Baking Chez Moi – Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies

  

In my favourite storybooks, when I was small, the bears…or rabbits…or children always seemed to come home for tea. This was probably the beginning of my tea obsession, but there was something else that stuck with me.

The description of jam-filled cookies and the illustration of perfectly round, lightly browned, sturdy cookies – sometimes iced, sometimes plain. Now, I realize that these were probably the easiest things to draw, but they piqued my imagination. I never did find a cookie that measured up precisely, though Dorie’s Palets de Dames came close.

However, these Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies come closest of all. There’s something about the shape of them that’s reminiscent of a vintage drawing. Something about the texture – soft without too much give. And something about the jammy surprise in the centre that’s pure nostalgia. Who can say why these satisfy this particular memory for me? I just know that when I have grand-nieces and nephews, I’ll be baking these cookies for them for storytime.

You can find the recipe here. And for the record, I used peach jam, mixed with a tiny bit of ginger. It was a great choice.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies.

Baking Chez Moi – Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta

Panna cotta sounds elegant and difficult, but it’s only one of those things. Unlike its more temperamental cousin, custard, it doesn’t need monitoring. As long as you soften the gelatin in cold water, then stir it into hot cream until it dissolves, its really just a matter of waiting until it sets in the fridge.

And once you know that the gelatin does all the heavy lifting, it’s hard not make panna cotta a habit. Especially since the variations are seemingly endless. There’s a multitude of recipes out there, with variations on flavour, presentation, and accompaniments.

This version was particularly refreshing at the end of a hot day. Dorie layers vanilla panna cotta atop a mango and lime purée. Eating it made me feel like I’d been transported to a tropical hotel. Looking at it made me feel like running over to Gourmet Warehouse and picking up some glass ramekins or tiny Weck jars.

I love my ramekins – they’re pretty and they’ve served me well. But, they’re totally wrong for presenting this dessert. It’s meant to be admired even before you spoon into it. I probably don’t need more ramekins, so next time I make this, I’ll unmold the panna cotta onto a plate and garnish it with a generous amount of the purée. Or, I could go shopping, ignoring the fact that I live in a small apartment and I have a very long wish list of kitchen items.

We’ll see.

And since it’s a Catch Up Friday, I thought I’d mention that I have indeed made the Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars. I posted about them in a French Fridays post in April.

Crispy Topped Brown Sugar Bars

They were fantastic, but I’m afraid to make them again, as they might disappear before I share them with anyone else.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta.

Baking Chez Moi – We Begin!

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There’s nothing like the excitement of a new book, is there? Especially one that you’ve been anticipating for a long while. I finally got my hands on such a book on November 2nd, when I headed down to Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks to pick up my copy of Dorie Greenspan‘s eleventh cookbook, Baking Chez Moi.

Dorie was in Vancouver for the only Canadian stop on her book tour and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the taping of her interview with CBC’s North by Northwest Cooking Club. (Some even luckier folks got to have dinner with her later that evening.) She told stories about living and baking in Paris and shared tips and tricks while she demonstrated putting together her Pink Grapefruit Tart from the book. CBC has posted the interview now, which you can find here.

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Meanwhile, the audience got to munch on miniature versions of the tart, while sipping Barbara-Jo’s signature tea blend. (If you think my idea of heaven would be listening to one of my culinary heroes, while munching on a delicious tart and sipping a cup of perfect tea, in a bookstore devoted to cookbooks – well, you’d be right.)

Pink Grapefruit Tart

After the interview, she fielded questions from the audience and engaged in some banter with her husband, Michael, who is accompanying her on the tour. His version of the stories she shared were sometimes a little different from hers and he quite charmingly interjected when he thought it was necessary.

Michael and Dorie

At the end, I introduced myself and Dorie gave me a big hug. It was lovely to finally meet her after cooking through Around My French Table with the French Fridays with Dorie group for the past four years.

Dorie

Which brings us to the first entry in Tuesdays with Dorie‘s newest project – baking through Baking Chez Moi. We’ll be posting together twice a month as we work our way through the book and I’m quite excited to be joining in. Just browsing through my copy of this cookbook left it bristling with bookmarked recipes, so I’m glad that TwD is here to provide me with some structure. (I’ve joined in with Tuesdays with Dorie before, along with my nieces, over at The Family That Bakes Together for some Baking with Julia assignments.)

PaletsdeDames

The recipe chosen to kick off the bake-a-long was Palets de Dames, Lille Style, a sweet, cake-y vanilla cookie topped with a shiny lemon glaze. I made these three weeks ago, when the French Fridays crew celebrated Dorie’s Birthday. I thought about making them again this week, but they are far too addictive. I will wait until I’m sure I have plenty of people to share them with.

I’m looking forward to reading through everyone’s posts and connecting with old friends and new through this new group. Our next assignment for Baking Chez Moi is in two weeks, when we tackle Dorie’s Cranberry Crackle Tart.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this week’s recipe here: Palets de Dames.

Happy Birthday, Dorie! A French Fridays Celebration

Happy Birthday

Today’s French Fridays with Dorie assignment has been set aside for a celebration. Not only are we wishing Dorie Greenspan the happiest of birthdays, but we’re also baking from her soon-to-be-released cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. This celebration has been orchestrated by two of our fabulous French Fridays collaborators, Liz and Susan, who gave us four recipes from the new book to choose from.

I chose two, but the good news is that I’ll be baking through the entire book with Tuesdays with Dorie, starting in November – and you can, too. All the details are in this post on the TwD site.

Paletes de Dames, Lille Style

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These little cookies manage to be elegant and homey all at once. The cookies themselves are flavoured with vanilla and have a cake-like quality, while the icing has a few drops of lemon juice and sets in that shiny, smooth, pastry shop way. They can be dressed up with tinted icing or some sanding sugar, but really I think they’re perfect just as they are.

Brown Butter-Peach Tourte

Peach Tourte

One of the things I love about French baking (well, besides all the butter) is that a good number of the desserts are far less complicated than the results would suggest. This tourte, with its free-standing crust and its sparkling surface, looks like it requires effort and expertise to carry off. The truth is that once you’ve mastered pâte sablée, the rest is easy. And if you have Dorie’s instructions for pâte sablée (or sweet tart dough), that part’s easy, too.

I used some of the last of this year’s peaches to make this tart, but I think it would work equally well with any juicy tree fruit. In fact, I think I might try it again with mango this winter. I think it made an admirable stand in for a birthday cake and might be even more welcome than cake at the height of peach season.

Sliced

It’s been an amazing four years cooking and baking with French Fridays and I’m looking forward to the last six months or so of working through Around My French Table. I’m also starting to get excited about getting my hands on Baking Chez Moi and working through it with the Tuesdays with Dorie brigade.

So, again, happy birthday to you, Dorie. I’ve learned so much more about cooking and baking in these last few years, thanks to your work. I deeply admire your love and enthusiasm for food and the community it creates – you write about it beautifully.

Below you’ll find the full line up of posts for this French Fridays celebration. (Click on the name of the dish to find the recipe, so you can join in on the fun, too.)

Mini Cannelés

Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling

Paletes de Dames, Lille Style

Brown Butter-Peach Tourte