Monday, November 29, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/29-Nov-10: Dinner was a recipe collected from EAT-L, Stir-Fry with Fried Egg and Flavored Vinegar (soon to be MC). Yum. This is definitely a keeper. Stirred in mâche instead of spinach and Ed said not to use spinach on the next try. I think it would be OK, but mâche is more likely to be in the house. For a contrast, a bit of goat cheese for after.

Tuesday/30-Nov-10: Ed found corn on the cob at Géant yesterday, so we had that for dinner, along with some grilled chipolatas and some of Dusolier's perfect roast potatoes. Kind of a comfort dinner. A bit odd to be eating corn on the cob at the end of November with snow on the ground.

Wednesday/1-Dec-10: Oops, missed the mobile boulanger, no bread in the house, and the roads are not good for going out. Lunch was cheese and sliced onions (and cherry toms for me) in pitas, grilled till the cheese melted. Not bad.

For dinner I marinated a pair of bavettes from the freezer in a made-up marinade of 2tbl olive oil, 2tbl soy sauce (tamari, really), 1tbl of red wine vinegar, a goodly dash of garlic powder, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. (A bavette is a cut of beef that looks to be similar to flank steak, thin and wrong-way grain, but much smaller than a flank steak.) They marinated a good while, while they were defrosting. Then I grilled them under the broiler. Good they were. I'd use a bit less of the soy sauce next time, no more than 1.5tbl I think, maybe less. Served these with some trio rice and some steamed broccoli. Served this with the rest of the gravy I made from turkey stock. This went well with the rice and broc, but not so good with the beef. Oh well. For dessert I toasted a Belgian waffle from the freezer and defrosted some mixed berries and whipped up some cream with a bit of vanilla sugar. (The cream was from an unopened bottle that expired in October. It smelled and tasted OK, so I went ahead and used it.)

Made up some Buckwheat Cornmeal Bread (BigGerman, p38) to bake overnight. First time for this recipe, which is a bit odd in that it calls for the same amount of liquid for the medium and large loaves. I reduced this a bit. We'll see in the morning.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/2-Dec: The Buckwheat Cornmeal Bread was good! Tasty with a nice texture.

Lunch was Cooking Italy's Pasta e Fagioli. We ate all of what should have been six servings. Yum!

Friday/3-Dec: We're still a bit snowed in . Made a rapid version of Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22) the only ATM bread whose recipe I can remember.

Dinner was Moroccan Chicken and Orzo (MC, CL96, p130), a favorite of orzo-loving Ed. Used up the cilantro he bought a Géant on Monday. Followed by a salad of mâche and the rest of a so-so goat cheese.

The kitchen felt cold to me all day. Must look for an excuse to bake something tomorrow.

Saturday/4-Dec: I meant to make a quickie bread this morning, but didn't get a round tuit. With no bread for sandwiches, I made a little pasta dish for lunch. For the sauce I started with the last bit of shroom gravy. I soaked some dried porcini and added those with the soaking juice, a bit more gevogelte fond, slices from a cooked merguez from the freezer, and a dab of crème fraîche. Boiled up a bit of broccoli and some orechiette and stirred it all together. Not half bad.

Dinner was an old recipe from MC, Potato Casserole with Cheese and Mushrooms. This used up the oldest thing in the freezer, a lump of mozzarella. Served this with a big salad. Also good.

Sunday/5-Dec: Temps above 0C, so roads are melting, sort of. Went to the grocery this morning. It was empty of fresh food. No lettuce-y things. No potatoes or other root veggies. Three miserable looking eggplants. Yellowed broccoli well past its use-by date. Four scrawny sweet potatoes, which, in retrospect, I should have bought. A handful of shriveled up limes. Sigh.

Put the leg of lamb from the freezer on to marinate for tomorrow's dinner. Luckily it's cold enough to leave it outside, otherwise it would be a strain on the fridge contents.

Dinner was Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto (Cooking Light, sep10). Since there's no basil available, I used ricotta pesto from the freezer. An altogether weird recipe. All good things, but nothing goes together. Not to save. Sophie managed to get into the supposedly closed cupboard where the shrimp were defrosting and ate about half of what was there. I'll have to find a better place to put these things up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Relish tray: pickled green beans, carrot sticks, olives, cherry tomatoes

roast turkey
Prudhomme's Cornbread Dressing
Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff
roasted Brussels sprouts
Cranberry-Orange Relish
cloverleaf rolls

Beaujolais nouveau

pumpkin pie

Another day of thanks (Ed's not sick and no trip to the hospital!) and overeating. Mostly old favorites, only the Brussels sprouts was new. I was still a bit down with a cold earlier in the week, so I didn't get much ahead-of-time cooking done. But I was all day in the kitchen Thursday. We'd have never made an earlier dinner, so it's good Ed insisted on going to choir practice. Luckily the right oven was in a cooperative mood. I keep it turned on all day long, even when it wasn't busy. All was ready right on schedule at 18.00.

Relish tray
Nothing new here. I made my pickled green beans that I love and Ed doesn't. Company liked them too. Mixed olives from the shop.

Knowing we'd have only a few guests, I asked for a 4kg turkey. When I picked it up, it weighed in at 2.6kg. When I looked doubtful, the butcher said, Oh, it was 4kg before it was killed. Hmm, I thought I was asking for dressed weight rather than live weight. I'll be clear next year. Did nothing special here, besides sticking and onion and a lemon inside, just followed by old Joy of Cooking instructions, but needed only a dishrag, rather than a dish towel, to cover its breast. Here's the baby just out of the oven:

Small, but it tasted good. I used some long bits of bread to help the bird balance. I'm hoping these will be really good munching.

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cornbread Dressing
I haven't made another dressing since I discovered this recipe. Love it, yum! Can't be bothered to make a second dressing like I used to do either. There's too much to eat already.

Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff
I've been making this for Thanksgiving for at least thirty years. Certainly it was already a standard before we moved to the Netherlands. For the first time this year it failed, and I haven't a clue why. I did overcook (too long in the pressure cooker) the sweet potatoes, but cooked or mushy really shouldn't make that much of a difference. And the dish I usually use (a Pyrex bread pan) was not to be found, so I used another dish that would fit in the toaster oven. (Turns out this dish is actually the size that was required, so it shouldn't be a big deal.) Usually I made this dish the day before and thus cook it another 15 minutes. Could that make the difference? It wasn't "set" and worse, the flavor was blah, not yummy like it usually is. A puzzle.

Roasted Brussels sprouts
Now, this was something new. And a big success. Neither of us a big fans of Brussels sprouts. I really want to like them, they're just so cute, but don't. And these guys were great big ones, not even close to the tiny ones you could sometimes get in the Netherlands. But decidedly edible. And easy. Clean 'em up, leaving them whole. Toss with some olive olive, salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of garlic powder if you like. Bake for 40 minutes at 400F. The outer leaves might become disturbingly black—don't worry about it. I expect this will become a standard.

Cranberry-Orange Relish
No fresh cranberries to be found, so I used this old recipe, replacing the fresh cranberries with the dried that I bought at the Fête de Pain a couple of months ago. Not bad, but fresh would have been better.

No juices to speak of in the pan, so I made a bit of gravy from scratch, including sautéed shrooms for chew. Not bad.

Cloverleaf rolls
These were a hoot. Instead of using my usual roll recipe (Magic, p107), I used a recipe for buttermilk bread that Ed likes especially. My notes on the roll recipe page say that the 1-1/2# version makes a dozen rolls and the buttermilk bread recipe is for a 1-1/2# loaf, so I thought it would do fine. Problem 1: I didn't break up the buttermilk powder very much (it starts to clump up as soon as the box has been opened) and after going through the dough program there were still noticeable lumps of "powder." Problem 2: The dough was pretty close to soupy. I'm sure I measured the water right, and I thought I counted cups of flour properly, but I must have missed out a cup. Ok, add some flour and go through the Pizza program. Still too soft to handle, but the buttermilk lumps have disappeared. More flour, another Pizza program. Now it's looking like dough. So I dumped it out and made up the rolls, ignoring the fact that the balls were bigger than usual and the dough softer. The rools were big and some of them not done through. Tasted good, though. Maybe I should make up a proper loaf of this recipe next time we miss the boulanger.

Pumpkin pie
Oh, boring old recipe from the Libby's can. About the best pumpkin pie around. And much easier than any of my other alternatives for pumpkin whatnot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/22-Nov-10: Pulling the Thanksgiving menu together today, a bit belatedly. Ed looked at Géant for cranberries without luck. We may have a cranberry relish with dried cranberries this time. Made the cornbread for cornbread stuffing. Starting to worry about when I'll get everything done, since a large chunk of Wednesday is otherwise occupied.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/23-Nov-10: Off for shopping this morning. Still no cranberries to be found. Dinner was Tamarind Fish, a recipe I collected from a site where I've gotten some real winners. This wasn't one unfortunately. Served with rice and lots of lime-chile chutney to add some flavor. A salad after, and then a bit of "napoleon" cake.

Wednesdsay/24-Nov-10: Lunch at Sally and Mike's today, then she and I went off to have our hair cut. I picked up our turkey on the way home. It was a tiny litte thing. I was surprised that it weighed in at 2.6kg, when I had asked for one about 4kg. Seems like it was 4kg before it was killed and cleaned. I always thought I was asking for the dressed weight, rather than the live weight. I'll have to remember this next year. Yesterday, I bought a box of gizzards (for the non-stuffing) at the shop. Today I asked for some hearts and livers to go along with these. None to be had, but he kindly took the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard from a chicken in the display case. Tonight I made the pickled green beans and the cranberry relish, using up my stash of dried cranberries rather than fresh, which are not to be had right now. Have a lot to do tomorrow now.

Thursday/25-Nov-10: It's Thanksgiving. All day in the kitchen.

Friday/26-Nov-10: A really lazy day today. Leftovers for dinner. The cranberry-orange relish seems to be improving with age. The turkey is still in nature's refrigerator outside. I'll have to break down and get it picked tomorrow morning. We really can use some stock.

Saturday/27-Nov-10: Picked the turkey and made stock. Froze up two 8-oz ziplocs of turkey meat and three 2-cups of turkey juice. Not much really, but it was a just a tiny turkey. Lunch was turkey sandwiches, of course. Dinner was the rest of Barbara's Greek Onion-Leek Pie. It reheated well. And a salad, very simple. And the end of the pumpkin pie.

Put on the Buttermilk Bread (MC) from the laughable Thanksgiving cloverleaf rolls overnight.

Sunday/28-Nov-10: The Buttermilk Bread turned out fine. Can't think what went wrong on turkey day. Dinner was the rest of the leftovers, dressing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry relish, along with a new batch of gravy. Made too much of that, so need to use it for something else soon. Back to cooking now.

Yogurt on overnight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/15-Nov-10: Ed's birthday today, and we had a very nice lunch at the Roc du Boeuf. In the evening, not being hungry at all, we just had some fruit. Yesterday's Breton buckwheat cake is going to get pretty stale, but it will be a good coffee-dipping cake.

Tuesday/16-Nov-10: A strange thing this morning, we found the yogurt was set. After two days in the fridge. Very odd. So, breakfast was yogurt and a chunk of the Breton cake, which made a tasty treat. It has an interesting flavor, with vanilla, rum, and a dab of cinnamon. And I taste coconut, but that's probably something to do with the rum.

I wasn't very hungry this evening for some reason. Made a half recipe of Fava Bean Hummus (MC), which turned out to be a pretty good thing to do with the frozen favas that we thought were pretty tasteless all by themselves. The beans are cooked in boiling water with some milk, odd.

Wednesdsay/17-Nov-10: Ed shopped today while I waited for DHL, who indeed finally showed up. Dinner was Creamy Parmesan Salmon, a recipe that had been highly recommended on EAT-L. The salmon is baked with a topping of mayo, garlic powder, Parmesan, chives, and lemon juice (rather like a topping I have for baked eggplant slices, less the cracker crumbs and plus lemon juice). The recipe caled for the salmon to be baked for 25-30 minutes at 400F! I did 15 minutes and thought they were a trifle overdone. The usual timing is 10 minutes per inch at 350F, as I remember. We weren't overly fond of this, but it could be that I haven't found a good store-bought mayo yet. Accompanied by Dusolier's roast potatoes and a bit salad of mâche. For dessert there were some frozen crèmes brulées with red fruit. Not too bad.

The DHL package contained the first cookbook I won in one of the myriad of giveaways, the new Sunset House monster. Looks like it might have some good recipes, though.

Thursday/18-Nov-10: Started yogurt this morning with a new starter. Lunch was Avocado-Cream Sauce for Pasta (MC), an old recipe from Tip magazine. I used small cooked frozen shrimp instead of the ham, and no tuinkers. Can't remember what tuinkers are called in English and have never seen them here. Too bad. A fast and tasty pasta dish.

Neither of us feeling very perky this evening. A big salad, using the turkey scallop I'd already baked for another dish, and off to bed.

Friday/19-Nov-10: Out for a quiz dinner tonight. Not much going on in the kitchen.

Saturday/20-Nov-10: Baked another turkey scallop and made Seaver's Pour-Cousin Paella (MC; Secrets, p249), a mighty nice dish for using up odds and ends from the fridge and freezer.

Sunday/21-Nov-10: For lunch I made an old favorite soup, Pat O'Sullivan's Peanut Butter Soup (MC), that I haven't made in a long while. The recipe is supposed to serve four, I guess as part of soup-and-sandwiches, but the two of us usually eat all of it in big soup mugs. Nice on a cold gray day.

Dinner was Barbara's Greek Onion-Leek Pie (soon to be MC). I liked this lots, but Ed thought there was a bit too much dill. He almost always complains about the amount of dill, so we'll not worry about this. This would have been especially nice with a salad to accompany it, but I was too lazy to do it. And what do you do with leftover phyllo leaves? I mixed a glob of honey with some hazelnut butter that I found in the fridge, daubed that in the phyllo, rolled it up, and baked it while the pie was cooking. This turned out pretty good. The only thing I'd do is maybe add some finely chopped (hazel) nuts. A bit of a phyllo-y dinner, but it all tasted good.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/8-Nov-10 through Thursday/11-Nov-10: Away from home.

Friday/12-Nov-10: Before picking Sophie up this morning, I went to the butcher to order our Thanksgiving turkey and to buy some pork for the pasta and bean soup. Ed did a bit of shopping for fresh stuff after the car checkup, but forgot the celery, so the soup will have to wait again.

For lunch I thawed the Yogurt Carrot Soup (MC) and finished off its preparation. We had sandwiches and fruit for our later meal.

Saturday/13-Nov-10: Defrosted two servings of Mediterranean Turkey Casserole for dinner. For a starter there was Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171) with some radishes included at Ed's suggestion; this was good a good addition. Then the casserole, then a big salad. No dessert since we had quite a bit of chocolate after lunch. The casserole was froze well and was quite good.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/14-Nov-10: Oops, the yogurt didn't really set. Ed got the house-brand Activia imitation and now I have a suspicion that it might not be a live culture like Activia (which I used to use as a starter before I discovered the bio brands are really tastier). It certainly doesn't taste as good as Activia. Eating the unset yogurt is more like drinking kefir and will do for a couple of breakfasts, till we get to the store for some real stuff.

For a non-chocolate sweet, I made a Breton Buckwhet Cake with Fleur de Sel (web, soon to be MC). This also had the advantage of using up some of my buckwheat flour, which is due to expire soon, and I know from experience this goes rancid. I didn't really follow the directions, but it turned out surprisingly good. Now I need to make those pizzocheri to use up this buckwheat flour.

Dinner opened with the remains of the Yogurt Carrot Soup. The main was two little lamb chops each, rubbed with the leftover rub from last week's Cajun Pork Roast. Accompanied by steamed broccoli and polenta. Rounded out by the buckwheat cake.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Frittata with Zucchini and Basil

Cooking Italy Assignment
Frittata with Zucchini and Basil, p280

This week's assignment was to make any of Hazan's frittatas. An Italian frittata is the same as a Spanish tortilla, an eggy dish in the omelet family with the "filling" cooked right in with the eggs. It's a nice way to use up leftover bits of veg or meat or even pasta. Having a zucchini in the fridge wanting to be used as well as some past-its-prime basil in the garden, I chose the one with zucchini and basil.

You start by assembling, cooking if necessary, the filling. Stir this into some well-beaten eggs, along with some flavorings. Turn this into a cast iron skillet and cook slowly until the bottom is set, but the top is still a bit liquid.

Put the pan under the grill (or in a hot oven) and cook until the top begins to brown. Voila, there's your frittata.

I've made frittatas before, never with any great success. Usually they were tasty enough, but stuck to the pan and turned out like browned scrambled eggs. Recently I bought myself a cast iron skillet, which is exactly what you need for making a frittata (among other things)—the original non-stick surface. I'm in love. My frittata popped out of the pan just like it's supposed to.

Since the recipe calls for a 10" cast iron pan and my new one is only 8" in diameter, I cut the recipe back a bit (to about 2/3), using only 3 eggs. This is a nice amount for dinner for two.

This particular frittata (zucchini and basil) we both found, taste-wise, kind of so-so as frittatas go. But I've always liked the idea of a frittata and am very pleased to find that it works so well in my new pan. Now I'm going to go dig out some of the old recipes I'd given up on.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/1-Nov-10: During the day, I made a half recipe of Berry Tiramisu (soon to be MC) that was supposed to serve four; ended up with four servings from the half recipe. So we asked Sally and Mike to dinner to help eat it up.

For a starter, there was a bit of mâche with beets and shallots and a light vinaigrette, with warm goat cheese on toast. The main was Cajun Roast Pork Loin, a recipe my mother sent me from the KC Star (soon to be MC); have a bit of this rub left for another time. And a huge batch of Dusolier's Perfect Roast Potatoes (MC). In the midst of these cooking, the gas ran out and we had to change canisters, making everything a bit later than intended. Accompanied by Onion-Herb Bread (MC) from the bread maker since there was no bread at the boulanger yesterday and everything's closed today for the holiday.

The tiramisu was delicious, but the whole recipe definitely serves 8, not 4.

Tuesday/2-Nov-10: Tonight was a Frittata with Zucchini and Basil (ClassicItal, p280), with a salad of mâche. Topped off by the last pair of store-bought crême caramels.

Wednesday/3-Nov-10: Kind of a made-up dinner tonight, loosely based on something found on the web. Thingly sliced a small onion and softened it in butter and olive oil with some crushed pepper. Slivered up a Chinese cabbage (half of it, but should have done more), added that to the onion sautéed slowly. When the cabbage was soft, I added the last bit of the Cajun pork roast, slivered. Mixed this with 5 oz of penne; some whole wheat pasta might have been nice, and maybe something slightly smaller than penne. Pretty tasty. Served with a bit salad, and then some little chocolate desserts, straight from the freezer to the (toaster) oven to the table.

Thursday/4-Nov-10: For lunch today I dipped some turkey scallops in flour, S&P, and chipotle powder, then sautéed them in olive oil. When they were done, I deglazed the pan with some mixed-from-a powder chicken broth and some pyramid goat cheese. Pretty good for almost no effort. To go with, there was smashed sweet potatoes, with lemon juice instead of the usual orange juice, since I forgot to ask Ed to save some this morning, and don't want to open the new bottle. Ha, we might actually prefer the lemon juice version! And a mess of steamed broccoli which was especially good with the sauce. Followed by a big salad. And no dessert. We were full.

Friday/5-Nov-10, Saturday/6-Nov-10, Sunday/7-Nov-10: Away from home.