Monday, March 21, 2011

FFWD: Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce, Pancetta Green Beans, and Salted Butter Break-ups

I have fallen WAY behind on FFWD. In my many roles, first and foremost, I'm a mom to a spunky little toddler, other roles include wife, cook and full-time professional. A CPA. A tax accountant. So, you see, early February to mid-April is crazy time for me. Balancing the crazy work hours with showing my little guy lots of love, trying to working out to stay sane, and trying to keep our house in liveable shape for those 2 months is a challenge every year, and, well, FFWD kind of fell off my radar for a bit.

We finally found overselves with a Sunday with no commitments, and the topic of dinner came up. I logged in to see what the monthly recipes were, and which ones I missed... I opted to make a few of the simpler ones, with no fussy ingredients, and minimal prep.

The Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce were a favorite. Sweet, tender, melt in your mouth delicious with just a slight tang from the oranges and wine. I was worried my husband wouldn't love this one, since he tends to snub his nose at sweeter entrees, but he loved it. He declared it better than any scallop dish he'd had in a restaurant, and suggested I never order scallops in a restaurant again, which I often do.

The Pancetta Green Beans were cooked to a perfect tender crisp follwing Dorie's instuction and the pancetta gave it a nice salty bite. Pancetta makes everything better.

The Salted Butter Break-ups were also a winner. I looked over some of the blog entries for this one and completely agree that more salt would only enhance the flavor in these. With a name called 'salted' butter breakups, I definitely would have liked a more salty flavor. Although, I did use kosher salt, and I imagine the other salt suggested would have given it a different depth of salty flavor. They were still enjoyed, even without the salty flavor I expected. The crispy edges were my favorite part. And the little guy had fun with these, too!

At the end of the meal my husband said - the French got it right tonight!!!

Can't wait to see what next month has in store for us!

Friday, January 7, 2011

FFWD: Paris Mushroom Soup

I am a mushroom lover, so I knew I would love this soup. The hardest part of making this was wiping the mushrooms clean. I hate that part. I could chop, chop, chop all day long, but the wiping just seemed so tedious. And my mushrooms were fairly dirty.

The soup was richer and more complex than I expected considering the simple list of ingredients. It was a winner with my whole family, including my uber-picky toddler... which was incredible to me! I hope he loves the gnocchi next week just as much!

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

FFWD: My Go-To Beef Daube

This truly will be my Go-to Beef Daube. Not that I had another Beef Daube, or had even ever heard of a Beef Daube before this. Beef Stew, yes. Daube, no. My french is lacking. Next time, I will definitely make some mashed potatoes as an accompiment. I used a French Syrah for my wine, and also used both the carrots and the parsnips. I had never had a parsnip, and I expected them to be bitter and kind of harsh, but they were just the opposite. They were somewhat sweet, and melded well with the beef, onions, carrots and wine.

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

FFWD: Potato and Leek Soup

Such great flavor, and a beautiful soup.

I made this one late in the evening. And by late, I mean 8 o'clock. I do have a one-year old people, and 9pm is about my bedtime these days.

Anyhow, I ate a big bowl - hot, chunky style, made with the milk & chicken broth, and topped with shredded gruyere as soon as the forty minute simmer time was up.

Mentally, I told myself, I'd put the leftovers in the fridge after the soup cooled just a bit.

Then, I feel asleep on the couch.

Then, I woke up, peeled the contacts out of my eyes, and crawled into bed.

Then, it was 6 am. Maaa ma... maaa ma....

I got my little love bug out of his crib, went to the kitchen to get his milk, and there was my soup. Still on the stove.

Oh, the disappoinment. I had big plans for that soup today. And high expectations of beautifully married next-day flavors. I was so mad, I dumped it. Right then.

Oh course, my plan was to take a photo that morning, in better light. Now, the only photo I could have taken was the soup in the garbage pail. Or the dirty pot. I will not subject you to either.

I can promise you, the soup was fab, though!!

Here - I'll direct you to a couple of other FFWD'ers who made the soup this week, too, with beautiful photos to boot!! If you guys mind the link, lemme know. I'll take it right down!

A pureed version from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy:

Another pureed version from Everything But the Cake:

Yet another pureed (should I have pureed??) from A Plateful of Happiness

In a breadbowl!! Yum. From The Not So Exciting Advetures of a Dabbler.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

FFWD: Caramel- Topped Semolina Cake

Another month down, another month of 100% recipe completion at French Fridays with Dorie. My posts may not be exactly on time, but I'm glad I get them up!!

So, here is my Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake. I used small diced apples, sauteed in butter in place of the raisins, which worked beautifully with the caramel. I really enjoyed this cake. It was right up my alley dessert-wise. I'm a big fan of flans and custards, and this was that type of treat!

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon.

Pain Ordinaire

I rarely have the time to make bread. It's not the "work" part, which is usually not that labor intensive, at least not with a mixer. It's the waiting. The rising, the proofing... But, today, I am home all day, so I wanted a recipe for a simple bread that didn't require an overnight wait. This Pain Ordinaire was exactly what I was looking for. A simple recipe, a simple bread, just perfect.

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Ultimate Bread, by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno

Pain Ordinaire

3½ cups (17½ ounces) unbleached flour

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1⅓ cup water, room temperature

1½ teaspoon salt

1. Stir the yeast into 1¾ cup (8¾ ounces) of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all of the water, stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture becomes frothy, loose, and slightly expanded.

2. Add the remaining flour and the salt to the mixture. Stir (or mix on medium-low speed with the hook attachment) for 1 minute, or until the ingredients form a ball.

3. Lightly dust the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine), adding flour, if needed, to make a dough that is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. Press to deflate, then let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Gently pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough, letter style, up to the center and press to seal, creasing surface tension on the outer edge. Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over. Press evenly with the palms of both hands and roll the dough backward and forward until it is 14 inches in length. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Place the loaf on the pan and lightly dust with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

6. Proof at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until the loaves have grown to about twice their original size.

7. About half an hour into the second rise, place a baking stone* on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

8. Using a very sharp knife or a serrated bread knife, cut 5 diagonal slashes, each about ¼ to ½-inch deep, across the top of the loaf. (Alternatively, cut one long slash that extends for the length of the loaf.)

9. Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a peel or the back of a sheet pan. Transfer the dough to the baking stone. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until golden brown and the temperature is at least 200 degrees** at the center.

10. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

*If you don’t have a baking stone, simply bake the loaf on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.
**If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, tap the bottom of the hot baked loaf. It should sound hollow when the bread is done baking.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Annual night-before Thanksgiving get together with friends to consume beer and pizza - Check!

Eating WAY too much Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt's - Check!
Late night Thanksgiving dinner leftover sandwich - Check!

Friday - travel day to my husbands family's hometown - Check!

Friday night pizza and beer - Check!

Saturday - Thanksgiving dinner #2 with the husband's side - Check!

Sunday - travel back home - Check!

Sunday night overindugence hangover - Check, check, CHECK!

I needed something light and wholesome tonight. Something that didn't include turkey, a pureed potato, cream or tiny marshmallows.

Lentil Vegetable Soup. Sounds perfect. And it was.



1 pound French green lentils (I just used regular lentils, it's all my grocer offers)
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender.

Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through.

Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.