Monday, November 29, 2010

FFWD—November Round Up—Potato Gratin, Roast Chicken and Caramel-Topped CHOCOLATE Semolina Cake

I decided last month after finding it hard to get French Fridays With Dorie posts up every Friday, that I would just do one post for the month with a quick recap of the things I made.  So while most FFWDers post every Friday, I plan to post on the last Friday of every month. What?  I know, it’s not Friday.  Well, cut me some slack, it was a holiday weekend, but I do want to get this post up before November is gone.

I made three of the four recipes that were chosen this month.  The one recipe I didn’t make was for Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans, page 146.  I just couldn’t get it done, I wanted to try it, but certainly not with gorgonzola cheese.  I just don’t “do” moldy cheeses.  So I really was going to try it with another cheese and still plan to sometime because I do love pumpkin.  I may even just try a small, scaled down version of this soon because I have some pumpkin in the fridge to use up. 

Weeks ago though, I did make the Pommes Dauphinois (Potato Gratin), page 360.  How cute are these little individual gratin dishes I found months ago?  They are only about 1/2 cup each. 


I made about 1/4 of the gratin recipe and three little gratins (one was in a 1/2 cup round ramekin.  What is not to love about potatoes and cream baked with cheese?  The cream is infused with garlic and the potatoes are seasoned with a little thyme in between the layers of potatoes.  Topped with Gruyere cheese and baked, these really are a dinner treat.  I only took a bite of the one I served Kevin.  I just couldn’t do that much fat in my dinner at that time.  But for sure, someday when I’m really going to splurge on dinner, I will surely make the gratin again.



I made the Roast Chicken For Les Paresseux a couple weeks ago for a Sunday dinner.  It was pretty easy and the chicken was nice and moist, but neither Kevin nor I really like bone in chicken or dark meat.  So I felt like it was a lot of work and a lot of meat no one really wanted.


I need a Dutch oven.  I’m going to put on one my Christmas wish list.  The only thing I had that would even slightly work to cook the whole chicken in is the ceramic bowl to my Crockpot.  It actually worked fine, but I think it was a little small for the whole chicken and the potatoes and carrots, so I didn’t get as much browning on the chicken as I would have liked.  It also made it so I had A LOT more juice/liquid/stock in the bottom of the bowl underneath the chicken, the piece of bread underneath pretty much disintegrated.


That liquid was probably close to 2 inches deep.  We didn’t use it for anything.  Then, see if you notice anything wrong with this next picture--


Did you figure it out?  Well, I had NO clue until I was carving in to the chicken.  Here, does this help?


Nice chicken butt shot (sorry, Mom).  Well, turns out the whole thing would have looked a lot better AND been much easier to carve if it hadn’t been UPSIDE DOWN.  Maybe the breast side up might have even browned up nicer.  Yep, I cooked the bird upside down, photographed it upside down and had no idea the whole time, until I was carving it and though that chicken had the worst breast meat I’d ever seen.  Ahh, see, we don’t eat much whole chicken around here.  That and I’m just a dork.

We actually did enjoy the nice moist chicken once I figured out where it was.  sigh   Let’s move on.

Today (Sunday) I decided to give the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake (pages 438-439)  a try.  Since there is Cream of Wheat in the cake, I remembered in the past, I had bought some chocolate Cream of Wheat.  When I went to find it at the store a week or so ago, it was Malt-o-Meal that makes the chocolate one.  Looking at the ingredients of both regular cereals, they were the same, so I went with the chocolate Malt-o-Meal to give this cake flan-like dessert breakfast treat at try.  I knew no one would eat this with plain Cream of Wheat and raisins.  It had to be chocolate.  So not only did I used Chocolate Malt-o-Meal, I also added mini chocolate chips in place of the dried fruit.  Scott loves Chocolate Malt-o-Meal, so I think he’ll eat the cake.  He hasn’t tried it yet.  I taste a few bites of it.  It’s okay, but not something I’d ever make again.

I also had issues with the caramel.  I’ve made Dorie’s caramels on the stove before, but this one was different—it was sugar and water with a splash of lemon juice.  I did everything exactly that the recipe said for the caramel and two times it turned to crystal within minutes.  It never caramelized.  I was quite annoyed.  What was the problem?


Kevin thinks its a high altitude—too much water issue.  He didn’t come up with that idea until I decided to make a different caramel—using the method from some of Dorie’s other recipes.   I put 1/3 cup sugar in a dry skillet, let it start to turn amber and smoke a little.  Then I added 3 tablespoons of cream and stirred it over the heat until it smoothed out.  I removed it from the heat and added one teaspoon of butter.  It looked much better and I forgot to take a picture of it.  I poured it in to the hot baking pan, which I only had a nine inch round pan and not an 8 inch.  Then topped it with the “cake” batter and baked it. 


I was happy that it came right out of the pan and the caramel looked good.  The cake is thin because I used the bigger pan.  I think it turned out exactly how it was supposed to. 



It really does taste okay.  But I would never consider it a dessert that I’d make for company or anything.  Not sure I’d ever even make it for breakfast, though it has everything you’d eat for breakfast, milk, eggs, Malt-o-Meal—and chocolate. ;)  I’m always glad when I try something new.  Now on to December recipes in between lots and lots of holiday baking!  Stay tuned for all that.  (And make that potato gratin sometime—it’s heavenly!) 


Lisa said...

Lol about the upside down chicken. Of course, I also stared at your pic for the longest time and couldn't figure out what was wrong either until you explained. Sigh. I eat a lot of chicken but I guess I'm just not that observant. Way to go in making a chocolate version of the cake and that caramel topping is definitely inviting.

Tia said...

wow! your round up is impressive! great looking cooking my dear :)

Lisa Ernst said...

It's always fun to try something new and different, so its great that you gave the cake a try even though its not a repeat candidate. Glad the potato gratin was really great. ;0)

Elaine Corwin said...

Great idea to do a monthly post. I would never be able to keep up. I never would have thought of chocolate in the cake. That was brilliant. I ended up with a lot f liquid in my chicken, too. I added the liquid the recipe called for and I think it may have been unnecessary. And the potatoes. If there was only one recipe I took away from all this and it was the potatoes, I'd be happy.

Kris' Kitchen said...

Well, wasn't that a very wonderful dinner you created! Looks delicious. Fun to see how it all came together for you. And...chocolate always makes everything so much better!

Katy said...

I'm lol about the upside down chicken, only because the first time I ever cooked a turkey, I cooked it upside down!! :) I like the idea of doing a monthly roundup for the FFWD posts. I'm so behind of my cooking/baking/posting it's really not funny. The gratins look great -- love the little dishes!

Steph said...

Wow, what a round up! Very funny about your poor chickie! Loved the little gratin pans and the chocolate in the cake!!

A.W. said...

You are not alone. I had a butt-up chicken also. I was just so thrilled to finish with dinner at a normal hour and it looked halfway decent that I didn't noticed my exposed chicken until the posting when the butt was staring at me. Oh well. Live and learn.

Gloria - The Ginger Snap Girl said...

I like your once a month posting idea! Your mini gratins are so cute and yummy looking! I did the chicken and potato gratin this month. The potato gratin was a winner....the chicken needed some help. I also want to try the pumpkin dish (and also have pumpkin in the fridge to use up). I think feta would be a good sub to blue cheese.

Jenny Bird said...

Love your change ups for the semolina cake- I might have liked it with chocolate!

Frolicking Night Owl said...

After I tasted my cake, I wished that I would have replaced the fruit with chocolate chips. Glad someone tried that ... I will have to use chocolate next time

Liz said...

I know this makes me a bag person, but I totally laughed out loud at the mental picture of you cutting the chicken butt-side up. More of a breast family, eh?

And...that cream of wheat cake...yeah. Most of the FFWD recipes sound good, but that one doesn't make me sad to be skipping the action... even though your chocolate variation sounds perfect!

Anonymous said...

I never work with whole chickens either, so I had no idea what was wrong with yours! I didn't get around to any of these recipes, but the gratin definitely sounded like it would be the best of the bunch, and yours looks fantastic.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I love those little gratin dishes! Where did you get them? Also I would devour all that potato gratin...

Mimi said...

Still laughing about the chicken!Hopefully the December recipes will be a better fit for you.