This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe choice is the dessert Paris-Brest, a celebratory creamy puff ring made from light pastry dough called pâte à choux. Already this sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It was created in 1891 to honor the Union Des Audax Français, an amateur bicycle race that is still peddling strong today.
Paris-Brest is a crowd-pleaser, promising to produce ou’s and ah’s from anyone who worships at the altar of caramelized almonds, vanilla pastry cream and Crème Anglaise. That’s why I decided to save this masterpiece to bake for my spandex-clad biking buddies when I return to Colorado this spring.
INSTEAD, TRY THIS MENU
Instead I took advantage of the Central Coast’s largesse and made Savory Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce and Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots. For me, it’s make-cup week. The recipes were made in 2011 before I joined FFWD. Dorie always delivers delicious. These two sweet/savory combos were a perfect light dinner to enjoy while watching the Grammy’s.
When I visited Pier 46 Seafood to buy scallops, my fishmongerette, Amber, suggested small scallops rather than the large called for in this recipe. The prep and cooking time are the same. Here’s a tip. Dorie’s simplistic technique for the caramel sauce is one to commit to your memory bank. About those carrots? When you start with carrots just pulled from the earth, adding just a spice or two and chicken broth, there’s very little to say but thank you, Mother Nature.
I stopped by the Hearst Ranch Winery in nearby San Simeon to pick up wine for this menu. Ryan, who was working at the tasting bar, urged me to try their award-winning Three Sisters Cuvée red wine, a mixture of Grenache and Syrah grapes. It slide down easily.
ADAPTING TO ANY KITCHEN, STEP-by-STEP
If there is one question nagging at you after reading my three recent posts from Cambria, I suspect it would be, “How does that woman turn out this amazing food while working out of a rental kitchen?”
Here’s the answer, a how-to on cooking in strange spaces. My only criteria when renting a winter house in Cambria was that it be by the ocean and have a gas range. Because of a calendar snafu, my Realtors found me two houses by the ocean with gas ranges. One house for 5 weeks and the house I wanted for 8. If nothing else, I’m all about flexibility.
While on-the-road most cooks know what equipment they must own, what they can live with and what, if necessary, can be purchased. This is what I packed: 1) ten cookbooks including Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Jerusalem, Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, Pereman’s Smitten Kitchen and Canal House Cooks Every Day; 2) Pensey’s spices; 3) my chef’s and paring knives; 4) equipment ranging from my food processor to a Wagner Magnalite cast aluminum pot; and 5) a 4-quart crockpot, acquired here.
Just as important as what I lugged from Colorado is what happened after my arrival. The house is lovely but the kitchen wasn’t feeling that love. Disarray is the word. First I scrubbed and scoured. Then I organized. I don’t mind grease and spills but I insist they be my grease and spills. After this thorough once-over and a trip to Trader Joe’s, my rental kitchen was ready-to-roll.
What is insane about this particular kitchen is what’s here and what isn’t. There are 10 cutting boards. (I plead guilty to sometimes exaggerating so I snapped a photo. Count ’em.) It’s taken me three weeks to find potholders but during that hunt I counted 36 dishtowels. Although this is wine country, I only have two red wine glasses and six white, all with various logos. There is no paring knife but several huge plastic bowls (I’m thinking pretzels). Several pieces of the Crate & Barrel dinnerware are chipped or cracked. I’ve relegated them to the garage. I couldn’t set a table for six but since I’m not here to party, I don’t care.
As for the by the ocean requirement, I have no complaint!
If you would like to see the spectacular Paris-Brest created by my colleagues, go here. To find the recipes for scallops, Dorie’s caramel sauce and carrots, go here and here. French Fridays with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s “Around my French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours.”