FFWD – Celebration Week #1: The AHA Moment

Now that our group has, collectively, cooked through the whole of Around My French Table, we’ve moved on to four weeks of celebratory posts, reflecting on our more than four-and-a-half years of cooking together.

  

This week, we were asked to:

Choose your favorite, loved the most, best recipe in FFWD to share this week and tell Why? Also share with us your Top 5 favorites list (you don’t have to make them)

I can’t be the only one who found this idea a little overwhelming. I’ve loved the majority of the dishes I’ve made from Around My French Table and there are over 300 recipes in the book. So, I went to a café with the book and some paper, got myself an iced latte and started making lists. Yes, lists, plural. I had to break it down by category, because the single list I started with became unmanageable.

So, I’m going rogue and sharing (wait…since I’m going rogue, does that mean I’m Cher-ing?) my favourites by category. Maybe by the end of this post, I’ll be able to settle on my #1.

Small Things

Small Plates

Gérard’s Mustard Tart

One of the very first dishes we made for French Fridays and still one of the most memorable. Who knew that mustard would mellow out so beautifully when baked in a rich tart crust? And this also marked my first introduction to one of the great revelations of this cookbook – a perfect, versatile, foolproof crust.

The Runners Up:

Gougères
Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa
Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad
Herbed Olives

Soups

Soup

Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

I’ve made this one again and again – it’s the perfect introduction to fall. I’ve even made it for one of my co-op’s soup swaps and it was a hit for everyone. That said, there are a lot of delicious soups in this book. The runners up could easily have company.

The Runners Up:

Cheese-topped Onion Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Paris Mushroom Soup
Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Poultry

Chicken

Chicken, Apple, and Cream à la Normande

This might be the best chapter in the whole book and it was hard to choose a favourite. I picked this dish, because I’ve made it more than any of the others. It elevates everyday eating beautifully.

The Runners Up:

Roast Chicken for les Paresseaux
Chicken Basquaise
Chicken B’Stilla
Duck Breasts with Fresh Peaches

Meat

Meat

Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port

I’d never have guessed that this recipe would turn out to be my top pick in this category, but it’s elegant, aromatic, delicious and versatile. It gets extra points for teaching me to finally like ribs.

The Runners Up:

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak
Hachis Parmentier
Chard-Stuffed Pork Roast
Navarin Printanier

Seafood

Seafood

Mussels and Chorizo

Admittedly, the fish and shellfish chapter is the one in which I’ve got the most catching up to do, but I don’t think my #1 will change. This has been a consistently pleasing dish for everyone I’ve made it for and it’s something I always look forward to making again.

The Runners Up:

Almond Flounder Meunière
Skate with Capers, Cornichons, and Brown Butter Sauce
Monkfish and Double Carrots
Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote

Veggies and Grains

Veggies

Cardamom Rice Pilaf

One of the simplest recipes in the book and one of the most frequently made in my house. Cardamom is one of my favourite spices and it works beautifully in this pilaf. This side is as versatile as it is delicious.

The Runners Up:

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin
Celery Root Purée
Chanterelles with Napa and Nuts

Sweets

Desserts

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

This cake has become a family favourite. I’ve made it many times for many people and so have my mother and my nieces. It’s gone to meetings, parties, and picnics. Now, people in all our circles ask for it by name.

The Runners Up:

Michel Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake
Salted Butter Break-up
Speculoos
Floating Islands

Bonus: Kevin’s Favourites

Kevin’s favourites have changed over the course of this group, particularly since he became vegan. As it stands now, these are his top 5:

Kevin

Endives, Apples, and Grapes

At the top of the list is a dish that I crossed off one of my own lists with reluctance. It’s something we’ll gladly have again and again. It’s as sophisticated as a restaurant dish and as simple as a weeknight side.

The Runners Up:

Lemon-Steamed Spinach
Baby Bok Choy, Sugar Snaps, and Garlic en Papillote
French Lentils
Spiced (Earth Balance)-Glazed Carrots

What Kevin’s choices have in common is that they make great sides, but are flavourful enough that you’d be happy simply eating a big bowl of any of them all on its own.

And the winner is:

Dorie’s techniques. You didn’t think I could pick just one recipe, did you?

Rillettes, sablés, tartines, roasted vegetables and fruits, quiches and tarts, cooking en papillote – these are just some of the things in the book that have changed my approach to cooking for good, and for the better.

So many Aha! moments. So many delicious meals.

Curious to see if the group reached consensus on the best of the book? You can find out here: Celebration Week #1: The AHA Moment.

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31 thoughts on “FFWD – Celebration Week #1: The AHA Moment

  1. Wow, so many great things to try, they all look so good. Having come in so late I really couldn’t be a good judge of favorite recipe but I love your whole list

    1. Thanks, Lisa! This was a really fun post to write. And I suspect if I tried to make these lists again, there would other dishes showing up – I really love so many of the recipes in the book!

  2. First let me say I am sure Cher will get a big kick out of “cher-ing”, little did she know how her rogue
    style would change things. You picked a great list, and yes, it was difficult to choose. Have a wonderful
    weekend Teresa.

    1. Thanks, Nana! I hope Cher knows I verbified her name for a good cause. 😉 It was so difficult to choose, but in the end, I had a great time writing this post. Hope your weekend was great, too!

    1. I’m glad I wasn’t alone in that, Mardi – I love the way you and Neil went through the list together. After all, this project became much bigger than our online community – family, friends, and especially partners have all been part of the process, haven’t they?

  3. I found out about FFWD way too late to begin the challenge, but I have been following along a bit and am so inspired by it that I am going to undertake it all on my own! I look forward to getting to know you as we work through BCM, and can imagine how bittersweet the culmination of four years of work is!

    1. I’m looking forward to spending more time on TwD and getting to know folks there better. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts so far.

      And this group will be continuing in some form, too. Especially since there are lots of us determined to finish off the recipes we missed along the way.

      1. I’ll definitely continue to watch the group for updates then, and am so excited to start cooking from AMFT!

  4. I had to borrow a page from you and break this down into chapters or I never would have gotten through the task! We shared a few favorites too!

  5. Breaking this challenge into chapters was brilliant, Teresa! Love your choices….I forgot about the cardamon rice…delicious! So many winners! The Apple Cake seems to be on many lists! Well done!

  6. I love how you did your lists! I should have had a separate one from my husband, that would have been fun. I have made some of the dishes on your lists and look forward to the others. Look forward to next weeks posts.

  7. What a great post Teresa! I love your selection process, and appreciate Kevin’s picks too – he’s been a good partner (and taste tester!) in the process. So many great recipes. It’s fun to see what everyone chose.

  8. I like how you have chosen recipes from each category, and also included your husband’s faves. Gerard’s mustard tart and the cardamom rice pilaf are also among my favourites.

  9. Love love love how you handled these choices. Sophie’s choice indeed 🙂 You shared wonderful perspective and a great amount of fabulous recipes but kept them so streamlined- you really nailed it. I find that I am enjoying the trip down memory lane with each post I read. I am also tickled to see how so many have selected the same recipes. I am not sure we really could have predicted that one. Such fun. Looking forward to Celebration Week 2 ~

  10. omg the Normande! I’m making that tonight – thanks for reminding me of a great dish! …. so hard to choose isnt it? I could easily do five favorites for each chapter of the book! 🙂 That latte paid off!

  11. Lovely list. I like that you broke it down by chapter. Even that would be hard, with so many great recipes, but it makes the task of selecting favorites slightly more manageable!

  12. Hi Teresa, wow! 4 years is a long time to cook together as a group, I bet your are all pretty good friends by now. Love your choices…….

  13. Of course, you’re right Teresa! Picking favorites for me was kind of a random thing because the more I thought about it the more options I came up with. Picking a favorite for each section, complete with runners-up, was brilliant!

  14. I love that you used Cher’s name as a verb. 😉 Also love that you chose favorites from each category. Such fun reminders of so many great recipes!

  15. What a great recap, Teresa! I’m sure that Cher will be pleased that her “rogue” approach rubbed off. I love that you picked the best from each chapter, a much more realistic approach to choosing. You nailed it naming the techniques the true winner of the book. The entire journey from the cooking confidence to the friendships has been so unexpected. I’ll look forward to your future cooking (and community) adventures. I always enjoy your posts.

  16. I’m so sad to see this group is done with the book. Especially since I just picked it up since I’m having so much fun with Baking Chez Moi. I’ve loved everything I’ve made from there so far. I can see how it would be hard to pick just one favorite recipe.

  17. I love your lists, and your creative way of including as many favorites as possible! You know, either one of Dorie’s tart doughs could have made a favorites list all on their own; they are both now my favorite sweet and savory doughs.

  18. I laugh because I also started out with such a list (love that you got a picture of yours) and just started going through and crossing things out to try to narrow it down. Not an easy task, and if you asked me to repeat it again in a few months, the outcome would probably be different. I think the fact that we all struggled with this assignment really speaks to the quality of Dorie’s book.

  19. I am a little (a lot) teary eyed at the thought that I may have dragged others along my non-direction following ways. (I was able to narrow down to my favorite 21 recipes…)

    It would have been very interesting to see Joe’s list or the girl’s lists.

  20. What great memories! These posts are making me hungry. I loved reading Kevin’s picks. I need constant reminders to make my side-dishes more interesting. I definitely need to make the cardamon rice again too.

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