Better Late than Never French Fridays with Dorie – Peach Melba

Obviously this is a few days late. I just could not get my shit together to get this done by last Friday. Last week was kind of crazy. Work, emotion, finances, etc all conspired against me. I was dead-set on making Dorie’s vanilla ice cream to go with it and I finally got that accomplished on Sunday but I didn’t manage to pull the rest together until tonight. Oh well.

Let’s start with the Dorie ice cream – oh, so good. Crazy flavors are all well and good (Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack!), but sometimes simple is the very best and it doesn’t get much simpler than vanilla ice cream. This one is French-style (with egg yolks) which is different than what I’ve been making all summer from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. She does strictly Philly-style which has no egg yolks and instead uses cream cheese as a stabilizer. I think the taste level between the two is pretty equal but I’ll probably revert back to Jeni’s style just because it doesn’t leave me with 6 egg whites to either use up or throw away.

Tonight Tristan is working super-late so I’m free to watch what I please and I chose to pop in Fellowship of the Ring. Since I’ve seen this plenty of times it didn’t bother me that I had to get up to put this together after the peaches & syrup had cooled, the raspberry sauce had been szushed, and the vanilla ice cream had softened up a bit. I sat down on the couch with my fancy melba just as Gandalf was escaping Saruman’s clutches with the aid of a nice moth and gigantic eagle. I am both a regular ol’ nerd and a food geek. Surprised?

I don’t know that I’ll ever have the gumption to put this together again, but man am I glad I did at least this once. It was delicious and fresh and just went down so easy. Loved it! Could have something to do with the several little juice glasses of wine I’ve had, but I choose to believe in the deliciousness of the Peach Melba. Long live the Melba!

Lest you think I’ve been a total lazy-ass this week, I did make a few things I’m pretty proud of:

Vampire bite cupcakes! I went to a friend’s house last night to watch the season 5 finale of True Blood and I whipped these up real quick-like after work to take with. I wish I could claim credit for the idea, but I just googled True Blood cupcakes and scrolled through the images until I found something doable. These were perfect!

Stromboli anyone?? I made this for dinner and it was amazing! I found it on Lauren’s Latest and I gotta say, it was a winner. I will definitely make this again! I’m sitting this week of FFWD out because I just cannot do cucumbers. Maybe I’ll make a recipe from before I was in the group. Anyone have any favorites from pre-January 2012 they’d like to recommend?

French Fridays with Dorie – Sardine Rillettes

So you’re like “WTF Maggie? Those aren’t sardine rillettes dude.” Yeah they’re not. Here’s the story: I was pretty afraid to make this recipe because I’ve never had a sardine before and to be honest they don’t really sound that appealing. I mean, whenever I hear a cool British person call them kippers I slightly warm to the idea but when faced with the reality of a sardine…ummmm no. So I was talking to my sister-in-law about her son’s 1st birthday party and what I was bringing for snacks and telling her about my sardine fears and she mentioned that her mom loves sardines so I thought “Perfect! I will make the sardine rillettes and bring them to the party and then even if I don’t like them, someone will!” Awesome plan right? I sure thought so.

So we had a cake decorating class at the store and I was super sugared out from all the frosting and stuff and I knew I was going to be making the rillettes and the above cupcakes that night so I went by one of my favorite restaurants in town and picked up some burritos to go for Tristan and I since I didn’t feel like cooking. We split the burritos for an early dinner and then I got to work on these beautiful Mojito Cupcakes and the rillettes.

Look at all those beautiful ingredients. I was thinking it might not be so bad. Then I opened the cans of sardines….whew! Stinky! But some stinky things taste good like cheese and cabbage and kale and I can’t think of any other ones right now but you know what I mean. So I mixed it up while I was waiting for the cupcakes to cool and I tasted a little bite of it to see if I needed to adjust the seasonings and I thought “Hmmmm I don’t love it but it’s not disgusting.” I put it in the fridge to chill overnight and then I continued on with my biznazz. I finished the cupcakes and they were cute! And super yummy! I was feeling pretty great about my contributions to Henry’s bday party. And I was really excited for the next day so we could go down to Milwaukee and visit and see Henry and the rest of the fam. But while I was reading before bed, my tummy started to make some strange noises. I didn’t really think much of it and I just decided to go to bed since in my 27 years I have learned that falling asleep is a pretty sure panacea for most things. Fast-forward to 1 AM where I am jolted awake by the overwhelming need to puke. That’s what happened for like the next 5 hours. It was gross. I actually scared Tristan. Apparently I sound like I’m dying while throwing up. So I don’t know if it was the rillettes or what, but something made me super sick and since I didn’t know if I had a bug or what, we ended up skipping the party altogether and I threw the rillettes away because I couldn’t bear the idea of eating them. Throwing something up pretty much makes you never want to eat it again. Well actually that’s not entirely true. I threw up after eating a peanut butter cookie in high school and there is no flippin’ way I would ever give up peanut butter cookies. But sardines? I can live without them.

So there’s no pretty picture of the rillettes to show, but I will give you the recipe for the cupcakes because they were awesome and though they didn’t make it to the party, everyone at work was happy to have them. Sorry Doristas – hope you all had better luck with them than me.

Recipe Round-up & Hunger Games thoughts

Not the best pic, but this is a really yummy & easy dinner that I learned how to make from my mom’s friend Caroline. It’s called Creamy Basil Chicken and you should most definitely make it as soon as you can get some fresh basil from your garden. I actually picked some sage and used it in my dinner tonight. That’s crazy! CRAZY! It’s March 25th in Wisconsin and I picked an herb from my garden and cooked with it. Thanks global warming!

Ingredients for 4 Servings

2 TBSP butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 large boneless skinless  chicken breasts, tenderized
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, Italian seasoning
1 cup cream  (I sometimes use more if it reduces too much)
2 large tomato, coarsely chopped or a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1 – 1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced  (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped

shredded Parmesan cheese to your taste

Instructions

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until sizzling.  Saute garlic and onion.   Reduce heat to medium.  Salt, pepper and Italian season the chicken breast.  Add the chicken to the skillet; cook 8 – 12 minutes or until the juices are clear.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Add cream to skillet stirring frequently.  Stir in tomatoes, optional mushrooms and basil.  Return chicken to skillet and cook 4 -5 minutes or until heated through.  Garnish with additional basil leaves if desired and shredded Parmesan cheese.  Serve over rice, noodles or vegetables. But seriously, who would serve this over veggies when you can have pasta?

This is by far the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made and I’ve made a lot of them, trust me. I found it in a borrowed issue of Food & Wine magazine while laying on the beach at Devil’s Lake and it is actually the reason I started my subscription. It’s that good. Make it the next time you feel really indulgent and need some cheese!

Okay, last pasta I promise! This Creamy Garlic Pasta is so simple and really flavorful! It’s great on it’s own for picky eaters but I’ve added lots of things to it, like diced tomatoes or grilled chicken breasts. I also like to garnish most of my pasta with chopped fresh parsley or chopped scallions. Things usually need a little green pop of color in my opinion.

Lest you think I was going to get healthy or something, I’m going to round this out with with a cupcake!

So these were super easy! I made them for my sister and brother-in-law when we went over to meet their new baby. You can use any kind of cupcake & frosting you want, then just separate a bunch of Oreos saving the un-iced sides for use in something else (or just eating them, whatevs) put two Oreos on each cupcake, then stick a brown M & M on each Oreo and a yellow M & M in between for the beak. Voila! I know this idea has been everywhere but it is so easy and so cute I just couldn’t help but share.

Okay now I will venture into Hunger Games territory. I went to see it last night and frankly, my hopes were pretty high. My sister-in-law and my cousin both saw it and said very positive things, but I don’t know if I was just expecting too much or if the story was too fresh for me because I re-read the books this last week but it left me a bit flat. It just seemed like the emotional content was so low. I didn’t really feel anything for the characters like I did in the book. The film style was a lot of show and not a lot of tell and for me, that didn’t work. I know it would have been hokey to have a Katniss voice-over throughout the whole thing but I felt like we needed to know what was going on inside her a lot more. In the book there are so many meanings behind her actions and there are so many mixed emotions and it made for such a rich story. In the movie, she just felt like kind of a cold fish. And I don’t think that this was the actress’s fault at all. In fact, I really liked her in the part, I just needed something more. **SPOILER ALERT** The most pivotal scene between Peeta & Katniss in the book is when he basically saves her from starving to death and though they alluded to it a few times in the movie they never delved into why it was so important and how it gave Katniss the hope and the inspiration to live. If there had been a scene where she told someone about it and why it was important to her I think I might feel differently about the whole thing. Is that weird?

Another thing that really bothered me was how anesthetized the games themselves were. I mean I know they needed a PG-13 rating to get the majority of the market but it was just so clean compared to the book. That makes me sound as if I love guts and gore but it’s supposed to be barbaric and terrible and the fact that Katniss and Peeta survive is a miracle because they both sustained pretty major injuries in the book. In the movie the injuries are pretty tame and are really easily taken care of. I could nit-pick more but honestly I think I’m going to see it again to really finalize my opinion. There were things I did like – Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, the cool, modern look of the Cornucopia, etc. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Yet. Who knows, I’ve been known to change my mind.

What did everybody else think? Don’t be afraid to disagree with me, like I said, I want to love it!