Just Ask Dorie: Chicken Parmentier and whatever else you're cooking and baking

Dorie Greenspan's Chicken Parmentier.
Feb 26, 2015

Beloved cookbook author Dorie Greenspan ("Baking Chez Moi," "Baking: From My Home To Yours," "Around My French Table" and more) answers your questions about her new column, "Everyday Dorie," and everything else she's cooking.

Good morning and thanks for coming. I'm looking forward to hearing what's on your mind, so let's start.

Dorie, I love your new column and hope "Just Ask Dorie" will be a regular chat! I tried your chocolate Valentine ("Share-My-Heart") recipe over the weekend. I made 4" cookies using a rather intricate Hammersong cutter. The flavor was rich and delicious. And I was very happy with the way they held the design, and most especially with the delicate crispiness, which is unusual in a cookie that can be made that large (and even larger). Do you have a recipe for vanilla cookies with the same characteristics?

I'm so glad that you liked the cookie.  I'm in love with the texture and I did several trials before I got it. I haven't tried to make a similar cookie in vanilla, but I think I'd start by omitting the cocoa (of course) and upping the all-purpose flour to 1 2/3 cups. and seeing how it goes.  Let me know.


RECIPE: Valentine's Day Share-My-Heart Cookies 

Valentine's Day Share-My-Heart Cookies

I was baking cookies the other night, and misread the measurements. I added 170 grams of sugar instead of 100 and didn't notice until after creaming the butter and sugar and also mixing up the dry ingredients. The recipe also included molasses. I tried reducing the molasses by half and got something good enough but very different in texture from the original. Was there a better thing to try?

Oh, I've been there - hate when I mismeasure!  The only thing you could have done, other than what you did, was to figure out what the proportions would have been with that amount of sugar, added the additional butter, creamed, and then carried on with the new measurements.  Lucky you got something good anyway.

Hi Dorie! I got your Baking Chez-Moi book for Christmas and adore it. I follow recipes to a T, for the most part, but I sometimes wonder why I'm doing the things I'm doing. For example, why do you add the butter last in some recipes but not others (see: matcha financiers)? As an aside, I think it'd be wonderful if, in your next book, you'd put notes explaining for newbie cooks and bakers why you use certain techniques, so we might put it in our bag of tricks (I know you do that a bit, but more would be great!).


ARTICLE: Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking Chez Moi,’ reviewed: It’s no mere puff project

I'm so glad you're enjoying Baking Chez Moi - merci.  When the butter goes in is often a question of texture.  Melted butter often goes in at the end - as it does for financiers and some sponge cakes.  Butter goes in almost at the end for many tart and pie doughs and biscuits.  You cream butter and sugar together at the beginning for cookies.  You get used to it as you go along, but I'll keep your suggestion in mind for my next book, which will be all cookies.

i submitted my questions to you Wednesday morning, but Joe directed me to resubmit them again. Here they come: This weekend I am going to cook Chicken Parmentier as published in WaPo and then make it for a crowd, that includes several friends who don't eat pork. Here come my questions: 1. I've never came across chicken sausage I liked, so I stopped buying. May I ask you what kind you would recommend/buy in US? 2. Can I ovenbake or microwave sweet potatoes? Would that affect taste or texture? 3. Since I am going to at least quadruple the recipe, what about spices? Quadruple them too? 4. Will making Parmentier in a humongous le Creusette Dutch oven affect the timing? Oven temperature? Will my chicken be overlooked? Should I increase the amount of garlic? 5. Because of all the spices used, I presume the house will smell heavenly when cooking. I like that. Food should smell good. If I make your Shepperd's Pie a day or two in advance, will my guests be greeted with that heavenly smell while the Parmentier is reheating? 6. Not a question, a statement. I LOVE everything you do in the kitchen. We are so lucky you will be with us for a while. I am grateful to Joe for giving you to us. Hope you will have weekly chats.

So many questions and all good ones. Here goes:

1) if you don't want to use sausage, don't. Increase the amount of chicken and you'll be fine.  I use a chicken sausage that's made by my local butcher although I've bought Aidell's in the past.

2) You may cook the sweet potatoes any way that's easiest for you. Just don't overcook them.  If you think they seem a little dry, you can add some butter or oil.

3)  Yes, you can quadruple the spices.  Of course you should 'season to taste' - I'd do this with any recipe whether I'm increasing it or not.

4)  If you're going to put it all in a big pot, I might lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees and go longer.  You'll know it's done when the juices bubble up around the potatoes.  You might want to add just a little more broth because you'll be baking the dish twice.  And yes, you can increase the garlic.

5)  Yes, the house will smell great!


I attempted to make Salty Caramel Ice Cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream book a week ago. I've made this recipe a few times before and never had a problem with it. However, during this last time, I failed when making my caramel and failed again when I tried it a second time. Each time, I followed the recipe's instructions to allow the sugar to melt completely and then slowly pour in the cream/corn syrup mix, stirring while doing so. My problem is that as soon as I started to pour in the cream/corn syrup, my caramel hardened before I could stir the rest of the milk in. Any idea on what I might have done wrong? My milk was cold - could that be it? I'm including the pertinent ingredients and steps from the recipe:

1 1/4 c heavy cream

2 T light corn syrup

2/3 c sugar

Heat sugar in saucepan on med heat until melted and golden amber in color. Doing this dry and goes quicker. Don't touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on top. When edges of melted sugar begin to darken, use spatula to bring them into center to help melt rest of sugar. Keep stirring and pushing sugar around until all melted and evenly amber in color - like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give sugar another moment and then remove from heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 c of cream and corn syrup mix into burning hot sugar. Be care - will pop! Stir until mixed, then add a bit more cream and stir, then keep until it's all in.

Caramel is so tricky.  I always try to warm my milk or cream before adding it to caramelized sugar.  It's the cold ingredients that caused your sugar to seize.  However, you can usually save hardened caramel by putting the pan back on the stove and reheating.

Saw the term "vegetable shortening, melted" in a recipe for a dessert. Any idea as to what this refers to?

My guess is that it's solid shortening, like Crisco, that's been melted.

Hi everyone! I have a younger sister away at college and I'd like to mail her a "home-y" care package for midterms. Suggestions for cookie recipes would be great, but I could also use some guidance as I look through my own scads of recipes-- what qualities make a cookie/bar good for shipping? What types should I avoid? Thank you!

I know it sounds obvious, but sturdy cookies ship best.  Bars are great for shipping.  Try to pack your cookies in layers - separate them with wax or parchment paper - and here's the best advice I can give you: Don't pack soft cookies with crisp cookies.  Do that and they'll all be soft by the time your sister gets them.  Also, if you've got a cookie with a lot of spice, the spice will overwhelm the non-spice cookies.  You get a gold star for being a good sister!

I as I read Dorrie's description of her cooking style, I thought she was talking about me!!! No two dishes are ever the exact same in my house. Thankfully my husband eats all of my 'experiments' and understands that I can't perfectly replicate a dish he loves. I think of recipes as a starting point, not a destination (baking excluded). Keep 'em coming! That is all.

I'm so glad you added "baking excluded" :) Although you can tinker just a bit with baking - the spices are almost always up for grabs!

I'm making an orange gelee for a cheesecake, and I want to add grand marnier to it. If I do it while I'm boiling the ingredients together, do you think it will work?

Hmmm, not sure.  I think I'd add the Grand Marnier at the end so that the flavor doesn't boil away.  

My Preschooler has decided that she would like strawberries and chocolate on her pizza. I suspect that she is imagining those on top of normal pizza, but am game to create dessert pizza with her. Thinking of using cream cheese or goat cheese as a base for her toppings, but wonder if normal store-bought pizza dough will suffice, since there never is enough time to make from scratch.

I love that your preschooler is creating a dessert and I love that you're going to bake it.  You could make the 'pizza' on pie dough, but I think you're right that she's imagining pizza dough.  I think you'll be okay with 'normal' pizza dough - think of it as bread and who wouldn't be happy with bread with cream or goat cheese, berries and chocolate.  Let me know how it goes.

Thank you guys for having Dorie. I just can't get enough of her. Last night I made the Chicken Parmentier which was a hit and then I made a cookie recipe from her new book. So, we're all happily living in Camp Dorie at our house.

Wish you could see my grin - THANK YOU!

I don't live in the area but there are no good bakeries for pastry near where I live. None. Nevertheless (or because of that), I very much enjoyed reading Becky Krystal's review of the new DC area bakeries. A girl can dream.... Meanwhile, can you recommend the cookbook or online source that best describes how to make croissants?


ARTICLE: New Washington-area bakeries are making us feel like kids again

I live part-time in Connecticut where we don't have many pastry shops like the ones Becky Krystal wrote about. I feel your pain.  

I haven't made croissants in years, so I haven't kept up with the recipes that are available.  When I made them, I made them from the recipe in Baking with Julia.  And I made lots and lots of them at a time and froze them unbaked.  Let me know if you find a great recipe.

A recipe I really want to try calls for unsweetened coconut. My grocery store had two options: sweetened shredded coconut or whole, fresh coconuts. It's a savory dish, so I bought the fresh one, and now I'm looking at it, wondering what I'm supposed to do next. I found websites that talk about how to crack it, but the recipe called for large flakes, so that suggests it needs to be dried. How do I dry it once I've gotten the thing open? Do I shave it with a vegetable peeler to get the "flakes" before drying, or do I dry chunks and then chop it? (And, ahem, if you have any preferred methods on cracking it, I'll take those too.)

Oh dear.  The few times I've needed a cracked fresh coconut, I've brought up the tool box and handed it to my husband - yes, I'm that kind of girl.  Hmm.  I would 'flake' the fresh coconut with a sturdy vegetable peeler and I wonder if you have to dry it or if fresh coconut might not be lovely in your dish. (Don't know the dish, so hard to say.)  Can you get Bob's Red Mill products where you are?  They have both shredded  unsweetened coconut and coconut flakes.  Good luck - and be careful cracking that coconut!

Is it worth it to try to learn how to make a baguette in a home kitchen?

If you can't buy a good baguette, then yes, it's worth learning to make one.  Actually, it's worth learning to make one just for the pleasure of it and the satisfaction of making your own bread.  My husband bakes baguettes a couple of times a week (yes, I'm lucky).  His reference books are Michel Suas, and the new (will be out in a month) Larousse book of bread by Eric Kayser.

Hi Dorie, I tried to post a picture of my chicken parmentier on FB but the tagging part confused me. Maybe you got it. Maybe you didn't. I can't tell. It's a very good recipe anyway.

I didn't see your picture, sorry.  If you're posting on FB, you can always post your picture on my page to be sure that I see it.  So glad you like the recipe.

PS: if you post on Instagram or Twitter, tag me at @doriegreenspan and @wapofood and use the hashtag #everydaydorie

I decided to add less molasses because I understand that sugar is an honorary liquid in cookies. If I had added MORE molasses would I have gotten a chewier texture? (leaving aside that it would have been too sweet)

Sugar is treated as a liquid in baking and adding more molasses without increasing all the other ingredients proportionately would have made an achingly sweet cookie. You did the right thing by lessening the molasses.

I'm piggybacking on the other person's question. In your new book your instructions for most of the loaf cakes say to put the loaf pan on a baking sheet. Does that slow down the baking or is it because the batter might run over the sides of the pan? Just wondering.

I double-pan loaf cakes to soften the heat on the bottom of the cake.  Because the cake is going to bake for a long time, insulating the bottom helps getting an even (top to bottom) bake.

If you live in DC, Stachowski Market in Georgetown makes wonderful sausage, including chicken. BUT one caution is that even chicken sausages are sometimes made with pork casings, so you gotta check that.

Thanks for the reference and the caution.

Hi, Dorie! I have some of your rugelach dough in the freezer: what can I do with it other than adding jam, chocolate, etc? I'm looking for savory suggestions. Thanks!

Savory rugelach are great.  Try bacon and cheese, or red pepper jelly, or ham and mustard.  Have fun and tell me what you come up with - I'd love to know.

I'm working at home today with a well-stocked pantry (except only 2 eggs). I'd love to make something that takes time but not too much effort. Suggest an interesting cookie or bar or etc recipe. Anything okay except pineapple.

Such an interesting question and not an easy one.  Would you consider making a tart or a pie?  You could make the crust now and then the filling during the day.  Or make a shaped cookie.  Someone just mentioned rugelach so I've got those on my mind.  Or make the Valentine's Day cookies (you only need 1 yolk) in any shape you want and use your time at home to pretty them up! Have fun.

Thanks for your response to my Shepperd's pie questions. I have all of your books and use them a lot. I am now obsessed with a cake my mom used to make for my birthdays and want to make it or something similar to it for my 71st birthday. Could you please help? The finished product looked like a classic Napoleon cake, the way they used to make it long ago, but the dough was some sort of a cookie dough. It had four layers, and instead of the buttercream between them there was some sort of a cream that, as I recall, was cooked on the stove top, because I remember her standing in front of the stove stirring it. I suppose it was a version of Dobos cake, but it had no chocolate. Thanks for your help

I wish I could help, but I'm really not sure about your mother's cake.  However, I'm thinking that the filling might have been pastry cream, which is cooked on the stove and is thick enough to be spread between layers and stand up to cutting without flopping.

And thank you.  I'm so glad that you have my books and gladder that you use them!

Will there be a chat next Thursday? Should I mark my calendar? None of my friends know that this one is going on. I learned only because I logged in to the Rangers yesterday. Of course, I will spread the word.

We're working on the schedule, but you can always find the chat time by looking at Everyday Dorie or Just Ask Dorie.  I'm so glad you got here today - thanks.

Thanks so much for spending this (super-quick) hour with me. I loved hearing from you and look forward to our being together again. Keep cooking! Keep baking! And keep in touch.

In This Chat
Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan is the award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, the most recent of which is "Baking Chez Moi." Read more on her Web site, doriegreenspan.com, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.
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