ffwd – coddled eggs with foie gras

Let me just start by apologizing to the extremely talented Doristas who chose our recipes this month. So far I’m 0 for 3 in on-time posts, and only 1 for 3 altogether – I might end up batting .250 if things hold up (and I’m allowed to count my late post). Not too bad for baseball, but pretty poor for blogging with the group. Vacation season and my new job have collided to make this a tricky month – oh, and throw in a requirement for some squash blossoms! I am not growing any zucchini this year, so nix that.

I was able to manage this recipe this week, albeit late. The trick was more in procuring the pâté foie gras, more than the method. Surprisingly only one choice was available at my fancy market, but it worked out. Otherwise, cream, eggs, parsley and a bit of tarragon, and a steamer.

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Bits of the foie gras are placed in the bottom of a buttered ramekin. Then the egg over the top, cream, salt and pepper, and your herbs. I did use a bit of Mexican tarragon, though I really must have an aversion to tarragon, as I could definitely taste it. Alas, I forgot to bring my truffle salt with me – I’m sure it would have been better that way! (I couldn’t decide which vessel I liked better, so I used different ones)

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These get placed in a steamer – I used my Chinese bamboo one, which was the perfect size.

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One thing that I didn’t really take into account was that the different dishes allowed the eggs to cook in different times. The recipe calls for 5 minutes, one was ready then, one took another minute or so. I served these with some homemade peach-blueberry muffins, though I have to admit, toast fingers as suggested would have been quite nice.

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This was good-ish, though will probably be a one-time thing. After all of the extravagant description, it didn’t really match up – though in all fairness, I didn’t have the truffles. We did, however enjoy the leftover pâté alongside another recipe of the salmon rillettes with some crisp white wine for dinner, so all was not lost!

If you’d like to see how others created this dish, you can look for them here.

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CCC – It’s June! tomatoes, potatoes, eggs and herbs

I thought that with my busy June schedule, I’d pick recipes that were related somehow. With a common thread connecting them. I do that all the time with dinner parties and celebratory feasts – if there’s something that provides a degree or two of separation to other items on the menu, then you can be sure everything will come together harmoniously.

Um, that seemed like a great idea, and also a way to take advantage of some of the ingredients included in the recipes. What I didn’t really take into account is that I don’t always eat the same things/ingredients. Thankfully, all of the recipes were terrific, but I may not need to eat a potato for a while…

First up, I made the pizza with potatoes, rosemary and blue cheese. I already had the dough for the pizza in the freezer, and was anxious to see how it turned out after freezing, as well as how it would work if I actually did take the advice of rolling it very thinly. I had rosemary from the garden, so this was easy. The main time-consuming thing was making the caramelized onions. I should probably do a big batch and freeze them, I just forget.

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Luckily I had a reasonably not-so-hot day, so that I could heat my oven up to cook the pizza. There might not be too many more of these for a bit, but everything came together with the pizza sliding from the peel to the stone satisfyingly, and the whole thing getting tasty and bubbly in no time.

100_3403On the same day, I decided I should make the honey-roasted cherry tomatoes. I thought that they would be nice to accompany the pizza. I’ve made similar recipes before, but the honey-garlic sweet-savory topping sounded great. After assembly, they get a quick roast.

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I served both together, and it was a great combination. The tomatoes contrasted with and complimented the flavors of the pizza.

100_3410Another recipe for this month was the frittata with summer veg and goat cheese. The recipe suggests a few vegetables, and certainly the method. This is another that relies on potatoes, eggs and herbs. Fortunately, I brought back a bunch from my place in Sedona, so was able to enjoy those fresh flavors. What I did not have were a lot of green vegetables, I decided to just rely on some peas, and a few more of my leftover roasted tomatoes. I subbed out some red onions for scallions, and added some fresh yellow peppers to add a bit more color. I used fresh thyme and oregano, along with a few chives.

100_3431The vegetables get sautéed in a bit of olive oil, based on the amount of cooking required, then arranged in the pan with the herbs. The beaten eggs go on top, and cook until about 2/3 set, topped with the cheese, and popped into the oven for a few minutes to set.

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Once out of the oven, the frittata sits for a few minutes, and indeed can be cooled to room temperature for serving. In this case, I was hungry… so the first piece was served hot!

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My final recipe for June was the new potato, tomato and boiled egg salad. This is an arrangement of those ingredients, generally room temperature, mixed with a mustardy vinaigrette. The trick here is to not-quite hard boil the eggs (7-minute eggs!), and smash them a bit with the dressing.

100_3441100_3443100_3444100_3448This is something that I would definitely make again, though I might tweak the dressing a bit. I don’t even know what “English mustard” is, but used traditional American yellow. ?? But I thought it might be improved with a pickle-ish element, either my home-made ones, or some capers. But really, and excellent concept. It was delicious, fast and filling, so it was a perfect lunch. I could see this for dinner too.

Altogether, these were delicious recipes this month. I really liked every one of them, though I could see a tweak here or there – but even as presented, they suited me. I learned a few new things along the way, and was reminded of a few more. A delicious experiment!

I can hardly wait to see what recipes July brings! If you’d like to see what other participants in the Cottage Cooking Club made, you can check them out online.

 

 

 

 

ffwd – guacamole!

This version of guacamole is a crunchy, veggie-filled mixture. There are so many ways to make guacamole, that it’s fun to try something different. I’ve always loved avocados (plainly sliced with a nice sprinkling of salt – yum), and guacamole, for me, is not an exception. I’m always surprised to find people who don’t like them, but I suppose that leaves more for me! (can you tell I’m from a large family?)

I used plenty of fresh diced jalapeno (and could have used more, mine was mild), diced cherry tomato, red onion and red bell pepper. I also included the chopped cilantro and added a little minced garlic.

100_3450Once that’s mixed, the soft avocado is added along with a bit of lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. I should have added some picante sauce here as well, since my jalapenos weren’t spicy.

100_3452Classically, this is served with fresh tortilla chips, though any kind are good. This version would be great topping a salad or on a sandwich as well.

100_3456This was pretty good. I did like the crunch, though it required quite a bit of hot sauce on the top. But refreshing and simple, and a different take from what I might normally throw together.

You can see how others prepared their guacamole by checking out their posts here.

ffwd – skate (tilapia) with capers, cornichons and brown butter sauce

I’ve never eaten skate before, though I’ve seen it on a few menus, mainly in coastal cities. To be honest, I still haven’t. While we can get a surprising variety of fin fish and shell fish at the better markets in the desert southwest of the US, skate isn’t one of them. So when I looked up alternatives, I got – tilapia. Mind you, I’ve seen pictures of skate, with their delicate color and ruffly edges, but not this time! I was sorry to have to substitute.

Otherwise, this is fairly straightforward. I like this kind of recipe because it reminds me that I really should fix fish at home more often. It’s easy, quick… this recipe is no different. Other than the fish, the ingredients are a little butter & flour, sherry vinegar, capers and cornichons, something I now have in my refrigerator thanks to FFWD.

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This is a quick pan-saute of the fish fillets that have been dredged in a light coating of seasoned flour. The fillets get cooked until lightly browned, just a few minutes.

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These can be set aside or kept in a warm oven. The pan is quickly wiped out, butter added and browned. The sherry vinegar is poured into the pan and quickly reduces, and then the remaining sauce ingredients are incorporated.

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The dish is assembled by placing the fish on top of a “pillow” of something soft, like mashed potatoes or celery root. I went with potatoes here, but I can see other whipped vegetables as a nice, light alternative. Finally, the fish is sauced, and served.

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I thought this was quite good, and loved the brown butter combined with the sharp vinegary elements of capers and mustard. I liked the cornichons well enough, but would agree that they were not really necessary with the capers already in the dish, plus it was a different kind of texture. All in all, quite a successful dish, that I should remember to make again, or at least a version.

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And finally, Dorie suggests to “forget about” leftovers. Well, I had some, and it was pretty tasty. Hardly party fare, but certainly tasty enough on a busy night.

If you’d like to see what others came up with, you can find their links here.

ffwd – avocado-crab ravioli

This is a combination of flavors that I think is fabulous. And while I thought that the method would likely get a little fussy, this preparation seemed like a fun idea. This is really a simple crab salad layered between thinly sliced avocado. The trick is how the chef that showed Dorie to make it using a mandoline to slice the avocados thinly, with the skin and pits in place. It sounded worth the try. I used king crab for mine, since I was making a smaller amount, along with some diced red onion, cilantro, chile oil and some lime.

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I made the salad first, then tried my hand at using my fancy French slicer with the avocados.

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My avocados were pefectly ripe, so not surprisingly, after the first couple of slices, the pit moved within the fruit, and the skin caught on the slicer. I also thought it was not as easy to remove the skin from the avocado. As you can see, it left a lot of the avocado as “shrapnel”. Which would be a crime if not taken care of.

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After assembling the ravioli, I chunked up the remainder of the avocado and added it to the crab salad. This I placed on some tostaditos (small fried corn tortillas). Both were good, though I wish I had added some hot sauce to either salad (but particularly the tostada version), because that really accentuates the flavors of the smooth avocado and salty-sweet of the crab. In very non-French fashion, these were served with some Mexican beer with lime, and of course a little hot sauce.

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The ravioli were fun, and I can see how it’s a popular dish. Personally, I don’t know that I’d make it again, but the flavor combination is terrific, so I’d be more likely to make my tostadas. They could be made smaller to serve as an appetizer too, which would be fun, but all in all, a fun experiment!

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ffwd – salmon rillettes

As I looked through this recipe, and did a little research, I decided that I would veer slightly off-path with my salmon, but loved the description of Dorie’s poaching method, so wanted to keep that.

This is essentially a rough spread combining poached salmon and smoked salmon. I’ve written before about my tightly held opinions about salmon. I really did go salmon fishing every year for a while, and often smoked salmon at home with the fish we brought back (I really need to find those pictures!!). I like the drier “hot-smoked” salmon much more than the lox versions. There’s a bit more texture, and I think flavor, since it’s brined prior to smoking. So for mine, I chose coho salmon for the fresh, and a smoked Scottish salmon (farmed) that were the relatively less-expensive version of the choices at WF, though all of the flavored smoked choices (now that I’ve made the recipe), would likely be terrific here too.

The salmon is poached in a spiced, winey broth for just a minute after the broth itself is allowed to simmer to develop flavors. I ended up using some fresh cayenne chile pepper and substituted some Chinese cooking wine for the white, since I didn’t have any open. The other ingredients are simple to set up.IMG_2484photo 1

As noted, the fresh salmon only poaches for about a minute. I liked the idea of the salmon cubes, since it seemed that they would really take on the flavors in the broth.

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This salmon gets drained, then combined with the smoked salmon, mashing a bit to create a spreadable consistency, but not so much that they texture is lost. One concern I had was that the smoked salmon might be too chunky, based on what I’d read, but it seemed to be soft enough for this dish.

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Once the salmon is the correct consistency, the other ingredients are added along with lemon, salt and white pepper. Seasoning more after tasting. I ended up adding some “Sunny Spain” seasoning from Penzey’s – and actually quite a bit of it. It has a little garlic as well as the lemon and pepper. I thought it needed it to make it flavorful.

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This gets packed into canning jars (and a little go-container for my lunch Monday). The rillettes are chilled for at least 2 hours to make the butter firm up and have all of the flavors meld. Unlike other versions, Dorie has us press plastic wrap to the surface, while other recipes add a layer of clarified butter on top to seal the jar.

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(Sometimes things go awry, I forgot this when I left for Sedona today, so should have been enjoying this in the garden with a nice glass of wine. I did really love this (and no, it won’t go to waste), and will definitely make this again.)

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CCC – the Cottage Cooking Club, cooking with River Cottage Veg: inaugural post

Painted in WaterlogueI’ve been participating with another cooking group – French Fridays with Dorie for the past 4 (!) years. One of our members, the amazingly talented Andrea Mohr, invited some friends to cook along through a new book, River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and I asked to join in. In my family, I’m usually the one that can be counted on to bring the vegetable and/or salad to any event. And I try to, like so many others, to emphasize vegetables over other ingredients.

This group is set up a bit differently, which will make participation easier in many ways (you can flex down on the number of dishes if you don’t have a lot of time), but more difficult in others – there are so many amazing dishes in the book! The initial idea is to choose from a list of 10 recipes for the month, and then create a single post of the recipes chosen. Since I have a bit more time this month (and since everything looks so good), I’m making a few more than I might get to otherwise, so this post may become a bit unwieldy. We will see!

100_3336Because I can, I’ll start with one I didn’t commit to, and really, what is there to say about radishes with butter and salt? I have never been a radish fan, probably because they weren’t popular in my home growing up. But I’ve recently started adding them to salads, and they’re nice – I happened to have a bunch for something else – so, yes, I cut one up, spread on some butter and a sprinkling of salt and plopped it in my mouth! Does that count?

The next recipe from my list is pea and parsley soup. I’ve enjoyed other “fresh” pea soups, and this did not disappoint. It’s super simple to prepare, particularly since one of the options is to use frozen peas. This uses fresh herbs from the garden, and is finished with pea shoots. This was so good that I was required to leave the leftovers behind!

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Which naturally leads to the next recipe, the spring onion galette. As you can see from the above photo, this was paired with the soup for a nice, light dinner. As well, this is super-easy to make, using purchased puff pastry. The only note I would have is that I didn’t use as many of the green onions as called for in the recipe – the wouldn’t fit on the pastry.

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Quite frankly, it’s difficult to go wrong with anything with puff pastry. I used the other half of the dough for another version from the book – this time with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, and then made mini versions for Mothers Day.

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Next on my list is asparagus pizza.  I love roasted asparagus, and this looked like a lot of fun. I wanted to try out the “Magic bread dough”, so went ahead and made my own. The big challenge is that my brother now has 2 wood-fired pizza ovens. He decided to give up corporate life and bake pizzas for a living, and just finished having a mobile kitchen completed, including a wood-fired oven inside. The bar has been set amazingly high. His pizza (and dough) is amazing. But, it’s all a learning experience, right? Besides, I’ve set aside some of the dough in the freezer to test out how that works for the flat breads or bread sticks.

I have been baking bread for years (my grandmother first taught me to bake bread when I was like 9 or 11). I went to a King Arthur Flour demo earlier this year, and learned a few tricks, so I have more process photos to include here. Note that I use a plastic dough scraper to mix – this is a great tool for under $2. Since I’m fairly easily distracted, I add ingredients to the bowl in order, without mixing, so that I can see what’s there if I get side-tracked. I also get to a rough dough prior to putting it on the board to knead – I’m in AZ, so it took a bit more water to get here – about 1/4 c. Finally, I don’t put the dough into a clean bowl to rise – just use a cooking spray to coat the bowl, and a tiny bit on top, and cover with plastic wrap.

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While the dough is rising, onions are sliced, then slowly sauteed to lightly caramelize them. The oven is also heated to 500 degrees with a pizza stone or cookie sheet in the oven to heat as well. Once the dough is rolled/patted/thrown (not me!) for the pizza base, it’s placed on a floured peel, to get the toppings of the onions, asparagus spears, fresh mozzarella and parmesan. The pizza is then quickly placed in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the asparagus is roasted, and the cheese nicely toasted.

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Unfortunately, mine wasn’t as good as my brother’s, though it was tasty, and a wonderful flavor combination. Next time I would use less dough (since the peel size dictates), and roll out the dough thinner – I think that might be a difference.

Lemony guacamole was my next effort. I love guacamole, and here in the southwest, it’s a perennial favorite, and something enjoyed often. I thought it would be fun to see what the Dorset, England version would be like. As always , the key is a perfectly ripe avocado. I ended up serving mine with some black bean dip and some nachos for a nice, light meal. And yes, instead of yogurt, I added a small dollop of mayonnaise – it adds some creaminess, but mainly I use it to keep the guacamole from turning brown quite so quickly.

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My final recipe for May is roasted eggplant boats. I love roasted eggplant, and often will roast a tray of vegetables to have as lunch throughout the week with some lentils and a bit of pesto. I ended up sticking fairly closely to that idea, though it was so tempting to take this down a Cajun path – eggplant pirouges are a common vessel for any number of sauces, including creamy shrimp or other fiery fillings. In real life, a pirouge is a boat used in the bayou, and is similar in shape to many eggplants. In this recipe, eggplants are cut in half, scored so that the seasonings can reach throughout, and then baked. I used chile oil and crushed garlic, since I have some nice chile oil on hand – otherwise it was suggested to use olive oil, crushed garlic and red pepper flakes. These get baked for about 50 minutes until softened.

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I make my own pesto most of the time, and did so here. I had some parsley I’d taken from the garden. I think that’s the key to a good pesto – using a combination of parsley and basil, along with the typical garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan. I typically throw everything together in the mini food processor, first the herbs, garlic and nuts, then the oil, and just whirl in the cheese at the last. I also use less than the full amount of oil so that I can add a layer on top of what I’m storing without it getting too oily. Since this was going to be dinner, I made a bit of pasta to go with. But the stand-out was the eggplant with it’s pleasant little “bite” from the chile oil.

Basil Pesto
1/2 c fresh parsley
1 c fresh basil
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 c pine nuts
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

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These were all such fun, tasty dishes to make, and none of those I chose were too difficult or took too long to prepare. I don’t even know if I could venture a choice of a favorite. Probably the dinner of the pea and parsley soup and the spring onion galette. But all were ones that I’d happily make again. And I’m sure that the few I did not make were wonderful too. You can find out how all of the others fared by checking out the Cottage Cooking Club site.

It will be interesting to see how others posted about their recipes, and whether this format works for me – it’s a bit different, but that’s part of the fun.