Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cookbooks - and what I've been up to since Thanksgiving!

new cookbooks!
I was so pleased to receive so many amazing cookbooks as gifts this Christmas.  Each book is truly inspiring, both in the exquisite photographs and culinary treasures they contain.  I'm looking forward to delving into the new gastronomic adventures through their pages.
  • The Foothills Cuisine - Sam Beal via Blackberry Farm
  • the Smitten Kitchen cookbook - Deb Perlman
  • Around my French Table - Dorie Greenspan
  • French Cuisine for All - a vintage treasure by Louisette Bertholle ( friend of Julia Childs)
  • NOMA, a time and place in nordic cuisine - Rene Redzepi
    • my husband is from Denmark, and we can't wait to visit NOMA on our next trip!

I've been quite busy since my last post in NOVEMBER. On Thanksgiving we hosted a seated dinner for 23 guests. We roasted TWO 17 lb Heritage Turkeys!  I was so overwhelmed getting everything ready for that day, that I didn't take a single photo! 

I received the most decadent treat from Fran's Chocolates to put me in the holiday spirit!  Turkish Figs filled with chocolate ganache.  I'll be writing more about these babies in the future - oh, my. 
Fran's Chocolates
Over Christmas, we traveled to Nashville, TN where we shared a beautiful holiday with my mother's family.  For Christmas dinner we had beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower and several other yummy sides.  Sometimes the leftovers are even better than the first meal!  We departed late Christmas day and shared a midnight snack when we finally arrived at home.
leftover beef tenderloin w/ sea salt, apple pie and pecan pie
Since then we've had our bellies filled with delicious meals such as....
Paella prepared by some of our dear friends! 

I made Dorie Greenspan's Caramel-topped Semolina cake for dessert.  Her cookbook,  Around my French Table is full of elegant dishes that are fairly simple to prepare.  I've tweeted about her new cookie line,  Buerre & Sel.  These are a MUST have for any pantry.  Just don't open them until you're prepared to eat them, every last one!
semolina, golden raisins, and vanilla

Buerre & Sel - Sesame Sea Salt
We hosted our last dinner party of the season on New Year's Eve.  I served Beef Bourguignon as the main course, and for dessert I used April Bloomfield's recipe for chocolate-orange cake with bourbon.  It's always fun to play with fire in the kitchen!
bourbon on fire!
Thankfully there was just a sliver leftover for breakfast the next morning.....
chocolate cake for breakfast
Because I needed something to get me through the clean-up process! 
many many dirty dishes
Here's to a very happy 2013 and a pantry full of goodies!
Caramel-topped Semolina Cake - from Around my French Table, by Dorie Greenspan
I've transcribed her recipe below with just a few [of my own] notes in italics. 

for the cake
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup farina ( cream of wheat ) - which is a type of semolina.  This IS THE "secret" ingredient.
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plump moist golden raisins

for the caramel
1/3 cup sugar
3 tlbs water
squeeze of fresh lemon juice - i didn't have any lemons on hand ( bad pantry!) so I substituted a squeeze of fresh orange juice.  

Center the oven rack and pre-heat to 350F.  Use an 8" round cake pan w sides preferably 1.5" high

for the cake
Bring the milk and the salt just to a boil in a medium saucepan.  At the sign of the first bubble, lower the heat, pour in the farina and stir with a wooden spoon. Kepp stirring, adjusting the heat so that the farina doesn't scorch, until the mixture thickens - check the [farina package] for approximate cooking times.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla.  Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes.

while the farina cools, make the caramel
Slide the cake pan into the oven to warm - warming it makes getting an even layer of caramel a snap.
Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small skillet or saucepan over high heat.  Stir to moisten the sugar, then allow the mixture to come to a boil.  As the sugar starts to take on color, swirl the pan gently so that it heats evenly.  Keep a close watch on the pan, and when the sugar turns deep amber (about 5 minutes) - you can test the color by dropping a bit of caramel onto a white plate - remove the pan from the heat.  Pour the caramel into the warm cake pan and tilt the pan until you get an even coating.

to finish the cake 
Stir the beaten eggs and raisins into the cooled farina mixture, and scrape the batter into the caramelized cake pan.  Slide the pan into the oven and bake until the cake firms and puffs and a knife inserted ino the center comes out clean - 25-35 minutes.

Invert a serving plate with a rim over the cake pan and, working carefully - the caramel is very very hot - turn the pan over onto the plate and lift if off, allowing the caramel sauce to run down the sides of the cake.  Let the cake cool to room temperature before serving.



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