Saturday, April 30, 2011

Green Salad, Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak, and Frites~French Fridays with Dorie

Pepper Steak with Cognac Cream Sauce and Pommes Frites
This simple green salad is made from Red Leaf Lettuce, Celery, Green Onions, and Avocado and served with  Penzeys Green Goddess Salad Dressing made with Katz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Vinegar.  You know about my obsession with Penzeys, but when you can have just enough fresh salad dressing in a couple of minutes that's seasoned to your exact preference, why would you want a bunch of jars rattling around in your fridge filled with stabilizing chemicals until past their expiration dates?  We've also discovered some wonderful vinegars and oils this way.  Of particular note are Katz, Chaparral Gardens, We Olive, and O & Co.  Not only are these products wonderful to cook with, but they make lovely gifts as well.

Prepped Steaks
This week's French Fridays with Dorie challenge is for Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak and Frites.  I always wondered what made Pommes Frites so much better than French Fries.  The double-frying method answers my question!  It's a bit time-consuming, but totally worth it.  The Frites have soft insides and crispy outsides - perfect!

Pepper Steak with Cognac Cream Sauce

Les Frites sprinkled with Sea Salt
We've featured two other versions of Steak au Poivre on our blog.  It's easy to understand why it's standard bistro fare.  It's delicious, elegant, and easy to prepare with just a few ingredients.  A winning combination in our *cook* book!

Definitely a Bonne Idee!
Church in Saint Paul-de-Vence, France

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Macarons Filled with Maple Mousse~The Daring Bakers' Challenge for April!

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge, hosted by Evelyn, was for Maple Mousse in an edible container with meringue.  I've been obsessed with making Macarons for a while now, so I decided to try them since they require meringue as a basis.  I used Jill Colonna's basic recipe for the cookies and Evelyn's recipe for the Maple Mousse.

What a challenge!
A lot of firsts for me:  using unflavored gelatine, piping, and making macarons!  All fun stuff!  I have enough Maple Mousse left to fill a cake - so, that's next.  The mousse was so much better than I expected it to be!
The Maple Mousse!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rotini alla Carbonara~American Style

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a popular Roman dish.  It's easy throw together on a weeknight and is absolutely delicious.  We made this Americanized version using rotini which holds the sauce in its swirls. 

Although the authentic version is made with spaghetti and requires guanciale, we used American Bacon because we had it on-hand.  You may also use pancetta, frizzled proscuitto, or Canadian Bacon - it won't be authentic, but it will be good!

There are many stories about how Spaghetti alla Carbonara got its name.  Typically, it is said that it was made by coalminers because the ingredients are easily transportable and the pasta is easy to make.  However, John and I recently attended a reunion for the Overseas School of Rome where I spent grades 8 - 10.  Thirty-two of us from a range of classes descended upon Cacio e Pepe in NYC which offers Roman cuisine.  Our gracious coordinator, Joan, specifically requested that they serve Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  When it was brought to the table, my friend, Flavia, told another story which is the most interesting I've heard.  She said that this dish was created by members of the Italian Resistance who met in secret during WWII, often in abandoned coal mines, and other underground hideouts and cooked what they could carry with them.

No matter what the story, this pasta is amazing - a true Roman favorite.

We used Mary Ann Esposito's recipe (hyper-linked above), and carmelized 1/2 onion with the bacon.  Be sure to add lots of fresh cracked pepper!

Buon Appetito!

Gourmet meats & cheeses for sale at the Grand Central Market, NYC

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fennel and Tangerine Salad with Vinaigrette, Trout Amandine with Lemon Cream Sauce, Fresh White Corn, and Baked Potatoes

Fennel and Tangerine Salad with Vinaigrette
For the Salad
Fluted Duncan Miller Teardrop bowl from our Depression Glass collection
Fill a large bowl with Spring Greens
Top with:
4 Green Onions, sliced
3 Tangerines, peeled, cleaned of pith, pulp, and seeds
1/2 Bulb Fennel, thinly sliced

For the Vinaigrette
Whisk together:
1/4 cup Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Vinegar
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon each, Salt & Pepper

Trout Amandine with Lemon Cream Sauce

This fabulous recipe comes from the Bounty of Biltmore Cookbook which is as beautiful as it is filled with good recipes created from the bounty of the estate.  I would love to create table settings this beautiful.  The Lemon Cream Sauce would also be great on chicken and vegetables.

I was excited to find the first corn of the season at our local farmers' market.  I cut if off the cob then stir-fried it in butter, salt, and pepper.

We also had Baked Potatoes with Butter, Sour Cream, and Chives.  

A perfect, flavorful meal!

Beautiful photo from my mom ~ Holland

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mustard Batons~French Fridays with Dorie Recipe~

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe was for this quick, simple puff pastry treat.  It can be served as an appetizer, or as a side, like bread.  We served it as a side with Risotto.  I'm not including the Risotto because it was a clean-out-the-fridge meal with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Brie that was delicious, but does not lend itself to repetition - aren't those the most surprising meals sometimes?

Dorie mentioned using mustard with a strong flavor, so we used this Vineyard Pantry Blue Cheese Dijon.  I added Sesame Seeds and Poppy Seeds.  This snack is as quick to throw together as it is impressive!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Trip to New York City

New York, New York
John & I spent four wonderful days in NYC visiting friends, going to Farmers' Markets, and sightseeing.  Here are a few food-oriented scenes from our trip.
Neighborhood Market
Union Square
Handmade Organic Bread from Bread Alone
 Fabulous Roses!

Migliorelli Farm
Flying Pigs Farm
We really enjoyed having lunch and perusing the market at Grand Central Station.  The history and architecture are amazing as well.  The most beautiful train station I've been to.

Penzeys Spices

We had a great lunch at Junior's.  I had a brisket sandwich on Challah bread.

We had lunch at Hale and Hearty which has wonderful soups & is reminiscent of Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi"!  It was great.  This unique marketplace housed in an old Nabisco factory was completely packed.
Chelsea Wine Vault

Amy's Bread

79th Street Greenmarket


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Focaccia

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I'd be baking this.  Focaccia is great warm from the oven all by itself, served with a meal, or for sandwiches.

This wonderful yeast bread graces the tables of Genova and Northern Italy.  You can top it any number of ways, but I chose this simple combination of thinly sliced onions, Olive Oil, and Seasonello.

I was concerned that using whole wheat flour would weigh this bread down, but it actually had just the right consistency!  (See, Megi, I can learn! LOL!)

Rolled out, shaped, and dimpled ~ ready for second rising.

Hot, fresh from the oven ~ ready to be enjoyed!
Fantastic gateway to the Porto Antico section of Genova, Italy

We absolutely fell in love with Genova!  Most people think of Pesto, Salami, and Christopher Columbus when they think of Genova, but there's so much more to this glorious city.  Once an international port that rivaled Venice, Genova continues to compete in the modern banking industry.  The people, artwork, history, palaces, and markets continue to thrive in this gorgeous port city on the north-west coast of Italy.

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