Monday, December 30, 2013

Recipe #268: Thon À La Provenҫale (Child)

My favorite French recipes so far involve chicken and my French pot, but if I'm going to keep learning, I need to branch out past chicken and beef.  Here's a seafood one that doesn't involve the pot at all.  There are still several steps that involve the mixing of flavors and re-use of cookware... my favorite!  Behold, tuna steaks with an amazing tomato topping.  I changed the recipe some (amounts, not ingredients) since I was only feeding two of us, so there was a little more sauce per tuna steak, I'm guessing, plus some leftovers (which I will be delighted to mix into rice for lunch!)

From page 219 of volume one, here's my not-very-photogenic result.  If you do a Google image search, though, those pics aren't much better- you just have to trust me that this was delicious.  The asparagus was a little overcooked because I was too busy paying attention to the sauce, but that was still yummy too.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Recipe #267: Herby Kale Soup with Chickpeas and Sausage

Oh man.  This one is EXCELLENT, and that's saying something because I'm not the biggest fan of sausage.  I found this on  The only change I made was that I used one can of chickpeas and one can of great northern beans because I bought one can of chickpeas instead of two.  DELICIOUS!!  Super hearty and makes a lot.  I bet the leftovers will be great!

  • 3 links raw sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 head of kale, stripped from the stems and roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 1/2 – 2 quarts of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp of fennel seed, pulsed to fine powder in spice/coffee grinder (I used my mortar and pestle) 
  • 2 15-oz cans of reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • parmigiano reggiano for garnish
  • olive oil
  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Brown the sausage on all sides, about 5 minutes (sausage will finish cooking through later in the broth). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add onions, carrots, rosemary, thyme, fennel & red pepper flakes. Season with S&P and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Return sausage to the pan, and add the chickpeas, chicken broth, and parmesan rind
  4. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove lid, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove parmesan rind.  Add kale and cook for another 5 minutes until wilted.
  6. Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with parmigiano and serve.

Recipe #266: Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs

Heres one from, another breakfast.  Very savory and filling.  I liked how the bread was crusty to complement the soft mushrooms and eggs.  The cooking time here will give you eggs that are fully cooked, including hard yokes (which I didn't expect).  If you'd prefer over-easy with runny yolks, cook for about 15 minutes instead of 25-30.  Also, I cut them apart through the overlap instead of trying to separate the 6 slices of bread.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups baby spinach (about 6 ounces)
6 slices potato bread, lightly toasted (no need for toasting)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 more minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Arrange the bread in the dish in a single layer with the edges slightly overlapping, then spoon the mushroom-spinach mixture on top. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Crack an egg onto each piece of bread; season with salt and pepper. Pour the milk evenly over the top and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the egg whites are set, 25 to 30 minutes

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Recipe #265: French Toast Casserole

It's Christmas morning!  Had to step up the breakfast options today!  This is a Paula Deen recipe, and I forgot the pecans.... so here's what it looks like without pecans.  Still tasted delicious!


1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup


Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Recipe #264: Boeuf À La Mode (with Carottes Étuvées Au Beurre and Oignons Glacés À Brun) (Child)

A new Julia recipe!  Basically it's like pot roast, but more fun to make!  Here's where I found the recipes in the book:

Boeuf À La Mode- page 309 of Volume I
Carottes Étuvées Au Beurre- page 477 of Volume I
Oignons Glacés À Brun- page 483 of Volume I

What does this translate to?

Beef braised in red wine
Carrots braised in butter
Brown braised onions

I served this with rice so something could catch the extra gravy.  Delish!  I was getting nervous about the roast finally breaking down and becoming tender, but it did happen.  I roasted it for a little over 3 hours.

In the marinade

After marinating, ready for browning

Browned, ready for braising liquid

All ready for roasting

Carrots after braising

Roast, completed

Serving dish


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Recipe #263: Bananas Foster

I bought a very-green bunch of bananas that basically skipped the yellow phase and started going brown, and none had been eaten yet.  Not wanting them to go to waste, but also knowing that I'm a horrible baker, I looked online for something I could make that would be hard to screw up.  Here we are, bananas foster!


1 stick of butter
1/2c brown sugar
4 bananas, halved lengthwise and then halved through the middle
1/4c dark rum
Ice cream or pound cake (I had cookies and cream ice cream on hand, which went well with it)


Melt butter in a large sauce pan.  Add sugar and combine.  Add the bananas and carmelize both sides.  Remove from heat, add the rum.  Light the rum and let it burn itself out.  Serve with ice cream or pound cake.

Recipe #262: Spaghetti Squash with Feta, Olives, Tomatoes, and Basil

I made this for lunch today.  Quick and easy and even more delicious than I expected!  Lots of flavor and the ingredients complemented each other perfectly.  From

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil  (I used olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2.Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.  (It took another 10 minutes for mine to be done enough)
3.Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.
4.Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Recipe #261: Poulet Poêlé à L'Estragon (Chicken with Tarragon) with Farce Duxelles (Mushroom Stuffing) (Child)

I think I'm going to have to establish a new standard with this blog.

I have to say, first of all, that I am hoping to not scare anyone away with these latest recipes.  They're more advanced, if you want to talk about advanced as meaning using TONS of dishes and also spending 3-4 hours making one recipe.  Advanced does not mean difficult.  It might mean a special pot or a random ingredient you might not be used to, but it does not mean hard, by any means.

To me, "hard" in terms of cooking is ALWAYS baking.  Anything involving flour, expecting things to rise and be baked consistently throughout and get people with a sweet tooth all excited just by the sight of them.... yeah that's not me.  Also, I refuse to make pancakes.  I've cried one too many times over pancakes.

But my blog is meant to be "easy"..... so I will make sure I keep posting relatively simple recipes made with basic ingredients.  However, I can't ignore the good results from my forays into the art of French cooking...... I will still post those.

I think, though, that pages of instructions (which are delightfully easy to follow, if you see her cook books) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking are not really what I feel like re-typing.  I thought about copy/paste from internet sites using the recipes, but they are just adaptations of other people's attempts at Julia's instructions.  Not good enough for me.

I follow them as closely as possible.  My other recipes are all about adaptation and tweaking.  These, not so much, to the point where I won't even make something if I have to change more than one or two things.

So here's my new standard.  Julia recipes will not have instructions posted.  Instead, I will reference where I found them from her book and post pictures of my results.

Poulet Poêlé à L'Estragon (Chicken with Tarragon) - page 249 of volume I.... with Farce Duxelles (Mushroom Stuffing) - page 251.

Mushroom stuffing, pre-stuff.

Chicken, post-roast.  I didn't truss the wings.

Post-roast, removal of the stuffing.

Straining of the sauces from the casserole for gravy.

First time using a gravy boat in.....forever....

So moist, tender, rich, and worth a 9:15pm plating time!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Recipe #260: Poulet au Porto (Child)

I need to give my kitchen a break after tonight.  I used four pots, two cutting boards, one 9x13 roasting dish, tons of utensils...  SO WORTH IT.  Here's another of Julia's recipes.  I had to roast the chicken first, which I will post as a separate blog at another time, but once the chicken is roasted, you get THIS deliciousness.  It is like chicken marsala, but LEAGUES better.  Nick and I ate the ENTIRE almost-four-pound chicken with the one pound of mushrooms and the sauce.... by ourselves.  Yes, it was that good.

So here's my kitchen, mid-ordeal.  Trying to keep it neat.

This is a little involved as far as steps and dishes go, and I promise the recipes I post from here on out won't all be like this, but I have to share.


1 3-4 lb roasting or frying chicken
1 lb fresh mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
Lemon juice
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream (this turned out to be exactly one of those tiny cartons...)
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon minced shallots or green onions (I used more like a half of a cup of minced shallots!)
1/3 cup medium-dry port
1/4 cup cognac


Roast the chicken.  Be sure to not overcook it.  (I WILL POST THESE DIRECTIONS LATER!  But otherwise, just do a basic roast.  I stuffed mine with apple and onion slices and basted with a mixture of rosemary-infused olive oil and butter).

Meanwhile, trim and wash the mushrooms.  Quarter them if large, leave them whole if small.

Bring the water to boil in a saucepan with the butter, lemon, and salt.  Toss in the mushrooms,cover, and boil slowly for 8 minutes.  Pour out the cooking liquid and reserve.

Mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of whipping cream.  Add the rest of the cream.  Pour the mixture into the mushrooms.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Correct seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

When the chicken is done, remove it to a carving board and let it rest at room temperature while completing the sauce.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan.  Put the 2 tablespoons into a small sauce pan.  Stir in the shallots or onions and cook slowly for 1 minute.  Add the port and mushroom juice, and boil down rapidly, until the liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken slightly.  Correct seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

Smear the inside of a fireproof casserole or chafing dish with butter.  Rapidly carve the chicken into serving pieces.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, and arrange in the dish.

Set over moderate heat until you hear the chicken begin to sizzle.  Pour the cognac over it.  Ignite the cognac with a match or lighter.  Shake the casserole slowly until the flames have subsided.  Pour the mushroom mixture over the chicken, coating it.  Cover and steep for 5 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil.  Serve.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recipe #259: Garlic Roast Beef Sub

Here's a really quick lunch I made today, adapted from one of my cookbooks that features only sandwiches.


Cream cheese
Garlic powder
Several slices of thick-cut roast beef from the deli
Small onion, sliced
Sub/sandwich buns


Put buns on a baking sheet and spread cream cheese generously on both sides.  Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste.  Broil in the oven until browned.

Melt butter in a skillet.  Brown the onion slices, and then add the roast beef and heat through.

Put the onions and beef on the buns and enjoy!

Recipe #258: Boeuf A La Catalane (Child)

I have a new label/tag in my blogs now- Julia Child.  I'm now the happy owner of her two-book set Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and this is the inaugural recipe I chose.

I love the layout of the cookbooks.  Instead of the typical ingredients list, and then directions, it lists the ingredients needed for each step alongside that step.  Unfortunately, that's hard to duplicate nicely here, but I enjoyed following the cookbook as I made this.  Also, while I was trying to decide which recipe to choose, I noticed many of them called for a fireproof casserole/french oven.  I suddenly knew what I wanted for Christmas (as these are definitely not cheap!) and went to Bed Bath and Beyond to get my new pot.  It weighs a ton, especially with the food in it, but I was so happy using it!

Unfortunately, I was so excited about serving this up after the long cook time, I forgot to put the cheese in at the end.  It was delicious!  The meat was really tender and the flavors were perfect.


1/4       pound  chunk of bacon
2         tablespoons  olive oil
3         pounds  lean stewing beef, cut into squares 2 1/2″ across and 1″ thick
1 1/2    cups  onions, sliced
1         cup  raw white rice, unwashed
1         cup  dry white wine or dry vermouth  (I used Chardonnay)
2         cups  beef stock or canned beef bouillon
salt to taste
1/4       teaspoon  pepper
2         cloves  garlic, mashed
1/2        teaspoon  thyme
Pinch   saffron
1          bay leaf, crumbled
1          pound  tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped
1          cup  Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 325°
Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (1 1/2-inch strips, 3/8 of an inch thick.) Simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to the casserole.
Dry the meat on paper towels. Heat fat in skillet until almost smoking then brown the meat a few pieces at a time.  Place it when browned in the casserole.
Lower heat to moderate, and brown the onions.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the casserole.
Still in the same fat, stir the rice over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until it turns a milky color.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside until later.
Pour any remaining fat out of the skillet, add the wine and stir for a moment over heat to dissolve coagulated cooking juices.  Pour into the casserole.
Add stock or bouillon almost to the height of the meat.  Salt lightly.  Stir in the pepper, garlic, and herbs.  Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly, and set in lower position of preheated oven to simmer slowly for 1 hour.
Remove casserole from oven.  Stir in the tomatoes, bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover, and return to the oven for an additional hour or so of very slow simmering.  When the meat is almost fork-tender, remove the casserole from the oven.  Raise oven heat to 375 degrees.
Tile casserole and skim off fat.  You should have 2-2.5 cups of liquid; add more stock or bouillon, or water, if necessary.  Stir in the rice.  Bring to simmer on top of stove, cover, and set again in lower third of oven.  Regulate heat to keep liquid at full simmer for 20 minutes so the rice will cook.  Do not stir the rice.  At the end of this time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all of the liquid.  Remove from the oven and correct seasoning.
Just before serving, delicately fold the cheese with a fork into the hot beef and rice.