My First Giveaway!

May 18, 2012 § 37 Comments

Photo: Elizabeth Morrison

Hello reader! Guess what? I’m about to do something new, something I’m so excited about trying: No, it’s not another crazy, eight-day, 27 step recipe! Nope.  It’s a GIVEAWAY! Yes, you heard that right. A giveaway. I’ve even partnered with a friend to give away not one, but two great prizes. I can’t wait!

Before I tell you what you can win, let me tell you about my friend Autumn and This Old Thing?:  When I think about Autumn, all I can think of is the term “joie de vivre”. I don’t even say things like that. Ever.  But, truly, she embodies the joy of living.  She’s adorable, always with a smile, smart as a whip, well read, well-traveled, interested in everything, wife to one,  and mother of three.  Go, ahead.  Take a look at this page from her site and see if you can resist her charm.  Her business, This Old Thing?  (isn’t that a great name?) is an online boutique of vintage, eclectic, and stylish provisions for the home.  Recently, she’s added a new department to her store called French Philosophie that stocks wonderful, “everyday life, French imports”.  Seriously, have a look.

So, what are we giving away?  This Old Thing? is giving away a lovely J’aime ma ville” organic t-shirt to one person (who we will assume loves their town) who visits TOT’s Facebook page and give it a “like”.  Then come back here and leave a comment here to be eligible to win.

Moving on to number two:  I’m going to give one person a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks, the book that actually got me started on this little blog, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s a massive book, full of great recipes (like the Nutella Chocolate GanacheTart pictured at the top), tips, and insights into french cooking and eating.  You (you lucky person, you) will love having your own copy.  Just leave me a comment right here (you don’t have to go to Facebook for this one) and you will be eligible to win.  Don’t be shy.  You know it would be fun to win!

Around My French Table

I’m going to leave the comments open until Monday night at midnight and will announce the winners on Tuesday.  So, have a great weekend and the best of luck to everyone!

-Monica

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The Great Pumpkin

November 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

What, you ask, is THAT?  It’s the coolest cooking experience you will have this Thanksgiving, that’s what. Whoa. That was kind of forceful wasn’t it?  Ok, You can do what you want with your cooking this Thanksgiving, but  how can you beat a whole, cooked pumpkin, stuffed with savory goodness, making a dramatic entrance to your table? Is the green bean casserole going to beat it? The stove top stuffing? Um, no.

This recipe is from the ever amazing Around My French Table, so as usual, I was pleased from the first read-through.  First, it’s flexible with the ingredients you can use, so I immediately was drawn in: I love a recipe where I can fudge and swap ingredients.  But, when it comes down to it, the reason this recipe became a reality is simple: you turn a pumpkin into an edible pot. I’ve tried really hard to put into words why this appeals to me so much.  Maybe it’s the mixture of pumpkin carving and fine dining. Maybe it’s the rustic, cozy, farm-to-table appeal.  Maybe I just like that an edible pot means less dishes.

Cinderella squash? I never figured it out.

Using Dorie Greenspan’s recipe as a general guide, I put together a somewhat haphazard combination of herbs,garlic, bread, sausage, green apples, cheeses,and cream, filled the pumpkin, and baked it for a few hours (the smaller the pumpkin or squash, the shorter the time, but this one was family sized).

It came out with a great balance of flavors that pleased almost everyone at my table (If ever everyone was pleased with a meal at my house, I would think the sky was falling), but there ARE a few things I will do differently next time:

**Swap bread cubes for some cooked rice (this would make it gluten-free, too)

**Add some nuts into the  mixture for some crunch

**Use all the cream the recipe calls for (I was running low, so I fudged with broth)

**Remember to salt the inside of the scraped out pumpkin before filling with all the good stuff  (I could tell the filling was well seasoned, but not the pumpkin itself)

**Use a small lipped tray for cooking (I used my pizza stone and there was some spilling when I went to cut it…a lip, would have saved me)

 

Other notes on this:

*You could use an acorn or calabaza squash, mini pumpkins….whatever…for smaller, more manageable portions.

*Fill this thing with whatever sounds good to you…the possibilities are wide open (see the comments on the recipe as it appears on Epicurious for ideas).

 

 

A Few Things

September 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

I had an unfortunate immersion blender accident recently (what? it could happen to anyone!).  I didn’t do any major damage, just enough to have a bulky, bandaged pointer finger on my left hand which means I’m typing with one hand.  I’ll be brief:

~been making a really simple slaw (see above)  that consists of shredded green cabbage, two shredded carrots, half of a red onion, a bunch of cilantro, chopped, cider vinegar (about 1/4 cup), a little honey, a squeeze of lime, and salt.  You can improvise on all amounts and the liquids can be different, too: Honey and vinegar, lime and honey, lime and sesame oil (really good), etc. Cheap, light, and full of flavor. Make it for a barbecue (Labor Day?).

~sewed myself a new pillow cover that I’m not in love with, but thankfully, it’s not hard to make a new one when I get sick of it.

~made this potato “salad” recipe (love this site, by the way) and it was great. Tried making my own mayo instead of sprucing up a store-bought version (this was when I cut my finger).  I’d try it their way next time. Seriously, so good. Try it.

~made a cauliflower-bacon gratin from Around My French Table that impressed me.  It’s rich, so a little goes a long way.  Basically, it’s this filling, no crust, and lots of cauliflower and bacon (those two things are cooked before they go into the filling).  Keeper.

French Friday with Kids: Speculoos

June 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

My kids are all home now for the summer. It’s a great thing, but I’m finding myself still adjusting to all of the “activity” that is constant in the house, now. It’s loud. It’s messy. And I feel like I’m supposed to be coming up with stuff (other than just playing) for my kids to do all summer. Why? I don’t know. I’m a firm believer in them not having too much structure in their lives, letting them be kids who get to wander a bit. But the past week has felt way too nebulous.  Maybe it’s because MY schedule has been totally thrown off. I’m feeling adrift. They’re probably fine.

Anyway, I thought I’d do the French Fridays with Dorie recipe this week, only to discover it was a roasted rhubarb dish. Rhubarb has completely disappeared from my grocery store (it always seems too expensive to me anyway), so I knew I wouldn’t be making that one.

I was going to cook SOMETHING from Around My French Table , though, and I landed on a simple cookie that would let the kids participate: Speculoos.   Speculoos are a Belgian cookie, actually, but, according to Dorie, quite popular in France, mostly around Christmas.  The  ingredients are simple, they’re short on baking time (you do have to let the dough chill for a few hours), and make a great, little snack with coffee (me) or milk (them).

As we tasted them together we had to describe them as best we could. “Cinnamon-y”, “Crunchy” (yelled at top volume), and “More cinnamon-y than snickerdoodles” were some of the responses.  Everyone agreed they were “YUMMY!!!”, though, and that’s hard to beat.

Unless you add ice cream…

You can find the recipe here.

French Friday: Inspired Salad

May 20, 2011 § 12 Comments

Try to look past my funny attempt at food styling and really see what’s on the plate for French Fridays this week.  Because it’s good. Really, really, good. It’s light, but it’s also rich.  It’s tangy one bite and smoky the next.  mm. mm. mm. I think this may be the perfect summer dinner.

Ok. Bacon, egg, and asparagus salad. It’s pretty simple in that it’s really not much of a “recipe”.  You make a dressing (a sherry/Dijon vinaigrette).  That takes about 1 minute to make. Boil some cold eggs in salty, boiling water for exactly 6 minutes.  Simmer some asparagus in water for about 3 minutes.  Toast some walnuts in another skillet at the same time.  Fry up some bacon and let it drain on some paper towels.  Roll the soft-boiled eggs around in the bacon fat pan for a minute.  Throw it all together (dressing the asparagus and salad greens, first) on a plate. Done.

The real story here, for me, is the eggs.  I’ve never cooked eggs like this before (truly, I may have over cooked them a bit). It produces a similar texture as a poached egg might, but I liked that it still held the pleasing, egg shape. Poached eggs can look misshapen if you not a pro (I’m not). Plus, it’s a great use for our homegrown eggs b/c that yolk is on display and they are so bright and pretty. The hens should be proud. The orange yolk just ran out, and mixed with the vinaigrette. It was great with the asparagus. Kind of a hollandaise without having to make it.

The smoky bacon balanced out all the high notes and tang of the dressing and just added that little bit of heft to the salad. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it’s given me lots of freedom to just dump eggs on top of other dishes this week.

See what I mean? Kitchen sink veggie linguine with pesto (and a fried egg). Delicious!

French Friday: Late and on a Sunday

May 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

Yesterday I finally got around to making the goat cheese torte my French Fridays with Dorie group made weeks ago. I’m a bit behind after having had a couple of weeks of crazy family time. Not that my family is crazy. I mean, we are, but I mean crazy as in busy, family time. I literally had the ingredients lined up in my fridge for a week and  just could never find the time to get the thing made.

But, I did finally make the “Tourteau de Chevre” and took it over to a going away party for my good friends Susan and Kevin.  I thought it was fitting since she’s the one who inspired me to start this blog project, thinking she and I would cook our way through Around My French Table.  The plan changed a little, right away, due to her work schedule and, now we can’t do it b/c they are packing up and moving to Boston. Bittersweet.  Excited for them, sad for us. My little family is going to miss Aunt Lusan and Uncle Shebo.

(Avoiding sad feelings and focusing on food) The torte itself is not like a classic cheesecake, it’s less dense, more airy, and not especially sweet.  If I make it again, I’m going to come up with some flavored syrup or another topping to give it more oomph.  It’s good, but if I’m making desert, I want it to sing a little. In all fairness to the recipe, I forgot some things here, didn’t time things right, there…I was a little off my cooking game, so it could be tons better than the version I produced.

Read other people’s experiences with this recipe here.

Sus and Kevin, if you are reading this, know you will leave a void in our lives.  Stick together out there in the great unknown.  We love you both.

French Friday: Mustard Batons

April 21, 2011 § 17 Comments

Making this week’s French Friday recipe, having skipped out on last week’s, feels a little like cheating.  Last week was the labor intensive, from scratch eclair.  This week’s recipe, Mustard Batons, took ten minutes (minus dough thawing) to get into the oven, and 15 minutes to cook.   Yah, I took the easy one and ran with it. But, still, I think these are almost as impressive.  

You start with a sheet of puff pastry, roll it out into a bigger rectangle, slather some good Dijon mustard on the lower half, fold the top half over the bottom, and slice them into one inch wide sticks, or batons.  You then, bake, in a 450 degree oven, for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan. Bake for 8 more.  You can see from the pictures that I could have quit a little earlier on the baking, but they still tasted tangy and buttery and called for a good glass of white wine.  As it was noon when I made them and I wasn’t on vacation, I didn’t heed the call. 

I can see how this would be a great party appetizer (as Around My French Table suggests).  Quick, easy, super tasty, and would go well with drinks.  Since I don’t throw any chic, Parisian, cocktail parties, though,  I ate them with my son, Henry, in my slightly dirty kitchen.  A pre-rest time snack. Apparently, there is no pastry this kid doesn’t love.   I was waiting for the “ew” face because he doesn’t like mustard.  “Mmm.  Can I have some more?” came instead, along with crumbs of flaky pastry all over his sweet, little face.  I’ll take it over cocktails, for sure.

**I think I’ve pretty much spelled out the process, but if you are looking for the formal recipe, leave me a comment and I’ll email it to you.

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