tartine de Viande des Grisons

Viande des what now? This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe sent me directly to Google to figure out what in the heck we were eating. Turns out that Viande des Grisons, or Bündnerfleisch as it is known in German, is air-dried beef from southeast Switzerland, which is often served with raclette. Somehow that last bit was news to me, because we’ve been serving raclette to our New Year’s Eve guests for years now and never thought to serve it with Bündnerfleisch. Now we know.

I may have never heard of this particular meat before, but the lady at my local delicatessen didn’t even bat an eye when I asked if she had it, she just asked me how much I wanted and then proceeded to slice me off 100 grams worth.

IMG_3264I opened up the package immediately when I got home and tried a piece. My initial though was, okay, but not really exciting. The flavor is pretty similar to a hundred other varieties of cured meats found in and around the Alps. My husband, on the other hand, is a huge fan and is always bringing back whatever local variety from our hiking and skiing trips. So, I thought, at least he’ll enjoy this recipe.

Later that same day I put a pot of lentil soup on to cook. The darn recipe needed an hour and a half and after the first step of browning the sausage, I was starving! So I decided to make myself a little mini tartine to tide me over for the next 90 minutes.

Well, what a difference a little bread, butter, and walnuts makes! I munched my way through my first little tartine, and about half an hour later (with an hour still to go until dinner) I made myself another. Then my husband got home and of course wanted one. And then we made another batch for breakfast the next morning, and finally remembered to take a picture.

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By now it should be clear that this one was a huge hit in my house. We will make it again. The lentil soup, on the other hand, not so much. I’ll stick with Dorie’s lentil soup recipe from now on.

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red kuri soup

IMG_3235Red Kuri is one of the most commonly found squash options around these parts and I have learned to love them since moving to Germany. First of all, because they are an awfully friendly size for a family of two, and secondly, because of their almost creamy taste. I’ve already used these little guys for my Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good and most any other recipe which calls for pumpkin. But shockingly enough, this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was the first time that I attempted to make them into soup.

IMG_3236Dorie’s Red Kuri Soup is an incredibly simple recipe, and yet, all did not go as planned. My blender coupler broke in the middle of pureeing the cooked soup and I didn’t have any extras on hand. My initial annoyance was replaced by the idea that this was the perfect opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison of my poor overworked blender vs the immersion blender. The results were hardly surprising, as I’ve always been told, the soup pureed in the blender (right) was clearly much smoother than the soup pureed with the immersion blender (left). But still, it was interesting to see the results for myself.

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Despite this little mishap, the soup was simple and tasty. Quick enough for a weeknight (if your blender plays along) and nutritious to boot. What’s not to like?

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storzapretis

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Storzapretis, is the last recipe in the Vegetables and Grains chapter of the book, which in turn, is the first chapter that we have completed. Overall a very successful chapter and I have enjoyed the vast majority of the recipes. The Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good stands out as my favorite dish in the chapter while the Spiced Glazed Carrots and Warm-Weather Pot-au-Feu have been the most repeated. We also make Dorie’s Spätzle recipe pretty often, but we tend to cheat by buying the spätzle at the store and then making the mushroom sauce, so it’s not entirely from scratch. As a matter of fact, the not entirely from scratch version will be making a debut appearance on our Thanksgiving table this year. I’m curious to see the reaction from my German guests:-)

But now to give a little love to this week’s recipe. I had never heard of storzapretis before. According to Dorie this is a Corsican dish, which makes sense as the ingredients and flavor combinations of ricotta, spinach, mint, tomato sauce, and cheese, struck me as more Mediterranean than say Parisian.

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It appears that I unwittingly lucked out with this dish because my ricotta didn’t need to be drained and yielded a soft but workable dough which held up quite nicely through the various cooking steps. And there were quite a few steps!

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This was a rather time-consuming recipe but the end result was absolutely delicious. I brought the leftovers to work the following day and can confirm that, like so many such dishes, it improved after a night in the fridge.

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pan-seared duck breasts with kumquats

I must have had a premonition that November would be tough because I made the full month of recipes as soon as they were announced. Which is lucky because since then we have had very little time for cooking.

Duck is always a happy dish in our house. It’s one of my husband’s very favorite meals and, since he is the duck pro in our house, it means that I don’t have to cook:-)

Dorie calls this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Pan-Seared Duck Breasts with Kumquats, a simpler version of duck a l’orange. I know that it’s an old classic, but somehow I’ve never actually had duck a l’orange. I think that by the time I had enough money to eat in the kinds of restaurants which would have served such fancy fare, the dish had been replaced.

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In this simpler version, Dorie has us candying sliced kumquats and serving them alongside the seared duck breasts with a balsamic reduction. To complete the orange theme, we paired the duck with an orange rice pilaf. The duck was perfectly cooked and the sauce was absolutely delicious. Husband approved!

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jerusalem artichoke soup

With only one November left to finish off the autumn recipes the French Fridays with Dorie group is being very season conscious. That means more Jerusalem Artichokes this month, this time in the form of a delicious and warming soup.

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We’re lately in need of comfort food around here and this soup hit the spot. My father-in-law is not doing very well at the moment and this has meant lots of anxious visits home and lots of concerned calls between trips. It’s a stressful time for everyone but we’re continuing to hope for a happy outcome.

It also means that there is no time for “extras” and so the Parley Coulis was replaced with a dallop of store-bought pesto. All around a tasty dish which hit the spot.

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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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