pork roast with mangoes and lychees

Pork may well be my culinary nemesis. As I may or may not have complained about again, and again, and yet again, I can just never seem to hit that two-second window of cooking time between raw and bone dry. Dorie has tried her darndest to teach me how to deal with it, but alas, her valiant efforts seem to have been mostly in vain.

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But take heart, this is at least the last pork recipe in Around my French Table and I’m not one to throw in the towel just before crossing the finish line. So last week we made Dorie’s Pork with Mangoes and Lychees. And, as if that wasn’t enough complaining, as I was sticking the pot in the oven, I may or may not have voiced a little frustration with Dorie’s penchant for sweet additions to savory dishes. It turns out that I may well have more in common with Howard than previously thought:-)

I checked the meat at 30 minutes… way undercooked.

I checked it again at 40 minutes… WAY overcooked!

Sigh.

Whatever, I was quickly consoled by the fact that the sauce for this dish was crazy good and I had to quickly take back all of my complaints about Dorie’s sweet additions because this sauce was just perfect; it was sweet and slightly thick from the mango, a little salty from the soy sauce, and a hint of spice from the piment d’espelette. I’m not sure that I fully appreciated what the lychees had to offer, but they certainly didn’t detract.

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So, favorite pork recipe in the book? Nope, that title goes hands down to the Cola and Jam Spareribs. But I just might make this week’s recipe again, and THAT, my friends, is just about the highest praise a pork recipe can earn in my kitchen.

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waffles and cream

I feel like my mojo is off these past two weeks.

First of all, last week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Waffles and Cream, was a decided miss. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Seriously! I love waffles. I love cream. How could I possibly screw this one up? But I did. My first batch simply curdled in the bowl before I even got a chance and my second batch made it into the waffle iron and came out greasy. Not an endearing trait when it comes to waffles.

To top it all off my husband forgot his years of training and, when I turned my back to look for the camera, started eating the waffle I had just set up for pictures. So, as you can see, with a corner missing…

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Which brings us to this week’s recipe, Salmon Tartar. First off, I should mention that I was super excited about this recipe. I loved every single ingredient in this dish and it sounded like a sure-fire winner going in.

That is, until I did something supremely stupid. After returning from my shopping trip I went straight into the kitchen to start unpacking my groceries. I took all of the perishables out of my bag and started to put them away, and then the phone rang. I’m guessing you can see where this story is going.

Two hours later I returned to the kitchen to find that the salmon was the ONLY item which hadn’t made it into the fridge. It still felt cool to the touch and if I had been planning to serve it cooked, I probably would not have worried about it. But raw? I’ve had food poisoning once in my life before and that it an experience one does not quickly forget, so, what to do?

IMG_3570So, I cooked the darn thing, cubed it up, and otherwise served the recipe as instructed. The entire time grouchy, grouchy, grouchy that I wasn’t getting to try the true tartar. I thought that the end result was good, my husband thought it was okay, not great. So there you have it.

If you happen to run into my mojo, could you please send it back my way? I’m going to need it over the next few weeks.

 

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next-day beef salad

So, the other day I mentioned to my husband that we are in the final countdown at French Fridays with Dorie and that there are now less than 10 recipes left! He looked up with an expression genuine concern and asked, “but, what are we going to eat?” After I recovered from my fit of laughter, I gave his question a bit more consideration. The fact is that this little project has been going on for almost our entire married life, so he’s not fully off to wonder what the heck we’re going to eat if we don’t have Dorie supplying our weekly menu.

But never fear, this week Dorie is still looking out for us. We’ve actually made her Next-Day Beef Salad a few times before, once after the Beef on a String and again after one of my father’s famous Christmas Day standing rib roasts. If only I had bothered to take pictures one of those times, but alas, it turns out that I’m not as organized as I would like to think, and so we had to whip up our own leftovers this time.

This time around I got a bit more liberal with my changes. Among other tweaks, I cut the mayo in half and more than doubled the mustard. I love Maille’s original mustard and find that it’s so smooth and creamy that I can often use it to cut down on the mayo in recipes. Then again, mustard is probably my favorite condiment so it might just be that I’m an addict.

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We’ve enjoyed this recipe each time and will probably make it again in the future when there are leftover bits of beef to be used up. So no worries, dear husband. Even when the project ends, we’ll still have Dorie’s book at our disposal for many meals to come:-)

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Cote d’Azur cure-all soup

Dorie tells us that this week’s recipe is the French version of chicken noodle soup. Well, at the time that the recipe was announced in late February, I was long overdue for a cure. I had been cruising that middle ground between feeling not quite sick enough to stay home from work and not quite well enough to go in. Every morning after a good night’s sleep I would feel a bit better, and by midway through the day I would feel completely worn out and start thinking about leaving early. By day 7 I gave up and called in sick. That was the day I noticed that the March recipes had been announced and that was when I flipped through the book to read Dorie’s explanation of the restorative properties of this soup. I checked the cupboard and discovered that I was missing garlic and sage. So I dragged myself off the couch and over to the market to buy the missing two ingredients.

Once home, and after a quick nap to recover from the exertion of walking all of 3 blocks to the market and back, I sliced up the garlic (the whole bulb!) and got the soup started. Dorie suggests that the soup could be puréed or left as is. I went with option C and strained out most of the cooked garlic before adding the eggs.

The second the soup was done I poured myself a bowl, slurped it down, and then poured myself another bowl. In that sniffly, achy moment, it was the best soup I had ever tasted.

My husband came home a few hours later and I ever so gently reheated the soup for him in a double broiler. He commented that it was good, but I think he was just being nice to his sick wife, because after only half a bowl I found him in the kitchen prowling around for something else.

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So there you have it, this cure-all soup is perfect for sick people or those trying to keep vampires at bay, but perhaps not so exciting for the perfectly healthy. I warned my husband that he should learn how to make it, because I will now be craving it next time I get sick.

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veal marengo

As my husband polished off his portion and then started in on my plate of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Veal Marengo, I warned him to slow down and savor it, because it was the last stew recipe in the book. Yay! Sorry, I meant that last sentiment to be a quiet inner voice. What can I say, while my fellow Doristas are celebrating a fish-free Friday, I am celebrating the fact that I will be unlikely to face another bowl of stewed meat for many years to come.

My husband, of course, loved this recipe and had no problem finishing both plates. So the score this week is 1 winning stew recipe + 1 appreciative stew lover + 1 “happy that’s done” stew hater. I’m going to call it a win.

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cabbage and foie gras bundles

I’m traveling for work this week and trying to type up this post on my iPad with two index fingers, while snuggled into the hotel bed for warmth while waiting for the heat to kick on. So that should be your hint right there that this will be short (and grammatically interesting from what I’ve seen from my auto-correct so far), but I didn’t want to miss posting about such an unusual recipe.

Knowing that I would be on the road this week, I actually made this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Cabbage and Foie Gras bundles, a few weeks ago. The exercise did not get off to a great start. First off, I love foie gras and was pretty darn skeptical that wrapping it up in cabbage leaves and then steaming it was going to add to my enjoyment of this rich little delicacy. But like a good little Dorista I jotted down Dorie’s instructions and set off to the store.

It was there that this recipe was almost completely derailed. I started asking the lady at the poultry counter which of her tasty-looking foie gras terrines (seriously auto-check? “termites”?) was made from whole foie gras and not mousse. She naturally asked how I planned to serve it (a very common question here which usually leads to helpful service and advice), but oh, oh you should have seen the look on her face! Seriously folks, I was almost starting to worry that she might decide not to sell me any of her precious stock, for fear of what I was going to do to it.

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In the end I convinced her and she sent me off with a sad shake of her head. Frankly, at this point I was pretty in agreement with her and my husband apparently too, because he suggested that we split do a half recipe and save the rest for more traditional consumption. I readily agreed.

It was a decision which we both regretted later. Seriously, as unlikely as this dish sounds, we both really enjoyed it. We served it simply with some toasted sourdough and a glass of wine. Delicious! Who knew!

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one fish, two fish, red fish, blue lobster

FFwD324 (11)So, as the lady at my fish market was chasing after my runaway lobster (the little bugger attempted a brazen escape by jumping off the scale and scurrying under the counter) she commented that she had been seeing an awful lot of me lately;-)

It’s true, while the poor fish chapter may have felt a bit neglected in the past, it is now getting quite a workout.

First up, I am catching up with last week’s Vanilla-Braised Lobster recipe. I’ll admit right up front, this New England girl LOVES lobster, but I don’t get to eat a lot of it since moving across the pond because it is even crazier expensive here than in the States. Dorie’s recipe was the perfect excuse to splurge, and not just on the price; three blocks of butter and 2 vanilla beans rounded out this exotic dish! I took her advice and served the braised lobster on a bed of sautéed spinach. What can I say, it was Absolutely Delicious! My husband said that Dorie had redeemed herself after the aspic fiasco:-)

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Two of my favorite stores in Paris, E.Dehillerin and G.Detou, are within easy walking distance of each other. On our last trip I dragged my husband along to both and purchased some pistachio oil and baking chocolate at Detou before heading over to Dehillerin to wander aimlessly up and down the cluttered aisles, all the while wishing that my suitcases were bigger. After an hour or so my husband got antsy and dragged me up to the checkout counter, clutching my sole purchase, a new food mill. Both stores have a rather arcane check out process which involves two separate counters. At the first counter, checkout guy #1 rings up your wares and provides you with a bill, which you then bring to a second counter, so that checkout guy #2 can collect your money and give you a receipt, which you then bring back to #1 to collect your goods. In any case, #2 was apparently feeling feisty that day because he asked me where I lived and looked quite surprised when I told him that I live in Germany. I’m guessing it’s the accent. “Really?” he asked, “Germany? Well, nobody’s perfect.”

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Having only used the food mill once since then, I was admittedly confused and more than a little skeptical when I pulled it out for this week’s recipe, Riviera Fish Soup. Dorie assures us that it can puree an entire fish (bones, skin and all!), as does the YouTube promotional guy who asks, “Did you ever want to puree fruits or vegetables, but you didn’t want to drag out the big food processor, or clean it up later?” Certainly sounds promising.

FFwD092 (12)Well, let me be blunt, YouTube guy lies! Yes, the food processor is not that much fun to clean, but at least it keeps the mess contained. The food mill, on the other hand, produced possibly one of the bigger messes that my little kitchen has ever seen. It took quite some effort to get the whole batch of soup worked through and my husband had to take over early on as I apparently lack the requisite elbow power to get it done. Afterwards I had to give my kitchen a thorough scrub to remove all the bits which had flown about. Days later I was still finding remnants which I somehow missed the first time over.

So, right, the soup. It was delicious, but it felt like quite a journey to get it made and I have decided that this is one dish which is better to order in a restaurant. Luckily I had a few glasses of Pastis to help me through it!

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