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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Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

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Happy Friday! Well, it was a happy Friday until my day fell apart. It all started off well enough. I got some things done around the house while I waited for a yard guy to come and give me an estimate for some work. The guy came, I liked him, I started working on this blog post. While I was eating my lunch I got a call from my daughter’s teacher. There was a minor situation that required me to run up to the school. I had to reschedule an appointment with another yard guy because he was due to arrive before I would have time to get back. On the way to school, my car started acting up. Shaking and the check engine light flashing. I limped back home, and Google tells me it’s a cylinder mis-firing and that I shouldn’t drive the car until it gets fixed. Why do these things happen on Friday?

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Luckily I have the memory of this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe to keep my spirits up. We made Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse, and boy was it good!

The recipe starts off by having you make caramel. David’s instructions for the caramel were excellent; I knew just when to pull it off the heat. Next the chocolate is whisked into the caramel with a bit of fleur de sel. After cooling to room temperature, the eggs are folded in. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting 8 hours before eating it!

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The flavor and texture of this mousse is just fantastic. The salted caramel adds wonderful complexity to the flavors. It was a big hit with my family, and may become my new go-to chocolate mousse recipe (sorry, Dorie!).

My day is looking up. My husband is bringing his car home so I can drive my daughter to PT, and we have a fun evening and weekend planned. I’ll just ignore my car sitting out there until Monday…

Have a great weekend, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers!

You can find the recipe for Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse on page 258 of David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches

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I have been participating in Tuesday with Dorie somewhat sporadically. I decided when the Baking Chez Moi project started that I would not try to bake every recipe. Just the ones that sound good to me. This week’s recipe, Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches, is one that I couldn’t resist. Not only is it chocolate, but it is also grain-free, so my grain-free, chocolate-loving husband could enjoy it too.

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Meringues are fun to make. Sweetened egg whites whipped to stiff peaks are transformed to lightweight, crunchy treats in the oven. In this case, cocoa and finely chopped almonds are gently folded into the egg whites before baking. The finishing (decadent) touch is the ganache sandwiched between two meringues.

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One thing I appreciate about Dorie Greenspan’s dessert recipes is that they (for the most part) do not make huge amounts. For the Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches, this was especially helpful as they really are best eaten the day they are made. The recipe only made 8 sandwiches, with was the perfect amount.

My family enjoyed this little treat!

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Finding Time

Like any hobby or extracurricular activity, finding time for my knitting can be a challenge.

I often enjoy knitting in the evening after my daughter has gone to bed. I can visit with my husband and watch TV. But ever since my daughter started middle school we have to get up really early, which means I have to go to bed early, which means I have less time to knit.  And sometimes I’m just too tired to knit at all!

One of my favorite times to knit is in the waiting room while my daughter has her therapy and social group appointments. A nice chunk of time all to myself! Sometimes I wonder if the other parents think I am obsessed with my knitting (I’m not) since I’m always doing it. They might not realize it’s one of the few times I have to knit without The Other Things I Should Be Doing hanging over me.

Regardless of where, I manage to find enough time in bits and pieces to actually make progress on some projects.

When do you find time for your hobbies?

Here are the projects I am working on right now:

Ambiguous Cowl:

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This is the January 2016 Progressive Needles knit-a-long. I’m way behind because I focused my energy in January and February on my Downton Abbey Shawl.

The project is a long cowl. It’s a two-color project using the Fair Isle technique. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Michelle Hunter’s knit-a-longs because I always learn so much!

This one is going to take me a LONG time to finish. It takes a lot of concentration and is not a good project to take with me to my daughter’s appointments. I manage to get just a few rounds done each week. At this rate, I will be lucky if I have this done in time to wear next winter.

Edith’s Secret:

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I have been working on this shawl for over a year now, but I’m on the home stretch. It is the Downton Abbey KAL project from LAST year. I really love the way it’s turning out, and am focusing most of my knitting time getting this one finished. Hopefully I will be sharing the finished project soon!

Strie Socks:

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As you can see from the photo, I am not very far along on this pair of socks! This project is kind of on the back burner right now. I started it as a nice, easy project to work on during my recent trip to Seattle. Also, I like having a started project waiting in the wings. I am sure these socks will see more action once my Edith’s Secret is finished.

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Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwich

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In the introduction to this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwich, David Lebovitz talks about how the croque-monsieur is one of those things he occasionally craves and then he’s “gotta have it”. This got me thinking about the things I crave and “gotta have”. Why is it that the things we crave are generally less healthy? The only time I crave a salad is when I’ve been on vacation overindulging. One of the things I find myself craving occasionally is a burger and fries. When I get that craving, I find it’s best to just give into it so I can be satisfied and move on to healthier choices (assuming I don’t get that “gotta have it” craving every day!). What foods do you crave?

After making Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwiches this week, I can see why Mr. Lebovitz sometimes craves them. This is not your ordinary grilled ham and cheese sandwich. There are two things that make this sandwich special: the béchamel spread on the inside of the sandwich, and the melted Gruyère cheese on top. Hearty sourdough bread, prosciutto, and additional Gruyère complete the sandwich.

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I made croque-monsieur for myself for lunch two days in a row. What a delightful, buttery, cheesy, decadent treat! Not something you want to eat every day, but definitely worthy of a “gotta have it” craving.

You can find the recipe for Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwich (aka, croque-monsieur) on page 137 of David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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