Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Season

We eat a lot of apples in our house, so apple season makes me very happy. There are a lot of wonderful orchards near where we live in Charlottesville to buy local apples and even pick your own. There's Carter Mountain, Drumheller's Orchard, Chile's Orchard and many more. My mom brought me some wonderful apples from Flippin-Seaman Inc, so I made some applesauce. I forgot how wonderful it is and  just how quick and easy it is to make. I don't have a food mill so I peeled and cored them first.
After they cooked down I mashed them with my potato masher and then hit them with the immersion blender briefly. Add what ever spices you like. I put cinnamon, ginger, cloves and a little brown sugar and lemon juice. It freezes well too.
 So grab some fabulous fall apples and make some amazing applesauce!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hachis Parmentier

This week's recipe from Dorie Greenspan's new book is for hachis parmentier. It's similar to a British shepards pie. I followed her recipe exactly, which used beef chuck and sausage but in looking around the internet it seems it's commonly made with lamb and other kinds of minced meat.
I assembled the first set of ingredients to cook with the beef.
After adding the sausage, that all goes in the baking dish and then it's topped with mashed potatoes, sprinkled with cheese and dotted with butter.
It bakes for 30 minutes and it's made to be brought right to the table.
It got two thumbs up from the whole family and really is the ultimate Fall/Winter comfort dish. It tastes like a warm hug.
I can see how easy this would be to make with any kind of left over meat. The recipe is a keeper.
The only down side is the amount of pots needed (one for the beef and broth, one for the sausage, one for boiling the potatoes and then the baking dish. That never seems to deter me though!

I mentioned my friend the chocolatier (Michele Sanders) recently and then received a box of her amazing chocolates as a gift from someone else. I don't know if you can order them on line yet but I think you can buy them if you visit their beautiful new winery, Glass House Winery in Free Union VA.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

Week two for me with French Fridays with Dorie. The assignment, Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. It was much easier than I imagined, but I did take a short cut. Since I already had some ground spices on hand, I used them instead of the whole spice or seeds. For instance, the recipe called for two points of a star anise, coriander seeds, and white peppercorns. I had ground anise, ground coriander and ground white pepper so I used that instead. Shown here with my fish sauce.

 Otherwise very straight forward recipe. Just a yummed up version of chicken noodle soup. Next time I get a cold, I'm making this. I wanted it a little spicier so I put a dab of thai red curry paste in my bowl.
I got my chinese egg noodles and ginger from C'ville Oriental. Look at how fresh and plump their ginger is.
And if, like me, you're wondering, 'why is Vietnamese soup in a French cookbook'?
Since Vietnam was a French colony years ago, there is still a big influence of Vietnamese food. Lucky French!
The book again is Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

Friday, October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie Greenspan

If you've ever clicked around from my blog list, other people's blogs that I follow, you may have checked out Dorie Greenspan. She's written many cookbooks and always has a lot of great information on her blog. She just came out with a gorgeous new cookbook called 'Around My French Table". The pictures are beautiful and most of the recipes have a wonderful story behind them. It doesn't seem like complicated french food, just lots of basics you can feed a family or entertain with. I think it is such a bargain from Amazon for $25 plus free shipping.
To tie in with the release of her new book she's doing French Fridays with Dorie. You sign in and then make the chosen recipe of the week and everyone blogs or comments on their experience on fridays. So this is my first week and the recipe was Gerard's Mustard Tart.
I was a little surprised the tart crust has an egg in it, but it was a great crust. The tart has dijon and whole grain mustard in it.
Here's my tart before it went in the oven.
And when it was done!
I thought is was really wonderful, especially the crust. I served it with a salad and a chilled glass of white wine. Sitting in my back yard on this warm night I was transported to France.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Flank Steak

Flank steaks freeze well, so it's a great thing to pull out of your freezer when you don't have other dinner plans. I've been tweaking this marinade and am finally really pleased with the results. I think it makes all the difference to let it marinate all day. If your steak is frozen, defrost it overnight, then mix up the marinade in the morning, pour it into a ziplock bag with the meat. Leave in the refrigerator all day.

1/2 cup soy sauce (I usually use reduced sodium)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
lots of crushed garlic
lots of grated fresh ginger root
1 T. honey
lots of fresh ground pepper

Take the flank steak out of the marinade and sprinkle it generously with coarse salt and pepper. Then grill it! Let it rest and then slice it really thin across the grain. mmmmm..........

I have a friend who is a chocolatier. She makes absolutely beautiful and delicious chocolates and took special classes to learn her craft. I asked her about her favorite brand of chocolate to use, and she said she likes Callebaut as in Barry Callebaut chocolate. They have great prices on it at C'ville Market.
They also sell it at King Arthur Flour.
It comes in various size bags and they have unsweetened, bittersweet, and semisweet. I use my little kitchen scale to weight out the ounces needed in a recipe. I've been having great results so far.