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Lime, Basil, and Mandarin Salad

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to YoursWow, I almost forgot it was Friday. I am in San Francisco this week, but I made this cake a while back. Actually, it was the first recipe I made from Around my French Table and it totally sold me on the book. The original recipe calls for an 8 inch springform pan. I only had a 9 inch, so my cake is a little flat. It didn't change the flavor at all. This is the first recipe I made from this book that I realized how much your ingredients really matter. Dorie calls for using four different types of apples. It really does make a difference. I love getting some bites that were softer and more sweet, while others crisp and a little more sour. This recipe alone is worth the price of the book.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

San Francisco Ladies

About a year ago I purchase raffle tickets for Menu for Hope.It was a good cause with a lot of cool prizes. I never expected to win anything and if I did I was hoping for the chocolate from Paris. For those of you who don't know I actually did win a prize. That prize is the reason I am in San Francisco this week. So this week I was have been able to see The Painted Ladies...
I also took a trip down to Emerald Hills to meet Karen Morss and the Lemon Ladies. Karen sends me lemons in Fairbanks every winter.
Today is the day I will cash in my prize winnings for lunch with this lady...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hachis Parmentier

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to YoursWow, joining a cooking club makes the weeks fly by.
I had a feeling I would like the recipe from French Fridays with Dorie this week as I am also a big fan of Shepherd's Pie. I took a few shortcuts with it to make it easier for a weeknight meal. I sauteed all the vegetables with the sausage and steak. I simmered it with beef broth instead of bullion for only 20 minutes. I did not separate the beef from the vegetables and just added the whole lot to the casserole dish. The recipe had a really nice flavor and was good for a change of pace. I wasn't a huge fan of the cube steak. Next time I would either use regular steak chopped into small pieces or ground beef. One final change was the use of Yukon Gold potatoes rather than the recommended white potatoes and didn't use nearly the amount of butter and none of the cream recommended. I used a fine shred on the microplane zester to get a full coverage of cheese on the top without making the layer too thick. I ended up using about half of the recommended cheese. Even though this is still nowhere near a light dish, it was possible to "lighten" it up a bit without sacrificing flavor.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maple Pumpkin Scones

Many years ago a friend told me that I should always mention that I like to cook in job interviews. Although I have thought about it, I never actually have done it. Well, I didn't have to when I interviewed for my present position. One of my references actually mentioned it for me. I'm not sure if it was that or the fact that I sent a thank you note after the interview. Did you know that hardly anyone does this anymore? Those who do are almost guaranteed the job.
I have made Maple Walnut Scones for my office a few times now. I even did a little scone making workshop at our staff retreat this fall. Now several of my co-workers are making their own scones. My supervisor has  made the lemon and the maple walnut, not long after she asked if I had a recommendation for pumpkin scones. I searched for a while on the internet and the only ones I could find were the Starbuck's knock off scones. So, I decided to try and make my own version. I did a test run last week and brought them into the office. My first version had oats and pecans. I felt they didn't have quite enough pumpkin and spice. This past weekend I went back to the drawing board. I upped the pumpkin and the spice and took out the oats and pecans. I liked this version quite a bit better, more pumpkin flavor. These smelled like pumpkin pie while they were baking, perfect for a snowy fall morning.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

It just wouldn't be fall without pumpkin. For me, Thanksgiving  wouldn't be the same without pumpkin pie. I love all forms of pumpkin desserts. This year I was really worried that we might only have one pumpkin dessert this fall and that would be our one pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. You see I still had one can left from last year, but our grocery store shelves were bare of any kind of pumpkin. I asked one of the sales clerks and she informed me that there was a pumpkin shortage. I had actually heard about the shortage last year, but we had pumpkin available all through the holiday season last year. So, I had asked David to keep an eye out for one or two cans of pumpkin while he was back east. Apparently, there was never a pumpkin shortage on the east coast as David said there was plenty in every store. Just to be on the safe side he sent up a case anyway. We thought if there really was a shortage in Alaska, some of our friends might want some pumpkin too. Shortly before the pumpkin arrived I came across a news article that said the pumpkin shortage was over and a few days later or store shelves were once again stocked. Now, I have a whole case of canned pumpkin. So, expect a whole lot more pumpkin recipes around here. Have any good recipes for canned pumpkin to share? Let me know.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

Wow, is it Friday again already? I didn't realize when I posted Sesame Noodles on Wednesday what a noodley week it was going to be here. This is the third recipe from the new online cooking club called "French Fridays with Dorie". The group is cooking their way through Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. I joined the group to challenge myself to cook and bake things that I wouldn't normally choose. Last week was a huge success when I expanded my horizons to include a dish very similar to quiche.
Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to YoursThis week was something that I didn't really feel stretched my culinary horizons and although it made for a filling meal, it wasn't something I would make again. Despite the fact that the recipe included coconut milk, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and red pepper, and lime juice...somehow this one just came up flat. The thing I have liked most about this cookbook so far is that all the recipes I have tried have really let the ingredients shine. In the gougeres I felt the cheese really made a difference, and the same with the mustard in the tart. This week I think my ingredients fell flat and just didn't produce the flavor I would have hoped for in this soup. There is a side note in the cookbook that recommends adding curry to the soup. Looking back I would have gone with that option, but I am not curious enough to make this one again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sesame Noodles

Sometimes I feel silly posting outrageously simple recipes here. Sesame noodle is something I eat in one form or another at least once a week. Sometimes it has lots of veggies almost like a stir fry and sometimes it is in its most minimal form when I don't feel like cooking. I have never really thought much about them. Certainly never measured out the ingredients that I use. Usually it is just grab a bottle of this and a bottle of that and a dash of this...until it tastes right. Then I saw them posted on a very popular blog and thought, why not? I used the recipe as a starting point, but made them with my own twist. Also, I rarely make them without adding 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes. Feel free to add what you like to make them your own.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Swedish Pancakes (Pannkakor)

I had never had a Swedish Pancake until I made these ones. I don't know how someone who loves breakfast as much as I do has gone so long without ever having one. I love crepes and all other versions of pancakes. It's just that the opportunity to eat Swedish Pancakes has never entered my life until now. I recently purchased a Swedish cookbook. So many of our wild ingredients such as cloudberries, and lingonberries are shared with Sweden. There are so many similarities that I thought having a Swedish cookbook would help me make better use of some of our local bounty. Even though this recipe doesn't exactly require local goods, I did use my local raspberries for the warm jam on top. They are quickly making their way to the top of the most requested list for weekend breakfasts.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gerard and Raye's Mustard Tart

When it comes to "real" food, I am not a picky eater. Some would say I am picky because I prefer fresh, local, minimally processed food, but that's another story. When it comes to social graces, I can eat pretty much anything my host puts in front of me. All but one thing...quiche. Once when I was doing a lot of non-profit fund-raising I was invited over for dinner by a potential donor. They even asked if there was anything I didn't like. Of course I said I would eat anything. To my horror I arrived to find quiche as the entree. I seriously have a hard time with even the smell, but somehow I managed to eat a few bites. Even in that situation I could take any more than that.
So, when I saw that this was the second recipe for French Friday's with Dorie, I seriously thought about skipping it. It looked just a little too much like quiche. Not to mention Mustard Tart does not sound all that appetizing in the first place. The only thing that made me want to make it was the fact that David had brought back two jars of Mustard from Raye's in Maine this fall. One jar of Hot and Spicy and another jar of Fall Harvest Cranberry. What I am finding with all the recipes I have made from this book so far is that the quality of ingredients is really important. Quite frankly I'm not sure you are going to find a better mustard than Ray's in the United States. The whole point of joining this group is to step out of my comfort zone and try some new things. I told myself I can back out for lack of ingredients, but here I had no excuse. In the end I was so glad I did. First of all, I made my very first crust and although it wasn't a pie crust, it is a start. Second, the smell of Rosemary filling my house was wonderful. This didn't smell like quiche at all. Finally, the end product was great. I could see making this many more times. Can't wait for those young asparagus in the spring.
Where's the recipe? Well, sorry friend, you will have to buy the book.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carrot Zucchini Bars

It's that time of year again. The time of year when they start releasing all the new cookbooks for the holiday season. I'm not usually on the cutting edge of new cookbook releases. I always wait to see what my other favorite bloggers are saying and wait to make my purchases. There have been a few this year that I just couldn't wait and pre-ordered as soon as they were released. When I took a peek into the Fat Witch Brownie book online and saw that all the recipes are made in a 9X9 pan, I couldn't resist. I much prefer bars to cookies. They are much less labor intensive, put all the dough in one pan, and you are done. No endless rounds of scooping and baking. There is something about the texture of a bar that I like better as well, the cross between a cookie and a cake.
When I actually got this book in my hands I began to wonder if the author is left-handed. Unless it is a novel, I usually browse through books and magazines from back to front. I attribute this to being left handed and it being easier to hold the book and flip the pages this way. The reason I say this is that all my favorite recipes are in the back of this book. These Carrot Zucchini bars were the second to last recipe and the next recipe I want to try for Breakfast Brownies (oatmeal espresso top with a brownie crust) is right before that.
I was amazed by the simplicity of this recipe. The whole time I was making these bars I was thinking there must be something wrong, they just seemed too easy. They turned out  delicious, and moist. Perfecting for using your last zucchini of the season.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New York Style Crumb Cake from Baked Explorations

First of all, there are no apples in this cake. I don't know how they made their way into the photo. Second, I don't have any green trees in my yard anymore. This cake was made only a couple of weeks ago and I can hardly believe my yard looked like that!
I was already itching for Baked Explorations the new cookbook from Baked Bakery in Brooklyn to come out. So I searched around the internet to find a new Baked recipe to try out.  I loved Baked (their first cookbook) and can't wait to get my hands on my very own copy of the new version. I pre-ordered mine from Amazon and it still has not arrived yet. I have to confess that I might have taken a little peek inside at another bookstore in town. Guess what? This coffee cake that I made a couple weeks ago is in the book. That makes me super happy  and hopeful that the second book will be as good as the first one. The cake was tender with an immense about of crumb topping. I am a huge fan of crumb topping, there can never be too much.  Those of you who are fans of the Lemon Scones, and the Maple Walnut ones. I'm happy to report there are two new scone recipes in this new book.
For now, I am tracking that package with my Baked Explorations cookbook. It was in Anchorage yesterday. I'm having a hard time holding out. I nearly bought the one in the bookstore even though I knew it was on its way. Anyone else waiting for the new Baked Cookbook? Here's a recipe to help you hold out.

Friday, October 1, 2010


One thing I have realized about myself through this blog is that I am not a fan of repetition. I always want to be doing, trying, cooking, or visiting something new. Originally this blog started as a place where I could document all the recipes I was making. So many times I would make something and it would be really good and then of course I would forget where I got the recipe from or just forget about it completely. The idea was that I would post them here and then be able to have them again, any time I wanted. The truth of the matter is that I still don't do that. Some people find comfort in have the same dish every Friday. After years of working in a field (outdoor education) where most of my food was prepared for me, I can tell you I will never eat Pizza on Thursday again. I yearned for my own kitchen during those years. Although some of the places I worked had great food, I still had a hard time with the monotony of a weekly schedule. The only routine we have is Pizza once a week, but it is never on the same day.
One of the ways I have avoided cooking monotony is to join a variety of online cooking clubs. Unfortunately for one reason or another...too much baking, time commitment, or difficulty finding ingredients they have all fallen by the wayside. I have enjoyed being part of these online communities, but many never seemed like a good fit. When I heard they were starting a new Dorie Greenspan cooking club called French Fridays with Dorie I thought it sounded like fun. I had already ordered the book, and because it has a variety of side items, main dishes, and desserts it will ensure a more diverse experience. They also don't require you post every week to stay in "the club".
This is the first recipe from the group. Gougeres are the first recipe in the book and I suppose as good a place as any to start. They remind me of a very rich popover. They are light and airy, yet still quite cheesy. These strike me as the kind of thing where the quality of the cheese would make a huge difference. I think they would be great with a Martini or cocktail, or even beer of your choice. I see them more as an appetizer, but I did have them with a light soup. I also followed the directions for freezing them and part of me feels like they are actually better that way. They seemed to puff up just a little more. The next time I will make them smaller, teaspoon sized. That way we can pull them out for a before dinner snack.
After October I will not be sharing the recipes as they would prefer not to have every recipe from the book posted online, therefore encouraging people to buy the book. To encourage people to participate they are posting the first months worth of recipes.So I too will share them here with you.

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