Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TWD BWJ and BCM Rewind

For rewind week I'm posting about four recipes that I made this fall and never wrote up.  I think this means I'm again (at least temporarily) caught up with the group.  I'll discuss them in the order in which I made them.

My grocery store only sells almond paste in a tube, so the hardest part of making the Amaretti (BWJ) was mail ordering almond paste in a can.  After that these came together very easily.  I was thrilled.  My favorite Italian bakery at the beach we love sells these, and I always look forward to them, but I'm always shocked by their price tag.  It's so great to know I can make these at home, much less expensively, anytime that I want.  Paul wished these were a little less sweet.  I'm thinking next time I might try making my own almond paste so that I can have more control of the sweetness level.

I love making rough puff pastry (so quick!  so easy!  so delicious!), but the Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries (BWJ) were my first attempt at making real puff pastry at home.  It was fun, but not entirely successful.  I think I rolled over the edges way too much.  It tasted good, but really didn't puff properly.  I'm going to try to watch the video of this episode--and would welcome any other tips--before I attempt this again.  By the time I made these it was no longer apricot season, so I used some home-canned peaches.  This was a fun breakfast, even though it didn't puff properly.

With the leftover dough I made Puff Pastry Pizzettes (BWJ).  I did half with goat cheese and the other half with cheddar.  The cheddar half was supposed to be for Charlotte but of course she refused to touch them.  Oh well, more for us!  We had these for dinner with a couple of salads, but they would be a fun party appetizer as well.

Cooking and baking with these groups has completely changed my opinion about meringue.  I always thought I didn't like it, but now I know I just don't like bad meringue.  When it's fresh and home-made it's delicious.  I'm hoping this Cranberry Crackle Tart (BCM) will become an annual tradition in my house.  I loved the way the tartness of the cranberries played off the sweetness of the meringue.  Another winner.

Monday, December 29, 2014

CCC December

We just got home from nine days in Portland, Oregon with my husband's family.  As always, the trip was a lot of fun but completely exhausting.  I feel like I need another week off just to recover.  Unfortunately I'm back at work today, but I did have the weekend to catch-up around the house and make a few vegetables dishes.  I always try to keeping eating vegetables while travelling, but it's never the same as being at home, and I always feel like I have some catching up to do when I get back.  I made fifteen recipes in the past month-or-so, including a few that I bought ingredients for but didn't get around to last month.  These were good, but not my favorite set of recipes.  I don't know if the recipes are to blame or just the cold weather vegetables.  It's definitely more of a challenge this time of year.  Here they are, in order of most to least favorite.

#1) Brussels sprouts, apple and cheddar

What a great surprise!  Even Paul loved this.  I used the slicing disk on my food processor to make quick work of the sprouts, and the rest of this dish came together in no time.  I'm always looking for raw vegetable salads for the winter months, and this is definitely one that I'll be repeating.

#2) Stuffed cabbage leaves

Due to some poor planning on my part, I made stuffed collards with orzo and ground turkey one night, and these stuffed cabbage leaves the next night.  I thought for sure we would all prefer the ones made with turkey, but we actually preferred these.  This sounded like a strange combination but it really worked.  The flavors came together beautifully.

#3) Sweetcorn fritters with coriander or mint raita

One of my all-time favorite recipes is fresh corn fritters.  I make them in summer, topped with goat cheese and sliced heirloom tomato.  These weren't as good, but for winter they were a very nice change-of-pace.  I really liked the Indian flavors.

#4) Curried sweet potato soup

Paul liked this soup better than the corn fritters, but it's my blog so we're using my ranking.  I wished this soup wasn't quite so thin--next time I will cut down on the broth--but I liked the warming spices.  I made this the same night as the corn fritters and thought they went quite well together.  I used the raita I made for the fritters to top the soup as well.

#5) Creamy potato and celeriac mash

Potatoes, butter, and cream.  What's not to like?  I though the celery root was a great addition.  It made this more interesting than standard mashed potatoes, and allowed me to tell myself that it was a little bit healthier.
#6) Leek risotto with chestnuts

I followed the recipe's instructions to crumble the chestnuts, but wish I had sliced them, it definitely would have made for a prettier presentation.  We enjoyed this risotto--I don't know if I've ever had a risotto that I didn't like--but chestnuts just aren't my favorite.

#7) Roasted roots with apple and rosemary

I roast vegetables all of the time, especially in winter, and I thought the apples and rosemary were a very nice addition.  The only problem was that I kept avoiding the vegetables in my search for more apples.

#8) Chestnut and sage soup

Paul and I thought this was fine, but Charlotte loved it.  Go figure.  I like the flavor of chestnuts a lot more than the texture, so if I'm going to eat chestnuts this probably is the way for me to go.

#9) Bruschetta with cavolo nero

This is one of those simple recipes that really depends on the quality of the ingredients.  We had this on home baked sourdough bread, and really enjoyed it.  My only complaint was that my kale was too chewy.  Next time I will cook the kale until it's very soft.

#10) Quick chickpea pasta

I have a confession to make.  At the last minute I was worried this wouldn't be enough food and decided to double the recipe.  Unfortunately I only had one can of garbanzo beans (and no time to run to the store) so I added a can of tuna fish instead.  We really enjoyed it, but I don't get credit for making a vegetarian dish.  We gave Charlotte her own bowl and she very carefully ate only the pasta, handing us back a bowl of chickpeas and tuna when she was finished.  Oh well.  She will be a more adventurous eater eventually, right? :-)

#11) Salsify puree

I'll be very curious to see how many people found salsify.  I couldn't find any, thought about substituting a common root vegetable (like carrot, parsnip, or rutabaga), but changed my mind when I spotted a burdock root (several feet long!) at the store.  I decided to give it a try.  I have no clue whether it tasted anything like salsify, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The puree had a very nice flavor.  We didn't love eating it on its own, but I think it would be very good on some bread.
#12) Patatas bravas

I loved the patatas bravas that we had in Barcelona, and have since enjoyed them at tapas restaurants in the US, but have never made them at home.  I was excited to try, but somewhat disappointed by these.  I think mine were under-salted (all my fault), but also thought the flavors in general were a bit flat.

#13) Swede speltotto

I love the idea of using a whole grain (spelt) instead of rice, but have to admit that I would have enjoyed this better with rice.  It wasn't bad, but not my favorite either.

#14) Roasted baby beetroot with walnuts and yoghurt dressing

Baking beets continues to baffle me.  Sometimes they're ready in an hour, sometimes they take more than two, and it doesn't seem to be very related to their size.  For this recipe I bought small beets, but they still took over two hours to bake.  That meant they weren't ready until after dinner, so we didn't eat this salad until the next day.  I have a feeling it would have been much better fresh.  I think I'll need to give it another try.

#15) Corner shop spanakopita

This wasn't bad, but I've made a lot of spanakopitas and this was nowhere near my favorite.  I didn't love the cumin seeds and, as much as I love puff pastry, I do prefer fillo for this type of recipe.  This was fine, but I'll choose another recipe in the future.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

FFWD Makeup Week

I'm practicing saying "my life is full" instead of "I'm completely overwhelmed and despite my constant efforts I can never, ever get it all done."  I've been reading a lot about the power of our thinking, and I'm much happier when I focus on the first thought (although the second still comes much easier to me!).  So, all this to say that thanks to a blur of Charlotte, work, Paul, friends and family, Charlotte, travel, trying to exercise, cooking, baking, Charlotte, etc., etc., I didn't get around to as much actual blogging as I wanted to this fall.  As always, and especially with the new year starting, I hope to do better next month.  For now, here is a run-down of all of the recipes I made this fall, but never got around to posting about.  I think this will catch me up with the group (with the exception of a couple of meat and/or mushroom-based recipes that I skipped).  I also wanted to say how much I loved getting all of your cards, and reading all of your cookie and drink recipes.  I hope to make some of them soon!

Celery-Celery Soup

I'm not 100% sure that this picture is actually of celery-celery soup, but I think it is.  If it's right, I served it with smoked salmon (Paul made this, it was delicious!) and roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  I am sure that we both really enjoyed this soup.  Even Charlotte liked it.  When I read through the recipe it didn't sound like much, but the whole really was better than the sum of the parts.

Monkfish and Double Carrots

Paul made monkfish for me one Valentine's Day and we both absolutely loved it, but I couldn't find any this week so I used shrimp instead.  Paul thought it was a very odd combination--and he's probably right--but I thought it worked well.  I especially loved the carrot sauce.  This is definitely a recipe that I would make again.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic

Toward the end of October I ordered something like 6 pounds of Jerusalem Artichokes on Ebay, so I could make this recipe.  (Thanks to you all for the tip!)  Luckily, they store very well in the refrigerator.  I'm happy to report that we finally finished them all just before we left for our vacation in Oregon.  I liked these a lot, but they weren't great for Paul's stomach.  He was much happier with the sunchoke soup recipe.

Dorie's Birthday Sweets from BCM

I made the Palets de Dames.  I thought they were only okay.  I have loved everything else I've made out of BCM so far, though.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis

We both really enjoyed this soup.  I served it with a beet tarte tatin that I made for CCC.  I thought the garnishes made it a prettier picture, and added to the interest of the soup, but I made it a couple of weeks later without the garnishes (needed to use up the sunchokes!) and we all still enjoyed the soup.

Pan-seared Duck Breasts with Kumquats

I have no clue why this was the only picture I took.  That's the duck down in the left hand corner.  I couldn't find kumquats, so I used mandarin oranges canned in juice as a topping and some orange marmalade in the sauce.  This was another winner.  I'm so glad that Dorie's taught me how to cook duck.

Orange and Olive Salad

I know people thought this was unusual, but I actual make a lot of citrus salads in the winter.  My favorite is this Canal House one with hearts of palm, but I also make one with citrus and avocado, and have made one very similar to this before.  We enjoyed it, and will continue to enjoy salads like this one until we start to see fresh spring produce again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TWD BCM Buche de Noel

I've wanted to try making a Buche de Noel for a while now, but haven't had the opportunity.  Usually we spent Christmas in Portland with Paul's family, and when we've been home in DC we've had our friends over, and our French friend Bea always makes the Buche.  I was excited when I realized that this year I was "required" to make one for the blog.  We invited our friends over (including Bea and her parents who live in France but were in town visiting) the weekend before we left for Oregon, and told them that I'd be making the desserts this year.  I was pretty nervous making a French dessert for people who were actually French, but Bea and her parents are such great people (and excellent dinner guests) that I knew it would be fine no matter what.  Luckily, the dessert came out well.  I'm not great at decorating, but the flavors were all there, and I got lots of compliments on my rolling.  The ruler and paper method really did make a difference!

I'm not sure if I'll ever make this again, I have so few opportunities and there's another Buche recipe that I've been wanting to try, but I'm definitely glad I made this one.  I also wanted to thank everybody for all of the advice on the rugelach.  I defrosted the other two logs of dough and baked them to serve with the Buche, and they turned out much better.  I followed your advice to let them warm up a bit before slicing and cut them more thickly, but the biggest change was that I actually read the recipe!  For some reason the first time I made these I thought the recipe said to put the cut side down, so I turned these on their sides.  The second time I realized it said to put them seam side down.  It definitely made a big difference!  I still want to get my mom's recipe, but I'm glad I was able to make these work the second time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TWD BWJ Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

I really wanted to love these.  When I was growing up we’d go visit my grandparents in Chicago every summer.  One of the highlights was eating Frango mints, the chocolate mint truffles that used to only be available at Marshall Fields in Chicago.  (Now you can buy them at any Macy’s, which I have very mixed feelings about.)  I’ve loved the chocolate mint combination ever since.  I made these in stages.  One morning I made the ganache.  It was absolutely delicious (what’s not to like about chocolate and cream?), but I couldn’t really taste the mint. Paul says I’m crazy and that the mint flavor is very pronounced, but I really didn’t think so.  I thought the cookies could have used more.  Later that day I made the cookies.  They were only alright.  The chocolate flavor was pretty mild, and they just didn’t have anything very exciting about them.  The next day I assembled the cookies.  I was hoping that this would be a case where the whole was better than the sum of the parts.  For me, however, it wasn’t.  First, I had an absolutely impossible time piping the ganache.  After struggling, and struggling and the ganache not coming out of the piping bag at all, I finally gave up and just spooned it on.  It didn’t look like much, but it worked.  Afterward, when cleaning the piping bag, I realized that a piece of un-melted chocolate was stuck in the bag.  Lesson learned!  If you’re going to be piping a ganache, make sure the chocolate is melted very well.  Once I finally got the cookies made, though, I just thought they were underwhelming.  They were rich, but just not especially interesting.  In my book, these weren’t worth the time and effort.  Not when there are so many good cookies out there!

Friday, December 12, 2014

FFWD Chicken & Dried Apricot Tagine

I've never made a tagine before, but when I read this recipe I knew I would like it.  I love Moroccan food.  The combination of warm spices in a savory dish is such a welcome change from the way we usually eat.  We had a Moroccan restaurant that we liked in Chicago, but haven't found one here.  I guess I'll have to do more of this kind of cooking at home!  Anyway, the one problem with this recipe--for me--is that I don't eat lamb.  I substituted chicken, without making any other changes, and I thought it was great.  I also loved that, after the initial set-up, this spent a whole hour in the oven by itself.  It gave me plenty of time to complete the rest of our dinner (couscous, sauteed red peppers, and potato and celeriac mash for CCC) and to give Charlotte her dinner.  This would be great for a dinner party.  It's comforting yet exotic, and the time in the oven would give you lots of time to get everything else ready.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TWD BCM Rugelach

I've eaten a lot of rugelach in my life.  Some very good rugelach (my mother's, my great aunt's) and a lot of awful rugelach (the packaged kind they have at most synagogue kiddushes after services on Saturday mornings).  However, I  think the only other time that I've attempted to make it myself is with TWD BWJ.  Re-reading my post (my memory is not what it used to be!), I liked those rugelach, but preferred my mother's.   I have the exact same feeling about these rugelach.  They are good, but my mother's are better.  I seriously need to get her recipe.

As you can see from the photo above, my rugelach were an absolute mess.  I loved the dough (so flaky!) and love the combination of coconut and chocolate, but my rugelach didn't hold together at all.  I had a surprisingly easy time making the rolls (they were neat and surprisingly little filling spilled out), and froze them overnight, but cutting them was really hard.  Many of them broke when I tried to cut them, some more broke when I put them on the cookie sheets, and the rest seemed to break in the oven!  I think one mistake was cutting them too thin, but I don't know what else I did wrong.  I am looking forward to reading everyone else's posts, and would also appreciate any advice you all have.  I still have two rolls in the freezer, and am hoping to be able to make the next batch of cookies look good enough to serve to company.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

FFWD Tartine de Viande des Grisons (Except Not Really)

I was so glad when I saw the recipe for this week was a tartine.  I needed something easy.  I was less glad when I looked up "Viande des Grisons" and realized it was beef, which I don't eat.  I debated using turkey instead, but that sounded boring, so I settled on lox.  I made walnut bread the same day for TWD, and thought it would be perfect with this.  Because there were already so many walnuts in the bread I skipped the walnuts on top (even though judging by other people's photos they would have been very pretty), but did use a walnut oil.  Served with cheese, patatas bravas (a CCC recipe I'll write-up soon), and sauteed greens, this was a fun Sunday night dinner.  Although I can't comment on the actual recipe, I appreciate the reminder of tartines.  We all need more "quick and easy" options this time of year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

TWD BWJ Walnut Bread

I wanted to make the recipe this weekend, but didn't read it carefully until Friday.  Luckily, I was already planning on making pizza Friday night, so it felt like plans were falling perfectly into place.  I'd save a piece of risen dough from the pizza, make the dough on Saturday, and we'd be eating fresh bread for dinner on Sunday.  Well, the plan worked right up until I completely forgot to save some pizza dough!  I was ready to scream.  So, I guessed at proportions, mixed up some sourdough starter, flour, salt, and water, and let it rise overnight.  The next day, I proceeded with the recipe.  It's very little work, but I was pretty annoyed by the number of steps and all of the lengthy wait times.  I was convinced the bread would never be worth it.  Well, I was completely wrong!  This has such a great flavor.  I love the walnuts--they add a very nice sweetness and crunch--but I also want to make the plain Mixed-Starter bread to taste its flavor on its own.  This is a delicious recipe, and we've loved having the bread around this week.

Friday, November 28, 2014

FFWD Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup

I ignored enough of the instructions here that I'm pretty sure I'm disqualified from commenting on the recipe, but I'll try anyway.  Unfortunately I couldn't find a Red Kuri squash, so I used a combination of butternut and a piece of kabocha that I happened to have leftover.  When I read the bonne idee more carefully I realized that I should have added chestnuts to mimic the flavor of Red Kuri, but I didn't have any at home and didn't have the time to go back to the store.  Then I didn't feel like peeling squash, so I skipped that part of the recipe too.  What I did was slice the squash in half, put it cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake until very sort (about 1.5 hours).  After it cooled it was easy to scoop out and discard the seeds, and then scoop the flesh into the pot.  I had already cooked the leeks in some butter in the bottom of the soup pot, so at that point all I did was add some milk and water, blend, and re-heat.  Quick and easy.  Since I didn't make the soup correctly, I decided to follow the directions and make the apple and hazelnut garnish.  I also did blue cheese croutons.  I'm still hopeful that one day I'll find a Red Kuri squash and get to actually try the soup, but this was an easy and very tasty substitute.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

CCC November

Last month I had an ambitious plan to make all 11 recipes, but things got busy and I only got about half of them made.  I had already purchased a lot of the ingredients, though, so this month I did a combination of 5 October recipes and 5 November recipes.  Over the next couple of months I'm hoping to finish out the rest of these recipes.  This was another fun month.  I'm especially excited about all of the new ideas for things to do with potatoes.  I tend to get stuck in a rut, always serving them either mashed or roasted.  In order of (weak, they were all good) preference, here are the recipes I made.

#1: Chicory, pears and salty-sweet roasted almonds

I'm still confused about what chicory is.  I thought it was frisee, but based on the picture in the book I decided it must be what I call (Belgian) endive.  I think I made the right choice, but I'll be curious to see what everyone else's dishes look like.  Frankly, I don't think it matters.  These salty-sweet nuts and the simple lemon vinaigrette would be delicious on anything.  This was a great winter salad.  One that I'll definitely be making again.

#2: Cannellini bean and leek soup

This was such a great surprise.  It seemed too simple to be very good, but I absolutely loved it.  I cooked the beans (from scratch) a couple of days ahead, made the chili oil early, and after that this was a relatively easy weeknight dinner.  I couldn't find red chilis, so I made a green chili oil.  Not nearly as pretty, but the flavor is great.  Another winner.

#3: Baby beet tarte tatin 

A few weekends ago I made "rough" puff pastry for this and "real" puff pastry for TWD (hopefully I'll get around to posting about it soon).  My technique on the "real" puff pastry was severely lacking, so this definitely wasn't a fair comparison, but given the time and effort I definitely think that "rough" puff pastry is the way too go.  It rose nicely and was buttery, flaky, and delicious.  I think anything would have tasted good on it, but it was a particularly nice way to serve beets.  I liked the vinaigrette--sometimes I find beets too sweet and it really cut through the sweetness--and added some blue cheese.

#4: Warm salad of mushrooms and roasted squash

(A quick digression.  When Paul and I were first dating he was not nearly the adventurous eater he is now, and used to spend a lot of time making fun of my "strange" eating habits--especially of all of the vegetables that I ate.  After reading about this warm squash salad I knew I just had to make it.  I waited for a night when Paul wasn't going to be around, and happily made my salad.  I was just sitting down to eat it--it was delicious--when he called.  His bus was caught in the snow (we were living in Chicago at the time) and he couldn't get home.  Could he come over?  I said okay.  I debated hiding the squash salad, but decided against it.  He ate it for dinner--with tuna fish that I made him so he could have more protein--and teased me about it for weeks.  Now, 9 years later, Paul doesn't even bat an eyelash when we have squash salad for dinner.)

I don't eat mushrooms, so I used some herbed tofu instead.  That probably disqualifies me from commenting on the recipe, but I will anyway.  It was delicious.  I loved the flavor the sage and garlic gave the squash (I used delicata and didn't even bother peeling), and loved the way the arugula cut through the richness of the blue cheese.  Paul didn't comment.  Probably not his favorite, but I also didn't hear any complaints.

#5: Crostini

I've made crostini many times, what a great way to use stale bread, but I liked the technique of this one.  The advice to slice them thinly was especially helpful.  I topped them with blue cheese, and put them on the squash soup I made for FFWD.  (Another one I'm hoping to finally have time to post about soon.)

#6: Twice baked potatoes

I haven't had twice-baked potatoes since I was a kid, but after this reminder we're definitely going to start eating them more often.  I love that most of the work can be done ahead of time, and they are definitely a lot more fun than plain baked potatoes.  Unless of course the baked potatoes have cheese sauce on them :-)

#7: Roasted brussels sprouts with shallots

I roast brussel sprouts often, but thought that the shallots were a very nice addition.  I'm not sure if I've ever had them roasted before, but they have a great sweetness.

#8: Pumpkin and raisin tea loaf 

I forgot to take a picture of this.  I told my mother I didn't really love it, so she tasted it.  She said the flavors were absolutely perfect, and it just wasn't what I was expecting.  She's probably right.  I think I didn't love the addition of lemon, and am more used to a pumpkin bread that uses pre-cooked pumpkin.  I might try this one again, though.  It was definitely interesting.

#9: Couscous salad with herbs and walnuts

I normally don't buy whole grain couscous--Paul complains--but I thought it went really well with the hearty flavors in this dish.  I also liked the addition of walnuts.  Charlotte enjoyed her couscous plain with butter and cheese.  This was good, if not overly exciting.

#10: Roasted parsnip chips

I was a little disappointed by this one.  When I saw "chips" in the title I was hoping for something exciting, but these seemed just like plain roasted parsnips to me.  Not bad at all, just not especially interesting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

FFWD Storzapretis

I saw Dorie in DC last night!  I didn't have time to wait in line to meet her in person, but I loved her talk.  She was just as I imagined her from her writing -- so likable!  She had this great, very Parisian outfit--all black but with a gorgeous, colorful scarf--and just seemed completely genuine, down-to-earth, eager to help, and cool.  She also tells great stories.  What a fun evening!  I'm very behind in posting here, even though I have made most of the recipes, and definitely need to do a big catch-up post soon, but I thought I'd at least get today's post up on time.  When I think I need to do tasks all at once is when I really start to procrastinate.

I'm almost embarrassed to say this, and am sure it was just dumb luck, but I didn't have any trouble with these at all.  I didn't strain my ricotta or do anything special (and it was just regular store-bought ricotta), shaped these minimally with my spoons, and they held together pretty well.  I did chill them all day--it worked better with my plans for the day.  Maybe that made a difference?  I chilled them on silpat, used a metal spatula to get them from the silpat to the simmering water, and then used a metal slotted spoon to get them from the simmering water to the ice water.  I was in a rush (hungry!) and just used my hands to take them out of the ice water.  It worked just fine.

As for the taste, I thought these were just okay.  They reminded me of the filling I use when I make spinach lasagna.  We enjoyed these, but I didn't think they were worth the extra trouble of shaping them.  Probably a one-time thing in our house.  I'm looking forward to being back with the group for the final 6 months :-(.  I'll try to post more regularly from here on out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TWD BCM Palets de Dames

I always love an opportunity to bake, but I'm still recovering from an insanely busy October, so I was pretty happy when I realized that I'd already made this month's selection for FFWD.  I was less happy when I realized that I still hadn't gotten around to posting about them.  I was hoping this could be an "insert link here" type of post, so this one's going to be brief.

Since I received BCM in the mail a couple of weeks ago I've been reading, and drooling over, the recipes almost every night.  So many of them sound absolutely delicious.  This one didn't sound especially interesting to me, and the actual cookies did nothing to change my mind.  They were sweet and cakey, "pleasant" comes to mind, but they definitely weren't anything special.  With so many interesting recipes to try, these won't be making a repeat appearance in our house.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TWD BWJ Alsatian Onion Tart

I’m still hoping to get around to making my own puff pastry later this month, but this week I chose the easy version.   Paul, Charlotte, and I left our house Friday morning to spend a long weekend in West Virginia.  I was only expecting about a 3 hour drive, so I thought I’d have plenty of time to make this tart once we got there.  Well, as I continue to learn every day, things with a baby (toddler?) take a lot longer than they used to.  By the time we got out of the house, ran two errands, and took the “scenic route” to our destination (I never should have let Paul talk me in to the last one!) it was after five o’clock.  So, I had to make this as quickly as I could.

 I quickly scanned the recipe and determined that the hold-up would be the onions, so I got those started first.  Afterwards, I took out the puff pastry.  Luckily—both because I had no time and because the house we were staying in had no flour—the one I bought from Trader Joe’s was already quite thin, so I just unrolled it onto a sheet pan, docked it, and threw it in the refrigerator.  (I gave Charlotte a fork and tried to get her to help me dock the pastry, but she just kept trying to pick up the pastry with her fork.  I guess she was hungry!)   Next I took out the bacon.  Unfortunately it had gone bad.  (I didn’t know bacon went bad.)  It was late and we were in the middle of nowhere, so getting a replacement was out of the question.  I surveyed the options and decided to go with some chicken apple breakfast sausage as a replacement.  I browned it, cut it into small pieces, assembled, and baked the tart.  All told, it still took a little over an hour start-to-finish.  Not too bad, but by no means a quick dinner.

While the tart was baking, I roasted Jerusalem artichokes (a FFWD make-up recipe that I’m hoping to write up soon) and boiled some lima beans (I picked some up at our CSA on a whim).  I really enjoyed the entire dinner.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—almost anything would taste good on puff pastry.  I’m not sure that boiling the onions would be my first choice (I think it’s hard to beat onions that are slow-cooked in butter) but I did like the addition of heavy cream.  Bacon would have been better than the breakfast sausage I used, but I thought the sausage was a surprisingly good substitute.  Paul loved the tart, but wouldn’t eat the Jerusalem artichokes (stomach issues) and seemed to avoid the lima beans as well.  Charlotte only ate the lima beans.  She always keeps us guessing!  I doubt I’ll make the tart again—there are just too many good recipes to try—but we enjoyed it and I’m glad we tried it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CCC October

October was an absolutely crazy month for me at work.  I made three separate trips to New York, and was generally swamped when I was home too.  Cooking definitely took a back seat to spending time with Charlotte (and sleeping).  Luckily, I made three of the recipes early in the month before work went nuts.  When we got home from New York on Sunday after having been in New York all week (Paul and Charlotte met me in New York mid-week, and we decided to extend our stay into a mini-vacation), we were all craving some light, fresh vegetable dishes (well, maybe not Charlotte!).  I took the opportunity to make a couple more of the recipes.  Again, we really enjoyed all of the recipes.  It was hard to rank the ones that I made, but I did, just for fun.  I'm looking forward to making the other recipes in time for our make-up month next spring.

#1: White beans with artichokes

I served this for dinner with the carrot salad, sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cheese and crackers.  I was worried that Paul would complain about the lack of a "main course," and think that dinner wasn't substantial enough.  After a couple of bites of this he stopped and said it was "a perfect dish, perfectly balanced."  I was amazed.  It really was good, but I hadn't expected such a ringing endorsement.  I used some dried beans that I had cooked and stashed in the freezer, delicious grilled artichokes that I found in the refrigerator section of my grocery store, and a really nice Purple Haze goat cheese.  The mixture was served over fresh mizuna from our CSA.  Good ingredients really do make all of the difference.

#2: Roasted cauliflower with lemon and paprika

I love this spice-roasted cauliflower recipe, but most of the time when I make cauliflower I take the easy, olive oil, salt, pepper, and stick it in the oven approach.  This was such a nice change of pace.  The recipe didn't sound like much, but the lemon juice and paprika really make this something special.  Especially with my pretty purple cauliflower from my CSA.  This is definitely one that I'll make again.

#3: Carrot, orange and cashews   

I loved the flavors of this one.  The roasted cashews and cumin seeds are a great combination  It only dropped on my list because it's a bit fussy.  I hate segmenting oranges, and cutting the carrots into matchsticks also took some time.  I think next time I would just shred the carrots in the food processor, and peel and slice the oranges into rounds.

#4: Broccoli salad with Asian-style dressing

I almost always just steam broccoli, so it was fun to try something different.  I thought the sauce was delicious.  I found myself wishing I had made more of it, so I could eat it over rice.

#5: Vegeree

I thought this was a little bit boring, but Charlotte loved it.  Unfortunately she picked out all of the vegetables except the onions, but I'm happy whenever she eats what we're eating.  I do wish this had more flavor.  My vegetables were also dry, and I added extra oil.  I think to make this really delicious it probably would need some more fat, but it was a nice dish as is.