My Take on…Dinner Chez Moi

Book Reviews, Cooking

After having read both of Elizabeth Bard’s memoirs, I decided to give her cookbook a try. Mixed in with the recipes are little paragraphs of tips or “secrets” as the author calls them. I found those fun to read and read them straight away, as I was skimming the recipes. I decided to make a full meal including desert from Dinner Chez Moi.

I enlisted my daughter to help me prepare the meal. We made the Lentil and Sausage Stew (Lentilles aux saucisses fumees), even though it is summer here in California and rather warm. The author assured us that, ” This is a favorite dish in our house year-round-warm and comforting as a big bear hug. Friends and family request it each time they visit, even if it’s 100 degrees in the shade!”. Well, ok. If it is recommened in any temperature then let’s go for it! And go for it we did. Next on the menu were the Ham and Rosemary Cheese Puffs (Gougeres au fromage, romarin, et jambon cru). To top off the meal, we made the Butter Cookies with Orange-Flower Essence (Sables aux fleur d-oranger).

We made the butter cookies first. They take an hour in the fridge to chill and then fifteen minutes to bake. They were light and very flavorful. The orange rind and orange-flower water gave the perfect amount of flavor. Sometimes, flavors are not so distinct. Also, I found this to be a nice treat with very few carbohydrates per cookie. The sugar was a mere 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon. Nice!

Next, we made the stew. I have a go-to lentil soup recipe, however, this one might have surpassed it. It was easy to make and loaded with fresh vegetables. It took an hour to simmer, which is normal for recipes with lentils. I really liked the added touch of wine and sausage. Yum!

While the stew was simmering, we made the Cheese Puffs. I did not find the ham at the store, so we left it out. I figured since there was already sausage in the stew we did not really need more meat with the meal anyway. I used fresh rosemary from our garden. They smelled delicious. Again, this was an easy recipe to whip together. I found that they did not need the full time in cooking. As with all new recipes, be sure to watch the bake time so as not to over bake these puffs. As with the cookies, I found this recipe low in carbohydrates. Nice!

My take on Dinner Chez Moi by Elizabeth Bard is that I think it is a keeper. Three out of three recipes tried were winners. The bonus “50 French Secrets” are interesting and worth the read. The only question is, “What will I make next?”. As always, Happy Cooking!

Making Croissants

Book Reviews, Cooking

As I have said before, my kids and I are cooking together this summer. So my teenage son made a couple of requests of foods he would like to try to make with me. One being croissants. Ambitious! I was in.

I found a recipe for croissants in the cookbook: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang. Chang said that after visiting France with her husband, she wanted to perfect the bakery’s croissant recipe even more. The recipe in her cookbook reflects her efforts at doing so. There are no pictures, just descriptions of the steps, which can seem complicated, but are well written and tested by Chang. She warns that one needs to start making the croissants two days in advance. Really? Yes, really. It is a time consuming process, however, most of that time is spent waiting for the dough to proof, so one can go about their day while the dough does it’s work.

The picture of the finished croissant in the cookbook looked mouth-wateringly good. This is what we were striving for, not the soft, American grocery store version. We wanted the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, French version. After spending two days in the kitchen, my son and I were nervous when the time came to pop them in the oven. We did not want to burn them. We knew they had the potential for being grand. They had puffed-up into the most amazing looking croissants. We both had moments of joy making these croissants. I remember the ah ha moment when after making a slit in the top of our first croissant and spreading it into a y form, it rolled into a perfectly shaped croissant. A high-five was given as we excitedly formed the rest of our croissants. So, this was not something to risk in the baking. We stayed close to the oven, watching and waiting.

Ready to go into the oven.

I was nervous that the croissants seemed to be browning a bit sooner than expected given the time left on the timer. As the recipe said to bake them a total of 30 min plus or until golden. They were golden but what about the insides? This was our dilemma. We decided to tent them with foil for the remainder of the cook time. All turned out well. The croissants were delicious and got rave reviews from the family. They were crispy and flakey on the outside. On the inside, the tender and chewy layers could be seen as well as tasted. Oh yum! Am I in Paris!?!

Perfection!
The inside with a bit of jam.

If wanting a good French croissant, I highly recommend picking-up a copy of Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang. While this recipe does seem like quite a task, it is actually very easy to make, just time consuming. The dough can be made in a stand mixer. The steps of folding the dough with the butter (I bought European butter for this recipe.) were easy and the dough rolled-out nicely (I used my pastry cloth.). Most importantly, the were DELICIOUS! As always, Bon Appetit!