It’s my theory that the recipes found on the back of food packages are worth trying. In fact, Best Recipes, From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars, by Ceil Dyer, is a cookbook that celebrates just that. Leafing through this 589-page book is a stroll down memory lane. While I no longer whip up Lipton’s California Dip or Hershey’s Fudge Cake, our family holidays would not be complete without a triple batch of Chex Party Mix and a Barcardi Rum Cake.
Dorie originally spotted this week’s recipe on a card distributed to fromageries throughout France by the Comté cheese producers. After a twist here with a tweak there, our leader adapted their recipe into her own and published Back-of-the-Card Cheese & Olive Bread in Around My French Table.
The ingredients tell a tasty story – tapenade, coarsely grated Comté, chopped oil-cured black olives and grated lemon zest. Toss these together with the usual suspects, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and olive oil, for a bread loaf that is distinctively different from the usual. Serve it as a pre-dinner nibble with white wine or Champagne, as Dorie suggests, or, with a salad.
This was a perfect addition to a dine-with-your-mind dinner party I attended this week. Our hostess, who had just finished reading Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman by Robert Massie invited some friends to choose a monarch, prepare a short presentation about the royal, and make a dinner dish representative of the ruler’s country.
I choose Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of two kings, mother of three kings, and a key political figure of the Middle Ages/twelfth century. Since my hostess asked me to bring a side dish, this was a perfect opportunity to also make Dorie’s Pommes Dauphinois (pages 360-361), a potato gratin made before my joining French Fridays with Dorie and arguably the most traditional potato dish in France. What’s not delicious about heavy cream, russet potatoes and Gruyère? Caloric? Yes. Artery-clogging? You bet. But, delicious.
Mind-dining is fun. We each learned much we didn’t know about Eleanor (1122-1204), and also, Queen Isabella of Spain (1451-1504); Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587); Catherine the Great, (1729-1796); Queen Victoria (1819-1901); and, Queen Elena of Italy (1873-1952). As you see in the picture, we also had fun, each of us was crowned with the diamond tiara when we presented our monarch and our recipe.
Although our hostess assigned us specific courses, we did not coordinate our evening’s menu. To our surprise every course from the antipasto platter to the salmon to the dessert, Framboises St. George, meshed together beautifully. Because so much thought was put into this dinner by each of us, the evening translated into a very special gathering that I might urge you each to try.
Today, Friday the 14th, the 31st Aspen Food & Wine Classic begins. I’ll be sharing it with you next week. Dorie recently mentioned on her Facebook page that her company, Beurre & Sel, shipped 2750 cookies to Aspen for this event. I think, it’s just my guess, that Kobrand Wine & Spirits is going to serve her cookies with their products. Although it’s not official, I understand that Ms. Greenspan is also going to be in town. Stay tuned…………