FFWD – Roasted Red Peppers & Gâteau Basque à la mode


Hello French Fridays, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I’ve missed you, but I got hit with a nasty sinus infection last month that took away much of my sense of taste and smell, along with almost all of my cooking mojo. I’m coming back on an easy one, so I added in a couple of catch ups, too.

Roasted Red Peppers

pepper collage

I’ve never been a fan of commercial roasted bell peppers – they’re usually a little slimy and the best part of the flavour is in the oil they’re packed in. Homemade roasted peppers, though, are an entirely different matter. Dorie’s recipe has you roasting the peppers in the oven, making it easy to cook them until they blacken and collapse. Once they’ve cooled down enough to peel, it’s just a matter of layering them with seasonings and marinating them in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. I made mine last night and they were wonderful as an appetizer. Unlike the ones out of a jar, they weren’t without texture and they certainly weren’t slimy. Instead, they had a light coating of good olive oil and they were covered in garlic and herbs. I also took a quarter cup of the oil and a slice of pepper, as Dorie suggests in her bonne idée, and made a vinaigrette. I used balsamic instead of sherry vinegar and it was a perfect dressing for salad this evening. Even better, there are still plenty of peppers in the fridge for me to work my way through Mary’s list of roasted pepper ideas.

Gâteau Basque


There has been some disagreement amongst my fellow Doristas as to whether this dessert is a cake or a giant cookie. I don’t really care, because it’s delicious. I used my mother’s homemade cherry jam to fill the gâteau, which isn’t really traditional, but it was wonderful all the same. It’s quick and uncomplicated to make, as long as you leave yourself enough time to chill the dough. I enjoyed this as a summer treat, but I think it will be even better in the wintertime, when a jam-filled treat will bring welcome reminders of the sun.

Olive Oil Ice Cream

ice cream

Now, I’m not the kind of person that would throw out a cake just because it was made a couple of days ago, but they do tend to get a little drier over time. Since I still had some leftover Gâteau Basque today, I thought a little ice cream might be just the thing to freshen it up. I didn’t have an ice cream maker when the group made Olive Oil Ice Cream, so I decided to tackle one more catch up this week. I was skeptical, I have to say, about olive oil in my ice cream. But this recipe produces a very adult vanilla flavour. The oil cuts the sweetness and enhances the vanilla, while adding a layer of savoury fruitiness all its own. It paired really well with the gâteau, but I would have been just as happy to have it alone, or with some summer fruit.

So, I think I’ve managed a fairly respectable return, don’t you? Once I catch up on the rest of July’s recipes, I’ll be almost on track again. I have to say it’s been good to see you, French Fridays. We shouldn’t wait so long again.

Find out what the rest of the French Fridays crew thought about their Roasted Peppers

You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts about cherry-jam-filled-goodness here: Gâteau Basque

And here’s where you can find the verdict on Olive Oil Ice Cream


FFWD – Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Chopping tomatoes in the (extremely strong) afternoon light.

The lines between restaurant cooking and home cooking have been slowly blurring for a long time, now. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that they converge and diverge over time. Right now, we’re in the midst of a gourmet revival, which seems to happen every generation or so. I direct you to almost any cooking blog for further research. At the same time, there’s also been a revival of interest in home-cooking from a professional perspective. In my town, restaurants like Grub, Burgoo, and The Wallflower have made names for themselves presenting and reinventing comfort food. My brother, a chef, cites not only professionals as mentors, but also my mother. Of course, a professional chef can’t surpass your mother’s famous [insert specialty here] and there are few home cooks who can match the expertise and equipment available to chefs.

One of the fundamental things that separates the two is preparation…though perhaps I mean preparations. At home, the success of a dish is often based on seasoning and the care put into assembling and cooking the dish. An apple pie is the result of a gentle hand with pastry, judicious spicing of the filling and a careful eye on the oven. In a professional kitchen, the Mother sauces provide the springboard upon which a menu is built, but the same care is put into other ingredients. Especially at restaurants that make use of seasonal produce, it’s the preparation of ingredients that can transform a dish. It’s a step beyond what we usually do at home.

The tomatoes, seasoned with tarragon, garlic, coarse pepper and sea salt, ready to go into the oven.

This is the train of thought that I followed when reading this week’s French Friday recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes. It seems more like a preparation that would be found in a professional kitchen than a home cook’s staple. It should be a staple, though. Slow-roasting is a wonderful, hands-off process for a quiet day at home. It’s also an effective method for concentrating flavour. This summer, I’ve slow-roasted strawberries, rhubarb and now tomatoes. Tomorrow, I’m going to try cherries. I think they’ll be great as a tart filling. But, I digress.

Dorie’s slow-roasted tomatoes can be flavoured with garlic and herbs, or just a little salt and pepper. They can be used immediately or packed in olive oil to use over the course of a few weeks. They can be ground into a paste, added to a dish during cooking, or used as a garnish. It’s this versatility that reminds me of restaurants.

Save for a taste after they were finished, I haven’t used my tomatoes yet. I’ve packed them in olive oil and they’re waiting in the fridge, ready to bring my home cooking up a notch.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

The tomatoes, roasted and cooling.

I’ve just realized today that I’m nearly at my 100th post and am only a few weeks away from my one-year-blogoversary. So, I’m trying to think up a little something to celebrate. As they say in advertising: Watch This Space.