Tags: baking, fruit, tart
Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever. When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello. Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country. You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts. Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?
We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do). We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit. I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too. I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.
This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time. The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling. It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust. For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.
Tags: breakfast, snacks
It was hard for me not to make this week’s FFWD recipe. It’s toast– heck, I can make time for that! Toast with yummy stuff on top, that is. This tartine is a thick slice of brioche with butter, marmalade, Nutella, nuts and salt. You could buy everything and simply assemble it, but I happened to have a couple of the components in homemade form (but already on hand). I still had some homemade brioche in the freezer, and over the holidays, my BFF and I made a big pot of mixed-citrus marmalade to give to family. A bit of sweet, a bit of sour and a bit of salt…this is toast at its finest. Dorie says this is a typical after-school snack for French children, but I ate mine for breakfast. Then I went to the dentist and he found no cavities. Breakfast of champions.
Tags: cake, dessert
Yowzer– it’s been ages since I’ve had an FFWD post. I happened to notice this week’s recipe, Quatre-Quarts, and it looked like good a point to jump back in. I guess quatre-quarts is most often compared to pound cake. I’m sure every grand-mère has her own version of quatre-quarts, but I thought this one was much lighter and springier than an American pound cake typically is. In fact, it seemed quite like a sponge cake, thanks to the beaten egg whites that are folded into the batter. I only made half a recipe, thinking a full would be too buttery and heavy for us to eat for more than a couple of days. I was wrong–we could have easily polished of the whole thing. Also, I flavored it with a glug of good Cognac, which made it pretty easy to enjoy!
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Baking with Julia!
Tags: baking, snacks
If you are looking for one of the easiest hors d’oeuvres ever, then look no further than Mustard Bâtons. Not only are they dead easy, they’re dead tasty, too. Take some ready-made puff-pastry, smear it with strong Dijon mustard and fold it over to encase the mustard. Then cut it into strips, eggwash and sprinkle with seeds or salt or pepper or whatever and bake until golden, crispy and flaky. Voilà! Enjoy with a glass of wine.
Tags: baking, bread
Cheese bread! cheesy bread! I went nuts when I saw this recipe was coming up for FFWD. Who the heck wouldn’t want to eat cheesy, onioney (is that a word?) homemade bread? I wanted to eat it so much that I made a whole big loaf, instead of a mini or half-loaf. We had some the day it was baked with homemade tomato soup– so good!– and some went into the freezer, because it will be awesome alongside scrambled eggs for a weekend breakfast.
If you shy away from making bread at home, or fear yeast, or whatever, don’t worry here. This is a quick bread, much like a muffin. In fact, you can even turn the loaf into cheese muffins, if you are so inclined. The original recipe uses chives, but I didn’t have any and used scallions instead. A combo of cheddar and Gruyère was just right, and made this a great, easy, cheesy bread that I’ll bake again and again.
This is baked chocolate mousse. End of post.
Really, that’s all I think needs to be said. It is dark and silky and my idea of a perfectly elegant chocolate dessert. There are options with this cake, too. You can bake of just part of the mousse as a base, then top it with the remaining mousse and either chill it as-is or bake it again. If you bake it again, you can either eat it warm or pop it in the fridge and eat it cold. Decision tree analysis is not my forte, but in the end I opted for the fully baked variation and enjoyed it chilled (and I think it was a good call). Don’t fret when your cake comes out of the oven puffed and then totally sinks in the middle as it rests. It’s supposed to…and anyway, that dip is the perfect spot to pile on whipped cream!
I think I’ll be making this again for Valentine’s Day. For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts (and you might want to check out the P&Q section…some folks had problems with mousee seeping while baking, although I did not experience this)!
OK, I know it is New Year’s Eve afternoon already, and maybe I’ve missed the boat on telling you about this….but if you happen to be ringing in 2011 by having people over for cocktails, or if you are going to someone else’s place and looking for something to bring, I have just the thing. Dorie’s Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts are fast and easy (provided you have a stash of nuts in your fridge or cupboard), and trust me, they will be gobbled up.
The technique is simple: take a couple cups of your favorite nuts (a mix is best), coat them lightly in a frothed-up egg white and then toss them in a mix of sugar, salt and spices. Bake for half an hour at 300°, making sure they are in a single layer so they don’t stick together. Let cool and enjoy with wine or bubbly.
For the exact recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts (not all of us are doing the recipe this week). Happy 2011, and I’ll see you next year!
This French Fridays with Dorie recipe isn’t a dessert flan with caramel, but a savory custard with blue cheese and walnuts. The pumpkin flan base comes together in snap thanks to canned pumpkin and the food processor. I think I was a little aggressive with the whizzing up…my flans looked like I had some tiny air bubbles trapped below the surface. No matter, they still tasted great, and baking them in a water bath ensured a creamy, soft texture. I know I usually think of pie when I think of pumpkin, but really, it’s just squash and goes wonderfully with cheese and nuts. Add a spinach salad, a piece of baguette and maybe a glass of wine, and you have dinner!
I mentioned last time we met, that R and I went apple picking in Warwick, NY. Sometimes it’s really nice to escape the city and go to a place that looks like this. It’s also nice to have a bin full of apples at home! The first thing I did with them was to make Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake.
This cake is easy to make because it’s easy to mix. No creaming required, as it uses melted butter. I actually used browned butter in my cake, which wasn’t entirely intentional (I put it on to melt before I’d had my morning coffee), but as soon as I tasted the cake, I knew it wasn’t a mistake either. Rum and vanilla flavor the apples, and while you could use cinnamon instead if you wanted, I really think that apples and vanilla are a fabulous combination. I went a tad skimpy on the sugar measurement, because although I was using a mix of apple varieties (like Dorie and her friend Marie-Hélène recommend), they were all on the sweet side. There’s really only just enough batter here to hold together all the chunks of apple, and the result is an almost puddingy-soft texture inside. Definitely one I will make again.
Today is a special day for one of my favorite cookbook authors…it’s Dorie Greenspan’s birthday! Happy birthday, Dorie! A few TWDers and FFWDers have put together a sort of virtual progressive dinner party, all made from Dorie’s new book, Around my French Table, to celebrate.
I chose to take on a soup course, and made her Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup. I’m no stranger to squash soup, and usually I’ll use a butternut, but a crazy lumpy, bumpy golden hubbard caught my eye at the market and wound up coming home with me. I’ve never made squash soup with the additions of pear and fennel before…they brought a delicious sweetness to the pot. Don’t forget to toast up your squash seeds as garnish. This is a great, warming soup that gets even more flavorful the next day.
For the recipe for this delicious soup, see page 80 of Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Holly from Phe.MOM.enon worked hard to coordinate this party, and will have the whole round-up on her site!