Better Late Than Never French Fridays with Dorie – Squash, Apples, & Grapes

Straight up I was not going to make this recipe at all. Honestly, the only recipe for September that held any appeal for me was the poached apples and if you read that one you know they did not turn out as I planned. Eggplant? Ugh. Green pepper palooza? Blech. And endives…..endives aren’t offensive to me since I’ve never actually eaten one or even seen one in real life but they weren’t exactly calling my name. I had resigned myself to waiting for October to join the FFWD fun, but then I got all these email notifications of everyone’s posts yesterday and I started to change my mind. I mean, it’s pretty clear how I feel about butter (cough..blogname…coughcough) and I’m a real fruit-lover so I decided to give it a go. Plus I read this post and she added goat cheese to hers which sounds amazing! The alternate name for this blog could be Always Add More Cheese. I don’t understand people who don’t add cheese when it’s an option to add it. Plain hamburger? Why god, why? If you’re allergic, I get it. I mean, I pity you, but I get it. But just not wanting the cheese? I really don’t get it.

So I went on a hunt for endive and though I visited two grocery stores and the farmer’s market, it was not to be had. I did however pick up two of these beautiful things at the farmer’s market

and using the Bonne Idee I was able to make something similar to what everyone else was creating this week. I have never worked with red kuri squash before and now that I have, I can definitely say that I will buy it whenever I find it from now on. It’s super-delicious and you don’t have to peel it – score! My rosemary plant didn’t do very well this year so I subbed in some sage and marjoram for the herbs to round things out.

I feel pretty stoked that I’m using the same pan that’s pictured in the cookbook – gotta love that Le Creuset! After cooking for 20 minutes, I flipped everything over to examine the crunchy-delicious carmelization yumminess and kept right on cooking. One of the things I really liked about this dish was how hands-off it was. I got a lot of other stuff done while this was quietly cooking away and I really appreciated it.

As you can see I am pretty overrun with fall produce at the moment and I love it. Summer can take it’s tomatoes and zucchinis and kiss my grits – fall is here and I am loving it! I plopped some goat cheese on top, sprinkled with salt and pepper and had a delicious (and pretty healthy dinner) all on my lonesome since this is really not Tristan’s type of food. Don’t feel too bad though, I made him Magic Chicken and oven fries so he was taken care of!

I’m really glad I gave this a try and special thanks to all the rest of the Doristas for changing my mind and making this dish look too tasty to resist!

Baking with Julia – Whole Wheat Loaves

I’ve mentioned it before, but baking bread is pretty much my favorite thing ever. I LOVE it! I don’t understand why some people are afraid of yeast breads – they are so cool and alive! I decided to make this one at work because I was afraid for Candy again. The work mixer is a big black Professional 600 that I’ve decided to call Black Betty. I felt she was more equipped to handle the 10 minutes of kneading required. But don’t fret! I brought my special bread rising bowl from home to ensure success!

Even though Black Betty is a big Professional 600, I still got a little worried for her. This was a very strong dough and it seemed like it was giving her a serious workout. I tried to get a cool action shot but it mostly just looks blurry:

I had a hard time finding malt extract so I read the P &¬† Q’s and decided to use molasses instead which I was totally cool with because I love molasses. After I typed that sentence I realized that I don’t really know what molasses is or why it’s called that but after some googling I feel much more informed. I used unsulphured Blackstrap molasses which I guess is the one that’s good for you (sort of) and has various vitamins and minerals. Way to go me!

Here is my little ball of dough pre-rise. The recipe said the dough would remain sticky even after a proper kneading but I didn’t think it was. I thought it was pretty dreamy to work with actually.

Look at that beautiful yeasty baby! I have to say I don’t really understand the method for forming the loaves. I’m pretty sure I did it right but every loaf I made (I made the recipe twice because I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I REALLY loved it!) had a small little tunnel in the very middle which I think was from the folding. I would normally say that I had undercooked the bread but it wasn’t at all, there was just a weird little airhole in there. Hmmmm. I think the next time I make it I will just form loavy shapes and skip the rolling and folding thing.

I used my Grandma Hanson’s trusty old gold loaf pans and they were perfect! I have no idea how old they are but they seem timeless and awesome. I get so happy whenever I bake with my grandmother’s things.

I may have let the second rise go a little long but cut me some slack, I was at work and there were customers and phones and things like that to attend to. I just love looking at these pillowy soft loaves though.

Look how pretty! Isn’t the texture on the top amazing? Bek managed to find some powdered malt extract so I used that for the second batch but I have to say I liked the one with the molasses better. Sorry Dorie & Julia! To make some of these for your very own self, visit Veggie NumNums or The Family That Bakes Together¬† for the recipe.

Oh and in case anyone’s looking for a new Netflix obsession, Tristan and I started watching Nikita the other day and we are totally hooked. Kinda Alias-y with hot chemistry between the two leads – very fun!

French Fridays with Dorie – Spice-Poached Apples (and rice pudding)

This recipe was very exciting to me. As I’ve mentioned before, summer is dead to me. I am officially over it. I am ALL about fall right now, so the idea of poaching apples with spices seemed very homey and comforting to me. As you can see from the picture, things did not really go as planned.

Let me set the scene: I get done with work at 6 and have to run to the store for a few things (including the apples for this recipe). So I get there and they have this beautiful fall display set up with bushels of apples and cornstalks and pumpkins and all that shit and I was drawn in like a moth to a flame. Seasonally appropriate and locally-grown McIntosh apples? As Stefon would say, “Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes!” So I buy a whole bag and come home ready to rock this! I’ve got every burner on my stove going because I’m also making dinner and the rice pudding to serve with this because I’ve never made rice pudding before and I was intrigued by it for some reason. So I make the syrup and get the apples ready. Aren’t they pretty?

Notice (as I did after taking this photo) that I forgot to peel the apples before cutting them in half. Since I find it really hard bordering on impossible to peel a cut apple I just decided to go with it and make the poached apples “rustic.” I got them cored, dropped them into the syrup and brought it to a boil, then covered it as Dorie instructs. She also says you should check the apples “early and often” so I thought I was being a really good girl by checking them after 4 minutes. What did I find? Freaking applesauce with apple skins floating on the top! Really watery applesauce to be honest. You’d think that as a kind of experienced baker I would have remembered that McIntosh apples tend to cook down and sort of melt but as I said – moth to a flame. They were so pretty and shiny! So I salvaged what I could of the remaining apple chunks and made the best of it. It tasted really very good and the rice pudding might be one of my new favorite things. If I ever have kids I am going to be the mom who makes rice pudding from scratch when her kids are sick. That’s how much I loved it. I cut up an unpoached/unapplesauced apple to give the idea of apples to the mush and sprinkled some almonds for crunch. It really was super yummy – just not all that pretty.

I’d like to try this again with pears and not fudge it up. And if you are wondering who Stefon is, watch this video and die laughing. You can thank me later.