Thursday, April 03, 2008

Kouglof in Kentucky

As I start to test recipes from France, here in Kentucky, I have to smile when there is success! I took my last French pastry class at Le Notre in October, right before all 'heck' broke loose! I usually try to make the pastry we learn in class at home, just to 'sink' the technique I just paid to learn. With a pending house hunting trip in November, the only thing I had time for was a trip to MORA to buy the special earthenware molds that the chef recommended.

I was so pleased to unpack these lovely molds, and found them in the same condition, just like I picked them up from the shelf at MORA. I got my recipe out, prepped and weighed the ingredients. I knew that I might need a few tries at this recipe, just to nail it.......but, it did work ok.

I will need another try with the recipe. My dough didn't rise in the mold to a real height like they did in class. I wonder if my yeast wasn't fresh enough, or I needed to do the rise with a little warm water near by. I use warm water in a cold oven for the final rise of my Croissants, so this method might work better next time.

The dough however was very easy and supple to work with. Not the usual sticky mess that a traditional brioche dough is. You don't need an overnight, cold proof like you do with normal brioche in this recipe.
My baking in Kentucky continues as spring very slowly approaches! I have finally found some fresh herbs for planting, now, I'm making 'it' home.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Le Creuset (of America)

Satisfaction: Guaranteed! Lifetime Warranty!
Do you see that written and smirk? Think to your self, yeah RIGHT! Do you keep your receipt, just in case?

Well, my precious blue dutch oven, bought about 30 years ago and used, at least once a week, started to get chips in the bottom of the pan. I thought, lifetime warranty, well, I'll give it a try. In October, while still living in France, I wanted to buy my bearded baby his
first Le Creuset pot. I love going up to the (real) factory store, and my time in France was running out.

I threw my dutch oven in the trunk, thinking that they might be able to do a repair, or....better yet, exchange for a sparkling new one. The lady in the store told me that I should not use the pan anymore, the raw cast iron would leach out into our foods. And, she informed me, no, they don't honor the lifetime warranty if I bought my pot in the USA. So, I bought a new one. The Caribbean Blue took my eye, and I bought my son a blue one.

I decided to pack up my chipped pan in our move and bring her back to America to see if Le Creuset of America would honor the warranty. The lady on the phone told me that I needed a number to include on the packing. I sent it UPS.....didn't cost much, I included a letter and I certainly didn't have the receipt from 30 years ago. No big deal! They determine if the problem was theirs or if I caused the problem. If I caused the problem, I would be offered a discount on another pot, if I wanted. Well......time would tell what they thought!

Well, look what came in the mail. A GORGEOUS brand new dutch oven. Not only is the pan worth it's weight (yep, they are heavy) in enameled gold! The company stands up for the product!

Now, I'm not 'dissing' the French Factory Store, they are very helpful and informative. They try to have the pot in the color you are looking for if you call in advance......the prices are well worth the 2 1/2 hour drive north of Paris! I'm just happy that at the end of the day, satisfaction guarantee, and Lifetime Warranty do mean, just that. Now I can have two dutch ovens bubbling away on my hob!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A trip to the farm......

Trying to have a little fun in between unpacking, shopping and a daily trip to Lowes, the old man and I signed up for another cooking class! We stumbled on this little place in Midway called, The Honest Farm, one Sunday afternoon.
We walked inside to find a very charming, quaint, big open space. There were some farm veggies to buy, a cold display with homemade yummies like chicken salads, pot pies.....homemade cookies etc. Interesting decor, with a big pot of coffee and tea at the ready.
It seemed like a natural thing to sit down on the great little bistro tables and have a 'cuppa' and a bite of something sweet. The table cloths were wonderful antique cloths that I love and have bought myself on trips 'back home' when we lived in France.
When we got home, I did an internet search on the owner and found that she was a cookbook author, magazine editor, and farmer. What a FIND!! She said she gave cooking classes, and I figured that this was a must on my 'to do' list.

(click on the photo for a great view)

Susie prepared a fantastic brisket, kofta and a wonderful rhubarb upside-down cake. There was also an asperge and egg salad dressed with a simple Vinaigrette. I have to admit, I never liked rhubarb and have avoided it at all costs. Even pulling it out of my garden in France! But, after tasting this cake, I might start to experiment with it! Plus the cake itself was indeed a winner! The class is BYOB and we drink out of Ball just adds to the charm. We learned so much, as Susie is very passionate and has great stories to share, along with the cooking demo. There was a copious tasting, I'd call dinner, after the demo. I can't wait till Spring comes and she gets her farm planted and we can start eating fresh veggies!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Basic Food for Dinner

I found some ground lamb at the grocery......although, I'm having a hard time finding cuts of lamb other than chops (the search for a good butcher is on). The blizzard has passed and we shoveled the snow off the WeberQ. I wanted to cook up an old favorite, Goat Cheese Stuffed Lamb burgers. I had the Goat Cheese already in the fridge. I just needed a 'side' to go with the burgers and green salad.

Enter: Culinary in the Desert and Joe!

Sometimes you just need to take a look at the other blogs and see what 'those guys' are eating! Joe always has something wonderful to chose from, he updates daily! His Four Cheese Mac-n-Cauliflower Cheese looked great, and gave me another excuse to feed the 'Bearded Baby' some veggies!

Bubbling hot from the oven, I knew this was a winner. Check out the link to the recipe at Joe's Blog!

(there is another lamb patty that goes on top of the goat cheese!)

The lamb burgers were great, even with the Goat Cheese (I'm not complaining about American products, I swear!!). The Red Pepper Mayo is another great recipe from a BBQ class I used to teach. This will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.

The lesson for today......check out the blogs for some great dinner ideas!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Urge to Bake

Since I'm just about unpacked and feeling as settled as can be right now......I have had the urge to get back into the kitchen and see if I still 'have it'!
I really haven't done any baking since leaving France, and if you remember I took a couple of classes at Le Notre right before we started packing.
I always think I'll remember each and every thing that the chef tells us (during the class), and I don't always write things down. Well, I got my notes out for the Macaron class and 'damn'.....I didn't remember each and every thing after all. I continued on with each step and 'it' came back. From the triple baking trays, to the twist and turn, and the 2 hour wait before you garnish with ganche!
Note to self: Write everything down, keep your camera next to your station during each class!
I was pleased and relieved that I can still bake in KY.

(click on the photo for a better view)

I found some fresh yeast at my local Kroger that produced a lovely pizza and a 'garlic flat bread'.
I still love Roberto Donna's recipe! My cannele's turned out delish! And my trusty Simac Ice Cream Maker churned out some great coconut ice cream for a 20 year old on spring break. If I can still fit into my yoga clothes, I've got to get started again.
Best wishes from Kentucky!

Monday, February 25, 2008


for those of you who aren't luck enough to have 'an old man' in tow......he is the one who makes everything happen for me! the mounting of the painting........all the electrical work.....
lucky me!

Have Oven, Will Travel!

I'm starting to get settled, here in Kentucky. We survived a Tornado Warning and high winds while they were unloading our 'precious' stuff. Snow and ice hit our little 'burb, then the sun comes out and you want to start planting! Welcome back to the 'states'! I did order and receive our 'weather alert radio'. Although I'm not looking forward to any middle of the night sirens again, the basement floor is COLD!

(All my favorite French products, painting by Melissa Werpy. painting attached to my pantry door!)

When we heard that we were going to move in a very quick fashion, I did try to get rid of my convection oven. I just assumed that all houses in the states came with 2 ovens. WRONG, a regular oven & a microwave oven were found in the houses we looked at. Suddenly it looked like my Metro brand oven was going to take a voyage across the ocean! Of course, my dough machine, juicer, big-fat-fryer, and professional crepe maker got included in the shipment.

I decided to do a little relaxing = baking yesterday. I mixed up a batch of Cannele batter. I wanted to see how Pierre Herme would do in Kentucky! Having rested the batter till this morning, I baked off a batch.....bah oui!!! The ladies look luscious. Somewhere, someone described a Cannele as a portable Creme Brulee. Look at that creamy center with a crisp outer-shell.
The French oven worked and I think Pierre is giving me 'thumbs-up' right now!

I've unpacked my Kougloff molds and have yeast in hand.......look out!! Where did I pack my scale.....oh well!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hey Ya'll!

I'm channeling Paula Deen since moving to Kentucky.

Well, I've been in the U.S. for a good 3 weeks.....there are surprises, good and bad. I won't dwell on the bad, ok! We are still waiting for our 'stuff' in limbo, even with a nice view just isn't cutting it anymore!

Having lived in an 'expat' community for a long time, you learn that as 'the new gal', you've got to get out and get your feet wet. Sign up for groups, seek out exercise classes.....find the next cooking class! Well, the mecca of all things culinary is as far as 'the mall'. Williams-Sonoma! I've been super curious about their offerings of cooking demonstrations, so I signed 'the old man' and myself up for the Super Bowl Snack demo.

A full house surrounded our chef/instructor. A place setting, cold drinks and pans were heating on 'the hob'. She did a great job, we grazed while she set out to create the next snack. It was a fun evening. Let's not forget about the 10% reduction you get while attending a class. I had to buy some Alziari Olive Oil.......oh the memories.

Since then, we took a drive to Midway, I met a very interesting young woman and promise to blog about her soon!