Thursday, November 28, 2013

FFWD Sugar-Coated French Toast

For  weeks now I've been telling Paul that I want to start making Challah on Fridays and last Friday, thanks to Tuesdays with Dorie, I finally did.  I figured the timing was perfect because I could use the leftovers to make this French toast.  Charlotte actually went to sleep early on Friday night, and our dinner conversation went something like this.

Jora:  So...The blog recipe this week is for French toast.

Paul:  Yay!  We can have French toast tomorrow morning.

Jora:  Well, it's really sweet really rich French toast, with extra sugar and heavy cream.  Dorie claims that it's a dessert.

Paul:  French toast isn't a dessert.

Jora:  Dorie insists that it is.  She says in France they would never serve this for breakfast.  Did I mention how rich it is?

Paul:  This is America!  I'm not a Frenchman.  Plus, that isn't true.  They use stale baguettes in France.  They always eat French toast for breakfast.

Jora:  But Dorie said....

Paul:  We're eating it for breakfast.

To clarify, Paul is a serious Francophile and means no disrespect, he just really wanted French toast.  So, against my better judgement, I halved the recipe and made four small slices of this for breakfast.  Paul is certainly right that there's a very fine line between dessert and breakfast, and I'm certainly not above eating pie for breakfast, so I really wasn't complaining.  This was definitely good, I thought it definitely stood on its own without any topping, but I doubt I'll make it again.  Paul clearly doesn't think this qualifies as a dessert, and I prefer a simpler French toast for breakfast.

Friday, November 22, 2013

FFWD Salty-Sweet Potato Far

In the almost 4 years that I've worked in the DC office of my company, I've probably purchased lunch less than 10 times.  Almost every day I just eat leftovers from the night before.  I think my co-workers used to be surprised by my unusual lunches (in part because I don't eat red meat, I eat a lot of unusual things like lentil "meatballs" for lunch) but by now they've gotten used to it.  So, when I brought my leftover far in for lunch they took one look at it and asked me what I was eating.  Someone guessed souffle, and someone else bread pudding.  I started to explain that I'm participating in this group that's cooking through a cookbook, and so I had to make this recipe this week even though it wasn't one I ever would've chosen.  Someone immediately cut me off, and challenged whether I really "had" to make the recipe.  I explained that I'm a total rules follower and so, yes, if the group chose it I had to make it.  I then started describing what was in the far: bacon (turkey), shredded potatoes, raisins, plums, and pancake batter (flour, eggs, and milk).  One of my co-workers commented, correctly, that it was like someone just took all of the traditional breakfast ingredients and crammed them together.  I think that describes this recipe quite well.  However, this was one of those cases where the whole seemed to be less than the sum of its parts.  I love all of the ingredients individually, and generally have no problem with recipes that mix savory and sweet, but I wasn't a big fan of this recipe.  It just seemed a little heavy, a little leaden, and a little bland.  I, stupidly, didn't listen to Dorie and reduced the salt called for which certainly didn't help, but even if the salt had been right I just don't think I would've been a big fan of this recipe.  It was okay to try, but it isn't one I'll be making again.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TWD Double Chocolate Cookies

I made the batter dough for these (it really was more like a batter) on a Sunday night, but we already had leftover chocolate cream pie from my dad's birthday to finish (life is hard around here!) so this sat in the fridge a couple of days until I was ready to bake it off.  The night I baked these off Paul got home late.  Charlotte and I finished baking them and I--luckily--dropped one while I was transferring it to the cooling rack, so since it was already broken I figured I might as well just eat it.  Wow, warm from the oven these were incredible.  As I was getting Charlotte ready for bed Paul got home, so after saying goodnight to her he wandered into the kitchen while I fed her and tried to put her to sleep.  Normally we both stay far away while the other one is trying to get Charlotte down--we wouldn't want to risk waking her--but that night Paul tip-toed back in with half a cookie and said I had to try it now while it was still warm.  Such a nice husband!  I, of course, didn't bother telling him that I'd already eaten one.  We both absolutely loved these cookies.  I used a mix of chocolate--some bittersweet Callebaut, another really expensive chocolate from Whole Foods, but also some really old (the outside had turned white-ish) Ghiradellis--and the flavor, along with the coffee flavor, was just incredible.  I had originally planned on bringing the leftover cookies in for my co-workers, but after one bite we decided we had to have these for ourselves.  We ate them for a couple of days and then I froze the rest.  Last night I took them out of the freezer to defrost, and "accidentally" broke one on the way upstairs, so I figured I might as well just eat it.  Even frozen, these cookies are excellent!  I'm sure it'll take all of my willpower to save some for Paul and not finish the rest off while I'm home tomorrow.

Friday, November 15, 2013

FFWD Chestnut and Pear Soup

One of my favorite things about FFWD is that it forces me to try recipes that I would never have picked on my own.  This is one of those recipes.  I have mixed feeling about chestnuts.  I've always liked their flavor, but never their consistency.  Maybe it's just because I've always bought them in jars or vacuum sealed packages, but they've always seemed mealy to me.  Because I was so unsure about this recipe, I decided to pair the soup with salmon and roasted vegetables.  That way there would be plenty to eat even if we didn't like the soup.  Well, we loved the soup!  Paul commented several times on how good it was.  I had some homemade chicken broth in the fridge which I think made a big difference in the flavor.  I also liked that it was relatively easy to put together, although it took longer to simmer than I expected and we ended up eating dinner at 8:30 again this Sunday.  Oh well.  Charlotte actually went to sleep early so we got to sit down and eat dinner like actual adults!  We both were able to use both hands, and had an uninterrupted (if still unintelligible) conversation.

Friday, November 8, 2013

FFWD Compote de Pommes Two Ways

I've made applesauce on the stove top, in the microwave, in the slow cooker, and baked in the oven.  I've made it with apples and pears (I guess that would make it apple-pear sauce), with cinnamon and sugar, and plain.  I've canned applesauce several times.  I probably should have chosen the more interesting long-cooked (second) variation, but that only sounded good to me as a component of a dessert and I wanted something to eat on its own, so I went with the first version.  It was okay, but nothing to write home about.  I followed Dorie's advice and didn't bother coring or peeling the apples.  I just chopped them, cooked them, and then ran them through the food mill.  I like a chunkier applesauce so I used the larger disk, but I ended up biting into some seeds that made it through.  I guess I should have used the finer disk, although I'm not sure if I would have loved the consistency.  All-in-all this was okay, but I think I'll use one of my other applesauce recipes in the future.

Because photos of applesauce are boring, and my discussion of the recipe isn't much more exciting, here's a photo of Charlotte on her first Halloween.  She was not a fan of her pumpkin outfit!  Hopefully she'll like it better next year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TWD Pumpernickel Loaves

This recipe was kind of a pain.  It probably took me 20 minutes of hunting through the cupboards just to pull out all of the ingredients.  I ended up having to send Paul on a quick run to the store because we were out of molasses.  I also discovered that instant espresso can go bad (who knew?!) and had to substitute instant decaf coffee granules instead.  I couldn't bare to make (or seek out and buy) prune lekvar when I had apricot lekvar in the freezer***, so I substituted that instead.  Once all of the ingredients were assembled I turned to my heavy duty Kitchen Aid stand mixer to do the mixing and kneading.  It gave up about half-way through the kneading, so I had to finish by hand.  Luckily the bread still rose beautifully, Charlotte let me wear her in the carrier while I shaped the bread (I don't think I did this quite right, I found the instructions awfully confusing), and by dinner time we were eating delicious rye bread.  We ate the bread Sunday night alongside fish and salad, Monday night with squash soup, fried green tomatoes, and more salad, and Tuesday night as smoked salmon reuben sandwiches.  The bread really was excellent.  I happen to love rye bread, and this was a good one.  Paul commented--without my asking--on how professional the bread seemed.  I love the big slices that are perfect for sandwiches, and how soft the bread stays for days.  I'm glad I have a second loaf ready in the freezer!

***When I was telling Paul that I used apricot lekvar instead of prune "because I already had apricot lekvar in the freezer", he cut me off and reminded me that I may be one of the few people in the world who just happens to have apricot lekvar in the freezer.  I told Paul he's known me long enough not to be surprised by such things :-)