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French Fridays

"Raisins Ruin a Good Dessert"

So says my best friend Kathleen and her husband, Gary, stands firmly by her side in this opinion.  And now, as I sit and type this in their living room, I have just overheard her whispering in the kitchen to her 6-year old son, “What do we do with this terrible dessert?”

Yes, I’m afraid this was the verdict on the “Caramel-Covered Semolina Cake” from Dori Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  I prepared it this afternoon at my home in New Jersey and transported it, still warm, to Westchester County.  It sat in Kathleen’s kitchen, quietly waiting, for our return from a hockey game and group dinner, and I had high hopes for it, as an accompaniment to our wine and conversation.  Alas, my hopes were quickly dashed as both Gary and Kathleen pronounced the golden raisins problematic.

“I need to try a bite without raisins,” said Kathleen.  “Hmmm…is it supposed to be served cold?”

“Warm or room temperature,” I replied.

“Let me stick a non-raisin bit in the microwave.”  By now, Gary had entered the kitchen.

“Here – try this,”  Kathleen said while passing a forkful to him.

Gary made a bit of a face.  “Raisins really don’t belong in dessert. I don’t even like them in a noodle kugel.”

“Well, Dori says you can substitute any dried fruit, or even a bit of apple or pear sauteed in butter.  She also recommends serving it with a bit of creme fraiche.”

“Now THAT sounds like a good idea – but skip the fruit entirely, ” came Kathleen’s response.

And so ends my report of this week’s French [Saturday] with Dori.

French Fridays with Dorie

French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group dedicated to cooking all the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, Around My French Table. Participants are encouraged to blog about their cooking experiences each Friday.  Yes, I know it’s Sunday, but rules are made to be broken, or at least bent from time to time!

I had originally planned to make only the pumpkin-gorgonzola flans last night, with the intention of serving them with an arugula salad as a late-night supper upon my return from a school fundraiser, at which would be served only hors d’oeurves.

As it gradually became clear, however,  that NYC and NJ Turnpike traffic was going to significantly delay my date’s arrival, I turned to Plan B – a complete Dorie Greenspan dinner and movie at home.

Into the oven went the Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux (Lazy People!), and out came my mandoline for preparation of pommes dauphinois.

When my date finally arrived, nearly an hour and a half later than he anticipated, he entered an apartment smelling most welcomingly of roasting chicken, garlic, thyme, and potatoes (and proof that I had not been trying to avoid cooking a meal for him . . .)  These dishes were truly a snap to prepare, requiring very few ingredients, and I don’t think a homier meal exists. (Here I would very much like to insert a photo of how this lovely meal looked on my candle-lit table, but I’m afraid preoccupation with my hostessing duties caused me to forget the small detail of photo-taking.)

We both agreed that the arugula and endive salad was a critical counterpoint to the pumpkin flan, which bordered on bland, once you got past the gorgonzola/walnut crust.  Halfway through our first course I remembered Dori’s suggestion to serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, and I ran to the kitchen for sour cream.  A good idea.  Similarly, the potato gratin was an excellent companion to the roast chicken, but no news there.  We drank a young Cotes du Rhone, and broke out some dark chocolate for dessert.  With a wee bit more notice, I may well have added Dori’s caramel-topped semolina cake to the menu, but we’ll just have to save that for next Friday.

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