Archive for ‘French Fridays with Dorie’

December 23, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Speculoos Biscotti


This morning I’ve been putting together my Christmas gift boxes and have been cutting up paper and ribbons galore. So I reckon I deserve a bit of a break, a cup of coffee and a piece of Speculoos Biscotti … oooh yum!

Coffee Break

Yesterday I posted my last pre Christmas French Fridays entry but I’m posting on this Speculoos biscotti because it was just so good!

@doriegreenspan asked how I’d done it and whether I’d crushed up the Speculoos and added it to biscotti dough … that’s not how I did it but doesn’t that sounds brilliant? Biscotti with chunks of Speculoos, I might have to try that!

All I did was use the last bits of cookie dough from the speculoos. You know what I’m talking about, those last little scraps that are hardly worth rolling out? I used the method you use for the baking bit of making biscotti. I took the speculoos dough and rolled it into a sausage shape about 1/2 an inch high and an 1.5inch wide and then flattened it a bit with my fingers. Then into the oven until it was just firm to touch. Then I took it out, let it cool a bit, cut it into biscotti shapes and then put all the pieces back in the oven (standing upright), to crisp up. Done! I guess I only really did this because I was making some chocolate orange biscotti at the same time but I’ll be doing it this way again. Certainly makes your speculoos more dunkable!

Dunking Time

So, I guess I’d better get back to making my Christmas Gift Boxes.

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday are ‘Spicy Cocktail Nuts’, ready to go with New Years Cocktails!  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Speculoos for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

December 22, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Speculoos Cookies … and Speculoos Biscotti!


Christmas week and this French Friday’s Speculoos is conjuring up many memories for me. Having lived in Belgium for a year back when I was 17 and an exchange student, I developed an addiction for the stuff. In truth it was a year of acquiring a taste for Belgian indulgences; beer, chocolate, frietjes and mosselen. Speculoos was just another to add to the list … it wasn’t a very healthy year!

At Christmas time, or rather Sinterklaas time, Speculoos would abound. Magnificent giant shaped figures of Sinterklaas and his somewhat politically incorrect cohorts were everywhere to be seen … and tasted delicious. Today was my first time making it for myself though I stuck to simply shaped biscuits for this attempt. Dorie’s tip of putting the rolled dough in the fridge before cutting into shapes really helped – don’t miss this bit out as makes dough much easier to handle.

A snack to motivate the Christmas decorating!

For anyone who hasn’t made this yet I urge you to give it a go. It’s delicious!

Irresistable!

Okay, I admit I had to have a taste while they were still warm! But I think I’m going to use the rest to go into my Christmas gift boxes. In fact, I’m doing quite a bit of Christmas baking at the moment and was making biscotti at the same time as my speculoos . So with those last scraps of cookie dough you always get at the end I decided to make a few pieces of speculoos biscotti … worked a treat!

Speculoos Biscotti!

Happy Christmas to everyone in French Fridays with Dorie! Hope it’s wonderful!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday are ‘Spicy Cocktail Nuts’, ready to go with New Years Cocktails!  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Speculoos for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

December 19, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Beef Daube Fights the Cold


Bit of a change of plan with French Fridays this week. Having just got back to UK from Australia we’ve been given a cold shock by the snow that’s engulfing London. Being that those of us cooking along to Dorie’s latest book have the choice of when to cook each dish this month I was thinking the Speculoos would have to be first. They are after all, one of my favourite Christmas treats. But as the snow prevailed and our central heating struggled, we made a switch to Dorie’s Go-to Beef Daube.

Beef Daube is a classic beef stew, slow cooked with lashings of red wine and Cognac. Due to our rather bare post-travel cupboards, we had to sub in extra carrots for parsnips, and extra onions for shallots. However, any hesitations about this were dismissed as soon as we opened the oven door; the smell was intense … the only problem was waiting the two and a half hours in needed in the oven.

Dorie's Go-to Beef Daube

We ate it with a crusty baguette, warmed in the oven and broken into thick hunks. The garlic, wine and cognac that belt out of this dish make it super warming and rich. The slow cooking gives the beef no choice but to melt in your mouth.

Beef Daube fights the cold

As we polished it off using the crusty bread to mop up the sauce, the snow started to fall once more.

Need I say more?

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘Speculoos’, really I am making them this time.  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Beef Daube for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

December 13, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Chicken the Lazy Way


Watching S cooking up a storm for the last few weeks and posting the results, I was beginning to get kitchen withdrawal. Ok, and the slightest bit of envy that her fledgling blogging was taking off more than mine. What can I say? I’m male and as much as I would claim not to be competitive I really am. So it was time for me to get in the kitchen, pull on the Cath Kidston apron and attempt French Fridays with Dorie.

Roast Chicken Les Paresseux is essentially Chicken the Lazy Way, which suits me fine. My approach to the kitchen is one pot cooking as who wants to spend their evenings scouring pans? This dish is perfect for this as once the chicken is cooking you can prep the veg, taking the chicken from the oven midway and laying the veg around. You then place it back to finish cooking.

Lazy way does it just fine

My other kitchen trait is to cook by instinct, recipes being a useful guide which I’ll often disregard  half way through. This wasn’t  an option with S popping her head into the kitchen to remind me that it’s French Friday with Dorie…. Not M!

What I love about the recipe, apart from the simplicity is Dorie’s chefs treat. This is the bread which the chicken is elevated on. The chicken benefits from not wallowing in the fat which is absorbed by the bread. It becomes crisp on contact with the roasting tray and can be crisped up with a little extra oven time while the chicken rests. We have cooked this dish twice now, first devouring the bread fresh from the oven and secondly served to guests as a quick starter with  gooseberry relish S had hidden in the fridge.

A couple of slices of good bread slipped under the chicken right at the start.

This is a great dish whether serving to friends; or just the two of us, using the leftovers for the next days lunch… if there’s any left!

Simplicity does it

M.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘Speculoos’, the best of spicy biscuits you can find.  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Roast Chicken Les Paresseux for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

November 13, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Potato Gratin, First time for everything


Oozy, pillowsoft potatoes laden with crispy cheese makes me go gooey every time. Pommes Dauphinois or Potato Gratin is one of those classic dishes that I’m always pleased to see laid down on the table. Up until Friday I had eaten it plenty of times, but I hadn’t the foggiest clue how to make it.

Then along came Dorie.

The choice of Potato Gratin for this mass cookalong French Fridays with Dorie group was about to fill what suddenly seemed a strange hole in my cooking repertoire.

Potato Gratin ... First time made and loved

I’m pleased to now be in on the simple secrets behind making this dish. Butter, thinly sliced potatoes, garlic infused cream – though I actually used Creme Fraiche to make it a bit less fatty … and a hefty topping Gruyère cheese.

Gratin stayed the real star of this dinner

Some sausages and salad added to the plates and M and I were sorted. The tats looked decadent and tasted decadent. The only problem is that when you learn to make a dish like this you realise how much decadence goes into making it. I’m not sure the Creme Fraiche really saved that many calories!

Hmmm … do you think that will stop me making this again? Not a chance!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘Roast Chicken for Les Paressaux’, or rather ‘The Roast Chicken for Lazy People’ … sounds pretty nondescript but it involves a secret trick …. Feel like joining in or making Potato Gratin for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

October 29, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Apple Cake … Don’t mess with Dorie and Baking my own Birthday Cake


Timing is everything and this week the designated Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake was perfect timing … no savories for me … it’s my birthday … does it matter if one ends up making their own cake? Not when it’s apple cake …

Apples ... for Apple Cake

My grandmother who was part french used to make an amazing apple cake and the look of this staring of the page of Dorie’s book inspired memories.

But just like timing is everything, in baking recipes are everything. Today I learnt a lesson … if you’re going to mess with Dorie then you should know when to mess with Dorie … and in this case ‘Don’t mess with Dorie!’ I decided to make lots of mini versions of the apple cake so I could take them into work with me to share around. Only problem was that the recipe called for a spring-form tin which I didn’t have in a small size. Still, I gave it a go in a muffin tray. Now you can see my results …

Apple Cakette

This one looks pretty in a way … but it was one of the few that made it out of the tray whole! I don’t think these cakes will make it to work because most crumbled when I removed them from the tray. Listen to Dorie and use a spring-form I tell you!

However if you don’t use one, they’ll still taste good and it will mean there’s more for you to nibble on rather than share around … they are delicious. Especially the really light flaky top that formed on the top. Mmmmm ….

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘I’m not sure yet as it’s being decided by vote’ …. Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

October 21, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Hands off my Hachis Parmentier


Hands off! The Hachis Parmentier is fresh out of the oven and the smell is pretty damn incredible. M is trying to sneakily pick the peaks of crispy mash off the top, and I am having serious Shepherds Pie flashbacks. Who knew that French Fridays would keep getting better and better.

Hachis Parmentier

Straight out of the oven ... nice and crispy on top

Hachis Parmentier  is pretty much like Shepherds or Cottage Pie. It’s not hard to make – a little time consuming but not laborious. A rich filling made with Beef Chuck (stewed for an hour and a half), home made Boullion (resulting from the stewing) and sausage meat, then topped off with mash and cheese.  I did have to resort to mince instead of sausage however after I discovered my butcher didn’t stock beef sausages … apparently they are out of vogue … Who knew!

The only hiccup I had was that once I had created the pie mix it wasn’t quite filling the palette in the way I expected. That may have been to do with the lack of sausage  (though I did season my mince with sausage like spices). So to build it up I added a bit of salt, thyme, extra tomato paste and a dash of Worcestershire sauce (is that sacrilege?). This improved the depth and added the touch of sweetness it seemed to need.

Hachis Parmentier

Peppery Rocket Salad and Hachis make a perfect combo

One thing is for certain, it tasted fabulous …

Hachis Parmentier ... Fabulous Friday night dinner (though it's actually Thursday!)

… and by the end it was me was trying to pick off the tasty little crispy bits of mash from the top … aren’t they everybody’s favourite bits?

Who’s for leftovers tomorrow?

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake … just in time for my birthday I’m thinking …. Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

October 14, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


French Fridays with Dorie is  a project involving a seemingly huge number of bloggers cooking their way through  Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours . This week’s recipe is Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. I couldn’t be happier.

It isn’t what most would imagine to be a French dish to be, but France’s involvement in Vietnam and the resulting influences on both countries cuisine could be said to make it so. This recipe is Dorie’s own mix up of pho ga (a chicken broth based soup) and la sa ga ( a coconut based curry soup). It reminds me of the traditional Pho, found in it’s many varieties across Vietnam.

 

Busy Hannoi ... There must be some pho nearby ...

 

When I traveled  in Vietnam several years back I ate Pho almost every day for breakfast, normally at roadside stalls. If your eyebrows are raised, Pho is Vietnam’s equivalent to cornflakes or toast and over the course of a month I became addicted to it. Back in London I regularly try to make my own version of it. Or else I head to Mien Tay Restaurant for a bowl. It’s got to be the best in London.

 

Pho ... even in the mountains of the North

 

So this recipe by Dorie was right up my street. I couldn’t wait to get started.

 

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

 

It’s an easy soup to put together and all the elements can be prepared ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. What I love about this style of soup is that you make the base and then layer all the elements on top. In Vietnam all these extras are normally served alongside the soup and it’s up to the individual to decide how much of each they want – extra herbs, beansprouts, fresh chillies, sauces etc. I’ve had a cold this week so I went crazy on the chili!

 

Extra Chilli and Chilli Oil on top

 

M couldn’t wait for me to take the photo, he had to get stuck in.

 


Stuck in ... more chilli please

 

We loved this … full of flavour and our favourite so far for French Fridays. Thanks Dorie!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Hachis Parmentier … comfort food if ever there was some …. Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Mustard Tart and the Quest for the Perfect Julienne


French Friday with Dorie has come around again quickly.  But this week setting aside the time to make Gerard’s Mustard Tart wasn’t easy. It’s not that the recipe was complicated but it involved a lot of waiting around for pastry to chill as well as cutting my vegetables julienne style. In a week of crazy work hours it would need a bit more time than the soups and salads I’ve been hurriedly preparing of late. Never the less the picture of Dorie’s Tart peering out at me from the pages of Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours proved too tempting.

So that’s how I found myself close to midnight all flour haired, pastry chilling in the fridge and bent over my chopping board cutting my carrots and leeks up julienne style. I have to admit I have never had the patience to cut my veg this way before but the tart looked so pretty in the book I thought I’d have to give it a go. It actually isn’t too hard, I just found I had to take my time with it. Being a bit of a perfectionist I found myself with two piles – the ones that were a tad messy that I figure I’ll use in a soup, and the ones that were pretty enough to make the Mustard Tart grade.

 

Pastry and Julienne by the stroke of midnight

 

My julienne veges steamed, a mighty mustard egg base whipped together and homemade pastry rolled into its case and popped in the freezer , I had all the elements ready for baking … sleep. Aah sleep ….

Come morning I put the tart together and popped it in the oven whilst I got ready for work. Filling and baking the pastry case from frozen isn’t something I’d tried before but it worked well. The house filled with that magic smell of pastry baking and M. came sniffing around the kitchen hunting for what treat he might be getting for lunch.

 

Mustard Tart ... heavy on the mustard

 

Sliced up it was perfect for our work lunchboxes today. And it was delicious. Having spent the time meticulously cutting the leek and carrots I think it was worthwhile as the light layers of leek and carrot worked well with the creaminess of the tart. The Mustard and egg combo worked surprisingly well too … if you’re trying this though be sure to give it a hefty whack of it … it really is all the better for it.

I will definitely be making this again … good for a summer picnic I think!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup …  Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

September 30, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gougères and a glass of Kriek … a perfect Autumn night in


Last time I checked in I was off to the cheese shop in preparation for my first Friday of French Fridays with Dorie. As I walked through the park across the damp grass the autumnal leaves and threat of rain overhead made the idea of the soon to be baking Gougères all the more appealing.

Off to buy cheese for Gougères ... Autumn seems to justify this comforting food

Gougères are a sort of mini cheese puff made with choux pastry and stuffed with cheese. I was a bit dubious about how hard they’d be to make as it involved a bit of stovetop work and lots of beating … but it actually turned out to be pretty quick and easy.

At the cheese shop I’d chosen a Gruyère and a Smoked Cheddar which I combined and added to the Gougère mixture. When it came to baking them I made two separate sizes – the ones suggested in the book by Dorie (1 tablespoon) and then also some mini / half-size  ones which actually turned out pretty cute. Only being the two of us I only baked a few and the rest I’ve frozen as dough ready pop in the oven next time we have guests … or rather next time we feel a bit peckish!


Mini Gougères ... I used about half the amount of mixture suggested in the book for these ones.

Gougères out of the oven and our tiny South London flat smelling like a French country cottage, M and I settled in for the night with a glass of Lindemans Kriek, brought back from a recent trip to Belgium and tucked in … man they were delicious! If this is a taste of whats to come as we work our way through the book I can’t wait!

Gougères and a glass of Lindemans Kriek ... a perfect early Autumn night in.

Now for one last Gougères before M eats it!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday  is a Mustard Tart … looking forward to it! Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy to make Gougères, there are plenty of recipes around on the net.

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