Friday, January 31, 2014

FFWD ~ Paris Brest

FFWD ~ Paris Brest
This week, our recipe for French Fridays is Paris Brest (pronounced pa-ree-BREHST).  A delectable French dessert, created by a pastry chef, to celebrate a bicycle race between Paris and Brest. The race first took place in 1891, and is the oldest cycling event in France.  The dessert consists of a baked almond topped choux pastry ring, meant to resemble a bicycle tire. After it is baked, it is split and filled with a praline flavored pastry cream.

Utterly delectable

I have been making choux pastry for years.  Profiteroles, cream puffs, eclairs…I’ve made them all. They have graced my table for many special occasions including baby showers, bridal showers, ladies luncheons and Christmas.  However, baking a large ring is a bit different. You have to make sure the ring is dry and firm to the touch. If it is not, it could deflate. A trick I learned from a recipe at  Epicuriouswas to poke small holes in the top, at the end of baking to let the steam escape, leaving the ring in the oven for a few more minutes. I used a wooden kebob skewer.
The pastry cream I used, was a traditional vanilla pastry cream from Dorie’s “Around My French Table”. Before assembling, crushed candied almonds are folded into the pastry cream.  I also added a few tablespoons of Amaretto. Yum!!  This ring can be assembled 8 hours before serving, and stored in the refrigerator until that time. My Bunco group is in for a mighty fine dessert table tonight! Happy Friday everyone!

*Some other tips I learned from Epicurious on storing and making the choux ahead of time:   
"Choux ring can be baked (but not halved) 8 hours ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept, loosely covered with foil (not plastic wrap), at room temperature. Cooled choux ring can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 week. Thaw completely in wrapping before recrisping in a preheated 350°F oven 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature before proceeding".

This recipe can be found in Dorie’s Cookbook - Around My French Table.
The recipe can also be found on my friend Trevor’s wonderful blog -Sis.Boom. To see how the other Dorista’s did with this one, check it out here

And so impressive!

The pastry cream was heavenly

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TWD ~ Vanilla Chiffon Chocolate Mousse Cake

Utterly delicious Vanilla Chiffon Chocolate Mousse Cake

This week, our recipe for TWD~Baking With Julia, is by contributing baker Mary Bergin. It is for the
very lovely, Vanilla Chiffon Chocolate Mousse Cake. There were a lot of steps to this cake but, in the end it was well worth it!
 First, making a nut paste with toasted walnuts, that is then mixed with the melted chocolate. This is where I made my only mistake with this cake, by not paying attention to the details, which were many!  My mistake…you ask? I processed the nuts, added the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks and sugar syrup.  All was going well!  Next, I beat the yolks and folded them into the chocolate. While I was doing this, I asked my hubby to wash out my other mixer bowl (this recipe calls for a lot of them) so that I could whip the cream! About 15 minutes after I refrigerated the mousse, I realized I forgot to whip the cream…Oh No! I pulled it from the fridge, where it was beginning to harden,  placed it into the microwave for 10 seconds and all was saved. Well, kind of. My mousse is delicious, but is not as smooth and silky as it should be.  Other than that, things went smoothly, but what a mess was left behind! This recipe called for the food processor, the stand mixer, and all kinds of bowls, pots and pans! Was it worth it? The answer is a resounding yes!

This was a delicious cake! Spongy and light! The mousse was utterly divine! I made the whole version, and used my 17x12 sheet pan. It makes a huge cake, and will definitely feed more than the 6 servings the recipe says it will. This cake also took longer to bake, than the 10 to 12 minutes it calls for.  Mine was in the oven for about 20 minutes.  I shared a piece with my hubby, and froze the rest to serve to my Bunco group this weekend! I’m sure this will be a hit with the ladies! Happy Tuesday everyone!

Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see how the other bakers did!

The cake had a wonderful spongy light texture…and tasted luscious!
And it looked so pretty!
Even though the mousse was not as smooth and creamy as it should have been
Utterly divine! 

For the Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup vegetable or safflower oil
1/2 cup water
2 tbls. pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites

For the Mousse
1 2/3 cups walnuts, lightly toasted
2 Tbls. walnut or safflower oil
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

To finish the cake
Confectioner's sugar
Unsweeted cocoa powder
Caramelized walnuts (optional)
Sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
Makes 6 servings
Preparing the cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°. Grease a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" jelly roll pan with vegetable oil spray, and line with parchment or waxed paper. Spray the paper lightly but completely with oil.
Sift together 1 cup of the sugar and the other dry ingredients onto a sheet of waxed paper. In a large bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients except for the egg whites until blended. Add dry mixture slowly, whisking all the while. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites at a low speed with an electric mixer until they are foamy and form soft peaks. Increase mixer speed and gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar until whites are thick and shiny and hold peaks. Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then turn the yolk mixture into the whites and fold it gently but thoroughly.
Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
Preparing the mousse: Process the walnuts and walnut oil in a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, until the mixture forms a paste (scrape sides as necessary). Add melted chocolate and process until blended. Set aside. Whisk egg yolks lightly by hand in a heavy duty mixer bowl. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan to be used as a double boiler with the mixer bowl, reduce heat and keep at a simmer while you proceed. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, and very slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg yolks, whisking mixture constantly. Fit the bowl to the saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk mixture until it is foamy and hot to the touch. Remove bowl from heat and fit it into the mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat mixture on high until it is pale, holds a soft ribbon and is cool to the touch. With a rubber spatula, fold in walnut paste. Whip the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold lightly but thoroughly into walnut mixture. Refrigerate, tightly covered, until needed. Stir before using.
To finish the cake: Lightly sprinkle top of cake with confectioner's sugar and cover with a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Place an inverted jelly roll pan over the cake and turn the cake over. Remove the baking pan, peel off the paper, turn paper over and reposition it over the cake, Invert the baking pan, press against the cake, and invert it again so that the cake is right side up and resting on the inverted pan. Trim edges of the cake with a long thin knife. Keeping the 17" side of the cake in front of you, spread the chilled mousse over the cake, leaving 1 inch of the cake bare along the side closest to you, roll the cake up into an even roll, using the paper to help you move it along. When you come to the edge of the roll, the edges of the paper should meet.. Grab the edges and use the paper to help you scoot the cake into the center of the pan. Use a fork to tuck edges of paper under the cake and refrigerate for 2 hours (overnight if wrapped well).
To serve: Cut 5 strips of waxed paper and lay across the cake at evenly spaced intervals. Dust the cake with cocoa powder and a hint of confectioner's sugar. Lift off the paper. Place 1 caramelized walnut (optional) on each undusted stripe. Using 2 spatulas, lift cake onto serving platter and garnish with sprigs of fresh mint (optional).

Friday, January 24, 2014

FFWD ~ Moules Marinière or Mussels in White Wine

FFWD ~ Moules Marinière or Mussels in White Wine

This week the tables have turned!! Our French Friday recipe is for Moules Marinière or Mussels in White Wine.  For a change, my husband is loving the dish, and I’m bowing out. I am not a fan of shellfish. Although, I will occasionally share some steamers (one or two), and I have been known to try a few mussels (very few), this is not a dish I would be eating for dinner.  However... trumpet please…Bill loves mussels! I fondly remember a trip to Holland, sitting in a lovely outdoor restaurant in Rotterdam, where he ordered a steamy bucket of them. When they brought the mussels out, it was a huge bucket, I’d guess about 3 pounds, and he ate them all!  Last night he only got 2 pounds, and again he ate them all!! This was definitely his week with French Fridays!

They look delicious….I did dip my bread

The Moules Marinière was easy to prepare.  The seafood department at my grocery store had just received a supply of mussels from Prince Edward Island.  They were even cleaned.  When I got them home, I put them in my fridge for the next day. Mussels should be used the same day you buy them to ensure freshness, however if you store them like I did…take them out of the bag and place them in a bowl. Don’t store them in the plastic bag. They are alive and the bag will suffocate them. Also, make sure you discard any open mussels that don’t close when tapped, or any with broken or chipped shells.

According to Dorie, this is a very traditional, basic mussel dish.  A little bit of chopped onions, shallots, and garlic tossed in some olive oil or butter. Season the veggies with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes.  Pour in the wine, bring to a boil and add some herbs, a couple strips of lemon zest, and a bouillon cube. Now it’s time to add the mussels. Shake or stir the pan, and bring back to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 3 minutes. That’s it!  Now take out some crusty bread for dipping and enjoy! Or, if you’re me, let your husband enjoy! Happy Friday everyone!

Simple and according to Bill…the best!! 

You can find the recipe in Dorie’s cookbook "Around My French Table”.  There are many recipes for Moules Marinière on the internet, here’s one from Emeril Laggase at  Food Network that is quite similar to Dorie’s.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Peppered Fig and Hazelnut Biscotti

 Peppered Fig and Hazelnut Biscotti

If you read my blog enough, you know I have an obsession with biscotti! Maybe even a bit crazed! It’s my mission to keep my Biscotti jar full! Over the holidays I fell short…just too many sweets in the house. So this week I decided to fill that jar! When my husband walks into the kitchen and makes a cup of coffee, he expects to have biscotti with it!  They are the cookies of choice in my house.  They’re lower in fat than most cookies, and are usually less sweet. They are always perfect with a cup of tea, coffee, or even a glass of wine.  I enjoy them just as they are, for a quick snack. 

Crunchy with a kick….a winner with me

The recipe I’m sharing with you today, is one I developed for the "Fonseca Bin 27- 2013 Cookie Rumble". Fonseca Port sponsored the contest. My biscotti may not have won the contest, but they have certainly won a special place in my repertoire of favorites!  I developed this recipe by combining some of the best parts of several of my favorite biscotti recipes; changing the amounts of flour, butter and sugar, to get the crunch just right. Then I gave them a kick of pepper. So, if you’re looking for really great biscotti to fill your cookie jar with, this one may be for you!

Biscotti just out of the oven
The figs, port, hazelnuts and pepper give you a wonderfully flavorful biscotti

Peppered Fig and Hazelnut Biscotti
by Kathy VanBruinisse

3¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup fine corn meal
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick + 3 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Fiori Di Sicilia extract or orange extract
½-¾ cup chopped dried figs
¼ cup of Port mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1 cup hazelnuts, whole and pieces, toasted.
1 egg white, slightly beaten with a tablespoon of water (for egg wash)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
2. Combine flour, pepper, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend.
3. Bring Port and water to boil then add the chopped figs, simmer for a few minuets. Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
4. Remove figs from liquid and pat dry with paper towel. Reserve the port.
5. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, orange zest, extracts and a generous tablespoon of the reserved port. Beat just until smooth and well blended. Add the flour mixture slowly, and beat at lowest speed (or stir by hand) just until dry ingredients are moistened and incorporated. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of flour over the figs, and add them along with the hazelnuts to the batter. Mix until nuts and figs are distributed into the dough.
6. Divide dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, shape each quarter into a flattened log about 14 inches long and 2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Put two on each baking sheet. Brush with egg wash.
7. Bake logs until lightly browned and slightly firm along the edges, about 25 minutes. If baking both trays at once, rotate your pans between oven shelves halfway through baking. Cool logs for 30 minutes, and then transfer to a cutting board. Cut each log on a slight angle into 3/4 inch pieces. Place pieces together as logs are sliced, and transfer logs to baking sheets, and then separate slices, leaving about 1/2 inch space between each slice.
8. Bake biscotti again until golden brown. About 16 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Store in airtight containers. Makes about 6-dozen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

FFWD ~ Christine’s Simple Party Soups

 FFWD ~ Christine’s Simple Party Soups

To welcome in the New Year, French Fridays is serving up some party soups!  These
soups are actually quite simple to prepare and, they make a lovely presentation. I chose to make half batches of two of them, the asparagus and red pepper. I was pretty sure I would be the only one eating them!

I would think if you enjoy your veggies…you will enjoy these soups

Start with some chicken broth, simmered with your veggie of choice, broccoli, red pepper or asparagus, add some salt and pepper.  After they simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, and the veggies are soft, puree the soups. I used my trusty Vita-mix, and it was a breeze. They were both very pretty to look at, served in my Irish coffee mugs, and tasty. However, I thought they both could have benefitted from a garlic clove, or some onion.  When you serve these, Dorie suggests some whipped heavy cream garnished with either a sprinkling of cardamon, curry powder, piment d’Espelette or crushed pink peppercorns.  I used greek yogurt with a touch of cardamon. It worked quite well. Bill doesn’t eat most green veggies, but he does like red peppers.  I thought he might enjoy the red pepper soup.  He reluctantly took a taste, and told me it tasted to red peppery…duh!!  I am in the process of consuming both soups by myself.
Tasty and pretty, too!

This month is my month to host my Bunco group. I thought these would go over quite well with the ladies. I will be giving them another try, with people who will appreciate them.  Dorie says you can serve these soups either warm or cold. My preference is warm! It’s cold in N.J.  Hot soups just seem so much more appropriate! Happy Friday everyone!! 
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table.  It has also been published here.  And don’t forget to check out what my fellow Doristas thought of this recipe, here at  French Fridays with Dorie.

These soups are quite easy to prepare…chicken broth, asparagus, zucchini and salt and pepper
This one is the red pepper with chicken broth….boil, puree and enjoy!! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD Country Bread

Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Country Bread
Here I am, and it’s Tuesday! Not just any Tuesday but, Tuesday with Dorie! Wow! It’s been a long time! Where have I been for the past several months?  I guess it’s fair to say, life just got in the way! I’m really glad to be back this week though!  It’s been cold…very cold in my neck of the woods! It’s the perfect time to be baking bread, and this weeks pick from Baking with Julia, is for the wonderful Country Bread contributed by Joe Ortiz. 

This bread has a crunchy crust and a tight crumb…perfect for toast or sandwiches
For this bread, you first create a sponge consisting of three different types of flour ~ all-purpose or bread, whole wheat and rye ~ warm water and yeast. Late in the afternoon, the day before I intended to bake the bread, I mixed the ingredients, to the consistency of a thick pancake batter. I then covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and gave the sponge an overnight rest in the fridge. In the morning, I removed the sponge from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for several hours. When I was ready to make the dough, I mixed 1 teaspoon of yeast into ½ cup of warm water to proof. I then added the remaining water to the sponge, along with the yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour. I used my stand mixer to knead this bread, and it did a great job.  Now it’s time for the first rise. While it’s rising, it's time to prepare for the second rise in a “Banneton”, which is a round proofing basket that wicks moisture from the bread. I see one in my future, but for now a colander lined with a floured linen towel worked perfectly.  Let rise for the second time, and when it has doubled in size it’s time to bake.  Spritz the oven with water, slash the bread a few times and put it into the preheated oven on a baking stone.  Spritz the oven again before closing the door.  
The best part of this bread, besides the delicious flavor, was the most wonderful aroma that filled my kitchen while it was baking.  Nothing quite like a marvelous loaf of bread baking to warm you on a cold day. So very comforting! Happy Tuesday everyone….good to be back!


The sponge
The next day….kneading the dough with my mixer
First rise 
Warm and comforting
Enjoying mine for breakfast with some fig butter….wonderfull

Country Bread by contributing baker Joe Ortiz

Prep Time: 2½ hrs. + overnight rest
Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
makes 1 large round loaf

the sponge:
1½ c. warm water (105°-115° F)
2½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ c. rye flour
½ c. whole wheat flour

the dough:
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
all of the sponge
3-3½ c. bread flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. salt

Make the sponge (the evening before you want to bake the bread):
Put ¼ cup of the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle with the yeast; stir to mix. Allow the yeast to rest for about 5 minutes, until it turns creamy. Add remaining water. Stir the flours together and add them to the yeast mixture a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until sponge has the consistency of pancake batter. I would call it a thick batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Plan on pulling this out of the fridge 1 hour before you're ready to continue with your recipe. I pulled mine out first thing in the morning the day I planned on baking the bread.  So it sat for about 2 hours before I mixed the bread dough.

Make the bread (day of baking):
Be sure to pull the sponge from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour before continuing on with the dough.
Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of the warm water. Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and add the other ½ cup of warm water to that bowl. Cobine 3 cups of the bread flour with the whole wheat flour.
Gradually add 2 cups of the flour mixture into the mixer bowl, while it runs on medium-low speed. Once it has mixed for ~3 minutes, add the yeast mixture until incorporated. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and allow it to mix in. Work the remaining flour mixture in until the dough starts to "clean" the sides of the bowl (if you need to, add a tad more bread flour until this happens). Increase the mixer speed to medium and allow to knead for ~10 minutes or until the dough begins to look smooth and satiny; it should feel slightly tacky (almost enough to be sticky, but not quite).
Form dough into a loose ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and allow dough to proof at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1½-2 hours.
Prepare a banneton (measuring 8" across base) or a large basket or colander lined with a linen towel rubbed with flour. Set aside until needed.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a flat round with your fingers and palms. Fold the four "edges" in and press down with the heel of your hand, then flip the dough over and work it against the counter with your cupped hands to form a tight ball. Repeat this process (flattening, folding, tightening) four more times. Turn the loaf over and lay it into the prepared banneton or colander lined with towel, smooth side down.
Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly oiled on the surface facing the dough. Let it rise at room temperature until it has risen over the edge of the banneton. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1½ hours.
About 30 minutes before you're ready to bake the loaf, position an oven rack in the lower third of your oven and set a baking stone on it. Preheat oven to 425° F. Have a spray bottle filled with water ready.
When the dough has risen fully, sprinkle a baker's peel or rimless baking sheet with cornmeal and carefully invert your risen dough onto it. Spray the oven walls with water and immediately close the door to trap the steam.
Score your bread a few times, making cuts ½"deep. Open the oven and slide the dough onto the baking stone, turn down the heat to 400° F, and quickly spray the oven walls again. Close oven quickly. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden color. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and should register at least 200° F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center.
Remove loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting. Will keep at room temperature for ~3 days.  Wrapped tightly and frozen it will keep for a month (thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature).

Joe Ortiz in Baking with Julia

To see what the other members of Tuesdays with Dorie thought of this Country Bread visit BWJ~Tuesdays with Dorie.

Friday, January 10, 2014

FFWD ~ Baked Apples filled with Fruits and Nuts

Beautiful Baked Apples filled with Fruits and Nuts
This week our recipe for FFWD is Baked Apples filled with fruits and nuts.  Honestly, baked apples and I go way back.  So far back, in fact, I only owned one cookbook.  It was the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  It was given to me at my bridle shower, by my then future sister-in-law.  For years it was not only my “go to” cookbook, but also my only cookbook.
The first time I met my husband’s family, was for dinner at his parents home.  My then boyfriend picked me up after work.  I remember his father asking me if I could cook…uh oh, was this an interview??  I was quite nervous, but this cooking question, what was I supposed to say?  I told him the truth…. No I could not!  He later told my husband’s sister "I don’t know why Bill wants to marry HER, she can’t cook"!  We were so young, 21 and 22.
Nine months later we were married and moved to Virginia to start our new life together.  He worked as an Air Traffic Controller at Washington National, and I took a job at the Pentagon.  It was an exciting time to live near Washington D.C.!  Lyndon Johnson was our President, it was the Viet Nam era, and the anti war movement was in full swing, M.L. King’s assassination, Resurrection City and, R.F. Kennedy’s assassination. History was being made all around us. Living in our nations capital gave us an opportunity to witness the consequences of these events. It was a fascinating, thought-provoking time to be young!

 Ahhhh….so luscious!
At home, I was on a mission to learn to cook. Studying my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, in hopes I would conquer my kitchen fears.  I had visions of making wonderful meals and entertaining our friends. Great expectations!  I learned a lot that first year. I had several successes, but I also had my failures. A meatloaf that wound up in the garbage disposal comes to mind!  Oh the humiliation of it all!!  However, an early success was Baked Apples.  Absolutely wonderful!  They became a staple dessert in our house.  For years, while raising my children, we frequently had baked apples for dessert, especially during the fall and winter.

I served mine with ice cream…but they’re perfect just the way they are
According to Dorie, her Baked Apples, or pommes au four, as they’re known in France are less a recipe and more of a construction. First coring the apples, being careful not to break through the bottom of the apple.  My standby baked apples are filled with raisins, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.  Dories are filled with a mixture of fruit such as chopped apricots, figs, cranberries, raisins, and nuts mixed with a tablespoon of honey and some cinnamon or nutmeg, and of course butter. Water is poured around the apples along with some butter and they are basted several times while they bake.   A favorite “go to” dessert for me.  So, although my cookbook collection has grown quite a bit (several bookcases full) and my expectations of cooking have been met (mostly), these baked apples take me back full circle. A good place to go from time to time!  Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or at Serious Eats where Dorie has posted it. To see what the other Dorista’s are up to check it out here. 

Ready to be baked
Just out of the oven….permeating my kitchen with lovely aromas 
Utterly delicious!
My very trusty, first cookbook…..still special after all these years!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Most Delicious Kale Salad

The Most Delicious Kale Salad
Today I’m posting a Kale salad, which I originally had at my daughter-in-laws house.  She obtained the recipe from the back of a bag of Kale, bought at Trader Joe’s.  I've modified it to suit my taste.  I served this wonderful salad at my Christmas party to rave reviews, and had several requests for the recipe.  I served it again for Christmas Eve, again with rave reviews and more requests. Yesterday, I posted our FFWD recipe with the Kale salad on the side…again more requests!  This salad is quite vibrant and colorful with the bright green of the Kale, red of the cranberries and white of the chopped apples.  And need I say, it’s healthy! It’s also quite festive looking.  This salad stays good for a few days in the fridge, because the kale doesn’t wimp out like lettuce.  It’s a very hardy green.
So here it is!  “Back of the Bag~Trader Joe’s Kale Salad"! I have posted it as it was originally written, and my changes. Try them both!  Thank you Nic, for "the Most Delicious Kale Salad! Enjoy everyone!

Vibrant and colorful…perfect to brighten any table

Most Delicious Kale Salad

1- 10 oz. bag of trimmed kale (I buy a 16 oz. bag and fill my bowl with less than half the bag)
2 gala apples- chopped
½ to 1 cup dried cranberries
½ to 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans ( TJ’s calls for chopped almonds)
½ cup of pomegranate seeds (optional, but oh so good)

½ to 1 cup cut up cheese…I've used cheddar, gouda, parmesan chunks and feta                                                                   (TJ’s calls for ½ a container of TJ’s feta)
salt and pepper to taste
3 T.  olive oil (TJ’s calls for 6 T. olive oil and 5 T. TJ’s Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar) 
2 T. orange juice (my addition- the citrus works very well with the kale)
Wish Bone Hazelnut Raspberry Dressing to taste (I use 3 tablespoons) 

Put the Kale in a bowl and remove any tough stems.  Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over the Kale and massage it into the Kale. This softens the kale. 
Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.   Add the apples, cranberries, nuts, and cheese and sprinkle the orange juice over it all; mix well with hands.  
Pour the Hazelnut Raspberry dressing over the top, mix again and serve. (The fruity taste of the Hazelnut Raspberry Dressing pairs nicely with kale) 
This salad can be made a few hours in advance…it holds up quite well.

Friday, January 3, 2014

FFWD ~ Dressy Pasta “Risotto"

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s our first French Friday post for 2014!  This past year was one that certainly surpassed expectations!  My first trip to the west coast, now off my bucket list!  Meeting many of my fellow Doristas, along with our mentor Dorie Greenspan, at the IFBC Seattle. A definite highlight! Another highlight from the IFBC were the sessions on Photography, presented by the renowned  photographer and food stylist for the New York Times, Andrew Scrivani.  Can you believe, getting pointers on photography from such an incredible photographer?  I don’t know how it gets much better than that! 
Then we traveled to San Francisco, a place I have always wanted to visit!  Riding the cable cars, having an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista, dinner with Scott and Patty of Patty’s Food (a wonderful night, which included a night time tour of SF), a visit to Napa Valley and Muir Woods.  Amazing!  So, as I enter the year 2014, I’m making some New Year's resolutions!  First, grab on and take advantage of the most unexpected rides, no matter how far fetched they seem.  Second, keep stepping out of my comfort zone, it’s amazing out there!  Third, Embrace life!! These are resolutions I know I can keep.

FFWD Dressy Pasta “Risotto"
Creamy and delectable
Our recipe for French Friday this week is for Dressy Pasta “Risotto”.  Dorie calls this a faux risotto, because it’s made with tiny pasta, not rice.  I think it gets its risotto name, because you cook the pasta very slowly in chicken broth, as you would rice, when making risotto.  After cooking at a very low simmer for 20-25 minutes, it will absorb much of the broth.  Then add some heavy cream, Mascarpone and Parmesan cheese.
I made this to enjoy on New Years Day, along with a pork tenderloin and a wonderful Kale salad. This pasta dish was simple and easy to prepare. It was also creamy and delectable. It is now on my “go to” list!  A great side to enjoy with just about any fish or meat.  It can also carry it’s own weight, as a light meal with a side salad!  Happy Friday, everyone!! And Happy 2014!!

Faux or not…delicious!
A great side to serve with my pork tenderloin, and kale salad
Coit Tower at Night….thanks Patty!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Around My French Table” or at the
Wall Street Journal where it has been published.  If you would like to see what the other Doristas are doing, check it out here.