the rains came!  This morning my freshly painted garage floor had puddles of water on it.  Oh well!

The best entree I’ve made from this book…and that’s saying something!

Back to the duck! I decided to call my grocery store and ask again, if they had any duck?  The butcher told me, after some searching, they found four breasts.  I asked him to put two aside for me, I finally had my hands on the elusive duck.
At about 5 pm I pulled out all my ingredients, scored the duck skin with a crosshatch pattern, and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.   I placed the breasts, skin side down, in a deep casserole pan that was preheated on medium high heat.  Dorie suggests cast iron if you have it, I don’t.  I used my Le Creusit, being careful not to heat the bottom without a bit of oil in it. I cooked the duck for about 8 minutes or, until the skin was nicely browned and crisp. I then turned them over and gave them another two minutes.  When done, I transferred the breasts to a piece of aluminum foil, sealed them lightly, then placed them in a pre-heated 250 degree oven.  That was it for the duck.

Onto the sauce, which I have to say I questioned!  Sorry Dorie!  I didn’t think I would enjoy the flavors.  Boy, was I wrong!  First, I poured off most of the duck fat leaving about a tablespoon in the pot. I peeled and sliced the peaches, and put them into the pot with the thyme and garlic. Take the peaches out of the pot and keep them warm by placing them on a plate, and then placing the plate in the oven with the duck.  The sauce came together quickly...honey, port, vinegar (balsamic and white wine) and butter!  Thirty minutes later, dinner was done.  I was in such a hurry to serve this while hot, I forgot to garnish with the thyme! I did get my pictures though!  Barely!  We just wanted to dig in!
Again, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, learned a new technique and made one of the best dinners I’ve yet to make for French Fridays!  A 10 + for sure! Amazing!  Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or here.  Give it a try…you’ll be so happy you did! To see what the other Doristas have done, check it out here.

The elusive duck breasts
Peaches with the garlic and thyme 
Duck breasts in foil
Duck Breasts with Fresh Peaches
So utterly delicious!
Bon Appétit

Friday, August 2, 2013

FFWD ~ Tzatziki and Dieters Tartine

Tzatziki…I served mine with pita bread
I feel like I’ve been away for such a long time, and yet it’s only been a week.  A week filled with cries of Granma, Granma, Granma! A week where I watched way too much Dino Dan and Lab Rats!  A week where I was devoid of any news or adult conversation. Parenting is really meant for the young! Trying to keep up with two five year olds and a nine year old is exhausting! We had a lot of fun! The Zoo, the Crayola Factory, a tea house luncheon for my Granddaughter, and getting to know every playground within a 20 mile radius...there are many! It has left me tired, but happy!

However, it’s good to get back to French Friday’s this week. Our recipe is for Tzatziki, pronounced zat-zee-key.  As I was looking up the pronunciation, I read that Tzatziki tops the list of foods people struggle to pronounce correctly. Foods such as quinoa or quesadillas. Tzatziki is a Greek dip made with cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and some herbs. One of my favorite ways to eat Tzatziki is on a Lamb Gyro. The recipe from Dorie was easy to put together.  I used plain Greek yogurt, so I didn’t have to drain the yogurt first. That saved me several hours. This was delicious! A keeper for sure!  I will definitely be making it again.

Since I wasn’t able to post about the Dieter’s Tartine last week, I will just say it was delightful!  Easy and healthy.  A hearty slice of bread with a mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream spread over it. Then, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes are sprinkled on top…very good! Happy Friday everyone!

Dieters Tartine…very good
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table”.  You can also find it here at Cooking Light or here by David Lebovitz…both are very similar to Dorie’s recipe.  To see what the other Dorista’s are doing, check it out here.

One cup of chopped cucumbers, add a ½ teaspoon of salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Then, squeeze dry in towel.
Add, two cups of greek yogurt, two minced garlic cloves, two tablespoons of lemon juice and one tablespoon of olive oil, the herbs, salt and pepper….refrigerate a few hours before serving.
Wonderfully yummy
A definite keeper!