Baby Bok Choy en Papillote + Quiche Maraîchère

Veggies

It’s Friday once again, and I actually made the “assigned” French Fridays with Dorie recipe this week!  I also caught up on last week’s recipe.  I’m on a roll!  Since I’m so close to being completely caught up on every FFWD recipe (only 6 to go!), I am determined.

This week I celebrated Spring with two dishes that are chock-full of vegetables:  Baby Bok Choy, Sugar Snaps, and Garlic en Papillote and Quiche Maraîchère.

Baby Bok Choy, Sugar Snaps, and Garlic en Papillote

Veggies on Parchment

This week we returned to the traditional French method of cooking in packets of parchment paper or foil.  This time it was some unexpected vegetables inside these packets:  baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, baby onions, and garlic.  The veggies were seasoned with orange zest, salt and pepper, and moistened with a bit of olive oil.

I tried an experiment.  I made two packets of veggies in parchment paper.  Then I put the rest of the vegetables in a baking dish covered in foil. Would there be a difference in taste?

Veggies in Baking Dish

It was close!  The vegetables in the baking dish took a little bit longer to cook and weren’t quite as moist.  The veggies cooked en papillote were slightly browned and a touch more flavorful.  But overall, there wasn’t a big difference.  If you are cooking this for a crowd, the baking dish method would be perfectly acceptable.

Veggies with Salmon

So, did we like it?  I liked it a lot.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked:  tender, but not mushy.  My husband liked the snap peas, but isn’t a fan of bok choy and this dish did nothing to change his mind.  My daughter gave it a baby taste and then didn’t touch it again.

Quiche Maraîchère

Quiche Maraîchère

In Dorie’s words, Quiche Maraîchère is “packed to the brim with celery, leeks, carrots, and little squares of red pepper”.  The word maraîchère means “truck farmer”, and when the word is used in a recipe name, you know that fresh vegetables are used.  In this quiche, there is only just enough custard filling to (barely) hold the vegetables together.  It is topped with Gruyere cheese part-way through cooking.

Slice of Quiche Maraîchère

This quiche was quite tasty!  I enjoyed it very much as a simple dinner with salad on the side.  My husband enjoyed it too, but wished there had been more eggs in the mix (there was only one and a half).  If you are looking for a vegetarian-friendly quiche, this one is a winner!

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

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Two French Fridays Catch-Ups

Paris-Brest

I have been playing fast and loose with the French Fridays with Dorie schedule lately.  Between being out of town for a week and trying to catch up on all my FFWD backlogs, I skipped a couple of recipes, but have two make-ups to share with you this week.  I will catch up on the two skipped recipes later this month.

My daughter and I had a wonderful visit in Seattle last week.  It was very relaxing and I enjoyed plenty of good food.  A longer visit gave us lots of quality time with my parents, my sister, and my grandma.  I even got to have a lunch\shopping visit with my good friend who I don’t get to see nearly often enough.   My Mom is a great cook and she fed us well!

Boeuf à la Ficelle

Boeuf à la Ficelle

Boeuf à la Ficelle (literally, “beef on a string”) is a recipe the FFWD group made in February.  I waited to make it until I could collect some of the broth ingredients from my beef guy (yes, I have a beef guy!).

Boeuf à la Ficelle is an impressive recipe that is also perfect for company.  Most of the steps can be completed before your guests arrive, making for easy entertainment.

The star of this dish is the beef tenderloin roast, second only to the home made bouillon (broth).  Surprisingly, the beef is boiled for a short time in the broth.  Tied to a long string, it is easy to remove from the pot.

Beef on a String

This was good!  I served it with the recommended fleur de sel, pepper, and grainy mustard.  I found this wonderful mustard as a special purchase at Trader Joe’s.  It tasted unlike any mustard I have tasted before, and the flavor really enhanced the meat.  If you see this brand of mustard anywhere, I highly recommend it.

Delicious Mustard

If you are looking for a dish to impress, make Boeuf à la Ficelle!

Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest is another dish the Dorista’s made earlier this year.  I chose not to make it at the time because it was too big for my small family, and I wanted to share it with more people.  I made it last week for my family in Seattle!  Not only was it fun to make this dessert for them, but it was also fun to have a new place to take my photos.

Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest is kind of like a giant cream puff filled with vanilla pastry cream that has been enhanced with finely chopped caramelized almonds.  Slivered almonds adorn the top, which is also dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

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.

Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing my Dad’s gorgeous daffodils:

Daffodils

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Vegetable Barley Soup (with Chicken)

Vegetable Barley Soup

It’s Friday once again!  Where does the time go?  I was concerned that this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe would fall inappropriately on a warm Spring day, but luckily (for the soup, anyway) our weather cooled off quite a bit this week.

We made a simple soup called Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India.  The “taste of Little India” comes from the spices: ginger, turmeric, and garam masala.  The rest of the ingredients are very basic: onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic, barley, and chicken broth.  After Trevor (of Sis Boom Blog!) mentioned on Facebook that he wished he had added chicken, I decided that chicken was something we needed.  I simmered two small boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the rest of the soup and chopped them up when they were cooked.

Veggie-Barley Soup with Chicken

We enjoyed this hearty, yet light, soup.  I was happy with my choice to add the chicken.  Next time I would use a little less ginger; I felt the flavor was a bit too strong.  I was looking forward to seeing if the flavors mellowed a bit after an overnight rest in the fridge, but unfortunately I accidentally left the pot of soup out on the stove overnight.  Quite frustrating, as I hate to waste that much food!

This would be a great recipe to use when you need to “clean out the fridge”.  Many vegetables and meats would work well with the barley and spices.

I will be out of town next week visiting my family in Seattle for Spring Break, so I won’t be making next week’s recipe, and I might not be able to comment on other soup posts.  However I did make a catch-up recipe this week that I will be sharing with you next Friday!

 

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Scallop and Onion Tartes Fines + Semolina Cake

Scallop and Onion Tarte

Happy Friday!  This week for French Fridays with Dorie I have the week’s selection plus a make-up from November 2010!  I am slowly working my way through the recipes I need to catch up on, and now I only have 7 left.  Five of them are desserts.  I would like to get all the desserts made before Dorie’s new book comes out and we start in on those recipes.

Scallop and Onion Tartes Fines

This week’s recipe was little savory tartlets called Scallop and Onion Tartes Fines.  They start with a base of puff pastry.  After the base is baked, they are topped with a mix of chopped bacon and golden onions.  Finally, thinly sliced sea scallops are placed on top, and the tarts are baked just long enough to slightly cook the scallops.

Tartlets

Since I am the only scallop-eater in my family, I only made one tart with the scallops.  The rest were topped with mozzarella cheese (Gruyere would be wonderful, but I used what I had).

The real star of these little tarts is the bacon-onion topping.  Oh, my it was good!  First the bacon was cooked until crisp.  After it is removed from the pan, some of the drippings and a bit of butter were used to slowly cook the onions until they were soft and golden.  Add the bacon back in, and you have a wonderful topping!

So, I ate my scallop-topped tart, and half of a cheese-topped tart.  I have to admit, I preferred the one with the cheese.  My husband and daughter really liked their cheesy tarts, so I think that is the way to go unless you can find super-fresh scallops.

Mozzarella and Onion Tartes Fines

Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

Since we did not have a dessert in March’s line-up of recipes, I decided this was the perfect month to catch-up on one of the desserts I have left to make.  Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake is made from farina (aka, Cream of Wheat) with a caramel sauce baked along with it, “upside-down”-style.

Doesn’t this cake look pretty?

Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

Here is the raw truth:

Messy Semolina Cake

Oops!  I had trouble getting the cake out of the pan.

So, this was an interesting little cake.  I liked the flavors, even though I burned my caramel sauce slightly.  The texture was kind of pudding-ish.  I wish I hadn’t struggled to get it out of the pan.  While I liked it, I doubt I will make it again as I would rather spend my dessert calories on other sweet treats.  I have never used farina, but now I am intrigued by the idea of using farina in desserts and for breakfast.  I found a farina pudding recipe that looks interesting, and a breakfast cereal that looks good.

What did the rest of you think of this recipe (if you can remember that far back!)?

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Sausage-Stuffed Cornish Hens

Sausage-Stuffed Cornish Hens

I have always loved Cornish game hens.  When I was a kid, I think I loved them because I got my very own chicken!  Now I love them not only because I get my own, but also because I love the taste.  A little different than chicken, but still chicken-y.

So, I was excited about this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Sausage-Stuffed Cornish Hens.  These are basic roasted hens with a simple, but tasty, sausage stuffing.

The recipe did not disappoint!  The hen was tender and flavorful, and the stuffing delicious.  I shared mine with my daughter and she gobbled up her portion!  My husband enjoyed the taste, but he does not care for the labor of carving his own little hen.  He would much rather have a boneless, skinless chicken breast and just get right to the eating.

Sausage Stuffing

While eating dinner, we discussed how these hens are impressive enough for company, but maybe not appropriate to put your guests through such labor.  You definitely wouldn’t want to serve these to someone you don’t know very well, unless you know they are adventurous enough to get their hands a little messy.

All-in-all, I was very pleased with the recipe and will certainly make it again, both with and without the stuffing.

You can find the recipe for Sausage-Stuffed Cornish Hens in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

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Two Tartines from La Croix Rouge

Smoked Salmon Tartine

Happy French Fridays with Dorie!  This week’s recipe was very simple and tasty.  We made two tartines inspired by a neighborhood cafe in Paris called La Croix Rouge.

A tartine is basically an open-faced sandwich.  The Food Lover’s Companion defines tartine as, “French for a slice of buttered bread, which can be topped with any of various other spreads from jam to cheese”.

Both tartines start with a slice of country bread that is lightly toasted on one side.  I have been looking for an excuse to make a loaf of bread from Jim Lahey’s My Bread, so I made my own.

tartine saint-germain

Roast Beef Tartine

To make the tartine saint-germain, as soon as the bread is toasted spread it with mayonnaise, then top it with thinly sliced cornichons and slices of roast beef.  Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

tartine norvégienne

Smoked Salmon Tartine

Tartine norvégienne is very similar, but replaces the mayonnaise with butter and the beef with smoked salmon.  Finish with a sprinkle of capers and freshly ground pepper.

These tartines were delicious!  I made them for dinner, but really they make a great impromptu lunch.  I must keep this concept in mind next time I have leftover bread or appropriate toppings.  A winner!

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Garbure From the Supermarket

Garbure from the Supermarket

It’s Friday once again!  This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is called Garbure From the Supermarket.

A garbure is a rustic soup, usually containing beans, cabbage, potatoes, and duck confit.  Since duck confit is not easy (or inexpensive) to find in the United States, Dorie came up with this version using ingredients more readily found here.

Dorie gave us several options:  1) pork shoulder or ham bone; 2) an optional duck leg; 3) an optional sausage; and 4) a variation using duck confit.  I went with 2 small ham shanks, no duck, and no sausage.  Also, I had some Christmas Lima Beans on hand, so I used them instead of the navy or cannellini beans.  Otherwise, I stuck with the recipe.

Garbure with Christmas Lima

As I read through this recipe I had one big concern.  This soup simmers for 3 hours, and the vegetables (carrots, celery, turnips, potatoes, and cabbage) are cooked that entire time.  I was concerned the vegetables would turn into mush, and a fellow Dorista confirmed this fear.  So, I added the veggies at the half way point.  I still felt that they were overcooked, so next time I would only cook them for the last hour.

I really liked this hearty soup.  I was happy with my choice of using ham shank, but I would love to try it with pork shoulder and a sausage someday.  Having this soup simmer away all day made me wish for wintery weather (my apologies to those of you on the East coast…).  I could picture myself and family holed up in a cozy cabin in the snow with this soup to keep us warm.

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Butter and Rum Crepes

Butter and Rum Crepes

Happy Friday!  You will be happy to hear that my family is feeling much better this week.  Thankfully our colds were pretty mild and we recovered quickly.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a real treat!  We made crepes!  The official name of the recipe is Butter and Rum Crepes, Fancy and Plain.  I believe the “fancy or plain” designation comes from whether you make the sauce or serve them plain.  You can also optionally fill the crepes with lemon curd (I did not).

Rather than making basic crepe batter, this recipe gives the crepes a bit of flavor with the addition of lemon and orange zest, and a splash of rum.  The sauce is made from honey, orange juice, lemon juice, and butter.  I served the crepes with vanilla ice cream, just because it sounded good.

Crepes

I loved these crepes!  I enjoyed the subtle citrus flavor of the crepes, and the honey-citrus-butter sauce was so delicious.  I even got to dust off my hardly-used crepe pan!  Eating these made me wonder why I don’t make crepes more often; they are easy to make and so yummy.

My husband thought these were OK.  I think he would have liked them better with chocolate sauce rather than the honey-citrus sauce.  My daughter ate one plain (with a bit of sugar) and she really enjoyed it.

Semi-off-topic question:  How do you all take photos with spoons in them and NOT catch yourself in the reflection of the spoon?

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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Hélène’s All-White Salad + Leek and Potato Soup

Helene's All-White Salad

I am running a day late for French Fridays with Dorie because we have a sick girl in the house.  I had to pick my daughter up from school early yesterday; it seems she has a cold.  My poor little girl is so congested!  Unfortunately my husband and I are not feeling optimistic about our own health, but so far neither one of us is ready to admit we have the cold too.

We will be discussing two FFWD recipes today:  Hélène’s All-White Salad and Leek and Potato Soup (a make-up from the early days).  Let’s start with the salad!

Hélène’s All-White Salad

When Dorie’s friend Hélène opened up a restaurant, she created a bunch of “color-themed” salads.  The all-white salad was Dorie’s favorite.  It contains celery, apples, mushrooms, and Napa cabbage, tossed with a yogurt-based vinaigrette.

All-White Salad

This one had mixed results in my house.  I thought it was fine, and would eat it if it were given to me, but I probably won’t make it again.  My daughter doesn’t usually eat salads, but I gave her some as an experiment.  She picked out all the apples.  My husband declared after one bite, “I won’t be eating this one again”!

I think I would have liked this one better with a different type of apple.  The Granny Smiths were too tart for my taste.  Also, my dressing was a little bitter.

Leek and Potato Soup

The Leek and Potato Soup fared better.  The French Fridays group made this one early on and it had received mixed reviews.  I read some of the old entries to figure out what people didn’t like about it, and how I could make sure it was a success for us.  Very helpful!

Leek & Potato Soup with Bacon

I didn’t change much.  The main issue is that Dorie tends to like thinner soups.  Leek and Potato seems like it should be a bit heartier, so I reduced the liquid by 2 cups (I used 3 cups broth & 2 cups milk vs. the 4 cups/3 cups called for).  Also, I didn’t have whole milk, so I used half 1% milk and half heavy cream.  The cream definitely added a nice richness to the soup!

Leek & Potato Soup

This soup can be served chunky or smooth, with any number of toppings.  I chose smooth, blending it with my immersion blender and leaving it slightly chunky.  For dinner the first night, I topped it with Gruyère cheese and bacon.  Everything tastes better with bacon!  For lunch the next day, I just used Gruyère and chopped parsley.

I am so glad I had the wisdom of the Dorista’s who made this before me!  We enjoyed the soup and I would definitely make it again with my changes.

————

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, and 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 this wonderful book!

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FO: XO Raglan Cardigan

XO Raglan Cardigan Closeup

I have exciting news!  I finally finished my sweater!!!  As a reminder, I made the XO Raglan Cardigan, from the Winter 2009/10 issue of Vogue Knitting magazine.  According to the notes in my Ravelry project, this sweater took me 4 years to the day to complete.  I cast on February 6, 2010 and sewed the final button on February 6, 2014.

XO Raglan Cardigan Buttoned

I actually finished the knitting over 6 months ago.  It took me this long to get the pieces sewn together and the buttons put on.  I was a little scared to do the seaming as I had never done it before, and a bad job of it could have ruined my sweater.  It was tedious, and I took my time, but it’s finally done!  I got my buttons from Benno’s Buttons & Trimmings.

XO Raglan Cardigan Side

The fit of my new sweater is great.  For a first sweater, I am very pleased.  I adjusted the pattern a bit to make somewhere between a size M and size L.  I credit my sewing experience with giving me the confidence to alter a knitting pattern for fit.  My only complaint (and it is minor) is that the sleeves are a little loose below my elbow.

XO Raglan Cardigan Unbuttoned

I love my new sweater!  I learned a ton doing this project, and fulfilled a lifelong dream to knit myself a sweater.

Details

Pattern:  XO Raglan Sweater by Tanis Gray.  Available in the Winter 2009/10 issue of Vogue Knitting magazine.

Yarn:  Rowan Classic Silk Wool DK in Greenhorn.  It is 50% merino wool and 50% silk.  I bought it at Jimmy Beans Wool.

See my Ravelry project for additional pictures (you must be a Ravelry member to see them).

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