Comfort Foods and Indulgences
Yesterday I started out wanting to make traditional Baklava and ended up making cookies! I saw a picture in a magazine where filo dough was cut and placed in mini muffin tins then filled with a quiche mixture. My Baklava Cookies evolved from that idea, and I absolutely love them.
I started by putting pecans, bread crumbs, sugar, honey and spices in a food processor and whizzing it all up. It looked a bit dry, so I drizzled in a bit more honey and mixed it well.
Then I layered filo sheets with melted butter and cut them into small enough pieces to fit into mini muffin tins. Once I put them in the tins, I placed a teaspoon of the nut mixture in each one, added one chocolate chunk, and then folded the filo sheets over and pressed down.
I brushed each with melted butter and baked them into wonderful little balls of nuttiness.
Sometimes you want a gallette instead of a pie. You’re shocked hearing that from me? Well, don’t be. Apparently I enabled a gallette to be the winning “pie” at the last pie contest. And you know why? Because of the increased caramelization possibilities of more exposed crust and the ability to make a really big one for a wow presentation.
Like this one here which served almost 20. Also, I find that for bakers who are nervous about the whole cooking fruit inside a crust + thickener thing, cooking the apples separately can be an easy anxiety fix.
To size up the recipe just use more dough to make a bigger circle for your gallette and prep more apples. For this gallette that was 14″ across I made my Ratio Dough using 15 oz of flour. I used 10 small apples. You actually don’t need to use many more apples than for a regular pie, they’re just spread out in a much thinner layer.
The sun is rising and turning the sky a beautiful pink hue. No rain today, a small miracle since it has been pouring for at least the last two weeks. Maybe I will get my garden cleaned up for its winter sleep. But maybe I won't. The decks also need some cleaning up. There is always a pull of whether to work inside (laundry) or out, but I think the sunshine will win today since it's a rarity.
My oldest son has joined the speech and debate team this year for his high school. Today is his first tournament and we had to have him at school at 5:45 am, dressed in a suit. This is a child who sleeps until 1 pm on the weekends and lives in athletic wear...but he got up, got dressed and off he went.
Thank goodness we had this coffee cake to comfort us after the early wake-up call. I have to hand it to him for having the courage as a freshman to get up there and debate a difficult subject in front of all kinds of people. And his topic today....GMO's, however, he does not know if he will be put on the pro or con side of the argument. He has done so much research and has had team practice three nights a week for almost two months. Hopefully it all goes well. Fingers and toes crossed.
I made this cake a few weeks back to celebrate the Jewish New Year. Traditionally, apples (and honey) are served in abundance during the 10 day period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Eating this combination stems from an age-old Jewish tradition of eating sweet foods to express our hope for a sweet new year.
I was a bit nervous to serve this cake as one never knows how it will turn out. I did take a little nibble from the bottom of the cake and it was tasty. The true test came when the kids took their first bite. My niece, Ruby, and my nephew, Luca were raving and saying things like, “this is the best cake I have ever eaten”.
They stole little slices, wrapped them in plastic wrap and vowed to eat them the next morning. According to their parents, the cake never made it to the next morning!
Biscuiterie familliale depuis 1905. St. Michel is a family owned bakery in Commercy France. In 1755 a young French girl named “Madeleine” created a recipe for a sumptuous little cake. These legendary cakes so inspired Marcel Proust that he dedicated pages to describe his experience of first biting into them in his novel, Remembrance Of Things Past. The little cakes became so popular that the recipe has been a closely guarded family secret to this day.
They are irresistible and addictive, redolent of citrus and sweet butter. Dunked in tea or coffee or vin santo. Dunked into honey. Or simply on their own.
Or as French Toast! I just thought it would be delicious, and it was! I used a serrated knife and carefully sliced each one lengthwise into three equal pieces, then soaked them for a couple of minutes in an egg bath, then gently sauteed them in sweet butter until they were golden brown. Then I plated them, drizzled all with Maple Syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. The resulting warm miniature French Toasts had intensified their citrus taste during cooking, which was a surprise, and which tasted absolutely etherial with the toppings.
It was a two-line email—the kind that makes you sit up and think—because it addressed an issue faced daily by millions of grill masters around Planet Barbecue:
“Sometimes we buy cheap beef because we are on a budget,” wrote Diane Q. “These steaks are often tough. We have tried salt, meat tenderizer, and marinades. Could you please tell me the best way to tenderize the steaks?”
I immediately thought of my last trip to Southeast Asia, and in particular, to steaks I ate hot off the grill in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Both were explosively flavorful thanks to complex marinades and polymorphic condiment spreads. And both were tough as proverbial shoe leather.
We North Americans and Europeans are spoiled when it comes to steak. Our notion of a “fork-tender” filet mignon or a “silver butter knife” sirloin (the signature steak at Murray’s in Minneapolis—so named because it’s so tender, the steak knife glides through the meat as though it were butter) are the stuff of dreams on much of Planet Barbecue.
It rains constantly here in the winter so comfort food is always something we crave. What is it about dreary weather that makes you want to eat? And not just eat anything, it has to be goood. And warm. And full of flavor. Cheesy and buttery helps too.
I also crave easy to make dinners. Lately I’ve found myself saying “this is my busy time of year”. But I’m finding I’m saying that all year round. The wheel basically never stops turning. Part of me thinks I’d like to jump off, but then what would I do?
So now I have my busy times (which is always) and my busier times, (which is 25% of the time). Help! I know everyone is busy, I just don’t ever remember so much craziness. We are all living the over-scheduled life. Anyway, just like you, I always have to find a way to make dinner easier, faster and better. And everyone in my family seems to have an opinion on how I could do that. They are so helpful:).
This pasta dish is one of my go to recipes. It starts with having extra cooked chicken breasts around. I always cook more than I need when I’m making a chicken meal. I leave the extra breasts plain, stick them in the fridge and cube them up the next day for a dish like this. You could also cook up the chicken especially for this meal, it just takes more time (but it’s doable). Leftover rotissere chicken is also an option.
A bit of a cold spell finally hit the Pacific Northwest this past week. The rain was so nice, except it rained while we were harvesting our vineyard, not cool mother nature, not cool. We have had such an unusually hot summer so the rain was a nice change for the most part.
During the rainstorm, all I could think about was making soup. As soon as I had a free moment, I did just that.
Have you ever had creamy chicken noodle as opposed to the clear, broth kind? It's so good. The consistency is not thick like potato soup, but the creamy part adds mouthfeel. With homemade bread, it's amazing. In fact the whole family asked for seconds.
I think if you are not going to make your own stock/broth, creamy is the way to go when it comes to chicken soup. This recipe is really something you can throw together on a weeknight. In fact, the chicken can go into the broth totally frozen. And is fully cooked within 15 minutes. That is the beauty of using tenderloins. Who can beat that for a mid-week dinner?
You might be looking at this pot of soup and wondering where are the carrots? While I love carrots, the creamy version of chicken noodle tastes so much better with parsnips. They are just as sweet, if not sweeter and my family loves them.
It is a cool and rainy Sunday afternoon in Maine and my sister and I have had an empty stomach for months or in other words, too many lunch-free days in a row. We are in need of something steamy and soulful. With a guilt filled summer of cooking way too many lobsters for the myriad of lobster rolls we make, I confess that I threw out every one of those gorgeous, flavor filled shells. Yes, they are composting somewhere but the shells were underutilized by me. I am guilty of being too busy. I had no extra minutes for one more thing to do, though I wished somehow I could have made stock- just once. So, today is the day...
I have a stockpot filled with picked lobster bodies, empty claw and knuckle shells which I have covered with water, along with a cup or two of white wine, a chopped leek to give it a sweet kiss from the South of France, a tablespoon of dried tarragon, several (I used 4, maybe 5) whole cloves of peeled garlic, a touch of sea salt and a chopped large tomato. That’s it! Let it simmer - for an hour at least but no more than two. There is just so much flavor that can be extracted or pulled from the shells and two hours is more than ample.
Quick and easy is what this stew is all about. It does not require a four-hour simmer, so it’s perfect for a last minute craving. With preparation time, it took me about 50 minutes to get this on the table. The best part is that it is absolutely delicious.
Using pork tenderloin is ideal for this meal since it’s already tender and doesn’t require hours of braising time to make it that way. Since the base of the stew uses apple cider, there is a slight sweetness to it. When served over the apple-potato mash, it becomes this over-the-top meal.
Don’t leave out the Granny Smith garnish as it really adds a nice touch to the dish.
With rain today in the Pacific Northwest, this meal is the perfect accompaniment to cold weather.