I am a big fan of Dorie Greenspan. Not just her books, but her website also. She’s been labelled a “culinary guru” by the New York Times and has not only written her own books, but also collaborated on other books with well known chefs such as Julia Child, Pierre Hermé and Daniel Boulud.
It’s no surprise that Dorie has a dedicated following on the internet, and one such group, called Tuesdays with Dorie, is dedicated to cooking a specific recipe every Tuesday from Dorie’s collaboration with Julia Child, entitled Baking with Julia, and posting their results. There is also an online cooking group called French Fridays with Dorie, whose purpose is to cook its way through Dorie’s Around My French Table cook book. So you know her books are good!
This one is no exception. Dorie is a phenomenal baker, but she’s also a fabulous cook, so it was wonderful to get my hands on a book that wasn’t just dedicated to baking. This one is a keeper. Full of beautiful colour photographs, and lovely stories and anecdotes about the wonderful French folks that are Dorie’s friends, this volume is worth its purchase price. And, the recipes are reliable, easy to follow and taste as delicious as they sound.
My last dinner party was cooked entirely from this book, and it got rave reviews. Here’s what was on our menu that evening.
I’ve seen many recipes for duck rillettes, or pork ones, but the idea of making rillettes with salmon was new to me. Dorie’s creative genius involves blending lightly poached salmon with smoked salmon, and plenty of butter to bind it all into a wonderful spread for bread or crackers. In her book, she says you can cut the recipe in half, but that would be a mistake because you will crave this the next day for a snack. Was she ever right! I took the leftovers of this and made myself possibly the classiest sandwich for my work day lunch box the next day.
Vanilla Vegetable Salad
The vanilla is what intrigued me the most about this recipe. Salads are easy to make, and often end up with the same ingredients in the bowl, but this was a novel idea. First, Dorie cuts the vegetables into long ribbons using a mandoline. Then, she adds just a touch of vanilla to an otherwise basic French vinaigrette, and it just completely changes the whole concept of how fresh a salad can be in the middle of winter. This was love, love, love at first taste. Dorie explains clearly here that the goal is to perfume the vinaigrette with the essence of vanilla, as opposed to tasting vanilla as the primary ingredient. This worked well because no one could guess the secret ingredient, but everyone loved it.
Roast Pork with Mangoes and Lychees
I had a beautiful pork roast that was begging for a robust sauce to serve on the side. Dorie’s idea of inviting tropical fruit to the party was clever, but to taste it is to be convinced. This sauce involves many common ingredients, but when they come together, it’s a revelation. Think soy, lime, honey, and tropical fruit. The recipe has you braise the pork in a large dutch oven at a low temperature to ensure maximum tenderness and moistness. The sauce thickens nicely, and holds up well once spooned over slices of the roast. This was a winner, and the recipe came to Dorie via her friend Alec Lobrano, who now resides in Paris, but whose roots are in the Dominican Republic.
Michael’s Mashed Potatoes
While I didn’t take a snapshot of the potatoes, suffice it to say that they were divine. The secret to fabulous mashed potatoes that would make any French person proud is obscene amounts of butter. I put a quarter pound of butter in mine, and was not disappointed. Strangely enough, my guests didn’t complain either after they were told, and most of them went for a second serving once they found out the secret ingredient was “more butter”. (You can see a tiny sliver of the mashed potatoes in the photograph below).
Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli
Dorie says that rolling around vegetables in a garlicky topping of buttery breadcrumbs is an easy way to make this dish ready for company, and I couldn’t agree more.
Top Secret Chocolate Mousse
Why top secret? I’m glad you asked. Dorie notes that no French woman ever confessed to the source of her chocolate mousse recipe, because they all used the same recipe, which was the one printed on the back of a Nestle dessert chocolate package. Luckily, one of Dorie’s friends eventually let her in on the secret, and Dorie was glad to share it with us. So simple, so easy, and so good.