Friday, June 27, 2014

FFWD ~ Guacamole with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers

FFWD ~ Guacamole with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers

This week French Fridays is taking us South of the Border, with a delicious Guacamole, Tomato, and Bell Pepper recipe. According to Dorie, Guacamole is becoming a standard in France, being served at many Paris restaurants.  Leave it to the French to kick it up a notch, serving guacamole as a base for salmon tartare, or as part of a layered crab salad.
I have never made my own guacamole. Quite honestly, they sell wonderful pre-made versions in the grocery store. I was surprised at how easy Dorie’s version is to put together, and how tasty it was! Yes, there is a difference between the store bought (even though very good) and freshly made!

I loved the fresh flavor
I made mine last night, while I had my dinner on the grill. It was done and ready to serve in no time. Needless to say, Bill did not eat this. It was green, and he doesn’t do avocado.  More for me! 
I trully enjoyed making the guacamole.  Putting everything in a mortar and smashing it, was something I have never done. I use my mortar for spices and herbs.  It seems I have been under using it. What a surprise? I have many kitchen gadgets that were “must haves” when I bought them, and are now under used.  
This was a wonderful guacamole! Flavors were fresh.  The lime juice not only prevented the avocado from turning black, but added a spark to the taste. 
I will be serving this homemade version for the Fourth of July. I’m sure it will be enjoyed by all my guests. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I’m Going On a Picnic and I’m Bringing ~~Quinoa Blueberry Mango Salad

It’s picnic time again! Hope you’re ready for some fun!  July is National Picnic Month and, my friend Louise over at Months of Edible Celebrations, is hosting the Picnic Game for the sixth year!  I was late to the party, joining in on the fun only two years ago. I brought some delectable Limoncello Biscotti my first year, and last year I made a traditional Lebanese cookie called Mamoul.  Can you tell cookies are a favorite picnic food around here?  However, this year I’m changing it up and bringing a delicious Quinoa Blueberry Mango Salad. Hope you place your blanket near mine, and share some with me. 

This is a wonderful addition to any meal…perfect for a picnic

The Picnic game is based on a children’s memory game. Basically, each blogger begins by saying I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing Angel Food Cake. The next person says, I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing Angel Food Cake and Blueberry Pie….and so on and so on until all the letters are covered.  We will be filling our Picnic baskets with a variety of delicious virtual food; starting with A and working through to Z!! So lay down your blanket,  join the fun, and visit all the wonderful bloggers participating. There will be some amazing dishes to try!

Won’t you join me? 

For the past several years, my grandchildren have spent a week with me during the summer. We do all kinds of fun and adventurous things such as, checking out every playground in a radius of 25 miles, the Crayola Factory, Lunch at the Tea House with my granddaughter, the Zoo, Land of Make Believe and the County Fair. However, one of our favorite things to do is pack up a lunch and go on a picnic! Sharing a picnic with my grandkids, and making memories is a great experience!  I’m hoping they will fondly remember our picnics, as I do when I recall the picnics my grandparents would take me on. That’s what this post is all about today! Picnics, memories and fun!  


I decided to bring a salad to the picnic this year…and a delicious salad it is! I really enjoy quinoa, and have seen it used in salads quite a bit lately! Consequently, as I searched the web, I saw this scrumptious quinoa salad, and it seemed to be calling my name. It’s both colorful and delicious!  Happy National Picnic Month everyone! Go pack a lunch, put down your blanket and enjoy!!

Quinoa Blueberry Mango Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing

Adapted from Veggie Belly

For the quinoa:
cup quinoa
cups water
For the fruits and veggies:
cup fresh blueberries
ripe mango -cubed 
½ to 1
cup cubed cucumbers
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped pecans 
For the lemon basil dressing:
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
tablespoons lemon juice
teaspoon lemon zest
Basil leaves, chopped finely

Salt and pepper to taste
(I added ½ teaspoon sugar)


Place the quinoa and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, and simmer covered for about 15 minutes or till the quinoa is cooked. Remove the lid, and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature.
While the quinoa is cooking, combine the fruits in a bowl and refrigerate till you are ready to serve the salad.
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, except the chopped basil. Refrigerate till you are ready to serve. Chop and add the basil to the dressing just before serving. If you add it earlier, it will go black.
Add half the dressing to the quinoa and mix gently
Assemble the salad just before serving – toss the quinoa, fruits and cucumbers together. Serve other half of the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Are you ready to play? Here we go…I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing~~~

A ~ Angel Food Cake ~ Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet
B ~ Basil Leaves in Caramelized Prawnes ~ SimplyBeautifulHealthyLiving
C ~ Chicken Piccata ~ Mae’s Food
D ~ Darned Easy Potato Salad ~ Ofpupsnpearls
E ~ Eccles Cakes filled with Leeks,Spinach and BlueCheese ~gggiraffe
F ~ Fourth of July Picnic S’more Tartlets ~Moveablefeasts
G ~ Gluten free & Eggless Chocolate Steamed Cake ~KristyGourmet
H ~ Ham Cheesy Patties ~MyCookingGallery
I ~  Italian Frittata with Vegetables~ Mylittleitaliankitchen
J ~  Jelly Roll~ KitchenLaw
K ~ Kahlua Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Bread ~DyingforChocolate
L ~ Lemon Lavender Cupcakes-Art of Natural Living
M ~ Meringue Roulade with Raspberries ~CanelaKitchen
N ~ Nutella Rice Pudding~ RumblingTummy
O ~ Old-Time Favorite Iced Red Bean Popsicles~SimplyBeautifulHealthyLiving 
P ~ Pickles~ Sidewalkshoes
Q ~ and my Quinoa Blueberry Mango Salad

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Double Banana Pound Cake

Double Banana Pound Cake
Pound cake happens to be my husband’s favorite dessert. Not too sweet! With just a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top! That's the way he likes his cake! And one of his favorite pound cakes is my very delicious rendition of Double-Banana Pound cake from Cooking Light magazine. This Banana poundcake is moist and luscious; you won't be missing the frosting!  I made this one for company a few weeks ago, and had to work quickly to get photos before it was gone! Oh the life of a food blogger!

A lovely tea cake…or anytime cake
I love this cake….it’s quite versatile!  Pound cakes usually are.  Serve it with whipped cream and berries…or just with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  Perfect with my afternoon tea or for a simple dessert!   Because of the mashed bananas and liqueur you get a double dose of that wonderful banana flavor!
I always have a supply of bananas in my freezer, so when the mood strikes me, I can make banana bread or this delectable Double Banana Pound cake! If you’re looking for a wonderfully moist, flavorful cake, that’s quick and easy to put together, this one is for you! Best thing about cakes from Cooking Light is they’re low in fat, but still maintain a lovely texture.  Maybe even a little guilt free...maybe!!

Moist and low fat

Double-Banana Pound Cake

For banana lovers: This  cake packs a double punch of banana with the fruit and liqueur. The banana liqueur is a must; it gives the cake a sweet, rich banana flavor.

Cooking Light APRIL 2000
Yield: 18 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Cooking spray
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup banana liqueur
3/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray; dust with breadcrumbs.

Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and mace in a bowl, and stir well with a whisk. Combine the mashed banana, milk, and banana liqueur in a bowl. Beat the butter in a large bowl at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and vanilla extract, and beat the mixture until well-blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the banana mixture, beating at low speed, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Spoon the batter into prepared pan. Bake cake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over top of cake.

Note: To freeze extra pound cake, let cake cool completely on a wire rack; then cut into individual slices. Place unglazed slices in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Remove excess air from the bag; then seal and place it in your freezer for up to four months. To thaw, let it stand at room temperature. Drizzle glaze per recipe's directions.

Note: You can use a 12 cup Bundt pan instead of the 10-inch tube pan. Just reduce the oven temperature to 325º.

Friday, June 20, 2014

FFWD ~ Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce

FFWD ~ Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce
Utterly delicious…I think one of the best dinners we’ve made for French Fridays
When my son was in 5th grade, I volunteered to accompany his class on a series of winter beach trips. We were living on Long Island at the time. The trips were part of a program, to learn about the environment we lived in.  During these trips we would stroll the beaches, bundled up in heavy jackets, gloves, hats and scarves…searching for wonderful treasures! We would find all sorts of shells, and sea creatures, learning about the sea life that inhabited our beaches.  I remember scallops, angel wings, slipper shells and many others. One of the treasures I remember most, were skate egg cases. I had no idea what a skate looked like, but I was quite familiar with their egg sacks! That is until this week, when our pick for FFWD was Skate!

Honestly, I have never seen a skate let alone eat one. At first I was quite put off by the thought of some exotic fish with wings. However, I am a Dorista! That means I have tried many things that made me uncomfortable. Usually with great results! Since I didn't recall seeing skate at the seafood counter, I called my fishmonger a few weeks before we were to make this dish, and asked them to order it for me. When I finally brought it home, I re-read the recipe, and realized it stated the skate should be deboned and filleted. Mine was not….Ugghh!

This is the skate with the bone in…you fillet both sids of the wing
I Googled “How to debone and fillet a skate”! Don’t you just love Google? I was able to find a wonderful video on You Tube.  This video was informative and easy to follow!  I did it!
Once the Skate was filleted, it took little time to prepare.  Dorie’s recipe is a classic bistro preparation of skate with brown butter, capers and cornichons.  The fillets get dipped in flour and then browned in butter; cooking each side of the fish for about three minutes each side.  When the fish is cooked, remove them from the pan and keep warm in the oven until the sauce is made.  Wipe out the pan and melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter.  Let it brown until you get a nutty aroma, then add ¼ cup of sherry vinegar, a tablespoon of grainy French mustard, capers and thinly sliced cornichons. Stir everything together and you’re ready to serve!
Deboning the skate…I did it!
This is one of the better dinners I have ever made with French Fridays! It was utterly delicious! The skate had a delicate taste that is very similar to scallops, and the browned butter sauce was amazing!  Bill and I both agree this one is a winner!! I see it showing up on my dinner table quite often!!  To think, two weeks ago I didn’t even know what skate was!  Thank you Dorie!! Happy Friday everyone!!

You can find this recipe in Dorie’s cookbook “Around My French Table” or here at google books.  There are several simular recipes on-line.  Here’s one by Mark Bittman. I hope you give this one a try, it's a lovely taste experience! To see what the other Dorista’s did with this one check it out here.

Three fillets ready to go
Dipped in flour and placed in the frypan….cook 3 minutes a side
Crispy and so so good!
An amazing dinner was had by all!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

FFWD ~ Crab-Avocado “Ravioli"

FFWD ~Crab-Avocado “Ravioli" 

This week, for French Fridays, we are making Crab-Avocado “Ravioli”. I should warn you now, there is no pasta involved with these “Ravioli”. The word “Ravioli” is loosely used to refer to the crab salad sandwiched between two slices of avocado. Although I thought the whole thing a bit fussy, I decided to go with the recipe as written. The recipe comes from Chef Pascal Barbot of L’Astrance in Paris, and according to Dorie it took the country by storm.
I loved the flavor combination of this dish! The lime, sea salt, and shallot added wonderful depth to the crabmeat. Dorie’s recipe called for almond oil. However, I chose to use walnut oil because, I have several nut oils sitting in my fridge (a hazard of French Fridays), and was not going to add another one. That said, I used the walnut oil and it was a perfect addition and quite tasty. The presentation calls for an Avocado to be sliced on a mandoline…pit and all! One thing I have a lot of respect for are kitchen tools. Especially tools that are sharp enough to take out a chunk of finger. So, very carefully, I pulled out my trusty mandoline and proceeded to cut very thin slices of avocado.  Dorie writes, the reason for slicing through the skin and pit is to keep the avocado in tact. I’m happy to report, this happened without incident!! If you don’t have a mandoline, you can attempt this with a good knife and a steady hand.

A perfect starter

These were quite easy to put together, and would make a lovely starter for any dinner party.  I however, ate mine for lunch!  I loved the way the creaminess of the avocado, and the bright citrusy flavor of the crabmeat worked. I did think it could use a bit of spice, so I sprinkled them with piment d’espelette.  I’ve made them twice now, and enjoyed the flavors more each time I’ve eaten them.  Bill you ask? No avocado for him, but he loved the crabmeat salad! He ate his with crackers! 
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or a similar one is posted here by Patricia Wells.
I really enjoyed this…so fresh tasting  
très délicieux

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dorie Greenspan's Double Strawberry and Rose Shortcakes

 Dorie Greenspan’s Double Strawberry and Rose Shortcakes

National Strawberry Shortcake Day is June 14th. I’m celebrating with a delicious and unique Strawberry Rose Shortcake from Dorie Greenspan.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a Google+ on-line discussion with Dorie Greenspan, and several other food bloggers. The subject…Strawberry Shortcake!  Driscolls Berries sponsored the on-line get together. Dorie joined us from her apartment in Paris, and gave us some wonderful pointers on making her newest version of Strawberry Shortcake. The base for these delectable shortcakes starts with flakey Biscuits.  The biscuits are slightly sweetened, with a touch of sugar. The flavor of Dories shortcakes is what intrigued me the most.  I love exotic flavors. I grew up on them. Being part Lebanese, orange blossom and rose flavors were in many of the desserts my grandmother would tempt us with. I was quite smitten with the idea of rose flavored shortcakes. How perfectly Parisian! Ooh la la!

I love Driscoll berries…always so naturally sweet…absolute perfection

Dorie spoke about the strawberry shortcakes of her childhood, and I was reminded of the shortcakes my mother and grandmother made for us. Like Dories, they always started with a store bought sponge cake, home made whipped cream, and lots of strawberries! Quite honestly, I never thought they could be improved upon! Growing up, our summers were filled with trips to “the shore”, hanging out with cousins, toasting marshmallows over a fire pit, plenty of watermelon and the best strawberry shortcake!!

Lovely to look at and delicious to eat!
One of the tips Dorie gave us, for making these heavenly shortcakes, was to rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingertips. This is a technique that I’ve used before, while making Dories crepes.  I love the way the sugar takes on the wonderful flavor and aroma of the zest.  Another tip from Dorie was, when cutting the biscuits, don’t twist the cutter. Cut straight down with force, so you don’t disturb the texture of the biscuit. Always use very cold butter and cold buttermilk.

Dorie also added a few secret ingredients to her shortcakes. First was the rose extract, which I found wonderfully delightful! The second was the use of sour cream, which was mixed into the whipping cream. It gave the whipped cream a slightly tart taste, reminiscent of Crème Fraiche. I found it also stabilized the whipped cream a bit. 

It was fun and exciting to be asked by Driscolls to participate in the Google + hang out, and fantastic to get some great tips from Dorie. How cool was it to be sitting in my NJ kitchen, talking with Dorie in Paris!  And the shortcake…you ask? It was sensational! Definitely not the strawberry shortcake of my childhood….but Oh So Good!!

Loved the hint of rose!

Hope you give them a try for National Strawberry Shortcake Day! You won’t be sorry!

Thank you Driscoll’s for hosting and inviting me to your Google Chat. And thank you, Dorie for sharing your secrets with us, along with your delicious recipe!  Although Driscoll’s gave us the strawberries to make these shortcakes…the opinion expressed here is my own!

Dorie Greenspan's Double Strawberry and Rose Shortcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour plus cooling
Cook Time: 26 minutes
Servings: 12


Rose Petal Decoration
3 unsprayed roses
1 to 2 very fresh organic egg whites
granulated sugar
store bought candied rose petals

Strawberry Compote
3/4 pound (about 3 cups) Driscoll's Strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
3/4 teaspoon pure rose extract
Lemon-Buttermilk Biscuits
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (plus more for sprinklilng)
freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Whipped Cream
1 cup very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure rose extract
1 tablespoon cold sour cream (optional)
red or pink food coloring
1/2 to 3/4 lb. (about 2 to 3 cups) Driscoll's Strawberries, hulled

Rose Petal Decoration
Several hours ahead or the day before, separate the rose petals, rinse them quickly in cold water and pat them dry. Put one egg white in a small bowl and whisk until it's foamy. (You may or may not need the second white.) Put the sugar in another small bowl and place a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on the counter. One at a time, dip a petal into the white and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Drag the petal through the sugar to coat both sides very lightly. Dry the petals on the paper or mat in a cool, non-humid place for at least 6 hours or for as long as overnight.

Strawberry Compote
Coarsely chop the berries and toss them into a small saucepan with the sugar. Put the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the juices are slightly thickened and syrupy. Scrape the berries and syrup into a bowl, stir in the rose extract and cool to room temperature. (You can make the compote up to 3 days ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator.)

Lemon-Buttermilk Biscuits
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to combine. Drop in the pieces of cold butter and, again using your fingertips, crush, rub and blend the butter in. You'll have flakes of butter and small pieces and this is just right. Pour the cold buttermilk over the mixture, switch to a fork and toss and stir everything together until the milk is absorbed - your dough might look like curds, but that's fine. Don't stir too much, too vigorously or for too long and if there are a few dry spots in the bottom of the bowl, ignore them. Reach into the bowl and knead the dough gently, folding it over on itself and turning it over 6 to 8 times.

Dust a work surface lightly with flour, turn out the dough and, still using your hands, pat the dough out until it is 1/2 inch thick. (The thickness is what's important here.) Using a high-sided 2 inch cutter, cut out biscuits and place them on the baking sheet. Pat the scraps together until they're 1/2 inch thick and cut out as many more biscuits as you can. (The leftover dough can be cut into biscuits, but they won't rise as high or as evenly as the others - you can keep them as your baker's treat). Sprinkle tops with sugar.
Bake for 15 to18 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen gloriously and their tops and bottoms are golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the biscuits to cool until they reach room temperature. (The biscuits can be made up to 6 hours ahead; keep them uncovered at room temperature.)

Whipped Cream
Working with an electric mixer, beat the cream just until it mounds softly. Still beating, add the sugar, followed by the vanilla and rose extracts. When the cream is fully whipped and holds firm peaks, quickly beat in the sour cream, if you're using it. To tint the cream, beat in just one drop of coloring; continue adding coloring a tiny drop at a time until you get the shade of pink you want. (The whipped cream can be made up to 3 hours ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator; whisk a couple of times before using.)
Just before you're ready to put the shortcakes together, stand the berries up and, using a thin-bladed knife, cut each berry into 4 or 5 thin slices.

If you'd like to pipe the whipped cream, either spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with an open star or plain tip, or spoon the cream into a zipper-lock plastic bag and snip off a corner. Alternatively, you can simply spoon on the cream.

Slice off the top of the biscuit to create an even surface for piping the cream. Save the tops to nibble on later. Put a teaspoonful of strawberry compote and syrup in the center of each biscuit. Pipe (or spoon) a circle of whipped cream around the compote, leaving a bit of compote uncovered. Finish each shortcake by pressing two or three slices of strawberry together, fanning them out a little and placing them, broad side down, in the center of each cake. Add a rose petal for the finishing touch. (If you have any extra compote and/or cream, cover and keep in the refrigerator to enjoy at another time.)

Arrange the shortcakes on a platter. Scatter the remaining rose petals around the platter and serve immediately.

Friday, June 6, 2014

FFWD ~ Salmon Rillettes and a make up Piperade Stir Fry

French Fridays with Dorie ~ Salmon Rillettes

Here we are, it’s French Friday again! Our recipe this week is for the third and last rillette, from Around My French Table. Inadvertently saving the best for last! Honestly, I never made the sardine version. I just don’t do sardines!  Although, we really enjoyed the tuna version, this was the best in my book! Rilettes are usually a meat spread that is similar to pâté. They are usually made of pork or goose meat. Lucky for us, Dorie has shared two delectable fish versions!  I can’t recommend the sardine version, even though it got many wonderful reviews from other members.

I had a busy week with family, and was grateful for a fairly easy recipe. I threw it together in no time. First taking fresh salmon chunks and poaching them in a mixture of white wine, water, bay leaf, lemon peel, a sliver of chili pepper, coriander seed, white peppercorns and green onions.  The poached salmon is then mashed slightly with a fork and mixed with diced smoked salmon, lemon zest, onion, and some softened butter. It is finished off with lemon juice, and instead of the chili pepper that is called for, I used Piment d’ Espelette…the only heat I added (they had no red chili peppers in my store).
When finished, it is packed in a serving dish or crock, and left to chill for several hours,  giving it a chance for the flavors to meld. 
I served this scrumptious Rillette with rustic bread slices and crackers! For us, it was a winner! I plan to make it again, for our 4th of July get together! Fish is always a winner with my Dutch husband, and this dish was no exception! He did think I added too much lemon juice although he kept eating it and seemed to enjoy every bite! An elegant starter for an ordinary evening!

Loved this!
Truly enjoyable!
And since I was MIA last friday I choose to add photos of the Piperade Stir Fry.  We like peppers in our house, so this was a wonderful accompaniment to our lamb burgers last night! Quick, easy and delicious! We’re on a roll, Doristas! 

Delicious Piperade Stir Fry

My last week was spent in Cooperstown, N.Y., watching my grandson play baseball at Dreams Park. His coach…my son! The team played hard and gave their all. So proud of you Hurricanes! It was an exceptional experience!  Happy Friday everyone!!

 Way to go Hurricanes!
A great week was had by all!
Dories recipe for Salmon Rillettes can be found here on ABC were there is also a very nice video of Dorie showing you how to make it. There is not a published recipe for the Piperade Stir Fry, however it is pretty straightforward. Red, yellow, orange and green peppers stir fried in a few tablespoons of olive oil, a little bit of red wine vinegar added close to the end of cooking…add sliced onion and garlic. That’s pretty much it! Both recipes can be found in Around My French Table. To see what the other Doristas did this week, check it out here!