Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans

Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a dessert called Paris-Brest.  This is not Paris-Brest.

I decided to do a make-up recipe this week instead of the scheduled dessert.  It just wasn’t a good week for a big dessert, so I will wait to make it when I have more people to help me eat it.

I made Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans.  I chose this recipe mostly because I had a stray can of pumpkin in the pantry I wanted to use up.  Also, this recipe didn’t really appeal to me, so I wanted to get it over with.

Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans

Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans are a savory custard meant to be served as a starter.  They are really quite easy to make.  Canned pumpkin is mixed with eggs and heavy cream, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  After pouring this mixture into ramekins, it is topped with crumbled Gorgonzola and toasted walnuts.  Bake until cooked through and eat slightly warm or at room temperature.

This recipe surprised us!  I liked it better than I thought I would.  The Gorgonzola is a very important flavor in this dish; it really added to the overall taste.  My husband surprised me by liking this one a lot!  He said it was one of the better French Fridays dishes.

It was fun to get caught up on one of the first recipes the FFWD group made!  At this point I only have 8 recipes to get caught up on.  Definitely a doable number!

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Moules Marinière

Moules Mariniere

Happy Friday!  This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is a quick-to-make dish called Moules Marinière, or fisherman’s mussels.

The mussels are steamed in a simple wine sauce:  first onion, shallot, and garlic are sauteed in olive oil, then simmered with white wine, thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf.  The mussels cook for less than 5 minutes, then they are ready to eat.  Have some bread on hand to sop up the tasty juices!

Moules Mariniere

Since I am the only one in my house who will eat mussels, I made this for a lunchtime treat.  While I enjoyed these very much, I found myself longing for the super-fresh mussels that can be found in my hometown of Seattle.  I am sure they would have made a good dish even better!

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FO: Mini Mitts

Adorable Fingerless Gloves

My daughter has always struggled with gloves and mittens.  They just don’t fit her well and it’s hard to get her hands into them.  Not to mention the fact that she just doesn’t like the way they feel and rips them off almost immediately.  Her poor hands get so cold in the winter!

Last year while I was making my own pair of fingerless gloves, it occurred to me that a well-fitting pair of fingerless gloves might work for her too.

Great fit!

After some searching, I settled on the free Adorable Kids Fingerless Gloves pattern.  I wanted something simple that used a lightweight yarn (fingering in this case).

Since I wanted these to fit very well, and not be too loose and bulky, I carefully considered what size to make and how to adjust them to fit.   Her hand measured on the upper end of the size range, so I made a size large and added some length.

Mini Mitts

I am very pleased with the fit of these gloves.  They fit, well, like gloves!  (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)

Unfortunately I didn’t get these finished in time for the cold snap we had in early December, and it has been quite warm since.  But she did get a chance to wear these on a recent morning, and she wore them all the way to school without taking them off!  Success!  Hopefully we have some more cold weather so we can make use of these some more, and I am sure they will still fit next year.

Details

Pattern:  Adorable Kids Fingerless Gloves by KiwiYarns

Yarn:  Stroll Multi Sock Yarn from KnitPicks.  It’s a fingering weight.  The content is 75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon.

See my Ravelry project for details on the adjustments I made to the pattern for size.

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Simple Party Soups + Baked Apple

It’s another two-fer French Friday today!  I made two French Fridays with Dorie recipes this week:  Christine’s Simple Party Soups and Baked Apples Filled with Fruits and Nuts.

Simple Broccoli Soup

Christine’s Simple Party Soups are a trio of simple vegetable soups: asparagus, broccoli, and red pepper.  The technique is the same for each soup.  Simply simmer the vegetables in chicken broth until tender, then puree and season with salt and pepper.  Serve the soups with a dollop of flavored whipped cream and you are good to go!

Rather than trying to tackle all three soups, I chose to make just the broccoli soup.   As advertised, it was very simple to make.  The cream was flavored with curry powder, which I felt added a very nice flavor.

I served the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches for a simple weeknight meal.  We liked the soup, but probably not enough for me to make it again.

Baked Apple with Fruit & Nuts

Some of you may recognize this apple from my previous photo challenge!

Simple was the theme of the week.  Baked Apples Filled with Fruits and Nuts are an easy-to-make dessert, perfect for a cold night.

The apples are filled with the cook’s choice of dried fruits and nuts mixed with honey.  Add a little butter and some apple juice for moistness and you are ready to bake.

Apples out of the oven

Fresh from the oven!

These baked apples can be served with any number of creamy topping, such as heavy cream, yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.  I decided to try the unwhipped cream, which was very nice with it.

I like this one better than my husband did.  He thought it seemed more like a snack than a dessert.  These would be great with vanilla ice cream!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

Behind every food blogger there is a window…

Window

This is my Weekly Photo Challenge.

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January 15, 2014 · 9:52 PM

Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Palet d’Or

Palet d'Or

It’s my final Bouchon Bakery Challenge!  I wanted to go out with a bang, so I made Palet d’Or (“gold disk”).  It’s a fancy, rich, chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling and chocolate glaze.  A lot of chocolate went into this cake!

This recipe caught my eye as soon as I received my copy of Bouchon Bakery.  It looked like it would stretch my skills a bit, but I wanted to give it a try.  Christmas seemed like the perfect occasion for such a decadent dessert.

Making and assembling this cake took a fair amount of time over three days (it can be done in two days), but it was fun to make and none of the steps was difficult.  I learned several new techniques and ended up with a super dessert.

Unmolded cake ready to glaze

Unmolded cake ready to glaze

The Chocolate Cream layer is incredibly delicious!  I may or may not have had a hard time not eating all the leftovers.

The Chocolate Glaze was very interesting in that it used gelatin to help it set.  I have never seen a recipe do this before and I have to say it was the easiest chocolate glaze I have ever used.

All in all, this cake was fabulous!  Everyone ate it very enthusiastically with lots of oohs and ahhs.  What more can a baker ask for?

Palet d'Or

Recipe Notes

  • I do not own a cake ring and didn’t really want to buy one for just one dessert (also, I had trouble finding the exact right size).  I used my 8″ springform pan without the bottom instead.  It was too tall, so I was not able to make the top as smooth as I could with the ring, but I am not selling this cake at a bakery and am not looking for absolute perfection.  The pan worked well for making the layers and freezing the cake.
  • The recipe calls for Brune pâte à glacer (also known as compound chocolate) or plain bittersweet chocolate.  Since it was for such a small amount (to coat one side of each cake layer) I used the regular chocolate and it worked just fine.
  • Instead of garnishing the cake with gold leaf, I used gold edible glitter, which I found at King Arthur Flour.
Cake with glittering Christmas lights reflecting off it

Cake with glittering Christmas lights reflecting off it

Altitude Adjustments

I made several adjustments for altitude (I am at about 4500 ft.).

For the Devil’s Food Cake:   I used a scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda and a scant 1/8 tsp. baking powder.  I used one whole egg and one egg white, for a total of 90 grams of egg.  I added an extra tablespoon of water.  The adjustments seemed to work, as the cake turned out well.

For the Chocolate Cream:  When warming the egg mixture in the double boiler, I took it off the heat when the temperature reached 175°F to account for the lower boiling point.

Slice of Chocolate Cake

Next Month

There is no next month as I intended this to be a year-long project.  However, I will continue to make an effort to use this book and try more recipes.

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Onion “Carbonara” + Dilled Gravlax

Happy Friday!  I didn’t get a chance to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, so I thought I would take this opportunity to do a “catch up” post.  There are two recipes from December that I made on time, but didn’t quite find the time to write about.  So, here we are!

Recipe-Swap Onion “Carbonara”

Onion "Carbonara"

Recipe-Swap Onion “Carbonara” is a play on the classic pasta dish, Carbonara.  It replaces the pasta with onions and can be served as a side dish or starter.  In her Bonne Idée for this recipe, Dorie suggests that it is a wonderful topping for pasta, so that’s how I served it.

In this recipe, steamed thinly sliced onions are tossed with chopped bacon, cream, an egg yolk, butter, and grated Parmesan to make a creamy dish.

We loved the flavors of this, but felt that the fettuccine I used was too heavy for the onion sauce; it detracted from the flavors.  The next day I gently reheated the leftovers and served it on a lighter pasta and it worked much better.

Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

This one is a showstopper!  Save it for a special meal or when you want to impress!  Or, since it is so easy to make, have it whenever you feel like treating yourself to something special.

I have never made Gravlax before.  I have looked a recipes for it, but it always seemed so intimidating.  I don’t know why I was intimidated – this is so easy to make!  All you need is time and a quality piece of salmon.

To make gravlax, a fresh salmon fillet is rubbed with a mixture of white and black peppercorns, coriander seeds, sea salt, and sugar.  It is topped with plenty of fresh dill and cured for 48 – 72 hours.  Slice thinly and serve with a honey-mustard dill sauce.

Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

I absolutely loved this!  I never thought homemade gravlax could be so much better than store-bought.  I loved how the dill permeated the salmon.  It was so flavorful.  I served this as part of my Christmas appetizer spread and it was perfect for such a special occasion.

The next morning I put some of the salmon on a toasted bagel with cream cheese – scrumptious!

Lox and Cream Cheese on a Bagel

Do yourself a favor, next time you want to impress (even if you are only trying to impress yourself), make Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce!

These recipes can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table, a must-have for any cook’s library.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

Beginning

I have decided to occasionally participate in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, whenever inspiration strikes and the theme fits into my blog.

When I read this week’s theme, I immediately thought of this image I took last week.  Two skeins of yarn, caked and ready to be transformed…into ???

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January 6, 2014 · 7:00 AM

Dressy Pasta “Risotto”

Dressy Pasta "Risotto"

I’m finally back with a French Fridays with Dorie post!  It feels good to be here.  I actually have two more FFWD recipes to tell you about, but I will get to those another day.  If I wait until I have time for a “3 recipe” post, then it may never happen!

This week’s recipe was called Dressy Pasta “Risotto”.  While the technique was vaguely risotto-like, it would have been better to call this “Fancy Mac & Cheese”.  The pasta is cooked in broth until the broth has mostly evaporated, then heavy cream, Parmesan, and mascarpone are mixed in.  This dish is very rich!

"Risotto" on the Plate

I served this “risotto” for a New Year’s Eve dinner with chicken roasted “lazy style” and roasted Brussels sprouts.  We all thought the pasta was delicious (especially my daughter, whose favorite meal is Mac & Cheese).  What a lovely way to end the year!

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Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of gubgib at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of gubgib at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy New Year, dear readers!!

I always have such good blogging intentions for December.  After all, it’s a fun month for cooks, foodies, and crafters.  I enjoyed all those activities, I just didn’t have time to write about them.  I guess that just means I have a backlog of fun things to share with you in the weeks ahead!

To say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, I thought it would be fun to recap the top five posts of 2013.  Without further ado, here we go:

5. Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Croissants

Freshly Baked Croissants

Apparently a lot of people want to learn how to make croissants!  Not only did this post generate a lot of views, but quite a few people also clicked on the link I shared with instructions on how to make them.

4. Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Banana Muffins

Bouchon Bakery Banana Muffins

In general, my Bouchon Bakery Challenge posts were quite popular.  Many, many people out there are looking to recreate Bouchon Bakery recipes!  It think this one in particular ranked highly because it was posted in January, and therefore had more time to be viewed.  The TKO post ranked highly, but wasn’t published long enough to make the top 5.

3. Basic Rice Pilaf

Basic Rice Pilaf

This continues to be one of my most popular posts, even though it was published nearly 3 years ago.  The most popular search terms coming into my site are variations on, “how to make basic rice pilaf from scratch”.  I think the lesson here is that sometimes the basics are what people want.

2. Caramel Budino

Delicious Caramel Budino

This is one of the posts I am most proud of this year, and I am pleased that it ranked highly.  I spent a lot of time making the dessert, taking the photos, and writing the post, and my work paid off!  This is also a lesson in the power of foodgawker and TasteSpotting, as most of my views came from there.  I was honored to have my photos accepted at both sites!

1. Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-A-Long

Ball of Yarn

This post benefited from the perfect storm of hysteria over the new season of Downton Abbey, interest in participating in a Downton Abbey-themed knit-a-long, and a well-timed and well-placed appearance on Ravelry.

——————-

I wonder what my top 5 posts of 2014 will be?  I suspect the Basic Rice Pilaf post will be one of them.

If I have one blogging goal for 2014, it is to find more time to read and comment on my fellow bloggers’ wonderful posts.  For some reason I have had trouble fitting that in, and I have so many lovely people commenting on my blog, I wish to be able to reciprocate!

I hope all of you have a happy, healthy, and productive New Year!

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