Thursday, July 2, 2015

FFWD Wrap-Up Post

First, a thank you to anyone who reads this post.  It's now almost two weeks late but, at least for my own benefit, I wanted to finish out this FFWD journey.  I'll start with the make-up recipes, and then post a few thoughts on some of the celebration week themes that I missed.

I didn't really make the Cabbage and Foie Gras Bundles at all.  I don't do offal, and when the group made these I was in the middle of first-trimester food aversions and wasn't in the mood for doing anything creative.  So I made my favorite cabbage bundles instead.  You cook leeks and cabbage in butter, add some juniper berries and heavy cream for flavor, and then add blue cheese along with some filling to each bundle.  Not what Dorie intended (it's actually an old Deborah Madison recipe), but I'm a fan.

It seemed like most--if not all--of you had no trouble with the Waffles and Cream recipe, so I'm going to go ahead and blame myself for this one, but it was a total failure.  I followed the recipe exactly (or at least I intended to, maybe I mis-measured something?) and used our Belgian waffle iron (the only waffle iron that we own), but these were a mess.  Every time I opened the iron the waffle had split in half, with one half sticking to the top and the other to the bottom.  I could not get them to stay together.  I tried different timing, different iron temperatures, spraying the iron, and nothing seemed to help.  These also seemed way too buttery for me.  I just couldn't bring myself to add any adornments.  We ate these--Paul ate most of them--but they won't be a repeater in our house.

We don't do pork, but I really wanted to try the combination of mango and lychee, so instead of Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees I did grilled salmon and asparagus with rice, and combined the mangoes, lychees, and other ingredients into a quick topping for the salmon.  This sauce really was excellent.  I imagine it would go well on all kinds of fish, and maybe even chicken.

I made Shrimp Escabeche instead of the Sardine Escabeche, but can't seem to find a picture.  (Likely because I forgot to take one!)  This was another first-trimester recipe that I just couldn't stomach.  The vinegar was too much for me.  Paul didn't seem to mind this, and Charlotte even ate a couple of shrimp, but neither one of them seemed especially thrilled about it.  I doubt I'll be making it again.

Last, the Cheesecake Tart.  When I was a kid I hated when my mom added raisins to anything cooked.  There was no worse way to ruin a rice pudding or custard!  I'm now generally okay with cooked raisins, but I found myself feeling my old childhood sentiments while eating this tart.  It was good, but would have been so much better without the raisins!  Next time.

I actually started writing a Food Revolution Day post, but sadly never got around to finishing it.  I have learned many important tips and techniques from Dorie, but--for me--I would say that roasting a chicken is one that everybody should know.  I know I keep writing about the Lazy Roast Chicken but really, it's so easy anyone can do it, with potatoes and vegetables in the pot it's a complete meal, and the leftovers are delicious.  You can even make chicken stock from the bones.  I certainly roasted chicken before this group, and I'm sure I will try other recipes from time-to-time, but I think everyone (or at least everyone who likes chicken!) should have a "go to" roast chicken recipe and I'm very glad that I've found mine

I'm not sure that I'd say I will Never-Doubt-Dorie again (I still remember the fish aspic!), but there are definitely recipes that I was very skeptical about and turned out to love.  One that comes to mind is the Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India.  Vegetable barley soup sounded totally boring to me, and I just wasn't sure about an "Indian-style" recipe in a French cookbook, but we absolutely loved this one.  I'll definitely be making it again this fall and winter.

This is completely unoriginal, but my Play-It-Again-Dorie recipe is definitely the Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux.  It isn't the very-best roast chicken I've ever had, but it's my "go to" and definitely worth the price of the book.

Last, the Grand Finale.  I still remember writing my first post.  In what would become an ongoing theme for me, I joined the group a year late, and even my very first post was a day late.  I posted late on a Saturday evening before heading out to dinner with friends, and left my link.  I was sure that nobody would read my post except for possibly my mother.  I was shocked when I came home from dinner and there were already comments!  I really couldn't believe it.  You all have been such a welcoming group, right from the start, and a joy to cook with.  I've had a very busy few years, and my life has been turned upside down (kids seem to do that!), but I've loved having this group as a touchstone.  Even when I don't get my posts up on time--or ever--I almost always make the recipes, and love reading your posts every week and seeing your comments.  What fun.  I hope to keep up with many of you through TWD and CCC, and look forward to seeing what is in store for FFWD in the fall.

All the best.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

FFWD Celebration Week: The AHA Moment

This post didn't involve any cooking or even photographing, but was still probably the hardest to write.  Choose only 5 favorites?!?  First I went through the book and listed potentials.  My goal was to find recipes that I really thought were special to AMFT.  I absolutely love eclairs, but I've made excellent eclairs from several cookbooks, so those were out.  When I got through the book I had a list of 14 recipes.  Second, I cheated and looked ahead to the next celebratory weeks.  Roast Chicken for Les Parasseux was a definite contender, but I know it'll be my play-it-again recipe, so I decided to save it for later.  Then, I did the best I could to choose 5 from what was left.  Here they are:

#5) I remember when I made the Cheese-Topped Onion Soup that I was hoping not to like the recipe.  It's a lot more work than my usual onion soup recipe, and I was hoping it wouldn't be worth it.  It totally was!  We both absolutely loved it, agreeing that it was much better than my usual onion soup.  It's a little hot for soup in DC right now, but this is definitely a recipe I'll turn to again and again in the fall and winter months.

#4) Anybody who knows me shouldn't be surprised that two out of my five favorites are desserts.  (And it was hard to limit myself to just two!).  I've had a lot of apple cakes, and Marie-Helene's Apple Cake is definitely my favorite so far.  I loved that it really just tasted like apples, with enough butter and rum to hold it all together.  Another recipe that I'm looking forward to making this fall!

#3) The Deconstructed BLT and Eggs will always hold a soft spot in my heart because it's the first recipe I made with the group (and my first-ever blog post).  It's also one that I love.  Especially in the summer, this is my favorite way of eating.  It feels relatively light because it's a salad, but has delicious bacon and eggs on top.  At least in my book, it needs nothing else but bread or crackers to feel like a complete meal.

#2) I never would have predicted this, but I think the most revelatory dessert in the book for me was the Floating Islands.  We aren't big fans of meringue and I didn't expect to really like these, but they were absolutely delicious.  I just couldn't get enough of the contrasting textures.  I served these with poached figs, but I think they'd be good with absolutely anything.

#1)  My favorite recipe from AMFT is also the first one that I made, the Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good.  I found this recipe online before I owned the book, I think it may have been my introduction to Dorie, and absolutely loved it.  It's one of the reasons I knew that buying the book and joining this group was a good idea.  I make it at least once a year, and love it every time.  I know part of it's beauty is that it's completely adaptable, but I usually stick pretty close to the original recipe.  I mean, how could you go wrong with bread, bacon, cheese, and heavy cream?  

This walk down memory lane has certainly made me hungry.  I'm sad that we're almost done cooking together, I do hope we'll stay in touch, but I know the AMFT cookbook will continue to get a lot of use in my kitchen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

FFWD Chicken in a Pot

I was a little bit embarrassed to post my picture after I saw some of yours.  I don't know what happened with my flour and water "sausage."  I think I added way too much water.  I was feeling too lazy to measure, and stupidly decided to "eyeball" the water.  I clearly went overboard.  I added extra flour, but after seeing how neat and pretty yours are I'm pretty sure I wasn't near the right consistency.  Oh well, the good news is it worked.  When this came out of the oven I asked Paul to get a screwdriver to pry open the lid.  He came back with a crowbar.  That man certainly loves tools!
I also stupidly cut up the chicken and added it back to the pot before taking the photo.  It was so much prettier when it was whole!

We both agreed that this was a perfectly nice Sunday night dinner, but not amazing.  Given the herbs, lemon, and garlic, I was expecting it to have more flavor.  I also under-salted the chicken.  I'll take responsibility, but I really wish that recipes would give amounts for salt (or even ranges) when they involve raw meat.  It's not like I was going to taste the chicken to see if I had added enough salt.  I'm glad I make this, but I think Dorie's Lazy Chicken will still be my go-to roast chicken recipe in the future.

I can't believe that this is our last recipe as a group.  With the exception of a few that I skipped because I just don't eat the main ingredient, I've made all of the recipes except for the Waffles and Cream.  I'm hoping to make those soon, and also to write a catch-up post with all of the recipes that I've made and failed to write about in the last few months.  It's hard to believe that this journey is coming to an end, but I'm thrilled that we have a few more fun weeks ahead of us!

Friday, May 8, 2015

FFWD Seafood Pot-Au-Feu

(I cannot figure out how to get this picture to not be sideways.  It's rotated correctly on my computer, but then every time I upload it to blogger it rotates back.  I can't figure out how to rotate within blogger.  Grrrrr.)

I really, really enjoyed this recipe.  I was feeling kind of lazy so I used a piece of salmon (probably about half a pound) cut into large chunks, and a bag of the Trader Joe's seafood mix (it has small shrimp and scallops and calamari).  I also added extra potatoes and sugar snaps but skipped the mushrooms.  We had basil that was about to turn black, so I made a pesto for the side.  I liked the pesto, but definitely didn't think the dish needed it.  I wasn't sure about the gingered-chicken broth with seafood, but I loved the whole thing.  This definitely needs bread for dipping!

P.S. I feel bad that I've done such a bad job keeping up for the last couple of months, and now we're almost done.  I've actually made almost all of the recipes.  I'll try to get a catch-up post up this week or next.  My excuse is that I'm almost four months pregnant.  Food is finally starting to seem somewhat appealing, but I haven't had much of an appetite the last few months.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to finishing out the next few weeks with the group!  (So hard to believe we're really almost done.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

FFWD Salmon (Not) Tartare

I probably mentioned this last year, but despite not being very observant I do keep some semblance of Passover.  I don't change dishes or anything, but I do avoid a long list of foods for the full eight days.  I failed to plan ahead and make the waffles and cream before Passover started, so now I'm waiting until after Passover to make those.  Luckily, the salmon tartare was completely Passover friendly.  I wasn't in the mood for tartare this week (read: I wasn't in the mood to make Charlotte a separate dinner), so I decided to improvise.  I roasted the salmon with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a hot oven per the instructions in the roasted salmon with lentils recipe (I think it was 12 min at 475).  Since the oven was hot, I roasted asparagus as well.  I was too lazy to follow the precise instructions, but I used all of the remaining ingredients to make an avocado and tomato salad/salsa/relish(?) to go over the fish.  It was really delicious.  I was unsure about mint with avocado, but I thought the flavors were excellent, and Dorie's method for roasting fish worked perfectly.  I may try the tartare sometime, but this was so good I may not.  I served this with the matzoh I made for TWD (definitely not Kosher for Passover, but really, really good) and some cheeses.  A delicious, easy weeknight dinner.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

CCC March

(I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get these pictures rotated properly.  They look correct before I upload them, but then somehow the uploading rotates them, and once they're uploaded I can't seem to rotate them back.  Anyway...)

I think I'm basically caught up with all of the recipes we have made, so I decided to take it easy this month.  We're just starting to see asparagus here--it isn't local, that's still a while away, but at least it's from the US--and so I decided to use it atop the Asparagus Pizza.  We were so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures, so here's a picture of the leftovers I brought for lunch at my desk.  This is becoming a family favorite--Charlotte enjoyed it too.  I imagine I'll make it again before asparagus season runs out.

I just finished mixing the Pea and Mint Ice Cream.  It's chilling in the fridge to prepare for churning.  I'll try to post an addendum with a better review once I actually taste it.  I did want to say that I've made both ice creams now, and I really find the custard recipe in this book difficult.  Both times it's curdled long before even starting to get thick.  This means I end up settling for a runny custard, which turns into very ice-y ice cream.  I'm not very good at making custard, and certainly take full responsibility for my struggles, but I have had better luck with other custard recipes.  I'll probably go back to those in the future.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things next month.  We're finally starting to see some spring produce!

FFWD Next-Day Beef Salad

I was tempted to skip this one since I don't eat beef, but the other ingredients sounded excellent to me so I decided to try it with chicken.  I roasted some bone-in chicken breasts the day before, so all I had to do was chop up the chicken and other ingredients and assemble.  Served over arugula, and with cheese and crackers alongside, I thought this made an excellent weeknight dinner.  I loved the combination of salty (olives and cornichons) and sweet (apple and red pepper) with the chicken.  I also used both kinds of mustard and thought that was a must (at least for this mustard-loving cook).  Only Charlotte was not a fan.  She choose to eat her chicken plain.  Oh well.  More salad for us!