Saturday, October 2, 2010

I am a loser but I AM elegant

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I didn't make it through to the third FoodBuzz Challenge. It is ok. I kept my blog post true to who I am and looking back, the hanging chicken and chicken livers didn't make the most appetizing pictures. I will not change one thing about how I blog though. I knew going into that one that it either would hit a note or not. I knew that the food itself wouldn't stand up on its own. So, here is my elegant dinner which was great. I have to say that this perhaps was the hardest challenge of them all so far. What made it so hard? Not deciding what to make. Not the cooking. Not the elegant. I have told you that living in New England and being a foodie has been a challenge in itself. What made this FB Challenge so difficult is that no one we know in New England wants to eat my food. The three people that we know that like food were all busy.

I Tweeted:

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Not one tweet back. NOT ONE. I know that I feel like no one can see a thing I tweet anyhow because NO ONE ever answers me, but an INVITATION for dinner?

I wrote to our foodie friend, Al.

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New Englanders are a tough crowd. They don't like different types of food very much. They are in their own little comfort zone and you can't entice them out of it. Had I been in California there would have been plenty of people that would have come to dinner. I even got Facebook answers like these when I posted my plight on there:

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Huh. At any rate I wasn't going to not do this because I couldn't get people to eat my food. This dinner was going to be fantastic. I found a recipe that I wanted to make to highlight that entertaining does not need to be stressful (unless you have to beg people to come to your elegant party). It is by one of my favorites, Paula Wolfert. It is called Pork and Wild Mushroom Daube. I made this dish the day before as instructed. I then had the next day free to make the other courses and to clean the house and set the table.

We had a wedding to go to the night before our dinner so we started in the afternoon and could finish before we left for the wedding. The daube had to sit overnight in the refrig which was a good thing.


It was simple to layer this amazing dish and then stick it away. That is pork skin that lines that clay dish.



We browned the pork and then the vegetables and then ignited the dish as instructed (ok, I made Dr. Food do this like three times because I couldn't get the picture.


I got it all in the dish and we were done for the night. Off to the wedding.


So, in the morning I was still worrying about who would come to dinner. We had ok's from neighbors (wives weren't coming but they offered up their husbands as if they were sacrificial lamb). I felt great that people were coming to humor me. No problem. My shill said that he would fill in if I couldn't get anyone else.


Our forgot his name. Dr. Food knows him from somewhere. He is really touchy if you make fun of the plaid shirt. He is from Maine. They don't have the best sense of humors.

So back to cooking in the morning.


I decided on an artichoke heart dish called Artichokes a la Provencale (also a Paula Wolfert recipe) that went well with our crudities. I think I may have gotten carried away cleaning them because I just ended up with the hearts. The still tasted great. We had a carrot salad and tomato salad as well.


I also made a potato dish called a Tartiflette



So, the table was set and I was holding my breath to see if the doorbell would ring and if people would actually show up. They did and even helped.


Appetizers were simple. Two French cheese that we picked up were Pico Goat Cheese and St. Andre which is a crowd pleaser.


I also made a spread called Anchoiade (Anchovy and Vegetable Dip).


The guest were polite and ate some. I think they were starving though. I loved this spread and you really need to make it for your next party.


How happy do these people look to be at my table? They love me and my cooking. They beg for invitations. Uh, yeah...

The cruditie plate (Artichokes a la Provencale, Carrot Salad, Tomato Salad, and Cucumber Salad)


The Wild Mushroom Daube (really, you have to make this. I am never disappointed by a Wolfert recipe).


Oh, California friends you would have loved this dinner. You would have probably licked the plates at my elegant party and then we would have drank more wine.


This Tartiflette recipe was excellent. I loved loved loved it.

Last but not least was the Tarte fine aux Pommes (This never got brown enough). You know I always tell you the truth. It tasted great but we just couldn't get it to darken up more than this.


So Please VOTE for me when it is time to vote. I try really hard and not only that I do not glorify a thing. You are living through this altered existence right with me. Um, I also need foodie friends.

Anchoiade - (Provençal Anchovy Vegetable Spread)
Gourmet - February 1994
Printable Version

1/3 cup blanched whole almonds
a 2-ounce can flat anchovies, rinsed and patted dry
3 garlic cloves
1 shallot, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried Italian seasoning, crumbled
1 tomato, seeded and chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
French bread toasts as an accompaniment

In a food processor grind fine almonds with anchovies and garlic. With motor running add shallot, oil, vinegar, and herbes de Provence and blend well. Add tomato, bell pepper, and parsley and pulse motor until just combined, being careful not to purée smooth. Anchoïade may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.
Serve anchoïade at room temperature on toasts.

Tartiflette Recipe
Rebecca Franklin

Printable Version

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
1/3 lb chopped Ventrèche, or smoked bacon (I used smoked bacon from Vermont. I couldn't find the one called for here.)
2 1/4 lbs cubed white potatoes
½ cup white wine
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb sliced Reblochon cheese

Preheat an oven to 350F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the Ventrèche and cook, stirring, for an additional 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, white wine, salt, and pepper; bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.

Transfer the half of the potatoes to an oven-safe baking dish. Cover the potatoes with half of the Reblochon, and then repeat the layers once, ending with the last of the Reblochon on the top of the casserole. Bake for 25 minutes, until it is hot and bubbling.

Makes 6 servings.

Pork and Wild Mushroom Daube
Recipe by Paula Wolfert

Printable Version

3 pounds well-marbled boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces (see Note)
One 750-milliliter bottle Viognier
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot
Bouquet garni: 6 sprigs each of parsley, thyme and winter savory plus 2 bay leaves and 1 leafy celery top, tied with twine
Spice bundle: 1/2 teaspoon lavender flowers, 12 crushed peppercorns and 10 crushed juniper berries, tied in cheesecloth
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 ounces dried porcini (1 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 ounces fresh pork skin with a thin layer of fat, cut into 2-by-1/2-inch strips
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
10 crushed juniper berries
Reserved bouquet garni

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds oyster and cremini mushrooms, halved if large
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


MARINATE THE PORK Put the pork in a large bowl. Add the wine, onion, carrot, bouquet garni, spice bundle and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, pour the pork into a colander set over a bowl. Discard the onion and carrot. Squeeze the spice bundle over the meat, then discard the bundle. Reserve the pork, bouquet garni and the marinade.

MAKE THE DAUBE In a bowl, soak the porcini in 1 cup of hot water until softened, about 20 minutes. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Add half of the pork to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until well-browned all over; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining pork.

Return all of the pork to the skillet and sprinkle with the flour. Stir over moderate heat until the flour has dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the brandy and carefully ignite it with a long match; shake the skillet until the flames die down. Return the pork to the plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the onion and carrot. Season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Lift the porcini from the soaking liquid and coarsely chop them; reserve the soaking liquid. Add the porcini to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring.

Preheat the oven to 250°. Line the bottom of a 4 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron casserole with the pork skin, fat side down. Spoon 1/3 of the pork over the skin followed by 1/3 of the vegetable mixture and 1/3 of the garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some of the juniper berries. Repeat this layering 2 more times.

Return the skillet to moderately high heat. Pour in the reserved porcini soaking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Add the reserved pork marinade and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Boil until reduced to 2 cups. Pour this liquid over the daube.

Tuck the reserved bouquet garni into the daube. Add enough water to the casserole to just cover the meat and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Place a round of parchment paper directly on the surface of the meat and cover with the lid. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake until the meat is tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

Let cool to room temperature. Discard the parchment paper, bouquet garni and any bits of juniper berry. Refrigerate the daube overnight.

MAKE THE GARNISH Preheat the oven to 250°. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the oyster and cremini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Scrape the fat from the surface of the daube and discard it. Mix the mushrooms into the daube and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring frequently.

Bake the daube for about 1 1/2 hours, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced slightly and the meat is very tender. Stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and serve.


  1. Aw dude! I am in New England, although not a native, but I would have come!!! All the food looks fabulous.

  2. I prefer more to be elegant than a winner.. ;)
    your dishes amazing..

  3. This was a great post, sorry you didn't get to submit it either! I'm out too! Too bad they are not adventerous eaters over there. All that food sounded great to me. I would have came if I was closer.

  4. I would have come to your dinner!!! And looked a bit more excited than those guests who showed up, I promise you that. yum! I thought your last post was hilarious, by the way. xoxo

  5. I think your dishes look fantastic. I'm on the East Coast, but very far south so I couldn't have helped. I'm sorry.

  6. I'm about as far away from you as can be here in San Diego, but would have loved to join you!! So sorry that you didn't move on, but I'm glad that you decided to run the post anyway. I love your posts Janis! And for what it's worth, the chicken got my vote. Anyone who would hang a chicken in their kitchen deserved a vote!

  7. HA! If I had seen your tweet and been around, I would have jumped at dinner! Everything looks amazing, regardless of how excited your guests were ;)

  8. Your party looks FAB...and I'd gladly eat your food AND smile about it :)! Sometimes it's hard to be a foodie when others don't "Get it". Keep on keepin' on...

  9. Good for you for posting your dinner even though you are out. Even though I didn't make it through either, I figure I have a lot of great posts in the dishes I served at my party.

  10. WOW - I like what I see...your dining room looks fantastic and the dishes are matched so perfectly...

  11. First of all I love this heartfelt post! Fabulously presented, love the guests and your a winner no matter what, I didn't make even the first round so you did better than I did, and very worthy of getting there....I love the pork here, and the only true loser is FB for not moving forward...beautiful entry glad you posted it for us! :) Wish I was there too, never saw your tweet :(

  12. I wish I was at your dinner - gorgeous dinner! I LOVED your hanging and your chicken liver - give me some any day!! And please invite me to dinner.

  13. gorgeous dishes and an hilarious post! Theresa

  14. I will like to be a guest too! And try again next year :)

  15. Don't feel bad, I am also a PFB "loser" and I love chicken livers!! How cool that you posted your elegant dinner party all the same!

  16. are a winner. Great sense of humor, beautiful meal and nice entry (scratch that) Keep blogging!!

  17. I love you readers. I really do and I am a winner because you read this post! You are all invited to dinner.

  18. Janis, I just can't take it. My Sunday's are now about getting a cup of tea and reading your blogs to Jeff while he lays on the couch and I tip the screen for him to see your pictures. We both roll with laughter - seriously. He said that you are a riot and loves your pics. If we lived closer, we would have totally come to your party! Everything looks amazing!
    Love, Butter

  19. I love you all. I wish you lived near me. We would have the best time in the whole world. We would roast whole pigs when it wasn't snowing and when it was snowing we would drink hot toddies together and play charades in front of the fire places.

    Butter. Move near me now.

  20. You are always a winner in my book!!!! I would have been glad to attend your party. I really have my doubts about that guy in the plaid shirt, I don;t think you should have let him in the house. I hope you counted your silverware after her left. Dr. Food looks great and so does your faithful canine assistant. The food looks marvelous as always!

  21. Thank you for telling it like it is! I voted for you for the last post and I'm sad you didn't get through. Boo on people with no sense of humour!

  22. you are not a loser! you made it through the second one! dont ever say that!

    love what you made here! good job girl!

    Have a fabulous week!
    jen @

  23. oh janis, if i had been paying attention to the twitter I would have been in Marlboro with bells on! Your evening of french food looks so tasty (and I would have been happy to drink wine with you!)

  24. Your menu rocks, if that is any consolation?

  25. Could you be any funnier? I think not! Love the menu, the photos, the delivery. Your entire blog is like taking a welcome (and very funny) vacation! Your 'friend' might want to work on the mustache...a bit suspect!