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Friday, April 29, 2011

FFwD Michel Rostang’s double chocolate mousse cake

If you're looking for a Bistrot Paul Bert pepper steak, you won't find one here, best check FFwD. I don't eat beef, and I still have plenty of FFwD recipes to make up from before I joined the fun.

I chose to make the mousse cake, originally completed January 21, 2011. It is funny, because back in January I owned Around My French Table but I had only completed one FFwD. I could have participated in this one at the time, but chose not to because Mr. Hobby doesn't eat chocolate, and I'm not a "chocolate lover." Since then, I've learned that FFwD challenges me to make recipes that I normally would pass by, but end up loving. The mousse cake seemed like a great choice, because it is GF, and I knew I could take it to Easter for my sister.
I read all the P&Qs for this cake, and many of the blog posts. So I baked it with the bottom of the springform pan, used good chocolate (a mix of Ghirardelli and Scharffen Berger) and I was prepared for it to be thin. I baked it twice, because I didn't want my sister or any of the kids to be exposed to the risks of raw eggs from the mousse. I had intended to serve it cold, but when I got to my parent's house for Easter, there was no room in the fridge. It ended up being served at room temperature, and I think that worked just fine. This cake was a hit with my gf sister, as well as many of the other family members. For me, it was too rich, but c'est la vie.

I don't think I'll be repeating this cake. I didn't find the process of making it enjoyable. Keeping the chocolate from hardening up was a challenge. Here is a picture of me melting the chocolate like Dorie describes. Once it was silky, I pulled it away, and as I started to mix in my butter it must've been too cold, because it began to turn hard. I had to put it back on the pot of water, and combine it over the heat. But, I don't regret the experience of making this cake. Lucky me, next week is also a dessert week!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day 2011

I’m struggling this year to do something special for Earth Day. My original intention for contributing to Earth Day was to walk to and from work. It is about 4.5 miles each way. Unfortunately, we’re having some terrible thunderstorms here right now. Reducing my carbon footprint isn’t worth getting struck by lightning or catching pneumonia. I haven’t tabled this idea though, I’ll try to make it up one day soon when the weather isn’t terrible. My breakfast was a day old bagel from St. Louis Bread Co. Not too bad for food distance, but not fabulous either. Lunch is going to be a frozen entrĂ©e, not exactly earth friendly, frozen food has a big carbon footprint. Dinner hasn’t been planned yet, I think Mr. Hobby may cook tonight. I always recycle as much as I can, everywhere I am. I’ve been known to stuff recyclable material (paper, plastic cups, you name it) in my purse and carry it home to recycle. What are you doing different for Earth Day?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

FFwD Mustard Batons

This weeks recipe was mustard batons. I prepared these as part of a birthday celebration for Mr. Hobby. Inspired by the picture from the Around My French Table cookbook that you can see posted on the FFwD lyl I decided to recreate the apertifs tray Dorie put together. I prepared mustard batons, an olive fougasse, set out bowls of olives and manchego cheese, and served white wine. It was a great start to our celebration of his birthday. Our next stop was a local French restaurant, Vin de Set. The food at Vin de Set was excellent. It was chilly, so we didn't sit out on the patio this time. However, their rooftop patio has an amazing view of the St. Louis Arch. Located in the French Victorian styled neighborhood of Lafayette Square, I'd recommend this as a fancy dinner stop for those who may find themselves in St. Louis.

These mustard batons are a very simple party food to prepare. They remind me a lot of palmiers, but they're even easier to make than a palmier. Dorie has us use a high grade mustard, but I imagine that most paste-like sauces and condiments would work for these. A curry baton might be lovely.

For the olive fougasse I used a recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking Thanks to my favorite baking supply company, King Arthur Flour, I learned about the no-knead bread, and this amazing book. When I want to make bread, I prepare the dough in a large bucket, and the entire loaf requires only a little work. If you'd like to try this technique yourself, I recommend this KAF blog post, it was what kicked off my original interest in no-knead breads, and I haven't looked back!

So for the fougasse I chopped up some high quality kalamata olives. The olives were mixed into the dough after it had been prepared. When I got to the part where I needed to roll the dough out and then cut it like the fougasse I found it easier to follow Dorie's directions from AMFT, so I did!

The fougasse was amazing, and I recommend it as a future FFwD recipe. The couple we had join us to celebrate Mr. Hobby's birthday enjoyed it so much, they asked me to make them sandwich bread that tasted like the olive fougasse. I had dough in the fridge, and with the Artisan Bread in 5 book, it wasn't too hard to figure out how to adapt it into a loaf of bread. I hope to make a sun-dried tomato fougasse this weekend for Easter.

Be sure to take a look at the other FFwD Mustard Batons.

Friday, April 15, 2011

FFwD Eclairs!

I experienced trepidation at the thought of making the eclairs. But I was determined to make them, after all, they are a quintessential French dessert. If I was going to learn french cooking and baking from Around My French Table, I couldn't skip the eclairs. So when the monthly schedule came out, I marked last Saturday on my calendar as eclair day. Saturday morning I went to the grocery store for my ingredients, and then did what I do with any project I'm nervous about - I procrastinated. There was a featured recipe for risotto at the grocery store, complete with a sampling of the wine they wanted you to use in the dish. I'd never made risotto before, but knew what it entailed. Nothing says quick Saturday lunch before baking like risotto, right? ;)

So after my risotto was finished, I had no more excuses and started the eclairs. This was more like 3 recipes in one. First I made the cream puff filling recipe so that it could chill in the fridge.
Six egg yolks later (6!) I was whisking away, under heat, and suddenly noticed a clump in my pot. "Oh no! I must have cooked part of the egg when I was tempering the eggs," was my thought. So I turned around to grab a spatula to pull it out, and when I turned back around, my entire pot had solidified. I took a taste, and it tasted like custard - success! I was really surprised that this was when it solidified though, because Dorie didn't say anything about it solidifying while whisking over heat, and she is normally so detailed in her directions.

As that was chilling, I approached the pate a choux. Since I joined FFwD late, I've never made the gougeres, the first recipe, so I'm behind some of the other bloggers in this experience. The dough came together without problems, and soon I was filling a ziploc with the dough, cutting off the tip, and piping out my eclairs.
Next came baking, and boy did my kitchen heat up when I stuck the wooden spoon in the door for the final baking.

My eclair shells came out just fine! I found that when I flipped them over, they had the natural seam that Dorie mentioned. I tried cutting them open as Dorie described, but it didn't work well for me. I ended up just peeling them open by hand, sort of like opening a hotdog button.
I ended up not glazing the top - I thought they were sweet enough. Also, the ganache glaze was the one that appealed to me, but I try to avoid chocolate because Mr. Hobby won't touch it if I use chocolate.

They were really good! I took most of them into work on Monday, and now my co-workers think I'm some sort of weekend pastry chef. Ha! If only they knew about FFwD where they could see what all the bloggers did this week for the eclairs.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FFwD Garlicky crumb-coated broccoli

I got home from work an hour late last night, and was gobbling down a quick salad for dinner when I started thinking about what I would write in my French Fridays for Dorie post. And then I realized I hadn't made the recipe yet! I had planned on making it on Tuesday, and we had so many leftovers from the weekend, that I didn't end up having to cook anything all week! So I had to make this dish after Zumba on Thursday night, or this was going to be a late post!

I'm not good with determining weight, so I'm not really sure how much broccoli I made. I used two small crowns, the amount that would fit in the steam tray of my rice cooker. I love steaming vegetables in my rice cooker, I just put in the water, hit the steam button, and set a timer. Since I wasn't exactly prepared to make this recipe, I did some tweaking. I cut back the butter by 1 tablespoon, I don't like using so much butter. I didn't have 3 small garlic cloves, but I did have one large clove and one small clove. And I didn't have a lemon to zest, so I just squeezed a little lemon juice in after the butter and garlic cooked. FYI, in case you ever make the same sub I did, the lemon juice made this really start to sizzle, it may have burned if I hadn't been watching it closely after I put it in. I also didn't have any fresh parsley or mint, so I just added the crumbs, salt, and pepper next. And after toasting I turned the broccoli into the dish.

I snapped a quick picture, then called Mr. Hobby into the kitchen to try the late night snack. It was delicious! Tasted just like fried vegetables. I plan to do this with zucchini this summer. I think it is healthier than frying, but these things can be tricky. Which is worse, three tablespoons of butter and breadcrumbs, or breadcrumbs (with an egg white adhesive) then dipped in oil? So my question, for those in the nutrition know, is this better or worse than frying?

Maybe someone else will have the answer on their FFwD post. Check out what the other FFwD bloggers were up to this week.