Friday, May 29, 2015

FFWD ~ My Aha Moment…Betcha Can’t Just Choose Five

Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés 
Salty-sweet treat that spawned my Aha moment 
As I baked and cooked my way through “Around My French Table”, I had many Aha moments! So many in fact, I could never honestly pick one…or five for that matter! Since my passion is baking, most of those moments happened while I was elbow deep in flour, baking something new and exciting! Something I never tried before, or something that turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. Learning new techniques along the way, with Dorie’s help! One of my favorite French Friday picks was the Bubble Top Brioche. I’d made Brioche previously, but with Dorie holding my hand, I had incredible results! Another favorite for me was the Paris Brest. Again, I was no stranger to Pate Choux, but doing something complex, and having it turn out so gorgeous, was quite rewarding!  

No list for me would be complete without the sweetest little pastries, born and bred in France (according to Dorie), called Fianciers and Chocolate Fianciers. I've made them many times, to rave reviews! They are my “go to” little cake, whenever I need an elegant dessert to add to a dessert platter. They are requested most often! Another moment of surprise came to me when I first tasted Shrimp Filled Zucchini Blossoms! If you are growing zucchini, give these little gems a try…you will not be disappointed! And yet another, I always dreaded the thought of making mussels, something I avoided for years. Making Dories Moules Mariniere brought on one more aha moment! They were easy, what was I so afraid of? Easy and absolutely delectable! 

And the one recipe that gave me the biggest surprise was, the very magical little butter cookie known as Sablés (French Shortbread).  I fell head over heels for them. Any variation will do!  Although, the one that caused my Aha moment was Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés. Salty-sweet or sweet-salty…such a surprise! They are absolutely delightful, served with a glass of wine, champagne, or maybe some sherry.  Honestly, I enjoy them with my tea! I adore salty-sweet treats! I decided to make these as my FF pick. A recipe that stands out for giving me one of my best aaha moments! 

However, five is too few! I fell in love with many... Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good, is now one of my Thanksgiving traditions! The Osso Buco a l’arman was amazing, and will be made again and again!! And who could resist the Coeur à la Cremea huge hit with my family! I could go on and on and on…but I will leave it where it is, and just say Happy Friday Everyone!!

To see what the other Dorista’s picked for their Aha moments check it out here. All of these wonderful recipes can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook, “Around My French Table”. 

Bubble Top Brioche 
Paris Brest

Moules Mariniere
Shrimp Filled Zucchini Blossoms

Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés

From Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan  

Serving Great with white wine and Champagne, these are also perfect with cocktails.

Storing The logs of dough can be frozen for up to 2 months; there’s no need to defrost before slicing and baking.

1 large hard-boiled egg, white discarded or reserved for other uses
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons potato starch (available at health food stores and in the kosher section of supermarkets)
15 tablespoons (1 stick plus 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup olive oil (a fruity oil is best)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2½ ounces (about 1/2 cup) pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured, chopped

Grate the hard-boiled egg onto a piece of wax paper. Put the flour and potato starch in a strainer set over a large bowl and sift into the bowl; whisk to thoroughly blend.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it’s soft and creamy. Beat in the olive oil, followed by the grated yolk. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar, reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough just comes together—there’s no reason to beat this dough, and you shouldn’t—then stir in the chopped olives. You’ll have a soft, pliable dough. (If you prefer, you can make the dough by hand, using a rubber spatula to blend the butter, oil, yolk and sugar and to fold in the dry ingredients and olives.)

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into thirds, and shape each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for several hours or, better yet, overnight. If you’re in a hurry, you can freeze the logs for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to bake the sablés, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Working with 1 log at a time, slice the cookies 1/4 inch thick and arrange them on the baking sheet—you want to bake these one sheet at a time.
Bake the sablés for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway mark, or until the cookies are firm, but not colored. They may turn golden around the edges, but you don’t want them to brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining logs of dough, making sure to use a cool baking sheet each time.
Makes about 60 cookies. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

FFWD ~ Chicken in a Pot: Garlic and Lemon Version

FFWD ~ Chicken in a Pot: Garlic and Lemon Version

As I struggle to come up with just the right words for this post, I am feeling sad, accomplished, gratified, and grateful! This is the last recipe to complete in our French Fridays with Dorie journey.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for four and a half years. The recipe we saved for last is the cover recipe. So now, I get to write for the very last time...This week for French Fridays our recipe is, Chicken in a Pot: Garlic and Lemon Version.

My son loves to cook. For his birthday a few years ago; I sent him a copy of “Around My French Table”. Chicken in a Pot is a recipe he has made many times, and is one of his favorites. The last time I visited him, we made it together. It’s a little time consuming to get all the veggies cut up, and ready for the pot. But once it’s put together, it braises in the oven for about an hour.  I made a jar of preserved lemons a few months ago…little did I know that I would need them for this dish. They were perfect! I used a whole chicken, which I browned on all sides, before adding it to the pot. I also used a combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. This was a winner in my house, although I would have rather cooked it on a cold winters day. It is perfect comfort food. A two thumbs up from both my hubby and me!

The chicken sits on top of the veggies and braises for about an hour

Four and a half years ago, I embarked on an adventure, with a group of fellow bloggers, to cook through Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Around My French Table”.  It was a way to fill my newly retired days. It was also a huge leap out of my comfort zone! My computer skills were limited at best. For some reason I thought, "I can do this"!!  Little did I know how passionate I would become about every aspect of blogging. It was no longer just about the baking, or the recipes. It was about the friendships that spawned from our FFWD group. It has bonded us! We are kindred sprits of the foodie world. Then a funny thing happened, it also sparked a love of photography in me, which I continue to explore and strive to improve upon. And those limited computer skills…they’ve gotten quite good!  Who says, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?

We still have four celebratory weeks left to share as a group but, this is the end of our French Friday picks. The last recipe we will be blogging about as a group. There are several thank you’s that I must share! First and foremost, a special thank you to Dorie Greenspan, for allowing us to cook through her fabulous book! I have developed a deep love of French food and culture because of it! Dorie has been gracious and generous to our group of Doristas! Another big thank you to Laurie Woodward, the founder of this incredibly terrific group. It has enriched my life in ways I didn’t think possible. With much appreciation for their hard work, and for keeping our group on track each week, a great big thank you to Betsy and Mary. And one last thank you from me to Trevor…for coining the name Dorista! I am so proud to be a Dorista!  Happy Friday everyone!

I made these preserved lemons last fall…glad to have them on hand
Sautéing  the veggies
 Place the chicken on top...
 Add the crust to seal the pot
Chicken was moist and delicious
And for the last time, with sadness in my heart...Happy French Friday everyone! 

Chicken in a Pot: the garlic and lemon version
by Dorie Greenspan, “Around My French Table”                                                                                                                                                                                                     makes 4 servings


1⁄2 preserved lemon, rinsed well
1 cup water
1⁄4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 same-sized pieces (you can use white potatoes, if you prefer)
16 small white onions, yellow onions, or shallots
8 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
4 garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 thyme sprigs
3 parsley sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
1 chicken, about 4 pounds, preferably organic, whole or cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
About 11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
About 3⁄4 cup hot water


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using a paring knife, slice the peel from the preserved lemon and cut it into small squares; discard the pulp. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, drop in the peel, and cook for 1 minute; drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are brown on all sides. (If necessary, do this in 2 batches.) Spoon the vegetables into a 4 1⁄2- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other pot with a lid and stir in the herbs and the preserved lemon.

Return the skillet to the heat, add another tablespoon of oil, and brown the chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks. Tuck the chicken into the casserole, surrounding it with the vegetables. Mix together the broth, wine, and the remaining olive oil and pour over the chicken and vegetables.

Put 1 1⁄2 cups flour in a medium bowl and add enough hot water to make a malleable dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, turn out the dough, and, working with your hands, roll the dough into a sausage. Place the dough on the rim of the pot -- if it breaks, just piece it together -- and press the lid onto the dough to seal the pot.

Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Now you have a choice -- you can break the seal in the kitchen or do it at the table, where it's bound to make a mess, but where everyone will have the pleasure of sharing that first fragrant whiff as you lift the lid with a flourish. Whether at the table or in the kitchen, the best tool to break the seal is the least attractive -- a screwdriver. Use the point of the screwdriver as a lever to separate the lid from the dough.

Depending on whether your chicken was whole or cut up, you might have to do some in-the-kitchen carving, but in the end, you want to make sure that the vegetables and the delicious broth are on the table with the chicken.

If the chicken is cut up, you can just serve it and the vegetables from the pot. If the chicken is whole, you can quarter it and return the pieces to the pot or arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter. Either way, you don't need to serve anything else but some country bread, which is good for two things: spreading with the sweet garlic popped from the skins and dunking into the cooking broth. One of the reasons I like to bring the pot to the table is because it makes for easy dipping.

If you have any leftover chicken, vegetables, and broth (what we call "goop" in our house), they can be reheated gently in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave oven.

Bonne idée:
You can save yourself a little time and some cleanup by using store-bought pizza dough to seal the pot. If you use pizza dough, it will rise around the pot.

Friday, May 15, 2015

FFWD~Ispahan Loaf Cake #FoodRevolutionDay

FFWD ~ Ispahan Loaf Cake
This week my French Friday post is a make up. It also participates with Food Revolution Day!

Today is Jamie Oliver's fourth annual Food Revolution Day! It’s a day of global awareness and action, created by Jamie Oliver and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.  It’s all about getting people inspired, to learn about the food they eat, and how to cook it!  It’s also about getting our children to make healthy choices. 
I have five grandchildren, who are all quite savvy in the kitchen. My grandsons make fresh fruit smoothies, for after school snacks, choosing fruits they delight in! My granddaughter may be a chip off my block. A future Food Blogger, she is baking her way through the “Tate’s Cookbook”.  She likes bringing the treats she bakes to her classmates at school. She is eleven! I am such a lucky grandma. My children are teaching their children to eat healthy, to enjoy their food, and how to prepare it. 

Or you could call it my nemesis 
My grandchildren and I have cooked and baked together many times! We’ve made pies, cookies, bread, crepes and other wonderful treats! They are the lucky ones. Thanks to their moms and dads, they are learning about food early! 

Our next little foodie…taking photos of her pies!
Get involved!
Mardi, our Dorista Food Revolution Ambassador, asked us to choose a recipe from “Around My French Table”, and write about what we’ve learned from it! I chose a recipe that has been my nemesis! What I learned from it?  To persevere!  

I’m quite intrigued by exotic flavors! They are the flavors I grew up with. The flavors of Lebanon and the Middle East! They are also the flavors that bring back memories of my grandmothers’ kitchen. Orange blossoms and rosewater are used in pastries throughout the Middle East. When I read, the Ispahan cake was chosen for our French Friday rotation…I was so in!! 

The not-so pretty first loaf

Pierre Herme is the pastry chef who inspired this cake, and started the rose-raspberry craze in France.
I referred to this cake as my nemesis because, when it was picked way back in March 2013, I made it twice. Both times it took me down! The first time, as I attempted to turn it out of the pan, it fell, and broke into pieces. The second time, it came out fine, but I had used almond meal instead of flour (a bad choice). The cake came out brown, not the pretty yellow that I was hoping for. Here is one more attempt, and I think I finally got it!  Happy Friday everyone! And Happy Food Revolution Day!

I made this delicious Rose Syrup…you can find the recipe on Epicurious
Looking good!
Loved this cake….glad I persevered!
Bon Appétit 

Ispahan Loaf Cake
by Dorie Greenspan from “Around My French Table"

Note:  This cake calls for Rose Syrup, NOT Rose Water!
2.5 tbsp Rose Syrup  
2 tbsp whole milk
2 C almond flour
1 C confectioner's sugar
3 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg at room temp
2.5 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 tsp rose extract
1/2 C plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pint raspberries (but I didn't use that many)

Center a rack in oven, preheat to 350. Butter a 9x5 loaf pan and dust with flour. 
Stir rose syrup into milk. 
Put almond flour and confectioner's sugar in a sieve set over a bowl and stir to pass them through. Or, if you're me, just put them in a bowl. Whisk together. 
Beat egg whites in another bowl until they start to hold their shape, then gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites hold "firm, glossy peaks". Slide the egg whites into another bowl (and don't worry about cleaning the mixing bowl before carrying on).
Put almond-flour mixture and butter into mixer bowl and beat for 3 minutes or until very smooth.
Working at med speed, add egg yolks one at a time, beating for a minute after each. Then beat in whole egg. 
Add rose-flavored milk and rose extract and beat one more minute.
Give the egg whites a quick whisk and stir 1/4 - 1/3 of them into the batter. With a spatula, and a "light touch", alternately fold in remaining whites and all-purpose flour into batter, "as quickly and gently as you can, folding in flour in 3 additions and whites in 2". 
Scrape 1/3 of batter into prepared loaf pan, spread to even it.
Make 3 rows of raspberries down the length of the pan - dont let berries touch the sides - and then cover with half the remaining batter.
Make 3 more rows of berries, top with last of batter.
Lower oven to 300 and bake for 55-65 min or until a knife comes out clean. 
Transfer to cooling rack, let rest 3 min. Unmold, invert, let cool to room temp. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blogger #C.L.U.E. ~ Vanilla Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone and Raspberries

Vanilla Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone and Raspberries

May has arrived! Our lilacs are in bloom, my garden is ready to plant, and it’s time for Blogger C.L.U.E! This month we are in summer mode! Our clue was berries! The search was on! The blog that I’ve been searching is Lea Ann’s lovely, and delicious “Cooking On The Ranch”!  Berries are a favorite for me! I grow a few varieties in my backyard including red raspberries, blackberries, and black raspberries. Summer means jams, galettes, pies, and cobblers. You can never have too many good recipes for using those berries! Oh, I do love summer!

Lea Ann’s blog was really a treasure trove of impressive recipes to browse. I found so many wonderful dishes I’d like to try! Lea Ann is a Denver area food blogger.  Her blog demonstrates her love for many different kinds of food; in particular she enjoys Mexican, and recipes that reflect the flavors of the West.
It also looks as if Lea Ann and I share a favorite pastime…seems we both love bird watching!

I topped my very warm peaches with the Mascarpone…it started to melt…so yummy!

The recipe I chose from Lea Ann’s blog was "Vanilla Roasted Peaches with Mascarpone and Raspberries". It was quite easy, and absolutely delectable! My peaches weren’t the mid-summer peaches, that are amazingly fragrant and full of juicy flavor, but they weren’t horrible either. My grocery store had just received their first shipment of fresh peaches, from California. I was quite happy to find them! Once they were roasted in the sugar syrup, I served them over pound cake. We enjoyed this delightfully simple dessert, as a late morning treat with our tea and coffee!  

This is the kind of dessert that is quick, easy, and makes an ordinary evening special!! And did I mention delicious!

Author: Highlands Ranch Foodie
Serves: 4

2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole peaches -- firm/ripe/halved
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 package raspberries
Vanilla dessert shells

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large shallow baking dish combine butter, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla. Add peaches and turn to coat with butter mixture. Arrange, cut side down in a single layer.
Roast until peaches are tender and cooking liquid is syrupy, 15 - 20 min, brushing with cooking liquid halfway through.
Serve peaches warm or at room temperature topped with a dollop of mascarpone and raspberries in dessert shells. Drizzle with cooking liquid.

Lilacs in bloom

Our Bloggers and their Berry delicious recipes!