Monthly Archives: March 2013

ffwd: lemon-steamed spinach

Big Bowl of Spinach

Sigh… Though I don’t like to be negative, I have to admit I’ve had a lapse in faith with French Fridays with Dorie this month. When I think back, March did start on a high note with the chicken diable, but the rest of the month has been fallen between ho-hum and downright detestable. It’s been a bit frustrating. Fortunately, I found the last recipe for March, Lemon-Steamed Spinach, a little more encouraging.

This recipe was more of the idea of a technique than a real recipe. You start with baby spinach, and toss it with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Then, you steam the seasoned spinach until it’s tender. That’s it.

Before

Before

I’m always amazed how much spinach shrinks down when you cook it. In fact, this recipe starts with A LOT of spinach: 20 ounces. Of course, I knew it would shrink down to just a bowlful, but to start with, it was too much to toss in even my largest bowl. I really should have done the prep work in two batches. Because I have a (seldom used) pot with a (seldom used) pasta insert, I followed Dorie’s suggestion and used it. Again, with this volume of greens, I had to pack it into the pot. Rather than the suggested 3 minutes, it took 9 minutes for the steam to penetrate the green leafy mass and wilt it into tenderness.

After

After


In the end, the spinach was tasty. I like how it starts out pre-seasoned and is done when it’s done.

For our dinner, the spinach accompanied roasted sea scallops and Israeli couscous cooked with sun-dried tomatoes and olives. It was a delicious meal!

Spinach Dinner

You can find this recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. If you want to read other bloggers’ thoughts about this simple spinach preparation, follow their links here.

I sure am hoping to enjoy April’s recipes more than March’s.

ffwd: ispahan loaf cake

Ispahan Loaf Cake

Photo from David Austin Roses

Photo from David Austin Roses

This week for French Fridays with Dorie, we made a mysterious cake: Ispahan Loaf Cake. The name itself is exotic. Ispahan is both the name of a city in Iran, formerly the Persian from 1598 to 1722 and an old Damask rose.

Photo from Pierre Hermé

Photo from Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé created a macaron combining the flavors of rose, raspberry, and litchi and named it Ispahan. For a mere 6.90 Euros, you can purchase an individual macaron to try for yourself!

This week’s cake recipe uses mostly almond flour lightened with beaten egg whites in tribute to its macaron inspiration. The batter is flavored with roses (syrup and extract) and layered in the pan with berries. The syrup gives the cake its shocking pink color!

Rose syrup and rose extract introduced an element of “the hunt” to the game. I set out to the Middle Eastern neighborhood in nearby Watertown, hoping to locate the rose syrup. I found many brands of rosewater and many other flavors of syrup, but in the three well-stocked groceries, there was no rose syrup to be found. My next excursion to a well-stocked Indian grocery in Waltham resulted in success! The rose extract was slightly easier to come by. I found it at Sur La Table which is in the nearest shopping mall.

For the fruit layers, I was hoping to use raspberries that we froze last summer, but I seem to have used them up. I found frozen strawberries from last summer, so used those instead of fresh raspberries.

On to the actual cake… I might be in the minority on this one, but this is far and away my least favorite recipe in the book to date. I knew Howard wouldn’t even try it after he took one whiff of the rose syrup still in the bottle. I was so intrigued by it, but I found the taste too flowery and the texture too moist. I even had to bake the cake for an extra 10 minutes before my tester came out clean. As with all doubtful baking, I brought the cake to the office. It got eaten, but no one seemed overly impressed with this one.

I’m eager to know what the other Doristas think. You can find links to their posts here. The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Happy Spring! First day of spring in Lexington gave us light snow after an 8-inch snowfall earlier in the week. Ugh! In January, I’d be delighted. In March, I’m annoyed.

You might not be able to see it, but there is snow falling...

You might not be able to see it, but there is snow falling… on March 21!