Dorie’s Cookies – Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies

Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies

I baked up a storm the last two weekends, helping stock the bake sale table at the craft fair my mother organizes every year. I made three selections from Dorie’s Cookies this year, including the Cranberry Spice Cookies that were one of this month’s selections. I took out some squash that I’d frozen to make the variation of the Sweet Potato Pie Bars, but my mother got hold of it and turned it into several delicious creations of her own, instead. Luckily, I’ve got a really big squash ready to roast, so I’ll make those bars some time before the holidays.

Peanut Brownie Sablés

I also made the Peanut Brownie Sablés and the Melody Cookies (in snowflake form!), along with several batches of cookies from other cookbooks and recipe cards. I managed to taste a couple of cookies along the way (thank goodness for broken cookies!), but I was in production mode, so didn’t take great photos of any of them.

Melody Cookies, masquerading as snowflakes

I am going to have to make all of these again, at a time when they’re not earmarked for sale – they were all so delicious that I was sorry all I got was a share of the very few broken bits when they were unpacked. The Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies were especially lovely, because they’re not sweet – amongst all the sugar bombs on the table, they made a nice contrast. I loved the way the butter and cranberries played against the spices. It’s a perfect cookie for a grown up dessert tray or a grown up cocktail nibble.

Cookie Mix and Match Bake Sale Table

I may not have gotten to eat many cookies this weekend, but I’m going to steal one of their ideas for my next cookie swap – the mix and match table was a huge hit!

November’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

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Everyday Dorie – Maple Syrup & Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Maple Syrup & Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Just to get this out of the way up front, I was absolutely one of those kids who loved spinach and liver and Brussels sprouts. Though I drank pop when I was a kid, I switched to tea as soon as I was allowed to – I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve always been old.

So, I was delighted that this was a November pick, even if there is no big family dinner on the horizon. I’ll eat Brussels sprouts whenever I can get them, especially if it involves bacon. This recipe also involves a maple-Dijon glaze, so I’ve even happier. So happy, in fact, that I’ve made this recipe twice already. The first time, my photos were awful, so I just gave up and served them up. This time, I made a half batch, the photo is okay, and it’s all I’m having for dinner. (Don’t judge me. It’s been a long day and this dish more than qualifies under the half your plate guidelines.)

On that note, I’m headed for Netflix, apple pie, and an early night. Can’t wait to catch up on everyone else’s posts this weekend!

You can read through everyone’s posts here. You can join in on the singular pleasure of cooking, writing, and eating your way through Dorie Greenspan‘s Everyday Dorie with a group of French Fridays veterans, Doristas, and lovely people at Cook the Book Fridays.

Cook the Book Fridays – Bay Leaf Pound Cake

Bay Leaf Pound Cake

I love the French name for pound cake – weekend cake. The English name is so prosaic, a sort of short-hand recipe. The French name is functional in the best way, evoking family meals, snacks for adventures, and impromptu gatherings with friends. It’s a simple, sturdy cake that’s welcome at almost any occasion.

Its simplicity is also what makes it so open to variation. This week’s cake has elements of a standard orange pound cake, but the flavour is deepened by the addition of bay leaves and it’s finished with an orangey, boozy glaze.

I skipped a couple of steps, based on the pre-post comments at Cook the Book Fridays, leaving off the extra bay leaves at the bottom of the pan and not piping the extra tablespoon of butter down the centre of the loaf before baking. I think it’s a lovely cake, but I’d like to know if anyone knows:

  • Which side was meant to be the top of the cake? (Bay leaf pattern on top?)
  • What function the piped butter serves?

I’m still munching away on this cake and I’ve shared over half of it, so it’s a substantial loaf that will get you through the weekend and give you a head start on your work week, too.

Bay Leaf Pound Cake

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Everyday Dorie – “My Newest Gougères”

Emmental, Mustard, & Walnut Gougères

I first made gougères in October of 2010. I’d just started a blog and was looking for some structure to keep me posting, learning, and connecting. I noticed that a cooking group called French Fridays with Dorie was just about to start cooking through a book called Around My French Table. I bought the book and signed up. I liked the idea of cooking my way through an accessible French cookbook, making some old favourites while being challenged by recipes that I’d been afraid to attempt. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an online community of bloggers, but I was intrigued to find out.

Over the years that we cooked through the book together, and beyond, I’ve been grateful that I decided to cook along. It turns out that I found a group of truly lovely people from around North America and all over the world. I’ve met a few in person and kept up with others online and I’m so pleased that many of us are gathering again to cook through Everyday Dorie together.

Everyday Dorie

It’s not a surprise that the glue that has held us together has been Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks. She is a lovely person, a great teacher, and an inspiring community-builder – it’s only natural that a terrific community of cooks would spring up around her work, starting with Laurie Woodward and the Tuesdays with Dorie crew.

Gougères ready for the freezer

These gougères are not just a call back to our very first recipe for French Fridays with Dorie, they’re also a perfect celebration treat, elegant, delicious, and simple. Those first gougères showcased the beautiful cheese that they were made with (Gruyère, if I recall correctly), but these new ones complicate things a bit with mustard and walnut playing against Emmental. We’ve all become a little more complex as cooks over the last eight years, too.

If you’re new to the group and to gougères, they’re still a perfect introduction to the path we’re taking, and I bet you’re just as pleased as I was to discover how easy and infinitely variable choux pastry can be. Try it for yourself – we’ve been given permission to share the recipe with you. Tonight, I’ll be toasting to cooking friends old and new, remembered and present with a glass of wine and plate of gougères.

Excerpted from Everyday Dorie © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018
by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

MY NEWEST GOUGÈRES

Makes about 60 gougères

Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs), and it’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them. Over the years, I’ve made minor adjustments the recipe’s ingredients, flirting with different cheeses, different kinds of pepper and different spices. The recipe is welcoming.

This current favorite has a structural tweak: Instead of the usual five eggs in the dough, I use four, plus a white—it makes the puff just a tad sturdier. In addition, I’ve downsized the puffs, shaping them with a small cookie scoop. And I’ve added Dijon mustard to the mix for zip and a surprise—walnuts.

  • 1⁄2 cup (120 grams) whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 grams) water
  • 1 stick (4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1-1⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
  • 2 cups (170 grams) coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
  • 2⁄3 cup (80 grams) walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
W O R K I N G A H E A D

My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment- lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven; just give them a couple more minutes of heat.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working; by the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.

Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (1-1⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.

S T O R I N G

The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.

These gougères disappeared quickly!

You can read through everyone’s posts here. You can join in on the singular pleasure of cooking, writing, and eating your way through Dorie Greenspan‘s Everyday Dorie with a group of French Fridays veterans, Doristas, and lovely people at Cook the Book Fridays.

Cook the Book Fridays – Chicken Pot Parmentier

Chicken Pot Parmentier

I’ve always been fond of chicken pot pies, cottage pies, veggie pot pies, and shepherd’s pies. They’re the essence of comfort food for me, especially because my mother’s versions have always been so delicious. When we were first starting on Around My French Table, I was introduced to hachis parmentier and I thought I’d found the ultimate expression of this genre of food. I was wrong. This week’s dish, a chicken twist on the standard, is my new gold standard. Perhaps it’s because I prefer chicken to beef mince, or maybe it’s the vast quantity of butter incorporated into the dish, but I could happily eat this every day (and did, for several). The dish was made even nicer by the lovely carrots from my Dad’s garden, along with fresh herbs from my mother’s planters.

I froze some turkey from a recent holiday weekend bird and I’m planning to make a turkey version when the weather turns cold and rainy and I’m in need of some comforting fortification. In the meantime, I’ll be whipping up some gougères for next week’s Cook the Book Friday, in celebration of the release of Dorie’s new book.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Baking Chez Moi – Bettelman

Homemade Brioche

The hardest part about this recipe for me was refraining from eating half the loaf of brioche I’d baked with this week’s recipe in mind. I used Dorie’s recipe from the back of Baking Chez Moi for the bread, which always works perfectly. I enjoyed several mornings (and evenings, if I’m being honest) of toast and jam before reserving the rest for this bread pudding.

The Bettelman itself is a breeze to make. My favourite part was pouring the hot milk over the bits of brioche in the bowl. The kitchen filled with the most amazing aroma – think freshly baked brioche mingled with custard. This is further enriched with vanilla, cinnamon, apples, and rum. I skipped the raisins, being me. When it’s baked, just as Dorie said, the Bettelman is more cake-like than conventional bread pudding, but it still retains the comforting softness and richness of its plainer cousin.

Bettelman out of the oven.

Bettelman was once thought of as economical food, saving scraps and turning them into something new. These days, it comes across more as a decadent treat. For me, it was a wonderful way to kick off a holiday long weekend with family, providing us with a comforting treat before the serious feasting began.

Bettelman (bread pudding)

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes from Baking Chez Moi here.

Cook the Book Fridays – Madeleines

Madeleines

Last weekend was a feast of butter. I made Chicken Pot Parmentier (which I’ll tell you about on the next Cook the Book Friday), brioche, and these madeleines. I’ve had pretty good luck whenever I’ve made madeleines, even getting humps most of the time. This time around, there was something a little off with the texture, with large cracks in the top that I’m not used to seeing and the batter didn’t conform to the molds the way it usually does. Perhaps it was because the batter’s second rest was a bit longer than an hour, or perhaps I overworked the it a bit when incorporating the egg whites. This version shouldn’t be attempted on a day full of errands and projects, I think.

In this case, looks don’t matter because the flavour was perfect and the cakes were light. Madeleines are one of my favourite treats to bake for people, so I’m always glad to try another version.

I’m curious to know how many madeleines the average pan holds. This recipe called for two eight-madeleine molds and mine holds twelve, so I used one of my grandmother’s vintage tea cake pans for the balance of the batter. They turned out to be prettier than the ones in the madeleine pan. C’est la vie.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Tuesdays with Dorie – September Omnibus Edition

The fading flowers of September

Summer is fading quickly, but I’m trying to enjoy the last of the flowers before turning my attention to the changing leaves.

For the first time in forever, it seems, I’ve managed to bake all the selections for this month’s Tuesdays with Dorie. Strange that it happened in a month in I was too busy to blog. So, I’m treating (?) you to an omnibus post of all September’s Baking Chez Moi and Dorie’s Cookies treats.

Smoothest, Silkiest, Creamiest, Tartest Lime Tart

Smoothest, Silkiest, Creamiest, Tartest Lime Tart

I made a full-sized version of this tart for my parents to take to one of their semi-annual get-togethers with some of their oldest friends. I held aside a bit of dough and a bit of filling to make a cook’s treat version for myself and it’s almost prettier than the larger version. To be fair, the one my parents got was whisked off before I could get a very good photo of it, but you can get a sense of how pretty it was even from this shot:

Lime tart ready for its final chill.

There isn’t much to say about this tart that isn’t expressed in its name, but I’ll add that it was a hit with my parents and their friends. I was left wishing I’d made a full-sized tart to keep on hand for myself. 😉

Basque Macarons

Basque Macarons

These are delicious in an entirely different way than their more famous (here, at least) cousins. They are crispy around the edges and chewy in the centre, with a caramel note that I can’t resist. Mine aren’t quite what they should be. I got carried away when spooning them out (they’re huge!) and I think I overworked the batter a touch (a byproduct of feeling a little overworked myself, perhaps). They were still delicious, just lacking the shape and crackled texture they should have had.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes from Baking Chez Moi here and here.

Double-Buckwheat Double-Chocolate Cookies

Double-Buckwheat Double-Chocolate Cookies

I split this dough into two logs, leaving one in my mother’s freezer with baking directions attached. I’m now sorry I did, because I baked these before a meeting and almost missed my chance to try them. My very generous meeting mates saved two for me, though, so I can attest these are delicious. I snuck a spoonful of cocoa nibs into the batter, after A Whisk & A Spoon‘s example, and they added yet another delicious element. Buckwheat on buckwheat with chocolate on chocolate on chocolate, topped with a little sugar and Maldon salt – don’t you wish you had a plateful of that? I do.

Devil’s Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce

Devil's Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce

These are just made for a Sunday brunch potluck. They’d disappear as soon as they came off the iron and the only danger would be streaks of chocolate across your counter as your guests dipped them into the chocolate sauce. I made a half-portion of the chocolate sauce, as I froze most of these, half for my parents and half for my uncle (there are perks to being seniors now, they’ve told me). There was sauce left over after we snacked on about a quarter of the batch, which I’m told made a nice accompaniment for my parents’ ice cream dessert. The waffles are light, rich, and not too sweet – a perfect foil for the chocolate sauce, but I suspect they’d be just as welcome with a dusting of icing sugar.

July’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

A whirlwind round up of a month of baking. I may not have had the time to post about them, but I’m glad I made the time to make these recipes. Baking is my most reliable salve for hectic times.

Cook the Book Fridays – Le Grand Aioli

Le Grand Aioli

There was nothing grand about my aioli tonight, if it could even qualify as aioli at all.

I’d planned out which of the fresh markets I’d stop by for the produce, picking up local green beans that looked like they were freshly picked from someone’s back yard (the best!), fingerling potatoes, radishes, carrot, and red pepper. At home, I had cucumbers from my uncle’s garden and garlic from my Dad’s garden. All I needed were some fresh eggs, which I picked up at the organic grocery store.

I boiled some of the fingerlings and roasted the rest. I blanched the beans, then sliced the rest of the vegetables. I pulverized the minced garlic with salt in my mortar and pestle, then went to get the oil. I’d forgotten that I had only a few tablespoons of olive oil left and not much more grapeseed oil. Even though I’d planned to make only a portion of the recipe of aioli, this wouldn’t work.

My Plan B wasn’t much better – I managed to scrape about a tablespoon of mayonnaise from a nearly empty jar and mixed it with an alarming amount of the pulverized garlic, along with a bit of olive oil. Surprisingly, that tiny amount of very garlicky mayonnaise was enough. And even more surprisingly, it was a delicious addition to dinner. The only other accompaniment it needed (besides a little white wine) was homemade French bread from Mardi’s recipe.

Here’s to the power of peak of the season vegetables, home grown garlic, and very good bread.

No-Knead French Bread

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Rye & Ginger Peach Crisp

Rye & Ginger Peach Crisp

I stopped by Companion Books last week, a lovely used bookstore in Burnaby Heights. As much as I love new bookstores, I’m glad that there are still a number of well-curated used bookstores around. They carry titles that have disappeared from the shelves at new bookstores and even libraries, because they’re out of print or out of fashion. There’s a little triumph in finding a title that I’ve been desultorily seeking for years. I know I can find most things online, but the tactile pleasure of browsing through books is something I’d rather not give up. It’s also a great way to find new favourites that you might have overlooked if you’d only been looking online. The landscape of online reviews can be disappointingly homogenous, unless you already know what you’re looking for.

The Silver Palate Cookbook

I picked up a well-loved copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook, one that I was a little too young to be aware of when it came out. It’s like a handbook of ’80s food, both the celebrated and (often unfairly) maligned. I was surprised at how many now-familiar dishes it contains – ones that seemed exciting and new to my family in the restaurants we visited when I was young. It also serves as a cheat sheet for the entertaining that my parents and their friends did through my teen years. The Forty Cloves of Garlic Chicken that I learned from the Urban Peasant was in this book first, along with all the tarragon, raspberry, quiche, and mousse recipes that first became ’80s cliché and now have been reclaimed.

What surprised me even more was how in tune it is with how I cook today, French-inflected, grounded in the mostly English traditions that pass for “Canadian” or “American” cooking, incorporating elements from across the globe. What’s changed today, of course, is that the European elements of cooking and eating in Canada and the States aren’t dampening the presence of all the other cuisines that are present here (including indigenous ones).

Its influence could also be seen in the magazines that came to our house, like Chatelaine and Canadian Living. I learned a lot about cooking from them, probably even more than I did from the cookbooks on my mother’s shelf. Cookbooks have a much larger presence in my cooking life today, as anyone who has read my blog probably knows. But, there are still terrific magazines like Saveur, Bon Appetit, and Ricardo that distill the influences of today’s cooking landscape for home cooks. Along with a host of blogs and cooking websites that can teach you anything you can think of.

It seems as though we’re more in tune with the influences that are rippling through the cultural landscape these days, mostly because there’s a legion of commentators and aficionados ready to break down the latest trends as soon as they become apparent.

All of which leaves me curious: What were your favourite cookbooks or magazines when you were young? Are there classics like The Silver Palate Cookbook that influenced you, though you discovered them much later? Where do you look for inspiration and edification today? Also, do you do all your book shopping online or are you a brick and mortar fan?

I’ll leave you with a recipe that’s very much in the spirit of how I cook today, but harks back to flavours popular in my early childhood (not with me, though – don’t worry!).

Rye & Ginger Peach Crisp

Rye & Ginger Peach Crisp

There are so many wonderful ways to eat peaches and I’m happy to try them all – grilled, in a pie or tart, in cakes, in chutneys and salsas, or just eaten out of hand. But, my favourite is peach crisp. If I don’t make at least one peach crisp each summer, I feel like I’ve missed the whole season.

Ginger and peaches are a classic combination, one I’ve posted about before. Canadian whiskey, generally called rye, is also another good companion for peaches. Together, they’re an improvement upon a ’70s standard drink that I can remember my grandparent, great-aunts and great-uncles drinking at barbecues when I was very small. Personally, I’d take this crisp over one of those any day, though if you’ve got a lot of liquid in the bowl after macerating the peaches, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to strain some of the juice into a glass, topping it up with soda and a little more rye. Now, that’s a cook’s treat to keep to yourself.

1 8X5X2 baking dish

6 – 8 ripe, juicy peaches
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1/8 cup Canadian rye whisky
1/8 to 1/4 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet your peaches happen to be)

Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Peel and chop the peaches into bite-sized chunks. Stir in the fresh ginger, rye, and brown sugar and leave the peaches to marinate for ten minutes or so.

To make the topping: Whisk together the brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, spices, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly texture.

Put the peaches into the baking dish, then cover them with the oat topping.

Bake for 25 – 35 minutes.