Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the category “Things I Love”

Fizzy Freckled Lemonade

Fizzy Freckled lemonade

Well, hello there.  It’s been awhile hasn’t it?  Life seems to be full to the brim with busy boys and their shenanigans these days.  Summer is full throttle around here and summer, of course, calls for lemonade.  I adore lemonade.  The real stuff, that is.  I also love me a nice fizzy beverage on a hot day.  Throw a few macerated strawberries in there and we’re practically having a party.

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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Oh, how I love cinnamon rolls.  Whether it’s Christmas with the family or just a rainy morning, there’s nothing quite as homey as a sweet and gooey roll straight out of the oven.  Of course, everyone’s got an opinion when it comes to the filling.  Raisins.  No raisins.  Nuts.  No nuts.  Glaze.  Cream cheese frosting.  Lucky for me, I’ll take one in just about any way, shape or form.  I’m easy like that.

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to try a cinnamon roll filled with apples.  I mean, how could you go wrong with that?  Seems like a stroke of genius, right?  Spiced Grannies rolled up in a sweet yeast dough and drizzled with glaze?  I drool.

So here’s the recipe I came up with.  I’ll just be straight with you and tell you these were amazing.  So.  Good.  The apples were a fantastic departure from the ubiquitous raisin and they were loved by one and all.  The Grannies really gave these rolls a wonderful flavor and, needless to say, made the entire house smell just heavenly.  Though they take a little work, these apple cinnamon rolls are most definitely worth it.

Oh, and did I mention these have half the calories you’d find in many similar bakery creations?  Nice.

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Chocolate Swirl M&M Cookies Sprinkled with Fleur de Sel

Chocolate M&M Cookies

Well, hello there.

For awhile now, I’ve been looking for a new cookie recipe to add to my starting line-up.  These, dear friends, have made the cut.  Chewy, chocolatey, cheery M&M’s, a topping of flakey sea salt–what’s not to love here?

I came across this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Crepes of Wrath.  Have you been to this site?  Fantastic photography and awesome food.  I only made a few small tweaks to her recipe, which you’ll see below.  And, as always, you’ll also find nutrition info down at the bottom.

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Lasagne al Forno

Lasagne

Lasagne al Forno.  So delicious.  Homemade ragu bolognese, fresh pasta, creamy balsamella, nutty parmigiano throughout with a sprinkling of mozzarella to top things off–this dish is so worth the effort and the leftovers are amazing.

If you’ve been following my posts leading up to this grand finale, you’ve had a sweet peek into each of the delicious ingredients in this authentic Italian lasagne.  Yes, this dish is a labor of love, but the results are nothing short of delizioso.

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Ragu´ alla Bolognese

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I have had this serious desire for some real lasagne.  So serious that I made this delicious bolognese today and will make fresh pasta tomorrow.  Layered with besciamella (or bechamel, in French) and freshly grated parmigiano, this is a truly authentic lasagne al forno.  I will, of course, do a post for the fresh pasta as well as for the construction of the final masterpiece.

The recipe I use here is an adaptation from Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian.  What a beautiful cookbook!  The photography alone makes this one worth owning, not to mention the authentic cuisine.

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Twisted Herb and Cheese Breadsticks

Twisted Herb and Cheese Breadsticks

If you ever happen to visit Seattle, I really hope you’ll make a point of popping into Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.  It’s right across from Pike Place Market and you’d be going there anyway, right?  Right.  Anyway, not only can you watch batches of cheese being made right before your eyes, but their menu boasts some seriously delicious offerings.  One of my personal favorites is their Tomato-Cheddar Soup paired with a big Breadzel, an über good breadstick all twisted up like a pretzel with cheese and herbs hiding within.  Lucky for me (and you) both of these recipes can be found in Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s excellent cookbook, Pure Flavor.

Here, I’ve made an adaptation using my own pizza dough recipe.  Depending on how many breadsticks you need, you can either use a half-batch of pizza dough or the whole kit and kaboodle.  I’ve also given instructions (and nutrition information) for two different sizes–giant and regular.  Though, if you’ve got a crowd coming over or you’d like smaller appeteaser-sized sticks, make ’em whatever size suits your fancy.  Just watch them as they bake and pull them out when they’re light golden brown in places.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been using this same recipe for over a decade and I’ve yet to find one I like better.  Now, I know there’s a bit of a dispute regarding what makes for a perfect chocolate chip cookie.  I’m told there are some confused individuals who think thin and crisp is best.  There are also a plethora of fancy chocolate chip cookies out there flaunting a variety of imported chocolates, exotic ingredients, or even a sprinkling of delicate Fleur de Sel.  While these are all well and good, it’s hard to beat a classic chocolate chip cookie.  No frills.  Unpretentious.  Just a delicious cookie representing all that this childhood favorite should be.  But to each his own, I suppose.

So let me tell you what I look for in a chocolate chip cookie.  In my book, it should be just slightly crisp about the edges only to give way to gooey goodness in the middle.  It is thick, not spread about like a pancake.  Semi-sweet chips are a must and please, hold the nuts.  Furthermore, I want a cookie that can hang in the cookie jar for a few (or several) days and not morph into a hockey puck.  Not that they ever last that long.

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Beef Gyros with Tzatziki

Beef Gyro

I wish I could somehow post the smell of this marinated beef.  I need to dab my chin just thinking about it.  Of course, I’ve always had a thing for the smell of wine-soaked cuisine…though I’m more of a beer drinker than a wine-bibber.  Go figure.

So anyway, on to the recipe!  I wanted to do something particularly delicious for Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d whip up something a la Grecque for dinner.  The menu?  Beef gyros with tzatziki dressing.  Homemade hummus.  Marinated goat cheese.  Tapas.  Everything turned out just loverly and I hope next time you’ve got the craving for a little Mediterranean cuisine, you’ll give these a try.  The great thing with a dinner like this is that it can be as easy or fussy as you want it to be.  Most grocery stores now offer all sorts of ready-to-eat tapas, from marinated cheeses to a variety of olives and preserved veggies.  Personally, I almost always have a huge jar of marinated artichoke hearts in the fridge for just such an occasion (though if I’m honest, I have them for an afternoon snack on an almost daily basis).  For this particular dinner, I happened to make the hummus, tzatziki, and marinated goat cheese, but you could put together a lovely meal with store-bought items and significantly less work.  Do what makes you happy and keeps the peace in your house, I say.

Allow me a small reminiscence here.

I very clearly remember the first time I had goat cheese.  I had just started working at the Pasta & Co. on Queen Anne and a co-worker offered me a bite of something on a cracker.  I’d describe the taste like a slap in the face, except I don’t think I’d enjoy being slapped in the face.  It was all at once tangy, pungent, savory, salty…purely delicious.  What my co-worker had given me was a bite of our house-marinated Chevre.  You’ll understand when I say I immediately purchased several slices of the stuff to take home after my shift.  The marinade was really an amazing thing–extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.  Though the ingredients were simple, the flavors together somehow seemed greater than its parts.  Since I had some fresh goat cheese just waiting patiently in the fridge, I decided I would try to duplicate my experience from memory.  While I’m sure it wasn’t exact, the results were delicious just the same.  I will share that one with you in a separate post.  But for now, bring on the beef!

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Pizza Dough

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I love pizza.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  Unfortunately, ordering up a pie of any kind on a regular basis is a sure and fast way to amply fill out those skinny jeans.  Have you ever checked the nutrition info on your favorite slice?  Most have around 350-450 calories per slice!  And let’s be real.  You’re not just eating one slice, are you?

So how does the avid pizza lover turn this greasy indiscretion into sensible fare?  The answer is to make your own!  This recipe makes a fantastic pizza, not to mention delicious bread sticks and calzone.  In fact, over the next few days I’ll be posting recipes for both Homemade Pizza as well as Twisted Herb and Cheese Bread Sticks for your eating enjoyment.

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Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

The Husband: "These are good."

The Husband: “These are good.”

Good news–I got a new camera for Christmas.  Better news?  Biscuits.  Who doesn’t love a good biscuit?  For many of us, perfect biscuits are a bit like the Holy Grail; we dream of light, buttery goodness and yet are haunted by memories of hockey pucks past.  Well, my friends, your search is over.  Not only are these biscuits tender and delicious, but they will rise to such heights as to shame that boxed Bisquick forever to the recesses of your pantry.

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