Friday, October 25, 2013

FFWD~Muenster Cheese Soufflés

Utterly delicious…Muenster Cheese Soufflés (cheddar in my case)
Oh wow, can it be Friday already!  It seems like I just got home from our five weeks away. Oh wait, I did! It was only tuesday night when we drove into our driveway, weary and tired!  It was a wonderful adventure but, it was so good to finally be home. I have yet to do a full grocery shopping, or laundry for that matter. However, I did manage to get a birthday post up for Dorie’s birthday, and last night I made my French Friday’s pick for the week. We have to prioritize, don’t we?  

These were perfect as a starter to our dinner…and not bad for Bill’s diet

How lucky can I be. Our pick was for Muenster Soufflés.  Soufflés are relatively easy to make and, you don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients. They consist of eggs, milk, cheese, flour and butter. First, making a roux with the flour and butter, then adding the milk to make a basic béchamel sauce.  I couldn’t find the french munster, that the recipe calls for, but I did find it online.  I decided to order it, even though I used the cheese I had on hand (cheddar) for this post. When my french muenster cheese arrives,  I will be trying these again. These were wonderfully delicious and, my husband and I enjoyed them very much.  They puffed up beautifully, and as with all soufflés, deflate almost instantly.  It was hard to get photos when they were puffed…oh the worries of a food blogger! I will be making these again, easy, impressive and heavenly tasting!  You really have to give these a try.  Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or here on Epicurious. To see what other the other bloggers are doing check it out here.  

They deflated so quickly especially when I brought them outside for a photo shoot!
Loved them!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Earl Gray Tea with Honey Madeleines ~ Happy Birthday, Dorie!!

 Earl Gray Tea with Honey Madeleines ~ Happy Birthday, Dorie!
Our French Friday’s group is hosting a celebration today!  It’s a virtual birthday celebration for Dorie Greenspan! We are picking our favorite recipes from any one of Dorie’s cookbooks, and blogging about them today (her birthday)!  Coincidentally, It’s also my son’s birthday!  Happy Birthday, Dennis!!

In order to celebrate in style, French style that is, I chose to make Dorie’s beautiful Earl Gray Tea with Honey Madeleines.  They come from her book “Paris Sweets”.  I always think of Madeleines as a celebratory cake!  Last spring, I got together with a friend to make several batches for her daughters wedding.  So elegant, and very delicious!  Madeleines are traditional small sponge cakes, from the Lorraine region of France, made with a génoise cake batter.  They're baked in special pans/moulds with a distinctive shell shape.  These are one of my favorite little cakes to make, and of course, to eat. 

Dorie’s recipe incorporates steeped Earl Gray tea in the batter.  They were heavenly! 
The faint taste of the tea makes these little cakes more complex in flavor.  You could taste a hint of spice and honey.

The Earl Gray Madeleines on the left

Recently, I had the good fortune to meet and spend some time with Dorie and her husband Michael, at the IFBC Seattle (International Food Bloggers Conference). She was our keynote speaker.  We met at a "get together" the night before the conference, and then again for breakfast in the morning.  She was most generous with her time and, took pictures with all of our French Friday group. She is a smart, funny, and warm person. So, on this very special day, here’s celebrating you Dorie!  Lots of people will be thinking of you today. I just wanted to let you know I’m one of them!  

Just baked

Lovely with a cup of birthday tea!
So, I lift my tea cup to you, Dorie….Happy, Happy Birthday! 

Makes 12

5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for molds, room temperature 
2 tablespoons loose tea or tea from 2 tea bags (preferably Earl Grey) 

3/4 cup all purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
Line small sieve with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth and set sieve over small bowl. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in saucepan over low heat. Mix in tea. Let stand 10 minutes, then pour into sieve. Twist cheesecloth tightly around tea mixture, releasing tea-flavored butter into bowl.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick, about 4 minutes. Add honey, vanilla, and lemon peel; beat 1 minute longer. Gently fold in dry ingredients, then tea-flavored butter. Press plastic wrap onto surface of batter; chill batter at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Brush twelve 3x2-inch madeleine molds with butter. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Place pan on baking sheet. Drop 1 scant tablespoon batter into each mold (batter will spread while baking, filling molds completely).

Bake madeleines until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Sharply rap pan on work surface to loosen madeleines, then turn out onto rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dorie and I at the IFBC

Friday, October 18, 2013

FFWD~Caramel-Almond Custard Tarts

Beautiful and delicious…Caramel Almond Custard Tarts

This week our French Friday recipe is, Caramel Almond Custard Tart, a classic French custard tart with some delicious tweaks from Dorie!   She tells us that, while she was making a nut tart she decided to play around with the filling, and came up with this marvelous tasting caramel version!
Dorie’s tweak has given this a rich, deep caramel flavor! A true winner!!
Since my hubby is still watching his weight, I decided to make only two mini tarts!  However, I did not cut the custard in half. I was worried I would not have enough to fill the tarts if I halved it.  I just baked the leftover in custard cups.

I made my crust early in the day.  The tart crust was quite easy to put together.  The recipe calls for making it in a food processor. Since I’m still in Florida, and there is no food processor in the house, I made mine the old fashioned way, by hand!  I used a pastry blender to cut in the butter and added two tablespoons of cream along with the egg yolk because, I felt this recipe needed a bit more moisture. I then kneaded the dough until it came together. The dough rolled out beautifully and had a great texture.  You could add a whole egg instead of the cream, if you like.

Just out of the oven
The custard consists of a simple caramel made of sugar, water, and cream.  It came together perfectly. To the caramel you add a mixture of eggs, sugar and milk. Cook until the mixture comes to a boil and melds together.
Now for the tart assembly.  Sprinkle toasted sliced almonds on the partially baked crusts, then pour in the custard to fill.  I baked mine about 25 minutes.
I think these tarts were a prelude to Thanksgiving.  They were just plain delicious! We enjoyed ours on the porch, in the early evening as the sun began to set on the Gulf of Mexico!  Beautiful!! Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook “Around My French Table”,  it can also be found here.  Think about buying the book…it’s worth every penny!  Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough can be found here. To see how others did with this recipe you can check it out here.

 These were just amazing…I see a new dessert for the Thanksgiving table!
Won’t you join us!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

FFWD Boeuf à la Mode (aka Great Pot Roast)

Boeuf à la Mode  or plain old American pot roast…either way delicious!

Pot Roast is one of my favorite fall and winter dishes.  The slow cooking of this dish, permeates the house with wonderful aromas that take the chill out of a cold winters day. However, I’m in Florida, and the temps have been in the low 80’s! Perfect weather for the beach, taking long walks and enjoying the outdoors….not so perfect for making a pot roast.  Although the kitchen in the house I stay in is very well appointed, it did not have a dutch oven. But, I did find a crock pot, and decided to use that to cook the roast. 

Marinate overnight…turn every so often

Since I was expecting friends for the weekend, Dorie’s Boeuf à la Mode (translated means, beef in the style…an American version of pot roast) would be an ideal dinner. As a child, my mother made pot roast almost every Sunday.  It was a favorite with the whole family, and a perfect dish to end a busy week with. It was also suitable for serving a big family. She would get up early and start it before we went to church.  Sunday dinners were a big part of my growing up. There were always leftovers, which was the best part. 

Dorie’s Boeuf à la Mode is marinated overnight with red wine, celery, chunks of carrots, slices of onion, and a bouquet garni of rosemary, parsley, thyme and bay leaf.  There was no cheese cloth to be found in the house so, I just threw them into the pot with everything else.  I would remove them later. 
The next day, pour off the liquid into a saucepan and reduce it, adding beef broth after it has reduced. This will enhance the flavor of the gravy.  Then sear the roast and sauté the veggies, adding a bit of cognac (which I did not have…so bourbon would have to do). Next, some of the liquid is cooked down with a few anchovies and tomato paste.  Everything gets combined in the Dutch oven and placed in the oven for about three hours.  Mine was placed into the crock pot and cooked on high for several hours.  Since we love mushrooms, and I had a bunch in the fridge, I added them to the mix.  

The wonderful aroma permeates the house

As of this writing, my Boeuf à la Mode has not been served.  Dorie suggests letting it sit for a day before enjoying it. That works just great for me, since I want to serve it to my weekend company.  I can tell you this, the gravy was delicious and the veggies tasted incredible.  My mom would approve! I’m sure when I serve it tonight everyone will enjoy it! Now it’s time for a walk on the beach!  Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook “Around My French Table” or here. To see what the other Dorista’s did you can check it out here. 

Can’t wait to dig in

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kathy’s Excellent Adventure at the IFBC Seattle~Part 1 and a Pistachio Quick Bread

Seattle’s Pike Place Public Market…an incredible place
My excellent adventure began two weeks ago, when I boarded a plane in Atlanta bound for Seattle to attend the Foodista IFBC 2013 food bloggers conference. This was more than a bloggers conference for me. I was finally going to meet a group of bloggers I have been blogging with for the the last three years, as part of the French Fridays group. Virtual friends! I arrived in Seattle on the 19th of September, and that evening attended a meet-up at the Trace Lounge in the W hotel. There I met Dorie Greenspan,  and many of our French Friday Group. The meet-up was amazing. However, I was quite nervous about meeting everyone.  I am always early…I hate being late. So, as usual I was the first to arrive at the Trace Lounge. We sat on a bench seat and waited.  My husband ordered me a glass of wine.  He told me I needed it! Did I look that nervous?  As I sat there sipping my wine, I felt so out of place. What was I doing here?  Then a lovely young women walked in and headed over towards me.  She looked at me and said “Kathy?”  It was Cher, of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler.  We hugged and I immediately felt so much more at ease.  She was very sweet and, I could tell just as nervous as I was.  It was all down hill from there. Alice of A Mama, Baby and Shar-Pei in the Kitchen arranged the get together for that evening, for all the early arrivals. Alice is our official, unofficial social director. She is such a darling young lady with two beautiful little girls, who I got to meet that evening.

Adriana, Tricia(Patty), Liz, Me, Betsy, Mary and Patty at breakfast in the Trace at the W hotel
Dorie and me
Soon the other girls started to trickle in, Liz (That Skinny Chic), her husband, Bill, and very lovely daughter, Katie. Guyla (Lola’s Kitchen), Patty (Patty’s Food) , Adriana Greatfood 360, and Karen (Our crazy blessed life). They were all so easy to talk to, and get to know. Then the highlight of the evening, our mentor Dorie Greenspan and husband Michael arrived.  The room started to liven up with lots of chatter, laughter, hugs, and many photos! It was a fabulous evening.
The next morning, all the girls met again in the Trace for breakfast, hosted by Mary (Lights On Bright). Time to meet the girls who were not there the night before.  Betsy (A Plateful of Happiness),  Michelle (jemangelaville),  (Tricia and Nana Cooking), and Susan (Create Amazing Meals)Again, Dorie joined our group for breakfast.  She was so very lovely, taking photos with all of the girls, genuine, humble and funny.  She also brought all of the Doristas cookies from the Burre & Sel, her bakery in NYC.  What a treat!
Most of the Doristas just before opening session
Guyla, Patty, Nana, myself and Susan
Our reserved table

After breakfast was the sign-in for the conference. There was a lot of activity, with the room full of commotion and promotional products! We ate lunch at the booth manned by Poquitos authentic Mexican cuisine.  It was a perfect lunch to start off the conference. That’s when Trevor (Sis Boom Blog) arrived, just in time to hear Dorie speak.  Did I mention that Dorie was our keynote speaker? Sheri Wetherell, CEO of Foodista  reserved two tables in front of the podium for the Doristas, a name that was coined by Trevor.     

Dorie was so inspiring! 

Dorie gave such an inspiring speech. She spoke about how she got started writing cookbooks and her time working with Julia Child.  She then spoke about how technology has spawned and grown a community of food bloggers. She also told us about how thrilled she was to have a dedicated group of bloggers cooking and baking through her cookbooks. It all began with the group started by Laurie Woodward, Tuesdays With Dorie and, about the community it fostered. How these groups were not brought together by a publishing house, but rather by a mutual love of baking and cooking.  This was a weekend of Kindred Spirits, and it felt so right!

I have much more to say about the conference but, it will have to wait for another post.  For now…Happy Wednesday everyone!!

Oh, I almost forgot! Since this is a baking blog, I have a wonderful Pistachio Quick Bread to share with you!  Pistachio paste gives this bread an incredibly moist and dense, almost pound cake like texture!  You’ll love it!

Delicious Pistachio Quick Bread

Pistachio Quick Bread

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup of pistachio paste (If you would rather make almond bread you can subsitute a 7oz. package almond paste and change the nuts to almonds)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker's Joy)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Dash of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and next 3 ingredients (through pistachio paste) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.
3. Scrape batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.
4. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon milk and dash of salt; stir with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of bread; let stand until set.

 View of Seattle from our hotel dining room

Saturday, October 5, 2013

FFWD Salade Niçoise

Delicious and satisfying 
I feel like I’ve been missing in action.  It’s so good to be back at my computer and my blog. My husband and I have enjoyed two weeks of traveling, and discovering the west coast, initiated by my trip to the IFBC food bloggers conference. I will write more about that later.
After being on the road for two weeks, we are currently in Florida.  We will be here for several weeks. Grocery shopping was a first priority. Trying to get things settled, and in order was a second. Even though this salad was our lunch on Thursday, I could not get my act together in time to write my post!  So, it’s French Saturday around here. 

The Classic French Salade Niçoise
For French Fridays this week our recipe was, Salade Niçoise! A classic French recipe. There are many variations however, the basic salad consists of green beans (haricot vert), small potatoes, tuna, hard boiled eggs, olives and anchovies. I was able to find some really cute mini potatoes at a local grocery store, perfect for this salad. I boiled the potatoes and eggs in the morning, so that they would be ready for our lunch.  The dressing was a simple vinaigrette, consisting of wine vinegar (red or white), dijon mustard and extra virgin olive oil. The salad was easy, delicious and fit the needs of my husbands diet. It was a perfect pick for our house. I would have left off the anchovies however, my husband loves them. We really enjoyed this quick and easy lunch.  It was a delight for the eyes as well as the mouth. A definite keeper!  Happy Saturday everyone!! It’s so good to be back!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans book “Around My French Table” or  here @Google Books

Here are some photos from my most fabulous weekend at the IFBC.  Even though there were many sessions that I truly enjoyed,  meeting Dorie and all my Dorista friends was the highlight of my weekend!!  

Dorie gave such an inspiring speech. She spoke about how she got started writing cookbooks 
and, her time working for Julia Child.
Our first night in Seattle at the Trace Lounge…Dorie posed for photos with all of the girls.  So very gracious!
Right from the beginning, it felt so comfortable, like we were old friends.  
My husband deep in conversation with Michael, Dorie’s husband.  
Dorie and Michael (the Original Dorista).  They were such a lovely couple.
The next morning at the sign-in.  Back row l. to r.  Karen, Liz, Betsy, Michelle, Trevor, Adriana, and Cher.  Front row, Patty, Alice and moi!