Thursday, June 28, 2012

FFwD: Corn Pancakes

In a bout of forethought, in trying to complete FFwD recipes before being separated from all-things-kitchen, I made this week's recipe, Corn Pancakes (pg 337 of Around My French Table), two weeks ago. Unfortunately, my pre-planning did not extend to writing up my post about the pancakes at that time, so the memory is pretty fuzzy as I type this now. Also, the pics were uploaded onto my desktop, which is still with my husband in Texas. I am now at my mother's in Brooklyn, so no photos for you! Don't worry--you're not missing much. Just imagine yellow pancakes.

I thought that this sounded like a delightful recipe, and figured they'd be a great way to trick my son into eating corn. Not that he's missing a world of nutrition by not eating corn, but any time that I can get him to eat anything new, it makes me happy.

For some reason, I thought that the corn would be kept whole, and dot the pancakes. That is not correct. Canned corn is pureed with the other ingredients to make batter. Hot off the griddle, they tasted fine. Nothing special, but fine. I followed the instructions to move the pancakes to a warm oven as they were made.

I finished flipping my last pancake and retrieved its mates from the oven. The texture had completely changed. I can't remember exactly what was wrong, since I stopped after two bites, but I think they'd turned gummy and dense. I gave one to Charlie and he gagged on it. For about three minutes. He's very dramatic.

He and I ate french toast for dinner. Matt insisted upon eating the pancakes--ALL the pancakes--with spinach and over easy eggs, even though he didn't like them, because he didn't want to waste them. He's mental.

I had a hard time with most of June's recipes. July looks like it's shaping up to be exponentially more delicious. Whew!

Friday, June 22, 2012

FFwD: David's Seaweed Sables

Right off the bat, David's Seaweed Sables sounded awful to me. Seaweed does not seem like the type of flavor that lends itself to a sweet/salty mashup of deliciousness. However, this recipe comes to Dorie via David Lebovitz, who I love and adore, and whose book, Ready for Dessert, is the most reliably knock-my-socks-off book I've ever cooked from, so I decided to withhold judgment until I tasted one.

Yeah. Well. Apparently I'm not sophisticated enough to hang with Dorie and David. Wish David had given her a recipe for bacon sables, as mentioned in the intro. I'd be all over those.

I'm not 100% sure that I bought the right nori. The recipe calls for toasted nori. All I found was roasted nori. Same thing? Beats me. I think it's right.

Everything came together very easily in the food processor, so the recipe has that going for it. Once blitzed, and then while baking, they smelled like the South Street Seaport, circa 1989. Not good.
Thanks for the sea salt, Pauline!
My favorite thing about this recipe was he contrast of the pretty salmon colored Alaea Sea Salt that my friend sent me from Hawaii against the light olive-toned sables. Looking at them was all they were good for. Couldn't eat them. Fishy + sweet = unpleasant. I poured a glass of wine, which did nothing to enhance the flavor of the cookie, but did help to burn the terrible aftertaste out of my mouth. I hated them. Matt took one whiff and didn't bother tasting one.

I also made last week's Lime Honey Beet Salad. Another dud. My problem was with the dressing, not the beets. It tasted like detergent to me. I threw it out. June is not being good to me, as far as these recipes go.

I'm off for NY tomorrow, and, from there, on to Naples in August. I've decided to bring Around My French Table with me in my luggage, so I'll do my best to keep up with the recipes for the next few months, until I'm reunited with all of my belongings, which I anticipate to be around October. It'll all depend on whether or not I can make the recipe without a well-stocked pantry or special equipment. Anyway, so I may go missing for a while, but I'll still be reading everyone's posts on Fridays! Wish me luck, and have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TwD: French Strawberry Cake

I was cautiously optimistic about the French Strawberry Cake that was selected this week for Tuesdays with Dorie. I love strawberry shortcake, but I hate--HATE--wedding cake. All wedding cake. I didn't even like my own. I just ordered the one that everyone else seemed to like best. The cake part itself usually seems to be a flavorless vehicle to get toppings to your mouth, and it's usually covered in some element that makes it wet. Pudding, fruit, whatever. I don't like it, texturally. My wedding cake fears sprang to the forefront when I read through the recipe for this strawberry cake and realized that the genoise (cake) is supposed to be sliced into thirds, layered with macerated strawberries and whipped cream, then left to set in the fridge for a while. Sounds wet to me.

First problem, right out of the gate, was in slicing the cake. This was not a thick, forgiving cake to cut. It might have been an inch thick. I can't even slice a bagel evenly. I decided to halve it. The conversation with my husband went a little something like this:

Me: I'm supposed to cut this into thirds.
Matt: That?
Me: Yeah.
Matt: Never gonna happen.
Me: I think I'll halve it.
Matt: You can try, but you won't be able to do it.
Me: What are you suggesting?
Matt: Just leave it whole and pile the strawberries and cream on top of it.
Me: I'm not going to do that.
Matt: (Snort.) Good luck.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, bud. I mean, he was right--I made a huge mess of it, but still. haha. Fortunately, whipped cream masks all manner of kitchen disasters.

If anyone out there was able to slice this into thirds, I'm very impressed by you. I want you to know that.
I should be a food stylist.
I didn't really enjoy this cake. I didn't hate it, but I found myself picking the strawberries and cream off and leaving the cake behind. The cake, itself, didn't contribute anything delicious to the whole. I served it at a going-away party for two friends who are moving to Japan, and for myself (On Saturday, I'll begin my trek East, spending a month with fam in NY and DE before moving to Italy in August). A house full of people ate less than half of this cake. I've seen this group of friends clear tables of feasts, so if it was a dessert that they really loved, believe me, it would have been gone in two seconds.

I will say that I LOVED the addition of sour cream to the whipped cream. It gave it a nice tang. I'll definitely use that idea in the future.

If you want to see what this cake looks like when people actually take pretty pictures of it, check out what Sophia and Allison, our hosts for this week, did with it. The full recipe can be found on their blogs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TwD: Oasis Naan

It doesn't take much to prompt me to cook Indian food these days, so from the moment that I read that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking With Julia was Oasis Naan, all I could think about was a big pot of saag to go along with it. The saag was delicious (thank you Madhur Jaffrey!), but my naan was not-so-great. I haven't decided yet whether I bungled the recipe, or if the outcome was not supposed to be similar to restaurant naan, and so my expectations ruined my experience of it.

As I hand-kneaded the dough, I thought to myself that I was being too generous with the instruction to "add more flour as necessary." The dough was extremely wet and sticky, had glued itself to my lightly floured countertop, and had gloved my hands. It took a lot of flour to get it to a consistency that I could knead. It's highly probable that this is the root of my problem. My finished product was a cross between pizza dough and pita. It baked into stiff, dense breads, with none of that lovely stretchy chewiness that I associate with naan. Oh well. I hope everyone else had a better experience! Now, who's ready for some French Strawberry Cake? I am! I am!

I can't find my camera cord anywhere. I'll upload a pic later, if/when it turns up. 

You can find the full recipe on either Maggie's blog, Always Add More Butter, or Phyl's blog, Of Cabbages and King Cakes.