Weight Lifted

You may have noticed that my blog posts have been pretty few and far between lately. I just haven’t been feeling inspired to write, and I haven’t found the time to keep up with reading my friends’ blogs. My blog has felt more like a burden, when it was something I started for fun. The only thing that has kept me going this long is my participation in Cook the Book Fridays. I have decided to put my blog on hiatus. I may come back to it, I may not.

I do still enjoy participating in Cook the Book Fridays. Even though I won’t be blogging for the foreseeable future, I plan to continue cooking along. I will be sharing my results on Instagram. Follow me there if you would like to see what cooking (or other) adventures I am up to: karenfromscratch on Instagram.

Thanks for reading along all these years. Before I say goodbye, here’s a final catch up of everything I have made for CTBF since December. See you on Instagram!

Everyday Dorie

Sweet Chili Chicken Thighs:

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Potato Butternut Squash Chowder Lots of Ways:

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My Paris Kitchen

Christmas Cake (Bûche de Noël):

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Tangerine-Champagne Sorbet:

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Roasted Root Vegetables:

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Celery Root Purée:

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Two Books, Two Appetizers

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One of the things I like about participating in a cooking group like Cook the Book Fridays is that some decisions are made for me. I enjoy meal planning, but sometimes it’s nice to have a few less choices to make. For example, I know what Christmas dessert will be this year (you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to find out what it is!).

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter’s birthday (15!), and all of the appetizers were chosen for me. Last week, the group made Comté and Ham Wafers from My Paris Kitchen, and this week’s Everyday Dorie recipe was Roasted Squash Hummus. I rounded out the appetizer selection with gougères I had stored in the freezer.

Comté and Ham Wafers

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Comté and Ham Wafers were easy to throw together. It took more time to prep the ingredients than it did to mix them together. These savory cookies are chock full of cheese, chives, and crumbled ham chips (made by baking prosciutto until crisp). I made the dough a day ahead, then sliced and baked them the morning of the party. I put one log of dough in the freezer, which I will probably pull out for Christmas.

These were a hit! I mean, how can you go wrong with a cheesy, hammy cracker?

Roasted Squash Hummus

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Roasted Squash Hummus is not your typical hummus. The chickpeas are replaced with roasted squash (I used acorn) and flavored with the usual tahini, plus the unusual pomegranate molasses and za’atar. The hummus is served atop a bed of Greek yogurt and topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

This was a fun one to serve, because it is both visually appealing and intriguingly different. I enjoyed hearing everyone speculate about the ingredients, and they were all surprised about the roasted squash. It was also delicious!

I highly recommend Roasted Squash Hummus next time you are looking for a light(er) and different dip. It is delicious with crudites as well as pita chips.

Here is a bonus behind-the-scenes photo that my husband took:

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Have a great weekend!

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Tabbouleh

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Have you ever headed to the kitchen to start making dinner, only to find out you should have read the recipe beforehand? Either it cooks longer than expected, or something has to rest for an hour, or the meat was supposed to marinate overnight. The latter happened to me the other night. It turns out the chicken I was making needed to marinate 2 – 24 hours, but I would have been lucky to get a half hour in. Sometimes I say, “whatever” and forge ahead anyway, but this time I had to admit that the long marination would enhance the dish. Hence the late Cook the Book Fridays post.

The recipe we cooked last week from My Paris Kitchen was Tabbouleh, a Lebanese parsley salad. This one is apparently more traditional than the bulgur-filled salads we are used to; rather it only had 2 tablespoons of bulgur to 10 cups of parsley. Mint, olive oil, green onions, lemon, and a few spices round out the ingredients. David suggests leaves of romaine lettuce to scoop up the salad, but I had to settle for butter lettuce since we are in the midst of a romaine lettuce crisis.

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In deciding what to serve as a main dish to the tabbouleh, I looked to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem. I’ve had this book for a couple of years but have not spent enough time exploring it yet. I chose Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke & Lemon. While looking through the book I found many more I want to try; I can’t forget to get back to them!

So, it turns out we are not big fans of Tabbouleh. I tasted too much parsley and not enough of the other flavors. It was fine, but nothing I will make again.

The chicken, on the other hand, was wonderful! I must remember to use that book more often.

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Butternut Squash Bread Soup

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I went rogue on this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe. First of all, I was having trouble picturing this layered and baked “soup” that the original recipe seems to be. Secondly, my husband loves butternut squash but doesn’t eat bread, so I couldn’t figure out how to make this into something he could enjoy too. I had my “a-ha moment” when I realized I could puree the onions, butternut squash, and broth into a delicious soup, and then top off my serving with bread and cheese.

So, the recipe as written, has one layer toasted sourdough bread with cooked onions, broth, thinly sliced butternut squash, herbs, and generous amounts of cheese. It’s baked in the oven until everything is cooked through and the top is nicely browned.

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To make my version, I cooked the onions as instructed. When it came time to add the broth, I also added cubes of butternut squash. I simmered it all until the squash was very soft. Then I added the herbs and pureed the whole thing with an immersion blender. I topped my bowl of soup with cubes of toasted sourdough bread, then topped the bread with shredded Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. I ran it under the broiler until the cheese was melted and beginning to brown.  For my husband’s soup, we just topped his soup with the cheeses.

It worked! I felt like my version of the soup was in the spirit of the original recipe, and my husband really enjoyed his. Win, win!

If you would like to try Butternut Squash Bread Soup, with or without my modifications, you can find the recipe on page 163 of David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.

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Everyday Dorie: Maple-Syrup-and-Mustard Brussels Sprouts

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“You can’t go wrong with Brussels sprouts and bacon!”, was my husband’s reply when I asked him what he thought of this week’s Everyday Dorie recipe, Maple-Syrup-and-Mustard Brussels Sprouts. Indeed, this was a delicious recipe. It might even be my new favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts.

The technique used to prepare the Brussels sprouts was genius: steam the sprouts, garlic, and shallot until the sprouts are almost cooked, then sear them in a hot pan until charred a bit and fully cooked through. This allows for some advance preparation and perfectly-cooked Brussels sprouts.

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What makes this recipe shine is the salty-sweet glaze, which is simply a mix of maple syrup and mustard (I did a mix of Dijon and grainy). Combined with the sprouts and bacon, it creates a wonderful sweet, salty, savory balance of flavors.

Can you tell I liked this recipe?

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I would change one thing though. I served this as a side dish with roast chicken and delicata squash, and I thought there was a little too much bacon (I can’t believe I’m saying that!).  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every bite of that bacon, but if I serve this again as a side dish, I might reduce the bacon slightly (maybe 4 slices instead of 6).

If you would like to try this recipe, run to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s new (and so far wonderful!) book Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook.

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Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze

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Happy Friday! It seems that adding Dorie to the Cook the Book Fridays mix is keeping me on task (so far). Now that our cooking/blogging schedule is so busy, the fear of falling hopelessly behind is motivating!

I have been falling a bit behind with My Paris Kitchen, in part because we have a dessert on the schedule each month. I haven’t been making the desserts for several reasons, but a big one is that I have been “dieting” this year (I don’t like the term dieting, it implies that have been severely cutting back on calories; rather I have been focusing on getting fit and shedding extra pounds at a healthy, sustainable rate). Now that I am transitioning to a phase of maintaining my new current weight, I want to learn to enjoy treats and desserts in moderation. I have a serious problem with self control when there are fresh-baked treats in the house! But I can’t imagine a world where I can’t enjoy an occasional treat.

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Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze was a good choice for easing back into baking and treat-making. It was easy to whip together and easy to eat. The cake is flavored with orange zest, vanilla, and bay leaves. The simple glaze gets its flavor from orange juice and Cointreau. The orange added a fresh brightness, and the bay leaves added a subtle, but distinct flavor that I really enjoyed.

The day I made the cake, my daughter kept gazing at it longingly as it cooled. I assured her she could have a piece when she was done working with her tutor. She enjoyed her slice immensely!

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Altitude Adjustments

Regular readers know that I live at a higher altitude (4500 feet) and usually need to make minor adjustments when I bake a cake. These are the adjustments I made to Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze:

  • 1/8 teaspoon less baking powder
  • Added 1 tablespoon milk (higher altitudes can cause cakes to dry out and I live in a dry climate, so I always add a little extra liquid)

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Everyday Dorie: Newest Gougères

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It’s a very exciting week for Dorie Greenspan fans! Her latest book, Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook was released on Tuesday. My first impression is that it is going to  be wonderful and delicious. The main dish recipes appeal to me in particular, but many of the vegetable dishes sound wonderful as well.

Cook the Book Fridays is taking on Everyday Dorie. As many (most?) of you know, our cooking group has it’s roots in French Fridays with Dorie, in which we cooked our way through Dorie’s book Around My French Table. So cooking through Everyday Dorie is a no-brainer for us.

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To kick things off, we made My Newest Gougères, Dorie’s latest iteration of the tasty treat. Apparently that was the first recipe French Fridays with Dorie made from Around My French Table. A fitting tribute to a group that meant a lot to many of us. Her tweaks include the addition of Dijon mustard and chopped walnuts (I left out the nuts; I and several of my family members can’t eat walnuts, and I didn’t have any suitable substitutes on hand).

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How can you go wrong with gougères? These cheesy puffs are so good! I only baked five, freezing the rest for future enjoyment. It’s a good thing that’s all I made, because I polished off four of them in no time! My daughter enjoyed the fifth.

If you have ever considering joining in a “cook the book” project, now is the time to jump in! We would love to see new people participate. I am also looking forward to catching up with the FFWD gang; it looks like some old faces will be joining us.

Happy Dorie Week everyone!

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Chicken Pot Parmentier + Stuffed Vegetables

When I last posted here I was certain it was a new beginning of regular, on-time Cook the Book Fridays posts. Well, now it’s a month and a half later and I’m finally getting back to it. I need to get my act together because CtBF is about to get busy: we are adding a new cookbook to our rotation (more on that next week!).

I have two delicious recipes to tell you about, one of which I actually made about a month ago. But first, we’ll start with the “official” recipe of the week.

Chicken Pot Parmentier

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Chicken Pot Parmentier is a cross between American chicken pot pie and French hachis Parmentier (it’s like a French Shepherd’s Pie). It has a chicken pot pie filling and a mashed potato topping.

I felt like I used every pot and pan in the house to make this dinner! It didn’t help that I also poached the chicken in my Instant Pot for both the chicken and the broth used in the recipe. Next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I will poach the chicken a day ahead if I go that route, and perhaps start some of the steps earlier in the day.

My husband is not eating potatoes, so I only made half the mashed potato topping. I put half the chicken filling in a deep-dish pie plate with the potatoes and the other half in a plain baking dish. Everyone’s happy!

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We all LOVED this one! The chicken filling is like the best chicken pot pie you’ve ever had and the potatoes complemented the filling perfectly. My daughter devoured her serving! (seen below in fancy “TV Dinner” form)

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All in all, a winner that I will be making again.

Stuffed Vegetables

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Stuffed Vegetables are vegetables (duh!) stuffed with a ground beef filling and topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

I made a few changes to the recipe: I replaced the eggplant with bell peppers because we like them better. I had read that a few people thought the meat filling was dry, so I added extra diced garden tomatoes (that I cooked down a bit) for flavor and moisture, and left out the egg. I also skipped the sage and thyme and opted for plenty of basil from the garden instead. The zucchini and tomatoes came from the garden as well.

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Yum! We enjoyed these stuffed veggies a lot. The extra tomato really added a nice flavor to the meat filling.

If you would like to try either of these recipes, you can find them in David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.

I will be back next week with an exciting, celebratory post!

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Garlic Mayonnaise with Accompaniments + Baba Ganoush

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Hello! Every summer I say to myself, “This summer I will be able to keep up with my Cook the Books Fridays cooking and blogging”, and every summer I fail to do so. This year was no different. The start of summer always feels so hopeful and free. This summer felt particularly hectic, with a mix of driving my daughter around town, my husband having some intense work, and few fun trips. June was so busy we ended up celebrating Father’s Day and my birthday (June 25) a few weeks late.

Now that summer is unofficially over I’m getting back to it! Unfortunately my first recipe back to Cook the Books Fridays was not a rousing success. We made Le Grand Aïoli, which translates to Garlic Mayonnaise with Accompaniments.

The big problem is that the mayonnaise did not properly thicken and emulsify. It turns out I am not the only one who had trouble with this recipe. I took a cue from one of my cohorts, Mardi of Eat. Live. Travel. Write., and mixed some of the un-emulsified, garlicky mixture with store-bought mayonnaise to at least have something to serve with the accompaniments. Except I hardly had any mayonnaise left in the jar, so my husband and I only got a generous tablespoon each.

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Despite the troubles I had with the recipe, we enjoyed our dinner. I served the fake aïoli with many of the suggested veggies: baby potatoes, blanched carrots and green beans, kohlrabi, and cherry tomatoes. The kohlrabi and cherry tomatoes came from our garden! I also served pan-roasted chicken breasts.

Back in July I made one other Cook the Book Fridays recipe: Baba Ganoush.

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This is an eggplant-based spread flavored with tahini, plenty of garlic, a little lemon juice, Aleppo pepper, ground cumin, and parsley. I enjoyed snacking on it with lightly salted pita chips. Crudites would also be a good with it.

Both recipes can be found in David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

Have a great weekend and I hope to be back in two weeks with another one (or two!) recipes.

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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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