French Food for Families: Day 1 – Coq Au Vin

The Recipe:

Alton Brown’s Coq Au Vin (co-co-vah)

 

The Process:

It’s Alton Brown. I’m not going to pretend I can one-up his cooking prowess. Just follow the recipe (it’s fun to watch the episode as you cook, or before you cook. or both, really). The only thing we really changed is that we use frozen pearl onions instead of fresh. They stew for hours, and have you ever tried to peel those little buggers? No. thanks.

 

The Result:

Presentation:

It's like a more herbal, win-y, flavorful stroganoff. minus the dairy.

Grown-up Thoughts:

  • Ommnomnom.
  • But seriously, broken into two days of prep (one to prep chicken and refrigerate overnight, and another to slow cook in the oven), this dish was pretty simple and mostly a matter of waiting for things to cook. Who says French is a lot of fussy prep work and knife skills?

Kid Thoughts:

  • 8 year old — I liked the meat and noodles.
  • 3 year old — I liked everything we had tonight, but I would only like the noodles again.

Sigh. At least the only thing left on their plates were bones, an itty-bitty pile of mushrooms (paige) and an itty-bitty pile of pearl  onions (alice).

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French Food for Families week(ish): starting… now.

The sudden change in weather (moving from early autumn into late autumn always feels like you’ve crossed some sort of invisible line into oktoberfest beers and dressing in layers) has provoked a longing in me for certain, lesser-publicized fall flavors: earthy mushroom, rich caramelized onion, the salty-sweet tang of slow-cooked meats.

As I was putting the meal plan together this week (including rabbit. Rabbit!), I was pleasantly surprised to notice myself instinctively hunting down farm dishes… coq au vin, pork provencale, boeuf bourgingnon.

These also happen to be French dishes. Weird, because I always think French Food is Fancy Food. Got me to thinking: could I pull off an entire week of French dishes? I work full-time, have a family to feed. Would my children starve to death? Would my self-proclaimed Frog Disdainer ™ of a husband allow me to sleep in the house (because, BRR, it gets cold at night these days)?

I think the answers here are: yes, no, and no. Honestly. I think you can cook traditional cuisine with minimal adaptations over the course of a normal, typical fall week, and live to tell the tale.

We start with the coq au vin, and go from there, including:

10/20: coq au vin with garden-fresh broccoli and cauliflower (yep, we’re still pulling produce out of our dirt. Neat, huh?)
10/22: Rabbit with mustard
10/23: Pork Provencale with sage dressing and roasted sweet potato
10/24: lentil soup
10/26: Grilled Chicken with Mustard and Red Pepper, pan roasted potatoes and spinach salad
10/27: Boeuf Bourguignon
10/28: Seared scallops with tarragon and beurre blanc, cous cous, and fall harvest salad

Allons-y… think we can do it? Please follow us as we attempt to feed our family seven french meals over the next week.


Everyone Loves a Bundt

I’ve gotten in the habit of baking on weekends. We have a slice or two of whatever I’ve created, but with just two grown ups and two kids, it’s hard (and probably not the healthiest) to make easy work of a pie, or cake, or… fill in the blank, really.

I declared Sunday Bundt day. I normally reserve a good Bundt for book club (or some other equally important occasion), but I found this recipe for a fall Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cake tucked in amongst my pans, and I couldn’t help myself. There’s BOURBON in it, for God’s sake. A girl can only be so strong.

Anyway, it seemed to be a hit in the office. I think I had three people asking for the recipe before lunch. Small victories there, I guess. At least I know the baking won’t go to waste. Well, that, and I love my job and colleagues enough to say this: my colleagues are worth a Bundt.
Yah. I like them that much.

Everyone loves a Bundt.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cake | From  a sampling of recipes I found with my Nordic Ware pan

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup molasses (it says light; I used dark)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 14 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin

Pecan Layer

  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Icing

  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp water
  • 3 tsp apple cider
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

Preheat to 350. Grease and flour pan.
In a small bowl, stir together all pecan layer ingredients and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together all dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk, bourbon, vanilla extract, and molasses.
In a large bowl (preferably the bowl of your stand mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition. Add 1/2 of the dry goods, then half of the wet goods, then half of the pumpkin, then mix well. Repeat.
Spoon half the pumpkin batter into the pan. Sprinkle the pecan layer on top first half of batter. Add the remaining batter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a plate or cooling rake to cool completely.

When completely cool, mix ingredients for icing together and drizzle on top of Bundt. Serve and enjoy!