Thursday, October 28, 2010

Officially Autumn

Guess what we did last night? This was the fall out...part of the evening I love every bit as much as the carving....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Friday's Hachis Parmentier on Monday

(Guess the title should really read "Friday's Hachis Parmentier Made on Monday, Posted on Wednesday)

Rush rush rush rush.
Cook cook cook cook.

I was trying to get this done BEFORE I headed out to get my daughter from dance class, and it just wasn't going to happen.

So I left it in the oven, turned the oven off, and headed out the door for about a 30-minute round trip.

Came home, relaxed. Had this waiting, along with some kale (thanks, MM!!) cooked with lots of garlic and sprinkled with balsamic.

This is comfort food as it is meant to be. I loved the mashed potatoes with gruyere. I loved the sausage crumbled up with the beef...I loved the veg, which I left in...because Dorie said I could.

I cooked it all in my black cast iron skillet, workhorse that she is...We could easily have fed 6 people, 8 if we'd had more sides...super generous meal...oh, and great leftovers.

Check out links at French Fridays with Dorie,
and, of course: BUY THE BOOK!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Covered Burnt Caramel with Sea Salt

Why yes, I DID see almost all of my best college friends this weekend. Why yes, a photo of a candy IS the first thing I manage to post...

But who wouldn't??

I am SO working on recreating this. And you are all getting homemade candy from me for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gougeres: Catching Up is Sweet (or Savory)

See the spiky cheesy goodness of a gougere hot out of the oven.
I couldn't pass up an excuse to make gougeres. I realize that French Fridays will be easier for me because I pretty much have all the ingredients for the savory recipes...I just do. That baking on Tuesdays With Dorie just wore me out with the sweet ingredients I didn't have...never a chance to do a quick baking session.

Gougeres? Simple. Bring milk and water, salt, butter to the boil. Add flour all at once and stir HARD. (It ends up looking like mashed potatoes). Then put that batter into mixing bowl. Beat with paddle, adding eggs, one at a time. Then beat in 6 ounces of the BEST grated cheese you can imagine. Spoon (or ice cream scoop) onto trays. Bake until golden brown.

Eat one hot. Eat another one hot. Try not to eat them all. Give a big batch to office staff. Knock on neighbors' doors (yes, PLURAL)...take them to rooftop and give them to friends while savoring sunset and a glass of wine. Offer to random passers by...take the to game night and force players to enjoy...finally hide one so you can savor the custardy, cheesy, salty goodness of the gougere one last time.

But then? Don't remember how easy they are to make. Don't make them again and eat THEM for dinner instead of a proper dinner tonight.

Just don't.

DO Check out other blogs and photos at French Fridays with Dorie..
And of course, buy the book!

Monday, October 18, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gerard's Mustard Tart a.k.a. Dorie Greenspan Makes the Best Pie Crust of Anyone, Anywhere, Ever.

Is the title too much? Too bad. Because any time I have EVER made a Dorie G crust, it's been awesome...and therefore I come to think of myself as one awesome pie crust maker. And the sum of the parts on this mustard tart is greater than the, not kidding.

I made the dough. My impatience does not allow me to let it rest in the fridge at 7 p.m. So I made it.

Rolled it out between two sheets of parchments (oh, another awesome trick I have learned from Dorie)...

...then I froze the dough in the tart pan while the oven heated up to 425. Then I partially baked it--I, for one, always go the extra minute or two, because I do love a crispy crust, so it got 20 minutes with the foil and an additional five without the foil. Perfect.

The shell is delicate. Which is good. But bad if you can be a bit cavalier with your baked pastry crust---as I was. The shell shrank from the pan a bit, and instead of moving the pan, I held the pan by the rim, touch the crust..and cracked this little bit.

Ruh roh. Would the custard seep out and make it ...awful? I balled a bit of foil up and wedged it under the rim so the custard tipped ever so slightly away from that crack (you can see the edges of the foil in that photo above). Problem solved.

There's not a ton of custard in this. I was lucky enough to have rich rich rich Lakeview Farms Home Delivery cream (I have to shake it up to incorporate that heavy cream back into the liquid) to use with my eggs.
I also made way too many carrots and leeks..I used three, just like DG says, but she never says: 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks (you should have about 3 cups)....And yes, I should know better. But I love leeks and I love carrots. I couldn't edit them out of the tart shell.

So I didn't. In the end, maybe not the prettiest mustard tart of the lot.
But it has to be in the running for one of the best tasting, I'm sure of that...That combo of just enough mustardy custard, the leeks and the sweet carrots? Heaven. (Changes I'd make? I'd slice  the leeks crossways and dice the carrots. The long, slender cuts just pulled everything off the tart shell..)

Check out how others did at French Fridays with Dorie, and BUY THE BOOK.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dulce de Leche

Today my daughter came to me at lunch and said she wanted to make something. Something liiiiiike...fried chicken.

Um. No? When I eat fried chicken, you can be pretty damn sure it's not from my kitchen. All I can think of is the mess. Plus why should I make fried chicken when I can eat it at Price's Chicken Coop here in Charlotte, the best fried chicken I ever had?

So she started listing other possibilities and she got to dulce de leche--milk caramel--which is so popular in Latin America AND in South Florida...We've had it spread on things, in things. We've eaten alfajores (say alfa-hore-ace), buttery cookies sandwiching dulce de leche and sometimes dipped in chocolate... Bingo. Both of us had seen Alton Brown make it, so we got to work, and it couldn't have been easier:

4 cups Lakeview Farms whole milk (the stuff that comes to my door in glass bottles)..(okay, you can use milk local to YOUR area)
12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise.

That's it. Get to simmer, add sugar, stir til dissolved, add baking soda, stir more. Here's what it looks like at first. None too pretty:
Take bean out after about 45 min., and continue to reduce
until you have about 1 cup of golden, thick homemade dulce de leche. (Click on link for Alton's detailed instructions.)

Eat with spoon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup.

And so it begins. I think (I hope) I can do better with French Fridays than I did with Tuesdays with Dorie--baking was always a bigger challenge, but this? This is dinner.

The minute I read the recipe, I knew I that it would be a hit. It has all the flavors I love: coconut, curry(an option I took), shredded chicken and rice noodles. Total comfort.

It. Was. So. Easy. Add spices, garlic, onion--and all the except (almost except) the chicken. When that comes to a boil, reduce to simmer, poach chicken. When it's done, take chicken out, shred it, add it back in, stir in cilantro, serve with bean sprouts, basil, mint...We finished it all.

This is going into rotation. Permanently.

I have to give a shout out to Viva Paper Towels: when no chic little muslin bag was available for my spices, I wrapped them up in a square of Viva. Stayed whole.

Today I MAY play catch up and make the mustard tart with leeks and carrots... because it looks FABULOUS.

Go to French Fridays with Dorie to check out links to other bloggers' results...and Buy The Book!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Minneapolis in Food By Way of Food Photos

I spent a fabulous weekend with my mom and my sister in Minneapolis. My mom graduated from high school there in '53, and Pat and I accompanied her back for a trip as a way to celebrate the 75th birthday she had this year.

Of course, I was responsible for food planning. With the able (VERY able) help of my online (and now offline!!) friend, Amy Rea, we hit some great spots.

We were hungry when we got in, so we had our first bowl of wild rice and turkey soup at Keys Cafe. Cool, retro spot in Foshay Tower. It may look thick--too thick?--but it was incredible.

Walking on the street later that day, I came upon a nice farmers' market where they were also selling bouquets of flowers mixed with kale in a foodie kind of way.

That evening we strolled to Joe's Garage for a restaurant week dinner: $15 for three courses. My first course was this oyster slider. Pretty much perfect. (I also had beef short ribs with mashed potatoes. Also incredible...just not so pretty in a picture.)
I liked this view of the basilica from the rooftop at Joe's:

Friday morning, after a nice breakfast at the Westin (oh, yum, the poached eggs with salsa...very nice)

 and some touring, we headed to St. Paul and the St. Paul Grill at the St. Paul Hotel.
Pat had one of the best burgers I can imagine, the Kobe burger with cheddar and bacon (it was the daily special burger). Oh, and did I mention? Hand cut fries, the only fries worth indulging in EVER. (Really. Is it so hard to make real fries? What is up with frozen fries, people?)

 I had one of the grill's signature dishes, chicken pot pie. Comfort food at its finest...

The next morning started with a visit to the fabulous Mill City Farmers' Market down by the Guthrie. We saw beautiful tomatoes...
Lovely sunflowers...

Colorful carrots...

We ate Indian Spiced donuts from the Chef Shack....

The sunshine made the carrots glow...

A few hours later we headed to lunch at Sea Change, where we had one of the best meals I've enjoyed in a LONG time. Everything was spot on...
Mom had the crab cake....

Pat had the shrimp and grits with a poached egg...
Amy and I both chose the Jidori egg coddled with (in?) truffle cream and served with toasted brioche so we could get every drop of that rich cream. My mouth waters just recalling how good this was...

We shared this yuzu tart for dessert...but it came with sweet graham thins, the tart, a goat cheese cheese cake garnished with a lime curd chip (cool) AND incredible cherry jam/compote/jam...Please, Sea Change, may I have some more??? Oh, and see the green dust on the side of the plate. Lime zest. I WILL figure out how they did that...

Mom chose the ginger ice cream sandwich that came with a gorgeous (looks AND taste) glass of prickly pear soda....

Two drinks stand out for me...

The serrano margarita at the bar at BANK, the restaurant at the downtown Westin. This is one well-made drink...packs a punch with heat and flavor. I really wanted a second and I would head to BANK just to have that drink again...

And the cardamom and rosewater mojito I had at Spoonriver with my Sunday brunch...(I could have used more cardamom flavor, but it was tasty...)

Of course we did other things in Minneapolis...great city, great people and, for this weekend in October, great weather...We visited my mom's alma mater, Academy of Holy Angels, we saw St. Paul and the Minnesota History Center (the 150 Great Things About Minnesota is excellent), we had a coffee on Grand Avenue, we saw Minnehaha Falls, we drove along the Mississippi, we saw a Louise Erdrich Play, Master Butcher's Singing Club, at the Guthrie, we rode the light rail, we walked along the Mississippi and over the Stone Arch Bridge, we saw some of the Mill City Museum, we marveled at the mill ruins in Mill Ruins Park, my mom even got to mass at the same church (new church, rebuilt post fire) she used to attend at times, St. Olaf's.

It was a great weekend and a great way to celebrate my mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! Pat, thanks for all the planning.