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.

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.

Pissaladière {FFwD}

I almost skipped this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, as I knew no one else in the house would eat it. But it sounded good to me, so I decided to make a mini version for myself.

Although this recipe comes from the Nice region of France, it’s very similar to Focaccia alla Barese, an Apulian specialty from Southern Italy. Both feature onions, anchovies, and olives baked on a yeast-risen dough. I’ll let the French and Italians fight over who first came up with this recipe. What I can tell you is that I enjoyed them both.

The recipe features caramelized onions. This must be the week for it, since I made a Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Tart for Modern Baker Mondays, too. Unlike the Modern Baker version, which “enhances” the onions with sugar and balsamic vinegar, the pissaladière recipe calls for caramelizing the onions the old-fashioned way — with nothing but olive oil, salt, a few herbs, and lots and lots of time.

After almost an hour over low heat, the onions were beautifully caramelized. I stirred in anchovy paste (the recipe called for anchovies, but all I had was paste; more on that later) and freshly ground black pepper. I tasted the onions and decided they didn’t need any additional salt, as the anchovy paste was plenty salty.

I set the onions aside to cool while I prepared the crust. The recipe has instructions for making a yeast-risen dough, but Dorie also notes that it can be made with puff pastry. Since I had some puff pastry in the refrigerator, I decided to use it. I rolled it out nice and thin, trying to get it into a roughly rectangular shape but not worrying too much about perfection in that regard.

I spread the dough with the onion mixture, then slid it into the oven, which I had preheated to 425˚F.

I baked the pissaladière for 20 minutes, then took it out of the oven and added black olives and sundried tomato strips (in place of the anchovies called for in the recipe). I returned the pissaladière to the oven for about 5 minutes, just to warm the new toppings.

It has been almost a year since I made Focaccia alla Barese, but the pissaladière tasted just as I remembered the focaccia tasting, which is to say, delicious. The focaccia had a much thicker crust, but otherwise the two were very similar. The sweet tang of the onions played nicely off the saltiness of the anchovies and slight bite of the olives.

This is not a dish that I will make often around here, as I’m the only anchovy eater in the house. But I could see making it as an appetizer for a dinner party, or even a light lunch for my fish-loving friends.

Boeuf à la Mode {AMFT} {FFwD}

OK, let’s just get this out of the way right up front. In cooking terms, “à la mode” only means “with ice cream” in the US and Canada. More broadly, “à la mode” refers to beef and vegetables braised in wine. Think about that the next time you’re at Applebee’s and the waitress asks if you want your pie à la mode.

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table. It’s very similar to the Go-to Beef Daube recipe that I made for French Fridays with Dorie in December. The main difference is that the beef in this recipe is braised whole, instead of being cut up as it is in for daube.

I began by trimming the beef of most of its fat, then marinating it overnight in a mixture of red wine, olive oil, aromatic vegetables, and a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf, and celery leaves.

The next day, I removed the meat from the marinade and set it aside to dry a bit.

I strained the marinade, reserving the wine and vegetables.

I boiled the wine mixture until it was reduced by about half, then added beef broth and brought it back to the boil before setting it aside off the heat.

In the meantime, I browned the meat in a small amount of oil. Once it was well-browned on all sides, I salted and peppered it, then placed it in a Dutch oven.

Next, I sautéed the vegetables in oil for a few minutes. I seasoned the vegetables, then added a bit of cognac to deglaze the pan before adding it all to the Dutch oven with the meat.

Finally, I put a bit of the wine-broth mixture into the pan, then added four anchovies and some tomato paste. The anchovies broke down quickly into the mixture and gave the dish a more complex flavor that was not at all fishy. I added this, along with the rest of the wine-broth mixture, to the Dutch oven, covered the pot with foil and the lid, and slid it in the oven.

I braised the beef for an two-and-a-half hours, until the roast was fork tender.

The recipe says to remove and discard the vegetables, but like Dorie’s husband, I was too fond of the mushy carrots to do that. I sliced the beef and served it for dinner with a salad and some fresh bread. It was delicious and reminded us all of our favorite Sunday roast, with a little more flavor and complexity.

Like all good pot roasts, it was even better reheated the next day. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the beef daube (which I loved), and will definitely be making it again.

(By the way, don’t tell my family that it had anchovies in it. No one noticed, and they wouldn’t eat it if they knew. So let’s just keep it our little secret.)

Focaccia alla Barese: Apulian Onion, Anchovy, & Olive Focaccia {ModBak}

Now that I’ve found an easy, tasty, and reliable focaccia dough, I have enjoyed trying new focaccia and pizza recipes, like this recipe from The Modern Baker. Like the Sfincione that I made recently, the Focaccia alla Barese is part of the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of the Modern Baker Challenge. And like the Sfincione, this recipe featured anchovies, so I knew I would be eating it alone.

After making the dough, and while it was on its final rise, I made the topping. I began by sautéing onion in olive oil, then adding chopped anchovies. I seasoned with pepper (no salt, as the anchovies were salty enough on their own).

I stirred in the olives, then put the topping in the fridge to chill for a few minutes. While the onion mixture was cooling, I prepared the crust by dimpling the top with my fingers. Then I spread the topping on the crust, dusted the focaccia with the barest sprinkling of sea salt, and drizzled it with olive oil.

I baked the focaccia at 425°F for 30 minutes, until the dough was well-risen and the topping had begun to dry.

I let the focaccia cool for a few minutes on the pan, then moved it to a cutting board to finish cooling. I cut the focaccia into squares to serve.

The Focaccia alla Barese was savory and delicious. The anchovies and olives blended well and gave it a salty, yet slightly sweet flavor.

Although I enjoyed this focaccia immensely, I have to take exception with something Nick Malgieri says about it in the side note to the recipe. Nick states that the anchovies “melt into the topping and add a pleasant note of saltiness, but no stong fishy taste.” While I wouldn’t call this focaccia overly fishy tasting, you can definitely tell it has anchovies on it. And if you’re not an anchovy lover, this isn’t the dish to make a convert out of you.

But if you like anchovies, you will love this focaccia.

Sfincione: Palermo Focaccia {ModBak}

Having discovered the simple and delicious Pizza and Focaccia Dough recipe in The Modern Baker, I was ready to make some focaccia.  I decided to start with the first recipe following the dough recipe in the book, Sfincione (page 115). This is a focaccia traditionally made in Palermo, Sicily, and contains ingredients often found in Sicilian cooking: tomatoes, anchovies, and bread crumbs.

While the dough was on its second rise, I made the topping. I started by sautéing onion in olive oil.

When the onion had begun to soften, I added chopped anchovies.

I stirred in tomato purée, and cooked it down for a few minutes.

I seasoned the mixture with pepper but held off on adding any salt, as the anchovies were plenty salty. I scraped the sauce mixture onto a plate and put it in the refrigerator while I gathered the remaining ingredients and prepared the crust.

I preheated the oven to 425°F. Then I dimpled the top of the dough with my fingertips. I got the sauce out of the fridge, tasted it for seasoning, and spread it evenly over the dough. I sprinkled the dough with Pecorino Romano cheese, dusted the cheese with dried oregano, and then covered the whole thing with bread crumbs. Finally, I drizzled the top of the focaccia with olive oil.

I baked the focaccia for 30 minutes, until the top was well browned.

I allowed the focaccia to cool on a pan for a few minutes, then removed it to a cutting board. I used a pizza wheel to cut the focaccia into slices.

It looked like a crumb bun, but you’d never confuse this focaccia with a sweet breakfast treat. It is savory, salty, a little fishy, and absolutely delicious. If you don’t like anchovies, this is not the dish that will make a lover out of you. But if you’re a fan of those salty little fishies, you’ll really enjoy this focaccia.

Knowing my family’s aversion to anchovies, I figured I would be eating this focaccia by myself. But that was fine with me. It just meant I didn’t have to share it with anyone.