Saturday, October 30, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake

   This recipe for French Fridays with Dorie comes from Dorie's friend, Marie-Hélène who, from Dorie's description, keeps her recipes stored in her head- just like my mom. You know the type- they throw in a "dollop" of this or maybe a "handful" of that, and everything they make always turns out perfectly. (I'm still trying to make biscuits as good as the ones my mom makes!) Luckily, Dorie was able to figure out the recipe for this lovely little cake so that even I could put it together without a bit of trouble.

  This mouth-watering rustic cake almost seemed more like a pudding to me. Or maybe even a crustless deep dish pie. It was chock full of apples all lightly bound together with a super moist cake batter flavored with vanilla and rum. And SO many apples...I used four different kinds- Cameo, Fortune, Macintosh and Golden Delicious- to give the cake a variety of textures and flavors. I used the Rum specified in the recipe this time, but I think apple brandy would be a great choice the next time I make it.

 This cake would be a delightful mid-afternoon treat with a cup of coffee or tea. (Maybe you could even count it as a serving of fruit!) You can find the recipe in Dorie's new book Around My French Table, or on Epicurious, where Dorie shared the recipe herself. Look here to see what other fabulous bloggers have done with the recipe!

 Thanks so much for all of your "Get Well" wishes for my husband. He's doing much better and will soon be home!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eileen's Best Banana Bread

 When life gives you speckled bananas, there's nothing to do but make some bread. Specifically, some heart healthy banana bread.  I haven't been at home very much these last several days and these babies definitely got a bit past the "flecked with brown and have a golden hue" stage. I was needing some comfort food last night, and banana bread fit the bill.

 Why heart healthy? I'm blogging from the hospital ICU waiting room these days. I took hubby to the Emergency Room last week (right after the Hachis Parmentier, I might add) where it was determined that he was having a heart attack and would need major intervention. Monday morning he was in surgery having a very talented man- to whom I will forever be thankful- bypass a few five badly blocked coronary arteries. He's all fixed up now, but groggy, sore and anxious to feel better.

 No butter or eggs in this banana bread, but still it was tender, moist and delicious. It was just sweet enough and full of chopped walnuts giving each bite a wonderful depth of flavor. I used this Cooking Light recipe containing ground flaxseed which adds heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. I think we'll be eating a lot more of those in the future. :)

Eileen's Best Banana Bread
adapted from Cooking Light (Eileen Solberg) October 2009
3/4 cup all purpose flour (fluff, scoop and level)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 large)
1/2 cup plain fat free Greek (or regular) yogurt
3/4 cup sugar (I used a little bit less and it was plenty sweet)
1/4 cup light flavored olive oil (or canola)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 325° F 
  • Coat a 5"x9" loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups. Level with a knife. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours with flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In another bowl, combine mashed banana, yogurt, sugar, oil, walnuts and vanilla.
  • Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  • Pour into prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Check after one hour.)
  • Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.

Friday, October 22, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie- Hachis Parmentier

 Hachis Parmentier, or Shepherd's Pie, is this week's recipe for French Fridays with Dorie. Meat and potatoes- good hearty comfort foods- are the main ingredients here. Dorie's version calls for beef and sausage, but she does say to use what you have on hand! I had venison, so that's what went in mine. I also added back the carrots and some nice "beefy" portabella mushrooms. (And of course, a splash of red wine for the venison!) If I make it again, I'll probably add a bit of extra cheese on top- mine seemed to get lost into the potatoes without making a nice brown crust.

 In retrospect,I think I should have baked mine in a smaller (diameter) dish- my potatoes were a little too thin and the sauce bubbled up through them in several places. (I was too anxious, I suppose, to use my new two dollar copper pan I got from the thrift shop yesterday.) Even so, it did make for a good hearty supper on a chilly evening.

 To see what others have done with this delicious recipe from Dorie Greenspan's new book, Around My French Table, look here!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Skeleton Cookies

Skeleton Parade
The Skeletons are out tonight,
they march about the street
with bony bodies, bony heads and
bony hands and feet.

Bony, bony, bony bones
with nothing in between
Up and down and all around
They march on Hallowe'en!
Jack Prelutsky

 Skeleton Cookie Rewind! I could hardly wait for October to roll around so I could make these spooky cute little skeletons again. I posted them last year but I thought their little bones deserved another rattle.

 I made these little guys with my favorite Iced Spice Cookie recipe, but your favorite gingerbread man recipe would work just as well. Pipe on their bones and features with some royal icing and you've got yourself some cute little skeletons all ready for a skeleton parade. Are you scared yet?

Friday, October 15, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie- Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

 Today was a lovely, rainy day. A day that was perfect for this soup I've been looking forward to all week. Soup that was Dorie's pick for week three of French Fridays with Dorie. Soup that was probably the best soup I have ever made in my entire life. No kidding!


 Dorie describes this spicy soup as a mix-up of two traditional Vietnamese soups- pho ga, a clear chicken broth with noodles, and la sa ga, a curried coconut milk soup. I should probably say that it's a mix up of three different soups, as I added my own twist to the recipe and added shrimp and mushrooms. (My favorite additions to spicy noodle soup!)

 The spices were perfectly balanced and made each spoonful of soup a delight. The mint and basil leaves sprinkled on top- surprising little bursts of flavor- added just the right finishing touch!  I have to admit that I added a bit too much chili oil to my first bowl which caused a bit of momentary distress. That was short-lived though and I was much more prudent with my next one.

The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan's latest book, Around My French Table.  I've made three recipes from the book so far, and have loved them all! If you'd like to see what others have done with this recipe, follow this link and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Candy Corn Cookie Crunch

 Need a festive snack for Halloween? This sweet and salty one is cute, quick and easy. Just mix together some pretzels, chopped up Oreos, peanuts and candy. Bind the mixture together with some melted white chocolate, break into chunks and enjoy!

  This yummy treat would be cute in little bags for your goblin visitors later this month. I found the original recipe on Your Home Based Mom- she has a version for every holiday, I think! Could this snack be the reason for the jack-o-lantern's toothless grin?

Candy Corn Cookie Crunch
adapted slightly from Your Home Based Mom. She has detailed instructions here.
1 lb. almond bark candy coating or white chocolate
14 Oreos, broken into pieces- I used the Halloween ones with orange filling
1 and 1/2 cups pretzels, broken- I used the thin straight ones
1 cup candy corn
1/2 cup peanuts
1/4 cup Reeses Pieces
1/2 cup Peanut M&Ms (fall colors)
Halloween sprinkles

Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper or foil. Spread the broken pretzels, broken cookies, peanuts, and about 3/4 of the candy corn on the prepared cookie sheet. Melt the white chocolate or candy coating until smooth, according to package directions. 

Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the pretzel mixture, spreading with a spatula if needed. Before it sets, sprinkle on the remaining candy corn, M&Ms, Reeses Pieces, and sprinkles. Place the tray into the refrigerator until set. Break into pieces and enjoy! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Uncle Will's Molasses Cookies

 Uncle Will's Molasses Cookies

  Who doesn't love the scent of spicy molasses cookies wafting from the kitchen? They are definitely my favorites, especially at this time of year. There's nothing like a molasses cookie warm from the oven to make you feel all happy and content inside! There are several different versions (here and here) that I like to make, but I'm always open for trying a new recipe. I found these cookies on The Cooking Photographer's blog, and the story she wrote about their background was so compelling they went right to the top of my "must make" list!

 In a nutshell, these cookies are from a recipe passed down through family members from a 1930's baker (Uncle Will) in the Rosebush, Michigan area. The recipe has been modified slightly to adjust for modern ingredients, but otherwise is pretty close to the original. I loved this cookie for not only its warm subtle spices, but for its soft, chewy texture. It's a perfect, old fashioned "cookie jar" cookie that tempts you to reach in for one every time you pass by. Thankfully, some things never go out of style!


Uncle Will's Molasses Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from The Cooking Photographer
1 lb. seedless raisins (about 3 cups) * (see note)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened (original recipe called for lard)
1/2 cup molasses
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon allspice
1 Tablespoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking soda
6 cups all purpose flour

  • Finely chop, puree or grind raisins to a paste.* Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar.
  • Add raisin puree and molasses. Mix well.
  • Add eggs, mixing after each addition.
  • Stir in cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt and baking soda. Mix well.
  • Add half of flour. Mix well
  • Add rest of flour. Mix just until everything is combined.
  • Divide the dough into 4 or 5 portions. Flatten each and refrigerate at least a couple of hours, but preferably overnight for flavors to develop.
When you're ready to bake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Generously flour the surface you are using.
  • Roll one portion of dough out to about 1/4 inch. (The dough tends to be sticky, so make sure you flour your surface, the surface of the dough, and your rolling pin.)
  • Cut with round cookie cutter, place rounds about an inch apart on parchment covered baking sheets, and bake for about 12 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes; remove to rack to cool completely.
  • This recipe makes LOTS. Once baked, the cookies freeze well in an airtight bag. You can also place the well-wrapped portions of unbaked dough in your freezer. ( Let these sit out and thaw a bit before rolling out.)
Alternately: Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment covered baking sheet. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake as directed above.

*The original recipe instructs you to soak your raisins in boiling water before pureeing them. My mom told me that when she was a girl back in the 30's, raisins were much harder (drier) and seedier than they are now, and soaking was necessary when using them in recipes such as this one. Since my raisins were fairly fresh, I skipped the soak that was called for in the original recipe.

 This post has been added to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.

Friday, October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gérard's Mustard Tart

 Here I am, coming in just under the wire with Gérard's Mustard Tart, this week's offering for French Fridays with Dorie. Truthfuly, these lovely tarts almost didn't get made. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about the recipe because of the predominantly featured mustard. The original recipe also called for leeks and carrots, neither of which I was in the mood for preparing tonight. But then I caught sight of a small basket of tiny grape tomatoes- some of the last of the season- that I picked up at my brother's last week end. Tomatoes that were just the right size for the little tart pans in my cupboard.

 I cut the recipe down just a bit to make four small tarts. I already had pastry in my freezer that I had previously made, so I went with that rather than Dorie's. (I was tired tonight, okay?) The combination of Dijon and stone ground mustard really added a lovely flavor- I was surprised that I liked it so much! I will definitely try these again, maybe even with the carrots and leeks next time. (This would be fabulous made in mini muffin tins for appetizers.) I had one of these warm from the oven and another one cold for a snack. They were fabulous both ways! If you'd like the recipe, it can be found in Dorie's newest book, Around My French Table. To see what others did with the recipe, look here and drool!

 I'll be back soon with a recipe for some lovely molasses cookies I just made. Can you smell the cloves and ginger? I can, and I can't wait for the last batch to cool!

Friday, October 1, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie- Gougères

Gougères for French Fridays With Dorie

Today was the first rainy day we've had in a while, and tonight when I got home from work heavenly smells were coming from the kitchen- hubby was putting together some beef and barley soup for supper. And what's better than a steaming bowl of soup on a chilly rainy evening? I can answer that... It's a steaming bowl of soup accompanied by these cheesy little puffs, gougères. 

I've been in a culinary rut recently, and when I got the chance to join a group that's baking through Dorie Greenspan's newest book, Around My French Table, I decided to take the plunge and venture a little bit out of my comfort zone.  I love Dorie's books- reading one of her recipes is like having a best friend in the kitchen with me. She shares the background of each recipe and also ways that she might change it up in her own kitchen- the photographs alone keep me poring over the pages.

Dorie recommends serving these with champagne, but tonight was was more of a "soup and hot tea" night here. They were great with hubby's soup, but I'm thinking that the possibilities for these savory little puffs are endless. Dorie (sounds like we're on a first name basis here, doesn't it?) says that these freeze well unbaked, so I scooped some of them onto cookie sheets and froze them for later. They'll be great quick appetizers either by themselves or stuffed with chicken salad or even a little bit of herbed cheese.

We've been asked to not share Dorie's recipes, but I found this one for the gougères that Dorie shared herself on NPR a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

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