Baking Chez Moi – Granola Cake and Honey-Yogurt Mousse

Honey-Yogurt Mousse

January is a tough month for bakers, professional or amateur. So many people have sworn off…well, food…that it can be hard to find takers for anything sweet or rich. This month’s Tuesdays with Dorie picks from Baking Chez Moi will gently lure almost anyone back onto the dessert wagon. Neither of them are too sweet and they’re both perfect comfort foods, for me at least.

With the relentlessly icy winter we’ve been having, a cup of tea and a comforting treat are exactly what’s needed to chase away the chill.

Granola Cake

Granola Cake

This cake reminds me of the “snacking cakes” we used to have in our lunchboxes in elementary school. Invariably baked in a 9″ x 13″ pan, they existed at the corner of cake and cookie. I don’t remember any that incorporated granola, but it’s a brilliant addition. I used muesli in mine, which was perhaps a little less sweet than granola would have been, but I found the cake just right – not too soft to eat out of hand, without being too dry; sweet enough to eat by itself, but not so sweet you’d pass up a little compote or ice cream on the side. I cut the cake into small squares, saving a few for myself this week and freezing the rest to share later this month.

Honey-Yogurt Mousse

Honey-Yogurt Mousse

I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it has even made a guest appearance on the blog once before.

I love desserts like this, homey enough for a weeknight meal, but also just as nice for a special meal – it’s all in the presentation. This mousse is as simple to make as panna cotta, but there’s a little extra prep time needed for straining the yogurt.

I’ve made it with flavoured yogurts and plain, served it with whipped crème fraîche, macerated berries, or all on its own. I do think Dorie’s suggestion to serve it with a crunchy cookie sounds brilliant, but I’ve yet to try that.

I think if more people knew how easy it is to produce a simple dessert like this or panna cotta, scratch pudding, or even pots de crème, sales of boxed puddings and gelatin desserts would plummet, don’t you?

Here’s to a year full of ordinary delights (punctuated with splashier ones for special occasions), on the table and across the rest of our lives.

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

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Cook the Book Fridays – Scalloped Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Roasted Garlic

Scalloped potatoes with blue cheese and roasted garlic

This week’s recipe is a rich version of an old fashioned comfort food dish. It’s something that I didn’t often have growing up, because it’s the one potato dish my father has always hated. It’s on of my mother’s favourites, though, so she’d make it sometimes when he was away hunting or fishing. Blue cheese is another of her favourites, so I think I’ll have to make for her the next time my Dad travels. She’ll be doubly pleased.

I’ve only made scalloped potatoes a handful of times myself, because I associate them with the kind of feast you’d have at a dinner party or for a holiday. On those occasions, I usually cook to accommodate the variety of special diets that people in my circles require.

But, since it was on the roster, I scaled the recipe down by two-thirds and made an indulgent meal for myself. I served it with salad, as David suggests, and I’m glad I made it the star on the plate. I’m even happier that there are leftovers for tomorrow.

I loved the flavour of the Roquefort I used, but I can’t help wondering what it would be like with other cheeses, too. So many of them would play well with the garlic-infused cream that makes up the sauce.

A visit to Faubourg Vancouver

And as some of you know, Katie of Prof Who Cooks was in town yesterday, for a whirlwind trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday. She was able to fit in a visit to Faubourg with me in the afternoon and it was such a pleasure to chat with her and get to know her a little more. She’s just as lovely in person as she is on her blog.

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.

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.

FFWD – Navarin Printanier

Lovely, rich stew.

Over the next little while, I’m going to try and catch up on a few French Fridays dishes that I’ve made, but haven’t managed to post about. I’m starting with a really good one.

Navarin Printanier is nothing like my mother’s Irish stew. Don’t get me wrong, my mother’s lamb stew is so good that my brother (a chef) adapted it for use on his menus. It’s a traditional, slow-cooked on the stovetop version, light and flavourful. Navarin Printanier is a braise, giving lamb the sort of treatment usually reserved for beef.

I love the methods used in this recipe. The braising itself makes the lamb tender, of course, but it’s not just that. The vegetables are sautéed in butter before being added to the pan and manage to retain the shiny vibrancy the sauté gives them. Beef stock and tomato paste (I used one infused with garlic, which was really nice) make a lovely, rich sauce flavoured with thyme, bay leaf, and parsley.

Beautiful colour on sautéed vegetables.

My mother and I cut up two shoulder roasts for this stew, removing the ribs for use another day. We were able to cut off almost all the fat from the lamb as we cubed it, which meant that the stew wasn’t at all greasy. Labour-intensive, but totally worth it.

I deviated from the recipe here and there, using rutabaga in place of turnip, adding about three times the tomato paste and thyme called for, and forgetting entirely to add the peas. Stews are very forgiving. This stew was delicious enough that I won’t reserve it just for spring, though it’s a worthy showcase for the year’s first vegetables.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this FFWD recipe here: Navarin Printanier