Lentils, Mushrooms, and Zucchini Blossoms

Happy French Friday!  We are going to do some catching up today.  I mentioned last week that I had a couple of French Fridays with Dorie recipes to catch you up on.  Plus I also have this week’s recipe to tell you about.  I had hoped to get to the catch-up recipes earlier in the week, but that obviously didn’t happen…  Let’s get to it!

French Lentils: A Basic Recipe

The title of this recipes says it all.  It is a basic recipe for French lentils (lentilles du Puy) that can be used as a side dish or the base for a salad.  I served mine as a side dish with grilled chicken stuffed with sage and mozzarella.  I topped them with Honey-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from the book River Cottage Veg.

French Lentils

The combination of all these flavors was excellent!  I enjoyed this dinner very much.  While I liked the lentils, my husband merely tolerated them, so I will likely not make this recipe again, unless I find the perfect dish that needs lentils on the side.

Chanterelles with Napa and Nuts

Next up is a recipe the group made a few weeks ago called Chanterelles with Napa and Nuts.  I wasn’t able to find chanterelle mushrooms (though the guy in the produce department said they had them just the week before), so I used a gourmet mushroom mix instead.

Gourmet Mushroom Mix

This dish was a quick saute of mushrooms and Napa cabbage, garnished with parsley and chopped nuts.  It would be excellent as a side dish to all sorts of meats, especially grilled steak.

Mushrooms with Napa and Nuts

My husband was out of town the week I made this dish, so I served mine with a simple hamburger patty cooked on the stove.  I really, really loved the mushrooms!  The title of this recipe didn’t appeal to me, but you must look past that and make this if you like mushrooms.  A winner!

Shrimp-Filled Zucchini Blossoms

I finally got a few zucchini blossoms from my garden!!!  I harvested 3 of them and made myself these blossoms for lunch one day.

Shrimp-Filled Zucchini Blossoms

I tend to shy away from deep-frying things.  It seems hard, and wasteful, and stressful.  It really isn’t hard.  The hardest part (for me) seems to be getting the oil to just the right temperature.

In this recipe, we simply stuffed the zucchini blossoms with large shrimp, dipped them in a tempura batter, and deep-fried them until done.  I wish the recipe had specified what temperature the oil should be, because I think I had it too hot.  My blossoms cooked faster than the recipe suggested they should.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

These were fun to make!  I have never cooked with zucchini blossoms before, but I should since I have them in my garden.  And the deep-frying would be easier with practice.  Maybe next year I will try the goat cheese-tapenade variation!

Whew, I’m caught up (on the writing, at least)!  If you are interested in trying any of these recipes, be sure to check out Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table. On a related note, I finally pre-ordered Dorie’s new book, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere.  Now I will be ready to go when the group starts the new book!

10 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Curried Chicken, Peppers, and Peas en Papillote

Curried Chicken en Papillote

It may be Saturday, but today we’re talking about French Fridays with Dorie! I have several recipes to catch you up on, but right now I am going to focus on the recipe the group made this week: Curried Chicken, Peppers, and Peas en Papillote.

There are several “en papillote” recipes in Around My French Table.  This one is a main dish with chicken, red onion, bell peppers, and peas, seasoned with curry powder.

Chicken en Papillote

I had made this dish a few years ago, and remember liking it, but wished it had a creamier sauce.  I felt it was a little dry.  So I made a change this time around:  in place of the olive oil, I used 3/4 cup coconut milk.  Strangely, the creaminess of the coconut milk disappeared in the cooking process, but the flavor remained.  And the resulting chicken was very moist.

Curried Chicken and Rice

This was a delicious dinner the whole family enjoyed.  The packets of chicken and vegetables are the perfect portion.  I was happy with my addition of coconut milk. The flavors blended very nicely with the Balinese Turmeric Coconut Rice I made.

I have a couple more French Fridays recipes to catch you up on…hopefully you will be seeing those in the next few days.

11 Comments

Filed under Cooking

WIP Wednesday: New Beginnings

Welcome back to WIP Wednesday!  I recently finished two knitting projects that I am very excited about.  I will be sharing them with you soon.  In the meantime, it is time to start thinking about what I will knit next.

I have a bit of yarn left over from one of my recently finished projects.  Enough to actually make a little something.  In a fit of frugality (or something!), I became determined to use it right way rather than stick it away in the stash and never look at it again.  I found a pattern for fingerless gloves that looks like it should fit the bill.  It uses two colors  and close to the amount of yarn I have left.  As you can see, I am not very far along:

Roku Mitts in Progress

I am making Roku Mitts in a size small.  This is a risky project because I might not have enough yarn. And I won’t know until I finish the first glove.  The suspense might kill us!

Here is a photo of me using my new ball winder for the first time (well, I’m not actually in the picture, but I’m sure you can imagine me standing right there winding my yarn):

Winding Yarn

A few readers who are related to me can guess that this yarn will be used to make something for my daughter.  I had such success with her fingerless gloves last year that I thought I would see if I could get her to wear a hat made in her favorite color.

Caked and Ready to go!

I am using the Knitted Hats for the Whole Family pattern.  It should be a quick and easy knit, perfect for taking with me to my daughter’s weekly OT appointments.

What do you do with your leftover yarn?  Do you use it right away?  Does it ever get used?  Please share!

Leave a comment

Filed under Knitting

Couscous Salad + Tomato-Mustard Tart

Happy Friday!  I kept my promise and made two French Fridays with Dorie recipes this week!  I’m feeling motivated because I only have six back-log recipes to complete.  Most of them are good Fall/Winter recipes and I plan to hit them this year, so I don’t miss my final window (the group will be finishing the book around April or so next year).  So, what did I make?

Couscous Salad

Couscous Salad with Chicken

The official recipe of the week was Couscous Salad.  It was a pretty easy recipe.  Quick-cooking couscous was cooked in a mixture of chicken broth and spices along with raisins.  After it was cooked and fluffed, it was tossed with diced cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, sugar snap peas, and chickpeas.  A simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, and a sprinkling of cilantro, and it was done.  I served it with the optional Lemon-Grilled Chicken to make it a full meal deal.

I don’t quite know what to say about this recipe.  We liked it well enough.  I just think the flavors are not favorites of ours.  I thought I would eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, but I couldn’t quite muster the enthusiasm for it.  So, we didn’t hate it, but we didn’t love it either.  I won’t be making this one again.

Gérard’s Mustard Tart

Tomato-Mustard Tart

Gérard’s Mustard Tart goes way back.  It was the second recipe the FFWD group made back in October 2010 (before I joined in the fun).

The recipe in the book is Dorie’s friend Gérard’s take on the traditional mustard tart with tomatoes.  Since we have gorgeous garden tomatoes right now, I knew I had to make the original version of this tart, which Dorie helpfully includes instructions for.

This truly is a mustard tart.  The filling consists of lightly beaten eggs, heavy cream, Dijon mustard, and grainy French mustard.  I topped it with two sliced tomatoes and a sprinkling of thyme leaves (my addition).

We really enjoyed this tart!  The flavor of the perfectly ripe tomatoes was delicious against the piquant flavor of the mustard.  This one I ate the leftovers!

What will I make next week?

10 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Roasted Peppers + Tomatoes Provençal

Happy Friday!  The first week of school has come to a successful close.  I enjoyed having some time to myself and got a few things done that I just didn’t have time for over the summer.

Now that I have a little more time, I am going to try to hit two French Fridays with Dorie recipes each week for a while.  I missed a few over the summer, and I really don’t have many of the older recipes to catch up on, so I want to start cranking them out!

This week I made two easy and delicious summery side dishes: Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes Provençal.

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Peppers

We love roasted peppers.  My husband buys jars of them all time time for snacking on.  I don’t know why I don’t make them more often, because homemade tastes so much better and they really aren’t a lot of work.

Dorie’s version is pretty classic.  Roasted peppers drizzled with olive oil and scattered with garlic and fresh herbs.  The big difference is the cooking method.  I have always charred my bell peppers under the broiler, but Dorie has us roast them in a 425°F oven.

Roasted Peppers and Chicken

These peppers were tasty!  I used basil from the garden, but you can also use parsley, rosemary, and/or thyme.   I served mine as a side dish to Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken (except I had to roast the chicken due to an unexpected thunder storm).  A delicious dinner!

Tomatoes Provençal

Tomatoes Provençal

The FFWD group made Tomatoes Provençal last month.  I chose to wait so I could use garden tomatoes.  It was worth the wait!

This is a very simple, but impressive, side dish.  Tomatoes are halved and placed in a baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper, top with diced garlic and herbs (again, I used basil from the garden), then drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven until tender and delicious!

If you look at the picture above, you can see that I served these tomatoes with leftover Roasted Peppers, as well as a chicken salad made from the leftover chicken.  Another winner of a dinner!

13 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Gâteau Basque

Gâteau Basque

Happy Friday!  Believe it or not, today marks the last day of summer vacation for us.  My daughter’s school district began a new school calendar last year and school now starts in early August.  Summer went so fast!  We have a few fun things planned today (lunch at a favorite restaurant and a trip to the Discovery Museum) to mark the occasion.

I am running a week behind on French Fridays with Dorie due to a fun vacation and other out-of-town activities.  I had actually hoped to get this post written before I left for my vacation, but it didn’t work out.

We only have a few desserts left to do, so we have been spreading them out a bit.  The group recently tackled Gâteau Basque, a specialty of the Basque region of France (and I suppose it’s common in the Basque regions of Spain too…).

Gâteau Basque

I am always amazed at the wonderful and different ways to use a few basic ingredients:  flour, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  This time they came together as a soft cookie-like shortbread cake with a sweet filling of cherry jam.

I didn’t get a lot of help eating this one.  My daughter enjoyed her piece quite a bit.  My mother-in-law ate a piece while babysitting (I never heard if she liked it or not).  My husband usually doesn’t consider a dessert without chocolate worth eating, so he didn’t have any.

Good thing I liked this cake!  I loved the buttery, vanilla-y cake layers.  The jam I chose was a little too sweet for my taste, but I enjoyed the mix of flavors.  While the cherry jam is traditional, this would be wonderful with other jams too, particularly apricot or strawberry.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online cooking group cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table.  If you would like to try making Gâteau Basque you can find it in Dorie’s book, or here.

3 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Provençal Vegetable Soup

Provençal Vegetable Soup

Happy Friday!  Here we are at the last French Fridays with Dorie recipe of July already.  Does anyone else feel like this summer is flying by?

This week we made Provençal Vegetable Soup.  Soup seems like an odd thing to make in the middle of summer, but this one is chock full of summer vegetables.

What vegetables are in this soup?  Here is the long list:  onion, garlic, carrots, potato, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and fresh corn.  Add to that some pasta and cannellini beans, then top with pesto, basil, and Parmesan cheese.  For an all-veggie soup, this one is quite hearty!

Provençal Vegetable Soup

I was able to use several herbs and veggies from our garden:  rosemary, potato, tomatoes, and basil.  Even the pesto came from last year’s garden.

Now, we’ve been having some hot weather here in Reno.  We had a couple weeks over 100°, and soup really doesn’t sound appealing when it is that hot out.  Thankfully, early this week we had a patch of cooler weather, and the day I made my soup it was a little cloudy and rainy, with a high of *only* 85°.

We loved this soup!  To me, the pesto really makes the soup.  Even though the corn is non-traditional, we felt that it really added a nice flavor and texture.  This soup is a winner for sure.  Maybe I’ll make it again in the Fall when the weather is a little cooler?

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, and online group cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  If you would like to try Provençal Vegetable Soup, I highly recommend getting this wonderful book!

13 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

Look at me!  I’m posting the correct French Fridays with Dorie recipe on the correct day!  We made one of the “diciest” recipes in the book:  Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras.

Foie gras pâté is not one of the easiest ingredients to come buy.  I didn’t have the time to drive all over town looking for it, so I ordered mine from D’Artagnan.  Because shipping was so expensive (they have to FedEx it overnight) I ordered a few more goodies to maximize the cost:

French Goodies

I can’t wait to try everything!

To make Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras, a few small chunks of foie gras pâté are placed in the bottom of a ramekin.  Carefully break an egg on top and season with salt and white pepper.  Spoon a little cream over each egg, then sprinkle with fresh tarragon and parsley.  Dorie recommends a few slices of black truffle (if you can find/afford them).  I found a foie gras pâté that contained black truffles, so I got the flavor without the expense.

Coddled Eggs

Finally, the ramekins are placed in a large steamer and cooked until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.  Actually, I didn’t do this.  I really don’t like runny yolks, so I cooked mine a little longer until the yolks were just set.  The end result is basically a decadent version of shirred eggs.

Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

The verdict?  Very rich, with delicious flavor.  That was my opinion.  My husband would not try it.  He just didn’t like the idea of eating duck liver (he is not even aware of the controversy surrounding the production of foie gras).  So, this was fun to try, and I liked it, but I will not likely be making it again.

Are you interested in finding out how the other FFWD participants liked Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras?  Check it out here!

11 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

It’s Friday, and once again I’m going against the grain and posting a make-up recipe instead of the current week’s French Fridays with Dorie pick.

This week’s recipe involves zucchini blossoms.  I am hoping (finger’s crossed!) that my garden will start producing zucchini blossoms very soon.  It’s been a tough year for my vegetable garden.  I am having a big problem with pests eating my sprouts and seedlings.  Of the 24 or so green bean seeds I planted, only two sprouts look like they might survive.  The rest were eaten, sometimes before they even broke through the soil.  My zucchini plants are struggling as well.  It looks like two or three of them have a good chance of surviving.  If you see a zucchini blossom post from me in a few weeks, you will know they survived!

Salmon Rillettes

Instead of skipping this week altogether, I did a make-up from last month instead.  Salmon Rillettes is a delicious spread made from a combination of fresh and smoked salmon.  The fresh salmon is gently poached in white wine, then mashed with the smoked salmon, lemon zest, chopped shallot, lemon juice, and a bit of butter.  After chilling, it’s ready to serve.

Salmon Rillettes

I served Salmon Rillettes for dinner with toasted baguette slices and a nice salad.  I loved it!  Though I served it for dinner, it would be excellent as an appetizer for a dinner party. I had leftovers for lunch on a bagel with cream cheese, and it was quite tasty!

We have made 3 rillettes now (sardine, salmon, and tuna), and this is my favorite.

I found the recipe for Salmon Rillettes on pbs.org.  You can also find in in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

13 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Catching Up…

Happy 4th of July  to my American readers!  Happy Friday to the rest of you!  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a delicious sounding tomato recipe.  I did not make it.  In a few weeks we can start harvesting garden tomatoes, so I will wait until then to make this dish.

Instead, I am catching up on some recipes from May and June that I hadn’t gotten to yet.  Actually, I made two of these back in May but just haven’t written about them.  The fish I made this past week.  Let’s get to catching up!

Smoked Salmon Waffles

Smoked Salmon Waffles

Smoked Salmon Waffles are a savory waffle meant to be served as a starter or a snack.  The concept is pretty simple:  basic waffle batter enhanced with smoked salmon, green onions, and chives.

Smoked Salmon Waffles

These were good!  Though they would have been better served as a starter rather than a main dish.  These would be wonderful for brunch!  In fact, the next day I reheated a leftover waffle and put a fried egg on top of it.  Yum!

Pipérade Stir-Fry

Piperade Stir-Fry

Pipérade Stir-Fry is really just a dish inspired by the Basque Pipérade.  Colorful bell peppers are sauteed until tender, then coated with red wine vinegar.  After cooling to room temperature, the peppers are seasoned with thinly sliced red onions, garlic, piment d’Espelette, and salt and pepper.  Dorie suggests these peppers are great with any kind of grilled meat.

Piperade and Steak

I served Pipérade Stir-Fry with our first grilled steaks of the year (remember, I made this back in May).  So delicious!  The peppers really did go well with the grilled beef and we enjoyed this side dish very much.

Skate Halibut with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce

Halibut with Cornichons and Capers

So, this dish was supposed to be prepared with skate.  I knew there was no way I was finding skate here in Reno, so I decided to see what looked good when I hit the fish counter.  The wild-caught halibut looked good to me!  (Actually, I tried making this dish a week earlier, but got seduced by the fresh and wild Copper River sockeye, and I didn’t want to mask the wonderful flavor with this sauce…)

This is a very quick and easy recipe.  After the fish is cooked in butter on the stove, a sauce is made by browning butter and adding sherry vinegar, grainy French mustard, thinly sliced cornichons, and a few capers.  Spoon it over the fish and eat!

This sauce was wonderful with the halibut.  Don’t be afraid to try this recipe if you can’t find skate.  I am sure it would work with any firm, white fish.

All of these recipes can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table.

4 Comments

Filed under Cooking