Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Channeling my Italian roommate Paola: amaretti

I have to admit, I had forgotten that I needed to bake amaretti cookies today. Thank goodness, these are one of the easiest cookies I've ever made. After a quick to the gym, so I would have no guilt sampling the amaretti cookie later, I stopped in to get the 8 oz. can of almond paste. Ok, this is not located in the right place, not near the baking supplies, rather on the bottom shelf under the nuts. Ok? Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Three ingredients, almond paste, egg whites, sugar...easy. I had Salt and Pepper cranked up, to channel my SF roommate from college, Paola, who moved back to Italy many years ago, and one of my cooking mentors! Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos first separate the eggs Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos then cut the almond paste in small cubes Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos mix on low Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos agg egg whites, one at a time Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos mix on low until smooth Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Ok, here's one step you need to decide on, pastry bag or cookie scoop? I went with the scoop! Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos I baked half on the a silpat and the other half on parchment paper. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos I baked my amaretti in a convection oven for 15 minutes, then twirled the sheet pan around for the last 5 minutes. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Cool on a rack with the liner. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos So, the liner does make a difference. I both cases, the amaretti stuck to the liner, maybe I didn't wait long enough for them to cool. Also, I feel like the amaretti so baked on the parchment puffed and crackled slightly more. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos This recipe is in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. This week Doristas at Tuesdays with Dorie are baking amarettis today, to check out the other versions of this recipe, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

pan-seared duck breast with kumquats (aka duck a l'orange)

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Kudos to Dorie Greenspan for re-introducing Duck a l'orange in Around My French Kitchen.  I love duck! If it is on any menu when I am out I will order it. However, I will not pay through the nose for it, if I am making it at home.  I know the recipe was designed to be easy, and since I have broken down hundreds of ducks, I chose to purchase a whole duck and butcher it myself.  I could have either paid $30.00 for 2 breasts or $20.00 for a whole duck.
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The choice was easy and honestly, butchering a duck is way easier than a chicken.
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See, simple!!!
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Ok, after seeing kumquats everywhere, the day I decided to make this recipe, there were no kumquats to be found.  I used tangerine for the sauce.  To be honest, I don't really like kumquats, I only use them for garnish.  I found a great dried slightly sweetened orange that I served with the duck.  I recently attended a wine event and they were sampling a few dried fruit slices.  So good, I had to buy them.  If you can find these, try them.  Great with a slice of Parmesan cheese too!
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The sauce was quite simple, wine, balsamic vinegar, shallots, spices, chicken broth, and a lot of reducing down.  I have to say, this sauce was amazing.  I worked in a 5 star French restaurant with a very famous chef and I would say, this version is pretty close, if not better...hmmm.
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Seared the duck breasts in a very hot, dry pan, I chose a Dutch oven, so oil wouldn't splat everywhere. Finished in a 250 degree oven for 5 minutes. In the mean time, I removed most, but not all the oil, of the oil from the Dutch oven, poured the sauce in and turned off the heat while I finished off the duck in the oven.

  This was the lovely wine my husband chose to serve with the duck and I used in the sauce...delicious! To see other versions of this recipe go to French Fridays with Dorie, click here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

palets de dames

I have to admit, this is not the first recipe I have made from Dorie Greenspan's, Baking Chez Moi cookbook.  I let my husband pick any recipe for me to make for him and he selected Cheesecake, Alsace Style.  I hope we don't wait too long to make that yummy treat!!!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosSo I was very excited to make Palets de Dames.  As I skimmed through the recipe I remembered the word "puck", so I was expecting a very different cookie.   One thing that is for sure, this tea cookie can be made and enjoyed before you finish off your morning pot of tea.















Cream the butter, then add room temperature eggs, one at a time.
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Add vanilla extract, I made my own vanilla extract months ago, to be prepared for fall baking!
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Add flour, slowly, then cover the mixing bowl and chill the dough.  I was anxious to have the Palets de Dames with my tea, so I rushed the chilling.
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Scoop then put in a 400 degree oven for 7-9 minutes, no longer!
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I only baked off half the dough and saving the rest for later.
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I didn't wait long to dip the cookies in the glaze, I could barely wait.  Also, I used a little extra milk and lemon zest instead of lemon juice for the glaze.  I didn't have any pretty sugars, so I thought the glaze alone might look too plain.  To see how the rest of the group liked this recipe, click here.
Sammi was not too interested in the Palets de Dames, so she left me alone while I baked.
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Waiting patiently as the glaze dries.
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Aw, finally, I can relax and enjoy!
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Gateau Basque

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos This is a new favorite, "Thank You Dorie Greenspan".  I have to say, I have seen Gateau Basque in bakeries in both Paris and here at home, but I wasn't sure I would like it.  Well, I love it!!!  I have to admit, I made this in the late summer and the temperatures were soaring.  Not good for baking in a hot house.  Now that we are experiencing chillier Fall weather, I may make this again soon, make a nice pot of tea and curl up with a good book.  Yummy!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos I promise, the hardest part is straining the seeds out of the preserves. Next time I buy seedless! Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos The dough looks and feels very dry, but don't worry. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Not pretty, but this fixes it's self while it bakes. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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The recipe can be found in Dorie Geenspan's Around My French Table.  To check out how the Doristas did with their Gateau Basque, click here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Part-Time Vegetarian: Zucchini Patties with Feta

I have to admit, if I wasn't trying to eat more vegetarian entrees, I would consider some of them, appetizers or side dishes. Well, tonight, I made Zucchini a Patties with feta, click here for the original recipe.  I doubled everything, because I am not a fan of frying, so I would be bummed if I ended up liking these, because I will not be frying again soon.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos I started with 3 zucchinis, shredded, salted and let sit so some of the moisture drips away. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Next add 3 eggs, 1 cup of all purpose flour and feta cheese. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Now for the part I don't like, frying. I didn't use a non-stick pan, so I had to make sure to have he pan properly heated and added a little more canola & olive oil to the pan than the 1/2 cup that recipe called for. So I got splatter with oil a couple times, but I survived. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos All done! We really enjoyed these with a little Greek yogurt and a kale salad. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Part-Time Vegetarian: Fettuccine with Chantrelles

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Quickest dinner ever!  I bought Chantrelles over the weekend and really didn't have a plan for them.  I came home from a long day at work...starving.  I checked what I had on hand and Viola!

Fettuccine & Chantrells with a light cream sauce
fresh fettuccine
2T. extra virgin olive oil
2 large handfuls of Chantrelles, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
salt and pepper, to rate
1/4 cup white wine
2T. butter
1/2 cup whole milk
2T cream cheese
2T. Italian parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

TWD-BWJ: Alsatian Onion Tart

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I recently tasted an onion tart at a French wine dinner and thought, "I can make this better!".  Well, after a little digging, and I didn't need to look far, the recipe jumped out at me.  Baking with Julia, by Dorie Geeenspan, sits in my kitchen everyday and the recipe for Alsatian Onion Tart was calling my name.  It just so happens, the Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia was scheduled to make the Alsatian Onion Tart.  I have been following along with the TWD/BWJ group for many years, but don't always have a chance to post my results.  This time I actually had some time to share my results.
I stated prepping early in the day before I left for the gym, but made sure I would have a quick assembly when I got home from work later in the day.
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OK, there was a lot of onion chopping.  Maybe next time I will use my Cuisinart.  The onions are just gently cooked in broth over low heat, then drained and cooled.  Bacon is also partially cooked.  I pressed the puff pastry in a sheet pan and put everything unassembled in the fridge for later.  My husband preheated the oven so when I got home, I quickly assembled the tart and popped it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Voila!  Delicious!!!

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