Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve dinner 2009
Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Hot Pepper

Cooking Italy Assignment
Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Hot Pepper, p185

After being otherwise occupied for the greater part of the last eight weeks, now I need to start getting caught up with the Cooking Italy curriculum. Only after making our xmas dinner did I realize that risotto with porcini was on the Cooking Italy schedule. I could have made that instead of the truffled risotto and ticked another off the list. Oh well. Instead I got started again with the scallop sauce since it's simple and the kind of thing we eat frequently, one of the few kinds of things I might make without even looking at a book.

Our new year's eve dinner as planned was simple, but turned out even simpler than planned. I scurried around making a fig flan without thinking that it would need hours in the fridge to cool properly. So that will be eaten later.

For a starter we again had slices of the foie gras wrapped with dried magret that we got at the cancelled marché de Noël, accompanied by a small salad with vinaigrette. Rich, but yum! No doubt we'll repeat this until we've used up what we bought.

(Ed set the table unsupervised, thus the mismatched and incomplete cutlery.:-)

For the main course, I served a half recipe of the scallop sauce over spaghettini. I had thought to make fresh pasta, but ran out of time. This sauce was probably better with dried pasta though. Since it's really fast cooking, I had the water at a boil and everything chopped and measured, then finished it up when I took the starter plates to the kitchen.

Preparation for the sauce begins by sautéing a pile of garlic until golden:

Then you add aromatics and sauté a bit more. I didn't have a fresh chili, so I added a shot of chili flakes instead. Here's an action shot, with a spurtle-ghost:

Finally, you add the scallops, sauté till they're done, toss with the spaghetti, and serve. I used small (frozen, defrosted) scallops that are about the size of mini-marshmallows:

The most interesting thing about this particular recipe is the topping of toasted bread crumbs. A little extra effort and a very nice effect. The crumbs soaked up some of the extra sauce and were quite delicious.

Without the fig flan, we skipped dessert, but had plenty of munchies to while away the time waiting for the new year to appear.

Monday, December 28, 2009

This week in the kitchen

Monday/28-Dec-09: For lunch we had the leftover lamb vindaoo. For dinner there was Penne with Green Cabbage, Lemon, and Goat Cheese (MC), using up most of the green cabbage.

Tuesday/29-Dec-09: Shopping in the morning. For dinner, we had Salmon Steaks with Lemon-Mustard Sauce(MC), some steam-sautéed potatoes, and a salad with lots of trimmings. Pretty plain, but tasty.

Wednesday/30-Dec-09: No cooking tonight. We had dinner in Limoges, prior to seeing Carmina Burana at the Opera Theatre. Put on Jody's mixed chili beans gift package to soak.

Thursday/31-Dec-09: Made another batch of yogurt with UHT milk. Went to should at Leclerc, rather than at our local market. Got a chunk of palette du porc, demi-sel for the beans. Added this with the spices in the packet when the beans were about halfway cooked and simmered till the meat was pretty close to was falling apart. Quite tasty, looking forward to this for tomorrow's dinner. Meanwhile, I cooked and puréed some broccoli stems in the quail broth and froze that up for soup sometime.

For new year's dinner, I made a fig flan (to use up some of the dried figs on-hand), but started too late, so it didn't have time to cool. That will be tomorrow's dessert. Boring starter, same as xmas dinner but without the foie-gras-stuffed figs. For the main, Cooking Italy's Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Hot Pepper with spaghettini. Having lots of munchies on hand, we skipped a proper dessert and adjourned to watch to the TV to watch The Shadow of the Thin Man. Accompanied by camembert, olives, smoked salmon on toast, prunes stuffed with prune cream, and whatever else I've forgotten.

Friday/1-Jan-10: During the day I made (in the bread machine) some cayenne cornbread to go with the beans. Warmed up the beans and pork for dinner. They were very good. As was the fig flan for dessert. It was very creamy; with 4 eggs, cream cheese, and half-and-half, it should be. There were fig seeds at the bottom, which turned into the top when the flan was inverted, but the crunch was a pleasant contrast to the smooth of the flan. And the fig flavor was a nice surprise. This isn't the same wonderful texture as crème caramel or a proper Mexican flan, but still quite a nice, rich dessert.

Saturday/2-Jan-10: Started the Spicy Guinness Mustard today. Very simple, just stir together the ingredients. Now it has to sit around a couple of days before it's finished off and we can get it a taste test.

A dinner of leftovers tonight, made while Ed read The Tell-Tale Heart aloud to me (we watched a short film on it on new year's evening). I made (more-or-less) the sauce from Chicken in a butter sauce (MJ1, p70), cut the leftover tandoori/roast chicken into pieces, and warmed them in the sauce. I made some of the onion bhaji batter (Q&E, p20), dipped balls of leftover Indian Mashed Potatoes in this, and fried them up. Pretty good, they were. Some rice and leftover cauliflower. Not a bad dinner for leftovers. Fig flan for dessert.

Sunday/3-Jan-10: After have the rest of the chili beans for lunch, neither of us were really hungry at dinner time. I made some guacamole that we munched with corn chips while some veggies (a carrot, some broc, and a leek) steamed. We sauced the veggies with the leftover quasi-raita from the BH&G tandoori chicken. We skipped the fig flan tonight.

The mustard seeds have absorbed all the liquid! Tomorrow I'll finish this off and see how it tastes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas dinner 2009

We had a very small xmas this year, just the two of us, and not very elaborate. Well, it seemed like a simple meal, but I certainly kept the stove busy and generated lots of dirty dishes! Here's the stove, with the main course and dessert in progress:

For starters, we had slices of the foie gras wrapped with dried magret (oh, my, is this good!) and the foie-gras-stuffed figs, both bought at the marché de Noël last Sunday. This was dressed up with a simple salad of feuilles de chêne and vinaigrette. Here's the starter on the table, ready to dig in:

We enjoyed this course and were amused with Sophie's close attention at the table:

After we polished off the starter, Ed finished off the extra salad while I finished the preparation of the main course:

and brought the plates for the main course to the table:

That's Roasted Quail with Port Wine Sauce, a recipe I collected from the web in 2000, using the cailles chaponées also bought at the marché de Noël. (Had to cut the heads off the poor babies.) Quail capons are bigger than regular quail, so we had one each. The recipe called for "partly boned" quail, which I realized after a bit of web-searching, should have the bones out of the chest. I didn't bother to do this and just roasted them a bit longer. They came out fine, and the stuffing and sauce (port and dried figs) were really tasty. Here they are, ready for the oven:

These were accompanied by truffled risotto (using up the last of the arborio rice stored in the freezer with Jody's truffle from her visit a year ago) and some sautéed veg (red onion, carrot, broccoli, and zucchini — clean out the bottom of the fridge stuff).

For dessert we had Bill Hatcher's Amaretto Poached Pears (MC) over vanilla ice cream, seriously yummy, although it makes an enormous amount. We forgot to take a picture of it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This week in the kitchen

Monday (21-Dec-09) the weather warmed up and melted some of the ice on the roads. We took ourselves to Montemboeuf to do a bit of shopping. Spar had boudins blancs on sale, so that turned into dinner, with some roasted potatoes and steamed cabbage. The accompaniments would have gone well with a German sausage like bratwurst, but weren't quite the thing with these. Good, but not quite right. We now know that we both prefer boudins blancs to boudin noirs.

For lunch on Monday, I made a little soup with chicken stock from the freezer, a batch of frozen) spinach gnocchi, and a handful of small farfelle, farfellini, I think they're called, all topped with some grated Parmesan. Wasn't half bad. Next time I might halve the gnocchi while they're cooking.

Tuesday (22-Dec-09) was gray and drippy. I used some defrosted lamb bits to make Lamb Vindaloo (Q&E, p33). Made it nicely hot with 4 tsps cayenne. Really tasty for very little effort.

Wednesdsay (23-Dec-09) was drippy again in the afternoon. We did a monster grocery shopping. For dinner we had some yummy Oven-Baked Catfish (MC) with panga, orzo with parsley and lemon, and steamed broccoli and carrots. Not the best go-togethers, but it was all good. Panga is only €.89 per 100g here; in NL it was about €1.75 as I remember.

Thursday (24-Dec-09) drippy in the afternoon again. Went to the market in the morning. They had better looking dried figs than I got at Ecomarché. :-( For dinner, made Farfelle with Cauliflower and Turkey Sausage (now MC). Served with a big salad. A bit of Chaource after, and a chocolate-bottomed macaroon.

Christmas Day (25-Dec-09) we woke to sunshine after many gray and drippy days. Took a nice walk and made a nice dinner for the two of us while Ed set the table — the first time we've eaten at the dining table since we've moved. (The living/dining room is serving as a construction depot, with boxes and shelving waiting their fates, so it's not really an attractive place to be, but the dining corner is reasonably tidy.) For starters, we had a bit of feuilles de chêne and vinaigrette accompanying a slice of the foie gras wrapped with dried magret and the foie-gras-stuffed figs. Ed finished off the extra salad while I brought the main course to the table. I made Roasted Quail with Port Wine Sauce, a recipe I collected in 2000, using the cailles chaponées we bought at the marche de Noel last Sunday. The recipe called for "partly boned" quail, which I realized after a bit of web-searching, should have the bones out of the chest. I didn't bother to do this and just roasted them a bit longer. They came out fine, and the stuffing and sauce (port and dried figs) were really tasty. These were accompanied by the last of the truffled risotto and some sautéed veg (red onion, carrot, broccoli, and zucchini — clean out the bottom of the fridge stuff). For dessert we had Bill Hatcher's Amaretto Poached Pears (MC) over vanilla ice cream, seriously yummy, although it makes an enormous amount. Lots of dishes to wash, but a nice meal altogether.

In the evening, I started another batch of yogurt in my new yogurt maker, this time using full-fat UHT milk. Also order another set of jars for it.

During the day Saturday (26-Dec-09), I made a batch of apple-plum butter. Also put the chicken for tomorrow's dinner on to marinate. For today, we decided against a big meal, and I made a big salad instead. :-) For afters we watched the first episode of Civilisation while nibbling on a bit of chaource and bread.

The yogurt with UHT milk is fine. Now we can stock up on this to have it ready to make yogurt. I also ordered another set of pots, since it gets fiddly when you're needing to make more and have no spares.

We went to a concert Sunday (27-Dec-09) evening, so we had our main meal in the afternoon. I very loosely followed a recipe clipping from BH&G for Tandoori-Style Chicken. I butterflied the chick and cooked it at a very high temperature, as suggested in Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking. The chicken was quite nice, so I'd do this again. Served with Indian Mashed Potatoes (Q&E, p90; MC) and Cauliflower with Ginger, Garlic, and Green Chilies (Q&E, p83; MC). Have lots of nice leftovers now to use up.

Made some broth from the quail carcass; might cook up some broccoli stems and make a soup out of this. Also made a batch of herb salt. Didn't have dried celery, so used ground celery seed instead. Should be OK, I guess.

There are lots of leftovers and use-me-ups now, and I really ought to start on the Cooking Italy backlog next week. Need to think about new year's dinners (eve and day) too. Maybe some Cooking Italy things.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This week in the kitchen

Thursday (17-Dec-09) evening, after returning home from a 3-week US visit, I made good old Artichoke Spaghetti (Art) and served with a salad.

Friday (18-Dec-09) Ed cooked: Simple pork chops, plus steamed veggies, potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. And a salad. An example of what he ate while I was away, he said.

Saturday (19-Dec-09) evening, while some brown rice was cooking, I sliced a defrosted kip filet into thin strips and browned them in the wok along with S&P and chili powder. Added a half a sliced onion and some frozen green bell pepper. When those were soft, I added the three grilled merguez (defrosted), sliced diagonally, and a small can of corn. Tossed with some flour and added chicken broth (AH's gevogelte fond, rather than some from the freezer). Some adobo sauce and chipotle powder to brighten the taste. Not too bad altogether, and used up some stuff from the freezer. Looks like we won't make it shopping until Monday or Tuesday, so trying to stretch the fresh veggies we have.

After missing Thanksgiving, I need to be thinking about what we'll have for xmas dinner(s). We probably won't have anyone over, but still I'd like to have a nice meal or two in here.

Sunday, we went to a marché de Noël in nearby Chassenon, only to find that it had been cancelled because of the weather. This was the first above-freezing day since I've returned, so it was actually not too bad. Fortunately some of the vendors were set up in a public building, but the olive seller wasn't there. We bought a chunk of the foie gras wrapped in dried duck breast; we'll be eating on this through new years. Got a pair of cailles chaponées and two figs stuffed with foie gras. The quail will be xmas dinner. We'll probably start with a small salad with warmed goat cheese on top; the stuff figs will either be part of the salad or served as an entremet. I'll serve the quail, fixed somehow, with truffle risotto, using the last of Jody' truffle from the freezer, and whatever veg looks good. Dessert? TBD.

Sunday (20-Dec-09) evening was an old favorite, Jaffrey's Lentils with Garlic and Onion (MJ1, p124) over Simple Buttery Rice with Onion (MJ1, p149). OD'd on cookies for dessert.