Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Normandy Gastronomique" & "Step-by-Step Tapas & Spanish Cookery" - for Le Tour De France (bike ride) - Warm Scallop Salad and Gazpacho

Date I made these recipes:  July 27, 2014 (The last day of Le Tour de France)

Normandy Gastronomique by Jane Sigal; Foreword by Anne Willan; Photography by Debbie Patterson

Published by:  Abbeville Press (Out of Print book)

ISBN:  1-55859-496-5

Purchased at Strand [bookstore] NYC

Recipe:  Warm Scallop Salad with Cress and Vegetables (Salade de Coquilles Saint-Jacques) – p. 36-37

Step-By-Step Tapas & Spanish Cookery

Published by:  Greenwich  Editions

ISBN:  0-86288-021-1

Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores, Richfield, MN

Recipe:  Gazpacho – p. 33

Bienvenue (Welcome) to my annual Le Tour de France recipe post!  As is usual and customary, I celebrated the end of the greatest bike race in the world by finding something French to make.  And then this year, because I have a tie-in to Spain, I threw in something Spanish as well.  "De nada." (Spanish for "You're welcome.)

Still, despite the vast collection of cookbooks of all topics and all cuisines, I was getting a little nervous about a French recipe until I happened upon the Normandy cookbook on a recent trip to the Strand (bookstore) in NYC.  I took it as a sign that I found this book during the first week of this year's tour.  Plus, the foreword was written by Anne Willan, a celebrated cookbook author whom I've met and talked to when she came to Minneapolis years ago to promote a book.

The route of the Le Tour de France changes every year and this year, it just skirted around the Normandy region of France but it was close enough to merit an inclusion.  Still, the cooking of Normandy is pretty hearty fare and I was almost in despair of finding a recipe that worked well in the summer when voila!, the very light Coquilles Saint-Jacques just leapt of the page.  Again, signs pointed to "yes."

Elsewhere in this cookbook, you'll find a lot of recipes for seafood and chicken, sometimes in cream sauce, sometimes not, duck, fresh vegetables, apples and a wonderful apple byproduct, Calvados, a most yummy apple brandy.  As tempting as all those were, I was feeling in the mood for something light and something seafood.  This recipe fits the bill and then some.

Turning our attention to Spain, here's how gazpacho fits into this picture:  in 1994, my husband and I went to Spain and stopped outside the city of Granada for the night having driven and toured the region all day long.  While eating in a small restaurant, we observed a group of Americans – about 6 or 8 in all – "practicing" their Spanish.  When one of them absolutely butchered "I want to go to the disco," I laughed and said "Where are you guys from?"  Turns out they were a group of bicyclists from Alabama, who were taking a bike tour through the Sierra Nevadas.  One of the guys in the group was a former navy guy, previously stationed in Spain, whose wife was Spanish and he led the group of bikers.  He also owned a bike shop in Alabama.  We became fast friends with the 'Bama Boys and agreed to meet the next day in the city of Granada for a group dinner. By the way, you should know that they weren't sure we were Americans because we were so quiet.  We get that a lot and consider it a compliment. 

So the next day, we had dinner and we all decided to start with gazpacho, which is pretty much the national soup of Spain.  Made up of fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic plus a few other key ingredients, it is served cold (or room temperature) and is delicious. I could eat that all day, every day in the summer.

Well, one of the guys in the 'Bama Boys was not familiar with gazpacho and when his soup was served, he took a bite and then exclaimed in his best southern accent "This soup is cold!"

I want you to know that we could have absolutely split our sides open laughing but we did not and just explained that it was meant to be served that way.  He remained skeptical whereas the rest of us polished off our portions, craving more.

And so, dear reader, that is how serving scallops and gazpacho made prefect sense to honor the tour!  Had I been thinking though, I should have made something Italian or Sicilian as the 2014 winner, Vincenzo Nibali, hails from those countries (born in Sicily, went to Italy to train).  Maybe next year.

And as per usual and customary, Andy is sad the tour is over although I don't think this year's withdrawal will be that bad, considering how we were on vacation for part of it (and on news blackout at our hotel.  I must write to them and tell them that they need a sports channel for these key events.)  This summer's weather has not been the greatest for biking around these parts but he's managed to get in some long rides and has a very long ride scheduled this coming weekend.  The landscape in southern Minnesota (outside Rochester, MN) is not exactly France or Spain (or England, where part of this year's tour took place) but it will have to do. 

A la prochain!  (Until next time)

Salade De Coquilles Saint-Jacques – serves 4 as a first course

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced

Pinch of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp sugar

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp crushed coriander seeds

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 small turnip, peeled and cut into ¼-in dice

½ red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-in dice

½ small zucchini, skin and outside flesh only, cut into ¼-in dice

2 tsp hazelnut oil

12 scallops


Garden cress, to garnish

Ann's Note:  I couldn't find hazelnut oil without driving all over town but I did have some walnut oil on hand so I used that. 

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add the onion and sauté it until translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook it until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the cayenne, sugar, bay leaf, coriander, white wine, and stock.  Bring just to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer this court bouillon gently for 10 minutes.

Strain the court-bouillon and return it to the pan.  Add the diced turnip and a little salt and cook gently, covered, for 10-12 minutes.  Add the diced bell pepper and zucchini and continue cooking until the court-bouillon reduces to a light glaze, 5-7 minutes longer.  The vegetables should still be slightly crunchy.

Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm, then stir in the hazelnut oil.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, cayenne, or hazelnut oil until the sauce is as pungent as you like.  (The mixture should be slightly less seasoned than for traditional vegetables a la grecque.)  Keep warm.

Set a nonstick frying pan over moderate heat.  When the pan is hot, add the scallops and cook then, turning once, until they are nearly opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes.

To serve, arrange 3 scallops on each plate.  Spoon some of the tepid vegetable mixture around the scallops.  Scatter cress sparingly over the vegetables and serve immediately.

Ann's Note:  I substituted butter lettuce for the cress.  My grocery store changed ownership recently and man, they about eliminated anything interesting in the produce department so cress was off the table.  As it was, the new cashier was sadly lacking in vegetable knowledge.  She asked "What's this?" while ringing up my turnip, zucchini and butter lettuce.  Had she inquired about my tomatoes, I would have caused an incident and there would have been cleanup at register 12!

Gazpacho – Serves 4

1 ½ pound beefsteak tomatoes

½ Spanish onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 slices firm white bread, crusts removed, broken into pieces

10 fl oz (1 ¼ cups) tomato juice

3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 8 ice cubes, to serve


1 diced small red pepper, 1 diced small green pepper, 1 diced small onion, 1 chopped hard-boiled egg and croutons.

Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes.  Put in a food processor or blender with remaining soup ingredients, except ice cubes.  Mix until smooth.  Pour soup through a nylon sieve, pressing down well on contents of sieve.  If necessary, thin soup with cold water then chill well.  If you want more texture to your soup, omit the nylon sieve process.

To serve, pour soup into cold soup bowls, add ice cubs and then serve with accompaniments if desired.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Jell-O: A Biography" & "Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts" - Sweet Raspberry Chicken and Sink and Swim (Jell-O)

Date I made these recipes:  July 20, 2014

Jell-O: A Biography – The History and Mystery of "America's Most Famous Dessert" by Carolyn Wyman
Published by:  A Harvest Original/Harcourt, Inc.
ISBN:  0-15-601123-9
Recipe:  Sweet Raspberry Chicken – p. 139

Amazing Magical Jell-O® Brand Desserts (Plus:  Magic Tricks by Marvello the Great) by the General Foods Corporation
Published by:  General Foods Corporation
ISBN:  0-671-24649-6-199
Purchased at Hennepin County Library Used Book Sale 2013
Recipe:  Sink or Swim (Jell-O) – p. 13

So this is how the conversation about what to serve for dinner tonight went down:

Me:  "So, we're having a Jell-O and chicken dish for dinner tonight."
Andy:  "Say WHAT?"

So went the conversation with my husband when I decided, after a very recent visit to the Jell-O Museum, to make something out of my two Jell-O cookbooks.  He was not initially amused.  In fact, the incredulous look on his face kept my laughing for at least 10 minutes.  But although the dish might not have looked or sounded attractive, it was actually pretty decent.

But first, let's talk backstory!  My brother and sister-in-law live near Rochester, NY, and we visited them recently.  Several years ago, when scoping out things to see and do near Rochester, I discovered the Jell-O Museum was located in nearby LeRoy, NY.  And just like that my (imaginary) bucket list was complete.

So on this recent trip, I told my family that come hell, high water, or Jell-O, we had to make the trip so we did.  It was fraught with peril.

First, I think we all have learned (again) that not all online map websites are made alike and whatever my sister-in-law used (she was driving) had us driving all over hell's half acre.  So we pulled over and she once again put in "LeRoy, NY" and the map website she used came back with "LOL Toy."  OMG, it's a good thing we were pulled over or I think we'd have crashed the car from laughing so hard.

So we finally backtracked to LeRoy (pronounced "Luh Roy") and almost zipped our way right past the museum. Let's just say the town in rather small.  But finally, Nancy spotted a tiny little lawn sign that said "Jell-O Museum" and we had arrived.  Woo hoo! (By the way, the nearby town of Chili, NY is pronounced Chai-Lai.  Okay...sure.)

The museum itself is tiny but interesting and before your tour, you are given a little History of Jell-O 101 tutorial by a museum worker.  At the start of our self-guided tour, we had a young lady but when the next wave of people came in, she was temporarily replaced by an older woman I called "Helen" (not her real name).  "Hele" took the job of Guardian of the History of Jell-O very seriously, such that when my sister-in-law, Nancy, asked Helen for more information about how Jell-O was made, Helen clammed up and just glared at Nancy.  Well, folks, it's not like how Jell-O is made is a big secret and in fact, there's a tiny little display about it in the museum but what it still really didn't tell you is that Jell-O is an animal by-product and the Jell-0 folks are just a tad sensitive about this topic.  As in, they asked us (and they weren't exactly kidding) if we were from PETA.  Ha!

Nancy, startled by this hostile reception then dubbed poor "Helen" the Jell-O Nazi and all efforts to engage her in a conversation were for naught.  Under "Helen's" glare, Nancy started leafing through the Jell-O: A Biography book (containing the Raspberry Chicken recipe) in the gift shop and lo and behold, on page 81, you will find "Jell-O Science 101" which breaks out the chemistry of how Jell-O is made and formed (while still skirting the issue of the "animal" involvement."  Well, as a physician, Nancy found this not only fascinating but just what she was looking for and so she couldn't wait to share this with "Helen":  "Oh...ma'am?  What I was talking about is right here on p. 81.  See?  (Points out the page to Helen...) It talks about the chemistry of Jell-O...."

"Helen" was not amused but I sure was.  Nancy is nothing if not most sincere but "Helen" set her laser beam eyeballs on "incinerate" and did not appreciate being told that the Jell-O science was all laid out on page 81.  No sir!

But if I was a betting person, I'd put money on the fact that "Hele" went home and studied page 81 just so she could point out to the inquiring minds that the chemistry story was all there for the taking if you cared to read it instead of listening to "Helen" who had more important things to tell you about Jell-O than that!

But despite everything, we enjoyed our tour of the Jell-O Museum and LeRoy (and places in between) and I vowed when I got home that I would make a recipe out of the Jell-O biography book that I already owned and I did.  But finding a recipe was a challenge in that I didn't exactly want to make the same old, same old and that's in part why I went with the Sweet Raspberry Chicken.

Fair warning:  this is not the most attractive dish you'll ever eat but if you get past the Jell-O sauce, it'll remind you of Chinese chicken that is often served in similar fashion with the signature screaming red coating.  If anything, I would have liked a bit more of the soy sauce to offset the sweetness of the marmalade and the Jell-O.

And since I was on a roll with Jell-O books, I also pulled out the Amazing Magical Jell-O® Brand Desserts cookbook, mostly intended for kids, and made the Sink or Swim (Jell-O) recipe with fresh peaches and a mix of fruit cocktail.  It's simplicity made me smile as it reminded me of the Jell-O recipes my mom used to serve us as kids.

Although the Jell-O: A Biography book contains more stories than recipes, the recipes included are classics and I was tempted to make the Lime Jell-O Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise (p. 111) but thought better of it when I saw it included more ingredients than I remembered and that I didn't think went well with each other, like pimento and marshmallows.  But hey, if your palate thinks that's a great combination, then go for it.

And that, kids, concludes the history of Jell-O as I interpreted it, with a little help from my sister-in-law, Nancy, and a tad bit of assistance from our friend, "Helen."  If you get a chance to get to LeRoy, NY, outside Rochester, do stop in because the museum, although small is very interesting and very fun.  In the end, I think I saw "Helen" waving goodbye along with the rest of the staff and with a smile on her face...although that could have meant anything from "Okay, I learned something" to "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, girlie."  And we're okay with that.

Sweet Raspberry Chicken – serves 6 to 8
8 tablespoons butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (24-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 green pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade
¼ cup soy sauce
1 (6-ounce) package raspberry Jell-O gelatin
Sliced or slivered almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Place chicken breasts in dish.  Cover with pineapple, pepper and onion.  Melt 7 tablespoons of the butter.  Microwave uncovered marmalade jar on high for 15 to 30 seconds.  In a bowl, mix butter, softened marmalade, soy sauce, and dry Jell-O powder.  Pour ingredients over chicken.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let sit 5 minutes before sprinkling with almonds (if desired) and spooning over cooked rice.

Sink or Swim – makes 5 servings
1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O brand strawberry flavor gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water or ginger ale (Ann's Note:  I used ginger ale)
1 cup (about) fruit combination* (Ann's Note:  see below.  Use ½ cup fruit that sink and ½ cup fruits that float)

*Fruits that sink:  Mandarin oranges; seedless grapes; drained canned fruit cocktail (packed in heavy syrup) such as:  peach slices, sliced pear halves, crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks, cherries or apricots.
*Fruits that float:  Banana slices; apple wedges or diced apple; strawberry halves; fresh orange sections; fresh sliced peaches or pears; marshmallows or coarsely chopped nuts.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water in heatproof glass bowl.  Add cold water.  Then add fruits that will sink then fruits that will float.

Chill until firm, at least 3 hours.  Garnished with whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping, if desired.
Ann's Note:  I got carried away with my fruit and so everything sort of jumbled together instead of sinking or swimming properly but I did not care.  This is easy and tasty and that's all you need to know about that!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Haute Dogs" and "The Summer Shack Cookbook" - The Chicago Dog and Summer Shack Coleslaw - Happy 4th!

Date I made these recipes:  July 5, 2014

Haute Dogs – Recipes for Delicious Hot Dogs, Buns, and Condiments by Russell Van Kraayenburg
Published by:  Quirk Books
ISBN 978-1-59474-675-8
Purchased at Bibelot (gift shop)
Recipe:  The Chicago Dog – p. 32

The Summer Shack Cookbook – The Complete Guide to Shore Food by Jasper White
Published by:  W. W. Norton
ISBN 978-0-393-05238-1
Purchased at Hopkins Library Used Book Sale 
Recipe:  Summer Shack Coleslaw  p. 140

So here we are already at the 4th of July and unlike Memorial Day, I had my act together – grill and all!  Except...some friends got married on the 4th and threw a very fun picnic dinner for their wedding guests and so we had to forego the usual and customary 4th of July hot dog.  No worries, thought I, we'll just make dinner on the 5th...except...a friend of Andy's stopped by and that derailed dinner plans for that day as well.

But on the 6th of July folks, we nailed it!  The coleslaw was all ready to go on the 5th, the grill had been cleaned to my specifications (I think—I didn't do a last-minute spot-check), the hot dog accoutrements were in place and we had liftoff! 

I will say that I do love a grilled hot dog and that's because hot dogs are on and off the grill in mere minutes. Things that take longer bore me and with the mosquito population achieving new heights this "summer," I will not be the one standing out there waiting for the meat to be done.

Now, even though I had it in my head to make something simple for the 4th, I was helped along by a friendly-neighborhood, locally-owned gift store called Bibelot (bibelotshops.com).  I do so love Bibelot (all locations!) as the shop is filled with fun trinkets and gift items and cards and do-dads and even clothing and a week or so ago, they were having a sale.  Be.still.my.heart.  And that's when I found the hot dog book and was there ever a more perfect reason to go in there and shop?  I think not!  The book practically called to me.

As you might suspect, a book titled Haute Dogs provided many selections to tickle the palate on the 4th of July but after careful perusal, Andy and I decided on "The Chicago Dog."  In close second?  The "Danger Dog" and the "Wasabi Dog," the former because it fit with the 4th of July fireworks and the latter just because what is not to like about wasabi?  True confessions:  The Chicago Dog won out because it does not have raw onion on it, something that just doesn't appeal to us all that much.  (And since we'll be visiting NYC soon, there's plenty of time to satisfy a craving for a "New York Style Hot Dog" – p. 28 at Gray's Papaya.  At Gray's, you must get a dog with the NY-style onions on it, period, end.)

So as far as hot dogs or haute dogs went, this was a snap.  Much harder was to decide on the accompaniments or as they say around here, the "Go with's."  Andy is not fond of potato salad which bums me out every time I bring it up (hope springs eternal) so I compromised with a very tasty slaw from The Summer Shack Cookbook.  In my humble opinion, you cannot go wrong with any dish that calls for horseradish and this adds just enough of a bite to make it interesting. 

Those in the know will recognize Summer Shack restaurant owner and cookbook author, Jasper White, as he has carved out a name for himself as an authority of New England Cooking.    I haven't been to Boston in a long time but when I do, I will likely saunter over to his Summer Shack restaurant (4 locations) and get the real deal  - lobsters and possibly some hearty clam chowder.

As tempting as all his soups and chowders and fish and shellfish recipes sounded, I decided on his coleslaw.  As he points out in the preface to this recipe "Coleslaw is not just a dish, it is a phenomenon."  So there you go. 

So we had our haute dogs and our coleslaw recipes and the next step was the shopping and all went well...until it didn't.  You have no idea how hard it is to find the Chicago-style neon-green relish needed for the Chicago dog but I'll give you a hint:  ridiculously hard!  We finally found a mega bottle of it at Byerly's, our last-ditch grocery stop.  And you can just forgedaboutit when it comes to locating a poppy seed hot dog bun because apparently, no such thing exists in these parts, at least in a grocery store.  I pouted and then got over it.

We are not exactly sport/hot pepper people so we passed on that but managed to find all other ingredients for the dog so whew.  At near zero-hour, I thought about heading over to Chris and Rob's Chicago Taste Authority (three locations) to beg for the buns and the relish but I suspect they would have frowned on that and besides, we might as well just have bought a ready-to-go dog and where's the fun in that?

By the way, talk about timing:  no sooner had noted chef and author, Anthony Bourdain, talked about Detroit Coney Island [hot] dogs on his CNN show, Parts Unknown, than I found a great book about Detroit Coney's at Barnes and Noble.  Coney Detroit, by Katherine Yung and Joe Grimm, features all the places to go and love throughout Michigan (mostly Detroit) to get a Coney dog.   Although this doesn't contain recipes, it is a fun read with lots of photos that will have you salivating for a hot dog, Coney or other. 

The Chicago Dog (Ann's Note: quantity is whatever you want it to be!)
Poppy seed or classic bun
All-beef hot dog
Yellow mustard (Ann's Note: as in "regular" screaming yellow mustard, not the fancy stuff)
Neon-green relish (Ann's Note: NOT to be confused with regular pickle relish.  If you can't find it, do not make this recipe!)
Tomato wedges
Whole sport pepper
Dill pickle spear
Celery salt

Assembly:  Get out a poppy seed bun and a setup to steam it.  Panfry an all-beef hot dog on a flattop; toward the end of cooking, steam the bun.  Place the dog in the bun.  Top with a line of yellow mustard, a spoonful or two of neon-green relish, tomato wedges, sport peppers, and a dill pickle spear.  Spring with a dash of celery salt.  And don't even think about adding ketchup.

Just in case you were thinking about that ketchup (and you should not be), the author included a movie quote from the movie Sudden Impact, starring Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan:  "Nobody, I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog."

Do you really want to take on Clint "Go ahead, make my day" Eastwood?  No, you do not!

Summer Shack Coleslaw – makes about 7 ½ cups; serves 8 or more with leftovers
2 pounds white cabbage, tough outer leaves and core removed
1 small white onion, peeled
2 whole kosher dill pickles
1 pound carrots, peeled (and shredded)
1 ¼ cups Homemade Mayonnaise (see p. 343) or Hellmann's mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tabelspoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground celery seed
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Ann's Notes:  Since I made half the recipe, I bought a package of shredded cabbage.  Why futz around with the chopping and slicing if you don't have to?  Also, I have never in my life seen such a thing as a "small" white onion.  Never.  Just saying...

Thinly slice the cabbage. Finely chop the onion and pickles.  Shred the carrots on a box grater.  Or put the onion, pickles and carrots through the grating attachment of a food processor.  Place all the vegetables and the pickles in a large bowl and toss well.

Combine the mayonnaise, horseradish, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, paprika, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk well.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to distribute.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.  Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking before serving.