CtBF lamb shank tagine

This is another braise, so popular in the French cookbooks we have used. Taking a tough cut of meat, adding wonderful flavors, and cooking it a long time – which is great because there is so little active time, and it mostly takes care of itself.

This time, lamb shanks. With a spice rub that needs to marinate for 8-24 hours. They then get browned before adding the aromatics to the mix. A nice pinch of saffron is added next.

Some broth, the lamb shanks added back, and then finally covered, the tagine is ready for the oven.

Over the course of several hours, shanks are turned, dried apricots and raisins are added.

I used my new covered pan, and I imagine it wasn’t a great seal. The sauce really reduced quite a bit. For my 2 shanks, I used the full amount of the other ingredients.

I served this with a couscous mix. It looked pretty!

It was not for us. Smelled good, but while we love lamb, have no bias against sweet and savory combinations, it just wasn’t going to happen. I actually had a pretty thorough fail for the day! I made an apricot tart with garden apricots that I’d frozen. A shocking waste! But. I tried.

As much as we enjoy lamb, I’d not made shanks before. I imagine next time I’d tend toward the white bean, garlic, white wine spectrum. But who knows. I see that others have loved this, so I imagine it’s a personal preference thing. It’s how we learn!!

Chocolate and dried cherry fougasse

When we made a more traditional savory fougasse a few years ago, really enjoyed it. This version has been at the back of my mind since I opened the cookbook.

I enjoy baking bread, so I thought it would be a fun challenge. Like David, I love dried cherries. Chocolate of course, is nice. I swapped toasted pecans for the hazelnuts since that’s what was on hand. And of course there was orange zest that really brightens the other flavors.

This bread uses a more old-fashioned method of starting the yeast with flour and water, plus a bit of sugar, then allowing that to rest for 15 minutes.

The remainder of the flour and a bit of salt are added and the dough gets kneaded before adding the flavorings.

The flavorings get added, but I thought it needed a bit more kneading, so did a few turns by hand. Then the dough rests and rises. My house was a little chilly when I made this, and with all of the additions this didn’t rise until really fluffy.

Once risen, it gets rolled into its iconic leaf shape. Then rises again. Before putting in the oven, a little more olive oil and some gray salt.

The fougasse gets baked until golden.

So. The results? When we first tried this, kind of mixed. Intriguing, but not a favorite. Were told to eat it right after baking, but I took what was left to my book club the following day. I liked it better. My friends liked it! I sent the rest home with them.

I still love the savory version. But I may have to try this again sometime. Maybe a tweak. Maybe not. The texture might have been better if I’d had time to let it rise longer.

But this was very fun to make!! Excited to see what others thought about their breads.

CtBF – Salted Butter Caramel Chocolate Mousse

Anyone who knows me, or follows my blog, knows that I sometimes don’t always read things thoroughly before I start (back in the day, I would fly into a city to do a 1st site visit without having the address – this before smartphones and GPS – just pick up a map at the rental car counter “I can find it”… with about 2 exceptions of 150 at that job – it worked!). This was no different. When I read about the 2 June recipes, I transposed the dates. So… I did not get this made in time, and though I had purchased the ingredients, was not worried about not making the dessert when I made said purchase… um.

Well, all of the bloggers at Cook the Book Fridays seemed to love this. I saw notes about someone(s) making it several times in a week! Well – could not miss out on that!

I hosted by book club  (GOBC) in Sedona last Sunday. It was incredibly nice of my friends Teri and Kate to come up – their significant others (including kids!) helped them make a day of it. And no – I don’t have pictures – I get sidetracked at events. Anyway, I thought that it would be a perfect time to make the mousse. I had decided on making a grilled soft-taco lunch – steak, shrimp, fresh salsa, guacamole, tortillas, beans… chocolate would be a perfect ending to that!

While I was deciding what to make, I had the Food 52 Genius book out. I kept going back to that blueberry pie! Anyway, the mousse is fairly straightforward. As a fun treat, I decided to use my grandmother’s little “ice cream” dishes – perfect for this!

IMG_0646

The big difference with this recipe is the caramel. I wanted mine to be fairly dark to add some different notes to the mousse. I actually am fine with making caramel. Have I ever taken it a bit to far? Sure. But it’s not that big of a deal. Seriously. You just can’t step away from it.

Once the caramel is the color you want, you whisk in the butter, and then the cream. The cream will make the caramel harden, so it takes quite a while to melt – but it will!

This mixture gets cooled, the egg yolks added to the chocolate, and then the whipped whites get incorporated (per usual, about 1/3 to loosen the mixture, then the remainder).

This actually made a perfect amount to fill 6 of my glass dishes. These get chilled in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

IMG_0665

Do I have beautiful photographs of the mousse as it was served? Um, no. So very typical, I just got sidetracked with my friends.

Did we like it? Yes. But seriously, I could only eat about 1/2 at a time (though Mom had no such problems when she had hers!). This is a serious chocolate dessert. The texture is beautiful and I enjoyed the additional flavor of caramel. I’d used gray salt for my salt in the dish, and liked it – I could have added a few grains on top (or maybe some smoked salt).

But, remember that blueberry pie? I couldn’t resist. I had some blueberries, and they had loads of them at the market. The photo in the book was just gorgeous (!) and when I read the recipe, it’s very much like a strawberry pie that my grandmother made when I was growing up. The crust is baked, and the filling is added. I didn’t make the incredibly complicated crust from the book – used the butter crust from KAF.

The filling is made by cooking a bit of the fruit with a little sugar and water, then adding cornstarch for thickening. While that’s still hot, the remaining fresh blueberries are added, mixed well and the put into the crust. That’s it. Let it cool. Eat it. Be amazed.

IMG_0667

The filling worked perfectly, and as you can see – the pie holds its shape – makes for a beautiful slice (not that I have pictures of an actual slice, mind you).

IMG_0669

Truth be told, I served both for my book club. Like my friend Betsy, I’m not the chocoholic in the house, so I really loved the pie. Seriously. But I will say that both desserts were a hit – just oh so different. Given all of the flavors at the gelato spot – I never pick the chocolate. So, I would definitely serve this again (think of all of those gluten-free folks!), and if I were not worrying about gluten, I think this would be fabulous in mini tart shells – how wonderful on a mini-dessert tray? Or the dessert shot glasses that were so popular a few years ago. The chocolate is such a rich blast of flavor – that would be a super-fun way of serving it. Oh, and I did not include whipped cream on either – though it would be good. Just more. Neither actually needed it.

The mousse can be found on p258 of My Paris Kitchen, and you can find out what other bloggers in our group thought of the recipe here. The pie can be found on pp204-207 in Genius Recipes (Food 52).

 

 

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.

IMG_3637IMG_3640

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.

IMG_3642IMG_3643IMG_3644

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.

IMG_3646IMG_3649IMG_3650

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

IMG_3651

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!

IMG_3654

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.

IMG_3645

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.

IMG_3657

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.

IMG_3662

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

100_3948

100_3947

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.

100_3944

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 – 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 – baked apples filled with fruit and nuts

Baked apples are a real favorite. This particular recipe does take it to another level by adding chopped dried fruits and nuts, along with a bit of honey.

100_3057

In this preparation, the apples are cored partially, and then peeled halfway. The exposed flesh gets a wash of lemon juice. The fruit (here cranberry, cherry and date) gets mixed with the nuts (this time, walnuts) along with a bit of honey and touch of cinnamon. Since that was a bit more than my original coring, I did open up the middle of the apples to allow for all of the filling. A bit of butter in the middle, filled and a little more on top. They get popped into the oven for an hour or so.

100_3058100_3060100_3061

I forgot the whole “baste every 15 minutes”, so mine dried out a bit on top, and a few of the fruit and nut pieces go a bit burned over-toasted, but there was plenty under those few pieces, so no disaster.

100_3064

This was quite delicious. A dressy version of a baked apple, one suited to a light dessert, or even a fancy brunch dish.

100_3068

I imagine I’ll make these again, and will even more likely use the idea to really elevate my typical preparation. I very often make easy baked apples by just quartering and seeding apples, tossing with a bit of raw sugar and cinnamon – I think that adding some of these fruits and some nuts would be even more delicious, and almost as easy! If you’d like to see how the other Doristas found their apples, you can find their links here.

ffwd – compote de pommes (two ways)

I’ve made this recipe a number of times. It really is applesauce, and growing up in the midwest, that was certainly something I made as a kid as well. It’s simple and homey – but also a great alternative in the fall & winter to my normal berries over yogurt with home made granola for breakfast. Plus it’s a handy way to use up apples, or an innocent substitute (if you add some cinnamon) for apple pie.

I don’t know how it’s particularly French, other than Dorie occasionally talks about having a simple sweet or fruit for dessert. But in any event, that’s what I made this particular version for. At it’s simplest, it’s apples with a bit of sugar, and maybe some vanilla.

IMG_1970 I don’t have a food mill (handy anyway), so I just go with the peeling and coring of the apples. I do have an apple peeler/corer, but I usually don’t bother with taking it out unless I’m making chutney or apple butter.

IMG_1972I used honeycrisp apples for this, and it turned out that I only needed the Tablespoon of brown sugar for mine.

IMG_1973IMG_1975IMG_1976

The apples get cooked over time. In my case, I probably ended somewhere between Dorie’s first version and second. Since I was serving mine for dessert, and not using it for a filling, I didn’t want to cook the apples down too much. I can certainly see that the extra time would be good, but not for me this time.

I did flavor mine with just vanilla in this version. As noted, I’ve also spiced with Vietnamese cinnamon. I even want to add cardamom and orange zest along with the vanilla to take on the character of an apple butter I sometimes make – I think it would be great with yogurt. This evening, however, I stuck with a simple ending to our meal, and topped the apples with a dollop of marscapone. Delish.

IMG_1980I will certainly make this again (maybe today!). I do however understand how some others may wonder at this recipe – my only guess is that we’re supposed to be learning that French home cooking can go from something as simple as this to any of the multi-step/multi-day recipes we’ve tried. You can see how others handled these apples here.