French Friday with Dorie – Compote de Pommes

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a French Friday with Dorie recipe. I could list excuses but I’m not going to.  I’ll just get back in it! I love reading the posts the others in the group share and the camaraderie this group has created and I’ve missed contributing to it.  This past Friday’s FFwD recipe is Compote de Pommes two ways.  That is applesauce for you who don’t know the lingo.  There is a straight forward recipe and the second one is a thicker, gussied up version with butter.  I opted for the first go at it and will make the turnovers tomorrow for a fancy breakfast.

Apples, peeled, cored and chopped up.

About halfway there.

Dorie suggests milling, pushing the apples through a sieve or leave them whole. I don’t have a mill, no patience for the sieve and I don’t like an overly chunky applesauce. To the food processor it goes!

Finished compote de pommes.

I took a taste. Delish.  I didn’t add the butter or vanilla, which were optional.  I thought this was good as is.  The compote is now chilling in the fridge waiting to be tucked in some puff pastry and enjoyed as a hand pie.  But Dorie also suggests adding some creme fraîche and enjoying it as a delicious dessert.  Perhaps I’ll do both.  Perhaps I’ll try to nestle this in to something for thanksgiving … Hmm… Posts to come!

Check out the other FFwD compote de pommes posts from fellow bloggers!

PS – It feels good to be back to FFwD! 🙂

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Raisin Bread

Raisin bread? Yes.  Raisin bread. I’ve been wanting to make another bread and raisin bread spoke to me.  I don’t know why, but it did.  So I went with it.  My grandfather also likes a good raisin bread so why not make something that I can share?

I found this recipe on food.com.  Yes, world’s best raisin bread, NO bread machine!

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup warm water (must be between 110-115 degrees)
  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (approx.)

Directions:

  • Warm the milk in a small sauce pan on the stove until it just starts to bubble, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm, about 120-125 degrees.
  • Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside until yeast is frothy, about 10 minutes or so. Mix in eggs, sugar, butter, salt and raisins. Add the flour gradually to make a stiff dough.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until smooth.
  • Place in a large, buttered, mixing bowl and turn to grease the surface of the dough.
  • Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick.
  • Moisten the dough with 2 tablespoons milk and rub all over the dough with your hands.
  • Mix together 1 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons cinnamon and sprinkle mixture evenly on top of the moistened dough.
  • Roll up tightly (the long way).
  • The roll should be about 3 inches in diameter.
  • Cut into thirds, and tuck under ends and pinch bottom together.
  • Place loaves into well greased 9 x 5 inch pans and lightly grease tops of loaves. Let rise in warm place, uncovered, again for about an hour.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and let cool on rack.
  • Take melted butter and spread over tops of loaves.
  • After about 20 minutes, lay loaves on their sides and remove from pans. Allow to cool before slicing.

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The loaf.

20130127150456298The loaf, upon sharing.

This was the first time I made any kind of sweet bread.  I liked it! A lot! And so did my grandfather and other family members that were able to try it.  Although it was time consuming, it was pretty simple.  If you’re looking to try a sweet bread, I suggest making this one.  Try subbing the raisins for other dried fruit if you’re not a raisin fan.  This went well with a little bit of butter and a cup of coffee.  Just thinking about this makes me want to make it again. Here’s to sweet breads! 😀

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Butternut Sage Pasta with Pine Nuts in Brown Butter

Tis the season of the gourd! I love all things pumpkin, butternut, sweater, crisp air, pumpkin soaps, boots, vampy nail polish colors, etc.  This season is just my absolute favorite.  I’m also a fan of leggings as pants. I know, some people hate it, but sometimes I just want to toss on some leggings, a tunic sweater and my boots.  And a puffer vest from the Gap.  Maybe a hat, maybe a scarf.  But come on! How can you hate that? OK.  Back to the pasta.

I saw this recipe on thekitchn.com and ooohed and ahhhed when I came across it.  I always have a few butternut squashes on hand (because I can’t help myself when I visit Trader Joe’s in the fall – SO CHEAP) and I love everything else that was involved.  After reading the recipe over a few times, I put my own spin on it.  Instead of using oil, we’re going to use brown butter.  Why not amp up that flavor just a smidge?

It’s a few steps but totally worth it. I feel like Ina when I say that …

Roasted butternut squash. DELICIOUS.

Roasted butternut squash. DELICIOUS.

Butternut Sage Pasta with Pine Nuts in Brown Butter
adapted from thekitchn.com

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces high quality Parmesan, shredded or shaved (about a cup total)

Heat the oven to 375°. Peel, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and strings and cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss with the onion, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Mince about half of the fresh sage leaves and also toss with the squash.

Spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Bring water to a boil and cook the farfalle until al dente. Drain and set aside. As the squash finishes roasting, start to brown your butter in a large saute pan. (We will talk about brown butter and ghee soon). Drop in the rest of the sage leaves and fry for about a minute, or until they begin to just shrivel up.

Remove with a slotted spoon and salt lightly. Crush with the back of a spoon.

Add the pasta to the pan, along with the roasted squash mixture. Crumble in the sage. Cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes or until the pasta is heated through and getting crispy on some of the edges. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute. Stir in the cheese and serve. (This is why you use a large saute pan 🙂 )  If you feel like doing it, toast your pine nuts before as well.  Yuuummmmm.

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Doesn’t this look amazing and don’t you want to just toss your face in it?  OK.  I need to calm down.  Happy fall cooking!

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October 2013 Fiestaware Tent Sale!

Boy am I LATE on this post.  But better late than never? If you haven’t heard already, the Fiestware Tent Sale is happening THIS WEEKEND.  Thursday, October 3 through Saturday, October 5.  More information can be found here.

I won’t be going (AND I’M REALLY SAD ABOUT IT) but I hope to hear all about it! Happy tenting!

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Scallops and Oysters, oh my!

The eastern seaboard is my home away from home.

Morning sunrise.

I’ll give you a few minutes to take that in and hate me. 🙂

Thinking about this place just brings back such amazing memories.  I would come here as a kid with my mom, dad and sister.  We’d stay at the Dunes Manor Hotel and have tea and crumpets at 4 p.m. while sitting on the rocking chairs on the beach-front deck. When it was time for my parents to have their adult beverages in the bar, Jes and I would enjoy our Shirley Temples and think we’re hot stuff.  It wasn’t a trip to the beach without a few rounds of mini golf and loads and loads and loads of crab legs that my sassy self would demand someone else crack them for me.  And THEY DID! Ha! What a life!  I thought myself as “classy” since I loved eating clams but I always scoffed at oysters and scallops.

Baby steps? This is where we transition to the present time.

I live here now.  While I still love crab legs (no one cracks them for me now), I love, love, love oysters and scallops.  I love anything that comes from the ocean, or now, my back yard.


Brad and I took a Sunday drive down to Martin Fish Co in West Ocean City where the boats dock and unload their catches of the day.  I must say this is going to be my spot for all things seafood.  Friendliest staff, clean and prices can’t be beat.

However, it would be my luck when we got there.  I wanted a whole fish but the guy in front of me bought $300 worth of whole fish and practically wiped them out! All that was left were croaker and spot.  Not what I wanted! So I opted for local scallops and oysters from Virginia.

Mmm oysters.  I shucked them myself too.  SUPER EASY.  Got an oyster shucking knife and worked it into the “hinge” side of the sucker and just twist.  Don’t forget to hold it with a thick dish towel or even an oven mitt.  These guys aren’t soft as a baby’s bottom.

On to the scallops.

Pat them dry, salt and pepper ’em, add them to pan with oil and sear! Simple. Make sure you use non-stick.  I didn’t and they don’t look as pretty as they should.  Once seared and they are no longer translucent, remove the scallops and toss in some white wine.  Reduce the wine and add in some garlic and butter.  Let this go for a minute or so and remove from heat.  Nestle the scallops over pasta, pour the sauce over top and garnish with some green onions.

The sea is mighty tasty and easy to cook! Don’t let it intimidate you like it did me.  It really is terribly simple.  I plan on whipping up a few whole fish soon and you will be the first to hear about it.

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Macarons Take 2 …

Hm… this was suppose to go up a few weeks ago as a follow up to my first macaron post.  Time flies when you’re busy! It’s been a while, I’ve kind of lost my cooking/blogging grove, but I think I found it (again) after a needed break. I can’t apologize because I did enjoy my time away from the stress of blogging that I put on myself.  This should be fun! And it is fun again.  It was like I had a really long day at work and the thought of cooking gave me a massive headache.  But I’m over that now.  So, back to this post that was suppose to be up last month … 🙂

I got back on the macaron band wagon, even after my first failed attempt.  My friend Julia made a batch perfectly and I was determined to conquer the elusive macaron.  She shared the recipe she used  with me – from The Food Network.  This one was very, very similar to the one I used.  I went with aged egg whites this time and made sure it was NOT a humid evening. I also whipped the batter a little more to get more air into it so it had more oomph, if you will.

Another tip.  Use parchment paper.  Do not make the mistake I did and use wax.  It’s not going to work.  Why do I even bother with wax paper?  Seriously.  I should toss it and just stick with parchment from now on.

I piped and let them dry out for about a half hour.


Looks pretty, right? Yeah.  I had a slight debacle with these.  The cat and dog decided to play a game of chase and ran into the kitchen while they were drying.  Let’s just say it’s not easy cleaning macaron goop off a cat.  Put these somehwere where no one/thing can flip them over.  Good thing I had a few extra pans of macarons.

After the drying time, I followed the baking directions and let them do their thing.  I admit, I was nervous.  I screwed up the first batch so it’s possible I could screw these ones up, too. And I was also coming off my anger from the macaron covered cat mess.  What else could go wrong, right?

The stars must have aligned that night.  THEY TURNED OUT!!!!!!!

Look at the feet!

I screamed with joy and excitement and forgot about the cat-dog mess from earlier.  It worked! My little macarons turned out the way they were suppose to! I mean, HOW CUTE?!


I slapped some butter cream onto a macaron and sandwiched two together.  I’m still in awe that I made these.  I. Made. Those. 😀 You really should try your hand at macarons.  They’re challenging and easy at the same time and the excitement is just overwhelming.

I need to make more now …

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Macarons Take 1 …

Macarons.  They look so cute, don’t they?  They’re so delicate and yet I want to smash them all in my mouth.  Don’t you?  But why pay $3 for one macaroon when I can try to make it myself?  Mission accepted.  But boy … what a mission.

My first attempt followed the Jeni’s Ice Cream recipe for her ice cream sandwiches.  After extensive research (which apparently wasn’t extensive enough) I thought I was good to go.  I got all of my things and even had a helping hand, Erika, for this macaron production.

First mistake.  It was humid in the house.  There is no AC in our house.  Not only was that the first mistake but I’m pretty sure it was the biggest mistake.  Don’t make macarons on a humid day.  I also think I didn’t whip the egg whites long enough. Speaking of egg whites.  Some recipes called for aged egg whites. Aged egg whites?  What?  Yeah.  You keep your egg whites in the ‘fridge for a few days.  Boom.  Aged.  However, I read that you don’t really need aged egg whites.  This first try was with straight from the egg egg whites, not aged.  Perhaps what was my second mistake?


Looks good so far …

You let them dry for at least a half hour before you toss them in the oven to bake. While they were drying and things, Erika and I made a butter cream to fill them with.  That was done correctly and was delicious.

So after the drying and baking this is what the first batch turned out like …


They look like pancake sandwiches.  Horrible! NOTHING like a macaron! They had a nice favor but they were awfully chewy.  I was so sad.  I laughed because this would happen to me.  But I didn’t let this keep me back from trying again … to be continued … (also, recipes will be on the part 2 post – the GOOD recipe! So I guess I gave away the happy ending … 🙂  )

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