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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cardamom Rice Pilaf

Cardamom Rice Pilaf

This dish didn’t get above a rating of 3 in my house.  I served it with grilled chicken breasts and grilled asparagus.  The cardamom seeds didn’t seem to add the flavor that I tasted when I broke a pod open and nibbled on one of the dark seeds inside (and spat out coz Dorie said don’t eat them).  That little seed packed some punch so I was surprised when all of them within the casing didn’t come through.  I even bruised the pod as suggested.  I used vegetable broth and that darkened the rice which didn’t add any appeal.  This made me think of another rice dish, but a much better one.
An Indian friend of mine gave me a simple rice recipe using peas, onion, and basmati rice which is delish!  Put some butter (1 or 2 Tsp) in a saucepan, add chopped sweet onion (1 small or ½ large), sauté until the onion is translucent.  Add 1 cup basmati rice and 2 cups of water.  Cook for about 15 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so as to not stick.  When creamy and cooked, add ½ can of peas including some of the liquid (any kind work) and salt and pepper.  Of course you can add more or less of any butter, peas, salt, pepper to your taste. I called it Renu Rice after my friend.  
The word rice pilaf always conjures up a funny moment in my past.  My sister and I had traveled to one of Atlantic City’s casinos some 25 years ago, looking to meet up with a friend (we didn’t find our friend however).  We had a little money with us, got hungry and decided to go to one of the food places to get a quick bite.  I got french fries and my sister liked the sound of rice pilaf so she ordered it.  When it arrived she was more than a little disappointed and it was just rice with some seasoning.  It didn’t have much flavor.  When I told my sister about this week’s recipe she laughed and then we both had a laugh over the fancy sounding dish that didn’t deliver.
Try my Renu rice and let me know if you like it.  Sorry, Dorie, I won’t be making this one again unless someone posts an interesting variation of it.  It’s always fun though.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  Thanks to our armed forces for their continued service to our country and remembering those that have long since passed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Egg, Bacon & Asparagus Salad

Egg, Bacon, and Asparagus Salad
This was to be Wednesday night’s dinner for husband and me.  Son doesn’t like soft-boiled eggs.  Nephew doesn’t either (he was over visiting).  As usual, I had to make some adjustments.  For instance, no walnut oil, so I used pumpkin seed oil from Wegmans  (delicious oil, especially for those squash soups one makes in the fall).  I used sherry cooking wine as I had no sherry vinegar.  I used a little more of the Dijon mustard than what the recipe called for and am glad I did.  It added more punch to the salad.  Lemon juice would have brightened the dressing also, I think.
Easy enough to whip up this recipe.  I said the suggested prayer for each egg as I lowered them into the boiling water.  Prayers worked, no cracked eggs!  I chose to roast the asparagus in a 400 degree oven instead of trying cook for a mere 4 minutes.  Kitchen was in the usual state of mess as we sat down to enjoy this salad.  I toasted some pane rustic to go with the salad (it begs for bread does it not?) Husband asked if I took the picture for the blog before he started in eating.  He really liked this salad.  It was a meal! Son wouldn’t have any of it, but nephew said it was good but not to give him any of the soft-egg either.  Son instead asked for a BLT sandwich from the remaining bacon.  I obliged. 
Hope you all enjoyed your creation!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spinach & Bacon Quiche

Probably like many of you, I decided to make this for a Mother’s Day brunch.  I started the morning of Mother’s Day so needed to shorten some of the prep/cook time.  So I did and I needed two of these to feed my family, which it was just as easy making two as one quiche.  First, the tart dough-shortcut here was pressing the tart dough into two glass pie pans and then freezing them for about an hour while I cooked, squeezed, chopped, and sautéed some of the other ingredients.  Squeezing the life out of wilted spinach is no easy task!  When I thought I had squeezed the last of the juices out, more juices came out with subsequent squeezes.  I used a parmesan, pecorino, and asiago fresh grated cheese blend from  Trader Joe’s.
Finally everything was ready to assemble!  Did I fail to mention how many cooking items needed washing for this one?  I took the semi-frozen tarts in the raw in the pie dishes and put the quiche together.  I said my prayers before popping both quiches into the oven.  I prayed for a firm, not soggy, wet crust when the cook time was up.  The wonderful aroma filled the house and I couldn’t wait until brunch time.  I loved that the quiche wouldn’t need a long set time after baking.
Husband was away on a fishing trip (wasn’t that very understanding of me that he’d be away on Mother’s Day?  We’ve been married 25 years so we are over ‘command presences’) but called while the quiches were in the oven (distance smelling in effect here?).  When he heard about them, he said, ‘Wow, they sound yummy.’  Before leaving for my sister’s house, I cut half of one of the quiche and put aside for husband when he would return on Monday.  Son doesn’t like quiche (too rich, he says) so I didn’t figure I’d need 2 full quiche for me, my mom,  sister and nephew.  
Everyone loved it!  Scrumptious!  Husband lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw his piece in the refrigerator.  Due to all of the steps in this recipe, I would save it for a special occasion.
Can’t wait to read your stories!
PS:  I can't seem to upload my picture.  I wonder if it has to do with the site being down since last night and part of today?
UPDATE:  Here's the picture....Finally!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Recipe Baked from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan – Tourteau de Chevre

I read about Dorie’s cookbooks and blogs from the May issue of Oprah magazine and was instantly intrigued with the concept.  So many times I cut recipes from magazines and newspapers and add it to the overflowing manila folders and boxes full of the same.  Truth be told, I cooked or baked a very small percentage of what I collected.  Many of the magazines would highlight a family or group of friends gathering as the impetus for the menu and, hence, the recipes that followed.  I wanted to create a similar gathering and had ‘days’ worth of such in the folder.  But they rarely made it out of the folder and into my pots and pans.
Dorie’s cookbooks and subsequent blogs created an instant community of cooks and bakers, all ready to share their replicated recipe and perhaps the details of the moment when the food was enjoyed by them and/or others.  I immediately ordered both of her cookbooks (Baking, and French Table) from Borders.  I then Googled Dorie’s blogs and found the Baking one first.  Alas, it was closed to new members for this time around but French Table was open to new members.  I emailed staff member Laurie asking how to do this blog thing.  She was quick to respond with the how-to’s and so here I am.
And so here is how my first baking recipe from the book went.  The Tourteau de Chevre looked scrumptious and after quickly perusing the ingredient list, I knew that it was doable.  The simplicity in which Dorie assures the reader of in the cooking or baking of her recipes seemed to hold true.  Simple but elegant was key for me to participate. 
I started with the tart dough first and decided to go with the recommended ‘plain’ tart dough.  It whirred together quite easily in my food processor and I flattened and refrigerated it for the recommended 3 hours.  Next was the filling.  I always get alittle nervous when whipping egg whites, always afraid I will under beat or over beat!  They seemed to come out fine and I set them aside.  Had the husband run to store for the goat cheese.  Cut a corner here and bought 2 packs totaling 8 ounces instead of buying a 3rd for just one ounce.  When adding the ingredients to the yolk and cheese mixture, the husband and son got to talking and distracted me long enough that I found I had sprinkled some of the cornstarch over the egg whites instead of into the yolk and cheese mix.  For a minute panic set in—asking myself how to get the sprinkled cornstarch out of the egg whites and into the yolk mixture without bringing in the egg whites too soon.  Well, there was no ditching going to happen, I had come too far and lacked another full set of ingredients to do a redo.  I assembled the torte and into the oven it went.
I told my husband to take the first slice after posing the torte for a picture.  He and my son are my ‘testers’.  Husband sliced and took a bite.  A few seconds passed.  ‘Good,’ he said but there was not the anticipated ‘mmmm, good.’ Then he said, ‘really good’.  I then tasted it.  I liked the savory sweetness and the texture.  A not-too-sweet cake.  We ate it morning, noon, and night.  My husband saved the last piece for me. Next time I would change the crust to the sweet tart dough.
So while the creation of the tourteau de chevre did not revolve around a planned event or gathering, it was created with love for my husband and son.  Son allowed himself one piece as he is focused on how much fat he eats these days (he’s building muscle with workouts and protein shakes).  And I am looking forward to reading others blogs with whom I am sharing  these cookingexperiences with.