20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces

20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces

Consider 20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces to be the advanced version of 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces. There’s probably something that bridges the two better (whatever 20-14 is, but I don’t have that card in my collection), so 5-4: Eggs Benedict will have to do. This set of recipes is part of the Cooking School, the back section of Simply Delicious that provides instructions in basic techniques, ingredients, and recipes that any skilled cook should be familiar with.

Like I said in 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces, Hollandaise and its variations comprise one  of the five mother sauces, a big part of French cuisine. Mastering it (and the others) is one of the marks of an accomplished and talented chef. I’ve always appreciated a well-made butter sauce, and these variations are intriguing–I’d be interested in eventually trying each one out.

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5-4: Eggs Benedict

5-4: Eggs Benedict

I believe in a couple of things–nobody’s perfect, and all things eventually balance out. My experience with this recipe, 5-4: Eggs Benedict, especially relative to how the rest of the meal went, encapsulates both of those ideas. In the days leading up to making this Mother’s Day brunch (MD2017), I knew I needed to practice two things before the big day: poaching eggs and hollandaise sauce–I’ve had trouble with both in the past. Guess what I didn’t do?

I procrastinated on practicing both my egg poaching and my hollandaise, and those were my failure points on this recipe. After the jump, you can read about what went really well (my homemade English muffins) and what didn’t (my broken hollandaise sauce, for one).

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17-23: Mocha Éclairs

17-23: Mocha Éclairs

As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I wanted to push my limits by attempting some of the hardest pastry recipes in the book. I tested my skills not only with 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries, but with this recipe as well, 17-23: Mocha Éclairs.  My mom always referred to éclairs as something that challenged her when she was learning to cook and bake, and that a well-executed one was something that really impressed her. With that in mind, I knew this recipe was a must-do.

I may have to make a few adjustments to Simply Delicious‘ version of the recipe–first of all, there’s no chocolate listed anywhere in this recipe, and it’s advertised as “mocha”, which is coffee AND chocolate. We may have to do something about this “slicing the tops off” idea as well.

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16-14: Orange-Almond Cake

16-14: Orange-Almond Cake

No, this isn’t a repeat of 16-47: Orange-Almond Pie–at least, not exactly. 16-14: Orange-Almond Cake uses almond paste while the pie version used almond meal (flour). This one also includes dark chocolate, which ALWAYS goes well with almond and orange flavors. 🍫

In the interest of not eating the whole cake at once (which is possible with something like this), I’m going to bake 12 individual cakes instead with a mini-Bundt pan that I have. That way, I can make them all, wrap and freeze them so that we can pull out a portioned piece for dessert without the temptation of eating the whole thing.

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6-46: Chicken Breasts Veronique

6-46: Chicken Breasts Veronique

Simply Delicious is introducing me to so many new culinary terms. 6-46: Chicken Breasts Veronique was a new one for me. 🍇 The definition of “Veronique” is explained below:

6-46-chicken-breasts-veronique_page_1Chicken and grapes isn’t the most obvious combination, not in 🇺🇸 American-style cuisine anyway. This dish is definitely influenced by 🇫🇷  French cuisine. I’ve eaten chicken and grapes before in Middle-Eastern styled recipes as well.

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7-18: Pork Tenderloin in Wine Sauce

7-18: Pork Tenderloin in Wine Sauce

Marinade is a “sauce, typically made of oil, vinegar, spices, and herbs, in which meat, fish, or other food is soaked before cooking in order to flavor or soften it”. Port wine is not an ingredient I normally keep in the house, but I have marinated a pork tenderloin before so 7-18: Pork Tenderloin in Wine Sauce shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

7-18-pork-tenderloin-in-wine-sauce_page_1Meat that soaks in a marinade comes out tender and delicious. Cooking with this method requires more preparation time. Leave the meat in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours for maximum tenderness. The minimum marinating time I recommend is around 1 hour. When I prepared this recipe, I tried to make it in one night, so the meat marinated in the refrigerator for only 2 hours. ⏱

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4-3: French Potato Gratin

4-3: French Potato Gratin

4-3: French Potato Gratin is a great side dish for a dinner. It was easy to make and it only takes one pan to cook this recipe.

4-3-french-potato-gratin_page_1Jamie made notes on this recipe that I completely ignored. I used the mandoline to cut the potatoes and I used 9 medium/small potatoes.

Editor’s note: I did indeed make notes on this, from when I made this for a fancy dinner for my family during Spring Break of 2009. I stand by my recommendation of using the food processor, but you do you, boo. 

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12-40: Spinach Pasta with Mushrooms

12-40: Spinach Pasta with Mushrooms

Pasta with sauce is the most basic style of dish that Simply Delicious teaches a novice chef to cook. 12-40: Spinach Pasta with Mushrooms is appropriately classified as “Easy”. 👍

12-40-spinach-pasta-with-mushrooms_page_1Mustard-scented sauce is a recent addition to my diet, but it is one of my favorite additions. Dijon mustard is used in a lot of Simply Delicious sauces and it adds a tangy quality to the sauce that cannot be beat.

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15-49: Chocolate Pudding Deluxe

15-49: Chocolate Pudding Deluxe

The other of two desserts that I made for this year’s Thanksgiving (TGV 2016) was 15-49: Chocolate Pudding Deluxe (the first was 16-52: Apple Nut Saucepan Torte). With my family, it’s REQUIRED that there be a chocolate dessert option when having a big dinner, so I decided to give this one a whirl–I thought it’d be a nice contrast of flavors and textures when compared to the other options (the aforementioned torte and a pumpkin pie my mom made). 🍫

15-49-chocolate-pudding-deluxeThis was the third dish I made, continuing the Wednesday 11/23 portion of my holiday cooking marathon. Since the pudding needed to chill, I thought letting it rest in the fridge overnight would give it the best chance of holding together when served the next day. 🍮

Other dishes I made on this night (Wed. 11/23): the dressing for 1-10: Seafood Louisiana Cocktail, cranberry sauce, 16-52: Apple Nut Saucepan Torte, and a roasted garlic & herb butter to serve with 17-5: Hot Seedy Rolls.

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4-27: Mushroom-Parsnip Au Gratin

4-27: Mushroom-Parsnip Au Gratin

It’s been a hell of a month, y’all. Between my birthday at the very beginning, the election, an aunt passing away, unexpected horse-sitting, and planning/executing my very first self-made Thanksgiving dinner, I unfortunately didn’t do a lot of writing. However, our Thanksgiving this year (TGV 2016) was Simply Delicious-themed, as I used 7 recipes for this year’s feast.

I started the cooking marathon on Tuesday 11/22 with 4-27: Mushroom-Parsnip Au Gratin–I thought parsnips would make an interesting variation on the “vegetable” dish for Thanksgiving. I also cooked this one first because I knew I could cook it most of the way, and save the final broiling for right before the dinner was served.

4-27-mushroom-parsnip-au-gratin I don’t know much about parsnips being the “poor man’s lobster” (a quick Google search reveals butter baking cod/haddock/etc. to be the most common modern use for that term), but I’d describe them as a cross between potatoes and carrots. Too potato-y to be a carrot, but too carrot-y to be a potato.

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