Boeuf à la Mode {FFwD}

Unlike last week’s Salad Niçoise, which came in just under the wire, I made this week’s recipe early. Really early. Like almost three years early. Having tried and loved Dorie’s Go-to Beef Daube, I couldn’t wait to try this version of pot roast. So I first made it and blogged about it back in January, 2011, long before it came up in the French Fridays rotation. You can see the original Boeuf à la Mode post, complete with process photos, here.

But looking over the post myself the other day, I knew I wanted to make it again. Add to that the fact that we just had a side of the most delicious beef I’ve ever tasted delivered, and it was a no brainer.

Boeuf a la mode - Braised

Since the prior post has lots of detail and pictures (including the one above), I didn’t take any new photos this time. But I did make the following changes to the recipe:

  • Rather than marinate the beef and vegetables overnight, I used my FoodSaver Quick Marinator, which did the job in 20 minutes, while I was getting everything else ready.
  • Dorie’s recipe calls for lots of pans and moving things back and forth between them. I’m a lazy cook, so I always look for ways to eliminate extra steps or dirtying needless piles of dishes. I strained the marinade into a saucepan to reduce, then browned the meat, softened the vegetables, and melted down the anchovies all in the Dutch oven that I used to cook the whole thing. After browning the beef, I removed it to a plate, then added the vegetables to the pot (no dumping out and replacing oil here). When the veggies had softened sufficiently, I added the anchovies and tomato paste to the pot, along with a splash of the marinade and stock mixture.  I cooked that until the anchovies and tomato paste were mixed in, then added back the beef and poured in the rest of the marinade/stock.
  • I have this wonderful mushroom stock base that I got on clearance at Williams Sonoma, so I used that in place of beef stock.
  • Finally, out of pantry necessity, I used bourbon instead of Cognac.

This dish was as good as I remembered. Even dad, whose idea of the perfect pot roast is one cooked to mush in the crock pot with cream of mushroom soup and dried onion soup mix, said it was delicious. And the dogs had no complaints about the wee bit of broth drizzled over their evening kibble.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. Check out the website to see what the other Doristas thought about this recipe.

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Salad Niçoise {FFwD}

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a perfectly simple, perfectly composed, and perfectly delicious salad.

Salad Nicoise

See, what did I tell you? Perfect.

This salad featured Bibb lettuce, parsley, boiled potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, steamed green beans, tuna, tomatoes, capers, Niçoise olives, homemade vinaigrette, and, the star of the show, anchovies. Although there were quite a few ingredients, and the potatoes, beans, and eggs had to be prepared ahead, the salad came together very quickly with minimal fuss and almost no clean up.

It might not surprise you to learn that we served this for lunch while the kids were away at school. We all really enjoyed this salad. It was pungent, salty, and quite filling, in that wonderful, salad-full sort of way.

Another keeper from Dorie to start out year four of French Fridays.

Goat Cheese & Strawberry Tartine {FFwD}

I wasn’t planning on participating in this week’s French Fridays with Dorie post. In fact, I hadn’t even looked at the recipe. But I wanted to see what everyone else had made, so around 5:00 this evening, I logged into the FFwD website to look at everyone’s posts. I kept seeing words like “easy”, “quick”, “only four ingredients”, and, most importantly “delicious”. I decided I’d better check out the recipe for myself.

Like some of the other Doristas, when I saw “tartine” in the title, I mistakenly assumed it was some kind of cake or layered dessert, which is why I had decided to sit this one out. So I was surprised to look at the recipe and note that it was really an open-faced sandwich of sorts. And a super simple one at that.

Baguette, goat cheese, strawberries, black pepper, and an optional drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Based on the short list of ingredients, the obvious ease with which it could be thrown together, and the rave reviews it was receiving from everyone, I decided to go ahead and make this recipe. I had to run to the store for the baguette (I ended up getting a loaf of French bread, as that was the closest thing they had), so I figured I probably wouldn’t get around to making it in time to post for this week’s FFwD roundup. And it was too late to think about writing a blog post anyway; but I wanted to try the tartine.

It was a lovely evening here, so we ended up lighting a campfire and sitting outside for a few hours after dinner. When we came in around 10:00, I noticed that the goat cheese was sitting out on the counter. I went to put it away, and saw the Mission Fig Balsamic Vinegar from Olive My Heart that I had reduced into a thick, gooey syrup following my balsamic reduction recipe. Before I knew it, I was firing up the broiler to toast the French bread and looking for a nice plate on which to assemble everything.

Less than five minutes later, I had these:

Stawberries and Goat Cheese

These were definitely worth making, even at 10:00 at night. I think Mom put it best when she said, “These taste better than they look, and they look amazing!”

So, with just over an hour to spare in my time zone, here’s this week’s post. I think I’ll look at next week’s recipe tomorrow and maybe make it this weekend.

Creamy Mushrooms and Eggs {FFwD}

AMFT Cover

Although I haven’t been participating in French Fridays with Dorie (or any other bake- or cook-along group) recently, I happened by the website the other day, and this recipe was enough to pull me back in. Mushrooms, cream, and poached eggs (singing: these are a few of my favorite things) on top of toasted brioche — I mean, what’s not to love?

This recipe was as simple as it was delicious. Cleaning the mushroom caps and chopping the mushrooms, shallot, rosemary, and mint were the most time-consuming parts of the whole process. After that, it was just a matter of adding everything to the pan in the right order while Mom poached some eggs.

Once I had my mise en place, I began by heating olive oil and melting butter in a sauté pan. I dropped in the shallot and sautéed it for a few minutes, then added the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Once the mushrooms had given up their liquid and begun to soften, I added cream and let it simmer away for a few minutes while I sliced up the brioche and started toasting it. Finally, I removed the pan from the heat and stirred in rosemary and mint.

By that time, Mom was finished poaching the eggs (perfectly, I might add), and we plated everything. We put a slice of brioche on the plate, topped it with a nice spoonful of mushrooms and the poached egg, and then finished it off by spooning the mushroom cream over the top.

Everyone agreed that this was a perfect Sunday supper — simple, homey, filling, and insanely delicious.

I’m glad to be back cooking with my friends for French Fridays. I can’t say for sure how many recipes I will make, or if I’ll post many or any of them. But I have already made next week’s Coupetade. And I love both asparagus and avocado. So there’s a good chance I’ll be around at least for the month of May.

Bon appetite!

Banana Rum Coconut Layer Cake {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge cake features one of my favorite flavors. No, I don’t mean dark rum (although I’m certainly not opposed to rum). I’m talking about bananas. Regular readers of my blog know about my obsession with all things pumpkin, as well as my love of apples. But I am equally enamored with bananas.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll eat anything that’s banana flavored. In fact, like strawberries, while I love real bananas, I really dislike “banana flavored” foods. But give me a fresh banana, or better yet a baked good made with ripe bananas, and I’m a happy man.

So this cake was right up my alley. It combines ripe bananas with rum and coconut for a delicious tropical flavor baked into a homey layer cake.

To make the cake layers, I beat butter, granulated and dark brown sugars, and vanilla until fluffy, then added eggs. I mixed flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and mashed bananas, milk, and dark rum in another. I alternated adding these to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

I beat the batter for several minutes to lighten it, then divided it between two 9-inch pans. I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake was well risen, golden, and firm in the center.

This cake smelled good enough to eat right out of the oven. But I resisted and cooled the layers while I made the frosting.

As I’ve baked my way through the Cakes section of  The Modern Baker, I have really come to appreciate the simplicity, lightness, and wonderful flavor of whipped cream as cake frosting. And when you add rum to the whipped cream, well, things can only get better.

Having cooled the layers and made the frosting, which consisted of whipping cream, sugar, and dark rum, I was ready to assemble the cake. I placed the first layer on a cake plate, sprinkled it with about a tablespoon of dark rum, and spread the top with whipped cream. I inverted the second layer on top of the first and topped it with rum and whipped cream. I spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake, then pressed coconut into the frosting.

We enjoyed this cake for dessert, and everyone asked for seconds.

This cake was delicious, with the tropical flavors of banana and coconut shining through. And even though it had dark rum in the batter and frosting, it wasn’t at all boozy tasting.

This is another celebration cake: one that’s simple enough to make for any gathering, but impressive enough to commemorate those special occasions.

Raspberry Cream Cake {ModBak}

In last week’s Modern Baker Mondays post, I recounted my first successful attempt at making a classic génoise.

And I promised that if you came back this week, you’d see what became of this wonderful cake layer. Obviously, a cake this beautiful had to be destined for something equally stunning. So I used it to make this show-stopping raspberry cream cake.

This is a special cake for a special occasion. Who wouldn’t feel great about being presented with a cake like this for a birthday or anniversary? It’s just enough work to make it a cake worth saving for a special occasion; but not so much that you should be intimidated about making it. In fact, once you have your génoise prepared, most of the work is behind you.

This cake derives its raspberry flavor from three components: raspberry moistening syrup (which is just a simple syrup with a little framboise stirred into it), seedless raspberry jam, and raspberry buttercream.

This is a classic buttercream with a raspberry purée (seeded raspberries cooked down to a jelly-like consistency) and more framboise added to it. Once you’ve made the génoise, syrup, and buttercream, it’s just a matter of assembling the cake.

I began by cutting the génoise into three layers.

I inverted the top layer onto a tart pan bottom, then brushed it with the raspberry syrup.

I spread some raspberry jam on the layer.

Then I topped it with buttercream.

I repeated these steps with the second layer, then inverted what had originally been the bottom layer on top.

I finished the cake with buttercream, then pressed sliced almonds on the sides of the cake. Finally, I topped everything with some sugared black raspberries.

This cake was amazing! The génoise was light and airy, and the raspberry flavor permeated the entire cake yet was somehow delicate and almost understated. We enjoyed this cake for dessert the day it was made and over the next several days, as it held up really well.

This is definitely not a weeknight cake, but it’s not so complex that you should be afraid to try it. The “wow” factor definitely exceeds the amount of work it takes to make, making this a great cake for any special occasion.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt {Recipe}

Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. Like a simple, delicious strawberry frozen yogurt.

Or a simple post with a simple recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt.

This recipe was inspired by David Lebovitz and adapted by me.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 pint peak of the season strawberries, stems removed and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (whole fat, if you can find it; can also use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the strawberries into 1/2-inch slices and place in a bowl with sugar and Kirsch. Stir to mix well, then set aside to macerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Put strawberries and their liquid, yogurt, sour cream, and lemon juice in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture is smooth. Press mixture through fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour, then process in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Enjoy immediately, or freeze to desired consistency.

Makes about 1 quart.

My family loved this frozen yogurt. In fact, my wife pronounced it “too good”, meaning it won’t last long around here. It was sweet, slightly tart (my 8-year-old picked up on the lemon juice), and tasted like fresh strawberries.

Everyone was surprised when I told them it had sour cream in it. I added it because the only yogurt I had was low-fat, but I ended up liking the smoothness and tang it lent to the frozen yogurt. From now on, it will be a regular addition to my homemade frozen yogurt.

This post is part of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages and King Cakes. Check out my other posts to find out what else I did with fresh strawberries while they were in season this year.

{Bake!} Strawberry Chantilly Cake with {Mod Bak} Yellow Cake Layers

It’s Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. Six days of posts featuring this delicious fruit in all of its height-of-the-season goodness. Monday began with an amazing Strawberry Shortcake, followed on Tuesday by a not-so-amazing French Strawberry Cake (hey, they can’t all be winners).

After my French Strawberry Cake disaster, I was ready to make a tried and true strawberry cake. Mom and Dad were coming, and it was Mom’s birthday, so I decided to revisit the Strawberry Chantilly Cake recipe from Nick Malgieri’s Bake! that we made last year for Easter and my friend Kayte’s birthday.

Since we recently started the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I decided to use the Yellow Cake Layers from The Modern Baker for this recipe.

I began by creaming butter, sugar, and vanilla in the electric mixer until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I added the eggs one at a time and mixed well after each addition. Next I mixed in half the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt), then the buttermilk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture. I beat the batter for 3 minutes to lighten it.

I divided the batter between two 9-inch cake pans and smoothed the top.

I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until they were golden and baked through. I let the cakes cool completely before assembling the Chantilly cake.

As noted in my original strawberry Chantilly cake post, the recipe is really more a set of assembly instructions than a recipe. I began by putting one of the cake layers right side up on a cake cardboard. I tucked pieces of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the cardboard clean. I spread a layer of freshly whipped cream on the top of the cake, followed by sliced strawberries.

I topped this — carefully — with another layer of whipped cream.

I turned the second cake layer upside down and put it on top of the first layer.

I spread whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake, then smoothed it with an offset spatula.

I learned from making this cake before that it tastes better the next day, so at this point, I wrapped the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I finished the cake with sliced strawberries.

We celebrated Mom’s birthday with this cake for dessert after dinner. It was better than I remembered, and everyone had seconds.

This is a great way to use fresh, height-of-the-season strawberries. In fact, I may just have to make this cake again before the good berries are gone for the year.

In addition to the Strawberry Shortcake and French Strawberry Cake linked above, the following recipes will be featured in the next few days:

Half Hour Hot Dog Buns {Recipe}

After yesterday’s success with half hour hamburger buns, I decided to try the recipe again, this time as hot dog buns. It’s the same basic recipe. I changed the shaping instructions and rewrote it to make by hand instead of with a mixer.

Half Hour Hot Dog Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. Pour water into a large bowl. Add yeast and sugar, stir to dissolve, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix with dough whisk or large spoon. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes, adding flour as necessary so that dough it smooth and elastic, like French bread dough.
  4. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and preshape each piece into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time, flatten into an oval. Fold top third of dough to the center, seal, then fold down again and seal into a torpedo shape. Using both palms, roll from the center to the ends to desired length.
  5. Place dough balls close together (about an inch or less apart) on prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. If desired, brush rolls with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds just before baking.
  6. Bake rolls for 8-10 minutes, until well-risen and browned. Cool on pan for a few minutes.

Makes 12 hot dog buns.

Half Hour Hamburger Buns {Recipe}

I don’t know about you, but Mondays and Fridays tend to be quick dinner nights around here. For whatever reason, at either end of the work week, I want something simple and fast to throw together. One of my almost instant dinners that my family really likes is Sloppy Joes.

So last night (Thursday), I got a pound of ground beef out of the freezer to make Sloppy Joes for dinner tonight. There weren’t any hamburger buns in the freezer, and the ones on top of the fridge were of questionable vintage. Rather than stop on the way home to pick up buns, I decided to try a recipe a number of my baking friends had been chatting about — Taste of Home’s 40-minute Hamburger Buns.

You might wonder (1) how you could possibly have homemade bread of any kind in about half an hour, and (2) whether it could possibly be any good. Let me tell you….

Bread derives its flavors in two basic ways. First, from time — the rising and fermenting processes allow the yeast in the dough to convert the starch in flour to sugar, thereby adding flavor. The other way to get flavorful bread is through the ingredients used to make it. For example, eggs, sugar, and oil are often added to bread to make an enriched dough that relies more on these ingredients than the fermentation process for its resulting flavor.

In the case of these burger buns, the flavor comes almost entirely from the ingredients, as the dough is not given a chance to rise. This recipe also relies on another principle of bread baking: if you add enough yeast to the dough, you can make bread that rises “instantly”.

I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical of these buns, as I tend to rely heavily on time to develop flavor in my breads. I can make amazing bread using nothing but flour, yeast, salt, and water (and in the case of sourdough bread, just flour, salt, and water). But I needed hamburger buns for dinner, and it seemed like a good time to see what all the fuss was about.

I was surprised at how good these burger buns tasted. I would still opt for a more traditional recipe when time permits. But for an almost instant bread, these were great. And they fit right into my quick Friday dinner plans. These were so good, I made them again as hot dog buns.

I made some changes to the recipe, and I found they were done in closer to half an hour than 40 minutes. Here’s my version.

Half Hour Hamburger Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. Pour water into bowl of electric mixer. Add yeast and sugar, stir to dissolve, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix with dough hook on medium-low speed for 3 to 5 minutes, adding flour as necessary so that dough clears sides and bottom of bowl.
  4. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place dough balls 1 to 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. (Placing dough balls closer together will cause them to bake together, creating pull-apart hamburger buns similar to those you get from the store.) Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. If desired, brush rolls with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Or for softer buns, brush with a little milk.
  5. Bake rolls for 8-10 minutes, until well-risen and browned. Cool on pan for a few minutes.

Makes 12 hamburger buns.

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