Rich Chocolate Cake (plus... a treat for gluten-free bakers!)

There's a chill in the air, and it's time to start baking!  Something warm, comforting and delicious.  Here's just the dessert.  You'll love this one!  I made this cake for Gary about 25 years ago. (and ever since...)   It was a surprise for a his birthday.   We weren't really even dating yet, but I think this may have  sparked the flame.   Our friends just celebrated their 45th anniversary and I made this for them.  It's very romantic, and perfect for a party.  The best news... I substituted Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour, for the wheat flour.  It worked perfectly.  No one could tell the difference including me.    Here's the recipe that will make you a star as the holidays roll in. Everyone I know loves this cake.  It's dense, very chocolatey, and even appeals to those who claim not to really like chocolate.  You can serve it at room temperature  or cold.   Invite friends because one cake goes a very long way since it's so dense.   The ingredients are pretty simple.   Melted chocolate, butter, a dozen eggs, sugar and some flour.    I bet I had you at melted chocolate.   I used Cocoa Barry 58% French chocolate.   Use any bittersweet/semisweet you like.   Just not milk, it will be too sweet.

cup4cup-1
cup4cup-1

My Lost Crates box this month from Joy the Baker, included vanilla beans, vanilla extract and a big bag of Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour by Thomas Keller.  When Chef Keller does something, it's always great.  The flour looks and feels like wheat flour.  No funny taste, smell or texture.  I would highly recommend going finding some right away and giving it a try.  If you have a moment, follow the link to Lost Crates.  It's always a surprise and very fun!

To print this recipe, click HERE

Dark Chocolate Cake

14 ounces semisweet chocolate (the darker, the better

12 eggs, separated

2 cups granulated sugar

3  1/2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup unbleached flour, sifted (or 1 cup Cup 4 Cup flour)

Confectioner's Sugar for serving

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and sugar an 10 inch spring form pan.  Tap out any excess sugar.

Break or chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt in microwave or in a pan placed over another pan of barely simmering water.  Stir until smooth, and cool slightly.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and light yellow.  When you lift the whisk or beater over the mixture, there should be a ribbon of the mixture that falls from the beaters  and gently lays on top of the egg/sugar mixture.  Add the chocolate and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the butter, and flour.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff.  Spoon a spoonful of the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and mix.  Then add the egg whites to the chocolate mixture, folding very gently until mixed.  Be very careful not to overmix, or deflate the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it will come close to the top) and set on the rack (middle rack) and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  A cake tester or toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.  The cake will rise and crack, but will settle as it cools.   Cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes, then release the ring of the springform pan.  Allow the cake to cool, then refrigerate until cold.  It's best to wait until the cake is cold to remove the bottom of the springform.

To serve sift with powdered (confectioner's) sugar, and some whipped cream, if desired.   Makes 20 servings (small... but rich)

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook.

 

chocolate-cake-1
chocolate-cake-1

Here's the cake on it's pedestal at the anniversary get-together.  I wish you could smell it... it's SO good.

I'd love to hear how your cake turns out!     Cheers.

Nectarine Upside Down Chiffon Cake

this is my invariable advice to people:  Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and have fun.   Julia Child.  From My Life in France.

This has been my mantra for the past week getting ready for this recipe..   Learn from your mistakes, try something new, have fun, try new recipes, have fun... be fearless.  Got it!

As one of this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe hosts, my job is to provide the Nectarine Upside Down Chiffon Cake recipe, and give you the best tips and tricks I can.  Marlise, from The Double Trouble Kitchen, is your other host. I've been wanting to be a host for a long time.   I'm so happy to provide you with the recipe and be one of the "blogs of the month"!  It takes me back to being the child in school who got to pass out the graham crackers, or put up the calendar numbers on the bulletin board.    When I saw the title, my first reaction was, chiffon?  Oh boy...     I really wanted, and hoped it would be fine on the first try.  After all, I'm supposed to know what I'm doing and be able to teach others.   Time for some fun and fearlessness.

peaches-in-basket-1
peaches-in-basket-1

This is a grand, big girl/boy recipe.  It's a  boeuf bourguignon of desserts.  Multiple steps, a few tricky details, and magnificent results.   I know you can do it.  Follow the recipe and the tips, and you'll have a great, fancy dessert to share.

The first step was to find a 10" spring form pan.   I rummaged through my collection of pans, got out the ruler to measure, and ta-da... check.   Don't be tempted to use a smaller pan.  The recipe just fits into the 10" model.   If you must, just don't put all the batter into the pan.   It will be almost to the top.

This recipe used the last of my vacation peaches.  What a perfect recipe for such wonderful fruit.   The recipe calls for nectarines, so what's the difference?  Peach fuzz.   I popped the peaches in boiling water, counted to 20, rinsed under cool water, and slipped off the peels.   They were juicy, and perfect for the recipe.

You'll start the recipe by melting some of the butter in the bottom of the pan, adding brown sugar, and arranging the sliced fruit on top of the sugar.  Not so bad at all.   Be sure to wrap your pan in foil so the butter doesn't drip on to the floor of your oven when the cake goes in.  Even with the best foil work, you may still have drippage.

Butter Sugar Fruit Layer
Butter Sugar Fruit Layer

Now on to the streusel.  I used chopped pecans instead of almonds, and didn't toast them before adding them to the other ingredients.   Add the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until you have nice clumps of streusel.  The baking time of 12 minutes was perfect.  The kitchen smelled great!   Warm, buttery and delicious.

streusel-toppping-3
streusel-toppping-3

The third step is the chiffon batter.   You'll be making a classic French meringue.  Be sure your egg whites are in an extra clean bowl, free of any yolk specs.  You may want to place the bowl over another bowl of warm water to gently warm the egg whites.  They'll whip faster and fuller than if they're cold.

What makes this French meringue?   Since the cake will be baked, the egg whites are not  heated as they are in Swiss Meringue.  The sugar in French meringue is not cooked (that's Italian meringue!).   This meringue is medium peak egg whites whipped together at the end with sugar until shiny and firm.   This is the easiest of meringues, but still requires special attention.   Once your meringue is shiny, and firm, you'll fold it into the yolk mixture.

To fold:  Hold your spatula perpendicular to the surface.  Cut straight in and down, then follow the edge of the bowl, up and over the top allowing the whites and yolk mixture to gently fall from the spatula.  Gentle!  Rotate the bowl, about 1/4 turn and repeat.  It will take several folds.  The batter should be light and homogeneous.

Place 1/2 of the over the fruit, add all but a few tablespoons of streusel, then add and smooth the remaining batter over the streusel.   The chiffon cake recipe states that it should be for 45-50 minutes.   I checked mine at 45, 55...65...75...85...90... minutes.   At this point, I was worried sick, and making plans for a redo, and writing the story in my mind about how I had tried and failed at this classic dessert.  Remember... be fearless and have fun!   Just past  1  1/2 hours of baking, the cake was firm to the touch and the toothpick came out clean.  The surface was golden brown, but I had no idea of what the fruit and sugar were going to look like at the bottom.   In another 25 minutes, I'd find out.

Puffed and fully baked
Puffed and fully baked

Twenty five minutes later, I attempted to release the springform ring.  The edges were stuck and I was about to rip the cake.  Whoops!   I used a butter knife to gently release the cake from the side of the pan.  It released perfectly, and was ready for the flip.

chifon-3-1
chifon-3-1

You can see the little dimples from the bottom of the spring form pan.  A sprinkle of streusel and the beautiful chiffon cake was finished.

To print this recipe, click HERE

Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake

For the Topping:

1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter

1 cup, packed brown sugar

3-4 ripe medium nectarines (the number will depend on size), each cut into 8 pieces

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cut the butter into 3 or 4 chunks and toss them into a 10 inch springform pan that's 3 inches high.  Place the pan directly over medium-low  heat and melt the butter, tilting the pan so that the butter covers the bottom evenly.  Remove the pan from the heat and scatter the brown sugar evenly over the butter, patting it down with your fingertips.  Arrange the nectarine pieces in concentric circles over the sugar.  For a fancier effect, alternate the way the nectarines face from circle to circle.  Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil to catch any butter that might drip during baking and set the pan aside.

For the Streusel:

1/4 cup unblanched whole almonds

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup quick cooking oats, (not instant)

Put the almonds on an ungreased jelly roll pan and bake them until golden brown and fragrant.  About 10-15 minutes.  Stir frequently so that they toast evenly.  To test for toastiness, break on open, it should be light brown in the center.  Cool the almonds before proceeding.

Line the jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and keep at the ready.

Put all the struesel ingredients, including the almonds, into the work bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse just to mix the ingredients and chop the almonds and butter.  The mixture will be rough and crumbly.  Spread the streusel out on hte pan and if you'd like to have a few largish lumps for textural interest, squeeze some the streusel lightly between your hands and then break the big clumps into smaller bits.

Bake the streusel for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown.  Transfer the pan to a rack an cool while you make the cake.  Keep the oven at 350 degrees F.

For the Cake:

1  1/2 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 vegetable or safflower oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 large egg whites

Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Sift together 1 sup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, and baking soda onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper; add the salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, and lemon juice until blended.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the yolk mixture, whisking all the while; set aside.

Beat the 6 whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or work with a hand-held mixer.  At low speed, beat the whites until thy're foamy and form very soft peaks.  Increase the mixer speed to medium -high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until the whites are thick and shiny and hold peaks.  (If you run a finger through the whites, it should a leave a smooth, even path.)  Fold about one third of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten  it, then turn the yolk mixture into the whites and fold it in gently but thoroughly.

Baking the Cake:  Pour and scrape half of the batter into the fruit-lined pan.  Smooth the top, using an offset spatula, and sprinkle ever the streusel, keeping a little in reserve for decoration the finished cakes.  Top with the remainder of the better, smoothing it with the spatula, an place the pan on a jelly-roll pan.  Bake in the 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the cake to a cooking rack and let it cool for at least 25 minutes before inverting onto a cardboard cake round or a serving platter.

Serve the cake with ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired and a sprinkle of the remaining streusel.

Storing: The cake is best served just warm or at room temperature the day it is made.  However, you can cover the cake and keep i t at room temperature over-night.

Makes 8-10 servings.   Contributing baker, Mary Bergin

 

chifon-cake-1-2
chifon-cake-1-2

The cake is just as it's described in Baking with Julia.  It's  light, buttery and delicious.  The streusel and peaches were a perfect pair.  I hope you'll try this recipe.   Try a new recipe, be fearless and have fun!

chifon-cake-2-6
chifon-cake-2-6

Snickerdoodles

Happy Labor Day!  No matter what or how you're celebrating, happy day to you. Is it really time to stop wearing white pants and put away summer purses?  Is that still a rule?

Here in Wisconsin, many schools start after Labor Day.  It was mostly due to farming, but now it's mostly due to tourism wanting to keep  high school and college employees through the holiday weekend.  My college student employees are starting an returning to school this week.  I'll miss them very much.   I loved their bright, happy, eager and always cool personalities.   Their absence will give me time to rid my vocabulary, of really,  and seriously-right?  I guess those are better, than like!

I'd like to sent them off with some cookies.  They've all got the bug to bake, and now they can stop by anytime to grab the recipe.  Here's a good, old fashioned, get-a-glass-of-milk cookie,  Snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles
Snickerdoodles

The cookies made by whipped together soft butter and sugar, adding the vanilla and cinnamon, then the egg.

ingredients-1
ingredients-1

After the butter and sugar are creamed/whipped together, add the cinnamon and vanilla.  Adding it now will increase the flavor of the two spices.  Then add the egg, and mix well.

butter-and-sugar-1
butter-and-sugar-1

Lastly, add the dry ingredients, and stir to mix.  Don't overmix, you want your cookies to be crisp and crumbly, not bready.

dough-2
dough-2

Now into the frig for 1/2 hour.  Please don't skimp on this part.  If you do, the cookies will spread too fast and be a big mess on the baking sheet.  The chill will slow them down and they'll be just right.   If you wait to turn on your oven, you'll have no other choice than to wait!   Roll the dough into little balls, and then roll in cinnamon and sugar.

dough-balls-3
dough-balls-3

Then into the oven for 10-12 minutes.   I like mine more on the crunchy side so I went with 12 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Let them cool as long as you can stand it, and enjoy!  Have a great school year or wherever your life may be taking you.  Thanks to Jess, Orla, Phoebe, and Stacey for a fabulous summer!

To print this recipe, click HERE

Snickerdoodles

3 cups flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1  3/4 cup sugar (divided)

2 sticks (16 Tbsp) butter, unsalted at room temperature

5 tsp cinnamon (divided)

1  1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

In a standing mixer bowl, or with a hand mixer beat the butter and  1 1/2 cups sugar until it's pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then add 2 tsp cinnamon and vanilla and beat about 1 minutes longer.  Scrape side of bowl a few times to make sure all the butter is combined.  Add the eggs and mix completely.

Add the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Don't overmix.  Refrigerate the dough while the oven is preheating.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Center the rack.

Roll the dough into walnut (1 TBSP) sized balls, and roll in the remaining sugar and cinnamon, which you've mixed together.

Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Move to a wire rack to cool, then store in an air tight container for up to three days.

Makes about 48 cookies.  Adapted from Saveur, The New Comfort Food.

 

snickerdoodles
snickerdoodles

Minted Zucchini Tagliatelle with Cucumbers and Lemon

I love ribbon.  Satin, paper, wired, grosgrain.  It doesn't matter the kind.    In my pastry kitchen I have spools and spools on a dowel to tie around cake boxes.  Each ribbon is "frenched" to add the little notch at the end.  Love it.   Add tissue paper and a nice sticker and I'm all yours.  When I read the title to the recipe, I honestly thought that we were going to make a pasta dish.  Oh contraire!  The tagliatelle are ribbons of zucchini.   It was going to be just plain fun to make.  Fun and really pretty.  Plus, it's fresh, healthy  and so lovely! Poor zucchini.  It gets mispelled, and is one of the vegetables we're happy to see... for awhile.   Then they end up in the office breakroom in a pile looking for good homes.  Sometimes they even end up on your doorstep!   With the help of a mandolin, the zucchini in this recipe is sliced into gorgeous ribbons.  With the addition of  simple lemon viniagrette, cucumbers, mint and lemon the ribbons become a beautiful salad.  This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe makes the zucchini the star.  No mock apple pie, bread, pizza, just simple pretty zucchini.

I feel badly that I can't post the Around My French Table recipes on Fridays.  If you've been following my blogs each Friday, you might want to take the plunge and buy the book - or check it out from the library, if you don't already have it.  It's going to be a classic and I promise you won't be disappointed. Good news.  I'll be making it up to you next Tuesday.  It's a surprise!

When we were in San Francisco, in Chinatown, a shop keeper gave Gary a demo of some super sharp and cool garnishing tools.  He bought three and has been eager to give them a try.  Once I finished with my recipe he asked if he could use the left over pieces.  A few minutes later he brought me the pretty carvings to garnish my plates.   So pretty!

cutters-5
cutters-5
butterfly-3
butterfly-3

The best tool for making the ribbons is a mandolin.   It's a razor sharp blade to pass the vegetables over.  I have great respect for mandolins.   Injuries from them are deep, fast and almost always require a visit to the ER.   They may perfect for the ribbon making, but only with the guard and slow careful movements.  I'll tangle with the box grater, but never the mandolin.   I got it out, was extra careful, and look at how great the zucchini turned out!

plated-zucchini-1
plated-zucchini-1

Embrace the gifts of zucchini, and enjoy the bounty of the summer harvest!

Stay tuned for a great dessert next week!

Peach Melba

Welsh Rarebit, Steak Diane, Pavlova and Peach Melba.  All recipes we've heard of and maybe some of us can describe.  Last week, the Around My French Table/French Friday's with Dorie group made Peach Melba.  I was thinking of something crunchy.  Perhaps in the Melba toast family.   What is it you ask? melba-in-cups-1

Think about the best peach you're ever tasted, with fresh raspberry sauce, over ice cream... with just a touch of liqueur. Yes, that's it.

Fresh peaches are poached in simple syrup with vanilla bean, then cooled and chilled.  While the peaches are chilling, the berries are pureed and combined with just a bit of the syrup.  It's that easy.

raspberries-in-processor-horz-1

Once the sauce and peaches are ready, spoon over vanilla cream and add some sliced almonds.  The scent of the vanilla is amazing.  I used St. Germain, and elderflower liqueur rather than the Chambord that was suggested in the recipe.   I don't think you can go wrong with either.   As summer transitions into fall, this is the perfect summer comfort food.   I hope you'll try it, and enjoy the sweetness of this classic.

melba-in-cups-2-21

Salsa of the Tropics

This is a great time of year.  Gardens are pumping out tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and spicy jalapenos just to name a few garden favorites.  I've got a favorite recipe for you.  It calls for mangos, but today I used peaches.   You can mix it up and use both if you have them.   It's SO easy!  All you have to do is chop. Peaches will be the theme for the next week of so.   We made a road trip to North Carolina last week and picked up 12 boxes.  We were in Asheville last year at this time and discovered the farmers' market, and the rows and rows of peaches.  This year we made the journey to fill the car.  I guess it kind of makes them local... to someone!   I can happily report that all the boxes found homes.

Ready for the Heat
Ready for the Heat

With the peaches that were a little bumped and bruised, I made the salsa.  Feel free to adjust the heat with the jalapeno.   I like to serve this with tortilla chips, but it's also great on pork tenderloin... hot off the grill.

Ingredients for perfect salsa
Ingredients for perfect salsa

To print this recipe, click HERE

Salsa of the Tropics

  Based on recipe from Great Good Food

1-2  mangos, chopped (or 2 peaches)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup chopped green, red  or yellow bell pepper 1/2  teaspoon salt- or to taste 5-6  cup plum tomatoes, chopped

1 TBSP cumin 1 medium red onion, chopped

1 chopped jalapeno pepper

1-2 tsp. Sugar

1 TBSP vinegar

Stir together all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Cover and chill  a few hours before serving.

 

Peach Salsa and Chips
Peach Salsa and Chips

Popovers

beef Wellington, check.   Blue cheese Souffle, check.  Graham crackers, check.   These are all things I've made in the last year that I've always wanted to try.  Call it a culinary bucket list of sorts.  What's on your list?   Maybe it's simply roasting a chicken.  No one will make fun of you.   Give it a try.   What's the worst thing that can happen?  Frozen pizza?

three-popovers-4
three-popovers-4

I can't believe that this is the first time I've ever made popovers.  In the past I've tried to make the Dutch/German puffy pancakes without much success.  It seemed like a popover was in the same mystery family, so I've always found another option.  Today was the day.  Thanks to Baking with Julia and the Dorie Greenspan Tuesdays with Dorie group, Popovers made it on the calendar.

Much to my surprise, they were easy!  A quick brrrrr in the blender, 45 minutes in the oven and ta-da!  Tasty, dreamy popovers.  And without gooey centers, I might add.

The ingredients are super simple.  Flour, eggs, milk, salt and a butter.  The usual suspects.

ingredients-1
ingredients-1

 When all the ingredients are at room temperature, they get a quick brrrrr in the blender.  I've always wanted to include an overhead blender shot, so here it is!

Blender with popover batter
Blender with popover batter

I don't own a popover pan, so I opted for the muffin cups with 1/4 cup batter in each cup.  I very skeptically put the pans in the oven and walked away.  Then walked back and turned the oven light on.  This was too good to miss.   After a few minutes the popovers started to pop, and I knew I was in business.  Twenty-five minutes later, I reduced the oven temperature and waited for the finished beauties.   They were crisp, light, and best of all... not gooey in the middle.   I split one open, spread a little more butter and drizzled it with honey.  Why was this the first time I'd made these?    I hope you'll go to Paula's blog, Vintage Kitchen Notes, or Amy's blog, Bake with Amy to find the recipe and give popovers a try.

popovers-on-tray-3
popovers-on-tray-3
single-popover-5
single-popover-5

Now on to the next new-to-me recipe...  I think it might be pretzels using real lye!  Stay tuned.

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

simple pleasures are the best.  

Don't you love finding a little cash in the coat hanging in the closet for months?  A bouquet of garden zinneas?  Someone holding the door open for you with a smile.    I've got a short, sweet simple pleasure of a  recipe for you.   Cherry tomatoes are popping everywhere.   We  eat them like candy around here.  I didn't think they could get any better.  Here's how--   Pick up a pint or two at your market and you're half way there.   No, you're more than half way there.

img_7115-2
img_7115-2

Slice them in half, then toss with just a litte bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast at 200 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.  Your house will smell great, and you'll have rich gems to toss in pasta, on a pizza, or chill for the top of a salad.

img_7120-5
img_7120-5

It's so easy, and the results are SO good!

finished-tomatoes-6
finished-tomatoes-6

To print this recipe, click HERE

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1-2 T olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Slice tomatoes and toss with oil, and scatter in a single later on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours or until tomatoes are wrinkled and fragrant.   Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.

 

Cafe Style Grated Carrot Salad

Think about your best friends and the first time you met them.   Was it at work?  At school?  On a bus? I have a dear friend, Kim.   For those who have heard me speak of her, you may think her name is Myfriendkim.   She lives in Michigan which is way too far away.   We met the very first day of pastry school, in Paris.  Everyone was nervous and waiting for orientation to begin.  There were about seven Japanese young women, a Turkish woman, another from Brazil plus a few Americans.  As we waited,  we made our hesitant introductions to one another.  When it came to her turn, she told the group.  "I'm a mom and I want to learn how to bake.  I've stayed at home, planned vacations, and I love to eat bon-bons".    She was honest, sweet and had a killer sense of humor.  I had to get to know her.

At the end of the morning after we had been assigned our uniforms and lockers, as we chatted, she asked if was in Paris alone.   I told her, yes, and that was staying in a hotel about a 15 minute walk away.  She told me that she had been to Paris several times and knew it well.  We went back to class and as we were packing up for the day, Kim invited me to join her for dinner.  She hates to eat alone.   Little did she know that I had been glued to my hotel room for the past four days.  I had terrible jet lag, a constant stomach ache and was still shaking off the fake taxi that had scammed me out of most of my cash.   I eagerly accepted and we walked back from school to my hotel a few blocks away to change clothes & make a quick call home, then to hers and then to dinner.  She had a knowledge of Paris that was amazing.  We were going out to eat... at night... I had made a friend!

Where does the Carrot Salad fit in to this story you ask?   Kim picked out the perfect restaurtant.   Chartier.  It's grand, yet casual.  The waiters were bustling about dressed in black vests, white shirts and floor length aprons.  I was awe struck.   We talked and laughed about our husbands, dogs, families and our love of food.  As we ate, she told me the history of Chartier.  It was a workingmen's lunch room.   The walls are lined with small drawers where they kept their napkins and forks.   We ordered Carrot Salad as a side for our Steak au Poivre while we laughed and talked even more. After some much needed nourishment, the jet lag and stomach ache were gone  and I was thrilled to be in Paris.

I've never forget that meal, or how I meant Kim.

carrots-1
carrots-1

This week's French Friday's with Dorie recipe is simple.  Grate the carrots, add a quick dijon dressing/vinaigrette then toss with a few raisins.   Our CSA box had a big bag of carrots last week.  Orange, purple and yellow.  They were a little tough to grate, and yes, I did knick a knuckle - shoot! The carrots were more like chips than grates.  The salad is fresh, bright and a great treat for any lunch or supper.

carrot-salad-3
carrot-salad-3

Warm Grilled Scallop, Nectarine and Corn Salad

It's been such a great month so far.   We've traveled to fun places and just hosted a wedding reception.  It was a belated reception!  The sweet couple got married last summer in the Rockies, then celebrated with friends here in Wisconsin this summer.    While I was supposed to be writing and posting the French Friday's With Dorie post, I was elbow deep in decorating, baking, fluffing pillows, and turning our yard into a summer party wonderland.  Before I tell you about the salad, I have to get you a peek at the party. With the help of my friends and florists extraordinaire, Jennifer and Scott, we clustered BIG grapevine balls and hung them from the tent ceiling.  Our friend, Paul, made a door frame which held an old door we found in our garage when we moved in.  It was the perfect entryway for our guests.

wedding-door-1
wedding-door-1

So what does a pastry chef make for her step-daughter's weddding reception?  PIE!  Another friend, Diane and I made pie, pie, and more pie!  It didn't take very long to make 17 pies.  Cherry, Peach and Blueberry.  I'll save crust and pie filling for another post...

Back to the salad... Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan is the source of this recipe.   The scallop salad was a big hit as we were racing around running last minute errands.  The scallops got to ride home on ice, and waited patiently for lunch time.

Instead of using fresh corn, I had some corn, still on the cob on the freezer.  I let it defrost lightly and removed it from the cob.  It was slightly soft, but nice and cold for the salad.

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img_7100-1

Instead of the grill, I heated my grill pan, and seared the nectarines, then wiped the pan, added some oil and seared the scallops.   It went together SO quickly!  A quick dressing for the corn salad and lunch was ready!   I would have to say that the basil coulis preparation was one of the best parts.   The fragrance and texture of the delicate garnish was amazing!

scallops-salad-complete-4
scallops-salad-complete-4

Here's to summer, good friends, sweet babies, families, and happy Marriages!

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img_7102-3

And P.S.... Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Chld!

Berry Galette

just like becoming an expert in wine, you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford. You learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.  Julia Child.

 

galette-on-plate-6

Thank you Julia, that's just what we're doing.  Sampling, baking, cooking then photography and writing all about it to share and learn from one another's experiences.   If she only knew what a great impact she made on all of us.

This summer I've been making galettes with peaches and pears for the farmers' market.  The crust is a simple pate brisee, with frangipane (baked almond cream) and sliced fruit.   They'so so tasty and sell out right away.   This week's Baking with Julia galette is slightly different.  This one is made with berries, and no filling.   The crust is made with flour and cornmeal, making it crunchy and very earthy.   If you 'd like to follow allow and make a galette, Lisa of Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen and Andrea from The Kitchen Lioness  will have the reicpe written on their blogs.   The best part about this recipe, is you don't need a fancy schmancy tart ring or pan.   Just a baking sheet and some parchment paper.

crostada-ingredients-1

The dough goes together quickly in the food processor.  I found it to be a little dry so I added about 1 T of water.  I also used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  After a good chill, it was very nice to roll, and shape. I used strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.

crostada-before-3

After 40 minutes of baking, the galette was golden and so wonderfully fragrant!  I feel like I should have added a little more sugar to the top.  The crust doesn't have a lot of sweetness, and it could have been just little sweeter.  I did really like the additional of cormeal. the earthy crunchy texture was perfect for the freeform beauty.    HOpe you enjoy this one!  Your friends will love it!

crostada-finished-4

crostada-slices-5

Tomato Cheese Tartlets

First things first.  I know it's wrong, but I like to spell tartlet, tartlette.  It just seems more fitting for a small French pastry. Smell is such a huge part of taste.  If you're stuffy, nothing seems to taste good.    There are some smells that make you happy with just a whiff.   This recipe combines those  fragrant and delicous ingredients.  Basil, fresh tomatoes, garlic, baking puff pastry, and goat cheese.   I went out to the tomato patch to check on the progress, and ta-da!    I picked about a dozen San Marzanos.  These are amazing little guys.  They look like a Roma, but are even meatier, and more flavorful.  They're that tomato of choice for wood-fired pizza makers in Italy.   They're one the key ingredients in Pizza Margherita.    Don't you love the smell of tomato plants?

And the basil...what a punch!

tart-ingredients-3
tart-ingredients-3

Wait!  For those of you who just read the word puff pastry and are ready to move on, please stay.   You'll be using a sheet of pastry that you can purchase at the grocery.  All you'll need to do is thaw and unfold it.  Here's your chance to make a beautiful tart that will look like you spent all day.   You could if you wanted to, but you don't have to.   Sometime we'll make puff pastry together.  It takes time, but it's really worth it.

This recipe is part of the French Fridays with Dorie online cooking group.  The recipe comes from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan.   I'll walk you through the basic steps, just in case you don't have a copy.

First you'll open your thawed box of pastry and unfold it.  Find a bowl or cup that's about 3-4 inches in diamenter and trace four circles.  If the puff pastry has tears where is was folded, gently smoosh it together.  Not too hard though.    Once you have your circles, move the dough to a baking sheet, covered with parchment, and poke with a fork.   This keep the puff pastry from puffing too much.   A way to make sure the dough puffs evenly is to set another sheet of parchement paper and a baking sheet or cooling rack on top.   The dough will still puff and be flaky, just nice and even.

vertical-puff-prep-1
vertical-puff-prep-1

Here's the dough! Super simple.

cooking-rack-on-puff-2
cooking-rack-on-puff-2

After you've removed the puff from the oven, let it cool.  It should be nice and golden.

Puff Pastry Circles
Puff Pastry Circles

Now on to the pesto.  I filled the food processor with basil, garlic, and pine nuts.   Gave it a whirl, when I realized that I didnt' have any parmesan cheese.  Another oops!   No problem.  There's going to be cheese on top, so I added the drizzle of olive oil and had a great tasting topping for the tarts.   Here's the recipe I made:

To print this recipe, click HERE

Basil Pesto 

2-3 cups basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts

2-3 tsp chopped garlic

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (apparently optional)

1/2 cup olive oil, or to desired consistency

salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the basil, garlic, nuts and cheese until to forms a chunky paste.  Drizzle in olive oil until pesto is desired consistency.  Season to taste.

It's so easy!  However, we're in the together and I don't want you to miss out on this tart.   You can buy pesto, and it will be fine.   You can find it in the refrigerated department or the condiment aisle.

Now be creative.  Put a big dollap of pesto on each tart.  Then, slice the tomatoes, and cheese.  If you have one big tomato, place a big 'ol slice on the tart.   I had smaller sized tomatoes, so I made a pinwheel around the tart.   I used both goat cheese and fresh mozarella.  I put the goat cheese around the edges, and the mozarella in the middle, in case it oozed.   Once they were all assembled, I baked mine for about 5 minutes until the cheese looked melted, then I popped the pan under the broiler for about 15 seconds.  WATCH carefully, they will brown and burn very quickly.

Tomato Cheese Tart
Tomato Cheese Tart

The easiest part of all... Find three friends.  Make a salad, pour a glass of wine and enjoy!

tart-plated-10
tart-plated-10

Goat Cheese Butter

"After one taste of French food ... I was hooked. I'd never eaten like that before, I didn't know such food existed. The wonderful attention paid to each detail of the meal was incredible to me. I'd never really drunk good wine before, and knew nothing at all about it. It was simply a whole new life experience.  Julia Child.

Here's a recipe I think you'll love.  Simple, with careful attention paid to each detail.  Just like Julia has taught us.

Read More

Lemon Barley Pilaf

pilaf plated by . Whew!  It's been a busy week, and I'm late in getting this post off.   This is an Around My French Table recipe and part of the French Fridays with Dorie blogging group.  You know the drill for these recipe.  We're asked not to post the recipe, but you can find it in the book.   Just in case you don't have to book, I have good news for you.   August will mark Julia Child's 100th birthday month.   To celebrate, I'll be blogging some of her most famous recipes with some stories, fun facts and quotes from our dear Julia.    Any requests?

 

 

Well back to the pilaf... I love barley and was very interested to try the recipe.   My friend Jane makes a great salad with barley and tuna.  It's so good on a hot summer day.    I simmered the barley on the stove, and carefully added the chopped vegetables just as Dorie suggested so they didn't overcook.

pilaf ingredients by .

 

The pilaf was tasty, and make a nice side dish with the grilled corn salad and salmon with dill and lemon.

pilaf final by .

 

 

 

Grilled Corn Salad

What an exciting weekend!  I'm back from  San Francisco.   I went for a class on food styling and tips on food photography.   It was really fun and very interesting.   Joy Wilson from Joy the Baker sand Tracy from Shutterbean were the teachers.   They were full of ideas and great information.  Now the trick is to put it to good use.   Tracy and Joy prepared two recipes, and we got to style and shoot using our new props and tips.  Here are some oat bars, and my best shot of the day.

Walnut Oat Bars
Walnut Oat Bars

It's been awhile since I was in San Francisco.  What a gorgeous city!    The hotel's driver/maintenance man invited Gary and I to the roof top to see the view on our last morning there.   Amazing!

Here's my postcard to all of you!

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Upon arrving home, I found our CSA box brimming with lots of fresh vegetables.   I wanted to make something crunchy, tasty and cool.  My version of a grilled corn salad - minus the grill.

The best part about this recipe is that you can use anything you like and leave out the things you don't like.   I had little baby eggplants, zucchini, red onion, cherry tomatoes and fresh sweet corn.

Beautiful Produce!
Beautiful Produce!

To start, shuck the corn and carefully slice off the cob.  Then,heat a grill pan or skillet and place the corn in a single layer ith just a little olive oil.  I used about 2 1/2 cups of corn and about 2 tsp. oil.  Let the pan get hot, really hot.  The corn will sizzle and snap.  Get it quick stir and your should see searing on the corn.  Move to corn to a heat proof bowl.  Add eggplant (I didn't peel mine), and zucchini to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes, just to heat through.  Add these vegetables to the corn and toss.

grilled corn
grilled corn

Now for the fun part.   Add other chopped vegetables, feta, black bean, cilantro/parsley... anything you like.

My salad included parsley, red onion, cilantro and a small piece of feta I had left over from another meal.

To finish the salad, mix in 1 T lime juice or vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder.

You can eat the salad warm, or cover, chill and enjoylater.   This salad is great with any grilled meat, or by itself for a light supper.

To print this recipe, click HERE

Grilled Corn Salad

2 1/2 cups corn (kernels)

1/2 -1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped eggplant

1 small red onion or scallions, chopped finely

1 can black beans (optional) rinsed

1/4 cup chopped parsley, cilantro or both

1/4 cup feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup cherry tomoates, or 1 large tomato, chopped

1 T olive oil

1 T red or white wine vinegar (or a squeeze of 1/2 lime)

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

salt/pepper to taste

Shuck corn and remove from the cob.  Heat a skillet or grill pan with 1-2 tsp olive oil.  Add corn in a single layer and sear until light brown marks appear on some of the kernels.  Remove from pan to bowl.   Add zucchin and egglant to pan and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Transfer vegetables to the bowl with the corn.  Add the chopped onion, and black beans.  Add remaining olive oi, vinegar and spices.  Toss in tomato, feta and mix gently.   Remember, you can add any other vegetables or spices to make it your own!

Happy Summer!

corn-salad
corn-salad

Chewy Crunchy Granola

Are you planning any vacations this summer?  Stay-cations?   It doesn't matter how far you're going, or how you're getting there, you're going to need a snack.  Something to take the edge off of your hunger as you travel from point A to point B.   Rather than pick up a sweet, calorie-filled nutrition bar at the gas station or magazine counter at the airport, toss a baggie of this great granola in your bag. Way back when, I learned a little rhyme in Girl Scouts for packing a lunch .  It goes something like this...

Something munchy, something crunchy, something juicy, something sweet.

Nothing gooey, nothing drippy, nothing sticky, nothing soggy.

It might be corny, but it's true.  There's nothing worse than a big spot on the front of your shirt as arrive at your destination.

   As you know, we've undergone some big dietary changes around our house.   Gary's doing great, and has become the salad king.   In a never-ending effort to find good food and keep control of the fat and sugar we were looking for a healthy granola recipe.   This recipe comes from our friend who's been making it for a long time.  She's tweaked the original in volume and fat.  I ran the nutritional data on the recipe, and 1/4 cup (about 30 gm)  is about 120 calories and about 20gm of carbohydrate.  Perfect for topping some yogurt or nibbling with the piece of fruit.

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granola-ingredients-1
granola-ingredients-1

To print this recipe, click HERE

Granola   (Adapted from Granola of the Gods)

5 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar (I used Brown Sugar Splenda)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup nuts, slightly chopped (almond and walnuts!)

1/2 nonfat dry milk

1/2 cup coconut (optional)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup honey

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

water

 1/2 cup Raisins or Craisins.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.  Mix dry ingredients together (except raisins).  In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together.  Pour wet over dry and mix.  Spread on a jelly roll pan or in a 13 x 9  pan.  Sprinkle with about 2 T water.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring twice during baking.   If you'd like it dryer or crunchier, increase oven to 300 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes or until more golden.   Turn off the oven, and allow the granola to cool.  The granola can be removed from the oven right away, but won't be a crunchy.  When it's cool, add the raisins or craisins as desired.   Store in an airtight container.

 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we have.  Happy summer and happy travels!

granola-2
granola-2