CCC – the April Recipes

As you can see, this is being posted in May. Really? I couldn’t take the time to post on time? With only two recipes completed? Well, things do happen. The last couple of months have been super busy. Mainly with work, but also with family events, so I had to take a delay! Oh well!!

In April, I was only able to get two dishes completed. I was soooo very excited about making the Upside-down onion tart. But, it didn’t happen. Who knows what came up. I was, however, able to make a recipe that I didn’t actually sign up for. Pasta with new potatoes, green beans and pesto. I made it for my Book Club. We meet (almost) each month to discuss our books and our lives, hosted by the person who chose the latest book. One of my friends had a baby within hours of our previous meeting!! Obviously we knew the event was upcoming, so I decided to choose an electronic version of our book as a test, since with her first child, the only way she could read was on her phone or reader. It seemed a good idea. I also decided that I should choose something relatively easy, since she might be putting it down at a moment’s notice, so it should be something easy to pick up again. We all like mysteries, and I like them set in the UK even better, so I looked online and decided that since this was a “test”, I’d pick something inexpensive – in this instance $0.01. I could certainly afford to completely host it, and if it was bad, well, no harm done. I chose Silent Scream: An Edge of Your Seat Serial Killer Thriller by Angela Marsons.

Well, one of the reasons I don’t read as many mysteries is that so many are about super-creepy serial killers – I didn’t realize I’d picked one! It’s really the only thing that really scares me in life. Yikes! But, I am happy to say that this was a pretty good book! Great value for a penny, and it worked well to gift my friends with an electronic book. So while I had started buying books (or anything) on Amazon because of these same friends, they also got me going on electronic ones as well (this should seem a bit ironic, given who I now work for!!). I will read more of Angela’s books. So simple – I always want a book with me, this way all I really need is my phone.

On to the recipe!! I was running behind for probably a typical reason. This dish was one on our list of possibilities for the month, and since I had home made pesto in the freezer, I decided that this was the one! I also decided that I would actually weigh the ingredients! Something I never do. So I thought I might actually learn something along the way!!100_3980

I realized that I wasn’t actually all that good at guessing at weights! Pasta, potatoes, green beans.

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The veggies get prepped, and then added to a large pot of boiling water in succession along with the pasta to produce the perfect degree of doneness of each item.

All of this gets drained well, then tossed with the home made pesto. The recipe in the book calls for lemon in the pesto as well, so I added a good amount of fresh lemon as well, since I thought it would brighten things up. Then the olives were scattered, some additional Parmesan added, then it’s ready to serve!!

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Served with a bit of crisp white wine, and some good conversation – it was a nice, filling meal. I’ll have to admit, maybe not quite up to my usual, but was fun – and good for the day. I have no idea – did I serve bread too? Dunno. I’m pretty sure that I did make a lemon icebox pie for dessert that was tasty, and accented the lemon in the luncheon.

This was not the favorite of the recipes I’ve made from Cottage Cooking Club, but it was a good lesson in measuring, as well as a great lesson in combining ingredients you might have on hand for a delicious meal.

The other recipe I made was the Lettuce, egg and fried bread salad. This is another recipe that takes advantage of what’s on hand. I’d planned on making it a different day, but ended up with it as a delicious middle-of-a-workday lunch! IMG_4053

I was able to use some home-made bread for the “fried bread” part – really, just freshly made large croutons. I love any salad with a softly boiled/poached egg. And the dressing was another of the simple ones that come together so quickly with just a bit of Dijon, garlic olive oil and vinegar. Hugh typically calls for cider vinegar, but I usually just use red wine vinegar – but either will do. You just need to ensure you season it with salt and pepper before using, since it needs to be pretty flavorful before it gets to the salad.

I also assembled this in one of my favorite bowls. I made it years and years ago when I spent a few years throwing pots in my free time. Hope to get back to it someday!

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This was a fabulous salad! A great use for that last bit of wonderful bread that you hate to waste, but really, is a bit past its prime. And a healthy, filling lunch.

I’m sure that the others in the Cottage Cooking Club made some amazing recipes. You can find their April recipes here. And if you’d like to join us – check out the site and the rules. You can even join as a guest blogger!

ffwd – chicken in the pot: the garlic and lemon version

I’m willing to bet that a lot of the people who started cooking with French Fridays with Dorie were at least partially drawn to the project because of this recipe. This particular dish adorns the cover of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table – the tome that we have been cooking through together for nearly 5 years.

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When we didn’t make this recipe early on, I assumed that eventually, if the group stayed together, we would make it our last. And in deference to the group – I have never made this particular recipe before.

This week, I have seen a lot of references to this particular recipe as those of us who have cooked together and shared our lives together, at least virtually (though for a lucky few – in person as well), have been making this recipe and talking about it.

I have to say that while I have been sidetracked lately – this time for a good reason (YAY!), I wanted to get to the finish line with all of my friends, even if I’d taken a few detours. Over the next several weeks, the caretakers of our group, the Amazing Mary of Lights on Bright, No Brakes, and the Wonderful Betsy of A Plate Full of Happiness, will challenge us to comment on our journey through both this wonderful book, and incomparable group. But this week is for our final recipe. chicken in the pot: the garlic and lemon version.

I just got back from a trip to Southern California this evening. I have a couple of new guys on my team, and recently (last week!) have several reporting directly to me – so I wanted them to get off on the right foot! And we are working on a very new initiative for my company – so it’s taken a bit of time away from some of my other pursuits. Fortunately, my friend Mary posted this recipe on line, so I could look at her post and see the ingredients. That way I could stop at the store to pick up a few ingredients on my way home from the airport. As I write at about 8pm Thursday evening, my chicken is cooking away in the oven. I don’t say this to make myself sound special or super-dedicated, but to let my fellow Doristas know that they are important to me, and I wanted to get to the finish line at least close as possible to when they did!

So! The chicken!! The big difference about this particular preparation is the sealing of the pot with dough! Dorie often speaks about ensuring that the pot of whatever you’re baking, braising, etc. … is properly sealed. This makes for a spectacular presentation (assuming it turns out like the photo). Otherwise, this is a nice chicken baked with a wonderful compliment of aromatics.

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As you can imagine, I took a couple of shortcuts, but nothing too drastic, I hope! For the preserved lemon, I substituted fresh and skipped the simmer in the sweetened water. That is one of the few “new” things that I’ve been introduced to that I don’t just love – preserved lemons. Probably because I don’t make my own like so many others actually do.

I decided to make my life a little easier as well by making my dish in one pot. I had a bit smaller chicken anyway, and looked at the photo – and realized that the shape of the lid might be important. So I did what I would usually do – and chose my vessel for the end product, and then went out of order. I browned the chicken in some olive oil. Seasoning as I went along (my unfortunate bird spread her limbs a little inelegantly!)

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Once set aside, it was time to brown my vegetables – in the same pot of course. I used 3 heads of garlic (unpeeled, whole cloves), since my bird was smaller. But took advantage of some prepared veggies.

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When browned, I added in the herbs and the peel of one lemon.

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Once that was all together, I put the chicken in the pot, added the juice of the lemon and a good amount of wine. I skipped the broth altogether. And then the final “cheat” was added – store-bought pizza dough instead of the “paste” from the recipe. This was a “Dorie” idea, so I didn’t even feel bad!

My only real challenge with this in retrospect is that my pot was still warm – maybe that was why Dorie suggested using a frying pan to get everything ready, then put into a new pot! Oh well! Tricky to get the dough to stick on the rim, trickier to get a photo!!

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At last however, it was together, popped into the oven and now, the waiting begins. It’s been fun making this recipe, anticipating everyone’s successes and, well, question marks about it. That is one of the most fun things about this group – as we make recipes, we often think of each other (will Cher “go rogue”?, will Liz add red?, the list goes on – I hate to leave someone out!!!), and then knowing that I will get to read my friends’ posts and find out what they loved, what they didn’t, and really, all about their experiences. What fun!!100_4000

Fast forward about an hour at 450 degrees – and here it is! Between the bit of oil on the rim, the pizza dough instead of paste – and maybe importantly the shape of the lid – mine popped off easily – no need for a screwdriver!!

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As I sit here munching this quintessential  Dorie dish, sipping a glass of wine (what else to do with the rest of the bottle? ok, not all this evening!), I think that this dish does represent what I think she was trying to do with this book – make French cooking accessible to the home cook by presenting recipes that one might very well be served at a dinner party or home-cooked meal in France – and particularly one that if you were lucky enough to be invited, Dorie might serve at her very own French Table.

Best dish ever? Not really. I would not put this at the top of my list from the book. That said, comforting, lovingly presented, and delicious in its own right. I do think that it is the perfect last recipe to an extraordinary adventure.

I’m sure that there will be others posting about this recipe, and our wonderful group. You can see all of those links at our French Fridays with Dorie site.

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.