I actually read ahead for this week's French Fridays with Dorie and knew that I needed to make challah. OK, I am sure that I could have bought challah, but I love making challah. I love the way that it makes my kitchen smell, and how it feels when you braid it. And youtube is filled with wonderful examples of bread braiding.
I had never made challah before I baked along with the group of bakers making the breads in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. As with any bread that you have grown up on, there was some discussion on which challah was the favorite challah. A couple of the bakers preferred a recipe a book called in the Second Helpings Please, put out by the Mt. Sinai Chapter of Montreal of the Jewish Women's International of Canada in 1968. GrongarBlog recently posted a most beautiful post on this challah recipe. The pictures alone will make you run to make a loaf.
Early into the process, my camera died. The battery will not accept a charge. It will take a little investigating to see how serious a situation this is but I had my cell phone.
The challah was sliced and dipped into a combination of eggs, milk and sugar and cooked in some butter in a griddle. French Toast.
The french toast soaked in eggy custard of eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk. We were supposed to add some dried fruit. Adding dried fruit would guarantee that I would be the only one eating this. So, I added some strawberries and bananas and a touch of cinnamon and put it into a water bath to bake.
We served this with a little whipped cream and everyone loved it. I think it would have been too sweet for us to eat for breakfast.
Murphy was quite excited by all the egg cracking that went
into this recipe. Eggs for challah, eggs to brush the challah, eggs to
make the french toast, eggs to make the custard. A definite egg fest,
perhaps I shared with the hopeful puppy.
Leave it to the French to come up with a delicious, thick crepe recipe called farçous. Very simple to make. Milk, flour, eggs, garlic, chives, chard, shallots and some salt & pepper were combined in a food processor.
I made these with last week fish and when gradschool son came home, he used them like a taco. A pancake, some fish, some sauce he declared it one of the best meals to date.
These swiss chard pancakes will be on our go to recipes when the swiss chard in the garden is ready to be harvested. They were easy to make and delicious. There are some in the freezer waiting to make their sunny green appearance at a moment's notice. These are one of the reasons that I am glad that I am cooking along with French Fridays with Dorie.
While I was making the spinach and cod roulades for French Fridays with Dorie, there were a few things that I knew for certain. I just knew that someone would love these, would put them into their repertoire of fun and tasty things to cook. I knew that someone would take a wonderful photograph. And I knew that I wouldn't be doing these things.
While I was making them, I was annoyed. I was annoyed when I pureed the perfect cod. I was annoyed when I smeared the mix on plastic wrap. I'm not sure that I enjoy cooking with plastic wrap. I was annoyed when I formed the sausage shapes. My attitude was all wrong going into this challenge.
I started by making some preserved lemons. We use a Cooking Light recipe and really enjoy having these in the refrigerator.
I decided to served the fish with the tomato sauce. It was quite tasty and easy to make.
I cracked the eggs and ever hopeful Murphy in her spring hair cut came running. She loves the sound of eggs cracking.
I pureed the lovely cod and made the spinach stuffing and formed the roulades. We liked them, however my husband and I both felt that sauteing the cod and steaming the spinach would have been just as tasty.
Sometimes I feel like I am running a flophouse. Our gradschool engrossed overspring sometimes shows up to eat leftovers. He put the fish in next week's swiss chard pancakes (which I will make again and again) and covered
them with the tomato sauce and declared it one of the best things I've
made so far.
This is one of fun things about the challenge. I did it, we ate it, we enjoyed it. I won't be doing it again.
One of the things that I was looking forward to after moving to Pennsylvania was joining a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. If you go to LocalHarvest's web page you can find CSAs in your area. Basically, you join up, pay some money and get something back from the farm. What you get back depends on the farm or group that you join. It is kind of a through good times and in bad relationship, drought or flood, you are supporting the farmers. There are a couple in the Pittsburgh area, we joined Penn's Corner Farm Alliance for 32 weeks. One of the things that appealed to us about Penn's Corner was that they are an alliance of more than 30 farms. I would love to have been able to join two different ones or see what some one else gets in their weekly box.
I had my concerns about my first box. It was snowing here last week, nothing was green. I assumed that the farmers would be relying on the greenhouses. The box contained a variety of lettuce, an onion, a dozen eggs, a handful of rosemary, a bag of puffed corn, a quart of apple cider and some black radishes.
The black radish was a new one for us. Used by the French and some Asian countries, it's flavor is a little more pronounced than your normal radish.
I cleaned them, sauteed them in olive oil for a little browning and then put them in a salad with grapefruit and celery and a citrus dressing. We really enjoyed them. I read a French recipe where they are grated and put in creme fraiche. We may try that as well, sounds a little rich.
We already used some of the eggs in spaghetti carbonara. We are struggling with the honey puffed corn. My husband tried it for breakfast, not his favorite. I ground some up and put it in cookies, the kids liked them but there is more.
The little bag of rosemary made me sad. I miss my Texas backyard. I miss my bay tree, my rosemary, sage, parsley, oregano, chives that grew year round. I don't miss the extreme drought. But rosemary was practically a weed in Texas. The little bag was a frank reminder of how different things are.
We are going to start some four squares in our small urban backyard. Once we start gardening, this new backyard will start to feel like we own it. I bet that it will be easier than gardening in Texas. It actually rains here. And one of my neighbors has had some luck keeping rosemary outside in a protected area.
Here is a picture of my husband and one of my son's looking at the backyard on our last day in Texas. The brown spot is where the summer drought death starts. The rosemary wrapped around the beds. It took us a couple years to get us to this point, let's see how our new backyard is next year.
I am going to put a link on In her Chucks What's in the Box? page. It is a gathering of posts about what people found in their CSA boxes. You can see that everyone has different growing seasons.
We got a reminder email from our CSA telling us that our growing season is behind. I think that I had figured that one out on my own. Every time I walk out the door, I am pleasantly surprised not to see snow.
This week's French Friday's with Dorie was a delicious simple treat. Designed originally in a small gold bar like pan to appeal to the Frenchman on the go in the financial district. It was an easy batter made with browned butter and sugar, almond flour and all purpose flour and a lot of egg whites. As instructed, I chilled it over night and then had difficulty filling the pans, the batter was so thick. I really enjoyed these simple treats.
This is Murphy, looking especially large in her winter coat. She is my son's Portuguese Water Dog. She spent the first months of her life on a farm, eating fresh eggs. When I begin to bake, she comes running when she hears the egg carton open, ever hopeful for the extra egg white or egg yolk. She thinks that we should make financiers more often.
I have been married a long time, 27 years. Over those years I really have tried not to lie to my husband. Now sometimes I might omit some details, some trivial points. But I do not lie.
As I was baking these cookies, I tasted the batter and I began to think about how I could even get him to try these.
Actually I was worried before the cookie even began. When I went to choose the olives. I wanted to make sure that I was getting the olive oil cured olives. I asked the man behind the counter. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was putting these olives in a recipe with a cup of confectioners sugar. "Excuse me sir could you tell me which of these olives you would pair with sugar" never came out of my mouth.
When I went home, I cut the recipe in half. We like savory, we tolerate some sweet. But both, in the same mouthful. Maybe in nuts.
I got out the ingredients.
I made the cookies. I didn't like the batter but I thought maybe the flavor would change after baking. When they came out of the oven, I tried another one. My last. I put them on a tray and my husband said "is this a savory cookie" and I pretended that I didn't hear because he would expect full disclosure. Normally I've got his back. But I wanted to see if maybe he'd like them without my input.
He tried one. He hated it. He asked me if it was an April fools joke.
I know that some people already have made and enjoyed this Friday's French Fridays with Dorie . It is amazing how we all have different food preferences.