Smoky Barbecue-Style Pork

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Happy Friday! Cook the Book Fridays is kicking off summer with Smoky Barbecue-Style Pork.

Smoky Barbecue-Style Pork is a simple dish with a lot of flavor. Most of the work happens the day before cooking, when a bunch of flavorful spices (salt, smoked paprika, ancho chile powder, cinnamon, cumin, and cocoa powder) are rubbed on pork shoulder. The next day, the pork is placed in a dutch oven with gussied-up bottled barbecue sauce, then braised for several hours until fork-tender.

This pork was super-delicious! There was just the right amount of sauce for the pork, and the result is very versatile. The night I made this, I served it with corn on the cob and Green Beans with Snail Butter. Later in the week, we had barbecue pork sandwiches for a quick-and-easy weeknight meal. My daughter had a barbecue pork quesadilla in her lunch one day. We will be finishing off the leftovers tonight.

If you would like to try Smoky Barbecue-Style Pork, you can find the recipe in David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen. You won’t be disappointed!

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Soufflés + Some Catching Up

Hello! It’s been a while. I’ve been struggling to keep up with Cook the Book Fridays, both cooking and blogging. I was late getting one item made, so I waited to write about it until the next “official” posting day, then I was late getting the next item made, etc. It was a vicious cycle! I finally have a recipe made on time, so I am doing a bit of a catch up today.

Cheese, Bacon, and Arugula Spinach Soufflé

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The recipe the group made for this week is individual Cheese, Bacon, and Arugula Soufflés. These savory little soufflés are easier to make and more fool-proof than the fabled recipes that risk collapse as they come out of the oven.

I made a few changes: I substituted spinach for the arugula and green onions for the chives, mostly because those are the ingredients I had on hand. I also cut the recipe in half, using 2 egg yolks and 3 egg whites.

Here is the same soufflé pictured above right after it came out of the oven, before it had a chance to deflate:

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This was a big hit! All three of us loved our soufflés, and my daughter was the lucky one who got the extra soufflé in her lunch.

Paris-Paris

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Paris-Paris is a cross between éclairs and a Paris-Brest. It’s basically a standard éclair, with the nut-praline pastry cream found in a Paris-Brest.

It took me three tries to get this one right. I could not get David’s éclair pastry recipe to work for me; it ended up way too thin for me to pipe properly. For my third attempt, I used Dorie’s pâte à choux recipe from Around My French Table since I had been successful with it before.

Wow, was this good! So worth the effort! The praline pastry cream took this over the top in deliciousness.

Beet Hummus

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Finally, we’ve got Beet Hummus, which is exactly what it sounds like: hummus made with beets, in addition to the traditional chickpeas.

I don’t have too much to say about this one. It was good, easy to make, and would make a nice appetizer for a dinner party because it’s a little different. I really liked the flavor from the pomegranate molasses.

Whew! I’m caught up (if you don’t count the one recipe I haven’t made yet). We’ll see if I can keep up now that I’m (mostly) caught up.

Have a great weekend!

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Hard-Cooked Eggs with Chervil Mayonnaise

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I have a dubious record when it comes to making mayonnaise from scratch. I have only tried it twice, and neither could be considered a success. The first time was an utter failure, with the mayo never thickening and coming together. The next time, the mayonnaise came together but I didn’t like the flavor. I think it was the olive oil I chose; the flavor was too strong for mayo.

So I was a little nervous making this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, which features homemade mayonnaise.

Hard-Cooked Eggs with Chervil Mayonnaise is something I knew we would like, as long as the mayonnaise turned out okay. My husband is often requesting or making hard-boiled eggs. The mayonnaise sounded promising as it is made from a neutral-tasting oil (I used grapeseed oil) and flavored with a bit of Dijon mustard, shallot, and fresh chervil.

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First I made the hard-cooked eggs. Rather than follow the recipe in My Paris Kitchen, I used my new favorite method: the Instant Pot. Perfect, easy-to-peel, hard-cooked eggs, every time!

Then I set about making the mayonnaise. Success! Whew!

The hard-cooked eggs and mayonnaise are served on a bed of butter lettuce with a few wedges of tomatoes. We enjoyed the eggs and homemade mayo quite a lot. My husband and I agreed that homemade mayonnaise probably isn’t worth it for most situations, but for this dish it really made a positive difference.

If you are interested in trying chervil mayonnaise, or even plain mayo, you can find recipes for both in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

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Lamb Shank Tagine + Chocolate Chip Fougasse

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Happy Friday! Spring may be just around the corner, but it still feels like winter here in Reno. We got almost a foot of snow overnight and it is still snowing! It is beautiful and makes me want to hunker down for a cozy day at home.

This week’s Cook the Book Fridays dish was hearty and warming; perfect for a chilly night. Lamb Shank Tagine is a delicious blend of lamb, dried fruits (apricots and raisins), and warm Moroccan spices.

I have always loved lamb shanks, but I don’t make them very often. Lamb Shank Tagine was the perfect way to enjoy the fall-off-the-bone tender meat. The spices and dried fruits really complement the meat nicely. I was able to enjoy this delicious dish for two dinners and a lunch.

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I served the lamb with the suggested Lemon-Pistachio Israeli Couscous and it was the perfect accompaniment. It was reminiscent of Dorie’s Beggar’s Linguine, but lighter and fresher, and I liked it better.

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I also made Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut, and Dried Sour Cherry Fougasse. I loved the more-traditional Olive Fougasse we made for French Fridays with Dorie, so I was looking forward to trying this one. This bread is flavored with semisweet chocolate chunks, hazelnuts, dried sour cherries, and orange zest. A sprinkling of flaky sea salt on top brings it all together.

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I actually didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would. I am not crazy about fruit-laden breads, and something about the nuts, dried cherries, and orange zest took it over the top for me. I would have been happier with just the chocolate chunks and sprinkling of sea salt.

If you would like to try your hand at any of these recipes, you can find them in My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.

What’s the weather like where you are?

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Carrot Cake

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Happy Friday! I love baking and baked goods, but I don’t bake very often. My small family just doesn’t need to have too many tempting treats lying around. So I was very excited when Cook the Book Fridays gave me the perfect excuse to bake this week with Carrot Cake.

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The recipe as it is written is for a giant layer cake that serves 12 to 16 people. Since I didn’t have a birthday party or other event to bake for, I had to pare things down. I cut the recipe in half and baked cupcakes! Not only did I bake cupcakes, I also took the opportunity to use my mini bundt pan. I got 18 cupcakes out of the half recipe, though I probably should have filled the mini bundt pan with a little less batter per cake.

The frosting is a mix of cream cheese and mascarpone with small amounts of powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.

My cupcakes turned out really well. The cake is moist and tender, with just the right amount of spice, and the frosting is decadent but not too sweet. They seem to keep well; they were just as good (if not better) on the second day.

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Altitude Adjustments: I made a few small adjustments for my altitude of 4500 feet:

  1. Since the full recipe uses an uneven number of eggs (5), when I cut the recipe in half I rounded up to 3 eggs. This provides a little extra moisture and structure for the cake.
  2. I also added an extra tablespoon of buttermilk for even more extra moisture. My climate is dry, so I always add a little extra liquid when I bake.
  3. I reduced amount of baking powder and baking soda slightly. I took an 1/8 teaspoon out of the baking powder, and when I measured the baking soda, I used just a smidgen less than a half teaspoon.

If you would like to try your hand at making these cupcakes (or the whole, giant cake!), you can find the recipe in David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.

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Black Olive Tapenade

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Happy Friday! After Cook the Book Fridays’ work-intensive, duck-filled month of January, we chose an easy recipe for this week to ease into February.

Black Olive Tapenade is one of those “why don’t I make this more often?” recipes. It’s so easy to make and so delicious! The hardest part is procuring the ingredients (and that wasn’t very hard). I found pitted Niçoise olives and they were perfect for this tapenade.

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I love tapenade with goat cheese, so I purchased some herbed goat cheese and served it all on simple crackers for a lovely afternoon snack. Tonight I plan on making Olive-Olive Chicken Breasts à la Dorie for dinner. My husband hasn’t had a chance to try the tapenade yet, but I’m sure he will enjoy it this weekend.

Black Olive Tapenade is a winner, and a reminder that sometimes taking the time to make something from scratch is worth it!

You can find the recipe for Black Olive Tapenade on page 57 of David Lebovitz’s wonderful book My Paris Kitchen.

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Cassoulet + Some Catching Up

Happy New Year! I am kicking off the new year with a catch up post. I’ve continued cooking along with Cook the Book Fridays, but I haven’t managed to keep up with my blogging. I will be covering each item in the order cooked (because the order was strategic!).

Counterfeit Duck Confit

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Counterfeit Duck Confit provides a simplified way of making the classic duck confit at home. It takes some planning head (the duck legs marinate overnight then roast for close to three hours), but the technique is easy.

I don’t think I’ve ever had duck confit, so I’m not sure how it compares to the real deal, but I enjoyed this duck a lot. Part of the leg portion was a touch dry, but the skin was crispy and delicious and most of the meat was moist and tender.

I cooked four duck legs and froze two of them. I also saved the duck fat that remained in the baking dish. Keep reading to see why!

Fennel, Radish, Orange, and Crab Salad

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Fennel, Radish, Orange, and Crab Salad is pretty much what it sounds like. Simple crab salad placed on a bed of sliced fennel and radicchio topped with orange suprêmes and sliced radishes.

We liked this, but I would change a few things: 1) There were too many greens for the amount of crab; I ended up using only half the greens I prepared. 2) We didn’t care for the bitter flavor of the radicchio and felt like we would have enjoyed the salad more with romaine lettuce. 3) Buy a better crab! The crab I bought was only OK, so I can only imagine how delicious the salad would be with perfectly fresh crab.

That said, we enjoyed the all the flavors of the salad (except the bitter radicchio), especially the brightness of the orange.

Potatoes Cooked in Duck Fat

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Potatoes Cooked in Duck Fat: another very descriptive recipe title! Remember the duck fat I saved when I made the Counterfeit Duck Confit? I used it to make these potatoes.

What I like about this recipe is that the potatoes are parboiled in water and then fried. This helps ensure they are creamy and cooked through on the inside and not too overdone on the outside.

Yum! These are the best fried potatoes I have ever made. I served them with an egg scramble (using leftover fennel and radicchio from the crab salad) for “Breakfast for Dinner”.

Cassoulet

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Finally, the Cassoulet! Or, the more descriptive White Bean, Sausage, Duck Confit Casserole.

This was an all day project, even with the already-made duck confit legs I pulled out of the freezer. I cut out some of the time by using my Instant Pot to cook the beans and ham hock (I saved about an hour and a half).

This recipe make a lot. I cut the recipe in half and it still served us for two dinners, a lunch, and sadly some that went to the trash.

This is another French classic that I have never eaten before. I don’t know if the ratio is traditional, but I thought there were too many beans to the duck confit and sausages. Next time (if there is a next time) I would cut the beans in half again.

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I wanted to like this more than I did. The beans had a wonderful flavor, but I wanted more of the meat. Also, as my husband said, “It has a delicious background flavor, but it’s all background flavor”. He wanted more punch from the duck confit and sausages, but the flavors blended almost too well with the beans. So, while I had fun making this, and I really did enjoy eating it, I doubt I would make it again. Too much effort for not enough payoff.

Whew! I need a rest after that. Good thing it’s the weekend!

All the recipes mention in this post can be found in David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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Celery Root Salad with Mustard Sauce

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I sat down yesterday to write this post (on time!) and made a big mistake. I saw that my computer had updates, so I decided to update and restart my computer. Little did I know it was a big update and I spent my whole window of “computer time” updating! So, here I am writing my post a day late.

The Cook the Book Fridays recipe of the week was (thankfully!) an easy one: Celery Root Salad with Mustard Sauce. This is one of those recipes that I would have skipped over if not for Cook the Book Fridays. It’s hard to get excited about something called “celery root salad”.

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Well, thank goodness for Cook the Book Fridays! Otherwise I would have never known that celery root salad would be so easy and delicious. The mustard dressing was flavorful, but not overpowering. The celery root provided crunch and a fresh flavor. This is a great salad to make in the winter when fresh vegetables are not looking so fresh, but it would also be good in the summer as a sort of slaw replacement.

If you own My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, don’t skip over this recipe like I almost did. If you don’t own it yet, get it added it to your Christmas wish list!

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Buckwheat Polenta + Fresh Herbed Pasta

Happy Friday! Since mid-summer I have been feeling behind on my Cook the Book Fridays cooking. With this post I am officially caught up! (with the exception of the apricot kernel ice cream, which I may or may not get to). Let’s see what delicious things I made over the last couple of weeks:

Buckwheat Polenta with Braised Greens, Sausage, and Poached Eggs

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I have always liked polenta, but for some reason I don’t make it very often. This recipe gave me the excuse I needed.

There are a lot of pieces to this recipe: the polenta, the braised greens, the sausages, and the poached egg. I feel like I used every pot in the house to make it!

I made Buckwheat Polenta with Braised Greens, Sausage, and Poached Eggs on a chilly, rainy night, and it was a perfect bowl of hearty comfort. For my appetite, I don’t think it needed the sausage and the egg, but it was a delicious combination of flavors nonetheless.

Herbed Fresh Pasta

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I can’t remember the last time I made fresh pasta. It’s been years since I pulled out my Kitchenaid pasta attachment. Freshly made pasta is wonderful, but time consuming to make. Not the type of thing a mother has time to make very often.

I was happy to finally have an excuse to make fresh pasta! I learned several things with this particular recipe: 1) I have never been brave enough to add in any kind of herbs or flavoring to my pasta and this recipe taught me how (I used just parsley); 2) The recipe I have used in the past has no mention of using rice flour or semolina to toss with the freshly cut pasta to keep it from sticking together. Knowing about this is very helpful!; and 3) While the recipe itself didn’t teach me this, I researched and learned how to freeze fresh pasta for later use. I figured if I am going to go to the trouble of making pasta, I should at least get several meals out of it. More about how to freeze later.

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I spread the work of making this pasta throughout the day, so it didn’t really feel all that work intensive. I made the dough in the morning, cut it in the afternoon, and cooked it at dinner time.

Wow, so delicious! I served the pasta with Summer Tomato Sauce that I had in the freezer, which was made from garden tomatoes. What a treat in the middle of November!

To freeze fresh pasta: I portioned the pasta into single-serving piles that I tossed with extra semolina flour to prevent sticking. I left the pasta out and uncovered for a few hours to dry it slightly. Then, each portion of pasta went into its own freezer bag, and the smaller bags were put together in a larger freezer bag. Into the freezer it went! When it’s time to cook the pasta, don’t thaw it. Just cook it from frozen. I tried some of my frozen pasta this week and it cooked for the same amount of time as fresh. And it was just as delicious!

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, a group cooking our way through David Lebovitz’s wonderful book My Paris Kitchen. You can find today’s recipes on pages 158 and 230.

I wish all of my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving! Everyone else, have a great weekend!

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Celery Root Soup + Some Catching Up

Happy Friday! I have some catching up to do! While I’ve been doing a pretty good job keeping up with my Cook the Book Fridays cooking, I have been terrible about keeping up with the blog. Which means I have three recipes to share with you today.

Celery Root Soup with Horseradish Cream and Ham Chips

First up is Celery Root Soup with Horseradish Cream and Ham Chips.

The soup itself is pretty basic: leeks, celery root, butter, and some herbs and spices cooked until tender and then blended smooth. What makes this recipe shine is the garnishes! The horseradish cream is made from crème fraîche, horseradish, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The “ham chips” are thin slices of prosciutto baked until crisp. The final flourish is a sprinkling of chives.

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I liked this soup a lot, but the rest of my family thought it was only OK (actually my daughter only took one bite and moved on…).

Indian Cheese Bread

Next is Indian Cheese Bread. It’s basically naan stuffed with cheese.

I made a few of these with the cheese stuffing, and the rest I cooked plain. I actually preferred the plain ones, but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

The cheesy version:

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You can’t really see the cheese, but it’s there. Also, when I cook this type of bread, I can’t quite seem to find the fine line where the pan is hot enough to actually cook the bread, but not so hot that it gets charred.

The plain version:

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There’s nothing like a photo to point out that you should have wiped the plate clean before taking pictures.

Individual Chocolate Cakes with Dulce de Leche and Fleur de Sel

I saved the best for last! Individual Chocolate Cakes with Dulce de Leche and Fleur de Sel are decadent single-serving molten chocolate cakes. You might guess from the title that they each have a spoonful of dulce de leche and sprinkling of sea salt in the middle.

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These cakes are best eaten when they are still warm from the oven. As an experiment, I baked half of them right away and baked the rest the next day. They were just as good after an overnight rest, which means they are perfect for a dinner party: assemble early in the day (or the day before) and bake right before serving.

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Huge hit! We loved these! I love that these little cakes are flourless. My husband is eating grain-free and he loves chocolate, so this recipe will probably be my go-to decadent treat recipe.

All the recipes mentioned in this post can be found in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

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