French Friday’s with Dorie: Hachis Parmentier and Roast Brussels Sprouts

Today’s post is part of French Friday’s with Dorie, a sort of group cooking club in which each Friday a bunch of bloggers post about their experiences making a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Around My French Table.

I first heard about this new group cooking endeavor from Serene at BlogHer Food and thought I should give it a try. I’m not great about sticking to a schedule, but I like the idea of being forced to cook with butter and cream and other French staples that I often stay away from at least once a week. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I’m a huge fan of Dorie’s and one of my highlights from BlogHer Food was getting to meet her. She couldn’t have been nicer about my coming up to her like a crazed fan and spent at least 20 minutes chatting with me! She’s truly a wonderful and inspiring person – and her recipes are delicious.

For my first recipe from Around My French Table, I made Hachis Parmentier, a shepherd’s pie-type dish. The main recipe calls for stewing beef, but I didn’t have time for that this week so I took Dorie’s short-cut version and used ground beef instead. I made a few small changes, but mostly I stuck to the recipe: subbed Yukon gold potatoes for Idaho, used half-and-half instead of heavy cream, and added a bit more butter to the potatoes than the recipe called for (I just couldn’t help myself!).

I loved the dish, although there’s no way I could eat like this on a regular basis. It was filling and incredibly satisfying, although I am glad I thought to make a vegetable to go with it to balance some of the richness.

And what was that side dish? Thanks for asking – it was oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, very simply made and they cooked right alongside the hachis parmentier.

If you want the recipe for hachis parmentier, buy the book – I promise you won’t regret it. Since it arrived last week, I’ve been staying up late reading the cookbook like a novel and dreaming about the recipes! (Sadly, I’m not exaggerating). If you want the recipe for my easy roast Brussels sprouts, here you go:

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Chicken Sausage & Squash Rigatoni

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I don’t usually cook with sausage. In fact, I can only think of one other time I wrote about using this ingredient. But tonight, when I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to eat for dinner, I had a flash to a delicious meal I enjoyed recently at Flour + Water in San Francisco with Maris and Jessi, specifically my favorite dish of the evening: homemade penne pasta with rabbit sausage.

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t nearly as fancy (I did work today, after all), but it was good and very filling with the slightly kicky sausage and sweet Delicata squash. The dish consisted of rigatoni, Italian chicken sausage, winter squash, spinach, lots of garlic, and a little bit of saffron.

I know what you must be thinking: Saffron? What?

I actually bought a small bag of this pricey spice a while ago but completely forgot about it until I returned home from BlogHer Food with a tiny container of it in one of the gift bags.

Saffron is the most expensive spice by price and adds a yellowish/orangish hue to whatever dish it’s used. I can’t really describe the flavor other than call it a bit floral, but know that a little goes a long way. The most well-known uses are in Risotto Milanese and Paella Valenciana. In today’s pasta dish, the saffron flavor is subtle but nicely accents the other strong flavors. You can omit the saffron if you’d like, but it’s a nice way to use it if you happen to have it on hand.

Here’s the recipe for Chicken Sausage & Squash Rigatoni:

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Turning Over a New (Fall) Leaf: Quinoa with Squash & Chard

I have a horrible secret. Something almost too awful admit. Something I’m truly ashamed of.

Are you ready to hear this?

(Deep breath) Here goes: I’ve been letting good food go bad. And what’s worse, I’ve been doing it all summer long.

You see, as the weekends roll around and I relax, I have visions of beautiful fresh produce from the farmers’ market and all the mouthwatering dishes I’m going to make. So, with perfectly pure intentions, I grab my canvas tote bag and head over to the local farmers’ market.

While there I oooh and ahhh over the bountiful produce, savor perfectly sweet fruit samples, chat with farmers, drool over the baked goods I don’t dare to buy, purchase produce I can’t resist, and finally end at a catering tent where I convince the chef to make me the freshest and most delicious egg, veggie and ground lamb focaccia sandwich without cheese.

And then I go home, eat my sandwich, and put the fruits, vegetables and herbs away. I usually spend the rest of the weekend running errands, relaxing, and going to dinner with friends and family. Maybe I cook one dish, but it’s okay I think, I’m going to use the produce during the week.

I’m guessing you know what happens next. I make one dish Monday night when I’m still pretty energized, then Tuesday I have a meeting, and Wednesday I meet a friend for dinner, Thursday I eat Monday’s leftovers, and by Friday I’m so exhausted I order Thai food (a rough schedule, but you get the point). Next thing you know, it’s Saturday, I’m back at the market and I’ve let a whole week’s worth of produce go bad. It’s a vicious cycle, and one I’m ashamed of.

Last week was even worse because I was in San Francisco for BlogHer Food (which was SO great, more on that to come soon). When I got home I immediately noticed the week-old vegetables in the fridge starting to look a little sad, although definitely still edible.

This week, I promised myself, things were going to change. And they did.

I rescued the portobello mushrooms, Delicata squash (such a hearty vegetable it wasn’t any worse for the wear), leek and a bunch of on-the-verge rainbow chard, and used them to make a delicious and very nutritious quinoa dish. (And you know how I feel about quinoa, right? Love it!)

This quinoa dish was wonderful and it tasted like fall, really. Plus, it made so much I was able to eat it throughout the week. And the best part? No wasted-food guilt.

Friends, I think this is the start of a new era!

Here’s the recipe for This Feels Like Fall Quinoa:

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Curry-Inspired Turkey Meatloaf

Before I delve into describing this recipe, let me be clear: in no way is this an authentic curry dish (Indian or Thai – both of which I love)! Essentially, it’s a turkey meatloaf, a classic American dish, infused with some of those beautiful exotic flavors: curry powder, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, and… okay, I guess that’s really it, but I promise it’s delicious.

This turkey meatloaf is good for you, offering lean protein and a dose of vegetables with the additions of a red pepper and fresh spinach. I prefer to use lite coconut milk, just be sure to shake the can well before opening. The coconut milk is a great touch, especially for those of use who are lactose intolerant. It also keeps the turkey meatloaf nice and moist – none of those dense loafs for us!

For a new twist on an American favorite, try this recipe for Curry-Inspired Turkey Meatloaf:

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