Thursday, January 28, 2016

CCC January 2016

I was hoping to make more of the recipes, but at least I got my Squash and Walnut Toastie made.  Luckily, this recipe was hard to ruin.  I had some sort of squash that's been sitting on my counter since we got it at CSA pick-up in November.  It was a dark orange and about the size of an acorn squash, but not a pumpkin.  The skin seemed hard to cut and I was busy, so I just threw it in the oven and turned the oven to 350.  I meant to just let the squash soften enough so I could cut into it, and then cut it into chunks and take off the skin and roast it.  Except I totally forgot it was in the oven until a couple of hours later when the whole house smelled like squash.  I opened the oven and the squash had totally collapsed.  By then I was busy with something else, so I let the squash cool, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and put it in the fridge where I forgot about it again.  A few days later I found it.  I opened it up, cut it in half, and messily took off the skin and separated the flesh from the seeds and stringy part.  I used a fork to separate the flesh into chunks, and used it in this recipe.  I had just made some (delicious) rosemary olive bread, so instead of making toasts I put this out on the table to spread on the bread.  It was delicious. We also had some marinated white beans and some smoked trout rilettes to go on the bread.  Everything was good but the squash was my favorite.  Even Paul enjoyed it, and he is not a fan of squash.  Only Charlotte wouldn't touch it.  This made an excellent dinner with some kale, zucchini, and cheeses.  I love this cookbook.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

TWD BCM Carrot Cake and Lemon Squares

Apparently in my several months blogging hiatus I forgot how this works.  I totally forgot to take a picture of the carrot cake.  For the lemon squares I remembered just before eating the last available one.  (I kept 8 out and hid the rest in the freezer.)  Oh well!  One thing I didn't forget is how much I love baking.  Something about the sleep-deprivation of having an infant makes me crave sugar even more than usual, so I was eager to get back to this group as quickly as possible.  My goal right now is just to make one recipe a month, but these were both relatively easy so here they are.  On Christmas Day we were served an amazing, American style carrot cake with decadent cream cheese frosting.  The French one was much easier to put together, seemed healthier (at least I'll tell myself that), and was delicious in its own right.  However, in a contest I'd choose the American style one any day!  When I first read that the lemon squares contained 4.5 stick of butter I planned on skipping them.  A couple of weeks later I changed my mind.  They were delicious (what wouldn't be with that much butter?), but I still think I prefer my mom's lemon bars with the confectioners sugar on top.  The crisp topping was nice, but for me it took away from the true lemon flavor.

Monday, December 28, 2015

CCC December

I took a much longer than expected break from blogging, but I missed this cookbook and this group, so here I am.  I'm more behind than I thought I was (I have draft posts from May and June that I never finished!), but I thought I'd just jump in where I am and maybe I'll catch up later.  On a similar note, instead of my ambitious attempts to make all of the recipes every month, my new goal is to make one recipe a month with the group for the rest of the time.

Our second daughter was born on Halloween, and I'm still struggling to figure out how to make dinner with two kids around.  I selected the Blue Cheese and Chive Tart to make this month because it sounded so quick and easy.  It was.  I love this technique.  I defrosted some frozen puff pastry (I actually think I made it myself, embarrassingly I can't remember when) in the afternoon, and in the evening I was able to prep the rest of the recipe in the time it took the oven to heat.  I even had time to steam string beans and feed Miriam while the tart baked.  In the spirit of being seasonal (and maybe inspired by my laziness) I skipped buying tomatoes and replaced them with some roasted red peppers that I made and froze this fall.  The tart was delicious.  Paul and I loved it.

(Amusing side note:  I didn't think Charlotte would like the red peppers, so I left them off of one corner of the tart and just put blue cheese, which I know Charlotte likes.  She tasted the tart and liked it--she definitely lets us know when she doesn't like something--but for some reason after two bites only wanted to eat green beans for the rest of her dinner.  Paul and I were sitting there begging her to eat some puff pastry as well, and laughing about how most kids would happily eat the puff pastry while their parents begged them to eat green beans.)

UPDATE:  Andrea was nice enough to ask for a photo of Miriam.  (Who doesn't love being asked about their kids?)  Here's one of Miriam and another one of both girls.

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.)