Tag Archives: cooking

Weight Lifted

You may have noticed that my blog posts have been pretty few and far between lately. I just haven’t been feeling inspired to write, and I haven’t found the time to keep up with reading my friends’ blogs. My blog has felt more like a burden, when it was something I started for fun. The only thing that has kept me going this long is my participation in Cook the Book Fridays. I have decided to put my blog on hiatus. I may come back to it, I may not.

I do still enjoy participating in Cook the Book Fridays. Even though I won’t be blogging for the foreseeable future, I plan to continue cooking along. I will be sharing my results on Instagram. Follow me there if you would like to see what cooking (or other) adventures I am up to: karenfromscratch on Instagram.

Thanks for reading along all these years. Before I say goodbye, here’s a final catch up of everything I have made for CTBF since December. See you on Instagram!

Everyday Dorie

Sweet Chili Chicken Thighs:

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Potato Butternut Squash Chowder Lots of Ways:

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My Paris Kitchen

Christmas Cake (Bûche de Noël):

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Tangerine-Champagne Sorbet:

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Roasted Root Vegetables:

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Celery Root Purée:

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Two Books, Two Appetizers

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One of the things I like about participating in a cooking group like Cook the Book Fridays is that some decisions are made for me. I enjoy meal planning, but sometimes it’s nice to have a few less choices to make. For example, I know what Christmas dessert will be this year (you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to find out what it is!).

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter’s birthday (15!), and all of the appetizers were chosen for me. Last week, the group made Comté and Ham Wafers from My Paris Kitchen, and this week’s Everyday Dorie recipe was Roasted Squash Hummus. I rounded out the appetizer selection with gougères I had stored in the freezer.

Comté and Ham Wafers

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Comté and Ham Wafers were easy to throw together. It took more time to prep the ingredients than it did to mix them together. These savory cookies are chock full of cheese, chives, and crumbled ham chips (made by baking prosciutto until crisp). I made the dough a day ahead, then sliced and baked them the morning of the party. I put one log of dough in the freezer, which I will probably pull out for Christmas.

These were a hit! I mean, how can you go wrong with a cheesy, hammy cracker?

Roasted Squash Hummus

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Roasted Squash Hummus is not your typical hummus. The chickpeas are replaced with roasted squash (I used acorn) and flavored with the usual tahini, plus the unusual pomegranate molasses and za’atar. The hummus is served atop a bed of Greek yogurt and topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

This was a fun one to serve, because it is both visually appealing and intriguingly different. I enjoyed hearing everyone speculate about the ingredients, and they were all surprised about the roasted squash. It was also delicious!

I highly recommend Roasted Squash Hummus next time you are looking for a light(er) and different dip. It is delicious with crudites as well as pita chips.

Here is a bonus behind-the-scenes photo that my husband took:

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Have a great weekend!

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Tabbouleh

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Have you ever headed to the kitchen to start making dinner, only to find out you should have read the recipe beforehand? Either it cooks longer than expected, or something has to rest for an hour, or the meat was supposed to marinate overnight. The latter happened to me the other night. It turns out the chicken I was making needed to marinate 2 – 24 hours, but I would have been lucky to get a half hour in. Sometimes I say, “whatever” and forge ahead anyway, but this time I had to admit that the long marination would enhance the dish. Hence the late Cook the Book Fridays post.

The recipe we cooked last week from My Paris Kitchen was Tabbouleh, a Lebanese parsley salad. This one is apparently more traditional than the bulgur-filled salads we are used to; rather it only had 2 tablespoons of bulgur to 10 cups of parsley. Mint, olive oil, green onions, lemon, and a few spices round out the ingredients. David suggests leaves of romaine lettuce to scoop up the salad, but I had to settle for butter lettuce since we are in the midst of a romaine lettuce crisis.

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In deciding what to serve as a main dish to the tabbouleh, I looked to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem. I’ve had this book for a couple of years but have not spent enough time exploring it yet. I chose Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke & Lemon. While looking through the book I found many more I want to try; I can’t forget to get back to them!

So, it turns out we are not big fans of Tabbouleh. I tasted too much parsley and not enough of the other flavors. It was fine, but nothing I will make again.

The chicken, on the other hand, was wonderful! I must remember to use that book more often.

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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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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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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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