Friday, August 10, 2012

French Fridays Double Header-Warm Scallop Salad and Tomato Cheese Tartlets

My puffy Tomato-Cheese Tartlets
I played a little bit of catch up this week with a couple of the last recipes for French Fridays.  Last week's recipe was Tomato-Cheese Tartlets, a super simple combination of puff pastry, pesto, in my case goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  I have used puff pastry in the past, but had forgotten how versatile it can be.  You can make a really quick, beautiful entree or dessert in no time if you remember to keep some on hand in your freezer.  For this recipe, I kind of strayed from the directions a bit.  I was supposed to cut the pastry in to circles and bake them under a baking sheet so that they would get really crisp and not puff up.  Where's the point in that?  Puff pastry is so delicious, light and airy...I just felt the need to rebel.  The result was a little difficult to eat, so I understood the point, but they still turned out lovely and really delicious.  I used a store-bought pesto and goat cheese, but many of my fellow Dorista's used tapenade as a base and mozzarella.  Really, the variations are endless, and I could easily see these a little mini tartlets if you cut the puff pastry with a biscuit cutter and followed the anti-puff directions for baking,  I definitely plan on trying this soon.

Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Tomatoes and Nectarines
This week's recipe for Warm Scallop Salad was seafood, so you know I did not go there myself, but the hubby got to have his favorite scallops in a delicous salad of fresh corn, tomatoes, with a super light lime dressing and savory basil, and a nicely surprising grilled nectarine on the side.  I had my salad with grilled chicken, and it was absolutely delicious.  I loved the crunchy sweet corn with the tangy and slightly spicy lime vinaigrette.  Grilling was a snap (literally 3 minutes to done on the scallops) and we both had a perfect Sunday evening dinner.   

I'm excited because this weekend I am taking my first cooking class at Sur La Table learning to make macarons.  I will definitely be posting about the experience, so stay tuned.  Next up for FFwD, we have Cafe Style Grated Carrot Salad.  We'll see.... 

Friday, July 20, 2012

FFwD: Salmon with Basil Tapenade

Salmon with Basil Tapenade
Anyone who knows me, and even any one who has read this blog knows that fish and I just don't get along.  I don't mean from a cooking standpoint, I mean I just can't seem to find fish that I like the taste of.  It always, or nearly always, tastes, well-fishy.  I don't know how else to describe it.  Over the years I have managed to find out that I like crab and lobster, but even shrimp are a no-go.  That one is primarily due to my 10th grade biology teacher who lovingly called them the "cockroaches of the sea".  Scarred for life, I tell you.   Perhaps it is also the fact that my father tortured me (Dad, I say this with love) with long days of fishing any chance he got in the summer, and some times even ice fishing on Lake St. Clair in winter.  I think it would have been fine if we had ever caught anything, but inevitably we would come home empty handed.  I think about friends of mine with children and their constantly shifting attention spans and wonder how I ever survived these episodes from my own childhood. 

 Anyway, my husband really likes salmon, so when a friend of ours was coming over for dinner the other night I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to serve something different from the usual chicken or beef or pasta entrees we usually serve.  Both of them loved this.  I have to say, cooking it was a breeze.  I did use a store-bought tapenade that had a healthy dose of garlic rather than making it myself.  I served the salmon on a bed of spinach and grape tomatoes sauteed with some olive oil, garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Stuffing the tapenade in to the fish was a bit of a challenge mainly because I had never done this before, and I am still not sure I followed the directions properly but it all seemed to go well, regardless.  

Our friend Nikki thought the flavors were unexpected, mainly because she thought the tapenade would be overly salty.  Not so, apparently, and she and Edmund both loved the sauce.  Edmund was particularly surprised by this because he is not a huge fan of olives.  I used a combination of fresh mint (growing in vast quantities in the flower bed on the side of our house) and fresh basil (growing in pots just outside the kitchen door), and both of my guinea pigs really enjoyed the blend of flavors.  The mint apparently cut the saltiness of the olives quite nicely, and overall the dish seemed well-seasoned.  I think this could become a "do something nice for the ball and chain" type of meal in the months to come. 

Hope you all have a great weekend.  See you next week.  Up next for French Fridays-lemon barley pilaf. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

FFwD-Blueberry-Mascarpone Roulade

Blueberry-Marscapone Roulade
Bonjour, mes amis!  It's been so long.  My one week vacation turned in to a hiatus of sorts, though unintentional.  Between just a busy life and a brutal heat wave where the last thing in the world I wanted to do was turn on an oven, I just could not seem to find the time to post (even this one is a day late).  I did manage to make last week's gingery pickles (yum) but was not able to get a post up.  Oh well, I am back at it now, and just in time for this yummy roulade. 
Blueberries soaking in simple syrup
A simple sheet cake made largely of merigue is baked and cooled after rolling in a towel.  The mascarpone, whipped cream and blueberry filling is then spread over the unrolled cake, rolled up again, chilled and sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.  As you can see from the photo below, my cake did crack as I was rolling it, so note to self to be cautious next time.
The assembled and plated roulade
Oh, and speaking of next time, this recipe is crying out for lemon zest, lemon juice, something.  Don't get me wrong it was delicious as is and won raves at the work potluck I brought it to, but I think the lemon blueberry combo is a classic and both flavors compliment each other so well that this recipe would be all the better with lemon. 

Anyway, I will leave you with a review of sorts of The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's uber-famous restaurant in Yountville, CA.  I was in Napa recently for the wedding of some dear friends.  The concierge at the soon-to-be-married couple's resort was able to score a reservation for us-which if you know anything about reserving here is a feat unto itself.   The dinner was impressive, but perhaps my palate is not yet refined enough to have appreciated all that was served.  And by all, I mean 11 courses over 5 hours!  I enjoyed the meal very much (the company more), but for such a well-respected restaurant (Anthony Bourdain called it the best restaurant in the world) I was expecting to be overwhelmed by delicious flavors.  The food was very good, the service attentive, and some courses amazing, but overall I could not help but feel a bit disappointed in the experience.  That many courses and the time we were there was just a bit much.  I know that my friend who joined me on the trip agreed with me. 

My husband is very much looking forward to next week's recipe, Salmon with Basil Tapenade.  Until then, hope you all have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Well, dammit, I have missed the last few weeks of recipes.  Our weekends, when I usually cook, have been packed!  We just celebrated Edmund's birthday this past weekend with a lovely dinner at Roy's Chicago, followed up the next day with the matinee performance of Rock of Ages, the musical-not the film.  Anyway, Just wanted to post that I will be taking some time away this week to see some friends get married in Napa Valley.  I am also visiting Thomas Keller's French Laundry!  So excited for both.  I'll fill you in on my return.  Until then, hope you all have a wonderful week.

*photo courtesy of,

Friday, May 25, 2012

FFWD: Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese

Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese
I have been having a really hard time keeping up with my postings.  To you it seems like I may have given up on my kitchen adventures, but there have been many over the past several weeks I have just not had the time to write about.  Working crazy hours right now and weekends have been very full.  I even missed last week's posting for a dish I actually had the time to make, though in my defense I was on vacation.  So that brings us to this week and a super simple recipe, thank goodness, that did not take a day and a half to make.  Not a criticism, I'm just sayin'.....

So, this cheese spread is the type of appetizer I enjoy serving, because you almost can't go wrong.  Most party guests love cheese, garlic and herbs, so herein is the perfect appetizer solution.   I used store-bought ricotta because I was unable to locate fromage blanc and, frankly, did not want to go to the trouble of making my own.  I think if I had to make this again I would use a combo of goat cheese and ricotta (if I still cannot find the fromage blanc).  Even with the vinegar and the salt this seemed to cry out for a tangy something or other.  I am taking this to a potluck lunch at work today, so we will see other's reactions.  From tasting this morning (made last night), I was surprised at how strongly the tarragon flavored the cheese.  I would have expected the garlic and shallots to overpower it, but the flavors all blended rather harmoniously. 

I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend with friends and/or family.  Please take a moment to remember the fallen soldiers who gave their lives defending the freedoms we all enjoy this Memorial Day.  Until next time, bon apetit!

Friday, May 18, 2012

FFWD: Double Chocolate Banana Tart

Hey gang, on vacay this weekend, so photos and discussion to follow, but this was truly delicious and pretty simple, really. Looks hella impressive, too. Will post next week.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Almond Flounder Meunière-French Fridays with Dorie

Almond Flounder Meuniere
Hello, dear reader. I have to tell you all about my exciting weekend in NYC, where with my job I was, coincidentally, so fortunate to be with a group of very influential home, cooking and lifestyle bloggers at an event celebrating the launch of Sandra Lee's new venture in to kitchenware and tabletop with Kmart and Sears. I was so inspired by these lovely ladies who work so hard on their blogs and have cultivated huge followings as a result.  I truly enjoyed meeting them all and talking with them about what inspires them. Sandra Lee was also rather inspiring. I found her to be warm and genuine. She said at one point that she feels the Food Network edits her personalIty out of her shows, and I must concur. She has a wicked sense of humor, but you really dont get that from her shows.   Anyway, meeting these "real" bloggers makes me want to do better with my own blog!  It's certainly something to aspire to at any rate.  If you have a chance, please check out a few of the blogs created by the attendees of this event.

  Almond Flounder Meuniere...hmmm.  So, anyone who knows me will probably be surprised that I actually cooked this dish because I am not a fish lover at all. I have been dabbling with sea creatures as food over the past several months, however, and I think I can safely say that now. There, I said it.  All other seafood is still on my wait-and-see list, however, until I have that one fabulous dish.   

The entrance to the event at The Kitchen in Midtown Manhattan
  Anyway, back to the flounder.  Maybe one of you with more experience can explain why this dish came out rather on the soggy side.  I paper-toweled the filets, got a good crust on the fish, but still they were soggy.  My theory is that with an oil able to take high heat, rather than or in addition to the butter, I could have raised the heat and flash-fried the fish creating a more firm texture and crispier crust.  Your thoughts?  I'm thinking I just dont have enough, or frankly any, experience in cooking fish to know if I had even cooked it all the way through, either.  The flavors of the dish were nice, if conventional, but I was underwhelmed as was the hubby.  Hopefully the next seafood dish I attempt will be a bit more inspiring.  Until next week, bon apetit

A Tablescape featuring Sandra Lee products available at Sears and Kmart