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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FFWD: Salmon Tartare

IMG_0177_edited-1

I’m a day late, but here is my French Fridays with Dorie recipe for the week.  I was visiting my parents in Seattle last week, so they were the lucky recipients of this delicious dish.  It was fun to take my photos with new props and a different location!

Salmon Tartare is a lovely dish made from raw salmon seasoned with lime, scallions, chives, mint, salt, pepper, and a splash of Tabasco. It is served on a bed of perfectly ripe avocado with similar seasonings, and topped with halved grape tomatoes. To add to the beautiful colors and presentation, Dorie has us layer the ingredients in a ring or ramekin (I used ramekins) for a structured look.

Salmon Tartare

This was a huge hit!  My Dad said it was “Goooooood”! We enjoyed it with white wine on a beautiful, sunny afternoon. I loved the combination of flavors and textures.  Having fresh ingredients is a must.

A note on portion sizes:  Dorie mentions that the portions are generous, so I cut the recipe in half.  Even then, the portions for three of us were generous for a starter.

I hope you are all having a nice weekend!

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FFWD: Waffles and Cream

Waffles and Cream

Happy French Friday!  I am going to keep this short and sweet because I am busy packing for a Spring Break trip to Seattle and we leave tomorrow morning. This week for French Fridays with Dorie, we made a tasty dessert called Waffles and Cream.

I decided to really go for it, and not only made the waffles, but I also made the ice cream and the caramel sauce.  I used the Vanilla Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce recipes from the “Fundamentals and Flourishes” chapter of Around My French Table. The group isn’t officially trying to complete those recipes, but I am giving them a try when I have the chance to pair them with other recipes from the book.

Waffles with Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

What a tasty and decadent dessert!  I loved the waffles, they were light and crisp and rich all at the same time.  The vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce topped them off nicely.  I would like to try these waffles for breakfast some time too.  They would be wonderful with berries and whipped cream.

I will try my best to read the rest of your FFWD posts, but it is always tricky when you’re out of town. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and week!

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TWD: Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Happy Tuesday! My daughter is on Spring Break this week, so she helped me make this Tuesdays with Dorie treat. We made Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars.

The base of these bars is a simple, buttery brown sugar-based dough. It is spread in an 8″x8″ pan and baked until it turns golden brown.  I had the benefit of making these a week late, and learned that many people found their base over-cooked when following the baking times specified in the recipe.  I baked mine for 15 minutes and then checked it.  It was bubbling and golden brown, so I took it out early.

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Next, we sprinkled chocolate chips on top of the cookie base.  My daughter helped with this step, and only ate two of the chocolate chips! After the chocolate melted, I spread it evenly over the bars.

Next, the Caramelized Rice Krispies. Oh, those Caramelized Rice Krispies! You could make just the rice krispies and be perfectly happy.  I think Dorie knew what she was doing when she had us use only half the Caramelized Rice Krispies recipe. You wouldn’t have enough to cover the bars otherwise, because the cook would eat too many of the rice krispies before they made it onto the top of the bars!

Yummy Bar

These bars are really good!  My daughter had a little trouble eating these with the crispy topping, but once I picked the crisps off, she was was perfectly happy eating the chocolatey, buttery bar. Dorie suggests other toppings for these instead of the rice krispies, and I think coconut would be especially good.

So far I have loved everything I have made from Baking Chez Moi. If you haven’t bought it yet, go run out and get it!

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FFWD: Next-Day Beef Salad + Orange-Almond Tart

Orange-Almond Tart

Happy French Friday!  This post marks quite a milestone! With the make-up recipe I did this week, I am now 100% caught up on French Fridays with Dorie! Bring on the final 7 recipes! (Sorry for all the exclamation points…can you tell I’m excited?)

So, we’re going to talk about two recipes today. This week’s recipe, Next-Day Beef Salad, and one from quite some time ago, Orange-Almond Tart.

Next-Day Beef Salad

Next-Day Beef Salad

For some reason I put off trying Next-Day Beef Salad because I thought it required leftover beef tenderloin from Boeuf à la Ficelle. Turns out you can use pretty much any leftover beef. I used top sirloin, but I can see how something a little more tender would be better.

This salad was created when Dorie made an attempt at clearing out a variety of leftovers.  She gives us a specific recipe, but also gives us permission to play around with it.

The recipe starts with the beef and a simple dressing of mayonnaise and mustard.  I added in green onions, Picholine olives, cornichons, grape tomatoes, and red bell pepper. Tossed together, I served my salad on a bed of mixed greens.

This was good!  I really enjoyed the flavor of the mustard dressing with the beef.  This is a great recipe to keep in mind when you have leftover roast beef and want to use it for something a little different.

Orange-Almond Tart

Orange-Almond Tart

The group made Orange-Almond Tart way back in February 2011. I chose not to make it at the time because we just didn’t need to have a big dessert.  If I had known back then that I would be on track to complete every recipe from Around My French Table, I might not have skipped it.

Orange-Almond Tart

Orange-Almond Tart is a riff on the classic Pear and Almond Tart.  It still has the pâte sablée crust and the almond cream, but the pears are replaced with oranges.

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. Making this tart was a reminder how much I like Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough recipe.

There you have it!  I look forward to finishing the final stretch of recipes with 100% completion!  Have a great weekend!

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