FFWD: Veal Marengo

Veal Marengo

Well, I’m a few days late with this post, but I have a good excuse!  I enjoyed a lovely long weekend with my Mom and sister at Lake Tahoe.  We had a wonderful time relaxing, sightseeing, laughing, drinking wine, and eating.

I had been looking forward to making Veal Marengo ever since my Mom made the recipe in November.  It reminded her of a veal stew she had in France last Fall, and she loved it so much she made it again a month later. She gave me a great tip to use veal stew meat in place of the shoulder, which is harder to find.

Veal Marengo is a pretty simple stew, but I felt that the execution was a little fussy and used too many pots and pans. While the veal stew meat is simmering in a mix of onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, and herbs, the rest of the vegetables are each cooked separately in their own pots.  The cipollline onions were cooked until glazed with butter and the mushrooms sauteed until tender. The potatoes were boiled, then drained and coated with butter. After the veal is tender, the onions and mushrooms are added.  The potatoes are served on the side.

Veal Marengo

If I make this again, I will definitely streamline the recipe. I would cook the cipolline onions in the pot with the veal.  I might still saute the mushrooms, because I think they benefited from that extra step. My husband and I agreed that we would have preferred the potatoes cut into smaller pieces and mixed into the stew, so I would probably cook those directly in the stew too.

I thought this stew was delicious!  I loved the mild flavor of the veal, and mushrooms are a favorite of mine.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online cooking group making our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  We only have 9 recipes to go!

Before I go, I can’t resist sharing this photo I took at Lake Tahoe the other day.  The lake was still and beautiful and the clouds were very dramatic!

Lake Tahoe

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TWD: Lemon Madeleines

Lemon Madeleines

Happy Tuesday!  I’m back with another installment of Tuesdays with Dorie.  This week we made Lemon Madeleines!  I was excited about this one.

These were a basic Madeleine recipe, with the addition of lemon zest in the batter, and an optional lemon glaze. Dorie taught us a few techniques to help achieve the iconic Madeleine “bump”, specifically, chilling the batter and pan, and preheating the oven with a baking sheet in it.

Lemon Madeleines

I left off the lemon glaze, mostly because I thought the little cakes would keep better without it.  The lemon flavor of the finished Madeleines was very subtle; I’m sure it would be more pronounced with the glaze.  I think you could easily leave out the zest and have a classic vanilla Madeleine.

I did not get the classic bump, though my cakes were nicely rounded.  They had a lovely, light texture.  I have to confess I have never had professionally-made Madeleines, but the texture and flavor of these was so nice, I have to think it was close to “the real thing”. These are by far the best Madeleines I have ever made.

Lemon Madeleines

Altitude Adjustments

I have mentioned before that I have to made adjustments to cake recipes because of my higher elevation.  I made two small adjustments to this recipe and they seem to have worked well (except for my missing the bump).  These are my changes for an elevation of 4500 feet:

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

If you live at a higher elevation and need help with your cakes, I highly recommend the book High Altitude Baking: 200 Delicious Recipes & Tips for Great Cookies, Cakes, Breads & More.

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Cabbage and Foie Gras Bundles

Cabbage and Foie Gras Bundles

Happy French Friday!  We’re reaching the point in our French Fridays with Dorie journey where if you are hoping to go the distance and finish every recipe on time, you can’t skip any recipes.  I kinda wanted to skip this one.  But, I don’t want to let one recipe keep me from crossing the finish line, so here we are.

First off, I have to admit that I did not use the correct foie gras called for in the recipe. We were supposed to use foie gras terrine made from whole pieces of foie gras.  I used some leftover foie gras pâté that I saved from our last foie gras recipe. The type of foie gras Dorie specifically said not to use. I did this because finding the proper foie gras is probably impossible around here, and mail-ordering it would have been very expensive. I didn’t want to spend big bucks for a few bites.

Cabbage and Foie Gras Bundles

So, this was pretty simple. Cabbage leaves (I only did two) were cooked in boiling water for a few minutes to soften them.  After they were cool enough to handle, I wrapped the leaves around pieces of foie gras to make little “bundles”.  The bundles were then steamed (I reduced the amount of time because of using the pâté) and plated.  Finish off with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Enjoy?

I had a hard time with this one (I didn’t even think about giving this to anyone else around here…). There isn’t much I won’t eat, but I could barely take two bites of this. I didn’t care for the flavor, but I really hated the texture. I am sure the texture would have been better if I had used the proper type of foie gras. I also couldn’t get past what it was I was really eating.

At least I get credit for trying, right?

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FFWD: Riviera Fish Soup

Riviera Fish Soup

It’s another Fishy French Friday!  We are really get down to the final recipes.  There are some iffy ones left, but also some really good-sounding ones.  I am looking forward to trying them all!

This week’s recipe was a little iffy-sounding to me. Pureed fish soup?  It was hard to get my head around that one.  But, I forged ahead in the name of French Fridays with Dorie.  I bought my whole red snapper (I got the last one!).  The nice folks at Whole Foods cleaned, scaled, and chopped it up for me.  I made sure they left me the head.

When I arrived home, I simmered that snapper, head and all, with a bunch of lovely aromatics, including onions, fennel, saffron, tomatoes, and some herbs and spices. The secret ingredient is pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur. Next, I ran the whole shebang (minus the fish head) through my food mill!  It was actually kind of hard work. After adding a little more salt, pepper, and pastis, my soup was ready for serving.

Another important element of this fish soup are the garnishes: a large crouton and rouille.  I attempted to make my own rouille (a cousin of aioli) using Dorie’s recipe, but failed miserably.  It was looking good.  But, at the last minute it it suddenly turned to liquid!  Did I add the last bit of olive oil too fast?  Who knows? The next day I found this Saffron Rouille recipe using pre-made mayonnaise. It was delish!

Riviera Fish Soup
So, back to the soup.  To serve the soup, it is topped with a slice of toasted country bread and a large dollop of the rouille. I have to say, after eating this both with and without the rouille, it really adds a lot to the soup. Don’t skip the rouille!

This soup was met with mixed reactions in my house.  I loved it!  I loved the flavors and textures. It was unique (to me) and delicious.  Certain other people couldn’t get past the fact that this was “fish soup”, and didn’t care for it.

I probably won’t have a chance to make this soup again because it was a lot of work for just one person to eat it. But if you are looking for a soup to impress a group of fish-liking, adventurous eaters, give this a try!

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FFWD: Vanilla-Butter-Braised Lobster + Couscous Chicken

Happy French Friday!

It has come to my attention that perhaps I was a little too harsh on Valentine’s Day in my last post.  It can be a fun holiday, we just don’t make a big deal about it.  I was trying to explain why we don’t make a big deal, and I guess my point didn’t come across quite like I wanted it too. I don’t hate Valentine’s Day!  All that said, we had a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner this year, inspired in part by this week’s delicious French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Vanilla-Butter-Braised Lobster.

Vanilla-Butter-Braised Lobster

Vanilla-Butter-Braised Lobster

As the Dorista’s nominated recipes for the February line-up, it was decided that Vanilla-Butter-Braised Lobster would make the perfect dinner for Valentine’s Day. Great idea, and great excuse for a special dinner!

The recipe calls for live lobsters, but Dorie helpfully suggests that previously frozen lobster tails would work as well.  I opted for the lobster tails. It was interesting to me to see the varying amounts people had to spend to purchase their lobster. I was lucky to run across a “one-day sale” at Whole Foods, and picked up 4 small lobster tails for only $20.

Butter Braised Lobster

I have never cooked lobster before.  Heck, I have only eaten it a handful of times.  One thing I would love to experience some time is super-fresh East Coast lobster cooked at the source. Some day!

Anyway, I was surprised how quick and easy lobster tails are to cook, when they are braised in clarified butter.  Dorie’s twist is to add a vanilla bean.  I found the vanilla flavor to be very subtle, but delicious.

I rounded out our special meal with Lemon-Steamed Spinach and potatoes roasted in duck fat.  Decadent and delicious!

Couscous Chicken

Chicken Couscous

I’m a week late on another FFWD recipe: Couscous Chicken.  This one is a North-African-inspired dish that makes a very satisfying dinner.

What makes Chicken Couscous special and exotic is the spice mix: fresh ginger, cumin, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, and garlic. The chicken and spices are stewed together with a variety of vegetables, including, leeks, carrots, celery, and zucchini. The final touch is garbanzo beans.  The whole thing is served with the traditional couscous.  Dorie has us cook the couscous with some of the stew’s broth, lending the pasta the same exotic flavors as the rest of the dish.

I loved this!  I found it so satisfying and delicious. Best of all, it made enough for two night’s worth of dinners!

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online group dedicated to cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book, Around My French Table.

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TWD: Marquise au Chocolat

Marquise au Chocolat

My husband and I don’t generally do much for Valentine’s Day. We consider it a made-up, commercial holiday, and we don’t need a special day of the year to express our love for each other. However, this year my two Dorie groups presented the perfect excuse to make a fancy dinner to “celebrate” the holiday. I will tell you about the main dish on Friday.  Today we will discuss the dessert I made: Marquise au Chocolat. This was the Tuesdays with Dorie dessert for last week (I’m posting a week late since I saved it for Valentine’s Day).

Marquise au Chocolat can be described in three words: frozen chocolate mousse. It truly is chocolate mousse packed into a loaf pan and frozen.  It is sliced just before serving.  The end result is a dense, almost fudgy, chocolatey treat.

Marquise au Chocolat

I loved pretty much everything about Marquise au Chocolat.  The flavor and texture are wonderful.  I love that you can make it ahead – perfect for a dinner party.

This dessert was a big hit with my husband.  All of his favorite desserts include the words “chocolate” and “mousse”, so I think this will go down as being one of his favorites from Baking Chez Moi.

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FFWD: Winter Ceviche

Winter Ceviche

Happy French Friday! We’re back to fish this week, and also back to me having to make a dish for myself. The only shellfish that gets eaten by everyone around here is crab, and Winter Ceviche features scallops.

Luckily, Winter Ceviche was easy to scale down for one and pretty quick to make. Most of the preparation time was spent letting the scallops marinate in a mix of lemon, lime, and mango juices.

Winter Ceviche

This recipe has an interesting mix of ingredients and flavors. I already mentioned the citrus-mango marinade.  Once the scallops are done marinating, they are served atop a bed of fresh tarragon leaves lightly drizzled with olive oil. Next, halved grapes are strewn on top after a quick dip in the marinade. Finally, the whole thing is topped with thinly sliced shallots that had been marinating in a mix of sherry vinegar and sea salt.

I enjoyed eating Winter Ceviche. The mix of flavors was unusual, but delicious. It was very refreshing and almost summery, which was great in the middle of winter. I doubt I will make this again since I’m the only one who will eat it, but it was good.

Winter Ceviche

I will be out of town this weekend without wi-fi (the horror!), so I won’t be reading blogs or able to monitor my comments. I have a fun weekend planned with friends and family back in my home town of Seattle.

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.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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FFWD: Croquants

Croquants

Happy French Friday!  We’re taking a break from the fishiness this week with a super simple cookie called Croquants.

Croquants are a crisp and crunchy cookie made from nuts, sugar, egg whites, and a small amount of flour.  Almonds and hazelnuts are the most commonly used nuts in Croquants, but I used Dorie’s “house favorite” salted cashews.

These might really be the fastest, easiest cookies I have ever made.  Mixing up the ingredients took about two minutes with a bowl and spatula.  No need to haul out the mixer!

Croquants

I loved these little cookies.  They are light as air and very crisp. The flavor reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on it. Using the cashews was a good call, but I imagine they would be very good with almonds too.

Have a great weekend!

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.

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WIP Wednesday: Shades of Gray

It’s been a while since I have shared my knitting projects with you, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been knitting!  I have an unprecedented (for me, anyway) three projects going right now. Each of the projects is very different, except for one similarity:  they all use yarn in some shade of gray.

Project 1 – Socks

CoBaSi - Gun Metal Gray

First up is a project I actually started over a year ago.  It’s my first pair of socks, Focus Pocus by Michelle Hunter.  As I said, I started this one a year ago, but I didn’t like how tight the cast-on edge was.  It was hard to get over my heel, and it felt a little tight on my calf.  So I ripped it out.  I put off starting over for several months.  The cast-on and knitting of the first few rows is quite fiddly and stressful and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I finally braced myself and cast on in November.  To address the too-tight edge I used a larger needle for the cast on, then switched back to the smaller needle when I began knitting.  This not only helped with the tight edge, but it seemed to make the whole process go a little easier.  Now that I am well into the knitting, I am enjoying this project!

Focus Pocus Socks

I am about halfway through the cuffs of these socks.  This project is temporarily on hold while I work on some other projects, but I am looking forward to getting back to it.

Project 2 – A Mystery!

I can’t really tell you much about this next project, because it is super secret!  I can show you a picture of the yarn I am using:

Kenzie Yarn

And here is a little detail photo:

Mystery Detail

I will tell you more about this project when I finish it in a few weeks!

Project 3 – Downton Abbey

Lastly, I couldn’t resist participating in the Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-a-long hosted by Jimmy Beans Wool again this year. I have had so much fun with it the last two years, and so far this year is no exception.  As always, Jimmy Beans created a specially-dyed yarn just for this project.  While I liked the pink and brown colors of the special yarn, I couldn’t see myself getting much use out of a shawl in those colors, so I went rogue and chose these pretty colors:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. The color on the left is called “Fifty Skeins of Gray – Anastasia” and the color on the right is “Kerfuffle”.  I love these two colors together!

I am running a few weeks behind the knit-a-long (the group is on clue #4 and I am on clue #2).  Here is a picture of my shawl at the end of the first clue:

DA Mystery Shawl Part 1

I can’t wait to see how this one turns out!

What projects are you working on?

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TWD: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

It’s time for another Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking Chez Moi!  I was really looking forward to this one: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake.  I love simple vanilla-flavored cakes, so this sounded right up my alley.

What makes this recipe special is the brown butter and the vanilla bean.  Sure, it would be good with “unbrowned” butter and vanilla extract, but the inclusion of these two ingredients really adds oomph and complexity to the flavor.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

As expected, I loved this cake! The flavor, the texture, everything about it. The tender but sturdy crumb was surrounded by a lightly crunchy crust. While I loved this cake on it’s own, it would be wonderful as a base for strawberry shortcake, or any recipe calling for pound cake.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cake

Altitude Adjustments

I live at an elevation of about 4500 feet, so I usually have to adjust cake recipes so they rise properly.  The adjustments I made seemed to work well.  Here’s what I did:

  • Reduced the baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Added an extra tablespoon of cream
  • Added a tablespoon of 1% milk

Note: I did not use the optional rum.  If I had, I probably would not have added as much extra liquid.

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