Food with Friends

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“It’s experiences and laughs that matter most, not the most perfectly executed food, so relax a little, embrace the imperfect…”
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When I read these words in the introduction of “Food with Friends” – the art of simple gatherings, I knew I had a new friend of sorts, author Leela Cyd.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I was gifted this book, of my choosing, for review. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I initially was attracted to the book because of its title. Food with my friends is my favorite kind of food, after all. And with family, too, of course.

And it’s embarrassing to admit how often I use the word “party.” A daughter comes to town – we have a party. A girlfriend comes over – another party. Another couple come over – PARTY!!! I concur that food is about experiences and especially laughter. I only hang out with people who laugh.

The introduction in “Food with Friends” is quite impressive. Leela has traveled the world, living abroad for months at a time, and her passion for international cuisines are reflected in this collection of recipes.

Her love of cooking and sharing her food with friends is obvious in the inspirational photos. She claims that “The best gatherings are simple, yet somehow special.” I couldn’t agree more!

I’ve already bookmarked many recipes in this beautiful and fun cookbook. The recipe I chose to make from it is her Lemon-Poppy-Seed Dutch Baby.

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Lemon-Poppy-Seed Dutch Baby
serves 4

Dutch Baby
3 large eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup almond meal
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Topping
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Lemon wedges, for squeezing

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put a 10-inch pie pan (glass or metal) or cast-iron skillet on a baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven.

In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour, almond meal, nutmeg, salt, poppy seeds, and vanilla. Whizz on high speed for about 30 seconds, until everything is combined in a runny batter. (It will be looser than traditional American pancake batter, more similar to crepe batter.)

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Remove the heated pie pan or skillet from the oven and add the butter, swirling a little, until it has melted completely and the sides and bottom are completely coated.
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Pour in the batter and return the pan to the oven.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden brown.

Dust with sifted powdered sugar, then top with lemon zest and 1 teaspoon poppyseeds.

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Invite each guest to squeeze lemon juice onto their slices.

Note: I personally don’t understand squeezing lemon juice on a Dutch baby because that would make it “wet.” I chose to include the lemon zest in the batter.

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Another note: Even without any sugar added, this Dutch Baby is sweet and light. You can eat it with a fork or just grab a slice and chomp away!

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Berry’d Crespella

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Five years ago I made this dessert for my mother’s birthday. It’s a delicious puff pancake that I topped with a warm chocolate-hazelnut sauce. It was nice and light for after dinner, which involved a raclette experience. Even though it was April, it was still really cold outside, so the warm puffy pancake was a perfect dessert.

I got this recipe directly from epicurious.com, so if anyone has an issue with the name “crespella,” please take it up with epicurious! I don’t know how crespella came about – I am aware that the Italian crespelle is more like a crèpe. And this puff pancake is more like a German version of a puff pancake, which is like a flat soufflé.

Instead of using a nutella sauce over the hot pancake, I’m using chilled, sugared berries. After all, it’s summer, and berries are delicious right now. Plus, I love the combination of hot and cold, just like sweet and savory.

So here is the recipe I used from epicurious. Be ready to serve it as soon as it comes out of the oven. Oh, and I just did one little thing different – I used goat’s milk instead of dairy cream.
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Oven Crespella with Berries

3 cups of berries of choice, halved if necessary
Sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, mine included the seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups goat’s milk, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Confectioners sugar

Place the berries, I obviously used blueberries and raspberries, in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. I didn’t use much, maybe only 1 tablespoon, but if you like your berries sweeter, use more like 1/4 of a cup. Toss the berries together gently and set them aside to macerate. The crespella itself is not very sweet, so sweeter berries isn’t a bad idea.

Another option for the berries is to mash a few of the berries and mix that purée in with the whole berries. That will make them more sauce-like.
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Put a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.

Whisk together flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and 1 1/2 cups goat’s milk in a bowl.
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Add butter to skillet and heat over the stove until golden brown, less than 1 minute. Pour batter carefully into the skillet.

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Immediately place the skillet in the oven and bake until puffed, set, and golden, 20 minutes. Check at 15 minutes to make sure everything is going well.

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It will puff up in the oven.
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Cool pancake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes (it will sink).
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Cut wedges and serve warm along with the sugared berries.
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Dust with confectioners sugar if desired.
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A dollop of crème fraiche would also be good with this crespella!
verdict: Since I made this before, I knew it already was good. But unfortunately, it didn’t benefit from the goat’s milk, which I was hoping it would. I love the flavors of goat’s milk and berries. Live and learn!