dressy pasta “risotto”

This week, French Fridays with Dorie introduced a familiar technique to a very different recipe, Dressy Pasta “Risotto”. This recipe also, once again, demonstrated that I need to start paying more attention to Dorie’s punctuation because, despite the quotation marks, I was somehow expecting risotto and not “risotto” this week.

Unlike risotto, there is no rice. Unlike risotto, there is no stirring. Like risotto, the pasta (strozzapreti in my case) is cooked in broth instead of water. Like risotto, this is rich, creamy, and delicious.

I took Dorie’s suggestion and soaked some fresh herbs and dried mushrooms in the cream before adding it to the pasta. The finished dish was served alongside some roast chicken (also a la Dorie) and brussel sprouts. All in all a delicious and hassle-free (compared to risotto anyway) side.

I’m going to leave the pictures out and instead wish everyone a happy new year. Maybe 2014 is the year that I’ll start cooking more FFwD dishes during daylight hours so that I can get better pictures. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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dilled gravlax with mustard sauce

Well, it’s official, I can no longer say that I dislike cured salmon. First with Salmon & Potatoes in a Jar, and now with this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Dilled Gravlax with Mustard Sauce, Dorie has slowly won me over. Though, I have to wonder if some of my previous dislike had to do with the fact that I was uneducated about the differences between smoked salmon (still not a fan), lox, gravlax, and goodness knows what other varieties are out there.

In any case, I went into this one fully prepared to taste it and then let my husband enjoy the rest. In the end, I might have heard a complaint from him that I didn’t leave him enough:-)

Luckily for him, this recipe was a quick and easy one which I wouldn’t hesitate to make again. It also proved to be quite forgiving since I forgot about it in the fridge for 72 hours, instead of the recommended 24 to 48 hours, and it was still delicious.

Here’s wishing all of my fellow Doristas a safe and festive end to 2013. I have thoroughly enjoyed your company over the past few years and look forward to many more tasty adventures in 2014.

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catching up on chestnut-pear soup and potato far

I often find that I have a harder time posting about the recipes which I didn’t enjoy. This, at any rate, is my excuse for why I’m running so late with a few of the November French Fridays with Dorie recipes, Chestnut Pear Soup and Salty-Sweet Potato Far.

Let’s start with the soup. Chestnuts are easy enough to come by around here this time of year and I usually enjoy them. Particularly the fresh roasted ones which come piping hot in little paper cones at the Christmas Markets. Oooh, and I especially love the candied ones which can be found in fancy chocolate shops. I was, therefore, intrigued to try Dorie’s soup. But the flavors seemed somehow wrong to me. The pear was too sweet and the chestnut flavor too bland and it just didn’t work.

As for the Far, well, this one was a challenge. The first 5 times I read the recipe I was just confused because I couldn’t find the sweet potatoes. Then I read it another 5 times or so, trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be cooking. Dorie describes it as a bit like a cross between a cake and a pancake. I was with her so far. But then she suggests adding prunes, raisins, and grated potatoes, and she lost me.

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I’m still not entirely sure what this dish was supposed to be but I’m guessing that it was supposed to taste better than mine, which came out dry and overly starchy. Maybe one of these days I’ll try a classic far recipe and see what that’s like.

And on that upbeat note, I’m signing off for the holidays. Hope everyone else is enjoying theirs.

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onion carbonara

What will they think of next? This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Onion Carbonara, sounds like something which would have popped up on a restaurant menu during the Atkins craze. Loaded with fat, no carbs.

I never got into the Atkins thing (it’s downright dangerous to stand between me and a steaming bowl of pasta) but this dish certainly got my attention. With steamed onions standing in for the spaghetti, this was otherwise a very traditional carbonara.

I made this one on my husband’s birthday and so served it alongside a pan seared duck breast, one of his all time favorites. And, do you know, it was actually good. Really good, in fact. Somewhere between a side dish and a chunky sauce, it paired beautifully with the duck and I bet that it would go well with other meats as well. I tell ya, that Dorie has a secret or two up her sleeve.

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And since this is my last French Friday before Christmas, I also wanted to say that I am LOVING the holiday cards which are filling up my mailbox each day. It has been a joy to cook along with all of you this year and I wish you and yours a holiday season filled with all of your favorite foods.

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mme. Mamans’s chopped liver

Liver. What can I say? It gets a bad rap. If the flurry of panic caused by this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Mme. Mamans’s Chopped Liver, is any indication, I seem to be one of the few Americans who actually likes it.

Why is that? It never made an appearance in the meat-free household of my childhood. I think that I was at least a few years out of college before I tried it in the form of foie gras. Yep, I’m almost certain that was the gateway drug. Somewhere along the line I took Nigella Lawson’s advice and started adding the sautéed turkey liver to my thanksgiving gravy. Then I started eating most of the sautéed turkey liver before it had a chance to make it into the gravy. And then I moved to Germany, where liver seems to be more common and all around less of an issue.

But each time it comes up (or even almost comes up) in the FFwD roster, I am reminder how much we Americans hate it. Oh well, more for me I guess. And with this week’s recipe, more was definitely better. This recipe was crazy simple and delicious. Sautee some onions until nicely browned, same for the liver, throw in a little seasoning, maybe a dash of mayo, and serve. I admit to having been a bit pressed for time (a.k.a. I didn’t read the recipe ahead of time and didn’t know that it would need to sit – HOW MANY TIMES do I need to be reminded to read the recipe BEFORE I start cooking!) and thus just served it warm. As luck would have it, it was delicious warm. I almost wonder if I wouldn’t prefer it that way.

FFwD032 010In any case, like most of the meat recipes in this book, it’s not winning any prizes for looks. Or maybe that’s just my lazy photography. I’ve yet to figure out how to make a hunk of brown meat look attractive. But it’s what’s inside that counts (right?) and my husband and I both loved this one.

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French apple sauce

FFwD392 157The name of this recipe is Compote de Pommes Two Ways. Basically, Dorie gives us a very basic recipe for apple sauce (way 1), and then tells us that we can just leave it on the stove for another hour or so and see what happens (way 2). I’ll be honest, as I was cutting up my apples and putting them on to cook, I still had no idea which way I was going to do.

FFwD392 162So I cooked the apples until the were done the first way and tried them with a bit of yogurt. Yep, it was apple sauce. Tasty, but hardly anything to write home about. Ok, let’s try the second way.

An hour later, my apples were thicker, but still pretty much the same color. For some reason I had expected them to get a bit darker. Dorie suggests adding vanilla and salted butter. I may have made a snide comment about “only in France do they add butter to apple sauce.” But that was before I tasted how delicious it was. I tell ya, those French know a thing or two about food.

FFwD392 177But it was still a lot of apple sauce. I mean, I eat a lot of yogurt, pretty much every morning in fact, but how much apple sauce do I really need. So I decided to use half of it to make a cake. Not just any cake. But Dorie’s Double Apple Bundt Cake from her Baking book. What can I say, it was an appley kind of weekend.

In the end, the one that stuck with me was the second apple sauce. I had it pretty much every morning this week for breakfast with yogurt. And it was really delicious. Worth being glued to the stove for 1 and a half hours? Ouch, hard to say. But maybe.

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hurry up and wait roast chicken

Bring on November. I’m so ready. The holidays start on November 11th here in Germany and we are already looking forward to our Martin’s goose. The menus is always exactly the same: goose, red cabbage, potato dumplings, and chestnuts. It’s SO good.

But in the meantime, we have this week’s French Friday’s with Dorie recipe, Hurry up and Wait Roast Chicken. The “hurry up” seems to refer to the high oven temperature and the “wait” part to the fact that you have to let the chicken rest for 15 to 20 minutes after to comes out of the oven. Well, after reading that last part I just thought that there was no way my husband was going to be able to stand this recipe. I’m usually chasing him out of the kitchen so I can let the roast bird sit for 5 measly minutes, how the heck was I supposed to keep him away from it for 15 minutes?

My solution was to assign this week’s recipe to him and thereby make him responsible for following the instructions. I figured if Dorie told him what to do instead of me, we stood a better chance of surviving the week without incident:-)

FFwD202 174Dorie introduces this recipe by pointing out that France is the land of pedigree chickens. So off we set to the market to see if we couldn’t find a well bred bird. Which of course led to the question, why do French chickens always come with their feet (or at least part of their feet) still on? My research is inconclusive, but yielded two interesting theories. Theory 1 is that it is proof of pedigree. Not knowing much about the difference in pedigrees, this doesn’t help me much. Theory 2 is that it is somehow a sign of freshness because the feet will change color as the bird ages. But again, since I have no idea which color to look for, this is also not much help. If you know the truth, please share.

FFwD202 179So, we had a designated cook and a bird. I threw some veggies into the mix and into the oven it all went. And then back to give it a turn (thank goodness for silicone oven mitts). And then back to give it another turn. And then started the waiting.

In the end we survived the waiting and agreed that our chicken was very tasty. But all that running back and forth to the oven was not for me. I’m more of a Lazy Chicken kind of gal.

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