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


Chris Hennes
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Over in this topic we're discussing this book in general terms. But now that the book has arrived, it's time to start cooking. I had a hard time deciding which recipes to start with, but since the book arrived mid-week I was a little limited in terms of what ingredients I had on hand. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Check. Potatoes? Check. OK then...

Chicken Breasts Diable (p. 217)

Broth-Braised Potatoes (p. 358)

As is typical with Greenspan's books, the text of the recipe is well-written, very clear, and generally feels like you've got Dorie there looking over your shoulder giving you pointers the whole time. The recipe fits well into a book that bills itself as "more than 300 recipes from my home to yours"—I don't think that a dish such as this would be out of place on anyone's weeknight dinner table. We're not breaking new culinary ground here: it's boneless, skinless chicken breasts, served with a white wine pan sauce. The ingredients list is delightfully vague: three tablespoons mustard ("or a bit more"), "about one tablespoon olive oil," etc. This is a dish to make and tweak to your tastes: don't bother getting out the scale. Hell, I didn't bother with measuring spoons. So, it's hard to comment on the end result: my wife and I really liked both the chicken and potatoes. Earth-shattering new flavor combinations? No. But a very good rendition of a classic, tweaked to be just the way I like it. Bon appetit, indeed!

Chciken Diable.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Chris, it's great that you and your wife enjoyed the chicken and potatoes. I love that you just opened the book and made a good dinner with the ingredients you had on hand. I really hope others will do the same. While there are 'special occasion' recipes in the book, the majority of the recipes are for everyday, all the time food and lots and lots of the recipes can be made just as you made them tonight -- with what's on hand and/or what's easily gettable.

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I am buying the ingredients today for a few dishes: spiced butter-glazed carrots, garlicky crumb-coated broccoli, I want to try the salted butter break-ups real soon. I have so many recipes flagged already. I wish my 7-month old daughter would let me spend a little more time reading/using it!

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger (pp. 240–242)

Crunchy Ginger-Pickled Cucumbers (p. 340)

I love getting new cookbooks... so many new recipes to try! It being Labor Day weekend here in the US, a burger seemed like a great meal choice. In addition, I think this particular recipe is the one I was most intrigued by when first reading through the book. The flavor combination looked so completely unlike anything I had ever had in a burger, I knew I had to try it.

First, the ingredients: mixed in with the beef are capers, cornichons, sun-dried tomatoes, tarragon, and parsley. Under the burger is a red-onion and corriander relish. On top, parmesan cheese. Now, when I list out those ingredients the burger may not seem that odd, even to Americans. But there is not just a sprinkling of these ingredients: there is enough vegetable matter in these patties to qualify these burgers for genuine health-food status. OK, I may be exaggerating somewhat, but check these things out:

Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger Cooking.jpg

Subtle that seasoning is not. And one bite of the burger confirms this in vivid detail: a massive punch of tarragon startles you awake, followed by the bright brininess of the cornichons and capers, the sweetness of the relish, and the "greenness" of the parsley. Somehow amid all of this the sun-dried tomatoes don't really pop, but that's probably a good thing: they are best left as a background note anyway (in my opinion). In fact, amid all of this, even the beef itself plays second fiddle. It's in there, but it's a background note. If you are looking for a burger to add to your regular backyard BBQ rotation, this is not the burger you are looking for. At least, if I served this here in Oklahoma and tried to call it a burger, I'd probably get lynched, or at least laughed out of the state.

THAT SAID... I loved the flavors here, and the utter surprise of that first bite. Like I said, these won't be making their way onto my regular burger menu, but every once in a while, when I'm looking for something really different, these just might make an appearance.

Café Salle Pleyel Hamburger Served.jpg

With the burgers I served the cucumber-ginger salad from the book. I like the taste combination in principle, but I found the ginger to be a bit too strong for me. If I made this again I'd cut back on the quantity. If you really like ginger this will be right up your alley, but otherwise I'd suggest a cautious approach.

Crunchy Ginger-Pickled Cucumbers.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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The burger! Chris, what a perfect choice for Labor-Day Weekend. Having made the more traditional chicken and potatoes last night, I think it's terrific that you made the not-at-all-traditional burger and pickles. And I'm so, so glad you loved the flavors. This has become my husband's favorite burger -- minus the parsley. I know it would seem impossible that anyone could dislike parsley, but there you have it.

It's very exciting for me to see my food made by others -- and made so beautifully. Thank you!

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Oh boy. I got my copy yesterday (Dorie, I just sent you a request on Facebook talking about how I hoped this very thread would be here!) and am looking forward to cooking from it...after I watch you pros for a little while first!

My boyfriend is a chef and does all the cooking but since fall is around the corner and the horrific NYC heat will be GONE, I will be a little more motivated. Yay! Chris, these photos are AMAZING. You guys never disappoint. :wub:

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IMG_0318.JPG

I made the salted butter break-ups today. I was sad that 1 tsp of Morton's kosher salt left them not salty. Sadly I remembered after I made them that I do in fact have some sel gris, but it seems pretty coarse. Does that sound right? I will definitely try them again with the grey salt, as they were delicious and I love the break-apart nature of the cookie.

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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Chicken in a Pot: The Garlic and Lemon Version (pp. 206–208)

I've never made "chicken in a pot," or at least never quite like this, with the dough sealing the edges of the dutch oven. Here's what that looks like without the lid, on its way into the oven:

Chicken in a pot, pre-baking.jpg

Joining the chicken in that pot are the usual raft of vegetables (carrots, onions, celery) as well as four heads of (unpeeled) garlic, and half of a lemon's worth of preserved lemon rind. You give everything a quick sear over high heat, then combine into the pot with white wine and stock, seal it up, and bake it at 450°F for 55 minutes. It comes out looking like this:

Chicken in a pot, post-baking.jpg

I was a little unclear on how to serve it, given the amount of liquid in the bottom of the pot, and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves in the vegetable mix. In the end I just put all the vegetables on a plate with a piece of chicken and spooned a little of the "sauce" over the top:

Chicken in a pot, served.jpg

In general, the chicken was pretty overcooked (a thermometer into the breast read 175°F), so the first adjustment given my oven and my chicken is that it can't be cooked for 55 minutes. In addition, eating around the unpeeled garlic was annoying, so next time I'll pull it out before serving. And finally, the chicken didn't really wind up infused with any of the flavors of the surrounding liquid, so next time I think I'll strain it out and reduce it some, and actually serve it as a real sauce: that's where the flavor of the preserved lemon really comes to the fore.

Edited by Chris Hennes
Clicked "post" instead of "preview". Doh! (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Oops, sorry Dorie, looks like I posted my edit at the same time you asked this. As I mention in the paragraph that was missing from the original post, there are some changes I'd make to this one if I were to make it again: I didn't find the flavors developed in the liquid transferred to the chicken. I'd be inclined to take the next step and turn that liquid into a sauce, probably just by reducing it some and mounting with butter.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast (pp. 276–78)

French Lentils: A Basic Recipe (pp. 367–368)

The port roast in this case is stuffed with a mixture of swiss chard, onions, garlic, and raisins. It's then tied up, rubbed with cracked black pepper and coriander, and roasted. Here is the stuffing:

Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast Stuffing.jpg

And here it is wrapped up and ready for the oven:

Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast Stuffed.jpg

My wife prefers things cooked a little more on the "well done" side, so I cooked the roast to 150°F. Here it is sliced:

Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast Sliced.jpg

I served it with the basic lentil recipe on page 367:

Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast Served.jpg

As you can see, I topped it with rather bountiful quantities of a grainy dijon mustard, one of my favorite accompaniments for pork. Both of these recipes are clear winners in my book: the pork stuffing was delicious, and the rub of coriander and pepper on the surface a perfect accompaniment. I especially loved the raisins, which add great nuggets of sweetness when you bite into one. The lentils are finished with cognac and a shallot, a nice touch, I thought. I highly recommend that if you are unsure what to make first from this book, add these two recipes to your short list.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine (pp. 284–285)

This was a wonderful braise, especially on a rainy fall day like today: it made the whole house smell good, it looks great on the plate, and the sweet-and-savory combination is one of my favorites. My wife suggests that this would be a great dish to serve guests because it's just "exotic" enough to be unusual (here in the States, anyway), without the flavors coming across as too outlandish for the not-so-adventurous. I'll probably cut the apricots in quarters next time: while the whole apricots looks nice, you have to cut them to eat. Otherwise, this one is just about perfect.

Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Darn you Chris Hennes. I love Dorie's baking book but was hoping to wait on purchasing this new one until it was available in Kindle format like the baking book. But your kitchen escapes have moved the new book up to the top of the list, Kindle format or not

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Chris, I'm with Kalypso -- the dishes you've been making look terrific. I love that your wife called the Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine "just exotic enough" -- I completely understand what she means. And, like you, I love the sweet-savory combination and I'm extremely partial to the North African spices.

I'm curious,did you make the dish in a tagine pan or a Dutch oven? (It works well in both.)

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Made the Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes last night - it was fantastic! The first use of my new tagine, so I was a bit nervous, but the recipe was easy to follow with fall-apart tender chicken, prunes, and potatoes. The flavors are perfect for fall with cinnamon, cayenne, and saffron (not that it's actually fall here in Texas yet, but I can pretend). I might personally bump up the heat a little in the future with a little more cayenne.

Like Chris's comment about the apricots, I cut up the chicken and the prunes into bite-sized pieces just for ease of serving and eating. That, together with the fact that the sweet potatoes absorbed a lot of liquid overnight in the fridge, which made the whole thing more stew-like, which is totally fine with me.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Veal Marengo (pp. 264–266)

First, a confession: I did not follow the recipe terribly strictly here. I really love mushrooms, cipollines, and new potatoes, so I doubled, or maybe even tripled, the quantities of those. And I kinda eyeballed the rest. So: point a) this recipe must be very forgiving, because it tasted great despite all that, and b) it's really easy to make, and for a braise, really doesn't take that long. To a certain extent that relies on using a decent quality veal: I don't think you could make this so quickly with beef or lamb. But if you've got access, and especially if it's starting to cool down where you live, this is another one to add to your "to try" list.

Veal Marengo.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Gougeres (pp. 4–6)

It's a fall weekend, and in my house that means football. Which means snacks. Usually small, cheesy snacks. Ergo, gougeres. Maybe not your typical football fair, and I served them with beer rather than champagne, but I think it worked... although I made them too big to they are a bit misshapen.

Gougeres.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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AAAAAAAAARGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH Amazon.ca keeps saying my copy is ready to ship but still I wait!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Chris, I never think the shape makes any difference with gougeres,and while you said yours look misshapen, I think they look appealing. Bet they were good with beer!

And to "the bookless": Sorry to hear about Amazon. I had heard that Amazon US had sold out, but it never listed the book 'out of stock,' so who knows? I hope you get your books soon and, of course and most of all, I hope when you get them you'll like them.

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Thanks Dorie, maybe instead of "misshapen" I'll bill them as "rustic" :smile:

Osso Buco à l'Arman (pp. 270–272)

Another photogenic braise. This is a very interesting Osso Buco in that it is very heavily flavored with orange zest: in the braising liquid, in the rice, and in the gremolata. Since I think of lemon as being the more "classic" flavor this was a welcome change, and worked very nicely with the other flavors in the dish.

Osso Buco à l\

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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