Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche


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).


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).


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.

frd logo 1

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.


Filed under Cooking

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse


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?


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!


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.


Filed under Cooking

Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches


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.


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.


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!


Filed under Cooking

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:


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:


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:


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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Knitting

Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwich


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.


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.


Filed under Cooking

Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil


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.


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.


Filed under Cooking

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.


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!


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!


Filed under Cooking

A Grand Finale


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.


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.


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:


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


Filed under Knitting

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!)


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.


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!


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!


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.


Filed under Cooking

TWD: Chocolate Teacup Cakes


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!


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!


Filed under Cooking