A few months ago, we celebrated Pi Day in my office. Most of the pies were store-bought, but I decided to flip through Simply Delicious and see if there was anything worth contributing. I decided on 16-11: Meringue-Topped Chocolate Pie–everyone likes chocolate, and we had had a mishap with the lemon meringue pie on the way back from the store while preparing the day before.
If you’re not familiar with Pi Day, it takes place on March 14th, which when written as a numeric date is 3-14 (at least in the U.S. it is–some countries reverse the order). Pi (the mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter π) is usually rounded up to 3.14, so March 14th is celebrated with actual pies (and a bit of math) as a play-on-words. 😂
No one really needs an excuse to eat pie, but “It’s a math joke” is certainly an acceptable one.
Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? 11-19: Oven-Baked Red Snapper will remind you of the all-too-familiar crunchy oven-baked chicken, but with a lighter fishy twist. If you find yourself with some fish filets (red snapper not required), give this one a try.
Another way to look at this: a more elegant presentation of fish sticks. 🐟
8-36: Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce was the first of two beef tenderloin recipes I made on the same night. The other dish, 8-22: Beef Tenderloin with Whole Garlic, was a completely different preparation. It was interesting to cook it two different ways and compare the final product.
Utilizing an onion-mustard marinade resulted in a completely different flavor than in the other tenderloin recipe. The beef was not marinated at all in the other recipe. If I had to choose, I prefer the marinated beef from this recipe because it was more tender.
More queue-cleaning–add 5-8: Royal Crêpes to the pile of other crêpe recipes that I’ve done over the course of this project. When I first started making crêpes for this project about 4 years ago now, I had never made crêpes before. Now I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the concept, so let’s kick it up a notch with a “royal” version. 👑
Oh no–my mortal enemy: Hollandaise sauce. I’ve struggled with it in the past–will this be my redemption? Jump behind the cut and find out!
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.
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).
It took over 3 years and almost 300 entries, but I’ve finally cracked the final untouched category of Simply Delicious–the very last one, Group 20: Basic Recipes. These are part of the Cooking School segment in the back of the book, teaching you basic techniques, ingredients, and recipes that you’ll need to be an experienced cook. This recipe, 20-13: Béarnaise and Hollandaise Sauces covers the basics of butter sauces, which you can expand upon with 20-15: Vary the Butter Sauces.
Hollandaise is 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 been cooking for a long time and I’m still working on mastering this one.
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.
Finally, one from the “revisited” pile–those are recipes I’ve already made before, but am making again for the sake of this project. 5-20: Golden Cheese Tartlettes were one of the appetizers I made for a Valentine’s Day 80’s party I talked about in 1-22: Onion-Potato Diamonds–I thought these little cheese tarts seemed very 1980s.
They’re not kidding about the “fragile” part when it comes to these tartlettes–I originally made these for this project back in July of 2016, but the whole operation went so poorly that I abandoned it and never even posted about it. Now that I’ve bought the proper equipment and ingredients for it, it went much smoother.
I recently attended a baby shower for a former co-worker and took it as an opportunity to knock out two more Simply Delicious desserts: 16-39: Apricot Tart and this one, 16-24: French Chocolate Cake. I wanted to bring something fruit/nut and something just plain chocolate, since some people there had nut allergies and others might just want something simple and chocolate.
This was a combination birthday party/baby shower (same person being honored for both), which will hopefully explain the odd decorations on my version of the cake. I’ve spared you pictures of the worst of my decoration choices, but let’s just say I made liberal use of all 4colors of a grocery store icing kit. I kept meaning to hit a craft store for better cake decorations (or even Amazon), but time got away from me. ⏳