Cook the Books! Beef Daube, Chocolate Mousse, and Chicken with Apples


Just as a reminder, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan is our pick for January Cook the Books! We’ll be cooking from it all month, blogging about some of our experiences!

Are you doing Cook the Books? I must say, I am having a blast with this month’s selection and cooking has felt fun again. Yay! Frankly, my pictures have been terrible. Fact: Winter lighting in our house is pretty terrible.

Weekend Dinner with Friends 

We had some of my favourite people over for dinner last weekend to catch up post-holiday. When this group gets together, I feel inexplicably happy. You know the kind of people who you don’t see as often as you might like, but when you all get together it just feels right? Easy? Yes! The best!

  • My Go-To Beef Daube (p. 244)  There is a lot to love about this beef stew (unless you are a vegetarian). It was fantastic! Basically, a daube is a beef stew cooked with wine. There are a few technical distinctions, but that was enough of a definition for me. Dorie’s recipe called for beef chuck roast, bacon, shallots, onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, brandy, red wine, and herbs. You can’t really go wrong with that star line up, can you? I added some mushrooms because I had them. We were going to be gone most of the day so opted to use a slow cooker instead of the instructed foil-topped dutch oven. I seared/browned the meat and along with the rest of the (minimal) prep the night before, placed it in the fridge, and put it in the slow cooker the next day. Stews are perfect for a slow cooker. Verdict? We loved it! Tender, flavorful meat! Two of us thought there was an ever-so-slight bitterness when tasting the sauce alone, but not in bad way. We couldn’t really figure it out and no one else could detect it… at any rate, it in no way detracted from how great it tasted!

    Grow and Resist Cook the Books cookbook challenge

    Out of cheesecloth for your bouquet garni? No worries! I found out that a ball-tea infuser works just perfectly (and is reusable!)

  • Pancetta Green Beans (p.333) Yes, again.
  • Mashed Potatoes (p.355) Sure, I’ve made mashed potatoes. But not Dorie’s way! Dorie uses a food mill and I will forever more. Best mashed potatoes I have ever made. Hands down. I used about 2.5# of potatoes and added maybe ½ cup of warmed (2%) milk and ~4 tablespoons of butter. Or thereabouts. I wasn’t really measuring.
  • Top-Secret Chocolate Mousse (p. 421) Oh my! Honestly? Unbelievable. So incredibly simple. So simply perfect. I want to eat this every single day. We didn’t add anything, but did top it with a dollop of cocoa-whipped cream. I forgot to take pictures.
  • French 75 (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne) My new drink of choice. Enough said. (See above, forgetting to take pictures.)
Grow and Resist Cook the Books cookbook challenge
Maybe my favorite drink ever.

Weeknight Meal with the Family

  • Chicken, Apples, and Cream à la Normande (p. 219) This came together quickly and would be just as suited for a midweek meal as it would be for company. The chicken is dredged in flour, browned, and then cooked with apples, mushrooms, and onions. Add a bit of broth, brandy, and cream and you are at the table. I like to cut chicken breast halves into smaller chunks (halves or thirds) because I find them too large for one meal as is. Next time I’d add more mushrooms cut the apples a bit smaller, but that is just a personal preference. I’d probably use ½ and ½ instead of heavy cream because I like a little bit lighter taste. Really delicious. I imagine it would be also good with chicken thighs or with pork.

    Grow and Resist Cook the Books cookbook challenge

    Chicken dredged. Liquids ready. That plate? Circa-1979, baby. Smiley-Sun Phase.

  • Peas (frozen). Because Dorie said frozen peas are just fine. And they are.
  • Orzo/Israeli Couscous mix with diced carrots. I didn’t have enough of either, so in they both went with some carrots.

    Grow and Resist Cook the Books cookbook challenge

    Look, it is a French TV dinner! No, not really… but this picture kind of makes it look like one doesn’t it? It tastes a zillion times better, promise.

    Next weekend Briggs and I are cooking up a spectacular feast for our partners. We will be cooking way (way, way) too much food, so that we can try a lot of things. And impress our partners. There will be mains. Desserts. Sides. Starters. Not in that order. I can’t wait!

    Grow and Resist Cook the Books cookbook challenge

    Briggs and I hold Very Important Meetings to discuss Cook the Books! Beveridge Place Pub is our office.

    Briggs and I will be blogging periodically about the cookbook throughout the month. Sometime over the month cook something from the cookbook. Maybe you do one thing. Or a whole meal. Or get together with friends. Whatever you do, blog about it. Tell us what you liked, or didn’t. By January 30th we will post our comprehensive review post and a wrap up of everyone that participated.

    Don’t have a blog? No worries! You can always comment on our round-up post!


Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.