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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Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil

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My Mom has been quietly participating in Cook the Book Fridays behind the scenes. She already owned a copy of My Paris Kitchen, so I when I suggested she cook along with me, she enthusiastically agreed.

This past week I was visiting my parents in Seattle, so my Mom and I got to make the recipe of the week, Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil, together. It was pretty awesome because she let me do the fun stuff while she did the more tedious tasks of pitting the olives, draining the artichokes, and cleaning up after me. Moms are the best!

Another great thing about cooking at my parent’s house is my Dad’s garden. This time of year there isn’t much to harvest except herbs, but that suited this recipe just fine. I used freshly harvested rosemary to make the rosemary oil, which made it extra delicious.

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The recipe for the tapenade couldn’t get much more simple: toss canned artichoke hearts, green olives, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne pepper into a food processor and puree until smooth. It is drizzled with a generous amount of homemade rosemary oil and served with bread or crackers.

The tapenade was a big hit the night my sister and her family came to my parent’s house for dinner. We pretty much devoured it. And we all agreed we would make it again.

A few suggestions: 1) I let the tapenade rest for about an hour before serving and I felt the flavors were able to mellow and blend a bit. I’m sure a longer rest would be even better; 2) The tapenade was pretty garlicky. I didn’t mind, but if anyone is sensitive to garlic or prefers less, I recommend only using one clove; 3) Don’t leave out the rosemary oil!

If you are interested in trying this wonderful recipe, I encourage you to buy a copy of My Paris Kitchen. I also found the recipe online: Artichoke Tapenade Recipe.

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Belgian Beef Stew with Beer & Spice Bread

Making this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, Belgian Beef Stew with Beer & Spice Bread, was like taking an olfactory journey of delightful smells.

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It started the day I made the Honey-Spice Bread. The spicy aroma that wafted out the oven lingered in the house all evening, causing me to not stop thinking about eating a piece of that bread. When Mr. Lebovitz says “If possible, wait a day before slicing”, I thought he meant, “if you planned ahead, wait a day before slicing”. But really he meant, “if you can manage not to tear into the bread as soon as it’s out of the pan because it smells so heavenly”! I did manage to wait until lunchtime the next day before having a slice, and my patience was rewarded with a chewy, tasty, spicy slice of bread.

Next on the journey was the smell of browning beef. I have always loved the smell of browning stew meat, and it always takes me back to childhood. I remember the smell of browning meat coming from the kitchen and wishing I could eat it right then and there. The smell makes me feel safe and warm.

After browning the beef came the smell of browning onions and bacon. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the smell of bacon!

Of course all those aromatic scents came together for a long simmer, along with some beer and mustard, making me SO ready for dinner by the time it hit the plate. The flavor did not disappoint!

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The addition of the Honey-Spice Bread to the stew gave it a wonderful, unique flavor and thickened it up nicely. It contrasted nicely with the beer.

We really must discuss the Honey-Spice Bread. It was wonderful on its own and I will certainly be making it again. It makes a nice breakfast or snack, as well as an accompaniment to savory main dishes.

The recipes for the stew and bread can be found on pages 198 and 294 of David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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A Grand Finale

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What did you think of the Downton Abbey series finale? I loved all the happy endings, even if it was a bit predictable. The series ended with a smile on my face.

I have been a knitting fool the last couple of months, working on the final Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-a-Long (MKAL) hosted by Jimmy Beans Wool. I have done all four of the Downton Abbey-themed knit-a-longs and they have been so much fun! (We won’t discuss the fact that I haven’t actually completed last year’s project yet…) They stretch my skills and produce beautiful garments.

This year’s project was a shawl. I really don’t need another shawl in my wardrobe, but what can I say? I enjoy knitting shawls. I’m slowly learning how to wear them.

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Because it was the final MKAL and because I loved the colors, I sprung for the yarn that was specially-dyed for this project. It is called “Yorkshire Skies”, and I think it really does look like sky when it is knit up.

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This was a super-fun project! The construction of it was quite unique (at least to me), which kept us guessing what the final product would look like (remember, this was a mystery, with small sections of the pattern released over 8 weeks). I think this might be the prettiest thing I have ever knit.

My head got cut off on this photo, but it was a good one of the shawl, so I went with it:

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Project Details:

Pattern:  Downton Abbey MKAL 2016, by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich.

Yarn:  Lorna’s Laces Solemate, in Yorkshire Skies

Ravelry Project, with additional notes and photos: Karen’s Project

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CTBF: Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower

Three of my newest cookbooks contain recipes for Dukkah, an Egyptian condiment of ground nuts, seeds, and spices. I have been intrigued, but up until now haven’t actually tried it. Cook the Book Fridays to the rescue! Like French Fridays with Dorie before it, this project is urging me to try recipes I may have skipped over or not quite found time for.

The first order of business was to make the dukkah. I substituted almonds for the hazelnuts because I always have almonds on hand, and I dislike removing hazelnut skins. I used my mortar and pestle, but the nuts and spices can also be ground using a spice grinder or food processor. (BTW – If you haven’t read David’s description of trying to buy a mortar and pestle in Paris  you must; it’s laugh-out-loud funny!)

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We celebrated my husband’s birthday last Saturday, so I turned some of the dukkah into a dip by mixing it with olive oil. I served it with crudités, excellent bread, and brie. The dukkah was surprisingly delicious with the brie; the soft, buttery brie contrasted nicely with the crunchy, spicy dukkah.

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A few days later it was time for the main event: Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower. I have been wanting to cook with cauliflower more often, and this recipe was a great one to get my feet wet. The cauliflower was roasted with olive oil and the dukkah (which was added part way through roasting). The end result was so good! I couldn’t stop myself from eating bits of it off the roasting pan while I finished up the rest of our dinner. A keeper for sure!

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The leftover dukkah has proven to be quite useful. I used some of it as a crust on pan-fried tilapia and I sprinkled a bit on some fried eggs. I can see myself keeping a jar of this on hand on a regular basis.

A quick Tuesdays with Dorie update: I made the Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta for my husband’s birthday party. Everyone loved it!

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This post participates in Cook The Book Fridays. We are currently cooking our way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. There are many recipes online for dukkah. You can find the recipe for Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower on page 224 of this wonderful book.

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TWD: Chocolate Teacup Cakes

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Hello! Welcome to a new installment of Tuesdays with Dorie. Except it’s Wednesday. Yesterday turned out to have more errands than expected, so my post is a day late. But it was worth the wait! (Well, this dessert would be worth the wait anyway…)

The two February recipes from Baking Chez Moi are both chocolaty treats that my cutting-out-grains-and-most-carbs husband will eat. This one, Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes, was served as the grand finale to our Valentine’s Day dinner. Quick confession: This dessert was not completely grain-free. The ingredients did include a tablespoon of cornstarch, but my has husband has OK’d ingredients like that, as long as they are used in small quantities.

Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes are Dorie’s take on a chocolate lava cake. A simple chocolate batter is spooned into individual ramekins or teacups, with a secret chunk of milk chocolate placed in the middle. The cakes are baked until the bottoms and sides are set, but with the middle still soft and gooey. Serve the cakes warm, and enjoy the melty chocolate!

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One thing that bothers me about this recipe is that the instructions require you make them from start to finish just before you are ready to serve them. After a nice dinner, the last thing I want to do is head to the kitchen to make dessert. I was wondering if these could be assembled earlier in the day, then baked when ready to serve. So I did an experiment. The night I served these, I sucked it up and made the cakes after dinner (even after my daughter went to bed). But I only baked two of them. I covered the other two and put them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I baked the other two. It worked! But, the refrigerated cakes required quite a bit more baking time. In fact, the cake in these photographs wasn’t quite cooked enough. Conclusion: These cakes can be assembled ahead of time, but expect a longer baking time and considering bringing them to room temperature before baking.

These little cakes were wonderful! Perfectly-sized single portions that were rich and delicious. I will make these again for sure.

I had hoped to have the second chocolate recipe for the month done by now, but instead I will be making it this weekend to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Stay tuned!

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CTBF: Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries

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Happy Friday! I am so glad to be back with another Cook the Book Fridays recipe. This week’s recipe brought to mind a memory from 20-some years ago…

Back in my mid-20’s I had my wisdom teeth removed. For about a week, I subsisted on scrambled eggs and baked potatoes. Needless to say, my palate was bored out of its mind! I had a little cookbook (I still have it, actually) called “The Best of France”. In the book are two steak recipes that sound wonderful. During my week of very boring eating, I was obsessively craving a steak from that book. I would lay in bed or sit at work and all I could think about was making and eating one of those steaks! I must have needed iron or protein or something that was missing from my diet. I never did make that steak, but the memory of craving it has really stuck with me.

Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries is a modern twist on the classic Steak Frites from my little cookbook. Rib-eye steaks are lightly seasoned with salt, chipotle chile powder, and parsley. After a quick sear in a cast-iron skillet, they are topped with a tasty mustard-flavored butter. Serve the steaks with oven-baked French fries and you have a delicious meal.

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This recipe is a keeper! It was a decadent meal perfect for Valentine’s Day. The steak was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. I have always enjoyed making oven-baked fries, but the technique from this recipe produced the best I have ever made. This will now be my go-to French fries recipe. And the steak may now be my go-to “it’s not grilling season” steak recipe.

The recipe for Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries can be found in David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen. The steak-only recipe is available on Food52.

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Convertible Mittens

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These mittens wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the movie, Your Sister’s Sister. We watched it with my parents over Thanksgiving weekend. One of the main characters wore a pair of cute, red convertible mittens throughout the movie. As a  knitter, I noticed and admired the well-fitting mittens.

The next morning at breakfast, my Mom asked if anyone had noticed the red mittens. It turns out she wanted a pair. After some online searching, we concluded she would not find what she wanted ready-to-wear, so I offered to make her a pair of mittens for Christmas.

I selected the pattern Red is Best, by Jane Richmond. I liked this pattern because it had a clean design and came in multiple sizes, one of which looked like the perfect size for my Mom.

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My Mom loves her new mittens! I haven’t seen them on her, but she reports that they fit her perfectly.

This was a great pattern! Very well written and fun to knit. I highly recommend it! I have plans to make a pair for myself.

Details:

Pattern:  Red is Best, by Jane Richmond.

Yarn:  HiKoo Simpliworsted. I used color Seattle Sky.

Additional project notes: Ravelry Project Notes.

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Cook The Book Fridays: Winter Salad

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Happy Friday! I am very excited to announce a new project/feature on my blog: Cook the Book Fridays!

Ever since French Fridays with Dorie ended, us former Doristas have missed cooking together each week. There had been some discussion about starting a new book together, and finally Katie of ProfWhoCooks took the plunge and got us started. Thanks Katie! Our first book is My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. Since we are just getting started, this is a great time to join in if you are interested. Check out the “official” site for the recipe schedule and rules: Cook the Book Fridays. The more the merrier!

Our debut recipe is a simple salad called Winter Salad. A thick dressing is made from crumbled Roquefort cheese, Greek yogurt, chives, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss it with sliced Belgian endive, and top with a few more chives.

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I haven’t eaten Belgian endive very often, and when I tasted a bit of it I was a little unsure of a whole salad made from it. But the dressing did wonders for the flavor and I really enjoyed the salad. My husband thought the salad was “too blue cheesey” and he likes blue cheese, so I would say this salad is for blue cheese lovers only.

The one issue I had with the salad is that the dressing was very thick, making it difficult to toss with the Belgian endive. I’m wondering if others ran into the same problem.

You can find the recipe for Winter Salad on page 98 of My Paris Kitchen. I encourage you to buy the book!

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Tuesdays with Dorie – “Tambourine” Cake

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It feels like it’s been awhile since I did a Tuesdays with Dorie post (or any post, for that matter). My last one was only a few weeks ago, but considering I had done the baking for it a month or two prior, it feels like longer.

Yesterday I baked Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake. Except I like to call it “Tambourine Cake”. Here’s why:

Lately my daughter has taken an interest in helping me read the list when we go grocery shopping. She likes to read the list before we leave, then check it with me at the store. She carries the list for me, and helps me find the items. This is a big deal because we have struggled to interest her in functional reading outside of specified “reading time” at school or home.

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The downside to having her help me read the list is that if the store does not have a particular item, she gets a little sad because her expectations were not met. Even though I assure her I can find the item at another store, she kind of obsesses about it until the item is in our possession. On Sunday, the store we were at did not have tangerines. So she asked me about it for the rest of the day, making sure I would be buying them the next day while she was at school. The cute thing is she pronounced tangerine as “tambourine”.

Yesterday when I picked her up from school, sure enough the first thing out of her mouth was, “Did you get tambourines?”. When we got home I showed her the tangerines I bought. I also showed her the tangerine cake I made with them. She liked her piece of cake as much as I liked mine.

Carrot-Tangerine Cake

The other Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for January was Lemon Squares, French Style. While I don’t have photographic evidence, I did make them in November for my mom’s birthday. They were a huge hit and probably the best lemon bars I have ever had. I will definitely be making them again!

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