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Chris Hennes

Cooking with Dorie Greenspan's "Around my French Table"

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Linda, your whole plate looks so come-and-get it. I love the way you cut the carrots and the contrast between the pointy carrots and the elegantly striated skate. I'm seeing skate in the market more and more in Connecticut -- I remember asking for it once on at mid-week, and the fishmonger told me "Skate is not a Wednesday kind of fish!" -- something which really pleases me. I'm glad you liked the sweet-fish-with-salty-condiments mix, I think it's one you can play around with easily.

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I made the Baked Stuffed Pumpkin and we all thought it was terrific and we'll definitely do it again.

However, I very much wish there had been some information in the recipe as to what sort of pumpkin to buy. At my store, anyway, there were at least four different varieties. I managed to track down the produce manager and told him what I was buying the pumpkin for, and he selected one.

But I was surprised that there was no instructive info in the book.

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What kind did you end up using?

After some discussion, the produce manager suggested a "sugar baby" pumpkin, so that's what I bought. The smallest sugar baby was nearly six pounds, though, so I don't know if that would have been what Ms. Greenspan would have recommended.

It worked out pretty well, but I'd still be curious to know which variety she believes preferable.

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I've never encountered a sugar pumpkin that large; they usually weigh in between 2 and 4 pounds.

Well, I'm pretty clearly no pumpkin expert. I've always been a 'canned pumpkin' girl myself. But that's what the produce manager said it was. I weighed it, so I do know it weighed that much and I got the smallest one. But maybe he was mistaken as to the variety. I wouldn't know enough to know.

I doubled the recipe for the stuffing, and it didn't take quite all of it. It took a little more than about one-and-a-half recipe's worth.

___________________________


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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I'm glad to know it worked. I have a big (10-pound) cooking pumpkin (not a sugar) that I want to stuff. Your experience emboldens me to give it a try.

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I'm glad to know it worked. I have a big (10-pound) cooking pumpkin (not a sugar) that I want to stuff. Your experience emboldens me to give it a try.

It worked great. Because it was so much bigger than the recipe called for, I didn't really pay much attention to the baking time - just cooked it until the whole thing was sagging, and the skin punctured easily. Took the cap off for the last bit, and took it out when the stuffing was well-browned and bubbling merrily and appeared to be cooked through.

We had more than enough for our little family, and it was even good reheated the next night.

We were unsure as to exactly how to serve it - whether to scoop or slice. We wound up slicing, and that worked really well, too.

Served it with a pork tenderloin and a tossed salad. Excellent meal.

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I made a stuffed pumpkin last night and used a 3-pound sugar pumpkin, although the pumpkin wasn't as sweet as some others I'd had. Ah, Mother Nature -- she sure knows how to mix things up. Still, it was delicious -- this is a hard dish to mess up.

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I did this recipe two times a couple weeks ago.

The first one was absolutely as per the book EXCEPT, I used panchetta instead of the bacon, WOW. The 2nd was close to the first but crumbled crisp bacon and onions rather than chives. The first Kicked the second into the next county.

I love this idea, the sugar pumpkin would be better replaced with a Hubbard or Kuri[sp]. Good use for a winter squash. I wonder about a lentil filling....

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Chicken B’stilla, p. 222

Creamy, subtly spiced chicken in a buttery phyllo crust—-what’s not to love? This made a perfect supper dish last night for out-of-town friends. I wanted something special but not fussy, that would be good hot or at room temperature, and that could be made ahead. This was time consuming but not difficult—-with a few lessons learned for the next time.

Prep time for the filling is several hours, but only a bit of that is hands-on work and the entire filling can be done the day before—-that’s what I did. The chicken needs to marinate, then simmer in broth. Once the meat is off the bone, the broth is strained and is used for the sauce. Assembly isn’t difficult, just take care handling the phyllo so it doesn’t tear.

The one tricky step is unmolding the b’stilla. Only once it was in the oven, baking away nicely, did it dawn on me—-the b’stilla would need to be unmolded onto a platter and then reversed again onto the serving platter. My initial reaction was fear—-flipping phyllo? twice? it would shatter to bits! My second thought was—-duh, why didn’t I use a springform pan?

The damage was limited, and I proclaimed the b'stilla as rustic. My guests were impressed and had seconds. But is there any reason not to use a springform pan here? It would make unmolding a breeze and help keep that lovely phyllo crust intact. Someone tell me if I’m missing a downside.

I don’t have a “before” photo, but trust me, the top and sides were perfectly smooth when it came out of the oven. On the platter:

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Cut into wedges with a side salad:

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A couple of tips that might be helpful to others:

• The sauce is thickened by whisking beaten eggs into the hot, reduced broth. The recipe didn’t mention tempering the eggs first by adding a little of the broth, something that helps keep eggs from scrambling when added to hot liquid. Seems like a simple precaution.

• Also, I found myself a bit confused about how to follow through with the directions to add the cooked, chopped onions from simmering liquid to the final filling. Good idea, except that, once strained from the broth, the onions are mixed with the chopped garlic and usual glop that results when braising meat. Next time, I’ll only cut the onion in half, making it easy to pull it out, I can chop it later.

I hope these quibbles don’t discourage anyone from trying it. This is a delicious and special dish, definitely worth the effort. And though it might be heresy, I’ll bet you can improvise a b'stilla with leftover Thanksgiving turkey—-maybe add the spices to some drippings to make the sauce—-and voila!

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B'stilla from leftover turkey -- not heresy, but a bonne idee!

I think you'll be fine using a springform pan and whatever you use, I wouldn't worry have a smooth top: lumpy, bumpy, wavy and a little cracked is just fine-- sprinkle over some cinnamon sugar. And who doesn't like rustic?

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Creamy cauliflower soup sans cream, p. 68-69

It sure tastes like it has cream. Very rich flavor but with almost no fat. I love Dorie’s suggestions for toppings, from the simple to the sublime. I had neither caviar nor truffles around the house, but I did use a pinch of truffle finishing salt on top--nice. Something about the cauliflower really carried the flavor.

Dorie isn’t exaggerating when she says that this is an elegant recipe worthy of your best china. I, on the other hand, just used a favorite mug:

DSCF0475.JPG

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Made the Chicken, Apples & Cream Normande.

So, so good. We're trying it next with pork, but this is definitely going into the "company dinner" rotation.

Just changed one thing.

I believe it called for 2 T of Calvados.

But hey, when you've got the bottle in your hand...

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Mr. Kim came home with this as a surprise last weekend. I was so glad and am really looking forward to cooking LOTS from this book. I am in the midst of some projects and starting my Christmas cooking, so I'll have to wait until the new year to really get into it, but I DO have some duck breasts in the freezer that I need to use to free up room and it IS kumquat season. Hmmmmmm.

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Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés, pp. 12-13

Delectable! Brilliant! Sweet and savory, delicate and earthy--in every bite.

DSCF0498.JPG

Not at all difficult. Just follow Dorie's instructions and don't work the dough much once the olives have been added or they'll stain the dough.

Since the dough needs to be made in advance, it's perfect for keeping on hand in the fridge for holiday parties or unexpected guests. I'll be making this often in the next month, I'm sure.

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After a very Dorie Thanksgiving (Chocolate Cream Tart, Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie, and Alsatian Apple Tart) from Baking From My Home To Yours, I turned to the new book for dessert for a dinner with friends this Friday.

orange-almond tart p. 460

I subbed apples for oranges because it seemed more seasonally-appropriate and I had them in the house. This was a fantastic blend of flavors and textures. I pretty much always make Dore's sweet tart dough with almond meal and thought this just took that great almond flavor to a new level. It was sweet without being cloying. Despite my guests protests that they were full, nearly the whole tart disappeared as little slivers made way for seconds and thirds.

The thing I really appreciate about Dorie's books is that I know that even a new-to-me recipe will be guest-worthy on my first try (even if I improve after a few attempts).

The lemon-steamed spinach on p. 331 was a very easy, quick way to round out my meal. I appreciated not having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making this once my guests had arrived.

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Mustard Bâtons, p. 15

Is this the easiest recipe in the book? Maybe. But that doesn’t make them less tasty.

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If you keep frozen puff pastry on hand, this takes only a few minutes to put together, less time than it takes to bake them.

Do follow Dorie’s advice to use a strong mustard. I used a seriously hot Dijon, but something about the puff pastry (the butter?) mellows it considerably.

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Having been out of the loop due to health reasons, I wasn't aware of this new book. I absolutely adore Baking from My Home to Yours and Baking with Julia so I just had to check this out. I just went to Amazon and placed the order after reading reviews and recipes.

Getting up there in years and having a huge collection of cook books, I was very careful to be sure this was something I would actually use in my daily life and can barely wait for it to arrive. My Christmas gift to myself.

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And the mail lady brought the book today, two days ahead of schedule. I'm overwhelmed with trying to decide which to make first.

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I really want to try almost everything in this book, but the only thing that I’ve had time for is the brioche rolls, which are fabulous and very easy, I thought:

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My only problem was that some of them didn’t get very dark on the bottom (the part that is inside the pan):

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Don’t know what the problem would be. My muffin tin is seriously old – very dark and ‘seasoned’. But they tasted wonderful and the texture was heaven. I tried an experiment and froze a few of them. A few days later I thawed and heated them gently and they were great. I thought I was going to get all proactive and make a couple of batches for Christmas dinner, but unfortunately that never happened. Now that the holidays are over I can’t wait to get to more of these recipes!

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I am now half way through reading this book. I am a very serious cook with who was taught by our family friends Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne. Went to the CIA (Yuk).

I have bookshelves of cookbooks and many French ones, The Lutece Cookbook being my favorite. Sorry Julia.

This is a fabulous cookbook! I love the introductions, the writing style and the recipes, both old friends and new. Some traditional, some not. So many recipes make me want to make them immediately.

The cous cous salad that I made last night was outstanding. I added a little piment d'espelette. The tartlet with warmed scallops on puff pastry comes next. Truly Une Bonne idee! Now I have to find kumquats for that duck breast. The steaming of the eggs en cocotte is novel.

I skipped to deserts for a moment and Finally found the authentic clafoutis, just as I remember eating when I lived in France.

One quibble is the quantity measurement. How many large onions is a cup? Is French celery as super sized as ours? One can work around it, but to me it's a flaw.

So congratulations Ms. Greenspan. This book is a marvel and a keeper.

Thank you so much for your efforts and love.

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Garbure from the supermarket, pp, 86-88

Tourteau de chèvre, pp. 449-451

A great winter lunch!

The garbure was a hearty but not heavy soup, perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon. I wish I had easy access to the duck confit that would have made this more authentic, but I was lucky to have some sausages made with duck fat in the freezer, which gave the soup (or is it a stew?) some extra depth. With meat, vegetables, potatoes, and beans, this is a meal in itself. The recipe makes an enormous quantity, so it’s a good thing leftovers can be frozen.

DSCF0576-1.JPG

Good as the garbure was, the tourteau de chèvre stole the show. No one was hungry for dessert after the garbure. Until we tasted this maddeningly delicious, not-too-sweet, quasi-cheesecake-sponge cake-fallen soufflé in a pastry crust.

Dorie, thank you for your lovely story about your first taste of tourteau de chèvre. If not for that, I might have not have remembered noticing this seemingly burnt confection at fromageries in Paris and, not recognizing it, letting myself get distracted by the cheeses. To think I might have tasted this years ago:

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I need to play around with my oven temperature on this one. The pastry crust was a little undercooked, a problem I often have when not blind-baking pastry crust or when a tart or springform pan is placed on a baking pan (both the case in this recipe). But I’ll happily experiment. I will probably also cut the sugar back by a tablespoon to accentuate the savory side of the tourteau so I can serve it with drinks or with a salad, as well as a dessert. If you own this book, you must give this a try.

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