Saturday, May 28, 2011

ffwd - cardamom rice pilaf

I had the best of intentions. The previous week, I ended up not making the salad until Saturday night and getting nothing posted (well, until a couple of minutes ago). So I thought - do what you used to do, make the dish early, then blog about it and schedule your post!! Great plan, poor execution. Between work and my niece's high school graduation, and... who knows what else. Did not quite go as hoped.

Well. I did make myself make the dish early in the week. But as I write this, it's Saturday - not exactly on time. Part of it was that I really wasn't particularly excited about this dish. I love rice, so I would think I'd like it. But what I really love is some flavorful rice, simly prepared, and then, if it works out - put something fabulous with it - doesn't matter what kind of thing (though Thai curry is never a bad choice). Of course, now that I think of it, I also like jambalaya, and arroz con pollo - so maybe my theory is all out of whack! Rice is actually (assuming you buy a good variety) flavorful on its own. I think this just kind of washed out the rice flavor without replacing it with anything good. Or maybe I just don't like cardamom in savory things.

I did employ my rice cooker for this one - maybe another bad choice. I think I've had two - one I got rid of because I was an expert at cooking rice on the stove, and didn't need yet another appliance. But - a few years later I did get another one and I use it all (all) of the time. It is so handy - and not having to watch something... great. I even gave one to my brother recently because he's on a special diet for a while, and rice is the perfect thing. His wife looked at me like I was crazy when I brought it by, but quickly bonded with it (jasmine rice; replace the water with coconut water... heaven). So I'm a fan. I like K-Paul's method for baking rice too, but here in AZ, it's often too hot to turn on the oven.
additional cheating beyond the rice maker -
ground cardamom & lemon peel from Penzey's
I tried my coconut water trick here too (in addition to chicken stock base) - not a good idea

ready for the liquid

I think I just don't like rice done this way (I've tried other recipes). But part of it was certainly my fail. I used the full amount of liquid in the recipe, and that was a mistake. It ended up being over cooked, and mushy. I decided not to plate it for a picture (I did, of course, to eat it!), because it was never going to look better.

ffwd - bacon and eggs and asparagus salad

This is the second time I've made this. The reality is that I think I like the idea better than the result, and individual parts better than the sum. This is a beautiful salad though, and it's fun to make. This time, I decided to try Dorie's method for the ruffly eggs - that was fun, and they turn out kind of cute. I think that would be an easy way to make "poached" eggs ahead of time for something else.
we had some red-leaf lettuce in the garden
I used that along with some baby spinach to balance the flavors

as noted, I decided to try the ruffly poached eggs
my "poaching" cups provided an easy container to use to assemble the pouches

ready to drop into the pan of simmering water
I'm actually not sure if they are cute or creepy at this point...

once cooked, the eggs are ready to do a little turn in the bacon grease

the assembled salad as an indivicual portion
(my picture of the platter didn't turn out)
So, here are my thoughts: the dressing needed to have a bit more punch - either more dijon, use only walnut oil (since I was using walnuts in the salad), or something. We liked it, because we like all of the flavors, but it really was missing something in the flavor department. Also, I think these eggs would really look great with a bit of a sauce or dressing with some color drizzled over - to show off the ruffles - they did get a bit lost on this salad, but it was a fun process to try.

Since this is the second time I've made this, and really had the same result, I'll probably choose something different next time - to tweak each of the parts, since I like them all. (hmmmm... the next recipe in Dorie's book - the deconstructed BLT - sounds pretty good ... !)

Friday, May 13, 2011

ffwd - spinach and sausage quiche

I made this the other night, when I was also making a few things since I have family in town for the weekend, and really needed to do some prep up front. Of course, since I was making/prepping about 4 recipes from Dorie's cookbook... well, if you've read my blog before, you'll know that I've skipped a couple of things. Oh well!!

Since I was also making Hachis Parmentier for this evening's meal, that meant that I'd have some leftover Italian Sausage. I've fallen in love with TJ's chicken Italian sausage - I might never use pork again. So I thought... why not have a spinach and sausage quiche? I was already a step or two ahead, since I'd made my pastry for this, when I made it for the torteau (I think I'll do that every time from now on - when I need one, make 2! The more times I use it, the more I like that tart crust recipe).
afore-mentioned chicken Italian sausage and spinach

my perfectly-baked crust... I remembered to reduce the heat by 25 degrees
so that it wouldn't over-bake in my dark tart pan

all right, I am lazy! I browned the sausage, onion and garlic together, and just added the spinach
by handfuls, and kept turning it until it was all cooked
if I'd been worried about serving it to others, I would have
given it a rough chop first, but not this time!

ready for the oven
almost forgot the cheese!

the baked quiche! puffed and beautiful if I do say so myself

a nice slice, ready for serving
OK, so given the fact that I was making this at the same time as a bunch of other things, I was really happy with how it turned out. As leftovers, the crust was still crispy too. This was a nice recipe, and given time and inclination, I'd be happy to mix it up too. But really, really good.

Gotta run! Hope everyone enjoys their weekend!!

(fyi, hachis parmentier, braised coconut and lemongrass pork, marinated peppers, lime and honey beet salad... we'll see how it all turns out! cross your fingers for me!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

ffwd - tourteau de chevre

It is so fun to get back into my French Friday groove! I've officially missed a couple of weeks, though I have made the mustard batons twice, including for ffwd, but life sometimes gets in the way. Things are back to normal(ish), so it's time to get cooking again!! So inspired, I made both this 'cake', as well as Dorie's cheating-on-winter pea soup. A good day! Oh, and the soup is well-worth making. mmmm

This is an interesting recipe. Particularly since Dorie gave us her story of first tasing a tourteau, and not really knowing what it was supposed to be... a dessert? cheese? Once made, and tasted... I understand.

This is definitely not an American-style cheesecake. I've had several Italian-style ricotta cheesecakes too, but this is something entirely different. In a very good way! Essentially a goat-cheese-filling in a pastry crust. Dorie offered a couple of choices for the crust - both we've made before. Either the regular tart crust, or the sweeter dessert crust. Since I was interested in trying the tourteau both as dessert and also as a cheese course with a nice glass of wine - I decided on the simpler (un-sweet) tart dough. Because we've made that before, I'll just cut to the chase, and concentrate on the filling.

I'm just going to guess, and say that I think I'm probably not the only one who
buys an exotic ingredient because I've seen it in a recipe, only to
realize that I can't remember exactly which recipe it was...
happily, now I have something that requires that fancy bottle of orange-flower water!

pretty short list of simple ingredients...

first the egg whites get whipped to soft peaks
they'll be set aside so we can make the cheesy-part

love this - use the same bowl to mix together the yolks, cheese, sugar, corstarch,
a pinch of salt - oh, and a little orange flower water

this all gets beaten until smooth

about a fourth of the whites are folded in to lighten the mixture

then the remainder are incorporated
I don't get overly concerned - I'd rather err on the side of
keeping all of that lovely air in, and not overmixing

the tart dough gets rolled out (I love my new
mat that has the measurements on it - makes it so easy!)
and then placed in the 8" spring-form pan
no need to make things perfect here (good thing!)

the filling added
and then it's popped in the oven
much like a pie, it's cooked at a higher temperature for a few minutes, then
the temperature is lowered and cooked a bit longer
one much easier thing about this cake? no water baths, nothing fussy

just out of the oven, beautifully puffed

of course, once it cools, the touteau deflates a bit
mine isn't quite as brown as Dorie's
maybe a bit longer in the oven? I'm not sure it needed it
and the sliced touteau!

I thought this was lovely! Like Dorie, I couldn't decide - and maybe didn't need to - when this was better served. It was excellent with a glass of wine, though a cup of coffee would be good too! Or even a glass of port after dinner! Breakfast?

This was really fairly light, a nice contrast with the crust and creamy filling. I enjoyed the little bit of tang from the goat cheese, and the amount of sugar was the perfect compliment. I'm sure it would be wonderful with the sweet crust, but I didn't really think it needed it. And as promised, it did hold up for several days - though I will admit it was nicest when freshly made.

I completely expect to make this again. In fact, I'm really just trying to think of when!