Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cooking with Dorie

Well, I know it's been a while.  It's not like I forgot.  And I really don't have a good excuse.  Saying we've been busy just sounds so lame and only partially explains our long silence.  I think probably it's as much about disorganization and just plain inertia.  But we're back!  And we're starting big, real big.  Why, this one post is going to have the recipes for a complete dinner party from appetizer to desert.  I'm trying to make up so you'll forgive our lapse.  Is is working?

The motivation was a Bridge night with Don and Mary Jo Peairs- and I'll just confess that I am really, really bad at Bridge.  If I were as bad at cooking as I am at Bridge, then everyone we know would beg, down on their knees and beg, that we go to a restaurant rather than eat at home.  Fortunately I'm a bit better at cooking than I am at Bridge. I had been eyeing a new cookbook I bought some time ago by Dorie Greenspan called Around my French Table and decided that this was the perfect time to actually open the beautiful book and cook.  I've often used Dorie's cookbook, Baking, and have followed her on twitter, but hadn't explored her recipes outside the desert category.  What a perfect opportunity!  Why Don might even think this cookbook was an essential addition to my already embarrassingly large cookbook collection!

Now before I get to Dorie, I will mention the simple- I mean really simple appetizer.  So simple in fact it hardly needs a recipe at all.  We started with Baked Brie with Apple Butter (homemade Apple Butter of course!).


One round disk of Brie (I used one cut into wedges but you could use a single round)
Apple Butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the Brie through the middle horizontally.  Spread apple butter on the bottom layer and then top with Brie and spread apple butter on the top layer.
Bake for 20 minutes.  Serve with toast points or crackers.

See, I told you that was simple, real simple.

But now we get to Dorie, and the rest of the menu is straight from Around my French Table.

4 beets
1 small red onion
Mixed greens (or you could use arugula- THE green of this season)
Goat cheese- crumbled

1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tsp of honey
1 tbsp of sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar because it's what I had on hand)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp of minced fresh herb (I used thyme)
Salt and Pepper

I use the Mark Bittman method for preparing the beets. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut off the greens and the tail of each beet and wrap separately in aluminum foil.  Cook for 45- 60 minutes depending on size of beet- you can tell it's done when a sharp knife pierces it easily.  Cool the beets in the aluminum foil.  These can be made a day ahead.  Unwrap the cooled beets and remove the skin under cold running water.  The outer skin will come right off.  Cut off the spot where the leaves were attached, and then dice the beets into small chunks.
For the red onions Dorie suggests soaking the onion slices in ice water to give them crunch.
Mix the dressing (I love to use my stick blender for mixing the salad dressings!).
Place a handful of greens on each plate, top with the red onions, then the beets and finally the goat cheese.  Drizzle with the dressing.

1 whole chicken- 4-5 pounds (usually a hen instead of a fryer)
Olive oil
2 thick slices of bread (I used ciabatta)
2-3 sprigs each of rosemary, thyme and oregano
1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally, leaving the head intact, removing only the very outer peel
2/3 cup of white wine (you can substitute chicken broth if you like but we always seem to have more wine around than chicken broth)
1 large onion
8 small red or white potatoes, cut into wedges
4 carrots, cut into big chunks
2 parsnips, quartered

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  (It's real important that the oven temperature is correct or the cooking times will be off.  My oven is 25 degrees cooler than the temperature I set it at so I actually set mine to 475 degrees.)

Rub the inside of a dutch oven liberally with olive oil. (I lined the bottom with aluminum foil the second time I prepared this chicken to aid the clean up.) Place the bread in the center of the pan.
Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper.  Stuff the chicken with 1 quarter of the onion, 1/2 of each of the herb springs and the chicken liver if the butcher leaves it with you.  
Put the chicken in the pot on the bread, breast side up.  Pour a few tbsp of Olive oil over the chicken and pour in the wine. Place the remaining onion and herbs around the outside of the chicken. 
Cook covered for 50 minutes.
Toss the vegetables with olive oil until they are all glistening and then salt and pepper.
Add the vegetables to the pot and cook for 40 minutes more.
Check the chicken- the skin should be crackly and crisp and the leg should move easily.
Remove from the oven.  Let the chicken "rest" for 5-10 minutes.



I love this cake!  I mean really love this cake!  It's really apples with a bit of cake and WOW! It is so good we didn't even give any away to the neighbors- and in fact I baked another one two days later for Sarah and the kids just to have another piece!

3/4 cup of flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples- mixed variety- I used one Cortland, one Granny Smith, one Gala and one Red Delicious

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp of dark rum
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
8 tbsp of butter, melted and cooled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (in my oven this is 375)
Grease and flour an 8 inch springform pan.
Core, peel and cut into 1-2 inch chunks.  I love to use our apple peeler.  It makes the apple prep job so easy (and I might mention it is a sure way to entertain grandchildren- and get them to eat apples as well). Dorie loves the idea of using a variety of apples.  This adds both interesting texture (some will cook softer than others) and also interesting flavor (some are sweet, some more tart).  After eating this cake I am a firm believer in "mixing it up" with the apples in a recipe!

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in small bowl. 
Whisk the eggs until they are foamy (I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer).
Pour in the sugar and whisk until blended.  Whisk in the rum and vanilla.
Whisk in half of the flour and when blended add half of the butter. Repeat with the remaining flour and finish with the remaining butter.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the apples. Make sure that all of the apples are covered with cake batter.
Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly in the pan.
Place the pan on a cookie sheet (mine leaked  a bit so I was glad this was on a cookie sheet rather than the bottom of my oven) and bake for 50-60 minutes.  The cake is done when a knife inserted comes out clean. 
Place on a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes.
Carefully remove from the edges of the pan.  I had placed parchment paper on the bottom of the pan so it was easy to slide onto the serving platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  We served with Caramello with Sea Salt Gelato.