Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Green! Swiss Chard Pancakes and Crepes for French Fridays with Dorie

A few weeks ago, Sunset magazine ran a Facebook Weekend Photo Challenge called "Spring Green." After fans posted photos of everything green, from glowing lush hills to baby lettuce crops, Sunset posted favorites to an album the following week. My photo of this beautiful Swiss Chard bouquet made the cut.

Swiss Chard from my friend Holli's Garden

That particular bouquet of chard found its way into Pantry Pasta (rigatoni with olive oil, garlic, capers, crushed red chile flakes, anchovies, chard, a squeeze of lemon and a dusting of Parmesan).

Pantry Pasta

Holli graciously offered to harvest another bouquet of chard for the pancakes, but I ended up settling for store-bought chard. The French name for this week's savory pancakes is farçous  - defined as a type of pancake or thick crepe loaded with greens, especially Swiss chard. In addition to milk, eggs and flour, Dorie's batter has onions, shallots, garlic, parsley and chives. You can find the recipe here. I followed the recipe exactly but just lightly brushed the pan with grapeseed oil between each batch.

Farçous - Swiss Chard Pancakes

Dorie forewarned the recipe makes a ton of pancakes - about forty, 5-inch pancakes.  In French homes, farçous are a robust main course, most often served with a salad. Dorie's preference, and mine, is to make them small enough to be served as an hors d'oeuvre. My initial thought was to top them with a dab of creme fraiche and a few crumbles of crispy prosciutto. However, by the time I cooked my way through a Vitamix full of batter, and nibbled on too-many-to-mention of these addicting pancakes along the way, my creatively and energy level fizzled rapidly.  About half way through, to speed up the process, I switched over to crepe-mode by adding a little more milk to the batter and I was able to produce eight lovely crepes. Note: I was using a very small cast-iron skillet and could only cook 2-3 pancakes at a time (exactly 1 tablespoon of batter for each pancake); obviously, using a larger pan or griddle would speed up the process substantially.

Swiss Chard Crepes

The pancakes supposedly freeze well, but I may try to bring them to cocktail party tomorrow evening. Trapper has a few other ideas for the crepes.

Trapper on crepe patrol

Breakfast Update: I warmed a few of the leftover crepes and served them with scrambled eggs and prosciutto garnished with chives. Nice alternative to toast or tortillas!

Crepes & Eggs


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spruce Up Your Salmon - Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød

After helping a friend with some last minute preparations for a party she was catering, I started thinking about party hors d'oeuvres with smoked salmon. It can be found minced into dips, spreads and mousses; placed on top of blini, toast points, potato pancakes and pizzas; nestled in tea sandwiches; wrapped around asparagus spears; baked into tarts, quiches and savory cheesecakes; and rolled into roulades or pinwheels. If you've been there, done that with those, here's another to try for your next party or picnic...

Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød is the third sandwich I've made from this month's Bon Appetit. I'm having a tough time choosing a favorite, but this one is certainly the most elegant. You can put whatever you want on these Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches, from classic combinations like roast beef and crisp onions to  smoked salmon and scallions. This version, from Bar Tartine, is topped with a schmear of horseradish sour cream and slices of smoked salmon, then artfully accessorized with thinly sliced radish, salmon roe, fresh parsley and dill, and a grind of pepper. I see this one making an appearance at summer Concerts in the Park...

Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød

With only a few ingredients, use the best you can find. I found a loaf of Volkornbrot/German Rye baked by Belen Artisan Bakery, and beautiful radishes and herbs grown by Suzie's Farm at the new San Diego Public Market just over the bridge. 


Suzie's Farm Radishes

I made a quick run up to a Japanese market for the salmon roe, but you can also use slightly smaller trout roe, or even smaller tobiko (flying fish roe).

Salmon Roe

Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød
Bon Appetit, April 2013
Makes 4

Horseradish Sour Cream

1/2 cup mashed potatoes (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, ground pepper

Whisk potatoes, if using, sour cream, horseradish, dill, parsley, and lemon juice in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.


4 slices Danish rye or pumpernickel bread
8 ounces sliced smoked salmon
3 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons salmon or trout roe (optional)
Dill sprigs and flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kosher salt, ground pepper

Spread horseradish sour cream on bread and top with smoked salmon, radishes, roe, if using, dill, and parsley. Season with pepper.

Friday, April 12, 2013

French Fridays with Dorie: Blood Orange Financiers - Last Stop on the Sweet Train

I've been riding the Sweet Train these past few weeks and I think it's time to get off...

I recall boarding the train when Holli gifted me with a few treats from Miette, San Francisco's 'most charming pastry shop.' Holli graciously allows me to live vicariously through her travels with edible delicacies like aged balsamic vinegar from her Italy trip and these Lavender Shortbread Cookies and Rosettes (rose geranium meringues) from her recent jaunt to SF. Take note FFwD people - if you have any rose syrup left after making your Ispahan Loaf Cake, and I KNOW you do, why not try making these little meringue kisses? They smell and taste heavenly.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies and Rosettes

Next stop was my kitchen on Easter Sunday. My chocolate craving kicked in and I was all over Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. I don't know how I missed this one back in January 2011, but it's done and gone now.

Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

I continued on my sweet journey last Friday when I decided to prepare a very decadent dessert for Hillari's Saturday night birthday party - Nancy Silverton's Butterscotch Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce and Whipped Creme Fraiche served with Rosemary-Pine Nut Cookies. Sip Wine Bar tempted me with this luscious Italian pudding late last year, and I made it over the holidays, but never got around to blogging the recipe. My review of the wine bar didn't make it to Wine & Dine San Diego either, after the restaurant and wine bar closed its doors in the dark of night. I guess that's life in the restaurant business.

Butterscotch Budino at Sip Wine Bar, Del Mar

The recipe isn't complicated, but it does take time, and every bowl and pan in your kitchen. I prefer to make the budino the day before and the caramel sauce and whipped creme fraiche a few hours before serving. It helps when a pastry chef shows up at your door just as you start whipping the cream and offers to take over. Say yes.

Master Pastry Chef at work

Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies

The dessert was a hit (don't ask about the few that perished under the sprinklers) and the party was a blast, especially the photo shoot in the designated photo bed studio off the kitchen. Yes, the wine flowed freely at the party house on Ocean and I came home with over 200 fun photos ;-)

A pile of friends

The following day, the train stopped for a bittersweet Celebration of Life. About 25 years ago, Linda introduced me to the wonderful world of Newfoundlands with my first puppy, Ashley. Sadly, Linda lost her courageous battle to cancer in January and her family, friends, and fellow Newfoundland Club members gathered to share tears, stories and memories. We love and miss you, Linda. Please give my Ashley, Diver and Dooley big hugs and tell them Trapper is taking good care of me.

For the dessert buffet, I baked mini Ad Hoc at Home Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Ad Hoc Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Although I have tears streaming down my face again, for Linda, for her husband Steve, and for the three Newfs who once shared my life, I must get to my last sweet - this week's French Fridays with Dorie Financiers. I just so happened to have six egg whites left over from the budino and they happily found a home in these cute almond and beurre noisette (brown butter) tea cakes. Read all about them, and some creative variations, in this New York Times article, The Pastry Chef's Rich Little Secret...

"It's a simple almond cake, leavened by egg whites, moistened with browned butter and baked into a small mold. But such simplicity is deceiving: the classic French pastry called the financier is exquisitely refined. It is springy, sweet and nutty with an exterior that's as crisp as an eggshell."

Blood Orange Financiers

The article talks about texture and says if you use almond flour, the cake will be finer but denser. If you grind your almonds, it will be coarser and rustic. I used Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour which is fairly course and gave the cakes that rustic texture. Dorie offers bonne idees for fruit or chocolate versions. Placing raspberries in the center is common, but I choose to use blood orange triangles and supremes. I also used a mini muffin tin since I don't own the traditional rectangular financier molds.

These didn't knock my socks off, but at least I'm finally off the Sweet Train...

Best served freshly baked and warm

Sweet dreams,

     -Denise & Trapper


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Relaxing Easter Picnic

Easter snuck up on me this year and I found myself without a menu or a plan. I really wasn't in the mood to cook dinner and enjoyed the day relaxing at home. Trapper and I went for a long walk and puttered in the garden for the rest of the morning. It was such a beautiful spring day and a late afternoon picnic seemed like the perfect ending to an easy day.

One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon is to crank up some music, open a nice bottle of Champagne or wine, and get lost in that's what I did. I made a quick trip to the store, turned on my favorite Pandora station, and uncorked a bottle of Sika Syrah I purchased at a recent wine dinner. I prepared another sandwich from the latest Bon Appetit (cover sandwich hereand a chocolate mousse cake from Around My French Table. In between recipes, I chased Trapper around the yard with my camera and snapped a few Easter photos to share with all of his Facebook fans.

Pressed Coppa Sandwiches with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

LOVED this sandwich - especially the broccoli rabe pesto...

Making the "Pesto"

Assembling the Sandwiches before "Pressing"

Pressed Coppa Sandwiches with Broccoli Rabe Pesto
Bon Appetit, April 2013
(Makes 4 Sandwiches)


1 pound broccoli rabe (rapini)
Kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino
2 teaspoons honey
8 slices country-style bread
8 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced sweet coppa or prosciutto
Olive oil (for skillet)


Cook broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, about 30 seconds; drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; squeeze out water; cut into 1-inch pieces.

Combine broccoli rabe, garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes a large skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until broccoli rabe is very soft, 40-50 minutes. Let pesto cool slightly. Mix in Pecorino and honey.

Build sandwiches with bread, provolone, coppa, and broccoli rabe pesto. Brush a large skillet with oil and heat over medium-low heat. Working in batches and brushing skillet with oil as needed, add sandwiches to pan, cover with foil, and place a heavy skillet on top. Cook until bread is toasted and cheese melts, 4-5 minutes per side (you can also use a lightly oiled panini press).

Trapper's Easter Photo

Since the Easter Bunny missed my delivery of Chocolate Cadbury Creme Eggs, I had an excuse to try one of the recipes I missed early on in French Fridays with Dorie - Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. I'm not sure how I missed this one back in January 2011 because I made the other three recipes that month, but there must have been some compelling reason to forego chocolate that month - New Year's diet perhaps?

The preparation for this cake is unique in that you prepare a chocolate mousse flavored with bittersweet chocolate and espresso, bake 1/3 of the mousse in a dessert ring (or springform pan minus the bottom), let it cool, pour the remaining chilled mousse over the cooked base, and slip it back into the oven for another 30 mniutes. The mousse filling puffs up as it cooks and then deflates as it cools. Dorie recommends refrigerating it for a few hours and serving it chilled. A dusting of cocoa powder, and dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream, seals the sweet deal. The Daily Herald published the recipe, here.

Double Chocolate Mousse Cake