Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Merging Dorie Greenspan’s Chicken Recipes

When I was putting together the menu and looking at chicken recipes in Around My French Table, I found myself deep in indecision . . . so many delicious recipes! Hmmm, why not make a little Frankenrecipe? Why not, indeed.

I wanted to use the technique she describes in “Chicken in a Pot”, where the chicken is browned, vegetables are browned, and after these are placed in a dutch oven, a basic flour-and-water dough is made and placed around the rim of the pot and the lid squished down for oven cooking. The dough is more craft-project than edible, but I used a gluten free blend just in case we could use it later to sop up juices (we couldn’t; it was like eating Christmas tree ornaments):


Thankfully there is a picture of this on the cover of her book, because not one of my phone-photos is even viewable!

I had lovely organic prunes on hand and was fascinated by her recipe “M. Jacques’ Armagnac Chicken”, so this formed the base of my ingredient set – prunes, cognac, potatoes, onions, carrots. However, her “Hurry-Up and Wait” chicken had enticingly mentioned lifting up the skin and pushing in some herbed butter . . . and I still had some of that truffle salt . . . backtracking a bit, the ingredients:

chicken ingredients

Chicken ready to go in the oven:

chicken to go in

Note the lovely truffle-salted-butter peeking out from under the skin!

This was understandably quite delicious. Clara commented, “I don’t remember ever thinking that carrots were so delicious that I’d eat as many of them as I could get”. Really all of those roasted vegetables were quite transformed. An amazing dish.


Asian Style Ravioli in Coconut Curry Broth

Sophia was kind enough to step in for me and cook this one up. It was really delicious, very warming for this chilly weather, and she said it was pretty quick and easy with the food processor. From Caprials Bistro Style Cuisine, a kind of dated-looking book I had picked up at Goodwill, this recipe is really a keeper.

Garlic, green onions, carrots, snow peas, red peppers, and shiitake mushrooms are thrown into the food processor to make a filling, which is briefly cooked. The filling is spooned into wonton wrappers, but we used rice wrappers to make this gluten free. If wonton wrappers are used, the rolls will need to be cooked, but rice wrappers are briefly soaked in hot water then used as-is, eliminating a whole step from this recipe. Win-win!

cooking asian ravioli

The sauce is in a coconut milk base with curry, chili paste, garlic, cilantro, etc, bringing that warming Thai flavor set to the table. This was a phone-pic sadly, as the sauce in real life was a lovely golden color from the curry powder! My photo makes it look unappealingly beige:

done dumplings

The little packets are put in a bowl, hot sauce ladled on top, and voila, dinner’s on the table! Very glad I didn’t pass this cookbook by.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Boeuf à la Mode with Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans

Boeuf à la Mode is the French version of roast beef . . . a way to make a less expensive cut of meat elevated. This version is from Around My French Table.

The beef was placed in our dutch oven overnight with wine, carrots, celery, and fresh herbs wrapped in a bundle. I had to send children out in the dark with a flashlight in the rain to collect the herbs – I would have done this, but they got so extremely excited about this adventure that I didn’t have the heart to say no. The beef is turned now and then the next day. About three hours before dinnertime, the beef is removed and browned in a skillet while the wine sauce is strained and reduced by half. More seasonings are added, and to the pan where the beef browned is added a half-cup of the wine sauce, four anchovies (!) and a little tomato paste, until the anchovies melt. I was enthralled by the addition of the anchovies for umami. What would it taste like? A tiny bit of cognac was added for depth, as well. Then the whole thing was put back in the dutch oven, and into the oven.

While I did take pictures of the beef, I did not notice that the batteries were almost dead, and every last picture was so blurry as to be unrecognizable. Still, you’ve seen roast beef, right? It was very good. Perfectly melty fork-tender, and if you listened to your tastebuds, they picked up all sorts of complicated notes. I was thinking about our recent “Meals in Minutes” roast beef, and I decided I was glad to have both recipes for obviously different times and purposes. I do have one note-to-self here: this dish longed for some little red potatoes added when the whole shebang gets put in the oven. There is plenty of time for them to cook, and while we definitely ate the sauce, potatoes would’ve been just the thing. Or colorful fingerling potatoes if they were available.

Also from this book, we made Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans because it is October and cold!!! This was a quick-to-put-together little concoction of pumpkin fluffed in the food processor with seasonings, ladled into ramekins with gorgonzola and theoretically walnuts (we roasted up some pecans because that’s what Clara is safe for), and cooked in a water bath (with, oddly enough, a paper towel):


As I mentioned, my batteries were about to die, but here is a fuzzy pic of a finished flan:

032Don’t you wish I’d photoshop my pictures like other food bloggers? I should totally get rid of the pumpkin splotches on the ramekin!

Both Sophia and Clara helped me to get this dinner to the table, bless them. Sophia even found the energy somewhere to help the little girls do a “Sugar Saturday”. We had found some actual Key Limes at our local Asian food store, so we picked up gluten-free graham crackers as well and the girls made Key Lime Pie:


They’d never made pie before, and we all found their first attempt at a pie delicious. It was based on the recipe found in The Essential Baker, just altered to be gluten free.


Pasta with Bresaola, Vodka, and Cream

You know, I forgot to take a single picture of this! Sophia and I cooked this together from Biba Caggiano’s Italy Al Dente: Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi, Polenta, Soup . We were both feeling awful at the time but just powered through it.

I didn’t actually have bresaola, you know . . . Uncle Google was only able to find me bresaola in a deli in Seattle that sometimes carries it. Uhm, no. So I thought about “cured, spiced beef” and came up with Kirkland Steak Strips, which just so happen to be gluten free :-). I think they added a sweetness to the dish that mightn’t have been there with actual bresaola, but it worked.

I keep getting all excited when a recipe tells me to be OHHHHH so careful when adding alcohol to the hot pan. This recipe actually recommended a fire extinguisher handy! Ooooh boy, I’m on “Chopped” now, folks. I’ve stopped calling the children into the kitchen to watch at this point, though. And once again, sigh, not a flame in sight. I always kind of wonder about these recipes, too, where you put in the two tablespoons of vodka or whatever and poof! It’s gone in three seconds. Wonder what that imparts, not so much with a flavor like wine or say, rum, but vodka is awfully flavorless to begin with.

Ah well, this was very rich, very creamy, very good pasta with lots of leeks and parmesan cheese. Major comfort-girly food, and super filling!


Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles

This one is from next week’s menu, as I failed to note exactly when the leeks from my Azure Standard order would be arriving before scheduling them into this week’s menu. Oops. So you’ll be seeing “Asian Style Ravioli with Coconut Curry” next week – had to switch. And although this is a “Wild Card Wednesday” dish, it was done on Monday.

Cellophane noodles are a good option when grains are not one’s friend. They’re still a starch, yes, but they’re made out of bean starch or sweet potato starch. We had some with sweet potato starch, and seaweed-derived salt. They need to be soaked for about a half hour first for maximum yumminess:

012All our big bowls seemed to be in use, so I used a wok

This dish is out of Around My French Table. It had a large collection of ingredients, but wasn’t a particularly difficult dish to prepare.

Because of Clara’s reaction recently to sesame oil, we made two separate woks, one with, one without. As with many dishes, the key to this was cutting, dicing, measuring, and prepping everything beforehand. Once the woks were fired up, everything moved super fast and we were glad to be prepared.


There was a general agreement that this preparation was very “different”. We all had complicated reactions to it, neither “love” nor “hate”. If you have this book, or have it from the library, try the dish out – it’s a really unique combination of flavors and we’re all glad to have eaten it. However, it doesn’t seem to be one that anyone will request on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Scallops with Caramel-Orange Gastrique

In the spirit of Sweetheart Sunday, even though Sweetheart himself is out of town this weekend, I did seafood, and took advantage of his absence to do something with scallops, which my dear husband really dislikes. From Around My French Table , a little whipped-together scallop fry in a gastrique. Dorie Greenspan advises trying the juice from squeezed oranges as the acid for this dish, and she was right, it was good. I was also trying Kirkland frozen scallops to see how dreadful a substitution it would make in desperate times when fresh scallops are unavailable (wink). I don’t know if it was the recipe, but while fresh scallops would’ve been amazing, frozen ones were fine for a get-it-on-the-table dish, for sure.

This was a very quick treatment for scallops – whip the gastrique together, set it to the side, briefly pan-fry the scallops while candying some zest, plate a couple of quick sides, and you’re outta there.
Just a few ingredients:


Didn’t have time to listen to my playlist (really enjoying Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices on the Asthmatic Kitty label tonight)!

I absentmindedly tossed the orange peels in the trash without zesting them first, so ended up candying some lime peels to toss on top of the finished scallops. Candied orange peels would’ve been by far more attractive, particularly on my plating, which included broccoli and a green salad. Blah visually (entirely my fault - she recommends carrots) but tasty:


Note to self for future reference: the two pound Kirkland bag of jumbo scallops contained 14 large scallops. We had 5 people eating this dish, and I followed serving guidelines and felt like it wasn’t enough. In the future I’d figure 3 or 4 scallops per lighter adult appetite and 5 each for my teen males, in addition to whatever side dishes. Fortunately my males know how to run in the kitchen and make a quick sandwich when this happens! Do you suppose French teen boys eat more lightly? Baguettes to the side, how could I have missed it?

Good quick dish; thanks Dorie Greenspan!


It’s Been a Long Time

Since there was a menu posted. There have been menus on the wall, but it is good to be back to posting them! Up this week:


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jamie Oliver Takes us Through a Tight Spot

As mentioned in my prior post, we were in a very tight spot with our time. We did make it to the event, correctly garbed, but we were sewing right up to the moment we headed for the van. Knowing this would be the case, I did a menu cycle using Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast , which in the British version goes by Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. I’ll do a general review of this book here.

First off, as is the consensus on this book, “30 minutes” is only possible when you’ve prepped your food and done the recipe a few times before. Our experience was that two cooks working together could bring these menus in at about one hour. The Patriarch did a few of them and came in at about 2 hours. Sophia did a couple that took her an hour and a half. That gives an idea of the time range at our house.

Each meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, and often a dessert. He uses a LOT of lime, red pepper, and scallions. The upside to all of this was that it ranged from “this is fine” to “oh-my-goodness-amazing”, and when we had two cooks to hit it, an hour is a very decent time to get a whole fresh complete dinner to the table. Another approach would be to do a bunch of mise on shopping day, making the week ahead much quicker (one could approach the 30 minute mark this way). Examples would be washing and chopping herbs, scallions, onions, garlic, etc for the week ahead. He has a specific order of cooking that is the quickest route. I was fortunate to be able to watch all of his shows from his two year series demonstrating this book on youtube before they were taken down, as were some video clips he’d done on his website, but there is still a general about-this-series clip left up worth watching on his website, as well as a few of the recipes there to try.

Although we’ve completed that menu cycle, we’ve found ourselves going back and cooking a couple of the dishes again already just because yes, they were that good. These are the menus we made out of his book:

Asian-Style Salmon ~ noodle broth, bean sprout salad, lychee dessert
Killer Jerk Chicken ~ rice & beans, refreshing chopped salad, chargrilled corn
Pregnant Jool’s Pasta ~ crunchy red endive & watercress salad, little frangipane tarts
Mustard Chicken ~ quick dauphinoise, greens, Black Forest affogato
Sticky Pan-Fried Scallops ~ sweet chili rice, dressed greens, quick brownies
Piri-Piri Chicken ~ dressed potatoes, arugula salad, quick Portuguese tarts
Roast Beef ~ baby popovers, little carrots, crispy potatoes, super-quick gravy
Crispy Salmon ~ jazzed up rice, baby zucchini salad, gorgeous guacamole, berry spritzer
Tomato Soup ~ chunky croutons, crunchy veggies & guacamole, sticky prune sponge desserts
Green Curry ~  crispy chicken, kimchee slaw, rice noodles

I’ll address specific notes from our home about these dishes in a somewhat random fashion here. Our particular subs were: we have no microwave, and Jamie does use one, quite rarely, for potatoes. We subbed nuts because of Clara’s treenut allergies, and gluten free flours/products when called for. I was never able to find red endive and ended up subbing green endive.

It was quite amazing to see a traditional roast beef dinner get to the table in an hour (we had two cooks)! And we all agreed that the gravy was over the top delicious from that dinner. The popovers did well gluten free – I limited myself because it was still a grain, but Sophia chowed down on those! Similarly in the “comfort food” zone, the dauphinoise was super amazing. We made the Black Forest affogato but found it “meh” and I personally regretted wasting a sugar cheat on that.

The Patriarch did both salmon dishes. The crispy salmon was just fabulous, although you’ll note my menu mistake in having two guacamole days in a row. That turned out kind of fun, as they were different recipes and we could do a taste comparison (not a clear winner actually – the guac with the soup had a slight edge in our votes). The tomato soup itself was probably the least-likely-to-ever-be-remade dish on this menu. Nothing wrong with it, but there are so many quick tomato soup recipes available, and our go-to is both quicker and tastier. However, the prune dessert included on that menu was sublime! Oh my gracious. Since that memorable night, we all get regular cravings for it. And PRUNES . . . seriously, who knew?

The quick brownie recipe (while we’re discussing desserts here) was different, with ginger bits and nuts. Very nummy in a different sort of way.

We had a sad meal where Clara cooked – she actually hated this whole experience, as her preferred cooking style is too different from Jamie’s – then as we all took our first bites, she had an allergic reaction (as in airway reaction). Presumably this was from the sesame oil, which was unfortunate as she’s successfully used sesame oil in the past. Also quite sad because the dinner she made was fabulous. It was the green curry and crispy chicken dinner, and the noodle bowl/curry was comparable to that which we ate in the good Thai restaurant we visit when we visit Portland.

Also good: the scallops (and the pan-fried rice from that menu has been repeatedly made since), and “Jool’s Pasta” which works well with alternative pastas.

I’ll link here to a blogger I found who cooks a whole lotta Jamie, but blogged through this cookbook: J(and)Me.

Now for some pictures!

002 Mustard chicken, dauphinoise, greens

008 Black Forest affogato

011 Sticky pan-fried scallops, sweet chili rice, dressed greens

027Piri-Piri Chicken, dressed potatoes, arugula salad

033  Crispy Salmon

032 037 Accompaniments – guacamole, jazzed up rice, baby zucchini salad.

038 Sticky prune sponge dessert . . . swoon

007Roast Beef ~ baby popovers, little carrots, crispy potatoes, super-quick gravy

We’re all glad we did this (well, with the possible exception of Clara). We learned stuff. We ate well. We made it through without resorting to too many taco nights. It would’ve been fab had we been cooking with his techniques for awhile first, but it was still all good.