Here I am again, cramming two weeks of French Fridays with Dorie recipes into one. I actually made the Roasted Peppers on time but just didn’t get around to posting them, and now another week has passed and it’s time for Couscous Salad.
It was still summer when I made the Roasted Bell Peppers. Warm enough that we used the grill to blister the peppers in a futile attempt to keep the kitchen cool. Warm enough that we enjoyed these delicious peppers out on the balcony alongside homemade (and delicious!) hummus from David Lebovitz and store-bought tzatziki. I love roasted peppers and they are one of the rare bell pepper recipes that my husband will knowingly eat, Dorie’s Chicken Basquaise being another rare example.
Since then autumn seems to have arrived and I’ve started reaching to the back of my wardrobe for sweaters and scarves. What a difference a week makes. But we still fired up the grill to make Dorie’s recommended Grilled Lemon Chicken to accompany this week’s Couscous (or in my case, Bulgur) Salad recipe. Dorie’s salad was bright, fresh, flavorful, and plentiful. Seriously, next time I either need to halve the recipe or invite an army for dinner. As for the chicken, well, we still need to work on our chicken grilling skills. Over the summer my husband’s grill has churned out delicious lamb and steaks along with assorted veggies over the course of many tasty dinner. But our few attempts at chicken have been a bit, well, dry. Something to continue working on next summer.
This past weekend I got to know the oven in our new place a bit better. My initial observation is that the thing is teeny, tiny, but the temperature seems to be sound. Well, at least I think so. My husband stole my oven thermometer to test his grill and then thought that he would be helpful by giving it a quick clean in the dishwasher. So, who knows really, but it seemed to have no problem with last week’s Gateau Basque and this week’s
Tuna Cod Confit.
It seems a little naughty to start with the dessert, but that’s the order they went in and so that’s what we are going to do. I was huddled up in bed with fever and chills last week so cake simply wasn’t on the menu plan. Happily, I was feeling much better by the weekend and was able to catch up with the Gateau Basque. I’ll be honest, this didn’t look like much of a cake to me and I went in with low expectations. Maybe I shouldn’t have listened to the NPR podcast in which the cake was described as a Pop Tart! In the end, the cake exceeded my expectations and my husband polished off 3 slices in a row before declaring that it wasn’t Dorie’s best:-)
As for the Tuna Confit, I haven’t been keeping track or anything, but this recipe may well have resulted in my longest shopping list yet. I was more than a little intimidated, both by the long list and by the fact that the star of the dish is fresh tuna. I tend to have issues with fresh tuna and so was very happy that Dorie pointed out that cod and halibut are also commonly confited (can we use confit as an adjective?) and used cod for my dish.
The instructions called for us to first make the marinade, let everything sit, then cook the still completely submerged fish in the marinade while whipping up a tomato salad. I have to say that I was pretty darn skeptical while this thing was in the oven. The oven temp was so low that there none of the usual sensory indicators that any actual cooking was going on. I like to be able to see, hear, or smell that something is actually happening. I don’t think that I would do very well with sous vide, though I hear that it’s delicious. In this case, I had no choice but to simply follow Dorie’s instructions exactly because I had no idea what I was doing and because I had no other indicators to point me along the way.
After exactly one hour I removed the dish from the oven and served it up on a bed of mushy peas with the tomato salad and olive tapenade. But really, the sides were superfluous. The fish was infused with the flavors of the marinade and absolutely delicious with the marinade itself as a topping. I was really wowed by how good this was and admit that it was well worth the long shopping list.
This week we are making soup for French Fridays with Dorie. Provencal Vegetable Soup to be exact. I’m guessing that our Doristas who are cooking a little closer to the equator are not so amused. In fact, you probably will not be surprised to hear that it was picked by one of our Canadian Doristas, Theresa, over at One Wet Foot.
I actually made this one a week early. And thank goodness because this past weekend the temps shot up and the only place in my kitchen where any food prep was happening was in the fridge. Okay, I know that temperature is all relative and I know that some of my fellow Doristas live in climates which make a German summer seem downright brisk. But I was melting. Luckily the temps are back down and giving the two overworked fans in my apartment a well deserved breather.
By now you might be wondering, what about the soup! Well, the soup was delicious. I know, the picture makes it look a bit healthy. And it is. But also delicious. Really. So much flavor packed in there
I haven’t been keeping track exactly, but this may well be the most expensive French Fridays with Dorie recipe yet. And I was as shocked and appalled as anyone to find that I didn’t love it! What? Seriously. I love coddled eggs, I LOVE foie gras AND truffles. So why the heck didn’t I love this dish? I’m still not 100% sure, but somehow the individual flavors just didn’t come together for me. I did have some issues with the cooking time and had to leave my eggs in 10 minutes before the whites were cooked through. Maybe that had something to do with it. Maybe it was something else. No idea.
But let me end by saying that even though I didn’t love the dish, I’m still happy to have given it a try and I am absolutely thrilled that we are finally getting to some of these “scarier” recipes. That’s the thing about cooking the whole book, they all have to come up eventually. That said, you might find me hiding under the table when the aspic comes up.
This week’s recipe was a civilized pause to the World Cup madness which has been going on around me for a little more than a month now. As an american living in Germany working for a Dutch company and with lots of colleagues from other corners of the globe, soccer (or, football, as everyone else around me calls it) has pretty much been the only topic of conversation. It really is one of those, if you can’t beat em join em, type of situations. Which means that I found myself sitting in bars, well past my bedtime, both Tuesday night for the historic Germany-Brazil game and then again Wednesday night to support my Dutch boss during the Netherlands-Argentina game. This Sunday it will be Germany vs. Argentina in the final game. And after that, I’m looking forward to catching up on my sleep!
But back to this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Ricotta-Filled Zucchini Blossoms. I can’t tell you how excited I was to be making this recipe. The idea of cooking with zucchini blossoms was new and intimidating and I envisioned myself crying in the kitchen over torn up flowers. As it turns out, the blossoms were easier to work with than I had feared. Fiddly for sure and it does take a little time to get everything together, but as Dorie promised, the batter covers up all manner of sins and I was really pleased with how well they turned out in the end.
And since in my nervousness I had bought way more zucchini blossoms than needed (I was picturing myself having to throw away at least half of them) I had plenty leftover the next day, which I sautéed up with a little butter and fresh basil leaves. Also delicious! I will now be keeping an eye out for these delicacies each summer.
Can I tell you how excited I am for the July line up? This month a few of our regular Doristas got to pick the recipes and I have to say that the selection is going to make for a very fun month… and possibly a few trips to the store for specialty ingredients. But the first recipe of the month, chosen by Kathy at Bakeaway with Me, is a wonderfully simple dish with a very short list of ingredients. Tomatoes Provencal is one of my favorite dishes and I make it as often as I can in the summer. My standard recipe is from Mark Strausman’s Campagna book and is absolutely wonderful. He calls for the tomatoes to be cooked in a homemade tomato sauce on low heat for almost 5 hours!!! It’s not a quick weeknight recipe for sure, but oh my is it good.
In contrast, Dorie’s Tomatoes Provencal are relatively quick. She has us topping them with a simple mix of fresh herbs and olive oil and spending only an hour in the oven. The only fiddling I did with the recipe was to remove the seeds from only half the tomatoes to test if this step really made a difference. In fact, yes, it did make a difference and I will take the extra time in the future so that my tomatoes take on a more concentrated tomato taste. With such a simple recipe, I will happily make this more often. But, between you and I, I will probably also continue to pull out the Campagna recipe when I have the time. Did I mention that it is delicious?
To round out the meal I whipped up some sauteed eggplant and my husband threw some lamb chops on the grill. May I just say that in the almost 2 months since he has had his grill he has been getting lots of practice and I have been the happy beneficiary. The next day I chopped up the leftover tomatoes and added them to the leftover eggplant to make a tasty pasta sauce. Don’t you just love coming home after a long day of work to find a fridge full of leftovers? Few things in life make me happier.
I love avocados. I consider them to be one of the world’s most perfect foods. I also love guacamole, though I rarely take the time to really follow a real recipe for it. One of my favorite places for guacamole is a restaurant in Chicago named Adobo Grill, where they make it to order tableside in a big lava stone mortar (someone even posted a video of it on YouTube). When I lived in Chicago I would often go with friends, sit at the bar, and order just the guac… and may a few margaritas;-)
The basic ingredients at Adobo are really the only ones you need: garlic, white onion, lime juice, jalapenos, cilantro, diced tomatoes, salt, and, very important, perfectly ripe avocados. And, while I admit that I rarely have all of the ingredients on hand, I don’t think that I have ever ventured outside the confines of this list. Until now. When Dorie suggested that I add, eek, bell peppers to the mix.
Luckily, my husband was out of town so I didn’t have to hear any complaints from the bell pepper hater. And, since it’s rather difficult to find decent tortilla chips around here, I decided to cut up the rest of the bell pepper and put it to use scooping up the finished product.
End result? Not bad. But not great. Bell peppers will not be appearing in my guacamole again.
On the plus side, the US soccer team did not embarrass themselves in yesterday’s game against Germany. We may have lost, but we put up a good fight and even managed to make it out of the group round. Here’s hoping we can do better against Belgium next week.