Category Archives: Cooking

Panisse Puffs + Vegetable Soup with Basil Puree

It may be Saturday, but today is all about Cook the Book Fridays! It’s a two-fer today since I missed the last CTBF post due to being out of town and poor planning.

Panisse Puffs

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I have always enjoyed Yorkshire Puddings and this week’s recipe, Panisse Puffs, is a sturdier, easier version.

The technique is similar to Yorkshire Puddings, but the ingredients are a little different. Panisse Puffs contain more chickpea flour than all-purpose flour, seem less eggy, and add ground cumin and cayenne pepper to up the flavor.

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These were fun to make, and I enjoyed the flavor, but I felt like mine were slightly overcooked. They were a little drier than I would have liked and the edges were a little too brown. I only baked up half the batter, so I may try again tomorrow, reducing the baking time by a couple of minutes.

Vegetable Soup with Basil Puree

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Vegetable Soup with Basil Puree is David Lebovitz’s take on the classic Soupe au Pistou. It’s a humble vegetable-bean soup elevated by the addition of fresh pesto and grated cheese.

I have recently jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon, so I decided to cook the dried Great Northern beans in my new pot. Super fast! I did overcook the beans slightly, but I have a tendency to under cook beans, so this was a refreshing change. I cooked the rest of the soup in the Instant Pot, but just using the “saute” mode, not under pressure.

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The soup was a hit! The pesto and grated parmesan cheese really make the soup. I cooked the pasta separately, so we could each have some or not, according to taste. My vegetable-loving, pesto-loving, grated-cheese-on-soup-loving husband loved this soup! And my daughter enjoyed her serving too (though she skillfully avoided the dab of pesto).

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an online cooking group currently making our way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

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French Lentil Salad + Hummus

Happy Friday! It seems like a while since I’ve posted here. I missed the last Cook the Book Fridays post, not because I didn’t make the recipe, but rather I just didn’t get to writing it. I will be doing a double post today to make up for it.

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This week’s recipe was Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts. First, a confession: I am not drawn to lentil salads. I do not get them at restaurants or salad bars, and I would not have made this recipe if not for CtBF. It’s not that I don’t like lentils, I just tend to pick other things instead.

To make Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts, the lentils are cooked with a bay leaf and fresh thyme. I liked that carrots, red onion, and celery were added in the last 5 – 10 minutes; it left the veggies with a little bite. While warm, the drained lentils are tossed with a vinaigrette. After cooling to room temperature, parsley, nuts (I used pecans instead of walnuts), and goat cheese are added to the mix.

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This salad exceeded my expectations and was wonderful! The combination of flavors and textures was perfect. I especially loved the bites with a burst of cool, creamy goat cheese. This is the perfect example of why I enjoy participating in Cook the Book Fridays. There are always good surprises!

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A few weeks ago we made Hummus. I enjoy homemade hummus and yet I rarely make it. I wonder why? It’s so easy and so much better than store bought. This recipe was an excellent one, and I loved the ideas for garnishing the bowl for serving.

I made this Hummus over Memorial Day Weekend. It was intended to go on a picnic lunch with us, but the picnic never happened. Instead we ate it for lunch in the back yard on a lovely, sunny day. It was perfect!

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This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays. We do not share the recipes. Instead you can find them in David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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Multigrain Bread + Coffee Crème Brûlée

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I don’t make bread very often. It always feels like it will be too hard and labor-intensive. But really, all you need is time (mostly inactive) and practice. This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe gave me the chance to flex my bread-making muscles and it was fun!

Multigrain Bread is a delicious, crusty loaf of bread. It uses mostly bread flour, with a touch of whole wheat pastry flour, plus pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, flaxseeds, and poppy seeds for interest. I was happy for the bulk section at Whole Foods this week!

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This was great bread recipe. Everything worked for me as written, except I had to add a bit more water to my dough (not unexpected as I often add water to bread recipes due to my dry climate). I really like the technique of baking the dough in a Dutch oven; it give the bread a nice crust.

My bread turned out great! One of the best loaves of bread I have ever made. It is delicious toasted and was also nice for sandwiches. I will definitely be making this one again.

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I also caught up on a recipe I missed a few weeks ago: Coffee Crème Brûlée. I love Crème Brûlée but don’t make it very often. I think the last time I made it was for French Fridays with Dorie back in 2011.

What makes this Crème Brûlée special is the addition of coffee and Kahlúa to the custard. It tasted like a cafe au lait! Add that caramelized sugar topping and I was in heaven.

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This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an on-line cooking group currently making our way through David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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Frisée Salad with Bacon, Egg, and Garlic Toasts

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We enjoy eating hearty main-dish salads for dinner fairly often. I usually just wing-it, using ingredients we have on hand or that need to get used up. Sometimes it’s fun to actually follow a recipe, discovering delicious flavor combinations along the way. This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe gave me a change to try one such salad recipe.

Frisée Salad with Bacon, Egg, and Garlic Toasts, also known as salade lyonnaise, is classic French fare. It’s a salad made with (you guessed it) frisée, bacon, poached or hard-boiled eggs, and garlic croutons, but it also includes potatoes and a tasty vinaigrette.

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, with a couple of small exceptions: I mixed in some Romaine lettuce with the frisée, and I left the raw garlic out of the vinaigrette (but I did include the fried garlic clove from making the croutons). My husband assembled his own salad, personalizing it to his own tastes. He left out the potatoes and croutons, added grated cheese, and used blue cheese dressing instead of the vinaigrette.

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Leftovers for Lunch

We loved this salad! The combination of flavors was perfect. I liked the extra heartiness the potatoes added, and I LOVED the croutons (why don’t I make croutons more often?). My husband enjoyed his version as well. I had enough leftovers for a delicious lunch the next day. I am sure I will be making salade lyonnaise again.

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an online group currently cooking our way through David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen. This week’s recipe can be found on page 99. Join us!

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Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple + Madeleines

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I’m sure it’s the American in me, but I don’t generally think of eating fruit as a dessert. A fruit sauce garnishing a dessert, yes. But just fruit, no. But really why not? It’s a relatively healthy treat and one my whole family will eat.

This month, Tuesdays with Dorie has provided me the opportunity to try fruit as a dessert. We tried a recipe called Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple. A whole pineapple is peeled and cut into quarters. It is roasted slowly in a bath of liquor, orange juice, jelly or jam, and a variety of whole spices. I chose a mix of rum, orange marmalade, vanilla bean, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and fresh ginger.

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The house sure smelled wonderful while the pineapple was roasting! My husband enjoyed this treat together after our daughter went to bed. I decided the flavors were a little sophisticated for her. Plus, the rum. The marmalade I used was a little bitter and I wished I had used a sweeter jelly or jam, but my husband thought the bitterness went nicely with the rum. All in all, a successful dessert. I look forward to drizzling some of the leftover syrup on vanilla ice cream!

A quick make-up: Last month I made Black-and-White Marbled Madeleines, but didn’t get a chance to write about them. Madeleines are always fun to make; I’m not sure why I don’t make them more often! These ones are scented with lime zest and vanilla. Half the batter is mixed with a bit of cocoa powder and melted milk chocolate.

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These were a fun treat! I didn’t get the traditional “hump” (Dorie warned us we wouldn’t), but they were still delicious.

This post participates in Tuesdays with Dorie, a group devoted to baking through Dorie Greenspan’s baking books. Both these recipes can be found in the book Baking Chez Moi.

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Salted Olive Crisps

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Happy Friday! I have sat down several times today to work on this blog post, but I seem to be struck with a case of writer’s block. It’s not that the Cook the Books Fridays recipe of the week wasn’t interesting. In fact, I found it fun to make and I enjoyed the results. I just can’t think of anything interesting to say about it…

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I have generally shied away from making cracker-type recipes. They seem like a lot of work with results that just aren’t quite as good as store-bought. This might not be true, but it’s my perception. Salted Olive Crisps defied my expectations, turning out delicious crackers that were very easy to make.

The dough for Salted Olive Crisps comes together very quickly. Faster than quick bread! It is baked in a loaf pan for 30 minutes, just until the center is set. After the loaf is cool enough to handle, it is sliced as thinly as possible. The resulting slices are baked again to crisp them up.

The ingredients are a flavorful, savory mix. Whole wheat flour adds some heartiness, while herbes de Provence and dry-cured olives provide the flavor. I substituted the almonds with pistachios since I have a recently-discovered allergy to almonds.

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I had a lot of fun making Salted Olive Crisps. The resulting crackers are delicious and are a nice late afternoon pick-me-up. They would be a welcome nibble with cocktails or wine at a dinner party. I did find that the crackers lost some of their crispness after the first day (that’s not stopping me from eating them), so keep that in mind if you wish to serve them to guests.

Look at that! I found something to say after all. I guess the lesson here is “just start writing”.

You can find the recipe for Salted Olive Crisps on page 42 of David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

Have a great weekend!

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Green Beans with Snail Butter + a Tart

Happy Friday! For the last two weeks I have been caught up in the vortex that is Spring Break. Whenever my daughter is on break from school, the routines get disrupted such that I feel like I only accomplish the bare minimum. In fact, I feel quite lucky that this post is getting written at all. It helped that the recipe of the week for Cook the Book Fridays was an easy one.

A large part of Spring Break was spent visiting my family in Seattle. It has become a bit of a Spring Break tradition for my daughter and I to spend some time there. We had a lovely visit and I even squeezed in a CtBF make-up recipe!

First we’ll talk about the recipe for this week, then we’ll discuss the make-up.

Green Beans with Snail Butter

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Green Beans with Snail Butter had a hard time making on to the Cook the Book Fridays schedule. I think people took one look at the title and thought the butter was made from snails, but in reality it is the garlicky butter generally put on snails. Big difference!

This was a great recipe. Steamed green beans are simply tossed with a generous amount of butter, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It couldn’t be easier and it couldn’t be more delicious. This was a hit with my whole family and may even be my new favorite green bean recipe.

Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Tart

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I think I have mentioned before that my Mom is cooking though My Paris Kitchen with us behind the scenes. Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Tart is one of the few recipes neither of us had made yet, so we took the opportunity to make it together for a family dinner while I was in Seattle.

We had one problem with this recipe: the chocolate filling was very jiggly when the baking and resting time was finished. I decided to turn the oven back on and bake the tart for an extra ten minutes or so. That did the trick, but it also caused the dulche de leche to bubble up and parts of the chocolate filling to crack. Later, when we sliced the tart, I noticed that the distinct layers shown in the book did not really exist in our tart.

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No worries, the minor problems we experienced did not diminish our enjoyment of this dessert. The tart was delicious! We chilled the leftovers and found that the filling got fudgier. I think I liked it even more the second day than I did the first. Another winner!

Both these recipes can be found in the cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz.

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Caramel Pork Ribs

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I live in a small city (Reno, NV) nestled on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. A short drive west takes you to amazing outdoor recreation, including Lake Tahoe. Drive any other direction and it doesn’t take you long to get to very rural countryside.

One benefit to living in a city like Reno is that it is fairly easy to find local ranchers selling pasture-raised meats (local produce is a different story; growing veggies in the high desert is tricky). I have been buying grass-fed beef from Alpine Ranch for several years now. The beef is delicious as well as nutritious, and I love supporting a local, family-owned business.

I recently purchased a quarter share of heritage Berkshire pork from Alpine Ranch. We haven’t eaten much of it yet, but what we have tried has been wonderful. The bacon is delicious! I have a giant fresh ham that I plan on roasting for Easter.

How is all this related to Cook the Book Fridays? We made Caramel Pork Ribs and I used a rack of spare ribs from my quarter share of pork!

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Caramel Pork Ribs is a great recipe. It starts by making caramel. Add in brown sugar, beer, bourbon, cider vinegar, ketchup, ginger, soy sauce, harissa, Dijon mustard, and freshly ground pepper to make a wonderful sauce. The pork ribs, which have been cup up into 3-rib portions, are added to the sauce and roasted for a couple of hours. The end result is tender ribs with a flavorful, sticky sauce.

These ribs were a big hit at my house! My husband liked them a lot but said the sauce needed a little “more” (I’m guessing more tang like a barbecue sauce?). My daughter didn’t seem interested in her serving, but then I coaxed her into trying a bite, and next thing I knew her plate was clean. I will definitely be making these again.

Cook the Book Fridays is an online cooking group, currently making our way through David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen. We don’t share his recipes (you should buy the book!), but you can find the recipe for Caramel Pork Ribs on page 187.

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Wheat Berry Salad + Merveilleux

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It’s Friday! I will be sharing two Cook the Book Fridays recipes with you today. I had intended to make the dessert, called Merveilleux, for Valentine’s Day, but I was sick with a nasty cold that week and just didn’t feel up to making it. The Wheat Berry Salad is the “official” recipe of the week.

Wheat Berry Salad with Radicchio, Root Vegetables, and Pomegranate

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Wheat Berry Salad with Radicchio, Root Vegetables, and Pomegranate is just like it sounds. Cooked wheat berries are tossed with roasted root vegetables (I chose butternut squash because I found a bag of pre-cut squash that was just the right amount for the recipe), wilted radicchio, parsley, pomegranate seeds, and a citrusy vinaigrette. I made half the recipe and ate it for lunch over the course of two days.

So, Wheat Berry Salad with Radicchio, Root Vegetables, and Pomegranate was only OK for me, but it’s not the fault of the recipe. This type of salad just doesn’t do much for me and I would have never chosen to make this one if it weren’t for Cook the Book Fridays. That said, it did make for a satisfying lunch.

Merveilleux

I mentioned above that I had planned to make Merveilleux for Valentine’s Day. Well, my husband’s birthday was the following week, so I made it for that special event instead.

This year’s birthday was a fun one because our daughter is finally starting to get excited about birthdays (hers and others). She had been looking forward to Daddy’s birthday, so I decided to capitalize on her interest and get her involved. I took her on a special outing to select Dad’s gift and card, then she helped me wrap the gift and signed the card. She was so excited to give him the gift on his birthday. And of course he loved receiving it from her.

Making Merveilleux was quite an involved process that took a good part of the day. I wasn’t really sure what I was even making. This recipe would have benefited from a photo of the finished product.

Basically, Merveilleux is two vanilla meringues filled with a coffee-flavored cream, then covered in that same cream, and coated with finely chopped chocolate. It was very messy to make and my finished products were not very pretty (I don’t think I got the cream stiff enough). The one pictured above was the prettiest and the rest were far less beautiful. The treat pictured below was a simplified Merveilleux that I made for my daughter.

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These were delicious! The coffee cream was so good, and I ended up eating quite a bit of it straight out of the bowl. I only made 4 filled Merveilleux, but I enjoyed eating the rest of the meringues on their own. BUT, I’m not sure it was worth the mess and effort. Perhaps Merveilleux is one of those treats best purchased from a pastry shop in Paris.

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You can find the recipes for Wheat Berry Salad with Radicchio, Root Vegetables, and Pomegranate and Merveilleux in David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.

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Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake

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The recipe I made this week for Tuesdays with Dorie presented me with both a challenge and an opportunity. Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake calls for peanut butter and chopped peanuts. You may recall that I recently discovered I am allergic to peanuts. Thus, the challenge.

I am experimenting with different nut/seed butters for both eating and cooking. I currently have some cashew butter in the refrigerator and sunflower seed butter waiting in the pantry. I have tried the cashew butter on toast and apple for snacking, and I used it for a Thai “peanut” sauce. It’s pretty good, but still not as good as peanut or almond butter. But it definitely works.

I hadn’t had a chance to use the cashew butter for baking until the Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake recipe came along. I substituted it for the peanut butter and topped the cakes with roasted cashews, but otherwise did not make any other changes (other than my “altitude adjustments”).

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The verdict? The cashew butter worked! The texture of the cakes seems slightly different than expected, but that may or may not be caused by the change in nut butters. Also, my cashew butter is unsalted, and I feel that my cakes would have benefited from a pinch more salt. I am pleased that I will not have to completely give up on baked goods that call for peanut butter.

Altitude Adjustments

Living in a dry climate at 4500 feet, I often have to adjust my cake recipes to account for my higher altitude and low humidity. I made two small adjustment for Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake: 1) I reduced the baking powder by a rounded 1/8 teaspoon; and 2) I added a tablespoon of milk.

The recipe for Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake can be found on page 72 of Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book, Baking Chez Moi
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