Tag 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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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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Carrot Cake

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Happy Friday! I love baking and baked goods, but I don’t bake very often. My small family just doesn’t need to have too many tempting treats lying around. So I was very excited when Cook the Book Fridays gave me the perfect excuse to bake this week with Carrot Cake.

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The recipe as it is written is for a giant layer cake that serves 12 to 16 people. Since I didn’t have a birthday party or other event to bake for, I had to pare things down. I cut the recipe in half and baked cupcakes! Not only did I bake cupcakes, I also took the opportunity to use my mini bundt pan. I got 18 cupcakes out of the half recipe, though I probably should have filled the mini bundt pan with a little less batter per cake.

The frosting is a mix of cream cheese and mascarpone with small amounts of powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.

My cupcakes turned out really well. The cake is moist and tender, with just the right amount of spice, and the frosting is decadent but not too sweet. They seem to keep well; they were just as good (if not better) on the second day.

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Altitude Adjustments: I made a few small adjustments for my altitude of 4500 feet:

  1. Since the full recipe uses an uneven number of eggs (5), when I cut the recipe in half I rounded up to 3 eggs. This provides a little extra moisture and structure for the cake.
  2. I also added an extra tablespoon of buttermilk for even more extra moisture. My climate is dry, so I always add a little extra liquid when I bake.
  3. I reduced amount of baking powder and baking soda slightly. I took an 1/8 teaspoon out of the baking powder, and when I measured the baking soda, I used just a smidgen less than a half teaspoon.

If you would like to try your hand at making these cupcakes (or the whole, giant cake!), you can find the recipe in David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.

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Black Olive Tapenade

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Happy Friday! After Cook the Book Fridays’ work-intensive, duck-filled month of January, we chose an easy recipe for this week to ease into February.

Black Olive Tapenade is one of those “why don’t I make this more often?” recipes. It’s so easy to make and so delicious! The hardest part is procuring the ingredients (and that wasn’t very hard). I found pitted Niçoise olives and they were perfect for this tapenade.

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I love tapenade with goat cheese, so I purchased some herbed goat cheese and served it all on simple crackers for a lovely afternoon snack. Tonight I plan on making Olive-Olive Chicken Breasts à la Dorie for dinner. My husband hasn’t had a chance to try the tapenade yet, but I’m sure he will enjoy it this weekend.

Black Olive Tapenade is a winner, and a reminder that sometimes taking the time to make something from scratch is worth it!

You can find the recipe for Black Olive Tapenade on page 57 of David Lebovitz’s wonderful book My Paris Kitchen.

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Cassoulet + Some Catching Up

Happy New Year! I am kicking off the new year with a catch up post. I’ve continued cooking along with Cook the Book Fridays, but I haven’t managed to keep up with my blogging. I will be covering each item in the order cooked (because the order was strategic!).

Counterfeit Duck Confit

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Counterfeit Duck Confit provides a simplified way of making the classic duck confit at home. It takes some planning head (the duck legs marinate overnight then roast for close to three hours), but the technique is easy.

I don’t think I’ve ever had duck confit, so I’m not sure how it compares to the real deal, but I enjoyed this duck a lot. Part of the leg portion was a touch dry, but the skin was crispy and delicious and most of the meat was moist and tender.

I cooked four duck legs and froze two of them. I also saved the duck fat that remained in the baking dish. Keep reading to see why!

Fennel, Radish, Orange, and Crab Salad

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Fennel, Radish, Orange, and Crab Salad is pretty much what it sounds like. Simple crab salad placed on a bed of sliced fennel and radicchio topped with orange suprêmes and sliced radishes.

We liked this, but I would change a few things: 1) There were too many greens for the amount of crab; I ended up using only half the greens I prepared. 2) We didn’t care for the bitter flavor of the radicchio and felt like we would have enjoyed the salad more with romaine lettuce. 3) Buy a better crab! The crab I bought was only OK, so I can only imagine how delicious the salad would be with perfectly fresh crab.

That said, we enjoyed the all the flavors of the salad (except the bitter radicchio), especially the brightness of the orange.

Potatoes Cooked in Duck Fat

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Potatoes Cooked in Duck Fat: another very descriptive recipe title! Remember the duck fat I saved when I made the Counterfeit Duck Confit? I used it to make these potatoes.

What I like about this recipe is that the potatoes are parboiled in water and then fried. This helps ensure they are creamy and cooked through on the inside and not too overdone on the outside.

Yum! These are the best fried potatoes I have ever made. I served them with an egg scramble (using leftover fennel and radicchio from the crab salad) for “Breakfast for Dinner”.

Cassoulet

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Finally, the Cassoulet! Or, the more descriptive White Bean, Sausage, Duck Confit Casserole.

This was an all day project, even with the already-made duck confit legs I pulled out of the freezer. I cut out some of the time by using my Instant Pot to cook the beans and ham hock (I saved about an hour and a half).

This recipe make a lot. I cut the recipe in half and it still served us for two dinners, a lunch, and sadly some that went to the trash.

This is another French classic that I have never eaten before. I don’t know if the ratio is traditional, but I thought there were too many beans to the duck confit and sausages. Next time (if there is a next time) I would cut the beans in half again.

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I wanted to like this more than I did. The beans had a wonderful flavor, but I wanted more of the meat. Also, as my husband said, “It has a delicious background flavor, but it’s all background flavor”. He wanted more punch from the duck confit and sausages, but the flavors blended almost too well with the beans. So, while I had fun making this, and I really did enjoy eating it, I doubt I would make it again. Too much effort for not enough payoff.

Whew! I need a rest after that. Good thing it’s the weekend!

All the recipes mention in this post can be found in David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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