Friday, June 19, 2015

FFWD - Celebration Week #4: Grand Finale - Stuff on Toast

Well folks, this is it - this is our last French Fridays with Dorie post, ever.  After nearly five years, it is hard to believe that we are finished cooking our way through Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan, as well as four subsequent weeks of revisiting the highlights.  To put it in perspective, there are five years of high school, and it took five years to complete my double degrees - hence completion of our AMFT journey is a significant feat.

I originally had reservations about joining this group, which sprung from Tuesdays with Dorie.  I had nearly finished baking through Baking - From My Home to Yours with that group (although I came in late), so I wasn't sure if I wanted to commit to another group. Another reservation about joining was that baking, not cooking, is my passion. 

However, when I decided to dip my toes in the water and try out FFwD, it ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made.  Through FFwD, I have met an amazing group of people who also undertook this project, and with whom I hope to keep in touch now that it is complete.  Also, unexpectedly, I learned a whole lot about cooking that I didn't know before.  I learned to cook mussels, scallops, salmon and duck.  I discovered some great new dishes, like Chicken B'stilla and  Gougeres, and amazing new flavour combinations, my favourite being the many meat and fruit dishes in AMFT.  I found that chopped liver and sardines actually taste good, and are not the foods to be feared that popular television would have you believe. I also made some not so pleasant discoveries - hello caviar in aspic.  I am going to miss this group very much, for many reasons.

There are way too many highlights of FFwD to recount in this post, but here are a few of them.  Cher taught us all to be fearless in our substitutions.  Don't like it, or don't have it - substitute!  I have always been in this camp of cooking, but Cher raised the flag and flew it triumphantly.  I was endlessly entertained by the reactions of Dorista spouses (cue Bill, Bill, Neil and Howard) and the dual perspectives of Tricia and Nana, and inspired by Mary's adventures and enthusiasm for life.  I have loved taking a trip around the world each week (US, Germany, Canada, Greece, Malaysia, Italy, Japan) and learning about regional differences in availability and seasonality of produce (not to mention the weather!).   I was as excited as a child in anticipation during the Christmas and Valentines card exchanges arranged by Alice.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Patty, Kathy, Cher and Betsy. And every week, I have delighted in looking at the LYL posts of all the other Doristas to compare notes and thoughts on each week's recipe,  and receiving words of warmth and encouragement from my fellow Doristas.  Who doesn't like to be told that they did a good job, or wished a good weekend or happy holidays?  There are many other things that I could write here, but so that you don't fall asleep, I will leave it at that.

Special thanks goes to Betsy and Mary for organising our recipe roster and keeping us on track as we made our way through Around My French Table

For this, our final FFwD post, we have been asked to  share an original recipe that was inspired by an AMFT recipe or do a recipe that you would like to make-up or just make again.  One of my enduring memories of FFwD will be Trevor's haiku and  Stuff on Toast.  When I think of Stuff on Toast, it always makes me smile - because that's exactly what it is.  No pretentious tartines in my house - from now on, it will be Stuff on Toast.  Accordingly, for my final post, I have made two variations of Stuff on Toast inspired by "recipes" from AMFT.

My first stuff on toast dish, featured at the top of this post, is inspired by Dorie's Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine. Instead of goats cheese, I used cottage cheese, and subbed in peaches for strawberries, all atop a piece of crusty white bread.  This makes a fabulous breakfast dish, and is a regular in my house.

My second stuff on toast dish is inspired by Dorie's Nutella Tartine.  This time, instead of nutella with marmalade and hazelnuts, my tartine featured Nutella with raspberry jam and almonds:

Though this alternative combination was nice enough, I  don't think it was a patch on the original.  The marmalade in the original balances out the sweetness of the Nutella, while the raspberry jam enhances it.  Accordingly, in this case, there is much to be said by not messing with the classics.

To all my fellow Doristas - I have enjoyed taking this journey with you very much.  I hope that we can keep in touch as a group, and maybe start a new project in the future.  As the saying goes, don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again.

As a fitting finale, I leave you with an AMFT haiku:

Cooking with Dorie -
It has been an adventure,
French food and friendships


Susan @ My Wholefood Family Essentials said...

Congratulations on making it through!! A mighty achievement. I bought the book but didn't get much further than that. Well done.

Beth said...

Sounds like it's been a great journey! How wonderful that you've made so many new friends - and even met some too.

Kayte said...

Wow, what an accomplishment to do all this in the past five years. So much fun reading it all and following along as you made each thing each week. I am going to miss all that...going to miss all your posts and fun tidbits and all the people who cooked along. I'm sure Dorie will have another book for you all soon!! :-)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

How wonderful to be part of this group and it sounds like you got so much out of it! Congratulations to everyone! :D

Johanna GGG said...

That is amazing it has taken 5 years to cook through a cookbook - and what a fantastic experience for you - both in terms of learning to cook and spending time with others. I really love your reflections on the nutella tartine - that is exactly the sort of learning I love in blogging and I appreciated it because it looks like something I would love to try. We have a hazelnut chocolate spread that might go better with a sweet jam than the regular nutella

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy that you joined and have often thought you deserved extra credit for cooking along from the opposite season as the rest of us. It cannot have been easy when we were all championing heavy stews during your summer months. I too learned so much from this book and from this group, but it is the kindness and support which I will take away with me.

Best of luck to you in all of your future blogging adventures. I will be reading along.

Unknown said...

Well said, my friend!!! And I had to giggle that Bill got a mention. I'm so happy to have gotten to know you through this journey. xoxo

Adriana said...

Thank you for the smiles, Gaye. A toast for stuff on toast is genius. And how wonderful that you practically capped the French Fridays experience with your visit to the US East coast? That's the best 'graduation' I can think of for cooking through the whole book.

Big hugs from Puerto Rico!

Mardi Michels said...

THIS, Gaye:

"Cooking with Dorie -
It has been an adventure,
French food and friendships"

I'm not going anywhere and I hope our paths cross sometime IRL too! XOX

KB from Prof Who Cooks said...

Beautiful post, Gaye! I, too, will always think of this group with the "stuff on toast" and I love that it's what you riffed on here.

Diane Balch said...

It has been a real pleasure cooking along with you. I often felt bad for you trying to find ingredients. Hope you get to the East Coast of the US some day again.

Kathy said...

I loved this post, and your haiku, Gaye….a perfect way to end our wonderful adventure! Thoughtful and eloquent! I too, giggled when I read your mention of Bill!
I don’t like saying good-bye…so till your next post, which I will be following, Au Revoir! Sending hugs from this part of the world! So glad we got to meet for real!

Kari said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your time doing this, and I like the 'stuff on toast' finale!

Trevor Sis Boom said...

This post is special
it has me a bit choked up
bravo stuff on toast!

Tammy said...

Congratulations on making the choice to join and for sticking it out over the five years!

tricia s. said...

Oh my, just love it. One way that I managed to complete all the recipes was because I fell terribly behind on commenting - LOL (give and take of life, no ??). I am now catching up and checking out everyone's celebration weeks at large, also in part because I knew I would get all weepy so I figured I would do it all at once. I am also humbled by your visit to the states and sorry that I missed you. As I tracked you on Facebook it appeared that you were north when I was south and when you were in NYC I was up in Vermont. Next time I have to do better ! (or go to Australia ....)I literally can not believe all that you accomplished when in the states. You managed to see many things in New York that I have not gotten around to and I grew up there. I need to stop cooking and get cracking :) It has been an utter joy to get to know you and I still have my adorable fridge magnet from the first holiday card exchange. I will see you on the Baking Chez Moi site - all the best :)

Nana said...

It has been fun cooking together Gaye, I always enjoy your posts. This is not really ending since we have all become friends.
It was quite an experience and I'm glad I didn't miss it.

Betsy said...

Gaye, What a great post! I'm so glad you jumped on the FFWD bandwagon even though you're a baker at heart. I agree with Rose. You really had an extra challenge with the seasons upside down, but you were a real trooper and kept up with the Northern hemisphere recipe choices. I was so happy we had a chance to meet in person last month. You really know how to pack it into a trip. It made me smile to know that Howard's eating quirks amused someone other than me. I'll continue to follow your baking and other cooking adventures. And perhaps we'll cook together again. Keep in touch! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Gaye, it's been wonderful cooking and sharing along with you! You've brought a delightful note to the group. Always love seeing what your family is up to and what you're cooking! I would echo all of the sentiments here - especially sticking with us when you're on opposite seasons.

I'll be sure to look out for what you're up to over the coming week/months - and who knows, maybe we will find ourselves on another adventure together!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Gaye, what a journey - congratulations on your achievement - I am looking forward to following your lovely blog in the future and will make sure to visit often to marvel at your travel, cooking and your beloved baking posts!
So grateful that we have met through AMFT -and "see" you very soon,

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Gaye! We stayed with the project until completion. I agree with you about the Valentine's and Christmas cards. They were a highlight of my holidays. Isn't it amazing how 'stuff on toast' ends up being so good, and can be quite elegant? I will be seeing you around the blogiverse and hope to see you in person one of these days., but I will miss our Fridays together! Take care Gaye.

Teresa said...

Lovely post! I have so enjoyed cooking along with you through this book. I'm so impressed with those of you who completed every recipe - doubly so for you, when you were dealing with the hemisphere seasonal difference! I've so enjoyed following along with your Dorista adventures and I'm looking forward to where those take you from here.

Cher Rockwell said...

When I first "Met" you, I was so in awe of all the groups you belonged to. Now that I know what it takes, I am even more in awe :-)
I've enjoyed cooking along with you and am so glad we were able to connect in person.
Never be afraid to let your improviser fly.


Jora said...

What a beautiful post. I loved reading this. I will miss this group, and do hope we'll continue to cook together in some form...Thanks for sharing your two adaptations. You can never have enough varieties of stuff on toast!

Karen @ From Scratch said...

Great post! You articulated it so well. It was fun reading how you came to participate in FFWD. It's been fun and I hope we cross "virtual paths" again!