Carrot cake

Carrot cake is one of my favorite’s  and even though it is usually  filled with raisins, I will always order it when we are eating out.   I am the world’s best raisin “picker outer”.

Many years ago, around 1975,  Jim and I traveled to London for the very first time.  My biggest desire was to have tea and scones.   When all the delicious scones and clotted cream arrived at  our table,  I took one look and realized the scones had raisins in them, lots of raisins.  That was when I decided to learn how to disassemble scones.

When I saw David’s recipe for carrot cake sans raisins, I knew it would be a winner.IMG_1554

I started grating the carrots by hand with a box grater, got interrupted by a phone call, and while talking on the phone remembered I had a grating disk for my cuisinart.   All I had to do now was find it.   Such a time saver.IMG_1557

With Super Bowl Sunday coming up I knew I would have a few taste testers so I decided to make this cake ahead of time.  Of course, the black olive tapenade, our recipe for that week, was perfect.   Everything went well,  especially when added to our usual wings, chips and dip, and deviled eggs. As usual, way too much food.IMG_1544

The carrot cake is a sure winner but I only prepared half a cake and even that was too much.fullsizeoutput_1488




Black olive tapenade

With Super Bowl coming up this Sunday, this was a great selection for our CTBF group.

It was so simple and easy to make,  goes well  with just about any chip/cracker, or even cut up veggies.

I chose a combination of Niçoise olives and canned black olives.  Both of these were pitted making the whole job so much easier.

I did find it to be a bit salty, but delicious all the same.   I rinsed the capers as David suggests, but I think possibly it was the anchovies that added the additional salt.

Maybe after the ingredients blend for another day, the flavors will be less salty.

Unfortunately, I am having problems transferring my photos from my camera to the I-mac and I cannot bring them up to post.

That said, this was one delicious tapenade and a recipe I will keep.

Cassoulet + Potatoes cooked in Duck Fat

The recipe for a cassoulet always fascinated me.  According to Wikipedia, the original recipe comes from the Lanquedoc region of France, mainly Toulouse, and Carcassonne. I picture in my mind these lovely French farms having all the ingredients on hand  to prepare this delicious recipe.IMG_1527

That said, acquiring the ingredients for this recipe doesn’t exactly live up to that farm scenario, but  trying to locate an unsmoked pork hock in this day and age is no small feat.  I finally settled for the smoked version which actually had a great deal of flavor to add to the dish.

The reason I found this time-consuming was that I had to prepare the Duck Confit. Using David’s recipe for Counterfeit duck confit as you know takes two days to complete.  Had I thought about it, I should have done this originally when I purchased all the duck legs.

David does not mention rendering the pancetta, but I just could not put all that uncooked fat into this dish, even though it will cook forever.IMG_1530

Most of the Cassoulet recipes that I came across take up to two days to complete, so when he suggested reheating the following day, I went with that version.  I did think it was too dry when I served it to the family,   because I had tasted it the night before and enjoyed  it so much more.

The dish, whether dry or not, was so delicious, but considering the ingredients that went into it, how could it fail.IMG_1533

I am also adding the make up recipe for Potatoes cooked in duck fat.

I don’t have to tell you all how delicious these were after reading all your blogs.  Each and everyone of them  turned out fantastic.  I loved the recipe, served it with an omelet and salad, and Tricia is going nuts until I make for her.IMG_1518

Fennel, radish, orange, and crab salad

This week’s recipe for CTBF was a welcome addition to our Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Every year I try to change some of the recipes,  but some of them, like the Baccala salad,  mussels, and pasta with some type of fish must stand.  For the pasta coarse I like to vary the topping.  Sometime I use just oil, garlic and anchovies, and sometimes I do my barbecued shrimp that is marinated and then broiled in the oven.

However, when I saw this recipe I thought it would be a perfect selection  that was light and went well with all of the fish,  it turned out to be a winner.

Since it only called for 8 ounces of crabmeat I had to figure out what to do with the rest.   I came across a  deviled egg recipe in one of the David Tanis cookbooks.  It  was delicious and an excellent choice for sure.

In the crab salad I used Belgian endive cut into ribbons, thinly sliced fennel and radish, and suprémed slices of orange.IMG_1486

The dressing consisted of white wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.  I added the parsley and crab meat to the dressing and topped the salad.

It was a wonderfully delicious salad and a new way to enjoy lump crab meat.

Counterfeit duck confit

Duck legs/thighs are not exactly easy to locate in this part of Pennsylvania.  However, I did find a supplier online that actually sold fresh or frozen duck items.

I decided to check out the rest of  David’s book for future recipes involving duck and came across three more.

We will need some duck thighs  for the cassoulet,  which is something I am looking forward to, and also a duck terrine with figs that can also be made with chicken thighs.

And, last but not least is a cookie made with duck fat which doesn’t sound too appealing to me, but, hey, whatever.   Save all the duck fat that you accumulate, it’s  great for frying potatoes and such.

So, knowing what is ahead of us, I decided to order 10 duck leg/thighs to freeze.

As for this recipe, it was excellent and I really loved it.  I only made enough for two servings which ended up as two meals for me.

After letting it set overnight in the fridge with all the spices,  I cooked it slowly in the oven for 2-1/2 hours at 300 degrees and then raised the temp. to 375 for about twenty more minutes.   I parboiled some potatoes and carrots and then sautéed them in some duck fat for a little more flavoring.IMG_1462

The result was an absolutely delicious duck confit and I enjoyed every last morsel.   I am looking forward to the rest of his recipes involving duck,  as I am certain they will be tasty.

Céleri rémoulade

This week’s selection from David Lebovitz’ cookbook “My Paris Kitchen” is a delicious celery root salad.

The dressing for this salad consists of homemade mayonnaise and crème fraîche, grainy mustard and a bit of Dijon mustard,  as well as freshly squeezed lemon juice.

This is a typical French salad served in many bistros throughout Paris.IMG_1412 .

It is quite simple to make, the hardest part is cleaning the ugly celery root and slicing it into match stick sizes.

Since I did not have any taste testers around this week I only prepared a small amount of the salad and decided to try roasting the rest of the celery root.  I cut the root into small squares and coated them with olive oil, salt and pepper and a dash of ground thyme.  450 degrees for about 30 minutes until tender.  So delicious.IMG_1417

Buckwheat polenta with braised greens, sausage, and poached eggs

Before we started cooking through “My Paris Kitchen”  I had only tasted buckwheat once before.  So far we have made three different recipes using some form of it and we still have to make the buckwheat madeleines.  At least we will be prepared.

This was the first time that I made polenta from scratch.   Normally, I always bought the polenta rolled in a package, sliced it and fried it.  But the homemade is so much easier and tastes so much fresher.

As for the greens, I used escarole, a red onion, and the only herbed sausage  I could find was chicken with spinach and fennel.  (Which, incidentally was very good).  Rather than using the sun-dried tomatoes, I went with sliced green olives.


Before topping the dish with the poached egg,  I sprinkled some feta cheese on it.

This was an interesting recipe and I will make it again but next time I would like to try  David’s suggestion using the sliced mushrooms.

Celery root soup with horseradish cream and ham chips

Let me start by saying these two vegetable ingredients were the filthiest veggies I ever had to clean.  I don’t understand why they sell the whole piece of leek with all the green tops that end up being discarded.  I had to rinse and rinse these so many times.  As for the celery root, it’s not the prettiest item in the produce department.

That said, this turned into a delicious soup using only these two vegetables, a bay leaf and thyme.

I remember when we made David’s vegetable soup with the basil puree, I was certain that  using only water there would not be much of a flavor, but that was one of the tastiest soups ever.

For the horseradish cream I used heavy cream rather than the crème fraîche, and I used ham slices for the chips.  These turned out quite tasty.

This is a really great soup for the winter, but unfortunately  our weather is going up and down and today the temps are near 70 degrees. IMG_1279

Individual chocolate cakes with dulce de leche and fleur de sel

A simple dessert that is so  easy to make.  With the exception of the dulce de leche, the rest of the ingredients are  always on hand in the pantry.

I prepared the  dulce de leche the day before using a can of condensed milk, letting it simmer for about three hours in hot water.

I only made half a recipe since there aren’t too many taste testers around lately, and as delicious as this dessert is, I can take about two spoonfuls of chocolate at a time.


The combination of the sweet caramel flavor and the touch a sea salt mixed with the chocolate is such a delightful flavor.

I love the way it turned out,  a warm individual dessert that can be enjoyed plain  or perhaps add a bit of cream or a dollop of ice cream on the side.IMG_1259


Indian cheese bread

Naan au Fromage was the selected recipe for this week’s “cookthebookfridays”.

A simple recipe put together in no time at all.  David mentions it is very forgiving even for a novice, and believe me, he was right.

The dough consists  of flour, baking powder,  yeast,  clarified butter, yogurt, a pinch of sugar and a bit of salt.  It came together beautifully and was easy to work with.

I prepared six naan pieces using plain Laughing Cow cheese in the center, folded the four sides and then rolled them out flat to approximately a 6 inch square.IMG_1222

They all really puffed up in the hot skillet and looked weird, but once removed from the skillet and brushed with the clarified butter they were very tasty.

For my first time at making these little breads I was quite pleased.IMG_1223