I've been sheepishly keeping up with the doings of FFwD for 3 years now. 3! 3 years!
When I heard Baking Chez Moi was being published, I thought maybe that would be a great time for me to start blogging again. Well, I really needed something to galvanize me. I mean, a lot has changed in 3 years. I can tell that people have learned a lot in terms of their food photography and the blogs now have their own hosting and what-not. As for me, I'm still professoring, but now I have a new double-oven/stove! Far more life-altering (though being able to bake 2 things at once at different temps is kind of a big deal) is that I have a nearly 2.5-year-old little girl! I'm hoping she and I can bake together sometimes. We have a kitchen tower she can climb on and she can stir a mean spoon.
Anyway, on to the baking! We had 4 recipes from Baking Chez Moi among which we could choose for today. I chose to make cannelés. It was for no particular reason. Okay, I think maybe I felt like buying some kitchen stuff. I did some research and decided to buy a de Bruyer mini-cannelés mold and I'm doing a mixture of beeswax and butter on the cups.
But! First, I made the batter. Now, for anyone who's not familiar, we generally don't post recipes out of respect for the author and, really, because you should buy the cookbooks! But, this once, just look below and you'll see a link to all 4 recipes!
Here's my ingredients and some extra spoons to make it look all official or something:
Cannelés batter is quite easy to put together; it's the waiting that's kind of a bummer.
Now, it's the next morning--Friday, the 24th, the day I'm supposed to be posting--and I'm futzing around with the beeswax/butter mixture that this blogger said was the best. I totally believe her, but there's one thing that's kind of important--and that I should've remembered--regarding my possible success: I've never worked with beeswax before. So, it's 6:15 am, I'm just starting my coffee, and I'm madly trying to melt the beeswax with the butter, pour it into the molds and somehow get an even coating. Needless to say, I've got spatters of beeswax drying on my arm right now. It's like a salon paraffin wax gone bad. Sigh.
Here we are before I created the mess. Chez Pim mentions that brushing creates an uneven coating and it kind of ruins the brush, so she pours some melted beeswax/butter into the molds, pours it out, and inverts on a wire rack. I thought this sounded like a fabulous idea and I can see how beeswax does add a bit extra essence de miel. The inverting part didn't go as planned (ahem), hence the waxy stuff where it shouldn't be in my kitchen...and on me.
With how my morning began, I really did feel like this might end up as one of those Pinterest "Nailed It!" things. Of course, it's my fault. But, this is really why I should allow more time for stuff...
Pinterest "nailing it" like this:
And, finally, the cannelés are done! They didn't bake evenly in my silicone mold, which is likely related to the uneven amounts of beeswax/butter. Either way, they are yummy and my husband took one, stopped in his tracks, and said, "Oh, these are good!"
Look at that center! Loved the contrast in textures from the caramelized exterior to the more pudding-ish center.
In more serious matters, here's the blogroll of everyone else doing the BCM Birthday Bake-up (I like it! The BcmBB!) and the other fabulous recipe options to choose from:
A few months ago, I was reading about getting kids to expand their food horizons and one mom wrote about how they decide as a family what cuisine they will eat on any given night of the week. Then, they use that opportunity to pretend they are taking a trip there, learning about the culture and the foods eaten in, say, Thailand. I thought it was a cute idea and something to file away for the future.
I was reminded of it, though, last night when I made a rather incongruous pairing for dinner. See, we traveled first to Russia, by way of France, and then we either flew back to France, eating at a French-Mexican restaurant (yes, they do exist), or flew to Mexico to some Mexican-French restaurant. I needed to make the blinis for FFWD, but then I had these poblano peppers I'd bought at the farmer's market. I'd already planned to stuff them with goat cheese (used ubiquitously in the French version of Mexican food to stand in for cotija, I think), corn, and black beans, and thought they'd accompany some grilled chicken. Or something. Well, they accompanied blinis. Oh, and we are/were going through a heat-wave so it was 97 degrees yesterday--normal temps are around 70--and we don't "do" air-con in this part of the world. Yippy. I don't know what that has to do with anything, that last part, but I wanted to complain.
Anyway, on to the blinis. I've never made them before, and I never would've made them if not for FFWD, so that's cool. Part of that never-would've-made-them-thing is that they were sort of an exercise in "I Can't Be Bothered" . . . except for when I could be. At first, I thought I couldn't be bothered to make them, thinking I'd skip this week. Then, I was waiting for a prescription and found everything I needed, except for the buckwheat flour and the creme fraiche. I figured I couldn't be bothered to make buckwheat blinis, as I wasn't going on a scavenger hunt for the flour, and that I'd just make all-purpose flour blinis. Well, at the 1 silly store here that carries creme fraiche, I just happened to stop by the baking aisle, and whaddya know? Buckwheat flour. I got home and realized I'd forgotten to find dill, which is not necessarily easy to find around here (strange since I live in the land of plenty, produce-wise). I figured I couldn't be bothered. And I really wasn't. I just snipped some chives off of my yard's chive forest and voilà!
First, I made the blinis Dorie-size, meaning with that 2 tablespoons of batter measure. They were big:
The husband-man had been hovering over me in the kitchen, whining about being hungry, and so I made the two bits above and immediately served them to at least stave off the worst of his hunger. He sat down and asked, "Why the sexy dinner?" I have no idea what that means, and he couldn't really articulate it while shoving his blini into his mouth. So, I sent him back to his cave while I finished off the rest of the batter.
I then decided that I'd make the blinis half-sized, with only 1 tablespoon of batter. I liked them better that way. I also refused to use only the "barest hint" of creme fraiche, or whatever Dorie said...mostly because I can't say no to something that is creamy and fatty. Mmmmmm.
Meanwhile, I heard some hollering from the man: "It smells really good! When can we eat more?!?"
In the end, I think the blinis were a success. HA! Really, though, we both liked them and were coming up with other ways to eat the leftovers (like with strawberries, lightly sweetened creme fraiche, and mint).
The only thing missing was the champagne. Man, I can't believe I didn't think to get some as it would've been a perfect pairing. I opened a nice acidic, non-malolactic, barely oaked Chardonnay that worked well, but it didn't have that pop (literally and figuratively) that a nice brut would've lent to the dish.
Oh, and then we ate the stuffed peppers. Thus ended probably the oddest dinner I've made in a very long time. At least it all tasted good.
My question is: what's the weirdest dinner you've made, not counting those weirdo have-no-money-college-"dinners"?
As some may recall, I made the Olive-Olive Cornish Game Hens last week. Of course, this week I notice that they are on sale for less than half the price I paid. Typical!
This was a new experience for me as I've only ever made Cornish Game Hens once before. Frankly, I'd rather roast a full-sized chicken, though I'm not really sure why. I guess I just don't find them all that interesting, though they are pretty on the plate (and the more I think about it, the more I think that's why people like them). Most of the times that I've had CGH's at other people's houses, they're overly dry and too huge for me to eat on my own. This brings up one of my pet peeves: Why do we have such large serving sizes at dinner parties? Or at restaurants, for that matter?
The big thing is that I've never done that en crapaudine technique. I've never even butterflied a chicken, though I've often read it's a nice way to roast it. I hate to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the whole removing the backbone thing. I try not to be grossed out by that kind of stuff, as we tend to have an odd separation from our food sources as it is. I don't mind sticking my hand under the skin to rub some olive tapenade-y goodness, however. Sort of an odd thing there.
I made the tapenade from scratch with Dorie's recipe. And I followed the current recipe as directions as stated. Overall, it was pretty good. I paired it with some fabulous haricots verts I'd gotten that morning at the farmer's market, and we had the salad from last week as the first course. I served each of us half a hen, and saved the other one for leftovers. As you can see in the photo, it got some nice caramelizing/crisping of the skin and was overall a pretty easy way of dealing with CGH's. I'm not sure how often I'll make this dish, but it's nice to know I've got a reasonably quick recipe ready to go.
As for the wine, we served it with a pinot noir from Central Coast California as I thought the fruity earthiness would pair well with the subtle olive flavors (and with the hens). It was a good pairing, but I think a nice unoaked Chardonnay would've done in a pinch if it were a tad warmer outside.
It's been about 6 months since I've done a blog post. I have cooked some of the recipes, but I became overwhelmed with work and everything. And then I went to India. And now I'm back to work. Anyway, I really missed doing FFWD, and would follow along on Facebook, etc., so I'm excited to jump back in!
On to the dish:
I know that bacon is having its cultural moment right now, but I have to say I'm one of those people who loves it. Thus, Deconstructed BLT with Egg sounded fantastic. Well, it did until I saw that the egg is hard-boiled. Sigh. I have tried so hard to like hard-boiled eggs, and it's just not happening. Between that and brussels sprouts, I've got my two food nemeses (and cottage cheese, but I've never tried to like that one). Then, I read it and see it has fresh tomato in it. Yay for me because I've got tomatoes from my garden. Boo for me because the husband-man doesn't like fresh tomatoes. Nevertheless, I soldiered on because we both love everything else in the recipe--arugula, bacon, bread.
So I made 2 salads that were incomplete, or shall I say, Unconstructed: 1 without the fresh tomatoes and 1 without the egg.
Salad minus egg: the not as good one
Salad minus fresh tomatoes: the not as pretty one
Overall, I liked the salad, though I could see how the egg really, really makes it. I can see how the texture (especially that slight creaminess of the yolk) would add a nice counterpoint to the varying levels of crunch in everything else. The fresh-tomato-less salad still had that nice acid from the sun-dried tomatoes, and mostly suffered, I believe, from the loss of aesthetic beauty the bright red provides (and don't tomatoes just look scrumptiously good for you?)
In any case, it still got a thumbs up and almost, almost made me want to try to like hard-boiled eggs again.
Sadly, no wine pairing. We had gone out to a birthday party at which I'd had a massive martini that I didn't even finish--you know the kind of place, the one with super-cheap drinks that are unexpectedly huge (I should've had a beer). Still being on anti-malarial stuff has greatly affected my alcohol tolerance (sadly) and so I am somewhat surprised I was able to assemble said salad, much less take photos of it. If I'd had wine, too, I'm not sure what would've happened.
Oh, and we served it with next week's Olive-Olive Cornish Hens, but we'll save that for next week!
Ugh. Work is crazy, my house is a mess, and I haven't blogged in 2 weeks. But, I have at least been doing my weekly Dorie cooking!
This one will be relatively short because a) I think I haven't blogged in part due to thinking of all I wanted to say and b) it has come to my attention that I'm a little, say, long-winded. The one issue is that I have cooked a lot of recipes from the book recently, so I'm breaking the posts up into Scheduled and Non-Scheduled Recipes.
First up? Scheduled Recipes! I'll go in reverse chronological order; thus, we are beginning with the Beggar's Linguine.
Verdict: Fast, easy, and tasty. But would I add it to the rotation? No...it's a good every-now-and-then dish.
This is not a recipe I would've chosen to make on my own, unless I was in some weird mood, due to the preponderance of dried fruit (figs and raisins). I'm just not a huge fan. But, the sum is better than the constituent parts and I can see how this would be soul-warming when jet-lagged and cold. I didn't alter the recipe at all, but for using penne because I forgot to buy linguine and for using 1 tbsp less of the butter because I really didn't feel like hunting up an extra stick just for that tablespoon.
Wine: I served it with a Burgundian Chardonnay from the Côte de Beaune. Chardonnay is a really acidic grape, which of course makes it a wonderful food wine. The French style really showcases the grape rather than the oak barrel or malolactic fermentation, so if you're a fan of big, buttery chards, this is not the wine for you. I specifically chose a French Chardonnay precisely because the pasta itself is rather big and buttery and I wanted to complement, rather than match, that. According to my guinea pigs, they agreed that a)the recipe was lovely and b) the wine paired quite well.
In the end? The best part was the taste of the nutty butter. Mmmmmm....