Gazpacho with Herbed Goat Cheese Toasts

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I have to admit that I have never been drawn to Gazpacho. The idea of cold tomato soup just isn’t very appealing to me. But, since this is Cook the Book Fridays, I willingly made this week’s recipe, Gazpacho with Herbed Goat Cheese Toasts.

One thing that did appeal to me about making this recipe was that I was able to use home grown tomatoes. It seems like a recipe featuring tomato is the perfect match for garden tomatoes.

I made a change to the technique: rather that boiling the tomatoes briefly to peel them, and then pushing the tomato pulp through a strainer, I just ran them through my food mill. I’m not sure it saved me any time, but for some reason I find the boil-and-peel method to be tedious, and I also got to use one of my kitchen toys!

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The herbed goat cheese toasts were an interesting contrast to the goat cheese we made a few weeks ago. This was the “quick and easy” version, while the other recipe required at least 24 hours. Both versions were good, and both have their place.

I was pleasantly surprised by the gazpacho! It was very flavorful, and the olive oil and my San Marzano tomatoes added a richness I didn’t expect. My husband loved this soup, and has requested it a couple times since I made it last weekend (alas, we don’t have enough garden tomatoes for it right now). I gave a small bowl to my daughter and she liked it too. I still don’t think I will ever crave gazpacho, but I now see it as a nice way to enjoy tomatoes from the garden.

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Spiced Meatballs with Sriracha Sauce

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Who doesn’t love meatballs? We sure do. This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe was a delicious take on meatballs.

Spiced Meatballs with Sriracha Sauce are David Lebovitz’s attempt to recreate the flavor of merguez sausages at home. These are heavily spiced meatballs: the spices include fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, cilantro, garlic, paprika, Sriracha (or harissa), cinnamon, allspice, and sumac. The recipe suggests ground beef or lamb, or a combination of the two. I used lamb, but I am sure beef would be delicious too.

Despite all the herbs and spices, these meatballs were quick to put together. I appreciated that there was no “filler” like breadcrumbs since we have a non-grain eater in the house. I also like that Mr. Lebovitz gave us several options for cooking the meatballs (pan, grill, or oven). I took the easy way out and baked these in the oven.

The Sriracha Sauce was even easier to make than the meatballs. Simply mix together mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce and there you have it!

I served Spiced Meatballs with Sriracha Sauce with roasted cauliflower for a simple dinner. The flavors of the meatballs were a little too sophisticated for my daughter, but my husband and I loved them. I will definitely make them again, with beef or lamb.

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an online cooking group making our way through David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen. You can find the recipe on page 74 of his wonderful book.

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Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind!

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It’s rewind week at Tuesdays with Dorie. That means we can try a make-up recipe, or remake an old favorite. I am choosing to catch up on a couple of recipes I made over the last month but haven’t had a chance to write about yet: Cornmeal and Berry Cakes and Esquimaux Pops for Grown-Ups.

Cornmeal and Berry Cakes

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During a particularly stressful week early in the month, I decided to take a break and bake Cornmeal and Berry Cakes. It was very therapeutic to get out some flour, sugar, and eggs and bake something! And these sunny little cakes are just the thing to brighten one’s day.

These cakes are are simple olive oil cakes, gussied up a bit with fine cornmeal, lemon juice and zest, and berries. I made two small changes: I made cupcakes rather than the 4 small loaf cakes Dorie suggests, and I used blueberries instead of raspberries.

Cornmeal and Berry Cakes are delicious little snacking cakes. Mine turned out a little heavy, but I think it’s because I did not adjust for altitude at all (I usually do when making cakes). I always enjoy the flavors of lemon and blueberry together. I froze half the cakes for future snacking, and they froze well.

Esquimaux Pops for Grown-Ups

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When Esquimaux Pops for Grown-Ups showed up on the Tuesdays with Dorie schedule, I knew I would be making them! These are fudgy little ice pops with flecks of dark chocolate. What makes them only for grown-ups? The addition of liqueur!

To make these pops, we first made a chocolate mousse, mixing in tiny bits of chocolate at the end. I used Dorie’s favorite crème de cassis as my choice of liqueur because I had some on hand, but Kahlua would be wonderful as well. The mousse is simply spooned into popsicle molds and frozen until solid.

Yum! My husband and I have been enjoying these adult treats each night after my daughter goes to bed. They are the perfect size: a sweet treat that leaves you wanting just a tiny bit more. I will definitely make these again and it would be fun to experiment with different liqueurs.

If you are interested in trying either of these recipes, you can find them in Dorie Greenspan’s delicious book Baking Chez Moi.

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Cook the Book Fridays – August Recipes

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Happy Cook the Book Friday Tuesday! My daughter is back to school, so I hope to be back to more regular blogging, at least for now. The next few months will be pretty hectic for my family, so my blogging may be sporadic for the rest of the year. I’m OK with that, but I hope to keep up with my Cook the Book Fridays cooking. We do have to eat after all!

The last couple of weeks I have struggled to get it together enough to make consistently decent meals. I blame the change in our after school schedule. Last week was particularly bad. I have always been a meal planner (I usually plan a week at a time), but last week I just didn’t plan well. I failed to fully appreciate just how little time I would have to cook on Wednesdays now, so I resorted to a box of tomato soup. Also, two of my planned meals relied on cherry tomatoes from the garden, but the tomatoes did not cooperate, so I had to wait until I had enough. Hence this late post for the the Cherry Tomato Crostini.

Before we talk about the crostini, let’s discuss the first CtBF recipe for August:

Apricot Crumble Tart

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Apricot Crumble Tart is a wonderful recipe! I loved the technique for making the pastry dough; it was more like making a cookie dough than pastry. And the crumble topping is fantastic! I have a fondness for crumble toppings, and this one may be the best I have ever had.

Rather than making a giant tart, I used my 6″ springform pan. I used half the pastry dough and froze the rest. I cut the filling and crumble topping parts of the recipe in half. It worked out perfectly!

That photo up there of my apricot tart looks delicious, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. My apricots were not very good, and they were super tart, ruining the rest of the dessert. My Mom had good luck making the tart with peaches, so I took the extra pastry dough out of the freezer and remade the tart with peaches. Much better!

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I may just make this with peaches from now on.

Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese

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Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese it a great way to celebrate the best of summer tomatoes.

The cherry tomatoes were roasted simply with olive oil, garlic, herbs (I used rosemary and thyme), salt, and pepper. I allowed them to sit for most of the day to concentrate the flavors.

The homemade herbed goat cheese was fun to make! I found a wonderful, semi-locally made, whole goat yogurt that was thick and creamy. After draining it for 24 hours to thicken it even further, I mixed in herbs (chives, thyme, and basil), minced shallot, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt. The result was delicious!

The combination of flavors here is fantastic. The sweet, rich tomatoes, against the piquant goat cheese was delicious. I was very impressed by the homemade goat cheese. It was good on it’s own, and I even scrambled a couple of tablespoons with eggs to make a tasty breakfast.

All in all, August was a delicious month! September looks like it will be pretty good too. If you would like to join in the fun, check out the September recipes: September Schedule.

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Cook the Book Fridays – July Recipes

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It’s summer! That means school’s out, fun activities, and running around town. It also means less blogging (for me, anyway). Not only do I spend more time with my daughter (a good thing!) and less time on the computer (also good!), but my routine is disrupted. Even if I have the time, I have trouble fitting blogging into my summer reality. I have come to terms with all this, but I do miss checking in with my Cook the Book Fridays friends.

I am back this week with a double post of both CtBF July recipes! I was late on the slaw because I wanted to make it on the Fourth of July, and then didn’t getting around to writing about it until now.

First, let’s talk about the Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing:

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I love this recipe because it is more of a formula than a recipe. David lists a bunch of different veggie options and gives us an idea how much we should end up with at the end. Use what you like, leave out what you don’t like! Also, it’s a great way to use up the random leftover veggies languishing in the fridge.

When I made this recipe, I used a combination of cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and radishes. I was going for more of a classic slaw. It would be fun to experiment with different combinations.

I liked this slaw and will definitely make it again!

Next up, Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham, Cheese, and Egg:

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The name of this recipe pretty much tells you what you need to know. First I made crêpes out of buckwheat flour (they are technically called galettes when made out of buckwheat). I got to pull my little-used crêpe pan out of the pantry for this! It definitely made the job easier. My pan is only 8 inches rather than the 10 inches the recipe calls for, but I found that using the full 1/4 cup of batter was the perfect amount. 

After the crêpes are made, then they are filled with prosciutto, grated Emmenthal cheese, and an egg. We were instructed not to break the yolk, but I prefer my yolks cooked through, so I blatantly disregarded the instructions and broke my yolk! The sides of the crêpe were supposed to be folded over the filling, but because of my smaller crêpe size I was not able to do that. 

I made this savory filled crêpe for my lunch one day and enjoyed it. I am not sure I enjoyed it enough to make crêpes just for this, but I would certainly make it again if I had leftover crêpes.

I hope you are all having a great summer!

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Rose Fraisier

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who likes to bake their own birthday cake. I don’t get many chances to make a big cake, so when the opportunity arises, I consider it a birthday gift to myself. This year it was extra fun because I went over to my sister’s house and she helped me make the cake.

This month, Tuesdays with Dorie presented me with the perfect cake for our family birthday party. Rose Fraisier is a grand cake with exotic ingredients. The secret ingredients are rose extract and rose syrup.

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Rose Fraisier is not the easiest cake to make. I don’t believe the average home baker could end up with the picture-perfect result shown in the book without special equipment. My sister had a cake ring, which helped with lining up the strawberries and piping in the filling, but we still had imperfect results and a near disaster.

After assembling the cake, we debated whether to remove the cake ring or leave it on while the cake chilled. We were concerned the cake ring would be too difficult to remove if we chilled the cake first. So, we took off the ring. The filling and strawberries immediately began oozing out the sides of the cake! While I held in the filling with my hands and an offset spatula, my sister got the brilliant idea to wrap the cake in waxed paper to hold everything in. The cake chilled with it’s waxed paper collar, and when it was time to serve we removed it. Crisis averted!

I partly blame myself for the oozing filling. I had some problems with the gelatin (my own fault!) and not very much made it into the pastry cream mixture. But I mostly blame the challenging recipe.

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All that effort and angst was worth it! The cake was super delicious and it was a big hit at the party. The rose flavoring added just a hint of unexpected flavor, and I absolutely loved the pastry cream filling. Would I make it again? Probably not, but I would consider a simplified version because the flavors were so good.

My dad and niece photobombed my cake:

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If you are interested in trying your hand at making Rose Fraisier, Dorie Greenspan has posted the recipe on her blog: Rose Fraisier Recipe. You can also find it in her book, Baking Chez Moi.

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Chicken Lady Chicken

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Happy Friday! The first week of summer break has officially come and gone. Around here things are much improved from the beginning of the week. My daughter is feeling MUCH better, and we are looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day on Sunday and going for a swim this weekend.

I love the name of this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe: Chicken Lady Chicken. The recipe is inspired by the rotisserie chicken David Lebovitz would buy from the “chicken lady” at a Paris farmer’s market.

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There are several important elements to this recipe.  Butterflying (or spatchcocking) the chicken is important because it allows more of the skin to get nice and crispy, and it also helps the chicken cook faster.

Another important element is weighing down the chicken as it cooks. This also helps ensure crispy skin. I grilled my chicken and weighed it down with my cast iron pan. Unfortunately, those flames you see in the photo below caused my chicken’s skin to get charred a bit. I pulled it off the flame before the skin became inedible, but it would have been better less charred.

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The final important (maybe the most important?) element to this recipe is the marinade. It combines garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, white wine, soy sauce, Sriracha, Dijon mustard, and honey. The chicken is best when it rests in the marinade for at least 24 hours, so plan ahead!

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This chicken was good! It was very moist and flavorful. The marinade was truly delicious and I will use it again for sure. This recipe really was reminiscent of a store-bought rotisserie chicken, but way better!

If you would like to try Chicken Lady Chicken, I found the recipe on Serious Eats. Or you could purchase a copy of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

I hope you all have a great weekend, and Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

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Rice Pudding, Strawberries and Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

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This past weekend won’t go down as one of the best in the From Scratch household. My daughter’s last day of school was on Thursday. Thursday afternoon her nose started getting stuffy and she was sick all weekend. Not a fun way to start summer vacation! She is finally starting to feel better, but is still not completely back to herself. On top of that, my husband was out of town for a funeral.

Before I even knew my daughter would be sick, I had planned a little treat for us while Dad was out of town: Rice Pudding with Strawberries and Spiced Hibiscus Syrup.

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First let’s talk about the Spiced Hibiscus Syrup. It’s a simple syrup made interesting with the addition of vanilla bean, black peppercorns, cardamom, and dried hibiscus. I used hibiscus tea bags, as suggested in the recipe header. It has a unique, delicious flavor!

The rice pudding is a basic, yet very good, vanilla rice pudding. It is made with vanilla bean and Arborio rice. While it was delicious garnished with the strawberries and hibiscus syrup, it is also great on it’s own.

Making this treat was a nice way to brighten an otherwise less-than-stellar weekend.

This post participates in Tuesday with Dorie. You can find the recipe for Rice Pudding, Strawberries and Spiced Hibiscus Syrup on page 380 of Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking Chez Moi.

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Fattoush

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I have to confess I am not a big fan of making salads. I love eating salads, and I often order them from restaurants. But I find making salads to be tedious, so I usually just throw together a boring, mediocre salad at the last minute. I think it’s in part because I spend all my effort making the main dish and I just don’t feel like preparing the veggies. And if I have to wash the lettuce too? Forget it! Bagged lettuce is my friend.

This week for Cook the Book Fridays we made a Middle Eastern salad called Fattoush. It only took a little more effort than I usually put into a salad, and the results were worth it.

The ingredients are a mix of familiar and unfamiliar. The familiar: romaine lettuce, green onions, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, radishes, and a lemon vinaigrette. The unfamiliar: ground sumac and toasted pita bread.

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I made his and hers salads, to suit our different tastes. My salad followed the recipe to a tee. My husband had only the veggies, added grated cheddar, and used his usual blue cheese dressing.  I served the salads with leftover chicken kabobs. Perfect!

I loved the combination of flavors in this salad, and the pieces of toasted pita bread were a fun alternative to croutons. The lemon vinaigrette was good, and I would make it again for any salad. Will this experience will help me put a little more effort into making tasty salads? We’ll see…

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an online cooking group currently making our way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Join us if you’d like!

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Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche

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Happy Friday! This week for Cook the Book Fridays we made Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche from David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen. Sometimes when I sit down to write one of my “cooking club” posts, all I can think of to say is something along the lines of “it was good and I liked it”. But for this one, my head is swarming with ideas!

I could compare this quiche to the several we made from Around My French Table for French Fridays with Dorie (I like David’s thick and hearty quiche, but prefer Dorie’s crust; also, Dorie’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche will always be my favorite).

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I could talk about how my quiche took quite a bit longer to cook than the recipe suggested it would, so I made a last-minute change to my daughter’s dinner so she could eat at a reasonable time, which caused a bit of a meltdown (anyone with a child with autism who has trouble with flexibility will understand…; best quotes from the ordeal: “Mom, you made the wrong dinner!”, and “You accidentally cooked a hot dog”).

Or, I could discuss the fact that some people had trouble with the crust, but others didn’t (I am one of the lucky ones who had no problems).

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Instead, I’m going to talk about Food Revolution Day (which is today!). Mardi of eat. live. travel. write, one of our CtBF members (and also a French Fridays with Dorie alumni) is an ambassador for Canada for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. The idea of the revolution is to improve access to healthy, nutritious food for children everywhere, improve knowledge about food and nutrition, and to teach people how to cook.

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This year, Jamie’s focus for Food Revolution Day is a “starter pack” of 10 recipes that teach cooking skills and provide nutritionally balanced meals. Mardi chose the quiche for us to make as a “starter” French recipe.

For me personally, I am so thankful that I can cook (and actually enjoy it!). I am thankful that I have the means to provide nutritious meals to my family every day.

If you are interested, here are the 10 Food Revolution Recipes: Food Revolution Recipes.

By the way, the Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche was delicious. And my daughter loved her slice when we had the leftovers for dinner the next night.

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