Salted Butter Break-ups [my version]

After cooking for more than thirty years, I’m still amazed how some of the most simple and unpretentious ingredients can come together and yield something amazing.

Case in point…

Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic plus Olive Oil = the best tomato sauce for a plate of pasta. Or replace cooking all of the above and add some burrata mozzarella and you got the best Caprese salad this side of Italy. Dough, tomatoes, basil, olive oil – Hello pizza!

I can go on and on…

So it was no surprise that this weeks choice for our French Fridays with Dorie was one of those recipes that with something as simple as combining butter, flour, water, sugar and salt you get one the most addictive cookie we have eaten in our house to date.

How addictive?

Well, the first time I made it was Monday.  Since then, I have made it a total of six times – SIX, in less than FOUR days.  If you do the math, it will tell you how popular that cookie was around these parts.

We cannot keep it around long enough to make it pass the day it was made!

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FFwD: Chicken B'stilla

This is one of those recipes that I been waiting to make from Dorie’s book, so when I saw it go up as the choices for our January FFwD group, I did a happy little dance.

Dorie gives us a quick historical lesson on the dish by telling us that this dish is one of the legendary dishes of Morocco that the French has adapted and made their own. Upon further investigation on my part, some say that Arabs brought it to Morocco from the Middle East, and some even venture to say that because of the delicate pastry sheets that incase it, specifically from Persia.  This dish has been around!  But whoever took the first crack at this dish; it is known today as typical of Morocco and highly regarded as a national dish of that country.

This elaborate meat pie is traditionally made with pigeon or squab, since squabs are often hard to get, chicken is more often use as the substitute.  Another substitute is using the phyllo sheets as the blanket that covers this entire filling.  In morocco they use a combination of crisp layers of the crepe-like warka dough, also known as Feuilles de brick, which is a thinner cousin of the phyllo dough.  In some cases you can find them in Middle Eastern markets or simple buy it online via amazon.com.

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FFwD: Gnocchi a la Parisienne

I been so absent from my French Fridays with Dorie group, I confess that I totally have skipped a whole month – thank god for their rules which are so forgiven, unlike my other cooking clubs. I love when you can cook without the pressure of being kicked out.  Plus, the December recipes choices were all over the place, and you had to choose what to cook and on what week, which I did not like AT ALL, it felt somewhat disconnected. I hate to be given a choice to do a specific task, the reason I like cooking clubs is because I’m being told what to cook and on what date – a bit of structure is good in my chaotic life – and the fact that I can compare my experiences with all the others participating cooks that are cooking the same thing is the highlight of making it in the first place.

So I was so glad to see that in January, the group was back to the old format.  And the recipe this week was Gnocchi a la Parisienne.

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FFwD: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

The apple is the most cultivated tree fruit and the most used by humans.  There are more than 7,500 known variety of apples. The United States grows 2,500 of these, but just 100 of them are grown commercially. Apples are grown in 36 U.S. states, but six states — Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia — produce the vast majority.  

Want to impress your friends with your uncanny knowledge of this autumn favorite?

  • Apples float because 25 percent of their volume is air.

  • It takes nearly 40 apples to make 1 gallon of cider.

  • You could eat a different apple every day for more than 19 years, and never eat the same kind twice!

  • The “Delicious” apple variety is the most widely grown variety in the United States.

  • An apple tree has to grow for four or five years before it will produce an apple.

  • Bobbing for apples started as a Celtic New Year’s tradition to determine whom you would marry.

  • In ancient times, apples were thrown at weddings (instead of rice or birdseed, like today … ouch!).

  • The apple belongs to the rose family.

When you Google “apple recipes” you are bound to get more than 40,900,000 hits.  There are a lot of people using a lot apples out there.

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