FFWD: The Grand Finale!

Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

Wow. Here we are at the end of French Fridays with Dorie. We finished cooking through Around My French Table last month, and this week concludes the four weeks of celebratory posts.

When I started on this journey over four years ago, I had no idea I would actually cook through every recipe in the book. Though I am pretty stubborn when I set my mind to something! I am proud of myself for finishing, and proud of everyone who finished or came close to finishing. We tried new ingredients, learned new techniques, and made new friends. It was fun cooking the assigned recipe each week knowing my FFWD friends were out there cooking the same recipe, perhaps with their own special twist. My only regret is I haven’t had a chance to meet any of the lovely Doristas in person. I hope to some day!

Chocolate Mousse Cake

For the Grand Finale we were to choose a recipe and adapt it, try a bonne idée, or simply remake the recipe. I chose to remake Michel Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. When we made this the first time I ran into trouble. Since I was pretty sure I knew what went wrong, I have always wanted to try this recipe again. Besides, what’s better for a grand finale than chocolate cake?

I had two problems the first time I made this cake: 1) My pan was too big; and 2) The egg whites deflated when I tried to fold them into the hot chocolate mixture. I bought the correct size pan a few years ago and solved the egg whites problem by using lukewarm coffee instead of hot coffee.

My fixes worked and the cake was delicious! This is a great make-ahead dessert because it really tastes best after a night in the refrigerator. A wonderful way to celebrate the end of the book!

I don’t quite know how to end this post, except to say that this has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to keeping up with my fellow Doristas as we embark on our next adventures!

Happy cooking!

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FFWD: The Play-It-Again-Dorie Recipe

Happy French Friday! It’s our 3rd of 4 “celebration weeks” for French Fridays with Dorie. This week we are to share the recipe from the book we have made the most often.

First, a confession: I haven’t actually repeated many of the recipes from
Around My French Table. I have been so focused on completing all the recipes that I forgot to use the book for everyday cooking. Besides, I have all those other cookbooks on my shelves that needed some love, too. After poring through the book during these celebration weeks, I have a long list of recipes I want to make again. Now I just have to remember to actually use this wonderful book!

Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse

The Chicken for Lazy People I discussed a couple of weeks ago is one of the few recipes I have made several times. Another is Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse.

The Chocolate Mousse won our hearts when I first made it during the recipe’s assigned week. My husband declared it his favorite recipe yet, and I think he would still place it at the top of his list. I love it because it is delicious. But also because it is quick and easy to make (you can whip it up after dinner!) and doesn’t make a large amount. Perfect for when the two adults in this household want an indulgent treat!

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FFWD: The Never-Doubt-Dorie Moment

Happy French Friday! This is the second of four “celebratory” posts to ease ourselves to the French Fridays with Dorie finish line. This week we are to choose a recipe that “taught you a technique or gave you an idea or provided a lesson of some kind”.

One of my favorite aspects of participating in French Fridays with Dorie was that it pushed me to make recipes I may have otherwise skipped over. Perhaps they sounded too difficult to make, or just didn’t appeal to me. Sometimes I was right to be hesitant about a recipe, but other times I was pleasantly surprised. Either way, I learned a new technique or tried a new ingredient or combination of ingredients.

Dilled Gravlax on Bagels

One such recipe was Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce. I had seen gravlax recipes in other cook books I own. Maybe I didn’t know what to expect as the end result, but whenever I would read through one of these recipes, my eyes would glaze over and I would think “too difficult”, or “not worth it”. So I passed them by.

Then came the week we were to make Dilled Gravlax for French Fridays. By then, I knew I was going to attempt to go the distance and make every recipe from the book. So I made the gravlax. And guess what? It was easy and it was delicious! Who knew?

There are a few other recipes I would like to call out that I probably would not have made if not for FFWD, but that pleasantly surprised me:

Olive Oil Ice Cream – A flavor I wouldn’t expect in ice cream, but that was delicious (especially with chocolate sauce).

Riviera Fish Soup – Pureed fish soup? Yes, when it has the wonderful flavors this soup has.

Cold Melon-Berry Soup – I could not get my head around this one, but I found it refreshing and delicious.

Curious about other Never-Doubt-Dorie Moments? Check out what everyone else thought here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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FFWD: Favorites

Welcome to the first of four celebratory French Fridays with Dorie posts! This week we were tasked with choosing our very favorite recipe from the book and explaining why. We are also sharing our Top 5 favorites. This was not an easy task! I may have cheated a bit…

The Favorite

Roast Chicken for Lazy People with Asparagus and Bits of Bacon

Roast Chicken for Lazy People with Asparagus and Bits of Bacon

Roast Chicken for les Paresseux!

Why did I choose this one? Several reasons:

  1. I have made this recipe many times, perhaps the most of any other recipe from the book.
  2. I love roast chicken and this is a good recipe (and easy!).
  3. The bread trick!
  4. My whole family loves this one.
  5. This recipe represents the quintessential Dorie recipe that is more a technique than a recipe. I love the options she gives us: Add root vegetables. Or not. Make a sauce. Or not. Share the super-tasty, sinfully delicious piece of bread. Or not.

The Top 5

Choosing my most favorite recipe was actually easier than choosing the top 5. My initial pass-through of the book started with a list of favorites nearly 30 long. I had to be ruthless! Here is the list, with links to, and comments from, my original posts:

1. Roast Chicken for les Paresseux

Roast Chicken

“The chicken was fabulous with crispy brown skin and tender meat.  My husband especially loved the garlic that roasted along with the chicken.  My mother-in-law and I both enjoyed “the bread trick” (the chicken is roasted on top of a piece of bread which soaks up the cooking juices and gets wonderfully caramelized).”

2. Curried Mussels

Curried Mussels

“Heaven!”

3. Navarin Printanier

Navarin Printanier

“… I loved Navarin Printanier.  The lamb was tender, the broth rich and flavorful, and the vegetables were perfectly cooked.”

4. Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Spinach-Bacon Quiche

“This was a very yummy quiche that my 7 year old daughter loved!  But what’s not to love about bacon, eggs, cheese and spinach?”

5. Tomato-Cheese Tartlets

Tomato-Cheese Tartlets

“These tartlets are a real winner and I will be making these every tomato season!”

Honorable Mentions: Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Onion Biscuits, Provençal Olive Fougasse, Salmon Tartare, Armagnac Chicken, Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger, Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote.

Top 3 Desserts

You may notice that the list above does not include any desserts. That’s because I had a hard time narrowing it down to just one to include on the Top 5 list. So I made a top desserts list instead! These three desserts are the ones I think about most often and dream about making (and eating) again.

1. Tourteau de Chevre

Tourteau de Chevre

“I’m SO glad I had an excuse to make Tourteau de Chèvre.  I love, love, loved it!  I served it with sliced strawberries and drizzled with a little honey.  The strawberries paired fabulously with it!  The dessert was a big hit with everyone, even my chocolate-loving husband who seemed skeptical when I described it to him earlier in the day.”

2. Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest

“This was a huge hit!  Everyone loved it.  My daughter ate hers very enthusiastically and then had seconds.  My 5 year old niece wasn’t sure she even wanted to try it, then ended up loving it so much she gave it “20 thumbs up”!  I will be making this one again for sure.”

3. Orange-Almond Tart

Orange-Almond Tart

“Why did I wait so long to try this tart? I knew I would like it because, you know, dessert. But I didn’t expect to love, love, love it! I loved the unexpected burst of orange juice. The flavor went so well with the creamy almond filling and the tender, sweet crust.”

The Husband Top 5

I asked my husband to pick his top 5 recipes, since we didn’t always agree. Here are his favorites, keeping in mind that he chose from my already narrowed-down list of 30:

  1. Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse
  2. Roast Chicken for les Paresseux
  3. Armagnac Chicken
  4. Pancetta Green Beans
  5. Crab-Avocado “Ravioli”

There you have it! There are many other recipes that didn’t make these lists that are still delicious and I would make again. I can’t wait to read the other favorites lists! If you are interested in seeing what the other Dorista’s chose as their favorites, check out the links here.

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TWD: Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

Happy Tuesday! I hope those of you in the United States enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. We had unseasonably rainy weather, so we didn’t get out as much as we had hoped. It was kind of like a typical Memorial Day weekend in the Pacific Northwest!

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, we made a delicious cake called Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake. I made it for my parents last weekend when they were here to babysit.

This cake is exactly what the name suggests: an upside-down cake, with rhubarb in the fruit layer and a brown sugar-based cake. What makes this cake so good is that the rhubarb is sauteed in lightly caramelized sugar before being placed in the bottom of the cake pan.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

I went the simple route when serving my cake. I did not use the optional glaze, nor did I adorn the cake in any way. Dorie’s suggestions of whipped cream or crème fraîche and sliced strawberries would be wonderful. Vanilla ice cream would be good too.

This cake was a huge hit! My parents love rhubarb desserts, so my Mom plans on making this one again. My daughter scarfed her serving down. I loved the flavor of the brown sugar cake with the sweet-tart rhubarb. The cake was moist, but light. A winner!

Altitude Adjustments

I made two minor adjustments to the cake layer for my altitude and dry climate:

  • Reduced baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Added 1 tablespoon water

They must have worked, because the cake was wonderful!

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FFWD: Chicken in a Pot – The Final Recipe!

Chicken in a Pot

Here we are! The final recipe from Around My French Table! It’s hard to believe I have been doing this for four and a half years (the project began in October 2010; I joined in January 2011). When I started, I thought it would just be a fun thing to do for my new blog. Back then I had no idea that I would actually complete every recipe and what a tight knit group us Doristas would become. It’s been a fun adventure!

Chicken in a Pot

Now, about the recipe, Chicken in a Pot: the Garlic and Lemon Version. We saved the cover recipe for last. This recipe represents classic French home cooking at it’s finest. Dorie’s version has us toss preserved lemon peel, sweet potatoes, pearl onions, carrots, celery, a whole lot of garlic, and various herbs into a big pot (after sauteing them for a bit). Next we add browned chicken pieces and a bit of wine and broth. I used a combination of thighs and breasts. The pot is sealed with a simple dough made from flour and water. This locks in the flavors and infuses the chicken and vegetables with wonderful herbiness.

Sealed Pot

My parents had great timing. They drove down from Seattle this week to babysit so my husband and I could enjoy a few days to ourselves. The day they arrived I made them this. It was a huge hit!

There are many reasons why this recipe was the perfect choice for our last recipe. Not the least of which is it contained some of my husband’s (and the rest of the family’s) favorite foods (chicken, sweet potatoes, and garlic), so it was sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The chicken was so flavorful and juicy. The vegetables were delicious, though a few of them could have cooked a bit longer. We all loved spreading the garlic on the crusty bread. Nice to end on a high note!

Chicken and Veggies

Even though this is the final French Fridays with Dorie recipe, this won’t be my last French Fridays post. We will be doing a series of retrospective posts to look back on our favorite recipes. It will certainly be bittersweet.

Have a great weekend!

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TWD: Nutella Buttons

Nutella Buttons
Happy Tuesday! It’s been a while since I did a Tuesdays with Dorie post, but I couldn’t resist these little Nutella-filled cupcakes called Nutella Buttons.

These were fun little cupcakes to make, and very easy to whip up. They are a simple, vanilla-flavored cupcake made light and tender by folding in whipped egg whites. The fun surprise is the dab of Nutella in the middle of the cupcake!

Nutella Buttons

I like that the cake is not too sweet; it provides a perfect foil for the sweeter Nutella. I also like that the recipe does not make too many mini-cakes. I got only 19 cakes out of my mini-muffin pan. Perfect for every day snacking!

Altitude Adjustments

None! With all those whipped egg whites (4 total) and only a small amount of baking powder, I did not have to make any adjustments to this recipe. Yay!

Nutella Buttons

If you are interested in baking Nutella Buttons, you can find the recipe on Page 188 of Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, Baking Chez Moi. I also found the recipe here (this link also includes and interview with Dorie).

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FFWD: Seafood Pot-au-feu + Cheesecake Tart

Happy French Friday!  It’s hard to believe how close we are to finishing Around My French Table. Just one more new recipe and four retrospective posts left to go!

This week I will be talking about two week’s worth of recipes: Seafood Pot-au-feu and Cheesecake Tart.

Seafood Pot-au-feu

Seafood Pot-au-feu

Seafood Pot-au-feu is the perfect dish for Spring! Light and healthy, and pretty too. This recipe is a lighted-up version of the classic French dish.

This light stew consists of a bright combination of vegetables and seafood.  The veggies include small potatoes, spring onions (which I actually found!), carrots, leeks, and sugar snap peas.  I left out the mushrooms because certain family members don’t care for them, and while I like mushrooms, they didn’t sound good to me in this particular recipe. For seafood, Dorie recommends mussels, salmon, and sea scallops. Due to family tastes, I used only salmon, and included three scallops just for me. Luckily, we all like salmon! I served the optional pesto as a garnish.

Reactions to the recipe were mixed.  I really liked it, but wished I had cooked the carrots and potatoes a bit longer. My husband enjoyed the salmon and veggies, but overall felt it wasn’t very cohesive (I think he specifically said it lacked “synergy”). We both agreed the pesto was a nice addition. My daughter ate her salmon as long as she had ketchup to dip it in.

Cheesecake Tart

Cheesecake Tart

Our final dessert, Cheesecake Tart, was kind of a dud for me. It’s basically a tart shell filled with a cheesecake-like filling and dried cranberries.

There was nothing particularly wrong with this recipe (except I felt the filling was a little rubbery), it’s just that I like some of the other desserts in the book so much better. The best thing this recipe has going for it, is that it gave me a chance to enjoy that wonderful Sweet Tart Dough recipe again. I may or may not have scraped away some of the filling to enjoy the shell unadulterated.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online cooking group that has nearly finished cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

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FFWD: Sardine Escabeche

Sardine Escabeche

Happy French Friday!  I’m sad to say, this is the first of the final four recipes from Around My French Table.  But, the French Fridays with Dorie crew has some fun “celebratory” weeks planned, so I will have to start poring through the book (and my old blog posts!) to remember my favorites.

This week was one of the “scarier” recipes: Sardine Escabeche. It calls for fresh sardines. Not something we see very often in the United States.

I had originally planned to make this recipe for my parents when I was visiting them in Seattle a few weeks ago. I thought it might be easier to find fresh sardines there, and I knew my audience would be more receptive. Wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t find the sardines (I didn’t look very hard, but I targeted my search to a likely source). At least I was still able to make them the delicious Salmon Tartare. Who would have guessed it would be easier to find fresh sardines in land-locked Reno? A fish guy at Whole Foods told me they keep them frozen in the back, so even if they aren’t on display they often have them.

Sardine Escabeche

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, even after reading through the recipe. The sardine fillets are dusted lightly with flour and cooked quickly on the stove. Then they are basically left to pickle overnight in a mixture that includes cooked onion, carrots and celery, olive oil, tomato paste, a few herbs and spices, and distilled white vinegar.

Verdict? I liked it! It made a satisfying lunch served with crusty bread to sop up the sauce. I am sure my parents would have liked it. The only problem is, I kept wanting to be sitting outside in the sun next to the Mediterranean with a glass of white wine while eating this!

Sardine Escabeche

If you decide to try this recipe and need to fillet your sardines, this video by Jamie Oliver was very helpful (thanks, Mardi for sharing!). It was a lot easier than I expected.

I will see you next week with the final dessert from AMFT. Have a great weekend!

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FFWD: Pork Roast with Mangoes and No Lychees

Pork Roast with Mangoes

Happy French Friday! This week for French Fridays with Dorie, we turned to a savory main dish called Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees.

I think the word “lychees” in the title of this recipe is the reason why it’s coming so late in the FFWD rotation. Until I actually read the recipe, I had a hard time envisioning something tasty.  Once I read the recipe, I knew it would be good!  Kind of a French-Asian infusion.

This recipe starts with a fairly small pork loin roast, which is browned in a Dutch oven. The braising sauce is built by first sauteing chopped onion and garlic.  Red wine vinegar is added, along with soy sauce, lime juice, honey, piment d’Espelette, a bay leaf, thyme, and fresh mango. I could not find lychees, fresh or canned, so I left them out. Put the pork roast back in the pot and gently braise for just under an hour.

Pork Roast with Mangoes

This was good!  The pork roast turned out tender and juicy, something that is not always easy to achieve with pork loin. The mango added a lovely flavor to the sauce that tasted delicious with the pork.  The Asian influences inspired my sides: sticky rice and Sesame Asparagus. I really don’t think we missed anything by not including the lychees.

If you are looking for something a little different to make with pork, give this recipe a try!

Have a great weekend!

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