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Okay, so I have a confession. I ripped this recipe out from the Vera Bradley catalog. If you know me, then you know that I am not a fan of the paisley wares Ms. Bradley is pushing. But you order one too many gifts for other people, start getting catalogs and before you know it, somehow it is downright impossible to get off a mailing list. I’ve been reading the catalogs recently because they include recipes. And I am a sucker for a new recipe.

However, upon doing some googling, this is not a new recipe! The original is from Bon Appetit magazine. Or from The Cake Bible. In true Internet form, there are dozens recipes, all variations on each other, with little or no cites to a source. Sigh.

So this is my variation on the theme. I added in vanilla, pumped up the lemon zest and increased the lemon juice. Which, according to my research, was not super original. But it does make for a tasty, perfect afternoon snack bread that will brighten your day. And that is really all I want from a recipe – old or new.

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Dijon Chicken

After reading some of my recent recipes searching for typos, I realized I have a lot of dessert recipes on here. Four of my past five recipes are desserts. And four out of five dentists would probably tell me that is no good. So chicken today!

I love mustard, which is good because this is a very mustard recipe! I added a tablespoon or two of whole grain mustard to this because I had the end of a jar in the fridge and as Ina Garten says, whole grain mustard just seems more mustard-y. I think chicken thighs are just perfect for this recipe – the original calls for legs, which just seems all wrong. A longer cooking time with simmering in liquid is built for thighs. Also chicken thighs are seriously cheap.

I know it seems very un-summer to bring back the dutch oven, but the chicken doesn’t cook that long and it is way better than turning on the oven. Also the result is so delicious that you will be totally sold, I promise!

P.S. Sorry about the lack of photos! Raw chicken is not particularly photogenic.

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Greetings to the two faithful readers I still have left! (Hi Mom!) I have taken an unintended hiatus from blogging, but I am back baby! I’ve still been cooking, so have a back log of recipes to post and I am starting with this gem. I tore it out a (typically) underwhelming issue of Bon Appetit because, well, just look at the ingredients. Rhubarb and creme fraiche? Check. And in galette form? Sign me up!

This easily the best thing I’ve done with rhubarb all summer. It is a very simple recipe – as the Resident Frechman said, “this doesn’t have enough ingredients for you to make it. Where is the heavy cream?” But the result is very delicious and really allows the rhubarb to shine. I think it was totally worth leaving the oven on for an hour when it was 90 degrees this weekend in a barely air conditioned house, which for a summer recipe is the highest possible praise.

I feel that it is my mission in life to make everyone eat this crème fraîche. It is so much better than your average whipped cream. Honestly, I don’t even want to eat whipped cream after this. You have to try it. If you don’t have a full vanilla bean, sweetened crème fraîche still tastes amazing, but the vanilla really elevates it to another level.

My usual end tips: as I’ve said before, galettes are extremely forgiving. Don’t worry about rolling out the dough perfectly. It is supposed to look rustic (and therefore charming). My dough was somewhat shaped like France. Remember when you are adding the water to the dough that you may need more or less water – it depends on the humidity of your kitchen. The recipe calls for the rhubarb to be sliced into match stick strips, which I know sounds unforgivably picky. Don’t worry about getting the pieces super thin, these can be thick matchsticks. The important part is to keep them all the (relatively) same size, so they cook evenly. Finally, Bon Appetit directs you to arrange the rhubarb in concentric circles. How that is possible with strips, I am not really sure. So make up your own pattern! And if you get neat circles, let me know how you did it!

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June is birthday month! It was my friend Jeanette’s birthday and she requested angel food cake. I have never made an angel food cake before, so I was pretty excited to use the pan hanging out in my Mom’s cabinet. Finally a use for a pan with legs! I had no idea that you needed to let the cake rest upside down, so I had a great time documenting this:

The cake is marvelous – it has a perfect sponge-y texture and I love Martha’s addition of raspberry layers. They add a nice fruity contrast to the cake. The layers are very easy to make – all those egg whites make the batter extremely stiff, so you can easily spread the raspberry mixture onto the batter without a problem, making you appear to be some sort of cake layering genius.

I rarely pay attention to recipes that tell you to sift, but I highly recommend it here. The batter is very light and fluffy and if there are any lumps in the sugar or flour, it will be readily apparent in the cake. So sift away! I used my Mom’s sifter, which is wonderfully old school and works far better than my newer one.

Finally, don’t toss those egg yolks! I am saving mine to make a super batch of ice cream that will be so creamy, I will probably die of happiness. I had a fantastic salted caramel ice cream a few weeks ago that I would love to replicate, so if you know of any good recipes, leave a comment. Otherwise I might make ice cream with my second favorite ingredient, creme fraiche!

Unfortunately for the purpose of blog photos, we ate the cake on a bar patio, lit by candlelight. Great for ambiance, terrible for photos. So this was the sole focused, best lit photo of the cake. It is a bit hard to tell, but check out how awesome the raspberry layers look! Very delicious, angel food cake is now officially in recipe circulation.

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I made this cake for the Resident Frenchman’s birthday and it was, if I do say so myself, pretty awesome. Nothing looks more impressive than a stack of crepes, with tangy lemon curd peeking through the layers.

Crepes may seem intimidating, but they are easy to master once you get going. You must accept that the first crepe will be terrible. The second crepe will be better and by the third, things will be going much smoother. The good thing about a gateau de crepes is that you can sneak in the odd shaped crepes into the middle of the stack and no one will notice!

This is a dessert that has several resting stages and therefore, is not easily done in one day. All crepe recipes I’ve read recommend resting the batter for several hours in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Do not skip this step – there are, of course, a variety of theories as to what resting does for the batter, but resting makes a huge impact on the taste and texture of the crepes. The good thing is that you can throw together a crepe batter in under fifteen minutes, stick it in the fridge and forget about it until you are ready to start making crepes. The other most crucial resting stage is at the end – the cake must be refrigerated after it is put together. Otherwise, when you try to slice through, the crepes will slide off each other and you will be very, very upset.

A few final thoughts on crepes. One, use a nonstick pan. You don’t need a specialized crepe pan, but for ease and less frustration, the pan must be nonstick. Two, use a metal spatula, or the stiffest silicon you have available. The firmer the spatula, the easier it will be to maneuver it with the crepes. Three, use a light hand when pouring the batter into the pan. Crepes should be thin – these aren’t pancakes. Finally, be sure to save your two best crepes to use as the base and the top. You will want a solid base and a pretty top.

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Braised Leeks

I actually made this dish ages ago. Like in February. But I’m posting it because it is delicious and I’m not sure how it fell through the cracks. And also because my grand plans for fava beans went bust. Yes, that is fava beans as in fava beans and a nice chianti. (As an aside, that movie haunts my dreams. Who lets fourth graders at a sleep over watch that??) But unfortunately I ruined them with some bitter orange zest. Which is a shame, because fava beans photograph beautifully – I took some glorious photos and they are going to live on in a future fava beans post. But it is leeks for today!

Leeks and shallots really just seem to go together. It is one of those classic pairings that just scream French food and Julia Child to me. This is a great simple side dish that could compliment any chicken dish or stand alone, perhaps with a poached egg and hunk of baguette. I think it also would be great dressed up with a dollop of sharp mustard mixed into the shallots and some panko bread crumbs on top. I love simple recipes like this because they are great bases on which you can build more complicated variations.

My only tip for this recipe is to carefully clean the leeks! I’ve included specific directions in the recipe text. The first time I made this dish, I was in a serious rush and I didn’t clean the leeks fully. Things were a little gritty, which is not exactly the texture I was going for.

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My mom bought me the last (sob) Gourmet cookbook and it is amazing. Seriously. This is why I miss Gourmet. I have been reading through it and literally marking down every other page. This is the first recipe I made from the book and now, I want to marry this cookbook.

This tart is delicious. The berries get soft and delicious, but not mushy. The crumble topping adds a satisfying crunch of pecan and sugar sweetness. And the contrast of the tart berries to the sweet topping is out of this world. It took way too much effort not to sneak extra bites of berries topped with extra crumble raked from the top. If this recipe is representative of Gourmet Today, this blog is going to evolve into one of those annoying (well I think so) blogs where an entire cookbook is cooked through.

The crust calls for shortening, which I have never actually used before. I substituted butter, but have any of you gentle readers used shortening in a crust? Leave me a comment and tell me why I should be using shortening! And where does one purchase it? I did use a pastry blender to make the crust. I have become a devoted fan of pastry blenders since I purchased one about a year ago. The Oxo is nice, but I purchased mine at TJ Maxx and it is perfectly fine. The beauty of the blender is that you can get perfect pea sized clumps of butter, but with a lot less work than doing it by hand and with a lot more precision than if you used a food processor.

P.S. Since this cookbook was a Ruth Reichl production, Aushak made it in! Check it out!

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