Category Archives: Cooking

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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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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