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Monday, January 28, 2013

Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles

Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles 1/24/ 13
Was there a picture of this in the book?  No, I can’t recall seeing one.  Perhaps it would have discouraged the Doristas from cooking this dish?  The ingredients sounded good, all but the tomato puree.  Did Dorie want to flatter the cook for some reason?  Sorry, Dorie, that’s not fair probably, but I can’t think why you asked for the recipe when you left after my family and I had it for dinner.
I used rice noodles (didn’t have any cellophane ones in the house), and shitake mushrooms (didn’t have time to shop for the Chinese tree ears).  The Chinese 5 spice, sugar, garlic, cayenne-- all great flavors, along with onion and garlic, yum.  Sesame oil adds depth.  Cilantro is bright.  Shrimp—love it.  The weird ingredient?  Tomato puree.  Tomato in any version seemed odd in this dish. 
After I stir-fried all before adding the tomato puree, I thought this was  going to be tasty.  As soon as the puree went in, my hopes were dashing.  Okay, okay, stick with it, I thought as I poured the shrimp-mushroom-tomato concoction over the rice noodles.  I was happy to cover it up with the cilantro.  Did that help its look?  I think not.  It looked like a bad gravy (another word for spaghetti sauce) over way-overcooked pasta. 
But I called the troops to dinner.  Husband, son (wow, he was going to try it?), nephew and I sat down and dug in with our chopsticks.  Husband loved the flavor (he’s pro anything with pasta and gravy); son takes after his father but refused to eat the mushrooms, nephew (always adventurous) said it was ‘different’ but he liked the flavors but not all the sauce. 
Yeah, way too much sauce.  Where did the sauce idea come in?  I also found the noodles kind of gloppy (is that a word?) I dunno know but if I make it again it will have some kind of red curry sauce zigzagged over the top.  Loved the pungent flavor of the cilantro, would have been better without the sauce.  Must make a note on the page….

Chicken Liver Gateaux with Pickled Onions

Chicken Liver Gateaux with Pickled Onions 1/17/13
I admit I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of this dish.  I remember the good ol’ liver and onions that Mom seemed to cook up a couple of times a month and I liked it less and less every time I ate some!  So I haven’t had any liver (maybe a goose liver pate a couple of times, but to me that’s not the same) for years.
And the thought of pulling veins and fats from the little suckers seemed gross altogether.  But, after reading some surprising good reviews from other Doristas I decided to move forward and take it on.
Cleaning the liver wasn't bad at all. The fresh herbs are always a good thing.  Cream and eggs?  Spells rich.  It was easy to put together and pour into ramekins and then into the water bath in the oven.  I made my pickled onions with red onions.
When the baking was done, the next step was to turn it out on a bed of baby greens. I served a baked sweet potato with it (so colorful!).  And then husband and I sat down with fork in hand, eyeing the pate with interest and yet some trepidation.  But hunger won out and we took a bite.  ‘Not bad’ was the comment after the first bite.  ‘Not bad at all’ on the second.  ‘Pretty good, but it would be better with a bite of cracker’ was the third.  The addition of crackers was a good choice.  The pickled onions were a definite plus’ it added that zing along with a light dressing on the greens.
I am glad I made this dish, it was surprisingly tasty.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Long and Slow Apples

Long and Slow Apples ( 1/16 for 1/10)

What's not to love about baked apples?  So this was a welcome recipe this week.  I chose the Fuji apples as we love them to eat out of hand--crisp and juicy.
The super thin slices?  No problem, as I have a mandoline.  But buttering all those ramekins and cutting parchment paper circles, yada, yada, yada?  I decided to use one oval baker instead.

While it's true that the dish takes long to bake, and slow as in temperature--4 hours at 200 degrees, it's worth the wait.  We've never tasted more delicious baked apples.  I served it over vanilla ice cream and it was heavenly.  The orange zest baked with the apples makes the dish.  The lovely thin slices of apple are velvety with the melted butter brushed on between the layers of apple and zest and sugar.  Amazingly sophisticated taste from a few simple ingredients.

Herb-Speckled Spaetzle

Herb-speckled spaetzle (posted 1/16 for 1/4)

Happy New Year to all!  And Happy Birthday, Mom!

What about New Year's resolutions?  Some of mine are: to start re-organizing and cleaning out closets and drawers on a regular basis.  I actually did a pretty good job with the home desk, and before New Year's too.  Also, to put away the clean stacks of laundry in the bedroom and not wear directly from them instead of reaching into the drawer for them(something my son does everyday!).  Another, to try to keep cooking with the Dorie club while taking my masters courses but I am allowing some breathing room here; aim for 2 a month, my choice, and respond to 3 blog posts for each week, regardless if I cook or not, and the 3 response blog posts must be different each week.  So in a way, I will be the part-time, 'now you see me, now you don't blogger', and will be sprinkling words of admiration and praise for the other Doristas sporadically as well. I am trying to refine 'balance strategies' for work, life, family, friends, and interests, and give each quality if not quantity.

When I read about the spaetzle, I recalled a conversation with my neighbor friend who's Oma made this for her and her sister many times when she was growing up.  Her version included strong swiss and limburger cheese (I know, limburger?) but she loved it.  So I thought I would rope her in to cook this dish with me, she being a spaetzle expert and all.

So here we were, in my kitchen, reading, measuring, mixing the ingredients, and washing the long unused spaetzle maker she keeps in her garage.  It was during this time that she tells me that she's never cooked it, always leaving that tradition to her Oma. What, I say?  And then we laugh!  So much for having an expert assistant!  That spaetzle maker is a great gadget, I can't imagine trying to make it without it.  So I will look for one in Bed,Bath & Beyond or  I substituted shitake mushrooms and shallots for the white mushrooms and onions.  So neighbor friend, husband and I sat down and ate this dish with relish.  We loved the little pasta-dumplings with the fresh herbs, shitakes, and shallots in the chicken broth.  Very filling, too!  It was then she told me about her Oma's I grilled her on the cooking process to be sure she actually had made it.  She did!  So I thought that would be great with the spaetzle...

My husband is putting away some dishes we use for Chinese food in one of my corner cabinets.  Seems there is a lot of extras sauces and stuff in the cupboard.  Guess I will tackle that 'clean-out' next as he casually said, 'do all of these dishes go into this cupboard?' lol

chicken, apples, and cream ala normande

December 14, 2012 (made on 12/14 but posted 1/16, better late than never?)

I've just finished my first masters course and I needed to celebrate so I reached for my Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  It's been awhile as a 12 week course kept me busy, heck, I could get to my Mah Jongg group either! But it's for a good cause, right, I am finally moving toward a masters degree in Instructional Design.
But I have to say, I liked the sound of the this recipe but after making it, decided I and we weren't too keen on a heavy cream dish.  Wish I had served it over tons of the lemon wilted spinach as Dorie suggests, but instead, I served it over rice.  It looked blah, and there were no convincing 'mmm's' while eating it.

Well it seems I can't find the picture.....enough said on that, I suppose.