Aha! My Favorites from Around My French Table {ffwd}

Top5

Last week marked the final recipe that the French Fridays with Dorie crowd cooked together. After over four and a half years, week by week, we hit every single recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Before we call it quits, and to let us down easy, for the next four Fridays, we’ll reflect our experiences with the book and share some reminiscing.

This week, the theme is to share our Top 5 favorite recipe(s) from Around My French Table. With over 300 recipes in the book, this is a tough choice.

To help the process, I decided that to be considered, no matter how much I enjoyed the recipe, I had to have made it more than once. And both Howard and I had to enjoy it. Without that staying power, it didn’t seem fair to consider a one-hit wonder to be a favorite.

It wasn’t easy, but here’s my Top 5 list (in no particular order):

  • Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux: Lazy People’s Chicken is now my go-to roast chicken recipe. The chicken is always moist and flavorful and the accompanying vegetables delicious. Without a doubt, the best part is the bread raft that holds the bird up off the bottom of the pot and absorbs all the drippings. I now coat the entire bottom of the pot with bread, not limiting myself to one piece. It’s the best part. My sister Jane makes this one frequently too. She used to keep the bread to herself (chef’s treat, as Dorie says), but my niece caught on and now she has to share.
  • LazyChicken-med

  • Gerard’s Mustard Tart: I adore tarts. I make them frequently, playing around with the fillings and crusts. This tart is similar to a quiche, but the mustard adds a unique touch. Both the original recipe with thinly sliced carrots and leeks and the bonne idée with tomatoes are delicious. This is hands down my favorite tart in AMFT.
  • Gerard's Mustard Tart

  • Almond Flounder Meunière: This simple method of quickly pan frying fish fillets has become a favorite. With a ground almond coating on one side and the other side left plain, this recipe combines the classic meunière and amandine preparations into one.
  • FishDinner

  • Herb-Speckled Spaetzle: Despite the fact that I’d received a Spaetzle press as a wedding shower gift and never used it in over 20 years, I still had it stored in my basement. I supposed it was just waiting for the moment it was the FFWD selection and I tried spaetzle for the first time. This is a favorite, oft repeated, dish now, often served to company because it turns out that lots of people I know love spaetzle. Who knew?
  • Spaetzle-med

  • Sable Breton Galette with Berries: This is probably my favorite dessert in the book. Howard and I don’t often agree on desserts as I tend to enjoy fruit tarts while he is a chocoholic almost all the way. This crumbly base covered with lemon curd and fresh berries is a summer treat that we can both get behind.
  • BretonGalette-med

Limiting myself to just five is a challenge, so I’ll also include my “Honorable Mentions”. These are recipes I make frequently but weren’t quite the top of the top.

  • Sweet and Spicy Nuts: These are so versatile and I make them over and over. They are a great snack, a perfect hostess gift, and they’ve made several appearances into the Holiday treats packages I make each year. I seldom make them the same way twice, varying the nuts and seasonings to what I’m in the mood for.
  • Croquants: I’ve decided this is my favorite way of using up extra egg whites. Having very few ingredients, these confections are simple to stir together and bake. They are also addictive.
  • Cheez-it-ish Crackers: I eat very little packaged food, but one of my weaknesses is for Cheez-It crackers. The homemade version is so much better. I always use the slice-and-bake method to make it easy. I’ve made this with several different cheeses. Sometimes I keep the log round, but I’ve also squared off the sides for a more Cheez-It-like shape. These have also appeared in my holiday treats packages.
  • Slow-Roasted Tomatoes: This has become my favorite way to preserve summer’s cherry tomatoes. They can be used in salads, relishes, or just eaten with a spoon. They also freeze well, so you can enjoy a taste of summer on the most wintry day.

There were also a handful of recipes that I wish I could consider as favorites, but, alas, I only made them once. When I page through AMFT, they always catch my eye, and I intend to make them again. It’s hard because I love to try new things, and so it’s only the most special recipes that get to be repeaters and then a stalwart part of my cooking repertoire. I still want to give a shout-out to these “would-be” favorites that scored 5 stars when I made them, but haven’t yet made a second appearance on my table.

  • Speculoos: These were the perfect rolled cookie. I loved the idea of pre-rolling the dough and then cutting them after the dough is cold. This approach is so much easier than chilling the dough and then trying to roll out cold dough. I’m still not sure why I didn’t make these a second time. When I made the slice-and-bake speculoos in Baking Chez Moi, I decided that I preferred the rolled out version.
  • Orange-Almond Tart: The frangipane filling makes this tart special. I even think this is good without the fruit. And Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough is something I made all the time.
  • Creamy Mushrooms and Eggs: The mushroom sauce is amazing. Served over scrambled eggs makes a fabulous light dinner (or breakfast).
  • Socca: Chickpea Pancakes, panfried in the oven. I loved the crispy edges and playing around with toppings.
  • Salmon in a Jar: I know, this was not the most popular with the FFWD set, but I really, really liked it. Every time someone shares their horror at making this one, I resolve to make it again. I’ll admit that I’m a sushi fan and like to eat my grilled salmon undercooked, so that might explain my positive feelings for this one. I also think it looks fabulous in the jar, once the oil has come back to room temperature (not so attractive when concealed after chilling.)

When going through the book, a few recipes jumped out at me because I really didn’t like them. With my positive experience with French Fridays with Dorie, I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but because not every recipe in AMFT was “to die for”, I thought I’d share my least favorite recipes as well. I guess these are equivalent to my version of salmon in a jar.

  • Coconut Friands: I don’t eat shredded coconut, making this a challenge. In fact, I didn’t actually make these. I convinced my sister Jane, who does eat shredded coconut, to make these and do a guest post. A win-win situation!
  • Nutella Tartine: This was a tough sell for someone who doesn’t like PB&J. I like peanut butter, but never on bread, and I like jelly, but not together. I did try this, but it really wasn’t for me.
  • Ispahan Loaf Cake: This was just too flowery and too pink for me.
  • Cola & Jam Spareribs: This is the only other recipe where I remember throwing away the leftovers. We served this for company, and no one liked it. It wasn’t sweet as you’d expect it to be with cola and jam. It was especially sad because I doubled the recipe so there were a lot of leftovers…

I liked this little trip down memory lane. I’ve added favorites to my standard repertoire, and in putting together this post, I’m reminded of recipes I need to revisit.

I’m looking forward to finding out what my Dorista friends’ favorites are. Each person is sure to have a different set of choices, so it will be fun to remember the recipes they choose. To see what they picked, check out their links here.

All of the recipes can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

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Posted on 29 May 2015, in French Fridays with Dorie and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Difficult choices to make but yours are great all around. There were so many to choose from
    they were all so good.

  2. I love the lazy person’s chicken the bread is brilliant. I can’t believe I forgot about flounder. That was my first recipe. I always wanted to make it again, but my daughter can’t have nuts. I did make her one without it.. Love the galette with berries too… great selection.

  3. What a fantastic list. I am glad you added the recipes that were not your favorite as well. In a book this big you are bound to have some things that you don’t like. It is just wonderful that the good far outweighs the bad. :)

  4. Great list Betsy! Some of my favorites too. I haven’t yet made the cheez-it-ish crackers but I hope to get them done in the next few days. I agree with most of your favorites and 2nd favorites except salmon in a jar:) I cannot like that! Take care Betsy!

  5. Great list! I mentioned a few other recipes in my post as well … it’s just so hard to limit oneself to a Top 5.

  6. Great post! I love how you slipped in way more than 5 ;) SO many of my own favourites there too!

  7. Love your list, Betsy! The Chicken les Paressesx, definetly one of my favorites. However, I didn’t even make the Salmon in a Jar…I have an aversion to raw fish. Yet, I loved the Gravlax, and was so impressed that I could cure it myself! Something I would do again!
    The Croquants were wonderful, weren’t they? I make Speculoos every holiday season…love Dorie’s recipe. Happy weekend, Betsy! I will always be following you, even if we don’t cook in the same group!

  8. My goodness! You were very thorough with your recap. I’m a little sad about missing some of your favorites along the four year run but happy to be back to cheer on you troopers during the victory lap. The almond fish meunier should have made my Top 5 because it is definitely a technique I go back to often with white fish and even chicken.

  9. What a terrific round up—the favorites, the would be favorites with another try or two and least favorites—all so thoughtful and revealing. Some of ours definitely overlap—though the croquants were a big miss with both me and Bill. Maybe a hit with chocolate instead of nuts? With a raspberry garnish, of course :)

  10. trevorsisboom

    No matter how many chickens we have cooked, in a pot or otherwise, I keep going back to the Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux as one of the best. Great list!

  11. Betsy I love all the time and attention you put into your post. Having your opinions about so many recipes helps me out on deciding what to make in the future. The almond flounder almost made my list. I should make that tart now that it is summer.

  12. We share many of the same favourites, Betsy. If I roasted chickens more often (hard to justify when it’s only for me), the Lazy Chicken would have been one of my top picks, too. And so many of the desserts almost made it on my list – croquants being one that I make almost any time I have leftover egg whites.

  13. Betsy, Betsy! So many great favorites. I’m glad that you added your other lists. I agree with your basic premise. My list had no recipes that hadn’t been repeated too. That flounder was on my short list. and I’m sure I’ll be mentioning the tart one of these days! I never did get the trick right with bread/chicken – maybe I need to try again! But it’s certainly worthy of a top-five list! So much fun to see what everyone is posting!!

  14. A great list Betsy, and your Picasa collage looks terrific. I was bad – I just linked to my old post rather than putting up the photos again. Your fruity custard tart has me in raptures – I really, really want to eat it right now.

  15. Great choices! If I had used your criteria for my top 5, I would have a very different list. But we all had to figure out how to narrow it down some way, didn’t we? I liked the salmon in a jar too! It’s funny, I have already made or planned more than one dish that I was reminded of during my review of all the recipes. I am going to have to learn how to start using the recipes from the book, rather than just focus on my weekly assignment.

  16. WOW, great list! I loved making the slow roasted tomatoes! :) Remember all the trepidation with salmon in a jar? Those came back to back, way back when – LOL! I love how you made your lists, it’s really not as easy to make a top five as one would think when you have over 300 excellent recipes to choose from! And each of them has a special story for each of us!

  17. Oh I love all aspects of this post. Your criteria for what made it to the top five makes a lot of sense- no one hit wonders and both of you must like it. Well done. Loved reading the insights to each, plus the honorable mentions. In all honesty my favorite part was the least favorites- it was fabulous to read your reaction to these and the potential “salmon in a jar” award :) I never would have believed that you don’t like peanut butter on bread and I almost spit out my coffee when reading the Ispahan cake was too flowery and pink. Yes, yes it was. Great post ~ PS thanks for the great card- loved it !!

  18. Oh, Betsy, what a wonderful and thoughtful post. Do you know the recipe that I had the most trouble with – you do know, I’m sure. I almost threw in the towel trying to make it – Herb-Speckled Spaetzle. I just cannot make myself go back and try that recipe again. Also, I happened to have loved the Nutella Tartine. I remember making it on Super Bowl Sunday and buying a loaf of brioche that cost $9. I didn’t leave a crumb. I’m with you on the others, both the thumbs up and thumbs down. I really, really loved the Speculoos. That’s my kind of cookie Lovely post, Betsy. Well done.

  19. I really like the collage! It was a wonderful journey & we’re so glad to have made it with you!

  20. What a fun post! I love that you listed your least favorites as well. Filling the entire pot with bread before adding the chicken is pure genius. That recipe is one of my favorites too, and I’m definitely going to follow your lead next time I make it.

  21. The story of the spaetzle press still makes me smile. Those were on my top 21 list too :-)
    We may disagree on salmon in a jar, but we are unified in our distaste for shredded coconut. See, we can still be friends :-)

  22. It was quite a trip down memory lane trying to narrow down some favorites. Quite a few from both your favorites list and your least favorites list made it onto my favorites list:-) I’m really enjoying seeing where our group comes together and diverges on this little excercise and I like your criteria for picking a favorite. And I think that we might have been the only two who liked the salmon in a jar.

  23. doriegreenspan

    I seem to be a week (or more – ugh) late on so many things, but I’m really, really sorry that I was late coming here. What fun to see that so many of my favorites are yours and Howard’s as well. And I’m so glad that you liked the Salmon in a Jar. I know it had its dislikers, but it’s nice that you’re not one of them. It’s a recipe I make all the time, but I guess you’ve got to know your audience :) – xoDorie

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