Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the category “Cookbooks”

Confetti Cookies

Confetti Cookies

So I pretty much made the Birthday Cake Crumb just so I could make these cookies.  I am always on the lookout for a new cookie to add to the rotation and these looked, how shall I say….nomnomnomnom.  And they are.  If the idea of a Funfetti-inspired cookie brings a smile to your face, you should definitely try them, too.

I don’t know about you, but I had never before made a cookie with milk powder as one of the ingredients.  Yet another stroke of Christina Tosi’s genius.  Also unique, of course, is her use of glucose along with the granulated sugar, but I did not have any (and was too lazy to order it) and so used corn syrup instead.

The resulting cookie is really fantastic.  Buttery, the right amount of sweetness with a touch of saltiness, the occasional crunch from the Birthday Cake Crumb–this cookie is so much better than any store-bought goodie, unless of course you’re at momofuku milk bar.  The exterior is perfectly crisp whilst the center remains wonderfully fudgey.  And the sprinkles?  Well, what’s not to love about sprinkles?

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Birthday Cake Crumb

Birthday Cake Crumb

Well folks, we’ve got some birthdays coming up!  My oldest and I share the same birthday, believe it or not, and instead of doubling up on cakes (as appealing as that sounds), I like to do something that makes both of us happy campers.  This year, he’s asked for a robot cake.  Me?  I want to try something out of a cookbook my parents got me last year–momofuku milk barI love reading cookbooks (I have over 100 of them) and this one is different than any other I’ve yet to peruse.  From ‘cereal milk’ to ‘the crunch,’ Christini Tosi offers up recipes that combine her expertise as a pastry chef with her guiltless love of homey baking.  This is a woman who committed herself to replicating her childhood (and adulthood) love of Funfetti cake mix and frosting from scratch. 

While I don’t plan to construct a layer cake, I did want to try each component of her recipe for Birthday Cake–the Birthday Cake Crumb included.  What is the crumb, you ask?  Think of sandy, sweet, slightly salty, little crunchy bits that could happily find their way on top of all sorts of desserts…or just be eaten shamelessly by the handful.  Though I don’t think I’ll use them on my robot cake, I will be using them to make momofuku’s Confetti Cookies.  Yay for birthdays!

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Pan-Seared Venison Backstrap in Merlot-Dijon-Cream Sauce

Venison with Merlot-Dijon-Cream Sauce

God bless the hunters in my family.  Last time my folks came out to visit, my step-dad lovingly brought me several cuts of both elk and deer meat.  Needless to say, I was way excited, especially when I saw one of the packages was labeled backstrap.  For those of you unfamiliar with venison, the backstrap is a long muscle that runs down the length of the deer’s spine, also known as the tenderloin.  So basically, backstrap is the filet mignon of venison.  Because it is a muscle that is rarely used, it is exceptionally tender and also happens to be very lean.  On top of all this, venison–like other wild game–is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, not to mention iron, zinc, B vitamins, and a host of other nutrients.

This particular prep is incredibly delicious.  It’s an adaptation from Wolgang Puck’s Pan-Seared Beef Filets in Port-Dijon-Cream Sauce, which can be found in Wolfgang Puck Makes it EasyI received an autographed copy from my in-laws and have loved everything I’ve tried thus far.  With each recipe, Wolfgang tries to bring the big, complex flavors of restaurant cuisine to the home cook with his own tricks of the trade.

When I first made this recipe, I used top sirloin and because I don’t keep port on hand, I reached for the merlot.  I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Pan sauces really work wonders for seared meats.  The basic method is to first sear your meat on both sides in a super hot pan that’s been drizzled with a bit of oil.  If you have a pan that isn’t nonstick, USE IT.  You’ll get a much better sear this way.  Once nicely browned on each side, the meat is removed to a plate and the pan deglazed.  This is done by pouring in a liquid–in this case, wine–and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.  These little bits, also called fond, are full of flavor.  Plus, by doing this simple step, you’ll actually be making your clean-up much easier.  No crusty pan to scour later!  Once deglazed, other ingredients are added, such as cream, herbs, butter, or other seasonings to create a delicious sauce for serving.  Trust me, though it may seem like a little extra work, you’ll not only save on the clean-up but you’ll also impress anyone at the table that night.

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Kotopoulo Riganato tis Skaras (Broiled Chicken Oregano)

Here is another great recipe from The Complete Book of Greek CookingAs you’ll recall, I’ve been cooking up and posting adaptations of these recipes and thus far, they have been great.  I definitely recommend it if you are looking for some seriously good, home-style Greek cooking.

If you’re like me (and many of my clients), you are always on the lookout for new ways to cram some flavor into chicken breasts.  Not only does this recipe deliver big garlic and oregano flavor, but it is also super easy.  Bonus?  You can add this one to your arsenal of heart healthy recipes.  A quick word regarding cooking method here:  While you can certainly broil the chicken, I’m always quick to fire up the grill.

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In the mail: The Complete Book of Greek Cooking


Yes.  So I am really excited about this cookbook.  Though I don’t even have a smidge of Mediterranean blood in my veins, I do love the food.  Immensely.  Plus–added bonus–Mediterranean cuisine is well-known for its health benefits.  As a dietitian and home-cook, I am always on the prowl for recipes that are delicious and packed with good nutrition.  I actually find it hard believe that out of my 100+ cookbooks, this is my first a la Grecque.  While I am in no way deluded in thinking that every recipe will beat cancer (I’m sure many are loaded with fatty deliciousness), I do anticipate a healthy dose of fresh ingredients loaded with flavor.

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