CtBF – eggplant caviar

When I was planning on making this, I hoped that my favorite farm stand would have eggplant. At first glance, no. But when it was mentioned, the guy immediately went out and picked a bucketful. Doesn't get fresher than that!!

When I read the recipe, I immediately thought use the grill! So I charred them, then roasted them over indirect heat. No heating up the kitchen!!!


It took a little longer than I thought it would, but was in no hurry.

Once roasted to softness (with a little olive oil and salt), the eggplant is allowed to cool. Then the flesh is scraped from the shells. Then whirred with lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt, I used roasted garlic and some fresh-picked basil. It was temping to use mint as well. I'd love to hear how that turned out if anyone used it. This was really dump and stir, I referenced the recipe, but didn't follow it (honestly not sure how much eggplant I had!). This makes for a very delicious, light spread. It gets a glue of olive oils and a little more smoked paprika for serving. As suggested, I served this with some crostini. A few pickles too. And, since I had a fresh fig from my new tree, I put together another version with ricotta, prosciutto and the fresh figs. All served with some sparkling rosé. It's difficult to beat this as a lovely summer repast. Totally enjoyable, and perfect for a summer afternoon.

You can check out what others thought about this simple but delicious dish, by checking out the Cook the Book Fridays site.

CtBF – Sardine Spread (rillettes de sardine)

This is an “extra” post for CtBF, since there was a 3rd Friday in September (that I am late for!). The idea was to have optional recipes that included ingredients that might not appeal to everyone. This week: Sardines. My rough calculation is that a bit over half of the group actually like sardines, and many of us have made a similar version when we cooked our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Sardines aren’t normal fare for me, though I don’t mind them, but I was reminded why I don’t really make this dish. It’s because it’s not very pretty. The same dish made with salmon…so much prettier.

I had found a can of sardines at an international food market, knowing that sooner or later, I would be making something like this. I had a hard time finding ones that didn’t have a bunch of flavoring – as it turned out, these were “spicy”.

See – not pretty. BUT, these get mixed (sans as many bones as you can easily remove) with a mixture of butter and cream cheese, and then some other items – like capers – and you can never go wrong with them! Unusually, this had lime juice in lieu of lemon – a nice touch.

It’s not pretty. But it is very delicious. We had this as part of a grazing meal watching football. The flavor is quite wonderful. And I skipped the cayenne called for in the recipe because they were “spicy” to begin with. I didn’t do this – but I bet this would be good stuffed inside those little fresh multi-colored sweet peppers you can find at the store these days – or in some other case that would compliment the flavor while giving it a bit nicer look.

To see what my other fearless bloggers thought of this dish, you can find links to their posts at Cook the Book Fridays.

CtBF – Fattoush

This salad is described as “dressed with a pungent lemony garlic dressing and a jumble of ingredients”. The main differences are a sprinkling of ground sumac and shards of toasted pita. It was suggested that we would love it above all things.

As it so happened, I was in the Valley, and so could run to the Penzey’s to pick up said sumac. Little did I know until I got home that sumac is the #1 ingredient in Zatar. I might have just switched, but what the heck?

The dressing turns out to be very similar to the typical lemony vinaigrette that I make. Olive oil, lemon, salt, garlic, dijon. The jumble consisted of romaine, scallions, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, fresh mint and some radishes. I skipped those because this is just not a radish household. The 2 or so that I would have needed for the scaled down recipe would have meant food waste for the remainder. I’m trying. Seriously! I absolutely adore when I get to go out to the garden to pick herbs fresh to use right then. What a great “farm to table” experience – when you really don’t happen to have a farm close by.

I did not make the pita shards either. I end up with too many different partially used bread items – again, skipping the food waste. But I did pick up some Naan  because I wanted to have it for hot dogs or other wraps. (One of the most inventive food trucks in the valley also has a small brick and mortar shop – well, probably 2 now. They make delicious and inventive hot dogs, wrapped in Naan instead of buns – genius!). Since I was grilling some chicken too – I thought that it might even be a good way to eat the meal – scooping the salad and chicken into a bite of Naan. I digress… In any event – no pita.

Super straightforward.

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It was good. It was particularly good with the chicken. And a nice start-of-the summer salad.

Did I really concentrate on the sumac? No. But I’m probably going to make David’s hummus today – and I can add some there! Maybe it will be amazing. Or it will become yet another jar of spice that I don’t use. But it’s all about trying new things. So, if you want to see how other CtBF members tried out the sumac (or not), please check them out here.

CtbF|Artichoke tapenade with rosemary oil

This week’s recipe from David Lebovitz’ cookbook My Paris Kitchen, is. Well let me just say it. Amazing. Overused word, but this is a terrific, easy dish, and I think so in keeping with the great idea of having yummy things on hand to share with family and friends. Apparently, it is fairly common to purchase freshly-made tapenades and other good things pre-made, so I’m very happy indeed that David created this recipe and shared it with us.

I also learned that a proper tapenade must have capers in it. Thrilled, since they are one of my favorite things. One other thing that sets this recipe apart is the infused rosemary oil. I know we often see infused oils in the market, but I loved making this, since I could use herbs from the garden. I think it makes the tapenade really much more special with a terrific depth of flavor.

The tricky part about the oil is blanching and then drying the herbs. While it is called rosemary oil, it also has a fair amount of parsley as well. Once blanched, the herbs are placed in barely-warmed olive oil for about 15 minutes, whirled in a processor, and then strained into a jar.

Once that’s done, it’s time to make the tapenade itself. When I first went through the recipe (too quickly, of course), I thought that the rosemary oil was in the tapenade – not so. In any event, the remainder of the ingredients are often on hand: artichoke hearts, green olives, garlic lemon, capers, olive oil and some seasonings. Instead of cayenne, I used some Alepo pepper I had on hand.

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The olives get pitted (if they are not already) and everything gets whirred in the food processor.

I served this with some sliced French bread and also some flatbreads. With the rosemary oil, it really was indeed special. The recipe says that it will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator too!

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This was fabulous. We loved it! Of course, in my family, anything with artichokes gets a thumbs up. Adding the capers, olives and then topping it off with the rosemary oil – that just is over-the-top.

Cook the Book Fridays is a group of blogging friends who love to cook together – despite the miles (and oceans!) between us. We’ve begun cooking through My Paris Kitchen to stay connected and explore some wonderful food and recipes. You should join us!!

 

ffwd – never doubt Dorie (aka, who knew?)

This second celebratory week for the French Fridays with Dorie group asks the question “what recipe(s) were surprises for you?”. OK, that wasn’t the real question, but when I think about the title – I think about those recipes where I was very quite skeptical, but learned that Dorie knew what she was doing when she wrote about it – and I was happy to have tried it.

There are three recipes that immediately came to mind. The very first recipe I ever tasted in the book was gérard’s mustard tart. My friend Teri, who got me started with this whole blogging adventure, served it at a book club meeting that she hosted. She did indeed make the selfsame tart as in the book. She’s a very skilled baker, and hers looked just like Dorie’s. She also introduced me to the group, since she planned on joining, and thought it would be fun for me too. I had been following her baking/blogging adventures and thought that it would be fun. Her blog certainly informed my concept, including documenting the steps in the process, etc.

To be honest, I didn’t really love, love the original version. It was good. So when it was time to make the tart in October of 2010, I decided that I would take advantage of a different version in the book. The tomato-mustard tart. This is something that I really must make again. I often forget because I think it would be amazing with summer tomatoes. But the mustard, the crème fraîche, the fabulous pastry – all combine with the tomatoes and rosemary combine for an amazing affect! Not in a million years would I have expected to like this so much (of course another benefit was making her tart dough…)

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The photos don’t do it justice, but certainly, this is one of those haunting – “wow that was good” recipes. Thank goodness it will be tomato season soon!

tourteau de chèvre was another surprise. This is a cheesecake of sorts – but one as unlike any American cheesecake as can be imagined. It really is the simplest thing to make – A crust of Dorie’s sweet tart dough, and then just eggs, goat cheese, a bit of sugar, vanilla or orange-flower water, touch of cognac and a bit of cornstarch. I am fairly certain that was my first use of the orange-flower water as well. Another item introduced by our author.

I really was taken aback by just how good this was. Not too sweet, a bit of tang from the goat cheese. I actually made mine with the regular pastry crust, not the sweet version. Either would be terrific. 100_0802

It was fun too, to have a recipe end up looking so much like the photo in the book. So satisfying.

And finally, another recipe that I adored, but didn’t expect to. goat cheese and strawberry tartine. It would never have occurred to me to put together this simple combination – but with such amazing results! We had this with a bit of wine on the patio, but the same idea could be used at any time of day. The sweetness of the strawberries and the tang of the goat cheese are accented with a good-sized grind of black pepper and some Balsamic vinegar.

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It will be fun to see what others thought about this little assignment. There were other surprises for sure, some of them not so pleasant even, but these were at the top of my list. To see what other Doristas thought about their never-doubt-Dorie moments, you can find their links on the French Friday 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 January – Beet and Cheddar Pizza

The Cottage Cooking Club is a group of bloggers working their way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book River Cottage Veg. Each month, the tremendously talented Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness, chooses 10 recipes from the book, based on seasonal ingredients and variety of choice. The members then choose between 1 and 10 recipes to prepare and blog about. There are choices from throughout the book, ranging from the simplest preparation to truly company-worthy projects – with a couple of desserts thrown in!

This month, I chose to make Beet Pizza. Love beets, love pizza… What a great option. Now, I have to say that there are many folks who love the recipe for Magic Bread Dough in the book – and it’s the suggested dough for the pizza. I have been incredibly spoiled, however, by my brother Clayton’s pizza dough. I happen to think it’s the best on the planet – and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite youngest brother. Really, it is! He has a wood-fired pizza business with two different ovens – one installed inside a custom trailer food kitchen, and the other as a stand-alone one. His business, Pyromaniacs Pizza does to food truck events, but also catering and also food service at BYU football and other events. It’s the best.

But I digress. Since I am not as much a fan of the dough from the book, I decided that I would try out (again) the prepared dough that I could get here locally. I hadn’t used it in a long time and thought it was worth a try. I also went with the prepared roasted beets I buy, and some shredded cheese I had on hand. Caramelized onions are the other main ingredient – tomato sauce is optional.

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Hugh uses a lot of caramelized onions – particularly for his pizza. I think they are fabulous, but often get too busy, or don’t think of them. I decided to make a big batch, even though I was only making one pizza at the moment. They are, of course, simplicity itself. Sliced onions slowly cooked until they are nicely browned. I often don’t quite take the time to get them as browned as I would like, but they are always delicious.

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Once those are complete, the rest is easy. I heat my pizza stone in the oven (about 450 degrees for this) while I’m prepping the pizza. I’ve found that in my home oven, I really prefer to put the pizza on parchment and then on top of the stone. I don’t like the additional flour or cornmeal that (at least for me) is required to easily get the pizza in and out of the oven, so that’s what I did here too. The parchment gets really brown, but doesn’t seem to be a problem.

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The pizza looked terrific from the oven. I wish I’d made the trip back to the store to get a different cheese (and I also think that just a bit of goat cheese would have been great here in addition to the required cheddar). Mine was a blend of good cheeses, but just not the depth of flavor that would have been good.

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I tried mine with a drizzle of balsamic glaze to make a counterpoint to the sweet flavors of the beets, onions and cheese. It was good, but I think something like the vinaigrette we used for the beet tartine would have been even better. The tomato sauce might have done the same thing, I’m not sure.

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This was certainly fun to make. I’ve enjoyed all of the different pizza combinations in the book. I need to make that dough and get it into the freezer! Because this is an easy, delicious lunch, or a light dinner.

If you’d like to see what the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club made this month – you can find the links to their blogs here.