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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chicken Basquaise 9/22/12

Delicious!  Everyone loved this, a great dinner for the start of fall!  Again, sorry for the brief post, in the second week of my online course (Intro to Instructional Design) and my son turns 18 on the 30th so I am planning a surprise party.....

Hope you all enjoyed this dish as well!  Happy Autumn!
I did get a new camera with higher pix so I hope my pictures will improve.

Eggplant Tartine with Tomatoes, Olives, and Cucumbers 9/9/12

Served this as the vegetable for a dinner of lobster and steak .  It was a somewhat unusual combination of vegetables and went well with the seafood and beef.

Sorry for such a brief post, but I've started my first online course for my master's in instructional design and time has not been on my side.  Will try to keep up but won't offer many words in the blog.....

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Peach Melba 8/23/12

I cooked up this dessert using local Jersey peaches which are wonderful this year.  Added the vanilla ice cream, raspberries, whipped cream, and a dash of cinnamon as I didn't have any almonds in the house.  Of course it was delicious but I don't know that I would go through this cooking and prep process again.  I could of easily cut the peaches, popped them into a bowl and I think it would taste near the same and done in a few minutes instead of the 45 it took....too much time and effort on a summer night.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Warm Scallops with Corn, Nectarines & Basil

It's getting to be that time of summer when you've satiated your craving for grilled burgers and dogs and your taste buds are looking for something new....
This scallop salad fits the bill.  A wonderfully fresh dressing of lime zest, lime juice, and extra virgin olive oil marries well with the grilled scallops and nectarines. Fresh basil and evoo brightens the flavors even more. The corn and tomatoes gives the salad body and what makes it extra special is the peaches (my sub for nectarines), tomatoes, corn, and basil are Jersey Fresh!  This would be a lovely lunch dish as well as dinner.  We really enjoyed this one!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tomato and Cheese Tartlets 8/3/12

Tomato and Cheese Tartlets

This dish was our Saturday night supper.  Instead of puff pastry, I used a whole grain naan bread for the bread.  A light spread of pesto, my heirloom tomato slices, mozzarella slices, basil, ground sea salt and pepper made a delicious, um, pizza.  This allowed us to continue to watch the Olympics from the family room.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Salmon and Pilaf

Salmon with Basil Tapenade and Lemon Barley Pilaf  7/27/12
French Fridays with Dorie continued…

The last two recipes for this month were a natural together so I prepared them for a single meal.  I must say I like the tapenade with the salmon much better than I did for the recipe with lentils a couple of months ago!  I made the tapenade with kalamata olives instead of the cured as I always seem to have the kalamata in the pantry.  Searing the salmon in a grill pan helped to cook off the white protein that inevitably comes out of the fish if it’s broiled or baked alone.  
Instead of barley for the pilaf I used basmati rice.  It was a delicious substitute.  The fresh lemon zest along with the peppers made this a bright side to the fish.
As we approach the end of July I start to miss summer already, though it won’t officially be over until late September.  August seems to worry about it too, as we usually get rainy that month.  Guess I will finish up the list of summer  ‘to-do’s’ and ‘must reads’, and ‘to watch’ before August  slips away nonchalantly….

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blueberry Mascarpone Roulade

Let them eat cake! Or so they said in France long ago before the poor folk had enough (not!) and stormed the Bastille!
This would be a welcome cake for almost any occasion--even an ordinary weekend day, like today.  After a  rather hot and muggy day here in Southern New Jersey (where isn't it hot and steamy in the continental states recently?) we ate a simple fare of grilled burgers and hotdogs al fresco.  By contrast the roulade was the sophisticated dolce vita guest.  And it did not disappoint, the roulade was light and refreshingly delicious!
I've never made a sponge cake and thought it would be most difficult, but it was as easy to make as Dorie promised it would be.  I baked it in a large baking sheet with 1 inch sides.  The filling was whipped fresh creme mixed with mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla combined.  Mixed that with the blueberries simmered in a simple sugar then drained and cooled. It was a snap to spread on the sponge cake and roll up and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  A quick dusting of confectioner's sugar before serving, voila!

I did keep the blueberry syrup for something cool and refreshing to drink in the next day or two.  With the temperatures climbing into the high 90's, it should make for a tasty drink but I haven't figured out a recipe for that yet.

(I'm asking Santa for a higher megapixel digital camera for Christmas.....)

Friday, July 6, 2012

When Life Gives You Cucumbers....

Then Make Pickles!

It's been a month since I've been able to cook Dorie's selections!  I've had 2 funerals (sad events) and 1 graduation (happy! My son!)  One funeral had my sister and me driving to Plymouth, Massachussetts last week.  We managed to have one day of touring (for the second time in about 15 years) and we had some enjoyment there.
So it seems appropriate to deal with the sour and sweet.  I whipped these up tonight in a matter of an hour and tested them.  They are tasty.  Husband liked them, too!  Short and sweet literally and figuratively this week.  Stay cool if you are under the heatwave this week and weekend!  Find the recipe for these on page 340 of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
I hope you had a great 4th of July.  We did at home, grilling and swimming in the pool.  God Bless!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lentil, Lemon & Tuna Salad 6/1/12

This sounded good as I like all the main ingredients.  Making the lentils was easy as we eat them regularly throughout the winter.  The olive tapenade (I used kalamata olives) was easy to make though it was the first time I made it from scratch.  The preserved lemon I did not have the time to make and didn't know where to purchase one ready made.  So I just used lemon zest instead.  The tapenade was wildly flavorful with the tuna. I chose baby spinach for the bed of greens, ladled on the lentils, topped them with the tuna and tapenade. I added cherry tomatoes for color.  It looked great!  But I found the tuna and tapenade completely overwhelmed the lentils.  So why add them I thought.  I won't add them next time.  I think lemon and tuna salad works just fine without them.  I didn't have any rustic bread so I used wheat toast points to soak up the tapenade.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese

Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese

What I love about cooking my way through Dorie's Around My French Table is that I am building a working reference to all kinds of new ingredient combinations and  food creations.  This week's recipe is a quick wonderful cheese dip or spread.  While I didn't have fresh parsley or tarragon :-(, I did use some dried bouquet garni (Penzeys), fresh garlic, shallot, and chives, red pepper flakes, red balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and Hawaiian sea salt with ricotta. I found the part skim ricotta nice and dry so I skipped the 'waiting for the cheese to lose some of its water step' and mixed everything up right away. I let it chill in the fridge for about an hour.  Served on petit toasts, topped with a green olive, it was delicious.  Husband and I ate it as our appetizer before dinner of sea bass with roasted cherry tomato and vidalia onion, lemon and thyme.  Delish!  But I didn't take a picture of the fish, guess I should have.  I can't wait to see how everyone else served this cheese.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Double Chocolate Banana Tart

Double Chocolate Banana Tart 5_17_12

Double chocolate as in tart crust and filling!  While a bit time consuming to make on a weeknight (we ordered pizza for dinner so I could focus on this tart) I knew it would be worth the effort.  And it was!  I took the tart to work (I used a 12 inch tart pan) to share and everyone loved it.  Just decadent!  This would be a great dessert to take to the next barbeque party you’re invited to.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Provencal Olive Fougasse

Provencal Olive Fougasse  5_10_12
We enjoyed this olive flatbread although I wasn't crazy about the finished shape. I substituted kalamata olives for the cured, added the required fresh rosemary and lemon zest to the dough.  It was a perfect ‘break off a piece to eat as you pass through the kitchen’ food.  A couple of Dorie bloggers served it with goat cheese which sounds terrific.  Also learned a baker's tip of baking on a stone and have a pan of water under the bread from another blogger.  Thanks, all.
 This bread would also be a great side to a summer salad.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Almond Flounder Meuniere 5_4_12

Home Alone!  But I am not scared, there are no booby traps to set up, I am actually enjoying being all by myself!  Husband went fishing in Pa., Son is out with the Girlfriend, Nephew is out with friends.  Well, I am not totally free, the Dog is still staring at me, wondering where the rest of the family went.
I couldn't score on the fish--no a piece of flounder to be had at ShopRite at 5:45pm tonight.  Go figure!  So I settled for tilapia.  I am sure it's a good substitute.  With the ground almond and lemon zest coating it will be a fine substitute.  I am not used to this peace and quiet in the house and I am relishing it!  No one to call to the table, nothing to go over for the end of the week, the TV with the digital cable box all mine, I am in heaven!!
I am not sure what time this post will go in and I am still in the relaxing stages of Friday night.
Oh, wait, I heard a car door slam close and Dog is barking.  I will be right back.  There goes the doorbell.  Son just arrived with Girlfriend and says, 'I hope you are cooking, I smell something.'  OMG!  I am not alone after all.  Now I have work to do.  I'll be back with the pictures and comments later.
I served the flounder with red-skin potatoes with Pasta Sprinkle Seasoning by Penzeys and a baby green salad with lemon and olive oil.  Sorry that the white plate makes the potatoes look pale!  Son had steak (I had to cook that too!) and the flounder while Girlfriend said she could only eat the fish she saw fresh caught.  Some folks are like that.  At least she ate the steak, potatoes, and greens.  She's sweet.  They are excited about the Prom in 2 weeks!  Husband and I are nervous about the 'Shore Weekend Right of Passage' after the Prom.  How does  'Teenager Grow into Fiercely Independent Think They Are Adult' happen in a month?  Husband and I won't start to relax until the Fall semester starts at College.  Son will be attending the Community College that I work at, while Girlfriend goes to Florida.  I see Drama in our future!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this wonderful fish dish.  I did, and Son did, too!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Navarin Printanier 4_26_12

Navarin Printanier 4_26_12

Pronounced ‘de-lish-us’! Wish Dorie had provided a pronunciation guide for us non-French speakers so we could sound well-traveled and epicurean as we serve up her dishes!  Guess I need to go to for that!
This is the first time I’ve had ‘lamb stew’.  The tenderness of the lamb was, no doubt, due to Husband’s cutting and trimming of the 3 pound semi-boneless leg of lamb.  You see, I forgot what boneless cut I was to buy when I was at Shop Rite.  I just remembered lamb and boneless.  Husband made me promise never to ask him to do butcher’s work again!  It took him about an hour and a half to cut out the various ligaments and tendons from that leg!  And did I mention that well over a pound was lost in the trimming.  I looked at a much smaller amount of cubed lamb in the bowl than what I had hoped for, but persevered on.  The turnips, potatoes, carrots, onions, and peas were easy to cut up and toss into the rich beef broth (I use Better Than Bouillon, which is excellent tasting!) with the thyme, bay, salt and pepper. I used ketchup for the tomato paste as it was all I had. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t find any beautiful little onions, the white onion cut into 1 inch chunks were a worthy substitute.  Husband was peering over my shoulder into the pot and commenting on the wonderful aroma of the lamb browning in the olive oil.  It came together in under 2 hours.  I served it over fettuccine (I know, I know, always the pasta!). 
We were quite vocal as we ate with lots of mmmm’s while we ate with relish.  Nephew said it was ‘the best [Dorie dish] yet’.  Husband said ‘delicious’ several times.  Son missed a great dish, but I doubt he would care.  The new girlfriend is all the substance he needs right now (lol) and he was out to celebrate her grandfather’s birthday with her family.  He’s been out for several nights in a row now and I envision an empty seat for many more nights to come.  Sigh!  Nephew is currently girlfriendless so Husband and I welcome him to dine with us and he comes willingly.  He loves good food!  At least we had one ‘young ‘un’ at the table with us (though he’s nearly 20).
Guess what we are having for dinner tonight?  Yep, you guessed right—leftover navarin printanier!

Coconut Friands

Coconut Friands 4_22_12

I didn’t get to bake these up until Sunday due to a hectic week.  I decided to toast my coconut flakes and so I did.  Mixing up these little coconut sweets was quick and easy.  Never thought whipping up egg whites, vanilla, melted butter, and flour could result in such a rich little treat.  We enjoyed these fresh from the oven on Sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee, while it finally rained here in southern New Jersey.  Both the rain and the friands were fitting rewards for all of the gardening and weeding done on Saturday. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sardine Rillettes 4_12_12

Sardine Rillettes 4_12_12

I date myself when I say the one-liner, ‘everything tastes better when it sits on a ritz’.  I can't help it, that catchy advertiser for Ritz crackers is from, what, the 80’s-90’s?  So I used a whole grain cracker to hold the sardines though a lettuce wrap or pita would be good also, but I didn’t have those on hand.  So I mounded the cracker with what I called ‘poor man’s tuna fish’.  I added the cornichons to the mix and thought it added taste and texture.  We didn’t wait 2 hours to munch on these but ate them straight from the bowl.  No fancy presentation here!  Husband loved it.  I liked it.  Son and Nephew nowhere around to taste this, but I think Nephew would like it, Son not so much (a pattern here?). This might be good formed into a ball and rolled in something, maybe shredded cheese.  This would make a nice addition to an assortment of appetizers.  

Surprisingly tasty.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Asparagus & Bits of Bacon 4_5_12

No stress at all about cooking this side dish.  I decided to turn it into a main dish by adding our household favorite - pasta!  I tweaked the recipe further by substituting pancetta (an Italian bacon) for the regular bacon.  I refused to boil the asparagus when the microwave will do the job in a few minutes.  I cut the asparagus spears into thirds to work along with the pappardelle (Italian wide noodle) noodles. I also zested a lemon to add to the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil (I couldn't bring myself to use walnut oil for this dish, maybe as the side dish).  I added ground fresh black pepper to this lemon/olive oil mix. Putting it together was a cinch in the 12 inch fryer before serving in pasta dishes.

Mangia!  Husband declared it excellent with all the foods and flavors he loves.  Nephew said it was 'pretty kickin' ass good'.  Son said the pancetta was too salty (I think he loves being arbitrary!).  Absolutely delicious and I will be making this again soon as our Jersey asparagus will be out soon and will be around for a couple of months to come. 

Happy Easter, Happy Passover to All!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Crab and Grapefruit Salad 3_30_12

I love salads, Husband loves salads, Son not so much.  Thankfully, we all enjoy seafood. So this salad had an easy entrance to our table.  The orange pepper, kirby cucumber, chili pepper, scallion, and crab was very agreeable, but the grapefruit?  That was a new....and a strange addition to the rest of the ingredients.  But
 I have learned to trust Dorie and her expertise.  So I did and created her crab and grapefruit salad.  Shop Rite had the lump crabmeat on sale, and wow, that was a lot of crab meat.  So I added the whole orange pepper and was glad I did.  I decided to bed the salad on a baby greens salad and this added more dimension to the salad.  This would be a great salad for Easter brunch.  We had it for dinner with steak and baked sweet potato.  Son declared it tropical because of the grapefruit.  I declared it a success since all enjoyed it.  This is a wonderful, anytime salad.  But there could be less expensive seafood to substitute for the crab.  Like shrimp or imitation crab.  Maybe even more flavorful than the lump crab? This is a keeper recipe.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coca Sables

Cocoa Sables 3-23-12

I love cookies!  My family loves cookies!  And we love chocolate, especially dark chocolate.  There’s something about making sweets that feels like a reward in the making.  Simple, everyday ingredients make it easy.  I wondered how the cookies would hold together when baked since there was no egg in the batter.  I wondered how I would finely chop my 73% dark chocolate bar to add to the mix.  Taking out a heavy chef’s knife I began at the corner and it was pretty easy to slice off very thin slivers.  I then cross cut it all again when I finished the bar.  The dough formed easily and I divided and rolled it in wax paper and it spent the night chilling.  The next evening I beat an egg, poured sanding sugar into a tray, brushed the chocolate log with the egg and rolled the log in the sugar several times.  I cut mine the half inch size that Dorie suggested.  Into the oven they went and the aroma of their baking was heavenly. 

Darn, no vanilla ice cream in the house, but a cold glass of milk will do.  Actually, I made tea while waiting for them to finish cooling and decided that would be just as good.  Son ate the first one, declared it was ‘pretty good’, and gave it a 7 (I swear the only high rankings he gives out are car related only) so I hand one to husband.  He likes mostly everything so I figured there’d be only praise coming from him.  He remarked on the cocoa taste and asked how much sugar was in them (he’s trying to be mindful about the amount he consumes, but his mouth doesn’t listen very well).  He said they’d be great with coffee.

I am the last to taste them.  I declare they are rich and chocolately, not overly sweet, and wish to make an ice cream sandwich with them.  Guess I will be stopping at the store on my way home from work to pick up a quart of vanilla.  Hey, it’s the weekend! 

Also thought about rolling the logs in nuts or crushed peppermint candies too.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cheese Souffle 3/16/12

Cheese Souffle 3/15/2012

Well, it’s in.  Now I hold my breath.  I second guess myself.  Did I beat the egg whites enough, did they have the stiff peaks and shiny gloss?  The gloss was there.  Did I fold them into the béchamel cheese sauce just enough or not enough?

I just peeked after 32 minutes, it looks brown but with some pale surfaces. I had to use my Corningware square(ish) baker as I didn’t have a dish that was completely round and tall enough. Will it rise to the top or is my dish too tall for the amount of batter?

I’ve never made a soufflé.  I just peeked again, two minutes to go and the top is nicely browned.  But puff?  Guess I won’t know until I take it out.  Son announced that it didn’t sound good.

Timer went off.  I removed soufflé from oven and took its picture.  Since I didn’t take a picture before it went in, I am not sure if it rose much. Next I rushed it onto the table.  Husband announced a quick bathroom break (aarrgghh) but son was sitting down on time for once.  He crinkled his nose and said he didn’t think he was gonna like it.  We said grace.  No major deflating happened.

A scoop on each plate.  Son toyed with it a bit with his fork.  I told him to just try it.  He did and said it reminded him of quiche and he doesn’t like quiche.  I remember that he didn’t eat the Dorie quiche last summer (the one with spinach).  Husband said it was good.  After a few bites I said it needed crisp bacon or a ham steak on the side.  Husband said orange juice, too.  So we felt cheated somewhat as this soufflé was the only thing on the table.  But we were soon full!!

So I cleaned up the pans, bowls, and spoons as I went.  Lots of items needed for turning out this dish.  Husband eyed the soufflé and asked if I sprayed it enough with Pam.  Pam?  No, I said, but I did spread a lot of butter.  Not a strange question from the guy who usually has the bulk of clean up duty (hey, equal opportunity kitchen here).  But I assured him it would clean up quick.  I showed him after I clean it (just knew he wasn’t wanting to touch it) out while he took the dog out for the last bathroom break until early am.

So I would make this again for a weekend brunch or breakfast for supper.  It needs some company on the plate though.   I enjoy the cooking assignments.  It takes me out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar.  It continues to expand my cooking horizons.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Saint-Germain-des-pres Onion Biscuits

These were fun to make and reminded me of making biscuits as a young teenager living in the south.  Dorie’s recipe was easy to mix up and when I turned out the dough on my flour covered Silpat mat, I knew what I would use to cut them out.  A glass!  We made southern style biscuits with lard instead of butter in the south.  If you are thinking ‘yuck’, I assure you they were good with the bacony flavor the lard provided.  These, too, were delicious hot from the oven. 

Husband and son enjoyed the onion biscuits and the moussaka I made to go with them (see Cuisine magazine, March issue).  I thought the biscuits were even better the next day as the sweet onion flavor became more pronounced.  A quick and fun recipe.  A real comfort food.  Sure to lift your spirits.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Roasted Salmon with Lentils

Lentils are nothing new in our house.  I’ve been cooking them for years as Husband’s Italian heritage demands that they have a place on the menu.  New was the roasted salmon atop a bowl of lentils.  New to the cooking of lentils was the addition of a clove which added its wonderful spice flavor to the earthy lentils.  I went ahead and followed my usual addition of the diced carrots, celery, and onion right to the pot during cooking.  I felt it saved a step by cutting them up and adding them at the start rather than after the soup was done.  Husband and Son liked this dish.  What would have been a nice addition is next week’s recipe, the onion biscuits!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dorie's Cheese Topped Onion Soup alla Kathleen

Dorie’s Cheese Topped Onion Soup

The biggest requirement to cooking this dish, according to Dorie, is patience in cooking the onions.  Well, I was patient, very patient, as I stood over my porcelain coated cast iron dutch oven, trying to mentally (sometimes verbally) coax the Vidalia onions (my onion of choice in cooking)  to caramelize.  Well, after 90 minutes of hoping and stirring, even brazenly raising the heat to risk a burn, they remained their pale selves so I got them drunk with wine, then flooded them with the chicken broth before pouring them into the sourdough bread bowls.  The shoulders of the bowls took the brunt of the broiler heat with a little of a 3rd degree burn before removing them.

The flavors were delish with the onions in their bath of wine wine and the nuttiness of the Emmanthal (spelling wrong here) cheese.  The bread bowl was fun to rip apart, sopped with the broth of the soup. 

Husband always finds the positive in every dish, said it was good.  Son wouldn’t touch onion soup on any day, and Nephew said it was a B-, due to the paleness of onions and wanted more broth than onions (I admit I didn’t put the required 8 cups, but about 5). I enjoyed the flavors if nothing else.

What I would do differently next time:  I would use a skillet to cook the onions and tease the caramelizing action.  I think my onions just sweated to death in my dutch oven.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Long Time, No Post

But's that's just me and my life.  I play with my hobbies as time and interest dictate.  The interest is always there, but it seems that there are peaks and valleys.  With my FFwD, I've been in the valley.  It doesn't help that every other Thursday night is Mah Jongg night so that wrecks havoc on the cooking schedule.  Do it Wednesday you say?  Well, that's one of two evenings I'm slated to attend my exercise class (hey, you gotta do what you can when you are 50 + 1!). 

So the cookbook has been staring at me from the bottom shelf of my coffee table, looking unloved as a thin film of dust sits on the cover.  But I've missed it and you all.  So I spent alittle time on the Dorie site seeing what's been cooking (pardon the pun) and I see lots of good stuff.  Like the cheesy onion soup coming up for February 24th.  As timing would have it, the 23rd is Mah Jongg night...

So I've decided that on Mah Jongg nights, I will cook on Friday nights and post on Saturday.  The March choices look great, wow, four are ties!

Here in southern New Jersey we've been without a winter this year, except in name only.  I am not complaining!  We've still a month to go, but I plan on getting out into the garden this weekend for some cleaning up.  I've ordered Espoma for veggies, tomatoes, bulbs, and plants.  Gotta get things ready for growing and eating.

Wishing all a very happy, healthy 2012!