One of my favorite cookbooks is Around My French Table, by one of my favorite food writers, Dorie Greenspan. Her cooking is always original yet grounded in tradition, fresh yet comfortable, sophisticated yet unfussy. I find her recipes to be interesting and inspiring—they’re not difficult, but some do take a little thought and time. Over the holidays, I made an orange-almond tart and a stuffed pork roast from Dorie’s book, and both were as delicious as they were gorgeous.
When I began writing this blog, I spotted the website French Fridays with Dorie, a community of cooks who share an interest in her recipes and approach to food. There’s a schedule of recipes for group members to make, and then people post links to their blog posts about their experience with the recipe. [So, I’ll post a link to this piece on FFWD.] According to the community’s rules of thumb, members don’t reproduce the recipes, but rather share any tweaks they’ve made and any photos they’ve taken.
Last Friday’s recipe was for Quatre-Quarts (meaning, ‘four fourths’) — it’s the French version of a pound cake. The name refers to the equal proportions of four key ingredients: flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Let me say it: I. Love. This. Cake. It’s exquisitely simple, easy to make, not too sweet and a great foil for any kind of fruit or whipped-cream topping you’d care to add. In the book, Dorie notes that this is the cake that French mamans prepare as an after-school snack for their children.
I tinkered with the recipe, replacing the rum called for (you could also substitute vanilla extract) with Cointreau, which produced just the most wonderful orange flavor. I topped slices of the cake with a bit of plain Greek yogurt sweetened with local honey and good marmalade, plus a couple of orange segments. (See a how-to for that yogurt-honey-marmalade combo here.)