Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garlic Chocolate Chip Cookies


I know, I know.  You are shaking your head and thinking that Lolly has lost it completely.  But no, not yet.  This is a keeper from The Garlic Lovers Cookbook, Volume II.

10 cloves fresh garlic
boiling water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 cu chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda

Drop garlic cloves into boiling water, about 5 minutes, until tender.  Peel and chop garlic and soak in maple syrup for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cream butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. 

Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to cream mixture.  Then stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Drain garlic and add to cookie batter. 

Blend well.  Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes, until lightly browned. 

Remove from oven and cool on racks.

Haricot Vert au Garlic


I loved this dish and I don't even LIKE green beans.   A perfect side for our Garlic Festival meal, this would also be an excellent addition to a antipasto platter.

1 pound young fresh green beans
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 t. smoked paprika
1 can diced tomatoes with oregano and rosemary
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
2 T. chopped parsley
1 t. salt

Wash the beans and blanch in boiling water until tender or steam until they are crisp-tender.  Do not overcook them.  Drain and set aside.

In a separate pan, saute the onion in olive oil until soft.  Add paprika and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, parsley and salt.  Simmer on low heat for 5 - 7 minutes and add beans.  Use tongs to mix them thoroughly into the tomato mixture.

Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (or 50 or 60)


Don't worry about the amount of garlic in this dish.  As you cook garlic, it softens and sweetens and flavors any dish wonderfully.  I bought a large bag of peeled garlic cloves at Sam's for around $6 and it was worth every penny.  I counted out 40 and thought....hmmm...might as well make it 50.  And maybe I added a few more. 

This recipe is based on Ina Garten's version, but I've changed it slightly to make more of the wonderful sauce.  You'll be glad you have more, too.

40 - 50 garlic cloves, peeled
1 whole chicken, cut up and an extra 4 or 5 chicken thighs (use whatever pieces you like)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. olive oil
6 T. cognac, divided
2 cups dry white wine
1 T. fresh thyme
2 T. all purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream

Rinse and dry the chicken with paper towels.  Liberally season with salt and pepper on both sides. 

Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  A few pieces at time, brown the chicken on both sides, skin side down first, about 3 - 5 minutes per side.  Turn with tongs, not a fork so you don't pierce the skin.

Transfer the browned pieces to a plate and continue to brown the remaining pieces.  When all the chicken is browned, add all of the garlic cloves to the pot and lower the heat and saute for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently until evenly browned. 

Add 3 T. cognac and the wine, return to a boil and scrape up the browned bit from the bottom of the pot.  Return the chicken to the pot and sprinkle with the thyme. 

Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes until the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken from the pot and cover with foil to keep warm.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/2 cup of the sauce and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot.  Raise the heat and add the remaining Cognac and the cream and boil for 5 minutes. 

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Either put the chicken back into the pot or plate chicken and ladle the sauce over the chicken.

I served this with mashed potatoes made with goat cheese and heavy cream.  It was heavenly.

Garlictini


1 shot Tanqueray gin
Dash of extra dry vermouth
Garlic stuffed olive

Swirl the vermouth in a glass and discard.  Shake ice and gin in a cocktail shaker.  Strain into glass.  Garnish with garlic stuffed olive.

To make this garlictini "dirty" add a little (1 tsp.) olive juice.

Mushroom Caps Stuffed with Goat Cheese and topped with Roasted Garlic Pesto


I found these gorgeous mushroom caps at Publix and decided that a filling of goat cheese would be highly appropriate.  Then topped with some roasted garlic pesto put these beauties over the top on the goodness scale.

To roast garlic, slice off a thin layer of the top of the bulb.  Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Wrap tightly in foil and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 - 35 minutes until it's golden and soft.  Carefully squeeze the cloves from the bulb and lightly mash with a fork.

Make the pesto with the recipe I've posted previously, but substitute the roasted garlic for the whole raw garlic cloves.

Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel.  Drizzle with olive oil and lightly salt and place in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and lightly pack softened goat cheese into each mushroom cap.  Return to oven for 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and top with a dollop of the pesto. 

Spanish Garlic Soup


This is a delicious, mellow garlic soup.  It smells heavenly while simmering and would be perfect if you need to give someone with a cold a little TLC.

10 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
5 cups of beef broth
1 cup of dry sherry
¼ cup of olive oil
French bread, sliced and toasted
Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until it turns golden.

Heat the beef broth with sherry. When the broth reaches the boiling point, add garlic and the olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste; then simmer for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle toasted French bread slices generously with Parmesan cheese, then place them in a 425°F oven for about 3-4 minutes.  Ladle the soup into soup bowls or mugs and top with the toasted cheesy bread.

**Somewhere down the winding road, I lost track of where this recipe originated.  Could have been an email recipe, from a magazine or a cookbook.  I'm sorry not to be able to give credit.






Gilroy California Garlic Festival

I know there have to be a few people out there who don't love garlic.  I've never met them, but I know they're out there.  Each year Gilroy, California hosts a wonderful festival in honor of Garlic.

We did our part to help celebrate the wonderful taste, aroma and health benefits of this wonderful bulb!

From the earliest times, garlic has been used as part of peoples' diet.  It formed part of the food of the Israelites in Egypt and of the labourers employed by Cheops in the construction of his pyramid. It was largely consumed by the ancient Greek and Roman soldiers, sailors and rural classes.  Garlic is most often used as a seasoning or a condiment, and is believed by many to have some medicinal value.  It also contains alliin, ajoene, enzymes, vitamin B, minerals, and flavonoids.




Gazpacho Garlic Shooters


We celebrated with Garlic this past weekend in honor of the Gilroy, CA Garlic Festival. How better to start the meal than with a garlic shooter?

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T. cucumber, finely minced
1 T. onion, finely minced
2 T. tomato, finely minced
a squeeze of lime juice
dash of salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Pour a shot of vodka in a shot glass. Top with a small amount of the gazpacho.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Green Tomato, Jalapeno & Cayenne Pepper Relish


The very hot, extremely dry summer has shortened our garden's production. With the last green tomatoes picked, I decided to use them in a relish to be enjoyed with pintos this winter. Who am I kidding?  I'll open one of these jars within a week to try. In fact, I'm hungry for pintos right now. 

1 gallon green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 lb. yellow onions, coarsely chopped
5 medium jalapenos, thinly sliced
6 cayenne peppers, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup pickling (or Kosher) salt

Wash pint canning jars and place them in simmering water along with the flats and rings. 

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a large stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add all the vegetables and boil the mixture vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon the relish into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Add a whole cayenne to each jar if you want a little extra "pop" of color.

Process the jars in a water bath for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from boiling water and allow to cool.  Makes about 6 pints.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Peanut Butter Cheesecake


This cheesecake was made at the request of my Reese's loving son in law. An oreo crust, 12 Reese cups, a jar of caramel sauce PLUS peanut butter! Warning:  This is very, very, very rich. Cut very small slices. And enjoy every single bite!

2 store bought oreo crumb crusts, removed from pans and crumbled into a large bowl
1 stick butter, melted
2 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
12 Reese's Peanut Butter cups, cut into quarters
1 jar Caramel ice cream topping
Mini Reese's for the topping

To make the crust, mix the oreo crust crumbs with the butter until combined. Gently pat the crust mixture onto bottom and sides of a 10 inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended into cheese. Add sugar, peanut butter and cream. Mix until smooth.

Stir in vanilla, then fold in peanut butter cup pieces with a rubber spatula.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust.

Place the springform pan into a larger baking pan and pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake at 275 degrees for 90 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for one hour. Refrigerate for a least four hours or overnight. 

When ready to serve, place on a serving plate and gently remove ring from pan and slowly pour caramel topping over cheesecake allowing to run down the sides. Top with the mini Reese's.




Three Meat Five Cheese Lasagna


My son in law requested lasagna for his birthday meal. I went a little further with this pan than my usual lasagna. The three meats are ground pork, ground chuck and Mild Italian Sausage. I used some of the roasted Roma tomatoes as an addition to the sauce (the recipe for them is also on the blog) and used two boxes of noodles. The cheeses are Ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, Asiago and Mozzarella. 

Let's start with our sauce:

1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. Mild Italian Sausage, casings removed
3 large cans crushed tomatoes
4 small cans tomato paste
2 cups roasted Roma tomatoes
Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Oregano
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 large container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
2 cups 3 Cheese Italian Blend (divided)
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 boxes lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions

Brown the ground pork, ground chuck and sausages in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.


Remove the browned meat from the pot and set aside.  Deglaze with the wine.


Add the meat back into the pot.

While the meat is browning, saute the onion and peppers in a little olive oil until softened.



Add the onions/pepper and Roma tomatoes in with the browned meat.


Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and the herbs. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper.



Reduce heat and let sauce simmer for about an hour or so. Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.

In a large bowl combine ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesan, mozzeralla and half the Italian cheese blend.

In a large lasagna pan, put a thin layer of sauce. Place one layer of noodles, overlapping slightly. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture and repeat layers until all noodles are used. Finish with the remaining half of the Italian cheese blend.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 90 minutes. During the last 10 minutes remove foil. Let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.






Friday, July 27, 2012

Roasted Roma Tomatoes



Low roasting vegetables in the oven brings out a sweetness that is hard to beat.  These little beauties went into a wonderful sauce for lasagna. 

Slice Roma tomatoes lengthwise.  Put on a rack over a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and thyme. 

Place in a 300 degree oven for 45 - 60 minutes until they soften and begin to char slightly. 

Sweet Harold swiped a few slices and made his original Caprese Sandwich with some sliced mozzarella. 


Tagine Braised Chicken with Honey, Balsamic Fig Reduction


Normally we think of figs in preserves, jellies and desserts.  I decided to go the savory route with this dish.  I pulled out the tagine and got to work.

In case you're not familiar with a tagine, here a picture.  They are used in Moroccan cuisine. 


6 - 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup flour
S & P
1/2 t. ground corinader
1/2 t. ground turmeric
1 leek, white and light green part, thoroughly rinsed
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
10 figs, cut in half
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. honey
3 T. fennel seeds, crushed
handful of thyme sprigs
1 sprig of rosemary, stripped and finely minced
Juice of 1 lemon

In the bottom of your tagine or Dutch oven, melt butter with olive oil over medium high heat.  Mix flour with S and P and spices.  Wash and pat dry chicken and dredge in flour mixture.  Brown chicken on both sides in batches and set aside to drain on paper towels.


There should still be some of the olive oil/butter mixture in the tagine or Dutch oven.  Lower the heat to medium.  Saute' the leek until it softens, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute' for another minute or so.


Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape all the browned bits from the pan.  Let the wine boil for about a minute.  Add the chicken back into the pan.


Cover and let the chicken cook for about 15 minutes.  Turn the chicken pieces over and rearrange the ones on top to the bottom and vice versa.

Add the remaining ingredients.  Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium low and let cook for about 20 more minutes.


Once chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees it will be done. Remove the chicken from the braising liquid and increase heat to let it boil and thicken slightly. Serve with couscous.

For this dish, I steamed a little diced zucchini and yellow squash and mixed in with the cooked couscous. Quarter some pita bread, brush with a little olive oil and stick in a warm oven for about 5 minutes. 

Caprese Salad a'la Lolly


Last night was the night to experiment with another version of Caprese Salad.  I love the combination of flavors, but this time instead of using fresh basil, I made some pesto to top the diced Roma tomatoes. 

Begin with a nice slice of fresh mozzarella, top with some diced Roma tomatoes, add a sprinkling of sea salt, a mini dollop of pesto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  The  food of the gods, I tell ya!

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor, combine the basil in with the pine nuts.  Throw in the garlic and give them a whirl.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the food processor is running on low.  When the olive oil is incorporated, add the cheese and pulse a few times.  Add S & P to taste.

Italian Wedding Soup


I wanted to try a version of this soup for years and it was a perfect beginning to our Italian themed meal last weekend. I combined several recipes to make this one and it won rave reviews from all the diners. Even the 15 month old twin girls loved the meatballs!

1/2 yellow onion, chopped into large pieces
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery, chopped into large pieces
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into large pieces
8  fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes (adjust amount to your heat level) 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T. olive oil
12 cups chicken broth or stock
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/2” chunks
4 cups baby spinach
2 pounds ground chicken
3/4 - 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T. fresh chopped parsley
1 cup orzo, cooked according to package directions.

Put the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, pepperoncino and 2 t. salt in a food processor and pulse until fine. 


In a large skillet or soup pan, heat the olive oil until hot and then add the minced vegetables. Cook, stirring, about ten minutes.


Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add the zucchini, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. black pepper and cover, simmer for 20 more minutes. Add spinach. Uncover and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring periodically.

In the meantime, make the meatballs by combining the ground chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, eggs and salt in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until well combined and form into 1/2 inch balls.


In a 350 degree oven, bake the meatballs for about 15 - 17 minutes. 


After the spinach has wilted, add the meatballs and the cooked orzo. Serve with more grated cheese.





Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Red Pepper Jelly


Since the green bells and jalapenos had their turn in the jelly making process, I decided to give the red jalapenos and cayennes a go. 

1 cup of ground fresh red Jalapeno peppers and cayennes (mix/match amounts or put equal 1/2 cup portions)
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 bottle (6 oz.) liquid pectin

In a large saucepan, combine peppers, sugar and vinegar. Heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring to prevent boiling over. Remove from heat.

Stir in pectin, mixing well. Let stand 5 minutes. Skim off white film which forms on top. Strain if you prefer a clear jelly, but I love the tiny little flecks of peppers.

Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Top with sterilized two part lids and tighten bands. Process in a boiling water bath beneath 4 inches of boiling water for 20 minutes to seal.

I think this Fall some nicely grilled shrimp with a little cumin sprinkled on and then a thin glaze of this jelly brushed on would be a perfect Bama Football watching snack!










Monday, July 23, 2012

Green Pepper Jelly


While the peppers are at their peak, now is the time to make some hot pepper jelly.  These jars of peppery goodness make beautiful items for gift giving during the holidays.  For a nice little appetizer, chose a nice buttery cracker, put a little cream cheese or goat cheese and top with some pepper jelly.  Or you could use this as a glaze over grilled pork loin or chicken. 

I wouldn't recommend doubling the recipe.  It's better to make separate batches so that it will jell properly.  Use your food processor to finely grind the peppers.  Remember to use gloves to prevent burning your hands/fingers from the jalapenos.

For 6 8 oz. jars you'll need:
3/4 cup ground fresh bell peppers
1/4 cup ground Jalapeno peppers
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 bottle (6 oz.) liquid pectin
8 - 9 drops green food coloring (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine peppers, sugar and vinegar. Heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring to prevent boiling over.  Remove from heat.

Stir in pectin, mixing well. Let stand 5 minutes. Skim off white film which forms on top. Mix in food coloring, if using. Strain if you prefer a clear jelly, but I love the tiny little flecks of peppers.

Pour into hot, sterilized jar. Top with sterilized two part lids and tighten bands. Process in a boiling water bath beneath 4 inches of boiling water for 20 minutes to seal.


Caprese Salad


I've posted different pictures of these wonderful treats of summertime in the past.  This one I made a little different.  Instead of using all red tomato salices and balsamic vinegar, I mixed a combination of red and yellow tomatoes along with some cherry and romas.  Tucked quartered slices of mozzarella in and around the slices of tomatoes and then some freshly picked basil. 

The dressing was 3 oz. of olive oil, 3 oz. of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little salt and pepper.  After plating the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, lightly drizzle the dressing over and serve.

Italian Birthday Meal

Our son-in-law requested an Italian themed meal for his birthday this year.  Here's our table and place setting.




How do you like the napkin rings?  6 oz. tomato paste cans, with the ends removed with a safety can opener.  I used the tomato paste in the sauce for the lasagna.  Rinsed clean, they made a perfect unique napkin ring!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wine and Cheese




No fancy, smancy dessert for the Bastille Day menu.  Some wonderful cheeses, grapes, sliced apples and pears and a little bread.  Perfection.





Beginning at the 12 noon position we have:

12 noon:    Chevre
3 o'clock:  St. Andre Brie
6 o'clock:   Bucherondin
7 o'clock:   Gruyere
9 o'clock:   Boursin



Carottes a la Forestiere (Braised Carrots with Artichokes and Mushrooms)


This is the first recipe I've made from Julia Child.  Of course, I love all of these starring players separately, but together?  I was a little scared, I'll admit.  I should have trusted Julia.  This was an awesome side dish for our Bastille Day menu.

Don't be intimated by the process.  This is one of those recipes where you have to make ONE recipe to use in ANOTHER recipe.  But never fear, it's simple and easy.  You'll just need a little time.  But it's worth it. 

Let's start with the Carottes Glacees or, in other words, Glazed Carrots:

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and quartered and cut into 1/4 inch half moons
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 T. sugar
pinch of pepper
6 T. butter

Boil the carrots slowly in a covered 2 1/2 quart saucepan with the beef stock, sugar, pepper and butter for 30 - 40 minutes until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze.  Correct seasonings.

Now on the second part of the dish:
1/2 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms
1 T. oil
1 1/2 T. butter
salt and pepper
2 T. minced shallots
3 or 4 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
the braised carrots from the first recipe
1/3 cup beef stock
In a skillet, saute the mushrooms in hot oil and butter for 4 - 5 minutes until very lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the shallots and the artichokes into the mushrooms and toss for 2 - 3 minutes over moderately high heat.  Fold or toss the artichokes and mushrooms into the carrots.

Pour the stock into the vegetables.  Cover and boil slowly for 4 - 5 minutes until the stock has almost completely evaporated.  Correct seasonings.  Sprinkle with 2 T. minced parsley or chives.  Serve immediately.

Pommes Dauphinois (Potato Gratin)

Another winner from Around My French Table.  This dish is one of the most famous in France.  Thinly sliced potatoes, cream and ooey gooey cheese.  Why shouldn't it be famous?    This is the ultimate comfort food.  No, I wouldn't (or couldn't!) eat this two or three nights a week.  But for a very special occasion or whenever you need some comforting, this would be my go to selection.


I can't imagine that any additions would make this any better, but if you had some left over ham or pancetta, add it in! 

1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 - 2 1/4 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Thyme or rosemary (if you'd like, I used thyme)
3/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated (this will be about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a 9 inch deep dish pie plate or a gratin dish.  It will need to hold about 2 quarts.

Pur the heavy cream and garlic in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat.  Keep it warm while you prepare the potatoes.

If you have a mandoline, you'll get to use it for perfectly 1/8 inch slices.  If you don't have one, carefully slice the potatoes in as uniform thickness as possible.

As you slice each potato, arrange the slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles or rows if you're not using a pie plate.  Season with salt and pepper and spoon over some of the warm, garlic infused cream.  Lightly press the potatoes down with the back of a spoon so the cream works its way around all the slices.  Continue until you've filled the pan. 

You will want to see a little cream right at the top of the sliced potatoes, if you didn't have enough, pour a little cream or milk to bring it up level with the potato slices.  If you're using the herbs, scatter them on top now.  Dust the top of the gratin with the grated cheese.

Put the gratin dish on a baking sheet and place in oven for about 45 minutes.  Check the potatoes and if a knife goes through the potatoes easily to the bottom of the dish, the gratin is done.  If the potatoes need a few more minutes to cook and it's browning too much, cover loosely with foil and continue baking until the potatoes are done.

Remove the gratin from the oven and let is rest in a very warm place or in the turned off oven with the oven door open, for 5 to 10 minutes before you serve.  This will allow the potatoes to soak up every last drop of the cream.

Enjoy and be thankful we live on a planet that has potatoes!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chicken Breasts Diable


Such a simple dish with so many layers of flavor. Fancy enough for company and simple enough to prepare for your family on a weeknight. What more could you ask for?

4 chicken breasts, pounded lightly, at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1  tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 200º. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add chicken to the pan. Cook until well browned, about 4 minutes each side. Add a small amount of oil to the pan if it dries out. Cut a breast to make sure it's fully cooked, transfer to a baking dish or rimmed plate, season with salt and pepper, cover with a foil tent, and keep it warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.

Lower the heat to medium, toss the shallot and garlic into the pan and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring, until just softened, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir it around to pick up the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a few seconds.

Pour in the heavy cream. As soon as it reaches a boil, stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Taste and add more pepper, mustard, or Worcestershire sauce, depending on taste.

Remove chicken from oven. Pour any juices on the plate into the sauce and stir again. Serve the chicken with the sauce and enjoy!

From Around My French Table.

Mixed Green Salad with Pear Vinaigrette


Knowing that the dessert course for the meal would include pears, I chose a pear vinaigrette for the salad.  This dressing is light, tangy and perfect for mixed greens.  I think it would also be very good served simply poured over diced, ripe tomatoes or as a marinade for chicken.

1 ripe pear - peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Blend the pear, white wine, garlic, Dijon mustard, white balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and sea salt in a blender until well combined; drizzle the olive oil into the mixture in a thin, steady stream while continuing to blend.  Blend a few seconds longer until the salad dressing is thick and creamy.

Vichyssoise (Potato & Leek Soup)


So many variations for this soup.  Cold, warm, or room temperature.  Chunky, pureed?  Another favorite from Around My French Table.

I decided to go with slightly chilled and pureed and topped with a few chives.

2 T. unsalted butter
1 large onion, preferably Spanish chopped
2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and thinly sliced
salt and ground white pepper
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, washed and thinly sliced
1 large Idaho russet potato, peeled and cubed
6 thyme sprigs
2 fresh sage leaves (optional)
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and stir until they glisten with butter, then season with salt and white pepper.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft but not cooked.

Add the remaining ingredients (except heavy cream) with a little more salt, increase the heat and bring to a boil.  As soon as the soup bubbles, turn the heat to low, mostly cover the pot and gently simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.  Taste the soup and season generously with the salt and white pepper.

Remove from heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender.  Chill the soup for several hours or overnight and when ready to serve add the cup of heavy cream.

Garnish with snipped chives, parsley or tarragon or a mixture of herbs. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

French 75


The drink is aptly named.  Supposedly after two of these, it was reported that you would feel like you had been hit by a French 75 mm field gun.  I don't know about that, but it is an incredibly smooth drink and deserves a cautionary warning before drinking several!

1 1/2 shots Tanqueray gin
1/2 shot lemon juice
1/4 shot simple syrup
top with Champagne or Prosecco

Shake first three ingredients with ice and string into a flute.  Top with champagne or prosecco.

Gougeres


Gougeres are a delightful way to begin a party!  Or to eat by yourself.  Or to use to make LOTS of new friends.  The dough is basic and simple and requires only about 10 minutes of prep time before baking.  The gruyere cheese is a must.  Some recipes state you may substitute shredded Swiss, but spend the extra money and go with the original cheese for these wonderful little bites of heaven.

I've tried other recipes in the past, but this one from Around My French Table is far and away the best one I've attempted.

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick butter
1/2 salt
1 cup flour, all purpose
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (gruyere, swiss)

Place milk, water, salt and butter in a sauce pan and bring to rapid boil.  Add flour all at once and beat to combine quickly.  Cook another minute or two until dough becomes dry.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove dough from stove and add 1 egg at a time, beating each egg into the dough vigorously until completely combined.  Add in cheese and drop onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Use a teaspoon to drop a tablespoon of dough, spacing at least 2 inches apart. When all the dough is portioned out, turn oven down to 375 degrees and cook for 12 minutes.  Turn pan halfway around to cook evenly and bake another 12 minutes until browned and puffed up.  Serve immediately

The raw dough will freeze really well.  Portion out the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours.  Remove frozen dough and place in a plastic freezer bag.  To bake, simply bake straight from the freezer but allow an extra few minutes for baking.