FFWD – Chanterelles with Cabbage & Nuts

mushrooms

It’s easy to think of disincentives for being late: a tapping foot, the flustered greeting, that feeling of being out-of-step with everyone else. But sometimes there are advantages, too. I couldn’t make it to last week’s Farmers’ Market, so I don’t know if they had chanterelles for sale, but I do know I couldn’t find them anywhere else all week. This afternoon, though, there were several baskets of the beautiful fungus sitting front and centre on Wild Foraged‘s table. I scooped up a box, but I admit I almost gave up on the idea of this week’s dish when I found out they also had Chicken of the Woods on hand.

My better angel prevailed and here we are, with an appetizer that is sweet and savoury, meaty and vegetal, all at once. I made a small portion of the dish for the two of us to share, substituting savoy cabbage for the napa and using some vegetable stock in place of bouillon. I’d forgotten to pick up hazelnuts on the way home, so I used chopped almonds instead. I think they were as nice as hazelnuts would have been. I also took Dorie’s bonne idée and threw in some green grapes, which added another lovely layer of flavour to the dish.

The hardest thing about this dish is obtaining the mushrooms. The easiest thing is deciding to make this again before chanterelle season is over. See for yourself, here.

And because we’re heading into the home stretch of Around My French Table, I’m trying to do at least one catch up a week until I’m up-to-date:

Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese

cheesy

I’m sort of glad I waited so long to make this one, or else it might have become a staple item in my refrigerator. Fromage blanc (or in my case, ricotta drained overnight until thick) mixed with alliums and herbs makes a wonderful spread for crudités, breads, or crackers. I loved it with oatcakes and slow-roasted tomatoes. If Kevin wasn’t adhering to his vegan diet of late, I’d have filled tomatoes with the stuff for him. I’ve still got quite a bit left and I’m thinking it might find its way into a savoury tart very soon.

Find out what the rest of the French Fridays crew thought about their Chanterelles with Napa and Nuts

And here’s where you can find the verdict on Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese

A French Fridays Catch Up: Bœuf à la Ficelle and Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest

I haven’t got any beautiful food to share with you today, but I do have some delicious dishes to write about. I’m not in synch with the French Fridays crowd this week; they’re all writing about their adventures in Garbure. Kevin and I are eating vegetarian this weekend, so the luxurious-sounding bean, duck, and sausage stew will have to wait. Instead, I’m doing a catch up for a couple of recipes I missed about a month ago.

First, bœuf à la ficelle, or in my case, la viande d’orignal à la ficelle. I used moose tenderloin in place of beef. This recipe uses a technique that many of us were skeptical about – poach an expensive cut of meat in beef broth? Madness! In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The gentle bath of beef broth makes the tenderloin perfectly seasoned and perfectly medium-rare. I cheated, opting not to make the oxtail stock, instead infusing beef broth with the aromatics called for in Dorie’s recipe. I think this is a fair trade off, as long as you use a good brand of stock. The moose tenderloins I used were much smaller than beef tenderloin, which surprised me. I only poached them for about seven or eight minutes to get them to rare. Covered with foil, they cooked a little more and were nicely medium-rare when I served them.

I served the moose and vegetables with this Garlic and Fennel Purée from Food and Wine. The garlic and fennel flavour was wonderful, but I prefer a heartier purée, like Dorie’s celery root purée. I think I’d rather use that recipe as a template for fennel purée, but keep the mountain of garlic from Food and Wine‘s version.

Even though I loved the dish, I think the best part of this recipe is the left-over broth. I left it with my mother, who first poached some chicken in it, and then the next day, warmed up some ham. I can’t imagine how much more flavour she’d infused in the broth by the time she used the last of it in a pot of soup. That broth is secret ingredient material.

Unfortunately, my presentation doesn’t do the dish justice. I need a food styling tutor, I think.

Beefy

You can find Dorie’s recipe for Bœuf à la Ficelle here.

You can read about the rest of the Doristas’ experiences with this dish here.

For dessert, there was Paris-Brest, filled with a vanilla and candied almond pastry cream, along with cream puffs filled with leftover Meyer lemon curd from last week’s crêpes. I only wish our assignment had been cream puffs, because those turned out beautifully. Unfortunately, I didn’t pipe the dough for the Paris-Brest into wide enough rings, so it’s not as impressive as it’s intended to be. I also managed to break the top when I was assembling it, so that added to the imperfection. No matter, because it was delicious. Definitely worth brushing up on my pastry piping skills.

To see how the rest of the French Fridays Crew fared with Paris-Brest, head here: Paris-Brest

I’ll be making both these recipes again, even if my presentation skills don’t show them to their best advantage. They may be homely versions of elegant dishes, but that’s easily forgotten once the eating begins.

FFWD – Go-With-Everything Celery Root Purée and Beef Cheek Daube With Carrots & Elbow Macaroni

Christmas Eve Dinner

Since the beginning of our time together, my partner and I have had a special dinner on Christmas Eve. We usually watch It’s a Wonderful Life, too. This week’s assigned recipe (along with a catch up from late November) was perfect for our Christmas Eve meal.

The celery root purée was almost as simple as mashed potatoes, just cubed celery root and potato boiled in a mixture of water and milk along with onion (and in my case, garlic), then puréed in the food processor with lashings of butter. I skimped a little on the milk, because I had other plans for it, but I don’t think that harmed the flavour of the purée at all.

The purée seemed like a great accompaniment for stew, so I also made the beef daube that I’d missed at the end of November. I didn’t bother tracking down beef cheek – the week before Christmas is hectic enough and I’d gotten a great deal on stewing meat at the grocer’s. I also skipped the elbow macaroni and replaced the regular flour called for in the recipe with a gluten-free all purpose blend. Beef, red wine, carrots, and a little chocolate at the end make a beautifully rich braise. Along with the buttery, slightly sharp taste of the purée, it made for an elegant supper.

This time of year, I think about how important societal rituals can be for making life meaningful, while at the same time, how hard they can be for some folks. Creating personal traditions helps to mark our passage through the year, while removing some of the hurt that many people carry through the standard holidays. At the darkest time of the year, we need all the light we can get.

This is my last post of 2012 (and it also happens to be the 200th post on this blog). I hope you ring in the New Year safely and joyously. See you in 2013.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Go-With-Everything Celery Root Purée

Here’s everyone else’s take on the Beef Cheek Daube With Carrots & Elbow Macaroni