Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Enjoying Dorie: Cooking from Around My French Table

My favorite cookbook of the year? EASY. In fact, this might be my favorite cookbook (and I have many). It is certainly the one that I am recommending as fast I can. I shouldn't be suprised. After all, the recipes on Dorie Greenspan's blog are always spot on. Anytime I see reference to her baking techinques, I know I am in for a treat. However, one needs just so many baking books. But, when I saw the publication of her first savory cookbook, Around My French Table, I knew I had to buy it as soon as possible. And, oh, how I love this book. I never intended to cook from it so much, but the recipes make me want to drop everything and run to the kitchen. And, in fact, each recipe is a treat. For working parents, better still, almost all the recipes can either be prepared ahead of time or can be made with minimal prep work.

What have I made so far (in order of the recipes in the book)

Gougeres (Cheese Puffs)-I wanted to love these. But they just don't stay puffed. Needless to say, everyone who has eaten them has raved about their rich taste. They demand a redo!

Pierre Herme's Olive Sables-These are...interesting. Mixed reception, but worth trying. The texture is so wonderful that I plan to substitute citrus for the olives.

David's Seaweed Sables-I love seaweed, but I didn't love how the taste transformed after baking. However, some of my taste-tasters thought they were fabulous!

Almost Cheez-Its: Another hit at a party. As a parent, I loved that they took minutes to make and can stay in the frig or freezer until you are ready to make them. They are also just delicious.

Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts-So far, the simplest and greatest success of the book. These are devoured. I have made them with almonds, pecans, and walnuts. No one can identify the use of chili powder, but it adds a subtle smokiness.

Pissaladiere-This was good. The key? Delicious and salty olives to counterbalance the sweetness of the onions.

Corn Soup-This was good, though a bit one dimensional. I far prefered it with bacon on top.

Leek and Potato Soup-Another healthy hit.

Celery-Celery Soup-Delicious. Even better with bits of bacon floating on top!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup Sans Cream-Fabulous and so easy. It will convince anyone to love cauliflower.

Orange Scented Lentil Soup-This is wonderful. It froze beautifully, making for an easy lunch or dinner.

Cheating on Winter Pea Soup-this soup is brilliant. First, it relies on the easiest vegetables to have in the house, including frozen peas. It takes minutes, but the final result is so delicious and misleadingly elegant.

Provencal Vegetable Soup/Garbure from the Supermarket-I mixed these two soups together after a fabulous haul at the Winter Farmer's Market. The key is the sausage. While the soup was delicious on its own, and was a wonderful vegetarian option, spicy andouille lifted the soup to another level.

Beggar's Linguine: This dish beguiled me with the idea of mixing figs, pistachios, almonds and orange zest into noodles. Next time I would just cut back on the butter as it was so rich. This dish would be fabulous with chicken, but I loved it on its own with a glass of wine.

Almond Flounder Meuniere: Um...wow. I loved this. The almonds add a wonderful crunch and this dish is incredibly light. And, of course, it was ready in minutes.

Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce-As evidence of my cooking-geekdom, I stared and grinned as the sugar melted into brown caramel. The sauce seemed to be a bit of a cooking-chemistry miracle and is wonderful. I can see it working equally as well on shrimp or even seared tofu.

Chicken in a Pot: A loved the idea of wrapping bread around a chicken. And the resulting chicken was delicious, though my bread tasted more like matzo donut. But it was lovely dipped in the stock/gravy.

Chicken Couscous (Sans Chicken): I had many root vegetables, even after making the Garbure. I also added cinnamon and some aleppo pepper. But it was warm and soothing on a cold winter's eve.

Steak a la Bourguignonne: Oh, this was so delicious. As I was a vegetarian for years, I struggle to make a decent steak. Finally, with the help of a cast iron, some butter, shallots and red wine, it was delicious.

Mashed celery root: This grew on me. In fact, I liked it more when I mixed in some mashed potatoes and some butter. I liked it even more when I browned it in a hot non-stick pan.

Braised endive-while my apples never quite melted, the endive had a soft bitterness that was wonderful with the fruits.

Broth-braised Potatoes: Classic Dorie. I got this ready in less than 5 minutes. They were as healthy as can be, so flavorful and perfect with the Bistro steak.

Long and Slow Apples-These are so ridiculously good. I cut back on the butter and enjoyed them as much warm as cold for breakfast the next morning. Think fancy applesauce or baked apples. The coriander adds an alluring citrusy scent that is hard to identify.

Sable Breton Galette-This sweet, salty and tender oversized cookie is delectable on its own with coffee or tea. I also topped it with some Meyer Lemon curd.

There are over 300 recipes in this book. Part of the joy, then, is that I know that I can continue to take pleasure in the photos, the treats and the techniques that Dorie Greenspan describes so clearly.

The book is available at most bookstores, and, of course, on-line.


  1. Wow, you've made a lot from the cookbook. Have you checked out Alicia's blog (the Clean Plate Club)? She's been equally loving this book and has a few of her experiences with the recipes on there!

  2. WOW is about all I can say -- I love, love how much you've been cooking from AMFT and the best part is how much you've enjoyed the recipes. I'm so glad you tweeted this post -- merci.

  3. You should join French Fridays with Dorie!! I am also a HUGE fan of this book!