It’s November 2019. I’m in a small house in Sebastopol, CA – one of my absolute favorite cities in the world (coincidentally enough, most of my favorite cities start with an “S”: Sebastopol, Salem, Seattle… but that’s another story). I’m opening birthday presents from my now husband even though we 100% do not do birthday presents (only experiences). He tells me that this book isn’t my present, that he got it to really present the present. I open it to an inscription telling me that we’re going to Paris in early 2020. Hindsight, really happy we decided to go the last week of February instead of the middle of March! We were debating a lot between going at the end of February or beginning/middle of March. I’m going to say it was my ancestors and the universe pulling the strings to make us decide on February. It was the most unforgettable trip, probably because he proposed in a beautiful library. Besides, if we had to cancel our trip and Jacob couldn’t propose, I think he might have had a heart attack from the stress of having to wait. In the end, I’m so happy he got me this book. I do have beef with the fact that it’s not really organized like a normal cookbook so finding recipes is a little tough. I have used this book a lot and come back to certain recipes time and time again. Everything I’ve made has been A+! Totally recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.
1. Roast Chicken with Herbed Butter & Croutons
Find the recipe here.
This recipe is insanely easy. Chicken. Butter. Herbs (whatever you want/have on hand). Garlic. Bread (again, whatever you want/have on hand). I typically use one of Dave’s Killer Bread’s because that’s what we buy on a usual basis. This time, I did have some left over french bread, which was interestingly not as good in here – perhaps it should have been older (it was actually fresh but I did leave it out overnight in the hopes it would “stale” a bit). I always use whatever herbs I have on hand but I’ve found that using what the book recommends (flat-leaf parsley, chives, chervil, basil, or cilantro) is usually the best bet. We make this A LOT. It’s great because we use the chick on salads for the rest of the week’s lunches. The crispy chicken skin is just glorious.
2. Peanut Fish Stew with Spinach
The number one reason I chose to cook from this cookbook when I did was for this recipe. I was intrigued by what’s going on in here so I decided to try it sometime in 2020. Jacob was highly skeptical. Since then, I’ve probably made it at least 5 times. It’s something I crave a lot. I don’t know how all these flavors go well together but they do. The fish just melts in your mouth and the peanut butter really brings it all together. If you make only one thing from this book, this one should be it.
1 Tablespoon neutral oil (sunflower seed, grapeseed, canola)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 small red chili pepper, finely diced (I can never find these so I just rehydrate dried ones)
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use vegetable broth)
1 bay leaf
3 cups simmering water
1 14oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 pound of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1.5 pounds white fish
Freshly ground black pepper
Steamed rice, for serving
In a large pot, head the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened – about 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter, chili pepper, bouillon cube, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir in 1 cup of the simmering water. Add the tomatoes and crush with wooden spoon. Add the remaining 2 cups simmering water, bring to a simmer, and cook 20 minutes. Add the spinach and fish and simmer until the spinach is wilted and the fish is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with black pepper, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve over steamed rice.
3. Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Sauce
Alright, I won’t lie. I screwed this one up. I used regular apple cider instead of hard apple cider. Whoops. It was still extremely tasty but we didn’t have a lot of the sauce part. But let’s face it, the bacon is what it’s really all about. This dish had the saltiness and sweetness that I was looking for. I had never cooked pork tenderloin before so I was slightly intimidated and worried about undercooking (or overcooking!) it. I followed the instructions and it came out perfectly. I would totally make this again (and correctly).
2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 oz bacon, finely diced
1/4 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
1/3 stalk celery, finely diced
1.5 cups hard cider
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley, for serving
At least 2 hours before serving, rub the pork with 1 teaspoon salt. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1.5 hours (or overnight). Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F)
In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove the bacon. Pour the rendered fat into a bowl and set aside. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pan, cover, and cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cider and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, until reduced by half, 20 to 25 minutes. Strain and return to the pan, discard the solids. Keep warm over low heat.
Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof cast-iron skillet. Heat the reserved bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle registers 145 degrees (F), 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Just before serving, whisk the creme fraiche into the warm pan sauce. Slice the meat into 1.5 inch slices. Arrange on a serving dish, spoon the sauce on top, and sprinkle with black pepper and chervil.
4. Steak with Peppercorn Sauce & Amazing Oven Fries
Find both recipes here.
When I was a kid, I hated steak. It just wasn’t my jam. Especially if it was anything but well done. I spent years avoiding it. My husband is a fan of steak. I told him, if he likes steak and makes it for me, I’ll eat it. I’ve learned that with steaks, it does matter where you get it from. We go to our local butcher for our steaks and I’ve never looked back. Typically, he cooks them in our cast iron with butter, garlic, and rosemary (from our garden) but this time, it was my turn (lol just kidding, he actually cooked the steak cause I’m terrified). The crust on this steak was phenomenal. The peppercorn sauce was so flavorful and complimented the steak so perfectly. As for the fries, I’ll let Jacob’s statement speak for itself: “This is the only way I ever want to cook fries.” We just dipped them in the sauce from the steak! I definitely cut them a little funky but who cares? It’s the taste that matters!
BONUS: Earl Grey Madeleines
Find the recipe here. Granted, this isn’t specifically from the book, but has the same ingredients and technique so it works.
I failed. I forgot to take a photo of these. In my defense , I also forgot to actually read the recipe before I started in and didn’t realize this batter had to stay in the fridge for 24 hours. Double whoops. Normally, I’m pretty good about this but I was cooking out of here right after Thanksgiving and was getting ready to go to my parents cabin for the weekend (it was my nieces’ 13th birthday!) and I was a little frazzled. Either way, again they didn’t come out beautiful but they were tasty. I didn’t cut up the Earl Grey as much as probably should have. Next time I would most likely used my mortar and pestle to get it super fine. The girls at the party loved them so I call it a success!
Which one would you want to try?? Going through this book really made me want to commit to cooking every single thing from the book… someday 😀