FFWD – Celebration Week #4: Grand Finale

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.

Our assignment this week:

For the improvisers among us, share an original recipe that was inspired by an AMFT recipe or do a recipe that you would like to Make-Up or just make again. We also suggest that you say whatever you wish to say in this Post. We intend to have boxes of tissues on hand when we read everyone’s posts.. Do your best with this one.

Salted Butter Break Ups

Cooking together. It’s one of the simplest expressions of caring that I know. Cooking for friends and family is nurturing, but cooking with someone develops camaraderie and involves more than a little synergy. It’s easy to see this at work as you move through a kitchen, working with a person or a group.

It’s not something I knew was possible to create by cooking through a book with a group of bloggers scattered across the world.

Each week, as the French Fridays crew worked on another selection from Around My French Table, we began by sharing our questions and concerns with one another, then ended by reading about each other’s experiences with the dish. That alone created solidarity, as we identified with difficulties, helped each other problem-solve, and congratulated each other on successes.

However, it’s what we wrote alongside the practical details that really created our community. We shared stories, in the same way that cooks in a kitchen together might. We learned about the markets and culinary specialties of the places each of us live, while we shared the challenges we faced in finding ingredients across hemispheres, regions, and seasons. We cheered each other on in trying flavours, foods, and techniques we might have been too intimidated to try on our own. As we got to know one another, the quirks of our palates (and those of our loved ones) became fodder for discussion. And as we moved through the recipes, we shared our selves.

So, yes – camaraderie, synergy, and friendship built along the pathways of the Internet. Offline, a number of us have met in person. And even though this part of the journey has ended, we’ll keep following each other’s adventures online, while taking the opportunity to meet up in real time whenever it arises.

None of this would have been possible without Laurie Woodward, who first created Tuesdays with Dorie, then launched French Fridays with Dorie. Mary Hirsch and Betsy Pollack became the administrators of the group a little later on and their warm, encouraging presence made the group feel like a circle of friends. And Dorie Greenspan herself has been the warmest and most welcoming one of all – her encouragement to us along the way has helped us to become better cooks and bakers. More importantly, her generosity of spirit has been the model for how we’ve approached our connections with one another.


Now, I encourage you to go back and discover this wonderful cadre of bloggers for yourself – not only the fabulous stalwarts who’ve made it to the end, but also those who cooked alongside us at various points along the way. And do think about joining Tuesdays with Dorie – many of us are over there, too. Then check back with French Fridays in the fall. Laurie and Trevor Kensey (who coined the term Dorista) have something in the works. Until then, I’ll lift a salted butter break-up in salute to every one of the wonderful Doristas.

As you can see, I’m determined that this is not adieu, but à bientôt.

Grab your tissues and read through the Doristas’ wrap up posts, here: Celebration Week #4: Grand Finale


FFWD – Celebration Week #3: The Play-It-Again-Dorie Recipe

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 the recipe from the book that you have made the most often. Or, that you have made a variation of the most. It may not be your favorite or your AHA recipe but it’s the Repeater.

Strawberry Tartine

I’m going to choose a seasonally-appropriate answer to this week’s assignment. Dorie’s Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine has become an early summer ritual for me. The ingredients enhance the flavour of strawberries at their seasonal peak. And the freshness and portability of this tartine makes it the perfect summer food – whether it’s breakfast on the balcony or a picnic on the beach. So, this is my “repeater” in mid-June.

If you’d put this question to me in November, I might have answered with Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux or Leek and Potato Soup. Ask me in August and I might choose Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote. On a day when I’m craving a treat, my choice might be Croquants or Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, instead.

All of which is to say that there isn’t just one page that’s stained, worn, and in danger of falling right out of the book. There are many.

Which recipes had the Doristas coming back for more? Find out here: Celebration Week #3: The Play-It-Again-Dorie Recipe

Win one of two copies of Jill Colonna’s beautiful Teatime in Paris!

FFWD – Celebration Week #2: The Never-Doubt-Dorie 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 the recipe that might not have been your favorite or even something you enjoyed making or even something you were skeptical about but which taught you a technique or gave you an idea or provided a lesson of some kind.


In any long-term learning experience, there will be moments of doubt and skepticism. But, we push through to find out if that doubt was warranted and often, minds are changed. Personally, I’d rather be happy than right. Especially when that learning experience is happening in the kitchen.

There were many moments that I found myself feeling skeptical as we worked through Around My French Table and I think that’s a very good thing.

Sometimes, it was the instructions that took me aback. How could flattening puff pastry possibly be a good thing? Turns out, it’s a delicious thing.

Tomato-Cheese Tartlets


Sometimes, it was my own abilities in the kitchen that gave me pause. Now I know I can stuff a pork loin, present a soufflé, and even spatchcock a hen.

Olive-Olive Cornish Hens


At other times, it was a flavour combination that made me hesitate. Oranges and olives in a salad? Olives or nori in a cookie? Consider my palate improved.

David’s Seaweed Sablés


What I’ve never doubted was how much I’d grow as a cook during this process, though if you’d asked me at the beginning if I’d grow as a person, I’d have scoffed. As I said, I’d rather be happy than right.

Find out which recipes quashed the skeptic in the hearts of the French Fridays crew, here: Celebration Week #2: The Never-Doubt-Dorie Moment

Win one of two copies of Jill Colonna’s beautiful Teatime in Paris!

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:

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



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



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



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



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


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



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
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:


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.

FFWD – Chicken in a Pot: The Garlic and Lemon Version

Chicken in a pot

It never occurred to me in October of 2010 what joining a weekly online cooking group would come to mean to me. I thought that I was setting up a routine to help keep me writing regularly on my new blog, but it’s been so much more.

Along the way, bloggers have come and gone, but there have been connections – no, friendships – built that have persisted through the whole of our journey through this book.

Our community has shared our cooking experiences, but we’ve also come to share our lives, at least a little, with each other. Many of us have met in person. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Cher and Mardi. And I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Dorie when she visited Vancouver on her Baking Chez Moi book tour. But even for those far away, our weekly posts have felt like visits more often than stories.

And now, as Trevor pointed out, four years, seven months, and twenty-one days after we began, the group has reached the final recipe. It’s fitting that we saved the cover recipe for last, as we’ve all looked at that image so many times over these years. It seems like a celebration in itself to finally make the dish.

It’s a whole chicken braised with garlic, lemon, white wine, herbs, and vegetables. The pot is sealed with a simple bread dough that’s broken dramatically when the chicken is ready to serve. It felt a little like popping a champagne cork on New Year’s Eve – the end of the better part of five years spent cooking together.

My chicken needed a bit more than the hour that was specified in the recipe, but when it was finally done, it was perfect. And there was enough wine left over to toast the group before we settled down to eat. I purposely waited until now to try this dish, but I won’t wait that long again – it made a wonderful meal.

We’re not quite done, yet. There will be a month of celebratory posts as the group wraps up, so I’m (trying) to save my tears.

And here is the link to the very last round up of posts for a French Fridays recipe: Chicken in a Pot: The Garlic and Lemon Version.

French Food Revolution Friday with Dorie 2015

frd logo with strap

This week, the French Fridays with Dorie crew is participating in Food Revolution Day, led by Mardi of eat. live. travel. write.

Our assignment this time around is to share something we’ve learned from Dorie Greenspan during our more than four years working through Around My French Table. It’s a theme nicely in keeping with Food Revolution Day’s emphasis on food education.

As Mardi explained:

Friday May 15th 2015 is the fourth annual Food Revolution Day – a day of global action created by Jamie Oliver and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to engage and inspire people of all ages to learn about food and how to cook it.

This year, Food Revolution Day is a global campaign to put compulsory food education back on the school curriculum. Jamie passionately believes that by educating children about food and cooking in a fun and engaging way, we can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives, for themselves and their future families. Dorie agrees – last year when I was chatting with her about food education, she said: “I would love to see a generation that can cook and wants to cook for themselves and others. The world would be a better place.”

It’s difficult to choose a recipe or technique that stands out from our experiences over the course of the group, only because we’ve learned so much.

We’ve tackled elegant French desserts that turned out to be easy, thanks to Dorie’s talent for instructions: Floating Islands.

We’ve learned that all you need for complex flavours and a hearty meal are a sturdy pot and a plump chicken: Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux.

We’ve used the simplest methods to create satisfying suppers: Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote.

We’ve got foolproof doughs almost by heart, allowing us to elevate everything from breakfast to cocktail fare: Gerard’s Mustard Tart.

We’ve overcome our skepticism of unfamiliar flavour combinations and found new favourites: Orange & Olive Salad.

We’ve filled our pantries with many more spices, herbs, condiments, and other ingredients than we’d imagined possible: Chopped Liver with quatre épices.

But most of all, we’ve expanded our cooking and eating horizons, as though we were a class of students led by Dorie’s steady hand. Many of our participants were already confident in the kitchen, while others were gaining confidence as we progressed, but there has always been something to learn from Dorie and from each other.

This is at the heart of healthy, happy eating – exploring new techniques and flavours, while building a foundation of everyday skills that can be applied to whatever you might find in the pantry or the markets. We’ve eaten richly and well along the way, but also with the kind of variety and substance that healthy bodies require.

The dish I’ve made this week is emblematic of a lot of what’s been wonderful about working through Around My French Table. It’s a classic French dish; full of nutritious ingredients; as elegant as you’d like it to be; and easily made affordable or luxe, as required. Dorie’s instructions ensure you’ll make the most of the ingredients and it’s another of the book’s many reminders that even the simplest of meals can be full of flavour.

Salade Niçoise

Nicoise Salad

The beauty of a composed salad is that you can alter it to suit all diners’ needs. In this case, I made a plateful with tuna, egg, and anchovies for me, then left them off for Kevin. There are many lessons in this recipe for young cooks, too. Hard-boiling eggs, blanching green beans, making vinagrette – but especially taking a look at what you’ve got in the refrigerator and pantry, then making a satisfying meal from it.

This revolution must certainly start there.

You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s thoughts on Food Revolution Day and all we’ve learned from Dorie, here: Food Revolution Day. And you can find the rest of the Doristas’ posts on Salade Niçoise, here.

FFWD – Cheesecake Tart

Cheesecake tart slice

Update: These are long ago memories I’m sharing in this post, though it’s true I’m still not a fan of birthday parties. Hope I haven’t upset anyone – it just came together as a nice little piece of writing for me.

I don’t have birthday parties, as a rule. Something awful happened to someone I cared about in the middle of the biggest birthday bash I’d ever had and I handled it badly. After that, I kept it small – a few friends for lunch, a date for dinner, sometimes a family get together. I broke that rule once and got some karmic payback as a reward.

The person who hosted the party had just broken up with a mutual friend, who’d also disappointed other people we had in common. The guest list was filled with people her ex liked, only two of whom I really knew. The cake was a horror of dank cream and hidden pellets of jelly. And the only other sweets, a box of cookies her ex brought me from one of my favourite bakeries, disappeared into the host’s cupboard shortly after the ex’s hasty departure. I spent the rest of the evening in uncomfortable silence as the host complained at length about her break up. I took it as a sign that I still had penance to do for failing my friend all those years ago.

Needless to say, I went back to small gatherings. But I’ve made sure that my birthday sweet, whether it’s a pie or a cake or a pile of homemade cookies, is excellent and shared widely.


This year, I made the Simple and Splendid Chocolate Cake from The Sweetapolita Bakebook, filled it with salted caramel ganache from this Bon Appétit recipe, then topped it with Sweetapolita’s Glossy Fudge Frosting. I was left with only two regrets: dropping the third layer onto the kitchen floor and not starting early enough to have enough time to ice the…two-layer…cake fancily. After the first round of slices, I sent some home with family and some to our lovely neighbours downstairs, leaving me with just enough for dessert (and let’s face it, breakfast) the next day.

This week’s French Fridays dish, the last dessert on our agenda, might just be next year’s birthday sweet. It’s light and rich at the same time, while being casually elegant – perfect for small gatherings, no?

Cheesecake Tart

I used dried cranberries, since raisins and I only get along one-on-one. Dried cherries or blueberries would be nice here, too. And I used a mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream, since fromage blanc is a bus ride away for me and I didn’t have the gumption to go far for ingredients. The mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream stood in admirably for fromage blanc.

We’ve ended the dessert chapter on a keeper, though that could also be said of almost every recipe in the chapter. Next week, we’ll have our last scheduled fish recipe (aren’t you glad, Mardi?). The week after that, we’ll have special posts for Food Revolution Day. And then, we cook the cover to finish off the last recipe.

Hard to believe.

Dramatic slice

You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Cheesecake Tart.

FFWD – Waffles and Cream & Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees

Three kinds of caramel

Last week, I took some time to go visit my parents, with every intention of making a smoked salmon version of last week’s French Fridays assignment, but ending up with all sorts of other dishes, instead. I was defeated by our inability to locate the balance of the salmon my brother had smoked, which my mother was sure was in the left-hand chest freezer in their garage. There are many good things in that freezer, but no smoked salmon, as far as I can tell.

So, I found myself slowly cooking chicken thighs in saffron-scented broth and arranging butter-soaked sheets of phyllo pastry in a cake pan. The first time I made Chicken B’Stilla, I used homemade gluten-free puff pastry and it was wonderful. I’d always wanted to make it with phyllo, though. The proper version is just as delicious, but so much prettier.

Chicken Bstilla

Then, I made three kinds of caramel.

Once for the Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars that Tuesdays with Dorie tackled in March. These were fantastic, though the caramelized Rice Krispies that top the bar are so addictive that it was hard to keep everyone from eating them all by themselves.

Crispy Topped Brown Sugar Bars

The second was a warm caramel sauce for the Waffles and Cream that Doristas blogged about two weeks ago. I’d left my waffle iron at my parents’ house at Christmastime, since it’s not going to get any use at my house (too great a risk for gluten cross-contamination). Dorie’s caramel sauce is simple and delicious. I let mine get a little thick, for extra gooeyness when it’s used on ice cream (which it may have been). But warmed, it flowed beautifully when strewn across the waffles. I think Dorie’s waffles, which use beaten egg whites rather than whole eggs, are the tastiest I’ve had. With a little whipped cream, this was a perfect dessert.

Waffles and Cream

The third batch of caramel was to top a rhubarb upside-down cake that hasn’t come up in the Tuesdays with Dorie rotation yet. I’ll be making it over and over again until rhubarb disappears for the year. Brown sugar and butter make a fine topping for an upside down cake, but this caramel is even better – so worth the extra step or two.

Rhubarb Cake

Then, finally, I got to this week’s recipe. I had to drive almost twenty kilometers to get canned lychees, which I’d have only had to go a few blocks to get if I’d remembered to pick them up from home. This is my excuse for not realizing that the roast needed red wine vinegar and white wine, rather than the other way around. By the time I read over the recipe again, there was no way I was going back out on another trek to the store. Which might help to explain the alarming colour of my sauce. (It doesn’t excuse the presentation – just know it was prettier in person.)

Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees

Though the sauce looked scary, this dish was delicious. My pork loin was a little larger than the one called for in the recipe, so by the time it was fully cooked, the mangoes had disappeared into the sauce. Next time, I’ll cut them in larger chunks. The canned lychees worked very well in this dish, even though I’d prefer fresh ones when they’re in season. I loved the sweet and sour sauce against the perfectly tender pork. It’s a dish with Dominican roots, created by a French-trained chef, which is how it came to be in the book. I served this with the citrus version of my favourite Dorie rice recipe, along with some simply steamed vegetables.

Next week, we’re back to fish. Maybe I’ll even get to that salmon tartare, as a bonus. It sounds too delicious to skip altogether.

You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees. And you can see what everyone thought of the waffles here: Waffles and Cream.

FFWD – Next-day Beef Salad


I’ve never really understood the aversion some people have toward leftovers. I suppose if you’re talking about a week’s worth of dry casserole, you’d have something to complain about. But, it’s so easy to make a great meal when you’ve got leftovers in the fridge. Soups and stews can be eaten as is, while other mains and side dishes can be turned into sandwiches, salads, soups, or frittatas. All the flavour of the original dishes, with only a little more work.

I wonder if it’s that leftover label that kept the French Fridays crew from tackling this week’s recipe until almost the end? It shouldn’t have, because this salad is the opposite of that stereotype – it’s full of great flavours and textures and though it doesn’t photograph very well, it’s colourful and vibrant on the plate.

The salad is more properly made with Bœuf à la Ficelle or roast beef, but I had leftovers from a beef daube in the fridge, so set aside some of the cubed meat and garlic cloves, instead.

Dorie’s dressing is simply mayonnaise with one or two French mustards. I added some of the garlic from the daube to mine, as well. And then I started chopping – cornichons, olives, capers, red pepper, green onions, and more. I especially liked Dorie’s addition of a little bit of finely chopped hot pepper and I suspect you could use a tiny bit of shaved horseradish in its place, for a more English take on heat.

Dorie takes classic accompaniments for beef and transform leftovers into a salad that’s interesting enough to serve to guests for lunch or a light dinner. Add a glass of wine and there will be no discussions of leftovers to be had.

You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Next-day Beef Salad.

FFWD – Côte d’Azur Cure-All Soup

  My mother’s homemade soup could cure anything but the schism between my sister and me when it came to what starch she should put in it. I loved rice in my soup and my sister preferred noodles. So, often the soup would have both. It would also have whatever needed using up in the refrigerator, along with stewed tomatoes to bring everything together. I loved to make it spicy with black pepper, a trick I learned from my grandfather. My mother couldn’t stand this habit, because she’d spent so much time balancing the flavours.

While her soup was simple in the sense that it was made with whatever was on hand, it was also complex. It developed slowly, simmering on the back of the stove, with many small additions being made along the way.

My adult life doesn’t include a chest freezer full of containers of soup ready to soothe me when I’m sick. Freezer space in my refrigerator is at a premium (I mean, who doesn’t need to keep the bowl of the ice cream maker ready at all times, just in case?), so a quick cure is a blessing.

A garlicky soup that’s ready in a little over thirty minutes seems like a promising alternative. So what if it’s also full of cheese and egg yolks, they’re there to fortify you. And you can add chicken stock if you like, which has proven curative clout. Anyway, I think food is best for existential ills and cheesy, eggy, garlicky goodness could jolt me out of even my most pessimistic mood.

I didn’t bother to purée my soup – I thought the thin slices of garlic looked quite pretty and they gave the soup an interesting texture. If I were serving it for company, I probably would purée it for presentation’s sake.

This soup took a long time to make it onto the French Fridays schedule, but I don’t think it will be long before I make it again. It’s simple, but it’s also rich and delicious – well worth using your best ingredients to make it shine. And the half recipe I made left me with three egg whites, so I made a Visitandine. Whatever the soup doesn’t cure, the cake surely will.

Try it for yourself – you can find Dorie’s recipe here.

And you can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Côte d’Azur Cure-All Soup.