Friday, August 29, 2014

FFWD ~ Shiitake with Napa and Nuts

FFWD ~ Chanterelles  ~ I mean Shiitake with Napa and Nuts

I’m sure, if I were living in France, I would have had no problem finding the Chanterelle mushrooms needed for this week’s French Friday recipe. I spent several days in pursuit of those elusive mushrooms. Finally, after running from store to store, I settled on Shiitake. I was convinced there were no Chanterelles to be had in the Garden State.

In one store, I asked the produce guy if he had Chanterelles? He just looked at me and laughed!  I then said to him “I see you have Shiitakes”.  He looked at me puzzled, and asked, “What is a Shiitake”? I knew I was screwed!  Obviously he must have been new to produce, or this was his summer job! So after looking on-line, and seeing that Shiitakes can sub for Chanterelles, I bought a bunch. 
I was a bit nervous, after reading Gracie Hunt’s comment on FB.  She said, we shouldn’t substitute with Shiitakes because they have a stronger taste.  What choice did I have?

I loved this dish…can’t wait to try it the way Dorie intended it…once I find the elusive Chanterelles
This week’s recipe was not one I was looking forward to. Mushroom dishes are not a favorite with me. Don’t get me wrong. I love mushrooms! I just prefer them as part of something else…not the star!   Frankly, after last weeks pick, I was not looking forward to another failure! In full disclosure, last weeks salad turned out to be a winner after all. I loved it the second day, after all the flavors had melded. 

I read all the comments on our French Fridays P&Q’s page, concerning the Chanterelles, and saw that Cher used Shiitakes. She also added grapes. Dorie’s Bonne Idee! Dorie  suggested white grapes, but I only had red in the house.  I decided to go for it!  I also added more Napa, as Mary suggested! I made mine with the beef bouillon and soy sauce. The grapes added such a nice layer of flavor, and the mushrooms were wonderfully tasty. 

I absolutely loved this dish! I made it early in the day, because of photos!  Oh, the life of a food blogger! I ate some for lunch, and it was delicious! I will continue the hunt for the elusive Chanterelles.  I would still like to make this dish the way Dorie intended. Although for now, I’m quite happy with the Shiitake version! Happy Friday everyone!!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook, “Around My French Table or here. To see how the other Doristas did with this Elusive mushroom, check it out here.

No Chanterelles…but lovely Shiitakes
Cooking the mushrooms
The grapes added such a nice layer of flavor…Enjoy!


Friday, August 22, 2014

FFWD ~ Couscous Salad

FFWD ~ Couscous Salad

This week, for French Fridays, it’s a salad. A Couscous salad to be exact!  Perfect for a warm summers night in the northeast. A nice accompaniment for just about anything you plan to grill for dinner.  However, for some reason I thought this was the week of the Chanterelles (a story for next week).  I spent several hours in town, going from store to store, in search of this elusive mushroom. Only to come home and re-read my FF schedule, and find out I was a week ahead.  Really??

I loved everything that went into this salad….

So it’s a Couscous Salad with a Moroccan slant!  Whole grains are a mainstay in my pantry. I cook with them all the time. I make many whole grain salads including one of my favorites…a  wheat berry salad from the Whole Foods cookbook, which I intend to post eventually. Any given day you will find several different varieties of rice, Farro, quinoa, bulgur, wheat germ, and barley. I’ve got them all. Going to my pantry to find couscous was not going to be a problem. I knew I had everything needed for this salad! Following a two-hour hunt for mushrooms, this was a cinch!

This was an easy salad to put together. Bringing broth, flavored with a lot of warm spices, and some olive oil to a boil. Then add the couscous, and toss in all the veggies. Because Dorie shared this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine in 2008, I decided to share it here with you.

So did I like it? Honestly, I was not fond of all the warm spices in this cold salad. I prefer fresh tasting herbs such as basil, mint, thyme and rosemary. Don’t get me wrong; I love a little cinnamon thrown into certain dishes. I always add some to my Tabouli, the way my grandmother always did. However, I find the Moroccan flavors to be quite strong. I do enjoy them in a good Tagine.  Still, I found the spices in this salad to be overwhelming and quite intense. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d rate it a 2! You win some, and then you know how it goes…you lose some! Sorry Dorie, this one just didn’t do it for me.  Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table…it is also all over the Internet.  To see what the other FF crew has done with this salad check it out here.

except the spices…I just found them too overwhelming
But don’t let me be the barometer…if you like Moroccan food you might love this! 

Moroccan Couscous Salad
by Dorie Greenspan

Bon Appétit | August 2008

2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 10-ounce box plain couscous
1/2 cup raisins
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup thinly sliced green beans or trimmed sugar snap peas
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Bring chicken broth, 1 tablespoon oil, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin to boil in heavy large saucepan. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Scatter raisins over, cover, and let stand until couscous softens, about 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork, breaking up any lumps with fingertips. Transfer couscous to large bowl. Add cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, green beans, and lemon peel. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to couscous; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FFWD ~ Roasted Peppers

FFWD ~ Roasted Peppers
Buongiorno, my French Friday friends!! I know, I should be saying Bonjour, but I just arrived home after nine days in Italy! I am so in love with Italy, its culture and its people! I am still suffering a bit of jet lag, so it was quite nice to come home to an extremely easy recipe…or a non-recipe really, for French Fridays! I actually have a lot to say about Italy, and will be blogging about it in another post. But for today, it’s all about French Fridays!
Roasted peppers are something that I often make. Usually, I do them on the grill. They are very popular with Mediterranean cultures, where they are often served as a first course. You’ll find them in Italy, Greece, and of course France.

They are extremely simple and delicious! I placed 4 red, yellow, and orange peppers on a lined baking sheet, and slid them into a 425º oven. They are then turned every 15 minutes till all sides are blistered and browned. The peppers are then placed into a bowl, and covered with foil until cool. This will help loosen the skins, to aid with peeling. After you remove the skins, stems and seeds, they are sliced and placed on a serving dish. Drizzle with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Dorie suggests rosemary, parsley, basil or thyme. The aroma, as these bake in the oven, is enticing! I love them as a side dish, but they are also wonderful placed on a sandwich or pizza. You can serve them warm or cold, right from the fridge.

As I mentioned, I would usually use my outdoor grill for roasting peppers, but I wanted to follow Dorie’s recipe and technique. The results were delicious! Thank you FF for picking a recipe that was easy to accomplish while suffering jet lag.  A hit with both Bill and I! Happy Friday everyone! 

Dorie has posted about these peppers on her blog with the recipe. You can find it here

My new olive oil cruet from Tuscany
Great hot or cold
These are just wonderful as an easy side dish or on a sandwich
Ciao Italia!!


Friday, August 1, 2014

FFWD ~ Gâteau Basque

FFWD ~ Gâteau Basque
This week our pick for French Fridays is a dessert! It’s been a while since we made anything ooey and gooey! Something decadent…yum! Well, we’ll have to wait just a bit longer for ooey and gooey. This Gâteau Basque is not one of those decadent, sinful desserts, that oozes chocolate and cream. It is however, one of those desserts that is just as comfortable being served for breakfast, brunch or with your afternoon tea, as it is for an after dinner treat! But don’t get me wrong…it’s one delicious cake! Or is it a tart? Maybe it’s a cookie! In the words of my hubby…"It’s one of the best cakes you've ever made!” Whoa!! Really? I’ve made a lot of wonderfully delicious desserts over the years! So many in-fact, I couldn’t pick…although it sounds like he did!

This was a utterly delicious cake…or is it a tart?
Dorie writes that the Gâteau Basque, in another region of France, might be called a galette, or torte. However, for the Basque people, it’s a cake and it’s an everyday treat.  It's easy to prepare. Mix the dough in your stand mixer, then roll it into two 8 inch round disks. Refrigerate for several hours, or for up to three days.
I chose to leave the dough in the fridge overnight. The next day I took out the disks of dough, and finished the Gâteau, placing one disk into a greased 8-inch cake pan. I then spread it with freshly made raspberry jam, although the recipe called for cherry jam or pastry cream. Then place the second disk on top.  Brush with an egg wash, and use the tines of a fork to score the top of the dough in a crosshatch pattern.  
This truly was a delicious Gâteau! The raspberry jam was an excellent choice! It was a perfect dessert to enjoy after dinner, on the deck, watching the sun go down. Of course with a cup of tea or coffee!  Happy Friday everyone! 

You can find the recipe for the Gâteau Basque in Dorie Greenspans cookbook, “Around My French Table”, or here on NPR.  To see how the other Doristas did with the Gâteau Basque check it out here.

I loved this….but Bill...
Really, Really loved it!! Best cake ever!
Look at the raspberry jam just oozing out of this lovely Gâteau Basque 
A keeper for sure….