French Friday’s with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

 This is spectacular!

The chickeny-coconutty-limey goodness is something to write home about, let me tell you. I love soup, I mean I really love it. I could eat soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a very long time if needed. However, my soup making usually revolves around roasted vegetables, tomato broths and such, so I was very excited to broaden my horizons and make this new Vietnamese soup from “around my french table”. I had a few misgivings when I prepared my shopping list for a trip to the grocery store. See I love coconut but my dear husband is not a fan, so I was hoping against hope that he would like this soup despite coconut being included on the ingredient list. Frankly, I was hoping that I could have everything prepared before he got home so he wouldn’t see the can of coconut milk and then he would taste the magical soup – his taste buds would explode and he would ask me to make this soup everyday for the rest of our lives….er, well a girl can dream right? In reality, I made this soup and thought of a few things I could make quickly for him if I needed to -just in case!

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French Friday’s with Dorie: Gerard’s Mustard Tart

The next recipe the FFwD bakers made this week is Gerard’s Mustard Tart. This was a very interesting tart for me to try since I could not think of anything that I had ever tasted that had this flavor profile. This very interesting tart included these ingredients: carrots, leeks, fresh rosemary, eggs, heavy cream, Dijon mustard and grainy mustard, salt and white pepper. 

We start with Dorie’s Tart Dough on page 498 which calls for flour, a little sugar, salt, unsalted butter, eggs and cold water. I filled the bowl of my food processor with the flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and pulsed it just until the butter was mixed into the flour. Next I added the egg and water and pulsed until it was just incorporated. I dumped the contents onto the countertop and pressed the dough into a ball. While I was preparing the ingredients for the tart I let the dough chill in the refrigerator before I rolled it out.

Once the dough was rolled to the approximate size I needed, I placed it in a tart pan with a removable bottom and put it back in the freezer for about an hour.

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French Friday’s with Dorie: Gougeres

I was amazed at how yummy these little puffs of cheesy air were when I tasted one that I had just pulled from the oven. My first thought was that these little things were much greater than the sum of their parts.

Since the first time I baked a french recipe, courtesy of Julia, I have come to understand that the French are masters of the Egg. They are able to take the simplest and most common of ingredients and by whipping the yolk or the whites or both, warming them up, cooling them down adding a little sugar, or lemon or vanilla and you end up with something AMAZING. It’s genius and I suspect it is one of the reasons that french food is in its own class in world cuisine. It’s all due to the egg and their mastery of it.

For the gougeres, we use whole milk, water, unsalted butter, flour, five eggs and cheese. The simple ingredients whipped together, dropped on to a sheet pan, and then baked in the oven until golden brown, give you something that is not a bread and not a biscuit, but a puff with a custardy inside – similar to a popover, the cheese (extra sharp cheddar for me) becomes the star. These light puffs are mostly hollow inside, the crust gives a satisfying crunch when bitten into and then the whole thing melts away leaving the taste of the cheese on your tongue. I was compelled to try another immediately to confirm what I was indeed tasting! Yup, that is heaven!

This recipe is part of the French Fridays with Dorie group who are baking their way through “around my french table” by Dorie Greenspan. The recipe for gougeres can be found on page 4.

French Friday’s with Dorie

I just layed my eyes on the new cook book from Dorie Greenspan and have decided that I am going to join the group, French Friday’s with Dorie! We are planning to cook weekly from her new book “Around My French Table” I am so excited. First post is this Friday, October 1st for Gougeres. It is a beautiful book full of amazing receipes and I can’t wait to get started!  Wanna join in the fun? You can! Register here and get yourself a copy of AMFT, you won’t regret it!

BBA #17 Loved the Lavash Crackers

The next formula in Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice is Lavash Crackers starting on page 178. I originally made these crackers last in the Fall of 2009, but with all the hub-bub of buying a house and moving, I didn’t get any pictures taken. They were really tasty and quick to make in an evening. They disappeared almost immediately at work the next morning.

The best tip from my fellow BBA bakers was to split the dough in half and work with each half at a time. This allowed me to roll the dough  very thin, which results in a crisper cracker. If you leave the dough thicker, you will bake something closer to pita bread – which is not necessarily a bad thing!

Cheese, sea salt and black pepper lavash

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BBA #15 Italian Bread

Italian Bread was the last bread that I made in my old kitchen before we moved into the new house. The pictures were taken on my cell phone camera so I apologize for the funniness. I don’t bother with step by step photos, but they were very similar to the French Bread just a few posts earlier.

I was most impressed by the oven spring I got on these loaves, they almost tripled in size!

This bread was really nice. It had a very soft interior with a thin crispy thin crust and the recipe made two really nice sized loaves.

That crumb was light as a pillow -I would love to make this one again! Grrrr, I hate the blurry pictures.

I was so eager to post those Kaiser roll pics that I forgot that this Italian bread went first – so they are a little out of order.

Next up – for real: Lavash crackers. Those will also be a redo – since they didn’t get photos the first time around. I’m thinking savory and sweet this time!

BBA #16 Kaiser Rolls Repeated

Kaiser Rolls are the next recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice and I loved them so much the first time I made them, that I decided that for the sake of the blog, I should remake them and get some pictures posted. That and the fact that Andrew and I wanted to test out his new Christmas present (a fancy schmancy BBQ grill) and we needed some buns for those burgers. This dovetailed nicely with updating this-here blog, so the Kaiser Rolls were born again!

A few days before burger night, I started a double batch of pate fermente and stuck it in the fridge. I used part (16 oz) for the French Bread and (7 oz) for these rolls. I still had 20 ounces left over!!! so I stuck it in the refrigerator to freeze until I need it for another recipe. I’m convinced that it would just keep growing until a giant blob of dough took over my fridge entirely. What a clean up job that would be – no thank you- but I digress…..  

Above you will find the ingredients for this recipe: unbleached bread flour, pate fermente, egg (slightly beaten), vegetable oil, water, salt, poppy seeds (decoration), sesame seeds (decoration) yeast and diastatic malt powder. Actually as you can see in the top photos – mine is NON-diastatic malt powder, but it seems to have worked out fine. By using what I had on hand instead of buying regular diastatic malt powder I think the rolls didn’t “brown” as nicely as they would have and didn’t have a “shine” that the right powder could give, but I’ve made my peace with that.

I added everything to my mixing bowl and with the bread hook in place, I started it on speed 2 to mix the ingredients together.

Once the dough was ready, about 12 minutes, I covered the bowl with plastic and let it rise for about 2 hours.

After 2 hours had elapsed, the dough had doubled and I started dividing the it  into about equal sized pieces. This turned out to be about 4.25 oz each.

I formed each piece into a boule and let them rest (covered) for about 10 minutes. This allows the dough to rest before I start shaping them into a “traditional” Kaiser roll shape. I say “traditional” but I’m not sure how close my final shape ended up being traditional, but, eh, moving on!

To shape I started by rolling each ball into about an 8 inch long rope. Next I tied a loose knot in the rope and tucked on end down the hole and stuck one end up through the hole. I pretty much had one shot at getting it right since the dough stuck to itself once tied and you pretty much ended up with a mottled ball of dough in the end. Which explains what happened with the lower right-hand side roll – there were problems….

Once shaped, I recovered the rolls and let them rise for about 45 minutes. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees while I waited for the dough to double.

Just a tip: make sure you know which side of the plastic you wrote your rising time info – sharpie marker does in fact come off on to your dough if it touches it.  Oopsies!

Once doubled, I used a spray bottle and coated the top of the rolls with a fine mist of water. I applied poppy seeds to two, sesame seeds to two and left the last two plain.

I slid the rolls onto the baking stone and let them bake for about 10 minutes. I carefully rotated the rolls in the oven and left them for about 8 more minutes with the temp turned down to 400 degrees. They were starting to smell pretty good at that point so I tested them with my probe thermometer and they registered 200 degrees – done!

After cooling for about 25 minutes, I slice a few open and slathered the inside with peppercorn ranch dressing, added my perfectly grilled gorgonzola basil burger and topped that off with a little lettuce. It was burger heaven on a home-made bun!

Kaiser rolls are done – so that means Lavash crackers are up next!