FFWD: Storzapretis

Storzapretis

Happy French Friday!  This week’s recipe is one of those from the book that I never really noticed.  I just kind of glossed over it.  But then I read it, and it sounded good!  I think the problem is the name:  Storzapretis.  That doesn’t mean anything to me.  The subtitle has more meaning: Corsican Spinach and Mint Gnocchi.  That sounds more like something I can get into!

Storzapretis is a ricotta-based gnocchi from the island of Corsica.  It has a nice amount of spinach, as well as Gruyere and mint.  It is baked in a tomato sauce of your choosing (I used homemade roasted tomato sauce made from garden tomatoes that I had in the freezer).

It turns out this was a tricky one to make.  There was much discussion about how to best make this without having the gnocchi fall apart to bits while cooking.  My first attempt was very successful and I got a little cocky.  My second attempt was a disaster, and my third attempt was another success.  Here’s how it all went down:

1) The night I mixed up and formed the gnocchi, I cooked up half of them as directed after freezing them for half an hour to firm them up a bit.  I boiled them at a very low simmer and then they were baked with the tomato sauce with cheese sprinkled on top.  No gnocchi disintegrated, and they were delicious!  I took no pictures.

2) I had left the remaining gnocchi in the freezer over night.  The next day for lunch, the plan was to cook half the leftovers for the purposes of taking photos in natural light.  I plopped the frozen gnocchi into the lightly simmering water (Dorie said we could cook from frozen).  They disintegrated!  Only a couple of them stayed in any shape mildly resembling gnocchi, and they were very soft and misshapen.  Uh oh!

3)  Several Doristas had tried skipping the simmering step, and just baked the raw gnocchi in the tomato sauce.  I tried this with the rest of the leftovers – I had to get a photo!  Mine baked for quite a bit longer than directed since they were frozen, but it worked!  A delicious lunch and some beautiful photos.  Whew!

Storzapretis

My conclusion after all this, is that the Storzapretis are delicious to eat, but persnickety to make.  I wouldn’t make this for company unless I was sure I had perfected my technique.

If you would like to see how others fared, check it out here.

Have a great weekend!

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FFWD: Almond-Orange Tuiles

Almond-Orange Tuiles
Happy French Friday! I am doing a make-up recipe for French Fridays with Dorie today because I couldn’t find a key ingredient (kumquats) for this week’s recipe.  I have been assured that kumquats will be in the market in a couple weeks, so I will make that recipe soon.  Instead I made Almond-Orange Tuiles.  I am down to only two make-up recipes!  Not including the one I didn’t make this week…so really three.

Almond-Orange Tuiles are a lacy, light, little cookie.  They are very easy to mix together, taking only minutes.  The tricky part happens after they are done baking.  You are to transfer these lacy cookies onto a rolling pin so they can set in their curved shape.  The first one I tried ended up in a little lump on the counter.  It almost slid down between the stove and the counter, but I caught it just in time!

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I finally got the hang of making these pretty cookies and I thought they were delicious.  The flavor from the orange juice is subtle but nice.  I ate these on their own, but I think they would be at their best adorning something like ice cream or a creamy cake.  They would also be a nice addition to a dessert buffet.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

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TWD: Palets de Dames, Lille Style

Palets de Dames, Lille Style

Welcome to my very first Tuesdays with Dorie post! We will be baking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s brand new book, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere.

A little history lesson: Over six years ago, Tuesdays with Dorie was begun by a few bloggers wanting to bake their way through Dorie’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. When Around My French Table came out four years ago, French Fridays with Dorie was spun off, and I joined that group a few months after it was created. Now that Dorie’s new book is out, Tuesdays with Dorie is taking it on!

I have decided not to try making every recipe from this new book like I am with Around my French Table. I will just do those recipes that sound good to me and that I have time for. I just can’t make that many desserts! Luckily for me, the first recipe the group chose was one that sounded really good to me.

Palets de Dames

The inaugural recipe from Baking Chez Moi is a delicious cookie called Palets de Dames, Lille Style. They are a simple, slightly cakey, iced vanilla cookie.

These cookies are as good as they look! I ate more of these than I care to admit. Their cute size means they are easy to pop into your mouth! My inability to stop eating these just proves that I can’t be trusted to bake every treat in this book and not gain ten pounds.

Palets de Dames

This was a fun recipe to kick off Baking Chez Moi and my participation in Tuesdays with Dorie.

Like FFWD, Tuesdays with Dorie does not share recipes.  We want to encourage people to buy the book. However, this cookie recipe is available online here, if you are interested in giving it a try.

Happy Baking!

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FFWD: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup + Apple Cake

Happy Friday!  I hope you all had a good week.  Things are settling back to normal around here and I made two French Fridays with Dorie recipes!

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis

This week the group made Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis.  You may be thinking that we just made something with Jerusalem artichokes.  Well, yes we did, last month.  Now that we are getting down to the last few dozen recipes from the book, we are being strategic about which recipes we do, to make sure we don’t miss certain ingredients when they are in season.  Also, certain “odd” ingredients (like Jerusalem artichokes, for example) have been hard sells, and we are finally having to bite the bullet and make those recipes.  So, two Jerusalem artichoke recipes in two months.

This soup was actually quite similar to the Celery-Celery Soup we made last month.  Same techniques, just a variation in ingredients.  This one had butter, two large onions, a bit of celery, on leek, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, and chicken broth.  We made a parsley coulis (parsley pureed with olive oil and salt) to drizzle over the finished soup.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

What a pleasant surprise!  After the so-so results from the Celery-Celery Soup and the Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes, I didn’t have high expectations.  But Jerusalem Artichoke Soup had a lovely flavor that both my husband and I enjoyed very much.  The parsley coulis and a dollop of heavy cream finished off the soup very nicely.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake

This past week I also did a make-up recipe from way back when French Fridays first started: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake.  This is a simple cake chock-full of apples.  There are almost more apples than batter!

Dorie recommends using four different kinds of apples, to get varying textures and flavors.  I took her advice and I loved the results.  She calls for four “large” apples, but I used one large and three that were smaller.  Some people have had trouble having too many apples and not enough batter, and I feel that using a few smaller apples helped with this.

Why did I wait so long to make this delicious cake?  It’s easy enough to make at the spur of the moment, and a perfect way to enjoy apples at their peak.  The touch of rum in the batter really added a nice flavor.  I love simple cakes, and this one was a winner!

If you would like to try Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, you can find the recipe here.  The recipe for the soup can be found in the book Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

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FFWD: October Recipes

Happy Halloween!  Gosh, where did October go?  I’ve talked a lot this year about being busy, but the rest of the year was just warm up for October.  Whew!

So what was I up to in October?  The month started with a fun trip to Yosemite National Park.  I hadn’t been since I was a toddler (many years ago!).  Our weather was perfect and the scenery gorgeous!  I haven’t had a chance to go through my photos yet, but once I do I will try to share a few.

Last week my daughter had orthopedic surgery to address a leg length discrepancy.  The surgery went well and she has bounced back quickly, but the preparation and after-care have taken a lot of time and energy.  A child’s surgery is hard on the parents!  The surgery was a couple hours away in Sacramento, so we’ve had a few trips back and forth, not to mention a hotel stay the night before.

Lots of life happened between the vacation and the surgery:  Appointments. A couple date nights. Plumbing problems. Etc.

I did manage to cook all of the October recipes for French Fridays with Dorie, on time even. We do have to eat, after all!  What I couldn’t manage was writing about them.  I just didn’t have the mental capacity or energy.  So, here I am with a big catch-up of the October recipes!  (minus the “Birthday Celebration”; I was happy for a “pass” that week)

Celery-Celery Soup

Celery-Celery Soup

First we tried Celery-Celery Soup. The two celeries are: 1) celery root; and 2) celery stalks.  The soup also includes onions, apples, thyme, and chicken broth.

This soup was OK. It definitely tasted like celery! We liked it, but I wouldn’t make it again. In the photo above, I sprinkled some crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on my soup.  It wasn’t as good as it sounds.  I liked it better the night before with a little heavy cream stirred into it.

Monkfish and Double Carrots

Monkfish and Double Carrots

The next October recipe was Monkfish and Double Carrots. I cooked this on strange equipment in a strange kitchen while on vacation at Yosemite.

The carrots were the best part: Sliced carrots simmered in carrot juice with butter, olive oil, and rosemary.  The monkfish was simply seared in a skillet until cooked through, served with the carrots, and scattered with crumbled bacon.

I don’t feel like we got to fully enjoy the flavors of the monkfish.  I am afraid I overcooked it a bit due to using a new-to-me stove and skillet.  The carrots were delicious, and I can see myself making them on their own as a side dish.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

Next up:  Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic.  I had only tried Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) one time before this, and I don’t remember if I liked them or not.  In this recipe, the artichokes are peeled and quartered lengthwise, then roasted with plenty of thinly sliced garlic.

So, I liked this dish.  It was fun to try, and the artichokes went well with the beef ribs I served them with.  But, they were similar enough to potatoes that I wished they were potatoes.  I think I will stick to potatoes from now on (although I may try roasting them with those tasty slices of garlic!).

Osso Buco à l’Arman

Osso Buco à l’Arman

Last, but not least, we have Osso Buco à l’Arman. This is a French take on the classic Italian dish of braised veal shanks.  What makes this version different is the addition of lots of orange zest and sliced carrots.

I wanted to like this dish more than I did.  The problem for me was the strong taste of orange zest.  I loved the tender meat and the yummy veggies, but I wanted less orange flavor.  If I make this again I would greatly reduce the amount of orange zest used.

I served my osso buco with a delicious orange rice pilaf that I made in my rice cooker.  The rice had a lovely, subtle, orange flavor and I will certainly make it again.

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Whew!  I’m worn out after all that!  I hope to catch up on my blog reading now that life is settling down.  I haven’t even opened my blog reader in a month!  I miss you all, and hope to keep up a bit better (of course, now the holiday season is right around the corner…).

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FO: Corkscrew Hat

Corkscrew Hat

I mentioned a while back that I would be participating in another Progressive Needles Knit-a-Long, hosted by Michelle Hunter.  This is the hat we made!

I had been wanting to make myself an interesting hat (I only had one boring, plain one) and this one fits the bill perfectly.

Corkscrew Hat

I always learn a lot from Michelle’s knit-a-longs.  This was my first time doing stranded colorwork, but her instructions made it much easier than it looks.  She encouraged us to learn to knit with one color in each hand.  It felt very awkward at first knitting with my left hand, but I got the hang of it by the end of the hat.  Learning a new technique like that opens up so many possibilities for new patterns to try!

Corkscrew Hat with Button

The yarn we used for the KAL was HiKoo Simplicity.  This is a great, all-purpose yarn!  It is made from merino wool, acrylic, and nylon.  You get the warmth from the wool, but rather than being itchy, it is super-soft.  I liked this yarn so much, I chose it for the yellow hat I am making for my daughter.

The next Progressive Needles Knit-a-Long starts October 2!  I will be participating again, and we will be making a cowl.  We have 3 lengths to choose from.  I will make the shortest length because I have discovered that I prefer short cowls rather than longer cowls or scarves.  The yarn we’re using is HiKoo Simplinatural.  I chose the color “First Press Olive” to coordinate with my new hat.  Will you be joining in the KAL?

Hat with SimpliNatural

Details:

Pattern:  Corkscrew Hat, by Michelle Hunter.  It is available as a free download on Ravelry.

Yarn:  HiKoo Simplicity.  My colors were “First Press Olive” and “Framboise”.

If you are on Ravelry, you can check out my project here.

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Vanilla Vegetable Salad

Vanilla Vegetable Salad

I was skeptical about this one from the start.  I mean, I love vanilla.  In puddings and cakes and other treats.  But in a salad dressing?  I wasn’t so sure… But, in the name of French Fridays with Dorie I gave it a go.

At least it was simple to make: First I made ribbons of carrot and zucchini with a vegetable peeler.  These and a couple handfuls of mixed greens were tossed with a dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, and vanilla (along with some salt & pepper).

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So?  Meh.  I am not a big fan of ribbons of vegetables.  I find them hard to eat and a little too much like rabbit food.  And the vanilla in the dressing, while subtle, seemed like it didn’t belong.  My husband felt the same way I did.  Actually, I was curious if he would pick up the vanilla in the dressing.  As he tried he said, “Is there vanilla in this?”  I guess he noticed.  But it wasn’t a good thing.

They can’t all be winners, can they?  Next month is looking up; all the October recipes sound delicious to me.  Stay tuned to see what they are!

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French Thursday with Dorie: Two Tunas

I’m a little jealous.  As I am writing this, my parents are actually in Paris, eating French food and pastries, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city.  I have to console myself by participating in French Fridays with Dorie.

As you may have noticed, today isn’t actually Friday.  I’m running almost a week behind.  Better late than never!

I have two recipes to tell you about: Tuna and Mango Ceviche and Tuna Confit with Black Olive Tapenade and Tomato Salsa.  The group has done two tuna recipes lately, and I decided to do them both in the same week.

Tuna and Mango Ceviche

Tuna and Mango Ceviche

Ceviche is a dish made of raw fish marinated in citrus juice to “cook” it.  This version is inspired by the cuisine of Senegal, which was once a colony of France.  The main ingredients are mango, avocado, red onion, and sushi-grade tuna.  They are seasoned with red onion and ginger, and marinated in lime juice, olive oil and rum.

I really liked the flavors in this dish, but they made me wish I were sitting outdoors in a tropical location, soaking up the sun!  I think it was the lime and mango that did it.

Tuna Confit with Black Olive Tapenade and Tomato Salsa

Tuna Confit

Tuna Confit.  Tuna submerged in olive oil and aromatics for a long marinade, then cooked slowly in the marinade.  The aromatics include preserved lemon (I made my own!), sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, white onion, celery, parsley, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice.

After the tuna is cooked, Dorie has us serve it with a tomato salsa and a dollop of olive tapenade.  I decided to try her olive tapenade recipe and it was easy and delicious!  I served it all on a bed of mashed potatoes.

I used a lot of vegetables from the garden for this meal!  Cherry tomatoes, rosemary, potatoes, and even the sun-dried tomatoes.

Yummy, comforting meal!  I liked this one a lot.  It was a lot of fun to try, and it was great to make use of some of the garden veggies.

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This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online group cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.  We don’t share recipes, but I encourage you to get the book.

For those of you keeping track, I only have 4 make-up recipes to go!  I can do it!

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WIP Wednesday: Lessons Learned

I am still working on the two projects I told you about a few weeks ago: a hat for my daughter and fingerless gloves using leftover yarn.  I have learned a few things while working on these projects.  In no particular order:

1. I prefer DPNs instead of magic loop.

Until I started working on my Roku Mitts, I thought I preferred magic loop, even though I have used both DPNs (double-pointed needles) and magic loop successfully.  I chose to do my mitts with magic loop mostly because I didn’t own any DPNs in the correct size.  But I discovered that I particularly dislike magic loop when there are not many stitches on each needle (32 total in this case).  I spent more time fiddling with the needles than actually knitting.  After I gave in and bought some DPNs I was knitting much faster!

Roku Mitts on DPNs

Roku Mitts on DPNs

Both methods have their uses, but I will no longer shy away from using DPNs!

2. Gauge is important.

I know, I know.  I already knew this.  But I was playing around with different gauges to adjust the size of my daughter’s hat and I gained a little more understanding about how gauge affects finished sizes.  My first hat attempt was WAY too small.

3. Trust pattern sizing.

My daughter has a small head.  And I want her hat to fit well and not be too big.  So even though I measured her head, and the pattern designer listed finished hat sizes, I started knitting a size smaller than I should have.  And guess what?  My second hat attempt was too small.

Yellow Hat - the correct size

Yellow Hat – the correct size

Third time’s a charm, and I am now making the size hat that matches my daughter’s measurements.  And wouldn’t you know, it fits!

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FO: Larch

Larch

I finished my Larch shawlette last month. I love, love, love it!  It was really fun to knit, I love the yarn I chose, and it was very satisfying to make.  This would be a great pattern for anyone wanting to try lace for the first time.

I will probably mostly wear it like this:

Larch as Scarf

I am finding myself drawn to shawl patterns lately.  I have never been much of a decorative scarf wearer, so I have to make sure I will actually wear my shawls before I make any more.

Can we talk about the yarn?  This was my first time using Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light and I am in love.  I love the subtle variations in color.  The photos really don’t do it justice.  I keep thinking about new projects I can make with it, and occasionally peruse the color options over at Jimmy Beans Wool.  Right now I am considering a sweater using the Mandala colorway.

Details:

Pattern:  Larch.  It is available as a free download on Ravelry.

Yarn:  Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light.  I used the “Alizarin” colorway and used pretty much the entire skein.

If you are on Ravelry, you can check out my project here.

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