sugar-coated french toast

The Doristas appear to be on a roll with the catch up recipes lately and I am enjoying the trip down memory lane with these posts. I actually have a few to catch up on myself, including Dorie’s Sugar-Coated French Toast, which I actually made on time but could never seem to get around to posting. I don’t even remember why or what I was doing at the time which kept me too busy, but hey, better late than never, right?

I have never been a big fan of breakfast during the work week. Before meeting my husband, my typical “breakfast” was a cup of coffee, consumed while sitting in my office and reading through the emails which came in overnight. I always found it to be a nice ritual with which to start my day. My husband, on the other hand, finds it appalling and so I will occasionally humor him with a small cup of yogurt. Honestly though, even that seems like too much.

But, give me an extra hour or two to sleep in and everything changes! Sunday brunch is one of my favorite meals. When I lived in Chicago I had an almost standing Sunday afternoon brunch date with a dear friend and I miss it dearly, both the friend and the brunch. Which is not to say that they don’t have brunch in Germany, because they most certainly do. But, while the concept may be the same, the offerings are different. As with most things, there are exceptions, but I have yet to see eggs benedict, blueberry pancakes, heuvos rancheros, or french toast anywhere in Germany.

Which means that I’ve had to suck it up and make them myself when the craving hits. Well, I haven’t tackled heuvos rancheros yet since the necessary ingredients are also not so easy to come by. But I do make the others from time to time, including french toast.

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Dorie’s version called for us to add a crispy sugar-coating to the traditional recipe. It was tasty and satisfied this expat’s craving.

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osso buco a l’arman

Food aversions have been a topic of conversation around French Fridays with Dorie before. It seems that most of us have a few of them lingering from childhood and I am hardly an exception, mine just seem to be a bit less common perhaps than others. For example, I have no problem with coconut or the dreaded liver and I’m generally indifferent to bell peppers. However, my little nose has been known to turn up at the sight of cooked carrots and any form of cured or preserved fish. Over the course of 4 years of cooking along with this group I have been introduced to some fabulous new flavors and come to accept a few which I hadn’t particularly appreciated before. In fact, of all the meals we have made for friends over the years, the one which we are most often asked for a copy of is the Salmon in a Jar recipe!

At the same time, I have also reconfirmed some previously held dislikes, and stewed meat is one of them. With few exceptions, this may well have been my least favorite section of the book. My husband on the other hand loves stew in seemingly all its forms and has delighted that I have had a reason to make it for him. He’d better soak it up now because most of these have gone into my “once was enough” category and I don’t think that we have too many more to do.

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Which brings us to this week’s recipe, Osso Buco a l’Arman. Dorie writes that the traditional accompaniment for osso buco is saffron risotto. Who am I to argue with tradition? Besides, it’s ben an awfully long while since I’ve made risotto and it gave me something to do while the main was loitering in the oven. Our resulting meal was delicious. I enjoyed the sauce with my risotto, my husband loved the osso buco and commented on it several times as being “really good!” and we both thought that the gremolata was a nice touch.

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So who knows, maybe I’ll make it again for him one of these after all. It’s a relatively inexpensive cut of meat around here and not all that difficult to make. But not soon.

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happy birthday to Dorie

This week over at French Fridays with Dorie we are celebrating Dorie’s birthday by baking treats from her soon to be released book, Baking Chez Moi. I chose to make the Palet des Dames, Lille Style, because I haven’t made cookies in such an awfully long time and these looked just adorable.

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As so often happens in the kitchen, my mind started to wander as I was whipping up the IMG_3220dough for these cookies and I found myself thinking back over the past 4 years of cooking through Dorie’s wonderful cookbook, Around my French Table, and all of the recipes, techniques, and handy tips that I have learned. But above all of them, the key lesson which I have taken away is just to be bolder in the kitchen. There have been so many recipes in the book which I would have been previously too intimidated to make on my own. Too many steps, too many ingredients, too complicated, whatever the reason, I did it anyway, I was bold and I was rewarded with so many delicious meals. And those who know me well will confirm that the way to my heart is absolutely through my stomach;-)

IMG_3227So, Happy Birthday Dorie! From one expat to another (at least part time from what I understand), thanks for all the delicious recipes and for being such a good sport. I cannot imagine how it must feel to have a whole group of strangers picking their way through your years of hard work, fussing every time we encounter an unloved ingredient. But in all honesty, I’ve loved this book and thanks to you my cooking skills have improved and my larder is now stocked with pistachio oil, cardamom pods, and puffed pastry.

The Palets des Dames were easy and adictive. But I’m not the only one celebrating Dorie’s birthday this week. Check out the below links to see what my fellow Doristas are whipping up.

Mini Cannel├ęs

Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling

Paletes de Dames, Lille Style

Brown Butter-Peach Tourte

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sea devil, carrots, and a new veggie

I got a bit of a late start with the October recipes, but with this post I am catching back up with two in one week.

First up, last week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Monkfish and Double Carrots.

Many of my fellow Doristas had trouble finding monkfish. Not me. Monkfish, or Seeteufel in German (literally translated as “sea devil”), is quite popular around these parts and shows up regularly on restaurant menus. Sure enough, my fishmonger didn’t bat an eye when I asked for it and sliced me off two generous portions for our dinner.

The double carrots on the other hand, not so easy. It’s plain carrot juice which is difficult to find here in Frankfurt and I knew this from experience. Sure enough, I found carrot juice mixed with various other juices to sweeten it up, but no plain carrot and finally settled for carrot-orange juice.

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In fact, if anyone knows of an easy way to make carrot juice without a juicer, do let me know. Because I have the feeling that I would have preferred this without the extra sweetness from the orange juice. The fish, however, cooked in bacon no less (!) was delicious.

Which brings us to this week’s recipe, Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic. I was happy to find these funny looking veggies at Kleinmarkthalle, a wonderful covered market hall in the center of Frankfurt.

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This was a fun one because I’d never cooked with jerusalem artichokes before. To be honest, I’m not ever sure if I’ve ever eaten a jerusalem artichoke before.

Either way, thank you, Dorie for introducing me to this delicious vegetable and a fabulously simple recipe for preparing it. I turned it into a one pot meal by throwing the garlic and jerusalem artichokes into a pot with a few potatoes and a lazy chicken. Oh that lazy chicken, still a favorite. And this jerusalem artichoke recipe is a new favorite. I may need to stock up on more before the season is over.

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double celery soup and a roadtrip

Probably sounds like an odd combination and they are not in fact really connected. Except for the fact that we got back from our trip to Slovakia and Poland last weekend and last week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Celery-Celery Soup was the first thing on the menu. The soup was tasty, but since you’ve all already made it, I’ll spend this post talking about our trip instead. As for this week’s Monk Fish and Double Carrots recipe, it’s currently simmering away on the stove, more about that later.

If I’m being honest, Poland has never ranked particularly high on my list of places to see. Yes, I do in fact have a list. It is very long and ever-growing. Poland only even made it onto the list after we became neighbors, and even then it took me nearly 8 years to wander over to say hello. Not very neighborly of me, I know.

But a few weeks ago we set off via a rather roundabout route through Slovakia. In Slovakia we visited charming villages and fortified ourselves with delicious garlic soup before visiting the castle from the classic vampire film, Nosferatu.

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In the Tatra mountains of southern Poland we sampled tasty grilled sheep’s milk cheese served with lingonberry jam.

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We soaked in vibrant Krakow while noshing our way through a fabulous market selling all manner of tasty treats, our favorite being a polish version of stuff on toast.

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We turned our visit to beautiful Wroclaw into a multi-day cafe crawl.

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On the Czech border we viewed a chapel decorated entirely with human bones and found the best pierogi of the entire trip, so far off the beaten path that we may well have been truly lost. Aparently our noses for good food are more finely tuned than our navigation system:-)

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And so much more. We got a glimpse into the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, visited a beautiful “Peace Church” built as part of a treaty between warring Catholics and Lutherans, toured numerous castles and ate some wonderful food. The marks of the past are still there, but from what I saw, things are looking up and we had a wonderful time. What can I say, it turns out that the neighbors are quite nice.

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vanilla vegetable salad

I’m road tripping through southern Poland at the moment, so we’ll see if this autopost function works. My previous experience with it does not make me hopeful.

So you know how in the last few days before vacation you find yourself frantically trying to use up anything and everything perishable in the fridge? Luckily Dorie gave me permission by stating that this week’s Vanilla Vegetable Salad could be made with any veggies. In my case that meant an abundance of carrots in various colors.

Which is why I wished that I had liked this salad more so that I could use up the rest of those carrots. As I write this (one day before hitting the road) I am still wondering what the heck to do with the rest of them. I’m thinking that my husband is going to be tired of carrot sticks long before we hit the border.

But back to the salad. This was an insanely simple recipe made with a very basic vinaigrette with one very surprising ingredient, vanilla extract! Now, I didn’t dislike the vinaigrette. It was actually nice with a very subtle vanilla nuance and perhaps I will pull this recipe out again for guests. But I also didn’t love it enough to warrant the use of such an expensive ingredient on a regular basis.

As for the other ingredients, I learned this week that I don’t like purple carrots. The ones I had were very hard (as in, my jaw got tired chewing on them) and very bland. Seems to me that they are meant to look pretty but do not contribute in any way to the flavor. Did I just get a bad batch?

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Hope everyone is having a good week. I look forward to catching up and learning what the October recipes are when I get back.

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shrimp and mango not quite ceviche

We’re off to Oktoberfest this weekend with some friends. Word has it that the first Oktoberfest was a multi-week wedding celebration for some Bavarian royal or other which turned into an annual event. At some point the celebration was apparently moved forward a bit because, well, October in Munich is a bit chilly for an outdoor party. And while I may be a little rusty on the history, I’m well versed on the current state of affairs.

First, Oktoberfest proper takes place in Munich. In fact, it is a very Oktoberfest 015specific fair grounds in Munich which is decked out with carnival rides and tents which are set up by local breweries and restaurants. The locals (and these days quite a few tourists) dress up in beautifully made traditional garb: leather pants (lederhosen) for men and a dirndl (no idea what that would be in english) for the ladies. Some hate Oktoberfest because of all the drunken tourists. I usually enjoy myself and find that the hard-core party crowd tends to congregate in specific tents and leave everyone else alone, but admittedly, it’s not for everyone.

After Oktoberfest we’re driving east for two weeks vacation in Slovakia and southern Poland. I’m so ready. Today is my last day of work and I have the feeling that my brain has already left the building. But before I go, a word about this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Tuna and Mango Ceviche, errr, I mean, Warm Seared Shrimp, Mango, and Avocado Salad.

As you can see, not everything went to plan here. I was actually quite keen to make a proper ceviche since I had never done so before. But I got to the fish place a bit late in the day and they had sold out of sushi-grade fish of any sort. Luckily I had noted Dorie’s Bonne Idee to do this with seared shrimp instead, and so that’s what I did, the whole while a bit disappointed that I wasn’t getting to try a real ceviche.

Well, any disappointment vanished as soon as I tried the seared shrimp version of the dish. Oh, so, good! We really loved this and will absolutely make it again.

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See you again in a few weeks!

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