Monthly Archives: May 2012

ffwd: lyonnaise garlic and herb cheese

This week’s post will be short and sweet. I actually made this back in November when the week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was “Cook’s Choice”, and I picked this one. I went back and read my post from six months ago, but not until after I made this light and tasty cheese spread again. It was almost like déjà vu.

To change it up, I had intended to try making my own ricotta (which is on my “must try” tasks for 2012), but, as usual, I ran out of time. The herbs were straight from my back door herb garden, I boosted the garlic (two big cloves), and I remembered that this needed lots of salt, so started with a full teaspoon instead of a pinch.

The ricotta ended up draining for a full day, much more than overnight. About a half cup of whey landed in the cup, so I can only guess that it is drier than it might have been. Once again, I liked the texture, and this time, the flavors seemed to come through better. I think it was the extra salt.

There’s been lots of rushing around in my life this week, so I haven’t had this for an appetizer yet. It makes a lovely spread on toast for breakfast. I also think a few dollops on top of warm chunky pasta would be great. I have enough to try that later in the weekend, but haven’t yet.

I don’t have much else to say about this. Despite my lack of words, I do give it a “thumbs up” rating.

Enjoy the long holiday weekend – summer’s unofficial kickoff. We have grilling and outdoor activities planned. At the same time, don’t forget to remember those who lost their lives serving our country, which is what Memorial Day is really supposed to be about.

Happy French Friday! Check out other bloggers’ homemade Boursin experiences here. For the recipe, you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

On the porch in Maine, where I’ll be enjoying the long weekend.

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ffwd: double-chocolate and banana tart

I think this recipe should have been called a double chocolate and double banana tart. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is an unusual dessert. The double chocolate comes from a chocolate shortbread crust and a thick layer of ganache. The double banana comes from a layer of caramelized bananas and a layer of fresh banana slices.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned below, the primary other eater at my house doesn’t mix fruit and chocolate and wouldn’t have anything to do with a banana for a million dollars. So I had to get a little creative with this one. Once again, I went the mini route. The full pastry recipe made four mini tart shells. I’ve made the non-chocolate version of this crust before. With both versions, I just love the ease of the press-in dough. I also think the texture and flavor of the pastry is excellent.

The original plan was to make one banana mini tart and then figure out what to do with the others afterwards. As it turned out, my friend Karen came over for a visit, so I made two banana mini tarts for us to eat while we caught up.

The caramelized bananas didn’t actually come out the way I expected. I don’t know whether I sliced the bananas too thin, but they pretty much fell apart while they were caramelizing. I did transfer the mixture to a parchment-covered plate, but there wasn’t anything to pat off, and when it cooled, I was afraid I’d be stuck with a hard candy blob. So, I quickly divided the soft mixture to the mini tart shells to harden in place.

The ganache layer was simple to put together. Hot cream is poured over finely chopped bittersweet chocolate to melt the chocolate. Then butter is whisked in to finish the ganache. I spread the ganache over the bananas and let it cool in the fridge for about an hour. I only made half the ganache called for and used only half in these mini tarts.

To finish it off, I arranged sliced bananas over the chocolate and glazed it with melted apricot jam. They were gorgeous!

Karen and I had fun critiquing the tarts and figuring out how to perfect them. We thought the caramelized banana layer was the best part and that there wasn’t nearly enough of it. In a full tart, the layer must have been awfully thin. We thought the tart should have had at least twice as much caramelized banana in it. We also thought the double chocolate might have been overkill, and that a plain shortbread crust would have been better. We also didn’t love the apricot glaze. A simple caramel drizzle would have been nice and maybe a touch of crème anglaise.

Howard wasn’t at all disappointed to miss out on the chocolate banana tart, but he does adore chocolate. I took a cue from the bonne idée for this one and combined Dorie’s idea for a chocolate nutella tart with Karen and my ideas on improving the original and concocted chocolate caramel almond tarts with the remaining two chocolate shells.

I spread a thin layer of Trader Joe’s fleur de sel caramel sauce on the bottom, then I reheated the rest of the ganache and spread that on top. Finally, I toasted some sliced almonds and layered them on top of the ganache and let it rest in the fridge to firm up. To finish it off, I drizzled more of the caramel over the almonds just before serving. It was pretty, not as gorgeous as the banana version, but looking fine. It was rich, but Howard liked it. I could see making the full sized version sometime.

Check out how the other Doristas made out with their tarts here. We don’t share the recipes here, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Going Banana-less with a Chocolate Caramel Almond Tart