Chocolate Darlings - Cocoa Sables from FFWD

This week's French Friday's with Dorie recipe is Cocoa Sables.   Sweet, crisp, chocolatey little darling French cookies.  The should be an accent over the "e".  I've been trying to figure out how to create that character without much success.  From here on, please pretend it's there. Sables were the very first recipe we made in pastry school.  For those of you sick and tired of pastry school stories, please skip ahead.  This is a good one though.   Our class went to the very first demonstration where we carefully watched the chef make a variety of sable, or butter cookies.  He stacked butter cookie dough  on chocolate dough and made beautiful stripes, swirls and lunettes (eyeglasses.)  One sable he called "dee -a -monde".  The translator repeated the word Diamond.   The name reflects the way that the tube of dough is brushed with egg and rolled in coarse sugar to make it look like it's rolled in diamonds.   There were a few moments when I can think back and know they had me.  This was one of those moments.

I used a block of bittersweet chocolate and chopped/grated it very fine.  It added a lot to the cookie, and I would highly recommend it.

Back to school.  When we got into the kitchen, we were introduced to weighing ingredients for the first time.   The recipe called for 5 grams of salt.   If we had thought about it, how much salt can there be in a cookie recipe?  Well, we set off to the salt bin carrying mixing bowls that could have held 10 pounds of bread dough!  We can back with what equaled about a teaspoon!   We can laugh now.  At the time, all business.

Dorie's recipe uses a creamage method, using room temperature butter and gently mixing in all the dry ingredients.  I really liked adding the chopped chocolate for a little extra boost of chocolate taste.  I don't have a lot of how-to pictures this week.   Here's the dough sliced and ready for the oven.

The dough is rolled into logs and chilled.   During the chilling time, I pulled them out a few times to reroll and reshape the logs.  As the soft dough chills, it can get a flat bottom.  Rerolling, helps make the roll even and not lopsided.  The dough sliced easily.  A few of the disks had to be schmoosed back together.    The smell of the cookies baking a amazing!  Here's a tip.  When you can smell chocolate in the room, you can be sure that your dessert is almost done.  I always wondered how the chefs knew that things were finished before the timer ever went off.

The Sable are so good.   This is a great dough to have in the freezer to quickly slice and bake for an impromto dessert, or to satisfy a chocolate craving!  No need to defrost, just slice and bake.

Have a great weekend, next week is Crab and Grapefruit Salad- curious?

Winter Snow Day News

Happy February!

It's a snowy day and I'm looking for the perfect recipe to enjoy during a blizzard. I decided to look through Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan (AMFT). As I looked at soups and stews, I wondered if Ms. Greenspan had a website. Ta-da! Through the wonders of a quick internet search, I found it.

After looking around the site and entering my email address for updates,I clicked on the "French Fridays with Dorie". A group of cooks creating her dishes from AMFT and blogging. How fun! I've registered and hope to have the password soon to join the fun. I hope that you'll join me on this journey! I know it's sort of Julie and Julia, but to have the author participating in the process will be great.

For those of you who already own the book, I know you share my love of the book. It's been the hit of the season. In fact, it's a topic at many get-togethers. For those that don't yet have a copy, I encourage you to take the plunge. One of the rules of the "Friday" group is that the recipes stay in the book.

I look forward to sharing the journey as I cook my way through to book with people from all over the world.

For all then iPad owners and bread bakers... Check out Michael Ruhlman's Basic Bread Baking app. Very nice and only $1.99

A Sunday Afternoon of Comfort Food

The first snow has fallen, the tree is up, and it's time for warm, comfort food.   Cooking on a Sunday afternoon is a great way to warm up the house, try new recipes, and prepare great food... and future leftovers. In a previous enty, I mentioned Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan.    Gary, my husband,  came home late last week and asked if I had ever heard of the book.   Well!  I pulled it out, and he immediately flipped to the recipe he had heard about while listening to a podcast in the car.  The recipe was for Hachis Parmentier, the French version of Shepard's Pie.   I suggested we try the recipe, so off he went to the grocery to pick up a few ingredients.

The vegetables were chopped and ready to start simmering with the beef.  Here's the pan ready to start.  It was just what we had hoped for.  The house smelled great, the kitchen was warm, the Packer's were winning.

About three hours later, here's the beef, minus the vegetable, ready for the potato topping.

The mashed potato topping the beef was imbibed with a little cream, butter, and warm milk.  Here's the final prep ready for the oven.

I started cooking around 3 and pulled the steamy, puffy dish out out the oven about 7.  The gruyere was melted and golden brown.

If you have some time to chop, simmer, mash and bake, this is a wonderful, warm winter treat.   I have to admit that it did use several  pans and utensils.  It's not a one-pot wonder, but it's worth every pan.  Thanks Dorie, but a great book and delicious afternoon.

As you're looking for holiday gifts, I would put this book high on the list for your cooking friends. In the words of Julia Child,  Bon appetit!

Everyone is Successful in a Cooking Class

Cooking classes have been part of The Little French Bakery for over ten years.  The age of students has ranged from seven to seventy plus.  Topics have covered the food gamut.  The one thing they've all had in common is everyone has been successful.   As the class unfolds, I learn about the people and why they've decided to spend the day at The Little French Bakery.   I've learned it's not always about the food...

Students sign up for a class for many reasons.  Some want to gather with friends and family for a day together.  They laugh, talk, eat, eat some more, and learn a little about pastry or bread along the way.  I love these classes because for that day, I'm part of a new family or group of friend.   A not-so-invisible fly on the wall.  I learn of family dynamics, old family secrets, and share the bond that brought the group together.  Success!

Others come to pursue the art of bread baking.  They've tried at home, and are ready to master the techniques for great breads.  We talk a lot about ingredients and the role that each ingredient plays in the concert of final loaf.   My favorite part is the moment when the light bulb goes on for each person.   They realize when they may have been going wrong, and how to improve the bread they've been making.   We mix, knead, shape, bake and produce warm, wonderful loaves at the end of the day.   We've bonded with each other and the big hunk of dough we've spent the day with.   Another day of success.

Children arrive for a birthday celebrations.   They walk into the building unsure of exactly why they're there, and enter the world of pastry.  We wash hands, tie on the aprons and create frosting masterpieces around little cakes.   You can't use enough sprinkles.   Each child leaves with a unique cake and a memory that will last a lifetime.  I learn the latest in pre-teen pop culture.  Success!

Last weekend, I had a group of co-workers spend the day making soups.   They divided into groups of two and created three delicious soups, and six variations of scones.  Each person had different skills in the kitchen.  Some cooked often, some rarely.   They shared an interest in being together.  At the end of the day after the recipes, were complete I realized that each person felt successful, each for a different reason.

I can't wait for the upcoming classes this fall to see what new lessons my students bring me!