Coconut Friands, Can't We be Friends? - FFWD

It's been a few weeks of recipes that have fans or foes.  Sardines, now coconut.  Sorry for the extremes.   For those who don't like coconut, this may not be your recipe.  For those that do, you'll want to read on!  This ones for you.

This little tea cake is packed with coconut flavor.  The recipe was quick, easy and used things you have on hand.  The coconut was in rather large flakes, so  I gave it a whirl in the food processor to make the coconut pieces more uniform.

The ingredients went together nicely, and the final batter was smooth, and shiny.

I used a pastry bag without a tip to fill the molds (the mini muffin tins).   A word on the muffin pans.  Be sure to really butter them, and add a quick toss of flour.   You want these to drop out right away when they come out of the oven.

The friands took all twenty minutes in my oven.  I was waiting for them to brown, but they only browned around the edges and sides.  The toothpick came out clean, so I was sure they were fully baked.  The finished product was delicious.  Even better after cooling a few minutes.  Think coconut macaroon meets a madeleine.  Sweet, chewy outside, and tender middle.   A strong cup of coffee and it's a perfect treat.

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?

St. Germain des Pres Onion Biscuits - FFWD

Spring is in the air!  The sun in shining, the wind is blowing, we have a perfect new grandson, it's supposed to be 50 degrees here today, and I'm packing for an island vacation.  Can life get any better?   I was thinking I'd need to sit this week out due to my schedule, but when I read the recipe I just couldn't resist.    I'm a Francophile, with a capital F.   I love Paris.   I love French food, people, cooking equipment... I could go on all day.   How in the world could I not make St. Germain des Pres Biscuits?   In this sentimental moment, I gathered some of my favorite equipment.    A sweet copper saucepan to sweat the onions, a great dough scraper,  some crunchy parchment, and I'm set. When you walk into Le Cordon Bleu on any given day the smell is something you'll never forget.   (thank you Mr. Proust).   There's a lingering smell of pate a choux from the pastry kitchens,  mirepoix and searing meats from the cuisine kitchens and with a note of citrus soap.  This morning, the onions took me to Paris, walking in the door of school, ready to bake.   Oh the butter and finely minced onion smell!!!

I used a slightly different dough technique to gather the dough rather than put it in a bowl.   I used the scraper to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Then, I tossed in the onion, made a well, added the milk, then cut the milk into the dough.  Very quickly so I didn't work the dough too much.   A few quick pats and it was ready to be cut.   In my dreamy haze, I didn't preheat the oven to 425, so I put the biscuits in the frig while the oven got up to temperature.     I remember the Chefs telling us, "always work cold, bake hot".   Yes, Chef.

I used a cutter that was about 2 inches in diameter.   Perfect three bites!




The biscuits are light, golden, flaky and have a wonderful onion scent.  Perfect for an appetizer, or next to  baked or poached eggs.  Next time I'm going to add a few chopped chives, another favorite French flavor for color and depth of the onion flavor.

Be sure to read other French Fridays with Dorie posts.  Have a great weekend!





Mussels with Chorizo - Be Still My Heart!


Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day.    It seems like Valentine's Day ends the winter holidays, and we can officially start looking toward spring.   It's been a mild winter here, but I'm ready to some simple, spicy springy dishes.   This recipe for Mussels with Chorizo  fits the bill perfectly.    Some of my favorite times with friends have included mussels.   It's so fun to gather in the kitchen around a big steaming pan and a basket of bread.    I remember Tuesdays night  in Madison at an all-u-can-eat Moules and Frittes night at a sweet French restaurant.   So many flavors, and happy memories.

Since Around My French Table arrived, I've had my eye on this recipe.    I love mussels, love chorizo, love garlic, what more is there to say?    My all time favorite mussel preparation is white wine, garlic, butter and little thyme.  The sauce for dipping is SO good.  I've served this a many small parties and people who don't even think they like mussels love them.   The FFWD recipe had stiff competition, but I felt positive given the great ingredients.

I still follow the rule that you should eat mussels during months with "r"  in them.   So May, June, July and August, sorry.   I'm sure the mussels we get are culitivated, and it really doesn't matter.  But it kind of adds to the romance of mussels.   Living in the midwest, it's not exactly the seafood capital, but our fish monger does a great job and we've never had any funky mussels.    Once the mussels are home, I pick through them and toss out any that aren't completely closed.  Before I toss them, I give them a little tap and see it they'll close.  If not, it's adios.   Can't risk eating a bad mussel.

The recipe serves 4, and there are only two of us so I used about 2# of mussels.

The recipe starts with the usual cast of characters. red pepper, onion and lots-o-garlic.

My chorizo was in a plastic tube, and soft.  I cut the tube in half, squeezed it into the pan, then sauteed the chorizo with the vegetables.   Oh the smell!   It's so easy to wrap up the rest and use it another time.


After everything melded together, in went the tomatoes and wine.   I only used one can of tomatoes since there were fewer mussels, and I decided to eat them in bowl with baguette rather than pasta.  I'm guessing there may have been a little more wine.

Here's are the little mussels just after putting them in the pan.

The lid went on tightly for 3-5 minutes, and ta-da!  Here's they are just a few minutes later.

That's it gang!  Into a soup bowl with a nice toasted baguette slices drizzled with some olive oil.    We have a mussel eating tradition which is to use one mussel like a castenet and pinch the mussel from the others shells.   It's fun, easy, drippy and delicious and no silverware is required.    The bread soaks up the incredible sauce.   Just have a big napkins standing by.     At the end of the pot, we had no unopened mussels - success!

I have a plan to make both sauces and have a little mussel fest in March.   We loved this recipe!







Nutella Tartine - You Never Forget Your First Taste

Just like you never forget your first kiss, you never forget your first taste of Nutella.

My first bite was in a Nutella crepe in Paris.  The warm chocolate hazelnut spread is heavenly, and just a bite or two is so satisfying.

This week's French Friday's with Dorie is a Nutella Tartine.    A tartine is a toasted open-faced sandwich.   Ingredients can include pesto, arugula, tuna, tapenade, goat cheese.... you get it.

The Nutella tartine uses toasted brioche, orange marmalade, Nutella and sliced almonds.    I perfect Sunday morning (or Valentine's Day...) breakfast.

I decided to combine my Tuesday Baking with Julia white loaf bread with this recipe.   The bread is sturdy, with just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Nutella is a treasure, but there are a few treasures I'd like to introduce.  The first is the Breville Toaster Oven.  Dreamy!  It toasts, broils, bakes, everything perfectly.  It takes up no more room than a microwave.  It's a new best friend.   If you're in the market for a new toaster, pick up one of these instead.   I toasted the bread in the Breville, and buttered it with the next treasure... 

Sweet cultured butter.  I found an Irish brand at our cheese store.   The butter is so good, you can almost eat it alone.  You shouldn't skip buttering  the bread.  If you can't find fancy-schmancy butter, find some good salted butter.  This is one time when salted butter is important.  It will balance the sweetness of the jam and Nutella.  You can also make butter.  What?!? Make butter?  Yep.  It's so easy and delicious.  Here's how:

To Make Your Own Butter:

Pour 1 quart heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the PADDLE.   Mix on medium speed for several minutes. (about 10).  The cream will go through the whipped cream phase, then become light yellow, and separate into butter and buttermilk.   You'll see the butter separate out, and hear the clunking in the mixer.

Remove the butter mass from the bowl, and scrape off any butter on the paddle.  Place the butter between sheets of parchment paper, or plasic wrap and knead the butter to remove any remaining pockets of buttermilk.  The buttermilk will sour, and taint the taste of the butter, so take time to make sure the butter is solid without liquid.    Then knead sea salt or salt and herbs into the butter to taste.  Start with about 1/2 tsp, and increase.  If you have a box of food service gloves, they come in handy for kneading the butter.

Form into a log, about 2 inches in diameter, and about 6 inches long.   Wrap in parchment paper, plastic wrap or waxed paper.   Chill (or use right away).  The butter will keep a few days in the refrigerator.

Back to the Tartine!

After the bread is toasted, it's spread with butter and orange marmalade and drizzeled with Nutella.   The toasted sliced almonds add great texture and crunch.   I like to cut the bread into slices, or on the diagonal.   This would also be great on a baguette.  If you're not an oranage marmalade fan, you could substitute your favorite jam.   Simply, sweet and so lovely.   We loved the tart orange taste with the sweet Nutella.   We'll be making these again!

Have a great weekend! Coming up... Chocolate Truffle Tartlets