Saturday, June 29, 2013

FFWD Socca from Vieux Nice + Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse

I promise that I will *try* not to let all of my posts become all about the baby, but this post should be subtitled "fussy in the late afternoon and evening + sleep-deprivation (or, the case of the missing chocolate)."  First, Charlotte Madeleine was born on Thursday 6/6 at 8:58 in the morning.  She weighted in at 8 lbs 12 oz and 21 inches.  This has been the most challenging, but by far the happiest, 3 weeks of my life.  She doesn't do much yet except for eat and sleep, but it's been incredible watching her grow and develop.

At the time I thought I was going a bit crazy, but I'm actually really glad I cooked and froze so much stuff before she was born.  Charlotte is a great baby but 4:30 to 7:30 is definitely her fussiest time, which has made cooking and eating dinner challenging at best.  Most nights, we just pull something out of the freezer and add a salad and dinner is done.  The Socca from Vieux Nice was the first thing I actually attempted to cook since she was born.  What's great about the recipe was that I was able to put it all together after lunch while she napped, start the baking while she was still in a good mood, and then Paul was able to finish it (and take photos) when she was fussy.  Unfortunately, I realized after I made it that it wasn't a great thing to eat since I'm supposed to be avoiding beans, so I was only able to taste it.  Last summer we went on a trip which included two day in Genoa, Italy (probably our last big trip for a while).  We had carefully researched and planned all of our meals (Paul gets very obsessive about these things), but on our first day it turned out that the lunch place Paul had picked out was closed.  We wandered around and walked into a place just based on how it looked--something we almost never do.  What caught our attention was these delicious looking farinata in the window.  The place was so good that we ended up ignoring our plans and eating lunch there the next day as well.  It was fun to realize that the French Socca is actually the same as the Italian Farinata.  The Socca I made wasn't as good as the one in Italy (the wood-burning oven definitely gave them an advantage), but we definitely enjoyed it.  It's a recipe I'll make again.

I also decided this was a good time to make the quick and easy chocolate mousse that I skipped because I was avoiding raw eggs while I was pregnant.  For the recipe I pulled out a block of excellent Callebut bittersweet chocolate that I happened to have in the pantry.  I had used it before so it was already split into two pieces.  One was about 3 ounces and the other about 5, so I cut a small piece off of the 5 ounce bar and combined it with the 3 ounce piece to make the 3.5 ounces the recipe called for, coarsely chopped the chocolate, and made the recipe.  I thought the texture seemed strange when I folded the egg whites into the chocolate, but I've never made mousse before and am not that great at folding, so I figured the problem was with my technique.  I finished the mousse (it certainly tasted good), put it into cups, and put it into the fridge, figuring that it would set-up and the texture would improve once it chilled.  As I was cleaning the kitchen, I found the bag that I was using to store the chocolate but I couldn't find the extra 5 ounce piece of chocolate. I looked all over the kitchen, including in the trash can, the fridge, and the pantry--the usual places where I find my misplaced kitchen items--and couldn't find the chocolate anywhere.  I asked Paul, thinking he would find it somewhere obvious and laugh at me, but he couldn't find it either.  It's still possible I'll find it somewhere eventually, but as I think about it I'm guessing that I accidentally chopped up all 8 ounces of chocolate and put it into the mousse.  The mousse tastes good, but it's pretty dense--almost like a ganache--so I'm guessing the extra chocolate is the culprit :-)  I'm going to blame the sleep deprivation--I never used to do things quite this stupid--and try to enjoy our fudge/ganache.  I'll definitely have to try making the mousse again when I'm a little more with it!

Friday, June 14, 2013

FFWD Back-of-the-Card Cheese and Olive Bread

I'm REALLY hoping that by the time this posts we'll have a new baby, maybe even pictures to share!  In the meantime, day one of maternity leave went well.  I read (about babies), napped, walked, swam, and spent some time on the wedding scrapbook that I've been working on for the past 3 years.  I hope there aren't too many more of them, but it was a generally good day.  And, it was very nice to be home and ready to start dinner at 6:30.  Not as early as I'd planned (I'm a really slow walker these days!), but I was still able to make the quick bread and Dorie's Bacon, Egg, and Asparagus Salad and have dinner on the table before 8.  What can I say about the bread?  I substituted some Ancient Grains flour for part of the the AP flour, used extra olives and olive oil instead of the tapenade (I just couldn't bring myself to make or buy any for two tablespoons), and used a mixed of cheeses (cheddar, goat mozzarella, and robusto), but otherwise followed the recipe.  It was quick and easy, but I didn't love it.  I remember liking the Savory Cheese and Chive bread better, and would definitely return to that one if I felt like making a savory quick bread from this book.  The salad, on the other hand, was a great way to use some of Paul's quickly-growing lettuce, and was delicious.  I'm always looking for interesting salad recipes, and I love the ones in AMFT.

UPDATE:  Charlotte Madeleine is here.  She was born on 6/6.  I'll post pictures ASAP.

Friday, June 7, 2013

FFWD Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine

Thank you very much to everyone for all of the well-wishes!  This is definitely a very strange time of waiting.  Since I'm on maternity leave this week with no baby (yet!), I've decided to make as many of the June FFWD dishes as I can.  Hopefully by the time this posts on Friday the baby will be here, but at this point we're definitely still at the wait and see stage...

Paul has been growing strawberries for a couple of years now.  He wasn't thrilled with the first variety he tried (they're pretty big and hearty but don't have a ton of flavor) so he ordered the variety that we used to love buying at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.  The berries aren't as big and are more delicate, but they're redder and have a much more pronounced flavor.  The problem with growing your own strawberries is that they all seem to be ripe at once!  We love them, but it's hard to eat them quickly enough.  On Sunday there was a big container full in the fridge that were about to go bad.  I picked out 18 pretty ones for the tartines, and prepared the rest for jam.  The tartines were fun to put together--I got to use some of my French sourdough bread from my recent baking binge--but I wasn't particularly impressed by their flavor.  They tasted good, it's hard to go wrong with goat cheese and strawberries, but I definitely wasn't overwhelmed.  I know they're supposed to be served as a first course, but I very rarely serve courses when it's just the two of us.  We at them with miso salmon and sauteed swiss chard from the garden.  The chard (and the strawberry rhubarb pie that followed!) was probably the highlight of the meal.

The jam was also excellent.  Paul did most of the cooking, and it came out a perfect consistency with big pieces of berries.  Not the easiest jam to spread, but it's absolutely delicious and really allows the berries to shine.