Friday, September 30, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Lamb with Green String Beans

One last dinner from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. Tonight we had Lubya Khadra Billahm—Lamb with Green String Beans (p33) from the Arab States.

The recipe states that the whole recipe serves 4. I made a half recipe to serve 2. A half recipe, that meant one pound of green beans. That's a GInormous amount of green beans for two people! (Of course, green string beans are not to be found in this area of France, if at all, so I used haricots verts.)

This is another easy-to-make recipe, some assembly and then the whole thing cooks on low for an hour or more till you're ready to eat. The green beans are cut into 2" lengths and piled in the bottom of a heavy casserole. One-inch cubes of lamb are browned and put on top of the beans. The stack is topped with a bunch of peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes. This is topped with salt, freshly ground black pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, and ground allspice. Plop the top on and cook over low heat for an hour, or until the beans and lamb are tender. When I took the lid off, the spices were still on top where I left them, so I had to stir it all together a bit before serving over rice.


I really have enjoyed cooking from this book. I have several new salads (radish, spinach and yogurt, and cabbage) that will get added to the household regulars. It was really a stroke of luck to have planned this book in my Foods of the World project for (late) summer months when veggies like tomatoes and eggplants are at their best. (Unlike the last one, Viennese Empire, which is full of appetizing cold-weather food.)

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Fried Eggplant with Green Peppers and Tomato Sauce

Tonight's dinner included a side dish (a half recipe) from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. That was Kizarmiş Patlican—Fried Eggplant with Green Peppers and Tomato Sauce (p73) from Turkey. The eggplant and tomatoes were from the potager; the bell pepper was from the grocery store.

Simply flavored, but this was a very tasty dish. First some tomatoes are peeled, seeded, and chopped, then cooked in olive oil with salt and chopped garlic until all the liquid has evaporated. The eggplants are peeled, cut lengthwise into thick slices which are then cut into "fans" by making longitudinal cuts that don't go all the way to the end. These fans are first soaked in salt water, then dried and sautéed until browned on each side. (In the end, since I had only three thick slices and there were only two of us, I cut the fan bits all the way through, making fingers rather than fans.) The green bell pepper is seeded, deribbed, and cut lengthwise into quarters. These bits are then sautéed until browned and limp. (The limp bit didn't happen for me, even though I cooked them about twice the time that was asked; I think this would be better under the grill, as you would do for roasted bell peppers.)

To serve, you mound the eggplant fans (or fingers), top with the tomato sauce, and surround with the bell pepper chunks.


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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Yogurt&Cucumber Soup and Fruit Compote

Tonight's meal began and ended with Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking.

We started with Cacik&mdash:Cold Yoghurt and Cucumber Soup (p19) from Turkey, which is a very nice, easy-to-make cucumber-yogurt soup. Grated yogurt is combined with yogurt, white vinegar, olive oil, mint, dill, and salt. (Too much salt, actually. The recipe asks for 1 tsp. I put in about 3/4 tsp and it was still too salty.) The whole recipe should serve two to four; I made the whole recipe and served it for two. These were quite substantial servings; smaller servings would probably be better for a large meal. Sorry, my soup plates weren't chilled, but I did add an ice cube as suggested.
 

For dessert, there was Paludah—Fresh Melon and Peach Compote (p112) from Iran. I had one very small charentais melon, which tastes and looks much like a cantaloupe. After checking the weight, I made about a 1/3 recipe with a whole peach (i.e., a half recipe's worth of peach). The recipe indicates should  served up to two; I think it would have easily served four. The compote has melon (in chunks rather than balls) and peaches, mixed with sugar, lemon juice, and rose water. A nice combination. The rose water wasn't over-powering as it can be sometimes.


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Braised Chicken in Tomato and Cinnamon Sauce

Tonight's entry from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking was Kota Kapama—Braised Chicken in Tomato and Cinnamon Sauce (p55) from Greece. I had planned to make a dessert to go with this, but after spending the afternoon deseeding something like 5 kilos of tomatoes from the potager, I didn't feel like doing anything besides the main course.

Having three chicken thighs, I made about a third recipe by weight. (For some reason, they've started packaging Label Rouge—free-range—chicken thighs three to a package rather than four. Very annoying.) The chicken is browned in butter and olive oil, then set aside. Most of the fat is removed from the skillet, and onions are garlic are added to the remaining bit. When they are soft, some tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded, and chopped (I saved two out of the batch I was working on for this), along with a bit of tomato paste, chicken stock, and a cinnamon stick are stirred in. The browned chicken is returned to the skillet, covered and simmered for 30 minutes.

This dish is typically served with any kind of pasta (I used tagliatelle), accompanied by freshly grated kefalotiri or Parmesan. Tonight it was Parmesan. One day I'm going to find some kefalotiri in a shop or market and buy a chunk to try.

I was specially intrigued by the tomato sauce with cinnamon, which seemed to me an unusual combination. Neither of us could taste the cinnamon in the finished dish, though, so that was a bit disappointing.


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Monday, September 19, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Sep-16: We collected almost 3kg of tomatoes today. I need to get busy seeding and cooking them down. Just don't know when that's going to happen.

Worked on the meal plan today, including replanning today and tomorrow. Had another Middle Eastern dish on the plan for tonight, but didn't feel like going up to get the recipe book. Instead I picked the remains of the roast chicken and made Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken (web). This would have been nice if we were still having hot weather. Really, it's just a fancy salad like I might made ordinarily, with some cooked chicken thrown in. More mihallabiyya for dessert.

After dinner I put the lamb that should have been tonight's dinner on to marinate for tomorrow night's (non Middle Eastern) dinner.

Tuesday/20-Sep-16: What a day. While I had my bi-monthly ear appointment, Ed went to the Toyota dealer to order a part. But they were closed. When he returned, we missed each other (he came in an unusual entrance), so he sat 20 minutes in the doctor's waiting room, while I sat 20 minutes in the hospital lobby. Shopped at a health food store and at Grand Frais. Then to Toyota again to order the part. Then to the shop where the muffler was repaired, but it's had a mysterious rattle since then, which is worse when it's hot, and very annoying. Although we demonstrated it to one person, it was later unreproducable, so this is unresolved. Home at last.

Dinner was Lamb Kebabs with Mint (MJ@Home, p116). Ed grilled these on the bbq; they were yummy. Served with Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce (Q&E, p87) and Spicy, Sour Potatoes with Cumin and Amchoor (SpiceKitch, p50). Both of these are old favorites. We were stuffed, although we did manage to find space for some squares of dark chocolate, with hazelnuts for me and almonds for Ed.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/21-Sep-16: Shopping today. Shopped alone again, while Ed was off getting the contrôle technique for the car.

Dinner was, sort of, Pan-Roasted Cod with Chorizo Vinaigrette (Twenty, p254). I made the Chorizo Vinaigrette (Twenty, p213), but I didn't do the pan roasting, which involved lots of oil, but just sprayed on a bit of oil and broiled the cod bits. The dressing was quite good, though, and will probably come around as a pasta sauce in the next days, maybe for lunch. Served with polenta and a bit of Mama's Garlic Coleslaw (HandyBook). We finished off the mihallabiyya for dessert.

Thursday/22-Sep-16: Today's fun task was deseeding about 5kg of tomatoes from the potager. Whew. Have left them overnight. I'll buzz them up tomorrow and freeze them.

Dinner was Braised Chicken in Tomato and Cinnamon Sauce, served with tagliatelle. Some squares of chocolate for dessert.

Friday/23-Sep-16: Put up lots more tomato today.

Dinner was Penne with Red Pepper Pesto for Two (Pesto Calabrese) (web). Almost. No penne in house, so I used cascareccia; no big deal. But I neglected to set aside a third of the bell pepper strips, so all of them were sautéed, meaning there were no uncooked bits to purée into the sauce. The sauce was fine, but might have been even better if I'd done it right. Then a simple salad (feta and the last of the croutons in the freezer). Then some ice creams from the freezer. I'm stuffed.

Saturday/24-Sep-16: Ed brought in 14 pounds (more than 6kg) of tomatoes yesterday. Time to start working on the next batch soon.

Dinner was a half recipe of Butter-Poached Shrimp with Grits (Twenty, p141; web; cookbooker). Made the grits with chicken stock. They were tasty, but not very pretty to look at. Maybe I used a pan a bit too large for the butter-poaching business. I didn't find these any better than the regular sort of sautéing I might do. Then a big salad. Some squares of chocolate for after.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/25-Sep-16: Movie this afternoon. We took Pogo on a walk down by the potager this afternoon. There's another big batch of tomatoes ready to pick. And some eggplants too.

Odds and ends from the fridge for dinner: the Indian peas and potatoes from Tuesday; the chorizo vinaigrette from Wednesday served over pasta; a newly made bit of the Israeli radish salad we liked so well.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes/no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for Aug/Sep

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Cabbage Salad and Cold Rice-Flour Dessert

Tonight there was a side and a dessert from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. We had Salatet Malfoof—Cabbage Salad (p10) from the Arab States to accompany a Sicilian marinated steak and Mihallabiyya—Cold Rice-Flour Dessert (p104) from Egypt.

I made the Mihallabiyya in the morning, so it would be chilled for dinner. I used cornstarch as suggested, since I had no rice flour and was too lazy to grind some up. I looked this dish up on the web and found that this recipe is typical, although it can be rice flour, a rice flour and cornstarch combination, or just cornstarch to thicken. More typically, though, it seems to be flavored with orange flower or rose water, rather than vanilla and cinnamon. This one has a topping of chopped pistachios and currants, as well as cinnamon, which I mixed with the nuts and fruit. Quite tasty and easy to make.


To go with our steak, I made the Cabbage Salad as a go-with, and here we have another excellent salad from this book. The recipe calls for two cups of shredded cabbage to serve four. I had two cups to serve two, with only half the dressing, and we could have eaten a bit more. The shredded cabbage is tossed with a dressing of garlic, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, then topped with some pomegranate seeds for serving.


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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

For the day's roast chicken, I made a side dish from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. That was Domates Yemite me Rizi—Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice (p82), from Greece.

The stuffed tomatoes are supposed to be eaten at room temperature. This would make them a good buffet kind of food if people are sitting down to eat. They'd be fine to make ahead.

Rice is half-cooked and drained. (I used basmati, but it might be nice to use a brown rice and cook it just a bit longer here.) The tomatoes are hollowed out, salted, and turned over to drain. The innards are chopped for use in the filling. Minced onion is sautéed, then the rice, tomato pulp, some tomato purée, parsley (oops, I forgot to by parsley and last week's bunch didn't last, so I used the frozen stuff), mint, garlic, oregano, and S&P are all stirred in. Rather than defrosting two cups of my frozen tomato purée for the less than half cup needed for a half recipe, I used a small amount of uncooked purée with a bit of tomato paste, both from the freezer.

This mixture is cooked till it's fairly dry, then stuffed in the tomato shells. Some reserved tomato purée is poured around the tomatoes and all is baked for 20 minutes at 350F. (I had no leftover purée, so I buzzed up a fresh tomato and called that purée.) Result: A tasty side dish for a roast chicken.


 Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their September cookbook. And if you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?