Category Archives: French Fridays with Dorie

12 Days of Christmas Cookies Give Away + FFwD

Doesn’t everyone love cookies? I know we do. A cookie is just right at any time of day; morning snack, after school snack, bedtime snack, not to mention dessert. During the holidays, it seems that cookies show up everywhere. People give them away as gifts or they get together with friends and family to decorate cookies or they go to a cookie exchange. For the person who doesn’t like to bake as much as I do, cookie exchanges are a great way to get a variety of cookies without putting in all the hours in the kitchen.

Every year at Christmas time, I make a lot of cookies. I make it a point to try some new cookie recipes as well as make some old favorites. Inevitably, we end up with way more cookies than we could possibly eat. That’s where one of you dear readers can help me. For the next twelve days, I will be making cookies. Every day, I will post about whatever cookie I am making, and, at the end of the twelve days, I will give away a tin of cookies!

Before I give you all the details, let me talk about today’s cookie, which is also the recipe scheduled for French Fridays with Dorie. Yes, yes, I have been rather absent from that group lately; life has been busier than ever and I have frankly lost my cooking mojo. But, when I saw Orange Almond Tuiles on the schedule, I knew I would at least have to try them. Though I have long admired the look of tuiles, I have never ventured to make them because they seem incredibly finicky.

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The dough is easy enough. I just chopped up almonds in the food processor and used some clementine juice, since I had no orange juice. Also, I did not get enough juice from one clementine, so I added some orange flower water to make up the difference. I love the smell of that stuff! Then, the dough went in the fridge for its overnight rest.

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The next day, I fired up the oven and baked one pan just exactly as the directions specified.

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They came out looking beautiful, but were an incredible pain to get off the pan. Ugh. The first one was the best one. The rest of them either broke or got all wrinkled up. Here’s the nice looking ones from the first batch. They are more oval than round and, though they look pretty enough, when you see the unwrinkled ones, you will think these are kinda on the ugly side.

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I know Dorie says not to line the pan, but I couldn’t bear the thought of going through that again, so I baked six more cookies on parchment, with my convection fan on to see what would happen.

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Success! The first couple were too soft when I tried to take them off, but the other four were a breeze.

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Big sigh of relief. The best part is that they didn’t wrinkle up, so the lacey effect stayed intact.

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The orange flower water really made these cookies smell divine. I could not eat one because of a dental appointment I had in the morning, but my kids each had two and they thought they were delicious. It’s more candy than cookie, really, so of course they would like them.

I’ve got plans to bake the rest sometime over the weekend and hopefully, I can eat one in a day or so. I think that if I can get the timing right on removing the cookies from the pan, they will be both easy and beautiful. Actually, I bet you wouldn’t even need to take them off the parchment until they are cool unless you wanted the curved effect.

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I am going to put them in a tin and see how long they last. They would be beautiful in a Christmas cookie tin, which brings me back to my cookie tin giveaway!

Just like last year’s give away, you may enter by leaving one comment per post. To make things interesting, I may have you answer a question; nothing too hard. I’m not looking to make this a trivia contest, but I would love to get to know some of my readers a little better! Only one comment per person will be counted per post, but if you leave a comment for all twelve days, you will be entered twelve times! The tin will mostly likely include many of the cookies featured in the posts, but perhaps not all of them because not all cookies travel well or keep well. Plus, I will be trying some new recipes, so there may be a flop or two. However, I will try to ensure that the winner has a nice variety! Because of perishability issues, I will have to limit this to a domestic (that is, just the United States) contest. That way, the winner can be sure to get their cookies in a timely manner before Christmas. Comments on all 12 posts must be received by midnight, December 17, eastern standard time. I will pick a winner at random on the 18th. Hopefully, I can ship the tin of cookies by the 19th.

Ok, so, who wants some cookies?

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Little Cakes of Gold

Finally! I am back on track today. The last few weeks were busier than usual with field trips, holidays, and other events of life. Not to mention the time sucking nature of teaching a ten year old how to write a research paper. I have discovered that teaching someone how to write takes up far more time than my own writing, hence the rather sparse blog posts that have been happening lately. Fortunately, we are on the countdown to the end of the school year, yay! Unfortunately, several of the following weeks will have some more intense writing assignments for the elder, so the blog may continue to suffer a bit longer.

But, today, today, I am back and happily baking in the kitchen again. Today, I am making the FFwD recipe, Financiers, from Dorie’s book, Around My French Table. Surprisingly, I have never made these little golden cakes before, probably because I don’t own the right pan. In any case, instead of golden bars of cake that are supposed to mimic bars of gold, I made the cakes in a mini muffin pan and got golden cake coins.

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The hardest part of the recipe is making the browned butter. You just have to watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn, but it was hard for me to see because of all the foam on the top. Then, I strained it twice to get the little bits out, even though the recipe doesn’t say to do that. I wasn’t sure what those little bits would do to my final results. I have to say, when I started stirring the butter into the batter, the smell was amazing!

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Another change I made, was to make these completely gluten free by using the Cup4Cup flour I told you about here. Since the cake batter has so much almond flour, it was already halfway to being gluten free, so I just decided to go whole hog and see how it turned out. Basically, I substituted an equal amount of C4C for the regular flour.

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My batter only rested in the fridge for an hour. Next time, I’ll try to think ahead more. At the last minute, I decided to put a blueberry in the middle of each cake. Dorie says she sometimes likes to put a piece of fruit in and I thought, why not?

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I tasted one while it was still warm from the oven. Oh my. These are tasty. It’s lightly crispy on the outside, buttery, soft and almondy on the inside. The blueberry adds a touch of moisture and lightness that compliments the cake very well. If I did not make these myself and know that they were totally gluten free, I would not be able to tell. They are just plain delicious, and unless some of my gf friends show up at my door soon, they will be all gone.

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These little cakes are really easy to make and possibly worth their weight in gold. I encourage you to go make them now and see for yourself. The recipe is right here.

Orange Scented Lentil Soup

This is probably the most unattractive soup I have ever made. I didn’t think it looked too bad while it was cooking. You can see the chunks of carrots and celery. The lentils sink to the bottom of the pot while cooking.

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However, after the soup meets immersion blender, it is not pretty at all.

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Fortunately, it is quite tasty and easy, too. My lentils were tiny, so they took less han an hour to cook. Also, I used ground spices instead of whole because I was afraid the boat motor wouldn’t be able to grind up the whole ones sufficiently. Here is another view.

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The orange flavor was stronger than I expected, but it was good. We had it with spinach and chicken sausage, greek yogurt, and some focaccia from the freezer. It was a nice, light meal, if a little drab to look at. What else can I say? I guess if I am searching for more, it must mean that it is kind of boring. Well, let’s face it, it is, but life can’t be all fireworks and excitement.

This post is part of the French Fridays with Dorie group. You can find the recipe in her cookbook, Around My French Table.

Trio of Yumminess

This month I have really fallen behind on the French Fridays posting schedule. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I haven’t made the recipes. With the exception of today’s recipe, I have made them, they just haven’t been made on time. So, to distract you from the fact that I did not even attempt the coeur, I will catch you up on the two that I have made and show you a bonus one that I made yesterday for V-day that the group has not made yet.

Recipe #1: Brown Sugar Squash and Brussel Sprouts en Papillote

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I meant to follow the recipe and cook this in a package, really, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and ended up with just roasted veggies with no apples. It was tasty and I don’t regret it one bit. I knew I would miss the crispy browned bits. Maybe some other time I will try it all wrapped up.

Recipe #2: Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin

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This recipe was liked by all. It was simple and it was a nice and light, a welcome change to heavy wintry foods. The husband said it tasted even better the next day when he had it for lunch. I liked the pairing of orange with pork very much and imagine that this dish would be equally good in the summertime with peaches.

Recipe #3: Gâteau Basque

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I struggled up until the last minute with what to serve for dessert on Valentine’s Day. This week’s ffwd recipe, coeur à la crème, was out because of that pesky lactose intolerance issue. I wasn’t about to make a dessert for us that I could not partake myself. My original idea was the make the orange-almond tart, but when I went to start, I discovered that I had no almond flour. As I was flipping through the rest of the cookbook, I came across the gâteau, and thought it would be perfect.

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And it was. As a bonus, it was easy to make, too. I used a jar of my precious sour cherry jam for the filling and tried to make a nice heart design on the top, which sorta worked out.

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We all agreed that it was delicious, kinda like filled shortbread, but better and really good with tea or coffee. It’s even better and more fun if you have a paper crown on your head, thanks to the husband for buying valentine’s day crackers. When this comes up in the regular ffwd rotation, I will be more than happy to make it again.

Interesting Meals

I am easily bored. I have never liked to eat the same thing over and over again. As a result, I am always making something new and different and we are always going out to try new restaurants. Last week, on a day trip down to Washington D.C., we tried a South African place that served a Portuguese style roasted chicken that could be served really, really spicy. The husband got the spicy version. I got mine mild because, while I like spicy foods, I wanted to test the waters first before plunging in head first. I was glad, too, because the hot chicken was super spicy! Anyway, we love trying out new things and I hope that the boys will continue to love different cultures and foods for the rest of their lives.

For now, the older boy will try just about everything while the younger one is much more reluctant, but coming along nicely. It’s a good thing, too, because if they did not like to try new things, they probably wouldn’t get anything to eat half the time! This week was no exception.

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Last night, we had another FFwD inspired meal. I made the Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good, a recipe that the group did a long time ago, and this week’s recipe, Herb Speckled Spaetzle.

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First, let me talk about the pumpkin. I used a kabocha squash that I got from the asian store a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping for a red kuri, but couldn’t find any. It was all good, though, because I have been wanting to try this one for awhile. The pumpkin is hollowed out, jack-o-lantern style, and stuffed with a mixture of bread, bacon, herbs, garlic, and cheese. I used goat cheese and manchego. Instead of adding cream, though, I used chicken broth because I am really trying not to eat things that don’t agree with me and cream is one of them.

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The squash is a beautiful green color and it smelled wonderful during its two hour bake in the oven. It looked fantastic after it was baked and cut into. I loved the texture of the squash. It’s drier than most squashes, but it had a lovely intense sweetness and a kind of meaty texture. This was a wonderful one dish, low fat meal that I am sure I will make again.

We ate the pumpkin with the Herb Speckled Spaetzle. This is not the first time I have eaten spaetzle. A dear friend and neighbor of mine introduced me to spaetzle a couple of years ago. I loved it. She had a special spaetzle tool that she had bought in Germany. It was kind of like a flat cheese grater that rested on top of your pot of boiling water. Sadly, she has since moved far away or we might have had a fun spaetzle making party. As it was, I was on my own. I gathered a few kitchen tools that I thought might work as spaetzle makers.

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The batter was indeed wet and sticky. I tried the grater, but decided it was just too small.

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Then, I moved on to the food mill. I had to empty out some of the water in my pot so that I could sit the mill in it without touching the water, but it worked wonderfully. I did not use the crank; just a spatula and elbow grease. It was pretty easy and only took three batches to get through all the batter.

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The batter fluffed up nicely in its water bath. After being sauteed in a frying pan with some onions (I had no mushrooms, but will try to have them next time I make this), the spaetzle was ready. It was delicious!

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I was surprised how much spaetzle could be made from such a small amount of batter. It’s a good thing there was a lot because everyone liked them. The boys even asked for seconds, which they rarely do, so it must have been good! I am not so sure these two dishes were meant to go together, but Dorie said that spaetzle could go with everything, and she was right. They pumpkin played very nicely with the spaetzle. It was definitely an interesting and delicious meal. Now, if only we could figure out how to pronounce spaetzle!