Tag Archive - french fridays with dorie

Roasted Rhubarb

When my husband and I moved into our first home as newlyweds, I set out to investigate the property to see what treasures lay beneath the layers of weeds, dirt and dead grass.

The plum tree rising above the neglected landscape was absolutely beautiful, the Grapevines growing over the fence from the neighbor’s yard were friendly. I didn’t fully appreciate these things then as I do now nearly 14 years later, but I still hold them in my heart.

And then there was the Rhubarb. We had the family over to our new home one spring evening, and as I was showing my husband’s grandmother around, she pointed out the large green leaves of what I would learn was Rhubarb.

The small canopy of leaves hid the long and arresting color of the Rhubarb so I didn’t even know what a treasure I had. She was excited to show me how to harvest them, and I set out to make a Rhubarb pie.

It turns out that I’m not a fan of the way Rhubarb tastes. It’s one of those visually appealing foods that I would just decorate with: in a vase wrapped with a brown strand of silk organza ribbon, in an elongated wooden bowl placed just right on the kitchen counter, chopped at the bottom of a glass vase to keep stems of a bouquet in place.

But alas, I’m part of Dorie Greenspan’s online cooking club, French Fridays with Dorie, and this week’s recipe was Roasted Rhubarb. The simplicity of the recipe made it easy to approach, and my husband enjoyed eating Roasted Rhubarb Tarts with Vanilla Ice Cream, a simple pleasure for him since I don’t usually serve him Rhubarb, one of his favorites. He thanks you Dorie!

I had some Rhubarb leftover, and as I was bouncing around on Twitter, one of the fellow foodies and people I follow, @LearnToPreserve made a Roasted Rhubarb Ketchup that sounded very intriguing. Here is a link to her recipe, which I can’t wait to try.

Join us for French Fridays with Dorie. Next week is a new combination for me: Mozzarella, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad. I’ve already got the ingredients for this and will probably make for Father’s Day. Have a great weekend!

Jam and Cola Short Ribs

I couldn’t wait to get started on Dorie Greenspan’s June recipe for Cola and Jam Spareribs. Not because my family loves ribs, or because I love to slow cook almost anything, or because I was hungry, but because of the name.

I’ve been taking a trip to ‘Nostalgia’ for a couple of weeks now, rediscovering photography and remembering the wonder of my childhood imagination. So when I read that we would be cooking with Jam and Cola, a flood of childhood memories entered my mind, and suddenly I’m thinking about carnivals and fairs, sunburns from laying on the beach too long and sand in places it shouldn’t be.

Growing up in Southern California we called Cola, Coke.  It didn’t matter if you were ordering a Sprite, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper (my usual), if someone was going to the vending machine, and asked if you wanted a Coke, the next question would be, “What kind do you want?”  

The combination made perfect sense to me after eating a summer diet of Peanut Butter and Jelly (Jam) sandwiches, and cracking open a can of Coke to wash it down in my youth. Combining those two ingredients with meat was like an a-ha moment, and I can’t wait to try it on other dishes.

Since I get our beef from Firsthand Food in bulk, I didn’t have the spareribs that the recipe called for, but it worked well on the Short Ribs. I was a little hasty in making these (if you call a two-hour cooking time hasty), but here is what I did:

  • Instead of Spareribs, I used Beef Short Ribs
  • Instead of Orange Juice, I used another blend (looking forward to juicing beets, greens and other veggies with one or two drops of liquid Stevia for sweetness on the next go around)
  • We make our own ‘Cola’ with a Soda Stream machine, so I’m not exactly sure which ‘Cola’ I grabbed out of the refrigerator - probably Root Beer

I browned my meat on the stove after marinating them overnight, this differs from the recipe, but this is one of my favorite cooking pleasures and I couldn’t let the oven do it for me. I carefully dried the meat first, and reserved the marinade for the baking portion of the recipe.

The Chives are just about to burst in all of their purple glory, and I couldn’t resist adding these to the finished product. I served them simply over a bed of Cabbage, and let the cooking liquid serve as a dressing.

The ability to adjust these recipes is one of the reasons I like cooking out of Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table. The techniques serve as a foundation, but your imagination serves as the catalyst to creating your own flavor profiles. I’m learning a lot from being a part of this online cooking group. You should sign up here.

Healthy Vegetable Soup

I have been missing out on a few spectacular weeks of French Fridays with Dorie, so I made a special shopping trip to, for once, get ahead of myself, and make this healthy vegetable soup, or Warm Weather Pot Au Feu.

June 3 marks the first Friday of the month, and the first recipe was the perfect meal to end a wonderful Memorial Day hike. This Warm Weather Vegetable Pot Au Feu had all the vegetables in it that I was craving: Asparagus, Carrots, Leeks, Potatoes, Onions, and that dollop of white goodness you see in the picture is actually a poached egg, not a spoonful of Yogurt or Creme Fraiche, as I had originally thought from just looking at the picture in the cookbook.

Though I was tired, sweaty and hungry, I decided to take care of my tired and hungry kids first. I fed them something else from the pantry, so I could take my time and enjoy the process of making this pot au feu.

I love to stir-fry anything in my wok. It was hard not to snag bits of Leek for a taste. Cooking is my therapy, and it is such a good way to reduce stress with a payoff at the end (if you don’t count the dishes).

I like how the recipe calls for you to leave the Asparagus in long batons instead of chopping them up.

Give this one a try. It is definitely on my summer list. And even though you might want to forego the poached Egg, I thought it was a surprising enhancement.


French Fridays with Dorie: Vanilla (Chocolate) Eclairs

What fun it was to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie: Vanilla Eclairs!

There are three parts to making Eclairs: 1) Choux Pastry 2) Pastry Cream Filling 3) Vanilla Glaze.

I was somewhat familiar with the Choux Pastry because I made Gougeres last week for lunch. It is the most fun dough to make, and quite versatile as I am learning.

When I got to the Pastry Cream, I dove right in and was pleasantly surprised when after stirring and stirring, the texture of the cream changed. It thickened up, became smooth and cohesive. It was beautiful.

Part three was very easy, but I realized that I wanted to make a chocolate ganache, instead of the glaze, but didn’t plan ahead. I was more concerned about getting the dough right and piped properly.

I loved the process of learning how to make this new dessert, and think I will attempt again very soon (Mother’s Day maybe). Here are some things I learned and will change next time.

Change #1:

When I was adding the eggs to the Choux Pastry, I got a phone call and I think 2 eggs may have slipped into the mixer at the same time in my haste to answer it, the dough didn’t come back together and I panicked. I wasn’t sure if I should keep mixing or stop, so I stopped and started piping. Consequently, I believe the dough didn’t cook quite right, and went flat…uggh. It was also dense in the middle, instead of light and airy. I panicked again and wasn’t sure if I should cook them longer or not.

Also, I used a non-reusable pastry bag without a tip, and therefore I wasn’t confident in how to actually pipe the dough out.

Next time I will: 1) Make sure I only put one egg in at a time as Dorie states 2) Get a professional Pastry Bag with all of the tips.

Mostly, I shouldn’t answer the phone with eggy hands, and not lose focus!

As for the finished product, here are a couple of things I will do differently:

Variation #1:

The Vanilla Glaze was a little too sweet for me. I added 1 more TB of Whole Milk and another squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice. But I will probably go for the Chocolate Ganache every time I make these.

Variation #2

Dorie doesn’t call for a sprinkling of Powdered Sugar on top, but I thought they needed something a little extra, since my Eclairs were flat with two different hues of brown. I think it helped.

I can’t wait to see what everyone else did, and what challenges they came across. What about you? Are you a member of French Fridays with Dorie? Join us, it’s fun! 


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