ffwd – pork roast with mangoes

This week’s French Fridays recipe is one for a pork roast, flavored with some Pan-Asian inspired ingredients. I associate mangoes with Australia where I first tasted truly wonderfully perfumed mangoes fresh from the tree. The sauce also includes soy, honey and garlic. The original recipe also included lychees, but I wasn’t at the right market for those, so I doubled up on the mangoes.

Very typically, the roast is browned on all sides. While that is happening, the other ingredients can be prepped.

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The sauce gets created by layering the different ingredients, Sauteing, reducing, etc., finally ending with the mangoes being added. (my kitchen in Sedona is apparently really bright sometimes – skylights!)

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The sauce gets pored over the browned pork roast, sealed tightly and popped into the oven for about 30-40 minutes.

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This creates a delicious sauce, and gives off a wonderful aroma while baking. The preparation makes for an incredibly juicy and tender roast as well. I served mine with rice as suggested, and artichokes.

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This was a very good recipe, with a nice balance of flavors. With the wine and vinegar in the sauce, it balanced the sweetness of the mango. I would likely change things a bit – some ginger, a little fish sauce – some different herbs potentially (lemongrass!), but the preparation was wonderful, and the dish as designed was quite delicious!

You can see how the other Doristas prepared their roasts this week by checking in at the French Fridays with Dorie website.

ffwd – salmon tartar and waffles & cream

I’m combining a couple of recipes this week – something I don’t typically do – but, well, it happens! And what different recipes they are.

I was planning on making the waffles last week, but my week got away from me. Something that happens all too frequently these days. I did really want to try them though – one of the French ways of serving waffles. As dessert!

This week’s recipe is for Salmon Tartar. Kind of a layered salmon ceviche with tomatoes and avocados. Sounded pretty delicious, even if raw salmon isn’t my all-time favorite (unless of course I just caught it off the coast of BC).

I thought why not make a French Fridays meal of it? Start with the salmon, which should be light enough to allow for dessert waffles!!100_3951

This turned out to be one of the “fussy” recipes. Three different concoctions to create the layered effect. Two types of herbs, shallots, cherry tomatoes (in 3! slices), lime supremes, zest and juice, along with some sriracha and other seasonings. Salmon, avocado (mine wasn’t nice). Of course, it was made more difficult by tiny portions as well.

I decided to take the idea of layering in a glass. I can think of other glasses that would be even nicer, especially for an appetizer (champagne flutes, shot glasses…). I had the worst time photographing, but it did make for a fun presentation.

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This was quite tasty. Even though I took care in choosing my salmon, this preparation really requires the best, freshest (and I would say leanest – so better wild than farm-raised – something like King salmon would be ideal, though Coho is still a favorite) salmon you can find. I thought that the flavors were great, and loved using the new chives and mint from the garden. But the salmon texture was a bit too soft for my taste, and I did not heed Dorie’s advice – the pistachio oil got away from me… and I used too much. All of that said, this really is a nice dish, and I can think of times when it would be fantastic – I like the idea of salmon tartar “shooters” on a buffet table (chilled of course), or as a small plate starter. About half the size of this serving. Very fun, very beautiful preparation – and if you’re in the Pacific northwest and can get great, really fresh salmon – totally something that would be on the list of preparations.

And now. The Waffles and Cream. One of the things I have found very interesting is the French way of eating some of the items that in America we would serve at breakfast. Now, I can never get with the idea of whipped cream and chocolate or all manner of dessert items on pancakes or waffles for breakfast – despite the prevalence of those dishes in American restaurants. To have something like a “regular” waffle for dessert was interesting. My mom used to make chocolate waffles for company desserts – but nothing like these. I really wanted to try them!

The batter is thinner than typical, and very rich with butter. But the egg whites folded in were not new to me. I’m pretty sure Fanny Farmer and Joy of Cooking recommend that preparation method for home-made waffles – and it does make for a light one! As noted, this recipe has more butter, and some additional sugar – and ends up being quite thin.

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Dorie tells us that it’s ok to have a few lumps of egg white as well, I took her advice (this time!). The waffles are cooked in a Belgian waffle maker (ideally) to provide maximum surface area for crispness, as well as satisfying wells to capture toppings.

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The suggested toppings were whipped cream and caramel sauce, or even ice cream – and maybe some chocolate sauce. Berries of course would be fabulous. I chose whipped cream and salted caramel sauce (store bought but delicious). In any event, a dusting of powdered sugar is suggested.

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I have to say, these were amazing. Very easy to make, and oh so light, but a terrific foil for any kind of topping. The waffles were crisp and light. I certainly think that this could be a great last-minute treat – when you’re looking for something more than just ice cream, but didn’t have time to bake a cake! And I just loved the idea of having this for dessert. The texture was different enough than a waffle served for breakfast, that it really worked. Certainly other flavors could be used as well (lemon poppyseed anyone?).

So a very happy French Friday dinner! If you would like to see how others made these recipes, you can find the waffles and cream, and salmon tartar as linked here.

CCC – March Madness

Andrea, our beloved Kitchen Lioness, has offered those of us who often find ourselves without enough time to do everything we want (that would include me!) an opportunity to play catch-up in March. A month offering a chance to make up one or more of the recipes we’ve missed during out 10-month foray cooking through River Cottage Veg.

Perhaps the one recipe I wished most to make was the lettuce, spring onion and cheese tart. Everyone who made it when it was on the list for that month absolutely loved it! Essentially, it’s a quiche, but with browned baby lettuces and spring onions with the filling.

The lettuce is quartered lengthwise to help hold it together, then cooked lightly to get a little nice browning. The spring onions get their turn after the lettuce is removed.

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I decided that I would try making Hugh’s tart dough. I wondered if it would differ from others, and to some extent it did, though it’s all a similar process. Milk steps in for water, but otherwise, generally the same. This was quite a bit thicker and “heavier” for the size, but it was super-easy to work with. I did leave it a bit rustic.

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The shell gets par-baked. At first with foil (and beans or pie weights if I’d had them handy), and then alone. Overall, it was about 30 minutes, which seemed quite a long time, but never fear. Then the vegetables were added, and topped with cheese. A custard of eggs, yolks and milk are added. Sadly, my rough edges had one little spot that was too low – and some filling seeped over the side as it baked.

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The tart bakes for another 35 minutes, until it’s puffed, golden and the eggs are set.

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I’d made mine in a spring-form pan so that I would be able to remove it and have that satisfying straight crust around the edge. Of course, it wasn’t easy to get out of the pan with that spillage – it didn’t help that I was impatient to eat serve it! But it did turn out beautifully and was a huge hit!

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As for the crust? Well it definitely reminded me of “English” crusts I’ve had – encasing delicious meat pies… this was a sturdy crust that would hold up to any filling, and so simple to make and work with. Definitely one to remember to use again.

I also made an orange, carrot and cashew salad. I actually made it to go with the tart. I found some blood oranges that I thought would be pretty. Hmmm.

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The cashews get toasted, the oranges sectioned, carrots turned into matchsticks. There’s really no dressing, just the grated zest, a drizzle of oil and a dash of vinegar- and a bt of cumin, salt and pepper.

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It really was quite pretty. And it wasn’t bad eaten on its own, but not something that will be showing up again.

Another recipe for me was for a lentil and spinach soup. I often make lentil soup. Such an easy, comforting soup for a busy work-day lunch. This one is quite similar to others I’ve made. Onion, garlic, tomatoes, fresh thyme – and of course the lentils and spinach. I was so happy to remember to bring home some herbs from the garden up north! I also had some cooked lentils on hand. I decided to use them instead of from the dry ones – just to use them up.

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Fast forward a bit, and with a shave or Parmesan to add to the flavors, a beautiful bowl of soup is presented.

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My final make-up dish was pasta with greens garlic and chile – the broccoli version. This is an easy, comforting dish – pasta and broccoli get cooked (together at the end of the pasta-cooking), drained and tossed with a bit of garlic-infused oil and Parmesan. What a quick and tasty dish for a quick dinner.

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All in all, a very fun and very, very delicious make-up month! I was so happy to have been able to try a few more dishes that I missed along the way. To find out what the other Cottage Club members made, you can find their wonderful results here.

ffwd – next day beef salad

This week’s French Friday with Dorie recipe is a salad to be made with leftover beef – I think to be exact, the leftover beef from “a Saturday night’s boeuf a la ficelle”. That was one recipe from Around my French Table that I never did get around to trying. But the recipe itself is a combination of ingredients that are readily available in many kitchens, and can be adapted to any leftover beef.

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The “official” ingredient list is long, but largely consisting of the afore-mentioned beef, a couple of kinds of mustard, some mayo, green onions, green olives and pickles, along with some fresh ingredients like apple (!), bell pepper, tomato, and here I have some lightly cooked snap peas.

These ingredients all get prepped and combined. I wanted things to be of a relatively similar size.

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Once combined, mine was stored, along with some fresh spinach on the side.

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And off it went to work with me, where it presented a fabulous lunch at my desk! With a set of construction drawings for a fancy tablecloth it appears!!

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This was a delicious salad. And truth be told, I made this a long time ago (it’s easy to tell, I don’t sit at the same desk, or work for the same company anymore!), but I loved this salad, and I’m delighted for the reminder. The ingredients come together despite the odd-sounding combination of ingredients. Apples! Pickles!! But it really worked. And this is a great salad not just to utilize leftovers, but as a delicious respite – and because of its composition, and easy take-along.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the other members of our French Fridays crew came up with when they were putting this salad together. You can find their delicious links here.

CCC – the delicious month of February

February in the Cottage Cooking Club brought one of my most-awaited recipes: Beet Soup! with horseradish cream! But it also brought a Cheesy Peasy Puff Turnover, and a Potato Rosti.

The beet soup is simplicity itself. I decided that this time I would actually roast the beets per the recipe, though I often pick them up pre-roasted and peeled. These were to roast with some fresh herbs, and whole garlic cloves that would then flavor the soup – so I thought I’d stick with the original, particularly as I was making this on a weekend.

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Once roasted, cooled a bit, and peeled, the beets, and soft roasted garlic are simmered with some stock, until the flavors are allowed to blend, and everything is soft. Then it gets blended to a lovely, smooth puree. It’s checked for thickness, adding more stock as necessary, as well as seasoning with salt and pepper as required.

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The soup is served with a simple horseradish cream – sour cream mixed with a good amount of either freshly grated horseradish, or prepared. This is such an amazingly gorgeous soup – and it’s delicious as well. Even quite good for you! I thought it would also be good with a dollop of whipped goat cheese, but the horseradish added another layer of flavor that was a great contrast to the sweetness of the beets.

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The Cheesy Peasy Puff Turnovers were a bit of fun (and deliciousness). They really are made from pantry staples – frozen puff pastry, some frozen peas, and then whatever cheese you might have on hand, though the suggestion is for aged cheddar. The original recipe calls to make one large turnover, but of course, individual pastry servings are always fun, so I decided to make 4 pastries. Simply – you cut the squares of pastry, top with peas and cheese. Brush the edges with egg, seal them, and then use the egg wash over the top. The puffs get baked in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

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I paired the cheesy puffs with the soup for a lovely, filling lunch. Delicious together – or separately.

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My final recipe of the month was Potato Rosti. This is something I’ve never made before and I thought they looked like they would be terrific. The recipe offered two options: the smaller ones as shown in the cookbook, or larger rosti that could be topped with a poached egg. That sounded too good to pass up! The trick to these is to lightly par-boil the potatoes and cool them before grating. The rest is pan-frying the shreds in clumps until crisp and brown.

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I’m afraid I should have stuck with the smaller ones – I think that as a beginner, I would have had more luck. Tricky to turn over, tricky to get brown all over without the outside too brown… I served mine with the poached egg – it was quite delicious!! Well worth the effort, and it didn’t matter at all that it wasn’t perfectly shaped!

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This was a very fun month of recipes, and I was thrilled that I was able to compete the three that I signed up for! Hurrah! Of course, the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club are often much more ambitious than I, and you can learn all about their recipe selections and success here.

BCM – butter cake and granola (bars)

I have been hopelessly behind on all of my cooking/blogging activities. But the latest previous recipes from Baking Chez Moi have looked so delicious!

First, I realized a bit late, that one of the recipes for this group was Granola Bars. I’ve been traveling a lot, and I thought “hey, I should make those and take them on my trips!”. Of course, as I thought this, I was in Sedona with 4 cookbooks, none of them BCM. But then, I realized that my friend Christie who has the amazing blog GoldenLifePHX, would maybe, just maybe, give me the recipe. I was in luck! And while I was at it, I looked at her post for granola bars, and got the gist of them. I even stole a couple of tips. Organic oats, a couple of kinds of raisins and some cranberries, slivered almonds, sweetened with maple syrup! I was ready.

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It all seemed to be going so well! But, not quite well enough. The bars came out of the oven. Were compressed as required, but I’m afraid they were destined more for granola than for granola bars. I could barely get one or two bars cut. Something went awry.

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All of that said, this was delicious granola!! Very tasty. I did also add a little cinnamon as I usually do with my typical granola. The fruit was a beautiful addition, and didn’t get over-done as I was worried it might. I will probably stick with my usual recipe, but it was fun to try.

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Next up| Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake.

I thought that this would be another wonderful treat. Weekends have been known to include ice cream – what would be better than this cake? And one that holds its own over a few days? Others have done a terrific job of demonstrating how this is made, and to be honest, I just kind of made it without taking pictures. I did go the route of using vanilla extract. I’m a huge (!) fan of Penzey’s Double-stregth. I decided that it was wonderful enough to just use that rather than the bean. The browned butter was fun to make and left satisfying specks in the batter. It baked up beautifully.

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Isn’t that gorgeous? But again, I wasn’t really thinking about this. Two fails: the dark pan – I always forget to reduce the heat a few degrees. Oh, and prepping the pan… well, I forgot the parchment.

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What a sad thing. But, it all turned around as we enjoyed this cake. It did live up to the promise of being even better the second day. I think this recipe would be fabulous when the family is around for the weekend, or to give to someone as a home-made treat. It’s not so fussy that it needs to be immediately consumed (though that might just happen!). This was delicious! So, next time I’ll make those adjustments – and there will be one too!

You can see how the fabulous bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie made the granola bars and the vanilla cake by following these links.

ffwd – croquants

I had never heard of croquants, and not speaking French, the name of this little confection meant nothing to me. After reading the description of the cookie, the ingredients and method, I was intrigued. Yes, very.

You see, croquant means crunchy in French. And the method is crazy-simple. The idea that I might be able to put together a delicious cookie with 4 ingredients, well, I just had to try it. But then, it started to become overcast and then it started to rain. Now, living in the desert southwest, I love the rain, but I also know from years of making candy at Christmastime with my mom and then on my own, meringues and candies need to have a dry day. Alas – today was one!IMG_2622

(this is the view from my driveway in Sedona, I’m not actually there today, but it did look like a “nice day” photo)

The ingredients are: very coarsely chopped nuts (I used almonds and pecans), sugar, egg whites and flour.

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Sugar is added, then the whites, and finally, flour is incorporated into the mixture. Interestingly, the whites are not beaten or whipped, they are incorporated as is – which makes this an amazingly simple recipe.

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The recipe calls for the dough to be placed on parchment-lined baking sheets. And that they are supposed to be rounded/mounded. The perfect time to use my cookie scoop. This one turned out to be the perfect size.

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The cookies are baked in a 400 degree oven. Mine took 12 minutes (turning the sheet halfway through). Since it wasn’t a huge recipe, I baked one sheet at a time, which allowed me to have the (important) cooled sheet for the subsequent batch. Another important point is to ensure that the cookie dough is about 2″ apart. I cheated a little, but then only had to use 2 pans.

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The cookies are to be puffed up and cracked a little and a nice brown. It was nice to see some of the larger pieces of nutmeats showing through the tops. They cool on the pan for about 10 minutes until they can be lifted off. Then the croquants are left to cool completely. I would think that the parchment would be essential in this – or certainly a lining sheet of some kind.

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These are suggested to be served with ice cream, a strong cup of coffee, or even a cup of tea. They are very sweet (in a good way), so I decided for a first taste (or two!) that tea sounded perfect. And it was!

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These really are delicious confections. I loved the flavor of the nuts, and the crunch of the cookie – with just a hint of chewiness inside. I can see making these many times because while they are sweet, they are not particularly rich. And they would make a lovely addition to a cookie tray as well. Finally, they are supposed to keep well for a week or so, which makes them a bit more practical – hopefully they will last long enough so that I can test that theory!

There were many others in our French Fridays with Dorie group who made these as well. You can find their lovely posts here.