Normally, I’d skip this week’s recipe since potatoes are just not on our meal plan. However, we had several left over from making a stuffed gnocchi roll for the Italy dinner that have to be used. And I do so love making pancakes. Since switching to a mainly low carb diet in 2003, my electric skillet has been collecting dust in the back of the cabinet. You know the kind: square-ish with feet and the plug in heating element. Mine is brown, likely from the 70s and has long since lost its domed square-with-rounded-corners lid. The only thing I use it for is its ability to hold a steady temperature and evenly cook those golden carbalicious disks.
Matafan are fluffy mashed potato pancakes which get thier airiness from folding whipped egg whites into the batter at the end of the mixing. The ingredients are basic: cooked potatoes, eggs, flour, milk that cook up into some tasty, but plain, pancakes to be used as a side dish or a base for other ingredients piled on top. Its so rare that we eat this sort of side, D was hoping there would be a bit more of the “wow” factor to them. I thought they were good – but I was expecting some potato-y cakes that could be used to 1) offset the saltiness of my duck confit and 2) soak up the juices and balance out the sweet spiciness of the lamb stew. I was pleased with they way the matafan performed as a supporting player in the three meals they accompanied. Notes:
- The matafan in the picture are topped with homemade duck confit and brushed with melted duck fat. MMMMM. (Check out Michael Ruhlman’a recipe that uses olive oil. Its close to my recipe, though I have two quarts of home rendered duck fat in the freezer that I use and have successfully cooked the confit at a higher temp for a shorter time – 300 degrees for three hours.)
- Even though potatoes are not low carb, I used low carb ingredients in the rest of the dish including a low carb flour mix and cream instead of milk, since I don’t generally keep anything other than almond milk in the house.
- I did not bake the potatoes on a bed of salt. It looked intriguing, but I asked D to start the baking in the toaster oven while I was on my way home and I forgot about the salt.
This morning breakfast was a matafan with squash fennel pear soup and then lunch was leftover braised cardamon-curry lamb (a FFwD recipe from November 18 that I missed) with a matafan to soak up the juices. Mom, Dad, if you are reading this you may want to sit down.
I think I’m getting tired of eating onions.
You have to understand that I grew up in a house with a 20 pound bag of onions in the root cellar. As a child, a friend of our family had pins of our favorite foods made by an artist; I think Mom’s was a hot fudge sundae. Mine was an onion. I loved it. But now I’m suffering from onion fatigue. It may have started with the pissaladiere, but I think the tipping point was a few weeks back when I cut and cooked 12 onions for Agrodolce sauce for beef shortribs and it seems like every recipe since has had at least one entire onion in it. Since I’ve only been cooking the savory dishes from Around My French Table, I think I’m getting more than my fair share of those bulbous alliums.
Which brings me to the lamb. I knew D was not going to be a fan of this dish, despite it including his favorite meat. It is seasoned with curry and cardamom and includes the use of fruit-sweetness (apples and some optional dried fruits) along with the savory (onions and garlic). Cardamon is one of my favorite spices and evokes all sorts of cozy feelings with its scents of Christmas cookies, Indian foods and Chai tea. What surprised me was although I like the French and Moroccan influenced flavors, especially the pronounced warm spiciness of the cardamom, I’m just quite burnt out on eating dishes with heavy onion flavors.
The matafan made a good foil for the flavors in the stew. I think I owe D a roast lamb leg or a lamb stew braised in red wine to make up for all the fruit flavored dishes of late. My cooking notes on the lamb:
- For the dried fruit, I used golden raisins, but instead of figs I substituted a couple dried apricots and prunes. Figs are not my favorite texture. I did use the cardamom pods but omitted the honey.
- Instead of potatoes, I added a peeled and cubed celery root as well as a couple of peeled and large cut parsnip pieces. (Gotta use up those leftover root veggies – Send me your sunchoke recipes please!)
- I used a bone-in lamb stew meat instead of boneless shoulder; from the looks it was likely a mix of leg, shoulder and neck pieces.
- It cooked in the suggested time, but in hindsight, I wished the apples were added halfway through the cooking so they retained some of their shape and texture. As it was they completely dissolved into the sauce.
French Fridays with Dorie participants are not publishing recipes. Despite my criticisms of some of the dishes, I’m really enjoying Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (The squash fennel pear soup alone is worth the purchase price). Grab a copy and cook along with us!