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Friday, December 31, 2010

My Go To Beef Daube - FFwD

French Fridays with Dorie picked four recipes for the month of December.  Although I have made three of them, things have been a little hectic and this is only my second post for FFwD for the month of December.  Its OK because FFwD rules  say cook along as much as you can!

The great thing about the second part of December is that I have had sons home from college.  My sons are willing sous chefs.  They will peel, chop and stir if I promise to feed them at the end of the day.  And then they will eat everything in the house!  I will miss them when they go back to college..

Dorie says that we all need a great beef stew recipe.  This certainly was easy and delicious.  Bacon was sauteed in the dutch oven and then beef chuck roast was cubed into 2 inch cubes and browned and removed.   Onions and shallots were sauteed for 8 mins.  Then garlic, carrots, parsnips and herbs were added to the pot.   It cooked for 2.5 hours in the entire bottle of wine and made the house smell delicious.

We made this on a cold, wet, rainy day.  It was just the recipe for the weather.  Now I need to find another bottle of wine to sacrifice for future stews!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I would like Jacques Pépin to come to my kitchen.  He seems like such a pleasant chef.  I enjoy watching him on TV.  Apparently, he has a new TV show called Essential Pépin  that will be coming out in the fall of 2011.  

On Christmas Eve, we put a prime rib in the oven for an hour, and then turn the oven off for three hours.  During the off time, we head out to Mass.  When we return, we turn the oven on again and everyone starts making a little something to bring to the table.

I make Jacques Pépin's Gougères.  You can make them the morning before and pop them in the refrigerator and bake them when you get home.  You can even freeze them.  This recipe is taken from Food & Wine.  

Makes about 30

1 cup milk
4 T unsalted butter
1/4 t salt
dash of cayenne pepper (I add some cracked pepper as well)
1 cup ap flour
3 large eggs
1/2 t papirika
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 & 1/2 c grated Swiss cheese
Coarse sal, fleur de sel or kosher salt.  If you are going to put them in the refrigerator, don't put the salt on top until right before baking.


  1. Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.
  2. Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until well mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add the remainder and all the Swiss cheese to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougères, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the sheet. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks. 


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Present Growing!

My Christmas present is growing!  I have followed all instructions.  I mist it daily, give it four hours of indirect light each day and have found a place in the house that is as close to 60 degrees as possible.
Very soon, this evening I think, I will be harvesting my first shiitake mushrooms.  I should get three harvests from my Christmas present.  How cool.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Presents

This is what my brother and sister in law sent me for Christmas!  And I am so excited.  Do you know what it is?  I think that it looks a little like some of bad experiences that I have had with rye breads.  But right now, it isn't edible.

It came with instructions.  I love a gift with instructions.  First I soaked it in a bag of water for fourteen hours. 

Now it needs diffuse light, dampness and cool temperatures for about ten days.  I can handle the diffuse light, fours hours each day.  The front window will be perfect.  I can spritz it every day to keep it damp, I already have covered it with the perforated plastic bag for the greenhouse environment.

My concern is the cool temperature, 60 degrees.  They suggest a kitchen, really bad idea, this is where my oven is.  A basement, don't have one.  A barn, I would really like a barn.  A bay window, we have a big front window, it will have to work.  Or a garage.  I have one of those, yesterday it was above 80 here.  We are having a record warm winter.  Next week, the temperatures may drop to the 60s and I think that I will move my present outside.

I'll let you know what develops.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poached Eggs - Daring Cooks Challenge

I remember my father making poached eggs.  I don't think that he ever consulted Julia Child before him made them.   I believe that his technique involved dumping eggs into boiling water, cutting some bread for toast, getting the paper and rescuing the egg.  I vividly remember the loose yellow egg yolk.  I was repulsed as a child.

I worked at a small restaurant down the street from where I grew up.  In the summer, they opened the attached ice cream store.  I started working there when I was 15.  In the mornings, I would get ready to open up.  If breakfast was still going on, I would help clear tables and take some orders.  I remained repulsed by yellow runny yolks, which were everywhere.  

It took me years to start eating eggs.  When I went to college, on Sundays they served pieces of large sheets of omelets.  Huge omelets, made from dozens of eggs, on the large grill.  No visible egg yolk there. 

The way cool thing to do when I was in college was to go out to breakfast at the end of the semester at the neightborhood restaurant.  A hopping deli.  With eggs of course.  I think that I started to enjoy omelets for the first time.  But I maintained my aversion to runny yolks.

December's challenge was poached eggs.  I actually was excited.  Time to see what all the fuss was about.  Every one is eating them.  People put them on top of everything.  If I could find some quail eggs, it would be fine dining!

First I checked with Julia.  My water was simmering, with a little vinegar added.  I made a swirl in the water, cracked the egg into a ramekin and gently put it into the simmering water.  When cooked, I removed it and put it into a pan of warm water to rinse the vinegar off.  I trimmed any white tendrils, no kidding...  I think that my dad skipped some steps.

I had made some English Muffins and Hollandaise Sauce.  I whipped up some delicious Eggs Benedict.  Except they weren't delicious.  They had oozy, yellow yolks. 

My husband loved them, but I felt guilty as I heard his arteries closing.  It is back to oatmeal for us.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

sweet and spicy cocktail nuts - FFwD

One of December's recipes for French Fridays with Dorie are sweet and spicy cocktail nuts.  I really shouldn't make spicy nuts.  It is so difficult for me to stay away from them.  How many could you eat? 

It is a simple recipe.  Mix up some sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne.  Moisten some nuts with egg whites and then coat with the spice mixture.  Put them a cookie sheet, and bake until dry.

I like spicy nuts.  I have a recipe that I like a little more that uses fresh cracked pepper in place of the chili powder.  Maybe this Christmas I should try different spicy nut recipes and give them away as gifts.  And out of each recipe, I will only eat three.  Or not.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roast chicken for les paresseux - FFwD

This is my new favorite roast chicken recipe.  You start by rubbing the inside of a dutch oven with olive oil.  Then a slice of bread is placed in the bottom of the dutch oven, a bed for the bird.  A five pound chicken is seasoned inside and out with salt and pepper.  Some sprigs of herbs and half a head of garlic are put in the cavity.  The chicken is put on its bead along with some more herbs, a little oil and water and the other half of the garlic.  Put it into a 450 degree oven for 45 mins.  Then add some potatoes, shallots, carrots that have been tossed in olive oil.  Continue roasting for 45 more mins.

Paresseaux means lazy people.  I'm glad to be one.  This was another easy recipe from Dorie Greespan's around my french table.    The French Fridays with Dorie group is baking their way through the delicious recipes.

I will make this again, if only for the crispy piece of bread hiding under the bird...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Souffles - Daring Cooks Challenge

Linda and Dave of Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose November's Daring Cooks Challenge .  We were to make a souffle.  Sweet, savory, it didn't matter.

Years ago, I went through a souffle stage.   At the end of it,  I concluded that I don't really like souffles.  I generally don't like really eggy dishes.  Flan, quiche, meringue not really my favorites.

 However, a souffle is a wonderful canvas, lots of ingredients can be incorporated into them.  I wanted to make mine from things that I had on hand.

The basil in my backyard is thriving.  We have towering tomato bushes filled with green tomatoes.  The race is on to see if winter's first frost arrives in Texas before red tomatoes...

At some point, I gave away my ceramic souffle dish.  Every so often I go through a decluttering kick.  So I found myself without the perfect pan.  I decided to make four individual ramekins from a three egg souffle for lunch.

I sauteed some garlic in some butter.  I added some flour, cooked it for a bit.  Added milk and made a thick bechamel sauce.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I let it cool for ten minutes.  I added the egg yolks one by one followed by the cheese and basil.

The egg white were beaten and then folded in.  Folding always confuses me.  Too much folding and the wonderful bubbles disappear.  Too little folding and you have large streaks of cooked egg whites.  A delicate balance is needed.

I divided the mixture into four ramekins and put them into the oven, with a burnt out lightbulb.  And hoped that the tops weren't burning.   Because you can't open the oven to check on them.  Because they are souffles...

I served it with some sliced tomatoes.  A delicious lunch, the two souffles left on the counter quickly shriveled away.  Because they are souffles.  Beautiful for a moment only.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussel Sprouts en Papillote - FFwD

I am enjoying cooking my way through Dorie Greenspan's around my french table.   When the recipe suggestions for November's French Fridays with Dorie were posted, I knew that I could not vote for brussel sprouts.  Evil little cabbages.

My father grew them in our huge backyard garden.  And they grew well.  Towering trees of evil little cabbages.  I think that the groundhogs and rabbits ignored them.

We were a "clean plate" family.  I happened to sit close to the trash can, during brussel  sprouts season, little balls would roll across the table from my five siblings and I would quickly dispose of them and one of my brothers would hurry to empty the trash after dinner.

Every so often, I will run across a brussel sprout lover.  I am always surprised that they exist.  I have tried brussel sprouts.  They are attractive little balls, you would think that they should taste good.  I have roasted them, steamed them, simmered them, pureed them.  With the same conclusion.  Evil little cabbages.

Some how, I continue to find myself drawn to them.  There they were in the grocery store, beautiful looking perfect balls.  I bought them.  Maybe this time I could find the right recipe.  Then I remembered Dorie's recipe.  This recipe was concocted by Dorie solely because the main ingredients were next to each other in the farmers market when she went shopping.  Really, that is how it works for her.

I was hesitant because I don't generally like sugar on my vegetables.  I checked the ingredient list.  I happened to have a butternut squash in the pantry, and granny smith apples had been on sale.  I have a backyard full of sage.  I always have brown sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil.

I peeled and cubed some butternut squash, cut the evil little cabbages in half, cut up an apple and mixed it all together.  I sprinkled the mixture with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put some of the mixture in the middle of tin foil squares, topped it with sage and the tiniest amount of brown sugar and popped it into the oven.

I liked it.  I amazingly liked it.  I mean if I had a friend who was growing the evil little cabbages and came over to dinner with them, I have a recipe.  This is a weight off my shoulders, at almost the half century mark I can clean those brussel sprouts off my plate!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy Pumpkin Crisp

This is for one of those nights when you need to pull a delicious dessert out of a hat, or a box.  It is from Southern Living, 2005 I think.  Every time that I make it, people love it.  It is one of the easiest recipes that I have.

Pumpkin Crisp
Southern Living
Mix the first 5 ingredients and pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 t cinnamon
Yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter

Whipped cream

Sprinkle  cake mix evenly over mixture.  Sprinkle pecans, drizzle with butter.  

Bake at 350 for one hour.  Remove and let stand for 10 mins.  Serve warm or at room temp.  Top with whipped cream if you'd like.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pommes Dauphinois FFwD

This Friday's recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was Potato Gratin.  What is not to love about potato gratin.   Simple ingredients combined to make a bubbly plate of delicious goodness.

Garlic and heavy cream is brought to a gentle simmer.   Potatoes are sliced with a mandoline and arranged in a pan in overlapping circles.  Each layer is sprinkled with salt and pepper and some warm cream.  When the pan is filled, it is covered with shredded cheese.  The gratin is baked for 45 mins and then allowed to rest while the potatoes absorb a little more cream.

I am biased towards any dish made with potatoes.  However, we have a favorite gratin that is made with grueyere and creme fraiche that is hard to surpass.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Challah - Mellow Bakers

Well, I have been so Mellow in October it is embarrassing.  But, not to worry.  I have one weekend left to bake the October breads for Mellow Bakers.

My last class in grad school was overwhelming.  The teacher wouldn't hesitate to give us 300 pages to read in a week.  Most of the students are working full time, etc.  By the end of the class, I am sure that everyone had piles of laundry and dust bunnies under beds.  But a new class started on Monday, and it seems to be much more reasonable.  So I am making bread.

I was looking forward to trying some braiding.  The recipe came together quickly.  Eggs, oil, water, flour, yeast and salt were all mixed together in my trust kitchen aid.  It formed a fairly stiff dough, good for braiding.

I have enjoyed everyone's knots, so I made a couple of them.

I think that they would make great breakfast sandwiches and may try them out tomorrow morning.

I wanted to try the six stranded braid that is more raised but couldn't figure it out.  I wish that I had checked out every one's blog, one of the comments on Cathy's Challah was a link to Shabbat Shalom instructions on how to bread a six strand Challah.  I have one more Challah recipe that I want to try, so I may get to make the six stranded loaf some time.

The one that I did make turned out nicely.  We gave it away to a good home, where it won't be neglected or go stale!

Scout enjoyed the baking experience.  She hasn't been quite as perky, we wonder if it is age or the illness.   I realize that she is so intertwined into the fabric of our lives, it will be hard to say goodbye to her.  However, today I am embracing denial.  I am certain that the vet is wrong and she is going to be fine.

I am going to send this over to YeastSpotting.  

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake FFwD

Here is another delicious recipe  from Dorie Greenspan's  around my french table.  There were photos of this most delicious cake trapped on my camera.  Luckily, in my Saturday morning cleaning I found the cable, of course that means that I missed the posting for French Fridays with Dorie.

This recipe is a keeper.  A quick, delicious fall cake.  A mixture of ingredients that we all have at home.  However, the recipe called for rum.  There is no rum in my house, I have not recovered from my college experience with rum.  I am not buying rum.  So, I added a little cinnamon.

For years, the teenagers in my house had braces.  This handy apple cutter let them continue to eat apples to their belly's content.

It was a quick batter that resulted in a cake that we will make time and time again.  I heard a request for it to grace the Thanksgiving table...


I may have the best seven and a half year old Labrador Retriever in the world.  My dog loves me. She thinks that I am her mother. The head bitch.

  She loves the other members of my pack.

She thinks that she is my sous chef.  She eats anything that I make.   Even if she isn't invited.

And she has a tumor in her skull and will die a painful death.  The boys are praying that she makes it until Thanksgiving so they can say goodbye. 

We are so sad.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hachis Parmentier FFwD

Hachis Parmentier

This week's challenge was Hachis Parmentier, the French version of shepherd's pie.  We really enjoy a good shepherd's pie in my house so I was excited to try this recipe.

You start by making a delicious broth and cooking the beef.  I doubled the amount of beef called for and used two pounds of tenderized cube steak.  It was simmered with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay, salt and pepper and water.

I have huge bay tree taking over my back yard and am always happy to use some fresh bay.


When the beef was cooked, it was chopped into bite sized pieces.  The broth was removed.  I sauteed an onion.  I like onion and beef in my shepherd's pie.  Some sausage was sauteed and I combined the onions and beef.  The mixture was moistened with the leftover broth. 

How do you mash your potatoes?  I love my potato ricer.

Potato Ricer

A delicious batch of mashed potatoes was made.  I used Yukon Gold.  Cooked, riced, and mixed with milk, cream and butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, heavenly.  These were put on top of the meat mixture, covered with some Gruyere and Parmesan and baked.

This was a delicious Sunday dinner.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gerard's Mustard Tart - French Fridays with Dorie

This is the second week of French Fridays with Dorie, or FFwD. FFwD is a group of bloggers making their way through Dorie Greenspan's new book around my french table. Last week, I was late posting, I posted on Saturday. I am striving to be prompt this week.

Gerard's mustard tart was made by a friend of Dorie's. Perhaps you can guess who? Gerard. Recipes that friends make for you most always are delicious. The food becomes intertwined with the evening and memories. Gerard uses an old fashioned, a l'ancienne, mustard. So I started by searching for the correct mustard.

I thought for certain that I had found it. When I returned home, a closer look at the label revealed a tiny line that read "Product of Canada, manufactured for maille-dijon france." Do you think that the mustard knows that it is not really French? It is delicious, but an impostor.

The recipe starts with a tart shell. This one was made with flour, sugar, salt, butter, ice water and egg. It came together quickly in the food processor and then was chilled, rolled out and baked.

Carrots and leeks were cut into three inch pieces and steamed with a sprig of rosemary. The rosemary left a delicate, delightful flavor.

The eggs, Crème Fraîche, dijon mustard, maille mustard and white pepper were combined, put into the tart shell. The vegetables were arranged on top and baked.

What a tasty Sunday dinner. My husband was so excited to bring the leftovers to work.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gougères - French Fridays with Dorie

I signed up for another cooking group. It was shear jealousy that made me do it. I have been watching people bake from Tuesday's with Dorie and have been amazed with the things that they create. However, I recognize that we don't have much of a sweet tooth in my house. When Dorie Greenspan's new book around my french table, I bought it sight unseen.

I have already made a couple recipes from it, and have enjoyed everyone of them. I like the idea of a group of people cooking the same thing and blogging about it. I am fascinated how varied the responses can be. So, I joined French Fridays with Dorie. I find that when I have a deadline at grad school, I am far more productive if I have something more fun to do. And, cooking is always more fun.

The first recipe is Gougères. Gougères are delicious cheese puffs. On Christmas Eve, when we return from evening Mass we have a family buffet. We try to make it easy but elegant. Everyone in the family cooks something, it is a wonderful symphony in my kitchen. I make Jacques Pepin Gougères . They can be made ahead of time and popped into the oven when we get home. We love the recipe, which uses a blend of cheeses and some cayenne pepper. I was interested in seeing how Dorie's came out. I find that it is always hard to top a recipe when you have a favorite recipe that is tied up with memories

Gougères start with whole milk, water, butter and salt being brought to a boil on the stove top. Flour is added, mixed and the mixture is cooked. Then eggs and cheese are added, the Gougères are formed and baked. They are very easy to make.

The aroma that fills the house when you bake them is delicious. People come out of their rooms and into the kitchen hoping for a taste of these delicious, easy morsels.

Focaccia alla Barese: Apulian Onion, Anchovy & Olvie Focaccia - Modern Bakers

Modern Bakers has moved into a new section of Nick Malgieri's book, the Modern Baker. For the next three months, we will be baking and blogging from the yeast-risen specialties section.

This Focaccia is a traditional Christmas Eve antipasto in Apulia. Apulia is an area in Southeastern Italy. I was attracted to this recipe by the use of anchovies. You don't like anchovies you say? I once heard a chef say that anchovies were one of the hidden ingredients, that add a depth of flavor, to a large number of his dishes. If people don't know that they are there, they love them.

These anchovies are not hidden, but boy do they add some flavor.

You start by making the focaccia dough from flour, salt, yeast, water and olive oil. The dough is allowed to rise in the bowl for 1 to 2 hours and then the slack dough is put into a prepared 11x17 pan. Where it rises for another hour.

While the dough is rising, a large thinly sliced onion is sauteed in olive oil until softened and beginning to color. 2 oz of anchovies in olive oil are drained, chopped and added to the onions and sauteed for one minute. Allow the onion, anchovy mixture to cool. Some gaeta and cerignola olives are pitted and quartered and added to the mixture. I couldn't find these olives, so I used a pleasing mixture of black and green olives.

Dimple the fococcia with your fingers, sprinkle on the topping and add a little kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. The upper right corner is missing the olives, for the olive hater...

This was so delicious, we devoured it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Make this for dinner

Ignore the picture, just make it...

I know that I am among fellow cookbook addicts. Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper is one of my favorite cookbooks. It is filled with delicious recipes and sound advice.

This weekend, I tried one of the pasta recipes that has just become one of my all time favorites. They write that the switching of the order of cheese and tomato sauce brings a whole new flavor to the dish. You have to give it a try.

Cheese - Gilded Linguine with Smoking Tomatoes from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper

5 quarts salted water
extra virgin olive oil
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/4" sticks
large onion
salt & pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
5 garlic cloves, minced
28 OZ can whole tomatoes with juice plus one 14oz can drained
1 lb linguine
1 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano

Boil the water
saute the bacon until golden. Remove and put on paper towels. Drain off all but 3 T of bacon fat. Saute the onions, s&P and red pepper flakes for about 5 - 8 mins until onions soften and start to color.

Blend in the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the canned tomatoes (you could use fresh) crushing them. Add the bacon and bring to a lively bubble and cook for 8 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking. I used the immersion blender to smooth it out.

Cook the pasta, when al dente, drain, turn it into a serving bowl and toss in the entire cup of cheese until mixed then toss with the sauce.

It will be smokey smooth and delicious.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cheese Bread

Well, October's bread selections are up for The Mellow Baker's Challenge. I was hoping to end up with Normandy Apple Bread, it seems like a fall bread. Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread has so many intriguing recipes. And sooner or later, the Mellow Baker's will reach all of them.

September's breads were a Cheese Bread, Sourdough with Walnuts and soft butter rolls. I made the soft butter rolls, the cheese bread and am mellowly skipping sourdough with walnuts. No one but me would be eating that one.

October's breads will include pretzels, roasted potato bread and challah. If you bake bread a lot, you have favorite recipes. I really like the Bread Baker's Apprentice potato rosemary bread, we will have to see how Hamelman's recipe compares. The man can bake. I see challah and I think french toast. I am looking forward to baking that. I like braiding.

The cheese bread was an interesting recipe. It stated with a stiff-levain build that stayed in the refrigerator for twelve hours. Then flour, water, olive oil, salt, and yeast were added to the levain. The cheese, which I grated, was added and the dough was fermented for 2.5 hours.

It was shaped, fermented again and baked.

I had a pretty slack dough. I wanted to slash it like Ostwestwind's loaf, who had one of the nicest looking loaves, but it was too slack.

The good news is, it was delicious.