Coddled Eggs with Foie Gras

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.

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IMG_2619But 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.

 

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ricotta-filled zucchini blossoms

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!

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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.

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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.

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tomatoes provencal

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.

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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?

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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.

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guacamole with tomatoes and bell peppers

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.

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crab and avocado “ravioli”

The good thing about last week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe (which I am just now catching up with) was that I had everything needed to make it except for one ingredient. The bad news? That one ingredient was crazy expensive! Yep, at €25 for a small can of lump crab meat (enough for two servings), Crab and Avocado “Ravioli” is definitely a special occasion kind of dish.

The high price was highlighted all the more by my experience at the grocery store, perhaps because the crab was the only item in my basket. I watched with decided sheepishness as the cashier checking me out calmly scanned my purchase, blanched at the amount which popped up on her screen, checked, rechecked, and then checked the price again, before finally asking me what I was buying, in a voice which clearly indicated that she thought the scanner had malfunctioned. I told her it was crab and that the price was correct. She then gave me a look which clearly indicated that she thought my brain had malfunctioned. I wasn’t yet sure if she was wrong.

Once home, I VERY carefully mixed the crab salad, or the “filling” for the faux ravioli, so as not to break up the chunks.

I then read, reread, and reread again Dorie’s instructions for using my mandoline to thinly slice an unpeeled avocado all the way through the pit. If you couldn’t tell, I was pretty darn skeptical that this whole idea was really going to work, and was then pleasantly shocked when it actually did. Well, for a while anyway. Once I got about halfway through, the mandoline got stuck on the pit and started to smush my avocado. It was quite an effort to get the thing unstuck without thinly slicing my fingers!

All of which is how I came to make two versions of this dish. One with my beautiful mandoline slices…

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And one with my slightly more, er, rustic (thank you for that word, Mardi!) slices of the remaining half of the avocado…

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Both versions were equally delicious and I would probably go the less dangerous route of just slicing up an avocado by hand if a suitably special occasion ever presents itself for me to make this again.

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fish with capers, cornichons, and brown butter sauce

I’m back from my trip to the States and looking forward to a nice relaxing day of laundry and catching up with my fellow Doristas. There is nothing else on the agenda for today. Frankly, after this past trip, I desperately need a recovery day. My time in the US was wonderful and I enjoyed catching up with friends and family. My time spent trying to get there and back was painful to say the least. There were so many issues and delays that I could fill an entire post, but the low point may have been standing in the Customer Service line at LAX, after my third rebooked flight that day had been delayed, while an ear-splitting alarm caused by someone opening an emergency exit door went off for 15 minutes straight. My nerves were so raw by that point that I might have made a dash for the emergency exit myself.

But now a deep breath and on to more calming topics. You might have noticed a slight difference between the title of this post and the title of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce. That’s because my fish guy didn’t have any skate and recommended against ordering it this time of year. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet so I tend to listen when he gives advice. Instead he suggested a tasty substitute. Now, if only I could remember what the name of that substitute was.

Oh well, the star of this dish was the sauce and I am confident that it would pair nicely with just about any white fish or even a nice chicken breast. My husband was highly skeptical after reading the title of this recipe (pickles on fish!?) but he ended up loving it and so did I. We paired it with some boiled potatoes and fava beans and enjoyed a wonderful spring meal.

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salmon rillettes

Well, after almost a month I would consider ourselves mostly moved into our new apartment. So long as you ignore the storage errr, guest room, it actually looks quite good. And I’m happy to say that we LOVE the new place. It’s so bright and airy and the balcony really is a dream. So far we have a total of 2 plants out there, one oleander and one tomato, both well-intentioned house-warming gifts. Let’s just say that the odds are stacked against these poor plants because they are being raised on an east facing balcony in a climate not known for its warm summers by two total novice gardeners. I do not exaggerate here, we have not til now owned a single house plant! It will be nothing short of a miracle if they survive the month.

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We do have one complication, however, and that is our kitchen. It is apparent that when we were looking at the place originally I was blinded by the balcony and didn’t pay close enough attention to the kitchen. In short, it was clearly designed by someone who never actually cooks. There is a massive sink which blocks off all but 2 square feet of counter space. The only outlets are directly behind the sink and stove respectively. The silverware drawer is buried within another drawer, so that I have to open two sets of drawers each time I want to grab a spoon. And the stove makes odd short circuiting sounds if you turn one of the burners above medium heat. Oh, and despite the fact that the kitchen is physically larger than our old one, there is significantly less storage space and I still have two unpacked moving boxes full of things with no place to go. We have already placed an emergency call to someone who can hopefully help.

Luckily, this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Salmon Rillettes, did not require any fancy kitchen equipment. I have yet to meet a rillette I didn’t like and Dorie’s salmon rillettes were no exception. Pork rillettes are traditional and delicious. In our deli we can buy wonderful goose rillettes. And now with Dorie we’ve made three different versions of fish rillettes: first sardines, then recently tuna, and now salmon. Of the three the salmon took the most time, since it required a minor bit of cooking, but was still quite quick and easy. I decided to serve it as part of a larger “stuff on toast” breakfast menu. Good stuff, we’ll do it again.

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