Pommes Boulangere and How to Up My Game

I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist because good luck with that.  No one is perfect!  But I really dislike not being really good at something.  Needless to say it leads to disappointment.  For example, you will never see me dancing and singing on stage.  That is reserved for the car and the kitchen.  I wish I was better at food photography.  It’s strange because with everything else I can come up with some very good photos but I struggle with food.  And plating.  I can paint, create, design most things.  Food?  There is a mind block.  Which is tricky when you have a food blog.

So imagine my envy when I came across Roger’s post for Pommes Boulangere.   Granted he made a career doing this but I saw his food pic of the ingredients and just went wow.  That is what I am looking to achieve.  I immediately put photography books and food photography books on my Christmas list.  This is my New Year’s resolution to improve in this area.  It’s in my head but doesn’t always translate.  Time to start thinking outside the box and just do it and practice.

And the recipe?  Had to try it.  I admit for the first time I was hesitant to blog about a recipe that someone else did because of the difference in the photography but this dish is so delicious it outweighed my concerns.

Preheat the oven 375F/190C.  Avoid the convection on this one.  I should have and you’ll see why below.

I finely chopped half an onion and thinly sliced about 1 1/2 cups of leeks.  I use the green parts all the time.  Lots of flavour and less waste.

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I took 3 potatoes and thinly sliced them.  Quite the task when you don’t have a mandolin but I managed.

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In a skillet melt 2T of butter and saute the leeks and onions until softened.

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Add a cup of homemade poultry stock.  I used our turkey stock for this.  Also add 1 cup of dry white wine and bring to a simmer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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The recipe calls for fresh thyme but I didn’t have any as ours is currently buried in snow.  So I used some fresh sage we had on hand. After simmering for a couple of minutes add the potatoes.  Cook for 10-15 minutes covered.

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Pour into a shallow baking dish.

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Bake until potatoes are cooked and golden with most of the liquid absorbed.  Here was my error in using convection.  It got crispy too fast so I switched to regular baking.  Covering would have helped as well.  Live and learn!

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This makes a wonderful side dish.

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I must say though if you can, make it a day or two ahead.  I found on the second and third day using up the leftovers that the flavours really melded together perfectly and it just got better and better.

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Get Stuffed….

I love stuffing especially with gravy.  To me it is great comfort food that is dressed up for the holidays.  I generally make this stuffing for Thanksgiving but when we were back in the UK my MIL did up a lovely roast pork with stuffing balls.  If I was smart I would have asked for the recipe.  I wasn’t.  However, I figured I could adjust my usual stuffing, add an ingredient, and make them into balls.  I think they are great because the best part of stuffing is the browned edges with a bit of crispy to it.  Now everyone gets it with their stuffing.

Unlike the spinach balls, I knew I had all the ingredients!  🙂

It’s important to plan ahead somewhat for this dish as the bread needs to be stale.  I usually get a sourdough boule and break it up a day or two before making this.  Leave it out for all the pieces to get a bit hard.  Because these will make the balls the pieces need to be somewhat small.

I baked these at about 350F/175C.  Because we had so many things going on in the oven this seemed the average temp.  These can be baked at a higher temp, just keep an eye on them.

Chop up about a half an onion finely and a few cloves of garlic.  Saute them in olive oil until softened.

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Add two cups of veg bouillon and simmer for about 10 minutes.  While this is cooking chop about a cup of cranberries and several fresh sage leaves.

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Mix the cranberries and sage in with the bread and then work in about a pound of sausage of your choice.  I chose mild Italian sausage for this.  I didn’t want any flavours overpowering the sourdough or the sage.

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Now here comes the messy part.  Just take off your rings and roll up your sleeves!  Pour in the broth with the onions and garlic and mix well.  Take a few minutes to do this so you don’t have any dry bread bits.  Add about a cup of shredded Italian cheeses and mix thoroughly.  Form into balls and place onto a cookie sheet.  As these won’t spread while baking you can keep them somewhat close to each other.  This recipe makes a lot of balls.

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I baked these about 20 minutes or so.  Once they are golden brown check one to make sure it is cooked through.

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These could easily be made vegetarian.  Just remove the sausage.  Though I have to say this is the first time I used meat in stuffing and it worked really well with the sourdough.

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It also paired well with the apple sage gravy I made to go with the turkey.

Crêpes – The Savory Side of Life

Crêpes are a treat we do once in awhile for dinner.  My husband enjoys making them and a few years ago we bought him a crêpe pan.  It also gets a lot of use for my eggs so it was a win-win.  🙂  But I’ve always been impressed that he could make these.  I was also lulled into a false sense of “how hard can this be?”.  So I decided I would give it a go last night.  Parts of it are really easy.  But I quickly learned it takes practice on the actual cooking of the crêpe.  Fortunately we only need 4 good ones as it was just the two of us.

As crêpes are extremely versatile we have fun with sweet and savory.  Generally we stuff ours with some sort of filling.  I wanted two savory fillings this time round.  I bought some rabbit sausages for one filling and chose a lovely apple for the second.  The recipe I used for the batter was from the book Crêpes – Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Home Cook by Lou Seibert Pappas.  Interesting fact from the book crêpes comes from the Latin word crispus meaning crisp.

The batter should be made about 2 hours before the actual cooking and it can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  You can use a blender, a food processor, or a whisk.  We use the blender.  In the blender I place 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup water, 2 Tablespoons of melted butter, 1/4 tsp of salt, and a cup of flour.

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Blend for 5 seconds.  Take a rubber spatula and scrape the sides then blend for a couple of seconds.  That’s it.  You don’t want to overwork the batter.

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Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  For the rabbit filling I chopped up a couple of garlic cloves and some baby portabello mushrooms.  I removed the rabbit sausage from it’s casing and tried to chop it up into small pieces.  Wasn’t that easy.  In a skillet with hot olive oil saute the ingredients to brown the rabbit meat.

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Add a splash of dry sherry and some lemon thyme.  Let that simmer to cook through.  For the next filling I chopped up some sage and apples.

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In a small skillet I melted about a tablespoon of butter and sauteed the sage in it for a couple of minutes.  Then I added the apples to cook.  I wanted the apples softened but not mushy.

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I set aside the fillings and got the batter ready.  Heat a dry pan until hot.  Here is the first tricky part.  You want to rub a bit of butter onto the hot pan.  If you do it too much the batter goes all wonky and won’t spread out.  Because our pan is about 9″ wide we use 1/4 cup of batter at a time.  Remove the pan from the heat and then spread the batter around the pan.  It needs to be poured in then tilt the pan about until it is coated.

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Once the sides start browning and the crêpe can be easily lifted with a spatula flip it over and cook for about 15 seconds to finish off the top side.   Remove and place on paper towels to cool off.  The next tricky bit I encountered as having a pan too hot.  You can end up with a jelly fish shape.

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Cute but not right.  It should look a bit like this:

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Once all the batter has been cooked it is time to stuff them.  And crêpes not used can easily be frozen for another time.  I set the toaster oven to 375F/190C because we need to melt cheese.  For the apple filling I placed a few slices of brie in the center of the crêpe and topped with the apples.

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Fold like a burrito and place in the baking pan.  I scooped the rabbit filling into the center and topped with freshly shredded Jarlsberg.

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I put the rest of the cheese over the two crêpes with the rabbit.  Can’t waste any cheese!  🙂

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Bake until the cheese is melted and it is ready to serve.

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The apple ones came out really blurry so I only have the rabbit ones to show.

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The possibilities for fillings are endless with these.  And it is a delicious way to have dinner.  🙂

 

Apple Sage Roast Chicken – Autumn is Here!

A couple of weeks my good friend Corrie did up a roast chicken with an apple and some onion.  It was really good so when my aunt requested chicken of some sort for her birthday dinner I knew I wanted to do a version of that chicken.  I love a good roast and it is finally cool enough to dust off the ovens properly and start exercising them again!

I’ve mentioned before I can’t believe there are 12 of us now in the family.  Problem is all the kids are still growing and it was a bit of a puzzle to get us all round the table.  We have sort of a kids table dog-legging off the main table so we all fit in the dining room but that was a tight squeeze for the kids as well.  The crazy thing about our house is while it’s large, it’s a lot of hallways and regular size rooms.  But given how fast the all the kids are growing (my youngest nephew will need his own chair soon!) we need to get that sorted.

It is wonderful having everyone together.  It is hard with all of us so busy but so important too.  My daughter made a fabulous cheesecake.  I’ll need to have her make it again so I can do a post on it.  And well, so we can eat it again.  🙂

This is a great dish for a large gathering as it is easy to put together.  My sister and mum brought starters.  We did up some roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and carrots for the veg.

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C.  I chopped up some fresh sage from our garden and half an apple.  The dogs got the other half.  They were looking very hopeful.

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In the roasting pan I place the chicken add the sage and apple, chop a bit of onion and add that with a cup of water and half a cup of white wine.  I drizzle some olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

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I cover mine so the chicken stays moist for all but the last 20 minutes or so.  I do a bit of broil to bring up the skin and the meat is tender and moist at the end.  Cooking time is about 25 minutes per pound.  I do baste a few times.

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Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with tin foil to keep warm.  Bring the gravy mixture to a boil and add a bit of flour mixed into the water to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow it to boil for a few minutes to make sure the flour is cooked.

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Pour the gravy over the chicken and enjoy.

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This had a light taste of sage and apple to it.  It came out quite delicate but worked really well with the chicken.