Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kitchen goals old and new

This year's kitchen goals

So how have I done this year?
  • Eating a vegetarian or fish (main meal) twice a week was easy goal, not too surprisingly, I suppose. There were only a couple of weeks in which that didn't happen. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the numbers, but I'm sure there were quite a few weeks with three or even four veggie or fish meals. Not sure if I'm ready to commit to three times a week. Instead, I think I'll just count the number of veg or fish main courses each week. Those numbers will help me decide on 2013 goals.
  • Soup has been served just less that half of the weeks in the year, more often in colder weather than in warm. Think it's worthwhile to continue this as a goal, just to keep soup in mind.
  • We've actually had our main meal at midday more often than I thought, again just less than half of the weeks of the year. This is difficult because of the way our schedules work. I still think it's worthwhile, since my tummy, at least, is happier eating a midday than in the evening. Think this will continue as a goal next year also.
  • As for pasta-making, I haven't missed a month. But I must say that having this as a goal has kept me focused on making fresh pasta.
I do think that having goals was useful when it came to meal planning. In particular, I'm sure my pasta-making would slide if I didn't have that goal. But also, as I laid out plans each week (not that these plans get followed in the end), I checked against the fish/veg, soup, and midday goals.

Next year's kitchen goals

So I think I'll continue the goal-setting for another year.
  • One goal, something entirely new, is to make something from a cookbook that I haven't used, or have rarely used, at least once a week. Just when I started thinking about this, not really sure whether I could commit to one per week, Cookbook Sundays came along, and I've already hopped on board. Doing this means a little more research into finding recipes, not from my stack of clippings and notes, but by picking an unused book and rummaging through it enough to find something I'd like to make. It also means an extra blog post every week. (So far, my posts are the least interesting of the participants, and I seem to be the only one making a deal out of the book, but I'll follow along, for my use rather than.)
  • Around Thanksgiving, I was rummaging through my notebook of bread recipes and info looking for something or other, and thought I'd really like to get back to baking bread frequently, not necessarily with the bread machine. To this end, I asked Santa for Peter Reinhardt's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and have started reading that. Although making bread once a week seems a bit much right now, I think I'll aim for that. "Bread" being anything yeast-ridden (does that include a nice rijstvlaai, I wonder?), for the bread machine, from my notebook, from Apprentice, or from other bread books.
  • I think I will continue the goal of making fresh pasta monthly, since I enjoy doing that but need the goal to keep it up. At least one of those months, I'll make a filled pasta. I still have a bit of a fear of this, since I've found it difficult before, but I expect it's a question of practice and I need the practice.
  • Every week I'll count how many vegetarian and fish meals I make.
  • Like last year, I'll aim for having soup at lunch or dinner (at least) once a week.
  • Like last year, I'll aim for having our main meal at midday (at least) once a week.
This almost seems like too much, but I'll give it a try.

Monday, December 26, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/26-Dec-11: In anticipation of company tomorrow afternoon, I made some eggnog, using the Eggnog II recipe from my old Joy of Cooking. It's ripening in the fridge now.

Then I made Eggnog Pear Pie (VegTimes, soon to be MC; cookbooker). I forgot to turn the oven temperature down when I put the filled pie in the oven, so the edges are a bit black, but the rest of the pie is yummy. Why they call it "eggnog", I haven't a clue.

Dinner started with lots of salad and the rest of the foie gras-stuffed magret. Good stuff. Then Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken (MC), quite good. Lots of sauce left, which will be good over pasta with some meat and a bit of veg, I expect. Also roasted up some more Brussels sprouts along with the end of the broccoli in the fridge. Followed by a slice of pie.

Tuesday/27-Dec-11: Real eggnog is real good. Yum.

For dinner I defrosted some zucchini-chickpea pancakes to make a little starter, topped with crème fraîche. Then there was some (defrosted) Zucchini Garlic Soup, the bounty of the summer garden. Then some pear pie. We're full.

I didn't participate in the last Cook the Books, because I didn't feel like finishing the book. This time the book is John Thorne's Outlaw Cook, which I read a few years ago. I thought I might dash through it again, and picked it up again with that in mind, but couldn't get into it. (I was surprised to discover that I've actually made, more or less, a couple of recipes from it.) Plus it's a bit intimidating that Thorne is going to judge. Think I might skip this one too. The next one is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've actually never read this, or seen the movie, and Roald Dahl isn't going to judge it, so it might be just the thing to inspire a chocolate fantasy.

Wednesday/28-Dec-11: Improvised a soup for dinner. Meant to loosely follow a recipe for broccoli-chicken-cheddar soup, but didn't quite make it. Took some cheese out of the freezer and Ed thought he would hurry along the defrosting, but putting it in a pan of hot water. It now looks something like CheezWhiz, which is one of the most disgusting food products around. The broccoli seems to have gone off, so I cut up some zucchini lurking in the crisper. There was turkey broth defrosted for something that didn't get made. And a handful of noodles. And some meat picked from Monday's leftovers. And a small can of corn. And the rest of the evaporated milk that didn't get used in the eggnog. Not bad altogether. Then some more pear pie.

Thursday/29-Dec-11: Shopped today. Bought some aillets again; these seem to be like green onions, but garlic instead. And, my, does the refrigerator smell (good?) when you open the door now. No plans for using them.

Dinner was Sauced Potato Casserole (Tassajara, p214), with slices of a smoked sausage tucked in amongst the potatoes. Very nice on a cold night. Salad after. Then the last of the pear pie.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/30-Dec-11: Made goat broth today. Have frozen it for some future use.

Dinner was Leek Bread Pudding, a recipe collected from EAT-L and available all over the web. Good stuff. Could be a side at a big dinner too. And a salad.

Saturday/31-Dec-11: Lots of finger food for munching in front of the TV this evening (Damn Yankees). For round one, there were (clockwise from lower right) verrines with an avocado mixture on the bottom, whipped cream and fromage blanc on that, and strips of smoked salmon on top—this was good all mixed together; olives from the marché de noël; toasts spread with soft goat cheese mixed with lemon zest and topped with smoked salmon (had to use up that 2-slice package, didn't I?); about a third recipe of Smokey Eggplant Purée (MedLight, p93) to use as a dip for ...; carrot sticks; cherry tomatoes stuffed with what was essentially a bland tuna salad.

Round two was store-bought: tapas on sticks (lemon chicken and herbed pork), plus little pastry packets (scallops, provençale, tapenade, and goat cheese). We had only eight of a package of thirty, but that make a quick munchie when you need something.

Had a good long reading session today and finished off the second book in the Durant's history of the world. Only nine more to go!

Sunday/1-Jan-12: Lovely lunch at La Bellone today. Nothing happening in our kitchen, but theirs was quite busy.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: yes (if restaurants count)
This month: #4 PASTA: yes

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chocolate Pasta

Antonio Carluccio Cooks Pasta
Antonio Carluccio
BBC Books (1999)
ISBN 0563384557

Yes, that what it says, chocolate pasta.

This is a book I bought a long time ago, but I've never spent that much time with it. I enjoyed Carluccio's TV shows and have others of his books that I've used, but this one never seemed to catch my eye somehow. Last week, I picked it up, as a unused cookbook, looking for a sauce inspiration for my monthly fresh pasta effort. When I saw the recipe for chocolate pasta, I figured I'd found my recipe—not to mention dessert for christmas dinner.

The recipe said it served four; having made it, I expect that might really be six. I cut the recipe in half for two and there was easily another serving available.

Cut in half, the recipe looks much like the one I most often use for fresh pasta, from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, but with sugar and cocoa added. Those extras, with no additional liquid, made the dough really stiff and much too dry. I added quite of a bit of extra water just to get it workable, but I'm sure it was still too dry. I could only roll it to 5 on my machine. It was a good think I'd planned to stop there, because it would have been impossible to roll it on 6. Here's the pasta waiting for its final preparation.

The recipe called for the pasta to be drizzled with honey and topped with chopped pistachios. Instead, I drizzled with crème anglaise (store-bought, sorry) before topping with the pistachios. Walnuts or other nuts would also be good, I think.

This is one of those things that I probably won't make again, but I'm glad I tried it. Now I know just what chocolate pasta is like.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Christmas dinner 2011

A small xmas this year, since neither of us were much in the mood for one reason or another. Simple table, simple meal.

For a starter, we again had slices of the foie gras wrapped with dried magret, bought at a marché de nöel. The vendor we bought from previously wasn't there, so we bought this from someone else, a very nice lady speaking very slowly and distinctly for the gringos. It was good, but neither of us thought it was as special as it has been in previous years. Here's Ed about to tuck in.

Also at the marché, I bought some ostrich steaks from a farm in the Dordogne. These turned into Ostrich Medallions with Gin Sauce. The recipe was originally for emu, but ostrich works just fine. Before cooking, the bird medallions sat around for a bit with a coating of green peppercorns (I used pink, there being no green ones in-house), juniper berries, and garlic. For the sauce, the pan was deglazed with a mixture of wildfond (stock from game, since no beef stock was in-house), port, chopped shallots, and a dab of gin. Between the juniper berries and the bit of gin, that was the strongest flavor, although it all went together quite well.

As go-withs I made potatoes Dauphinoise (BEFCC, p51) and roasted up some more Brussels sprouts. The potatoes are a classic and this recipe always turns out well. For two people who have never particularly cared for Brussels sprouts, we're getting to be big fans of roasted sprouts; they're much better than steamed or, yuck, boiled.

And for dessert there was chocolate pasta, which got its own post, a different turn on my monthly pasta.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Banana Coffee Cake Muffins

Cinagro Farm, Family Favorites from the Farm and beyond...
Carol Engan Borrelli
Morris Press Cookbooks (2008)
ISBN 1605851795

This is a book that got raves when it came out. Plastic ring-bound, a bit homemade looking, it's the kind of book I usually like, but someone this one never grabbed me. I will try to give it a chance now.

This is the first recipe I've made from this book, and I wasn't overly pleased. The muffins were so-so, and I found the instructions a bit weak. For example, it says to mix butter, sugar, egg, lemon zest, and milk in a bowl. But it's pretty hard work to mix room temperature butter into so much liquid. Better to cream the butter and sugar first and then add the liquid-y things.

The recipe calls for 1-1/2 tablespoons of baking powder, which seemed like an awful lot to me. A quick look at other muffin recipes showed no more than 1 tablespoon, so I cut this back. The muffins rose plenty high even without the extra baking powder.

Oops, I forgot to add the topping. Sprinkled it on for the last 10 minutes of baking (which doesn't really work that well), but can't say it was missed. But we don't like our sweets over-sweet, so it wasn't a problem. (I've put the topping aside in case an excuse to use it turns up in the next days.)

The muffins were good enough, but probably not a recipe I'll make again.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Curried Creamed Eggs

The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes
Mindy Toomay and Susan Geiskopf Hadler
Prima Lifestyles (1991)
ISBN 155958145X

This morning I went to make something else for Cookbook Sundays and discovered that I didn't have enough butter at room temp. By the time I got a chunk defrosted, other things were happening, so that recipe will have to wait a day or two.

Instead, tonight I ended up making a second recipe from The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes, by Mindy Toomay and Susann Geiskopf Hadler. After a quick read through the book, I've got quite a few stickies marking recipes to try. This evening, for one reason or another, I didn't feel like making the dinner I'd planned, so I opted for Curried Creamed Eggs instead (which, I'm sure, means this book no longer qualifies as never or rarely used).

This recipe is fairly quick to make and, because of the peas and carrots, could even qualify as a one-dish meal, which is quite nice when you're feeling rushed or lazy. (Who, me?)

Two small problems with the recipe as printed: It says that it yields 8 main-course servings. But this must be only four. A quick glance through the book shows that other recipes are generally either 4 main-course servings or 8 side-dish servings. I suspect this is an error that didn't get caught in the editing. I also found that the sauce wanted more milk than shown. I expect the full amount of milk (1-1/2 cups) would have been fine for my half version. I started with a cup and then added a slog near the end to thin the sauce a bit.

Start by sautéing some chopped onions in butter (ok, I used shallots, and some garlic wouldn't hurt, I expect). When they are soft, stir in some flour and curry powder. When this is smelling nice, stir in the warmed milk. (I don't suppose this really has to be warm, but I set it in a pan on a very low flame when I started the onions.)

If all's going well, your pasta water will be coming to a boil about now and you can add the pasta.

And here's where I made a major change to the recipe. Instead of chopping a couple of hard-boiled eggs and stirring them into the sauce, while the sauce was simmering, I added two eggs and poached them.

When the eggs were done, I removed each to one of the little dishes I'd used for the chopped shallot and the flour/curry addition. Then warm the peas the sauce and add the sliced carrots to the boiling pasta for the last minute of cooking. Mix the drained pasta and carrots with the sauce and serve, topping each with a poached egg.

Not a bad dinner. Some chopped chives or even parsley on top would have been pretty, but we were ready to eat.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Monday, December 19, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Dec-11: Dinner was falafel in pitas, served with Tahini Dipping Sauce (WofE, p359), some shredded lettuce, and a salad based on Cream Cheese and Cucumber Salad (Roden, p65), using feta and adding tomatoes.

Tuesday/20-Dec-11: At Lesley and Toby's do this afternoon (they run Sophie's cattery/spa), we munched so well for "lunch" that we weren't very hungry for dinner. So I made a big salad, one of those cleaning out the fridge jobs, and that was dinner. So much for menu plans.

Then we nibbled some of the chocolate coated walnuts we bought at the St. Sornin cave, where we'd gone to stock up on our favorite rosé, only to find that it was everybody else's favorite too and it's all gone. Maybe next year will be as good.

Wednesday/21-Dec-11: Shopped today; bought lots of goodies for xmas and new year.

Dinner was West Indian Salmon Patties (MC). Made 6; froze 3 for another time. Quite yummy. Served with leftover Jamaican rice and beans. Finished off the chocolate walnuts for dessert.

Thursday/22-Dec-11: Off-piste again. Had a curried egg thing planned, but decided against that recipe and opted for a half-dose of Curried Creamed Eggs (125Pasta, p230; cookbooker). I poached our eggs in the sauce, rather than stirring in hard-boiled ones, chopped. Think I prefer this.

Friday/23-Dec-11: Ed still sickie, so we didn't go caroling. For dinner I reheated the last of the Jamaican rice and beans (that was good, but the recipe made enough to feed a small army), adding some grilled sausages from the freezer. And a nice salad. Off to bed with us.

Saturday/24-Dec-11: This morning I made some Banana Coffee Cake Muffins (Cinagro, p3; cookbooker). Forgot to add the topping, but can say it was really missed. Neither of us really like that kind of sweet stuff. (Meanwhile, I've saved the stuff on the odd chance I might find a use for it in the next days.) Not bad muffins, but not especially a recipe I'll do again.

For a starter tonight, we each had a foie gras-stuffed fig, that we bought at the marché de noël last weekend. She had only six-packs of these, and when we said we wanted only two, she dug these out of the cooler and told us to put them in the coldest part of the fridge and we had to eat them no later than christmas day. Expect they were slight out of date, but we seem to have survived. The main course was a half recipe of Fusilli in Chick-pea-Walnut Cream, a xerox copy I got from somewhere, from a cookbook I don't have. The book has been on my want list for a long time, but this recipe didn't really up its position on the list. I've been running into lots of recipes using pomegranate molasses/syrup of late, and finally found a bottle, which was inaugurated for this. Can't really say it was noticeable. The recipe involved blending walnuts and chickpeas to make a creamy sauce, then cooking broccoli and tomato in that. Fairly so-so, probably healthy.

Sunday/25-Dec-11: Neither of us feeling very perky this year, we had a kind of low-key xmas. Kept the dinner small and easy, except for dessert, which was a bit of a struggle.

Yogurt on overnight. (Have made yogurt several times this week, it seems, but not recorded it. Oops.)

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP:no, #3 MIDDAY:no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes

Monday, December 12, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/12-Dec-11: Yogurt on overday. Finished off Kitchen Diaries, a fun read. I've already made a couple of good things from it and have lots of stickies on it.

Quiz tonight. Nothing much happening in the kitchen.

Tuesday/13-Dec-11: Going to dash through Outlaw Cook for Cook the Books. I've read it before and I've got another of Thorne's books on my read-me-soon shelf, so I don't want to spend too much time with it.

Dinner was fridge-clearing mishmash. First there was a more-or-less half dose of Egg Fried Rice (HotWok, p186). Not too bad. I see that I didn't let the cuke and corn cook long enough, and we thought they were a bit crunchy. With reason. Then there was a sort of hash thing with some red onion, broccoli, a tiny chicken breast in bits, and chunks of leftover baked potatoes I brought home from the choir party, jazzed up with the end of a Trinidadian spice mixture needing to be used up. Also not bad. And, of course, sriracha helps all. Then there was the end of the arugula-pear salad, with more lettuce added. The arugula was pretty soggy, but didn't taste bad. Tiny bit of Louise's christmas cake.

Wednesday/14-Dec-11: Is it Wednesday already? Got the goat off the bone and into the marinade to make curry in the next days. Froze the bones to make stock in the next days.

Dinner was a half dose of Border-Style Shrimp (EAT-L, now MC), along with some yellow rice. Peeling the shrimp is a pain, but worth the effort. Would be nice to have some green onions, since that touch of color would be nice. Salad after. More christmas cake.

Yogurt on overnight. Finished off all our bread, so English Muffin Bread (BigGerman, p15) on overnight.

Thursday/15-Dec-11: Power went off last night for 2 hours, leaving yogurt half-done and bread waiting. In the morning, I restarted the yogurt and did the bread on Rapid. Not sure how the yogurt will be (tomorrow will tell), but the bread was yummy.

Yvonne called to invite us to a dinner for folks who'd helped her out with this and that. So the goat will marinate another day.

Friday/16-Dec-11: Uh-oh I don't have an unused cookbook meal planned in the next days. Have to think a bit about this tomorrow.

The goat curry is marinating another day. Shopping today, and lots more errands.

Tonight's dinner was Chicken Marsala (MC 2BTried), which was pretty good; half the chicken, all the sauce. With the mushroom pasta from the freezer and lots of broccoli.

Saturday/17-Dec-11: Finally got that Goat Curry (JamieMag) made. Pretty good and seriously hot—one Scotch bonnet worth is pretty strong. Served with Rice and Peas as suggested. Used a recipe from a Jamaican tourist site. Quite good this, although four people hardly made a dent in 3 cups of raw rice. The peas are actually red beans, of which the cupboard was bare, so I used black bean instead. I bought a couple of plantains to make fried plantains, another suggested go-with, but forgot to make them. For a starter, there Moroccan Zucchini Salad (MC), not Jamaican, but sort of similar in taste. For dessert there was vanilla ice cream with mango slices. We ate well.

Sunday/18-Dec-11: We had cake and champagne in the afternoon for Vanessa's birthday, so we weren't very hungry in the evening. Finished off the Pastina and Pea Soup (hmm...that was getting pretty old), and topped up yesterday's Moroccan Zucchini Salad with some leftover corn to finish that off.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: no

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pastina and Pea Soup

Recently, while I was starting to consider my cooking goals for 2012, I thought that one challenge for myself would be to cook, every week or perhaps twice a month, a recipe from a cookbook that I've never, or at least seldom, used. I use many of my cookbooks, but there are quite a few that for one reason or another haven't seen much action. Earlier this week, my RSS reader had notice of a new post at Couscous & Consciousness, the blog from another Cooking Italy participant. Sue announced that she has taken over hosting Cookbook Sundays, whose goal is for participants to, yes, cook from cookbooks they don't use. Serendipity reigns, and here we are. This isn't going to be a 2012 goal, but one of the (limited number of) cook-alongs that I'm participating in. (Although, another idea for a 2012 goal might be to participate in these cook-alongs.)

On Friday Ed and I had originally intended to lunch out with friends, but this plan fell through. I had nothing in particular planned for dinner, so on the way out to go have my hair cut, I grabbed a promising unused book to look for dinner while waiting.

The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes
Mindy Toomay and Susan Geiskopf Hadler
Prima Lifestyles (1991)
ISBN 155958145X

The book I picked up was The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes, by Mindy Toomay and Susann Geiskopf Hadler. I'd seen this book recommended somewhere and managed to get a copy via Bookmooch. After it arrived, it went onto the shelf with other pasta books and has been patiently waiting for me to have a good look. Now I've had only a quick look, but I did manage to find what appeared to be a nice, quick soup for our dinner, Pastina and Pea Soup.

And very simple it was. Sauté some onion and garlic. Add water with some vegetable broth cubes and bring to a boil. Stir in some tarragon and white wine, and simmer for a bit. Bring back to a boil, add the pasta, and cook till al dente. (Pastina seems to be a name for any small pasta shape. Not sure I've seen the word before.) Stir in some half-and-half, frozen or fresh peas, and grated Parmesan. Heat and serve. Voila, you've got dinner—a light dinner perhaps, but that's all we wanted.

Nothing fancy here, but quite a tasty soup for minimal effort and with ingredients that are always in house. Some bread and cheese afterwards and we were quite satisfied.

Now it's time to sit down for a good look through this book, with a packet of stickies at hand. A good proportion of the recipes, including the one I tried, are clearly marked "Almost Instant." This can be very handy for those days when time or energy for preparing dinner is limited.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/5-Dec-11: Used up the first of Barbara's butternut squashes making Butternut Soup with Pear, Cider, and Vanilla Bean (Molly, p226), an interesting take on butternut squash soup. The flavors blend surprisingly well. Do get tired of peeling though; next one will be roasted. More of the Courgette and Chick Pea Filo Pie, cold, as a go-with. Filo could have used a perk-up in the oven, but it was otherwise good, especially with some lime pickle mixed in.

Made some Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22, but out of head) for the soup and for breakfast.

Tuesday/6-Dec-11: Very late dinner tonight, after Kaye worked with Michelle on the Club Liseron blog for quite a while. Luckily a quick, light dinner, little Drôme raviolis with pesto, both from the freezer. And a salad, with a formerly frozen cooked beet.

Wednesday/7-Dec-11: Shopped today.

Dinner was Salmon with Sorrel and Asparagus en Papillote (SeriousEats). Served with some boiled potatoes tossed with a bitter butter. Pretty good stuff.

Have been pondering my 2012 kitchen goals. One thing I've been considering is doing a recipe a week, or maybe twice a month, from a cookbook I haven't used much, or at least haven't used recently. This morning, I saw that Sue from Couscous & Consciousness, who was part of Cooking Italy, is taking over as host of something called Cookbook Sundays ... where you cook something from a book you haven't used. Serendipity or what? So it looks like this is going to have to be one of next year's goals.

Eating two vegetarian or fish meals a week has been an easy goal, practically no challenge at all. Considering whether I should extend that to three days, or just let it go for mow.

Probably will repeat the fresh pasta once-a-month goal. I've been doing this, but without the target, I think it would be difficult. (Which makes me think I'd better start thinking about December's pasta soon, since there are several holiday meals coming up. If I have pasta from the freezer, make fresh last month, does that count?)

Have been pretty much a failure at arranging to have our main meal at midday once a week. A bit better with soup, but not much. Not sure what I'll do with these next year.

Thursday/8-Dec-11: Finished off the Courgette and Chick Pea Filo Pie for dinner. Warming in the oven did the trick, crisping up the filo. Thought about a salad, but we both decided it would be too much.

Friday/9-Dec-11: Had planned to lunch out today, so didn't really have anything planned, and not much appetite anyhow. Made a whole dose of Pastina and Pea Soup (125Pasta, p56) and have leftovers for lunch or a starter one of these days. Pretty good for minimal time and effort. Not sure I've ever seen the word pastina used to name "any small pasta" before. A bit of Camembert for afters. (This is my first entry for Cookbook Sundays. Yes, it's Friday, but that will do too.)

Saturday/10-Dec-11: Dinner was Curried Oven Omelets, a recipes from somewhere on the web. An annoying recipe, asking for a can of coconut milk (what size?); telling you to season the sautéed onions "according to taste" with turmeric, chili powder, and salt before the remaining ingredients have been added; etc. The recipe called for 5 eggs to serve 4-6. Oh? I used 4 eggs, but only 3 would have done, since they were "beefed up" with milk and ricotta. Well, I'd forgotten to defrost ricotta (a shame, since the rest of the package is destined for another meal), so used cream cheese instead. An omelet under the broiler is really a frittata, I think. It was very pretty, all puffed up and browned. Then cut up and into the sauce with coconut milk, onions, and spices to taste. It wasn't bad, but nothing I need to do again. The omelet/frittata part was worth remembering. Then we had a big salad of rucola. And to fill us up we had a bit of the Christmas cake given to Ed by one of his choir members. Tasty, but heavy and too too sweet for our tastes.

Sunday/11-Dec-11: No one went to the boulanger yesterday, so this morning I made more Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22) for breakfast and lunch. Simple recipe, good bread.

For the post-carol conert choir party, I made a double dose of Spinach Salad with Pears, Pecans, and Feta (MDSalads, p28). OK, it was arugula and walnuts, but it was still good. Thought it would be a good idea to have something fresh, rather than cooked, but the Choir Mom already had a bowl of lettuce for the table. Oops.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: no

Monday, November 28, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/28-Nov-11: A quickie grocery shop this morning, then off for a bit of touristing with Bill. Froze my turkey carcass since I don't have time to deal with it in the next few days.

Dinner was Steak with Cucumber-Radish Salad (CLmag/apr2011, soon to be MC). Good stuff. I used my regular beef marinade, which is similar to CL's but using soy sauce/tamari instead of salt. Salad, with mâche, is very good. I served with rice and roasted broccoli, but this was really a bit much. For afters we had a bit camembert and then store-bought tiramisus.

Tuesday/29-Nov-11: Made it to the boulanger too late for bread this morning. Made White Buttermilk Bread (MC). Did it on Rapid, which maybe wasn't a good idea since the buttermilk was quite cold.

Lunch was an old favorite, Mushroom Barley Soup (MC). Good stuff.

Dinner was Feta Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Breasts (web, soon to be MC). Very nice, would be nice for company. I did use only half the oil that was asked. Served with Dusolier's roasted potatoes. And a big salad of mâche. Followed by one tiramisu and two panna cottas with caramel. (That's one per person, not three each!) I'm full.

Wednesday/30-Nov-11: Lunch out with Bill today, then took him to the train station. No further food necessary.

Thursday/1-Dec-11: Busy cleaning up, putting away after Thanksgiving and company. No real plans for dinner, so I made Artichoke Spaghetti (Art, p59), an old favorite. Then a salad. Then some Camembert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/2-Dec-11: Shopping today. Had an Indian itch and scratched it with tonight's dinner. There was Shrimp Steamed with Mustard Oil (Q&E, p64), half the shrimp with all the sauce, served over plain rice. And Green Beans with Mushrooms (Q&E, p86), which I haven't made it a while, but is still good. Ending with a half dose of Caramelized Cardamom Apples with Pistachio Cream (Q&E, p122), hardly Indian, but quite good anyhow. Note to self: Don't cook apples in your cast iron skillet, even if they fit that best.

Saturday/3-Dec-11: Used up some pumpkin from the freezer and the last of a sack of cranberries to make a loaf of Pumpkin Cranberry Bread (MC). Yum.

Dinner was a Courgette and Chick Pea Filo Pie (web, cookbooker). Another hit from Nigella. Followed by a salad. And a little dessert with leftover bits of filo/phyllo and some cinnamon sugar.

Have turkey stock cooling in the fridge to de-fat and freeze tomorrow.

Sunday/4-Dec-11: The turkey stock didn't get de-fatted; that will be first up tomorrow.

Still on the using-up-the-preserved lemons quest, dinner was Chicken Roulade with Olives and Simple Preserved Lemons (CLmag, soon to be MC). Quite good. Made all the stuffing for an otherwise half recipe; probably this wasn't necessary. Served with plain couscous (good with the sauce) and North African Spiced Carrots, which we've had before and were good yet again.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes for Nov/no for Dec

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

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

Marinated Brussels Sprouts

roast turkey
Prudhomme's Cornbread Dressing
Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff
Cranberry-Port Relish

Morgon 2003

pumpkin cake

Another day of thanks. Bill came from Amsterdam, and we invited our new neighbor, Vanessa, and her two kids, 9 and 13, I think. They are vegetarian, so everything but the turkey was meatless. Served mostly old favorites. Looks like Brussels sprouts are becoming a tradition. Dinner was supposed to be six-ish, but I miscalculated the weight and thus time for the bird and it was just after seven thirty when we sat down. Vanessa brought an eagle feather and we passed that around, each saying what we were thankful for.

For the first time ever, I think, I managed to get a Thanksgiving starter on the table. It actually worked quite well. The turkey was out of the oven, resting. The casseroles rested in their still warm oven. Early in the day, we opted for bread from the boulanger rather than homemade rolls; otherwise, it would have worked well to pop the rolls in the oven as we served the starter.

The flowers on the table are camellias from the garden. Camellias from the garden in November? Yes. One shrub is blooming and the other two are ready to go. What will they do in the spring, I wonder? Here's the table, almost ready to start serving.

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.

Marinated Brussels Sprouts
Several years ago, I made this recipe a couple of times and we liked it, but I kind of forgot about it. The original recipe called for steaming the sprouts, but since I've had good luck roasting them lately, I did that instead. I used all the marinade for twice the sprouts, and that seemed fine. Served with arugula, topped with toasted walnuts.

Turkey was 4.3kg/9.5lb this year. I chopped some herbs (sage, rosemary, and thyme from the garden), grated some lemon zest, mixed with some salt, and rubbed under the skin. Stuck the grated lemon inside the bird. Followed my old Joy of Cooking instructions, used only a dishrag, rather than a dish towel, to cover its breast. Since I don't have a rack to fit in the casserole dish, I used some long bits of bread to help the bird balance. Neglected to take a picture. Tasted good anyhow.

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cornbread Dressing
Because we had vegetarian guests, I made this with mushrooms rather than giblets. I've done this before and it works fine. And garlic broth instead of chicken broth. Really good stuff.

Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff
A double dose of this fit perfectly in the AH Wedgwood oval casserole. And it was a good thing I made a double dose, since the kids really liked it. A single dose is advertised as serving 8; I think 6 is more like it. There was only one small serving left.

Cranberry-Port Relish
Bill arrived earlier in the day, bringing three sacks of cranberries. Put two into the freezer and used part of the last to make this relish. Really easy, really good.

Sautéed shallots and 'shrooms to start the gravy made with garlic broth. Used two cups of garlic broth. Should have used more since we were quite out at the end of the meal.

Pumpkin Cake
I made this for Club Liseron last month and it was a big hit. Opting for an easy dessert, I decided to do this again. Used my standard cream cheese icing, which has been quite runny the last two times I've made it. Has the St Moret (cream cheese) changed? Could it be that the butter was frozen? A mystery. Well, the kids like the big puddle in the middle of the cake. You can see it's mostly gone here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/21-Nov-11: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli (CL, may11; cookbooker); served with basmati rice. Edible, especially with a big squiggle of sriracha, but not a recipe to keep.
Tuesday/22-Nov-11: Didn't get very far with turkey day prep today, only grocery shopping got done, and that was late in the day. Surprise—there were preserved lemons! I've never seen preserved lemons in a shop. A big jar with little lemons and some bigger lemons in smaller amounts.

Dinner was a half dose of Barbecued Raspberry-Hoisin Chicken (EW site & mag), done under the broiler. With polenta. Followed by a big salad. Some store-bought flan for dessert.

Wednesday/23-Nov-11: Picked up the turkey this morning and left it in Barbara's refrigerator. Spent most of the day in the kitchen busy with Thanksgiving things. Since we've got vegetarian guests, I made a some Garlic Broth (MDSoups, p55) to use for gravy and the dressing. Made cornbread (Joy, p578) to use for the dressing. Put the Marinated Brussels Sprouts (MC) on to marinate. Decided not to make the sweet potato-carrot puff ahead, since there's no room in the fridge and it's too warm to store anything outside, so I'd have to take it to Barbara's. Instead I made
the Pumpkin Cake (MC). Munched marinated green beans throughout the day.

Dinner was Cheddar Cheese Risotto (web, soon to be MC). Used some mature Welsh cheddar from the freezer. No baby leeks, used aillets instead. Tasty stuff. Followed by a salad.

Thursday/24-Nov-11: Yogurt on overday.

Prepare the rest of Thanksgiving dinner. Sat around talking till midnight. Stacked the dishes, froze the rest of the garlic broth, fell into bed.

Friday/25-Nov-11: Four rounds of dishwashing this morning to finish cleaning up from last night. Last one included breakfast dishes.

Made Apple-Plum Butter (MC).

For dinner the three of us finished off the brussels sprouts salad, then had turkey tartines, open-faced turkey sandwiches topped with onion relish from a market and comté, grilled till the cheese was toasty. Then we finished off the pumpkin cake.

Saturday/26-Nov-11: Picked the turkey and packaged it up for freezing. Didn't freeze the carcass, but expect I should do that since it might be hard to make stock while Bill's here.

Lazy day otherwise. Went to Chez Cisseen's for fish-n-chips. Yum!

Sunday/27-Nov-11: Lunch at the Trapateau's ferme-auberge. No one interested in food this evening.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP:no, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes

Monday, November 14, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/14-Nov-11: For lunch, I made a half dose of Cauliflower and Walnut Cream Soup (SoupBible, p47; cookbooker), using up the rest of the cauliflower. Easy and good. Even Ed, who's not a cauliflower fan liked it.

Dinner was also fast and tasty. Spanish-Style Tuna and Potato Salad (CL, soon to be MC, cookbooker). Good, but more appropriate for the summer I expect. Some St. Felicien for afters.

Tuesday/15-Nov-11: Ed's birthday day, so we lunched out. Nothing happening in the kitchen all day.

Wednesday/16-Nov-11: Salmon for dinner, appearing as Dad's Famous "Pink Fish" (HEB, p148). Pretty good, if a bring strong with soy sauce. And rice. Then a big salad with an oriental dressing I made a while ago and didn't use. Otherwise pretty quiet in the kitchen, since we're both tired out from a long walk this morning.

Thursday/17-Nov-11: Best-laid plans for dinner, gone awry. Instead there was leftover sorrel-onion tart, still good. And a salad. Finished off the St. Felicien after line dancing.

Friday/18-Nov-11: Defrosted some turkey scallops for a simple dinner. Floured, sautéed, and topped with a lemon-caper pan sauce. Some trio rice and peas on the side. Some Lindt chocolates and breakfast cookies for dessert. That's all.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/19-Nov-11: Off to a commune dinner this evening. Nothing happening in the kitchen.

Sunday/20-Nov-11: Finished off our bread at breakdfast and no one wants to go to the boulanger. Made Whole Wheat with Bran (BigGerman, p81) (WW/Rapid/Med/—). What a high, beautiful, lovely smelling loaf came out!

This time of year, when the sun is low, is a big discouraging housekeeping-wise. All the dust, and spots on the floor that want to be mopped are clearly visible, as they aren't when the sun is higher. I'm startled at how dusty this house is. I dusted the bedroom well one day and the next day surfaces were dusty again. In Amstelveen, we had forced air heating, so I'm guessing the filter on that system removed much of the dust.
Put together the pickled green beans for Thanksgiving today.
Homemade fettucine for dinner with a half dose of Ligurian-Style Pasta Sauce with Zucchini and Carrots (MarCuc, p159). Pretty good but not my favorite of her pasta sauces.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes

Monday, November 7, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/7-Nov-11: Quiz night again. Nothing happening in the kitchen.

Tuesday/8-Nov-11: Dinner was Mushroom Stroganoff, loosely following a recipe from EAT-L, over noodles. Good it was. Then a big salad.

Wednesday/9-Nov-11: Busy day today. We had lunch out, so only fruit and cookies in the evening.

Thursday/10-Nov-11: For lunch I made a little soup with leftover mushrooms, leftover mushroom broth, the last zucchini from the garden (kind of a mini one), and some pasta. It was good.

For dinner I picked the meat from the chicken, heated it in the sauce, and served over pasta. Some leftovers still. Ed tried to toss the carcass, but we rescued most of it and popped it in the freezer for whenever I have another one to make broth.

Friday/11-Nov-11: Curried Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash for dinner (web). Nice vague recipe. Used some homemade Italian sausage from the freezer. No eggs mixed in; fried egg on top of each serving. Good enough. Think I might prefer it with real potatoes rather than sweet.

Saturday/12-Nov-11: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was Lamb Rib Chops with Quince Jelly Glaze (somewhere on the web). Not bad. Quince jelly I made earlier in the year. We ate most of the chops (should have served four) and have some meat leftover for ... something. Roast potatoes and roast cauliflower as go-withs. Think I really prefer my meat without glazes and such.

A peculiar thing: I bought the package of lamb chops at the grocery store. When I lifted out the chops, I discovered a kidney hiding in there, a lamb's kidney I suppose. Why? What am I supposed to do with it?

Sunday/13-Nov-11: Lovely looking sorrel at the grocery store this week. Impulse buy. Tonight's dinner was Sorrel-Onion Tart (Greens, p244; cookbooker). Pretty good, but I think if I did this again, I wouldn't cook the sorrel, but just stir the slice greenery into the egg-cream mixture. Then a big salad. Then some Lindt chocolates for dessert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: no

Monday, October 31, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/31-Oct-11: We forgot to get bread while we were out yesterday, so I made some Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22, but out of head) on Rapid this morning, so we'd have bread for lunch. Then I made sandwiches of the leftover Mediterranean chicken burgers, with mango chutney and slices of cucumber. Not too bad.

Dinner was a half dose of Pork Chops with Hot Garlic Sauce (MC), grilled on the stove. Tasty. With some polenta and some roasted broccoli with garlic and a few slow-roasted tomatoes.

Tuesday/1-Nov-11: Some replanning involved for today. Most restaurants are closed on Tuesday, so we had our anniversary lunch out on Sunday. I thought I'd make some lamb cutlets with quince jelly glaze for a special dinner, but remembered I've got crockpot lamb vindaloo on for tomorrow, so did a replan. Made an interesting menu I found on the web, but discovered this evening that I made the wrong main course, which explains why the menu was so unbalanced. Will have to repeat the sides with the recommended main course before too long.

So, dinner was Ancho Chile, Shrimp, and Pasta (SimplyRecipes), a very tasty and quick main course. I served it with a couscous pilaf (totally useless because of the pasta, but the leftovers will make a nice salad one of these nights) and North African Spiced Carrots (EatingWell), which were very tasty. Some tiramisu from the freezer for dessert.

Put the lamb for tomorrow's vindaloo on to marinate overnight.

Wednesday/2-Nov-11: Yogurt on overday in the yogurt maker. Lamb Vindaloo (R&WSlowCook, p112, cookbooker) on overday in the crockpot. When we got back from the zoo, I boiled off the extra liquid from the vindaloo while the rice cooked. Pretty good, although nowhere need as hot as vindaloo should be. For dessert there was toasted Belgian waffle topped with defrosted raspberries and some raspberry sherbet.

Thursday/3-Nov-11: Cupboard is getting bare. Shopped early last week and late this week.

Dinner was Spaghetti Carbonara with a Poached Egg (MC), followed by a salad. Simple and tasty.

Friday/4-Nov-11: Shopped this morning.Dinner at our local quiz tonight (where we wiped out the competition), so nothing happened in the kitchen.

Saturday/5-Nov-11: Nice dinner tonight. Started with a little salad made from the leftover couscous gussied up. Then Coquilles à la Florentine (MC 2BTried), which apparently came from Cooking Light a long time ago. Quite nice, although a bit of the instructions seems to have gotten lost at some point; all the online versions I've found have the same problem. Is the sauce under, over, or mixed with the spinach and scallops? Accompanied by some orzo, a trifle too lemony tonight. Then a big salad.

Ended up with Pear Clafoutis (H2CE, p642, cookbooker). Very nice this was. Comice pears.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/6-Nov-11: Working on my preserved lemon stash, dinner was Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons (NAfrica, p61). Turns out that I made this before (in July), but didn't mark the book at all and managed to keep the page spotless. It was good again. Served with couscous and a repeat of the North African Spiced Carrots. Pear clafoutis for dessert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: no, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes for October, no for November

Monday, October 24, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/24-Oct-11: Last week at Leclerc they had one-portion Alsacian choucroûte dinners to be reaheated in your microwave or in a bain marie. Each included zuurkool, a long skinny worst, a short fat worst, some slices of what looked like gekookt worst, and a slice of what looked like casselerrib, plus a small boiled potato. I bought some extra potatoes and made a Dutch stamppot this evening. Rather nice on what turned into a cold, rainy evening. Maybe I've noticed this before, but I think I prefer the Dutch sauerkraut; can't really say what the difference is, but somehow tastier. Have leftover potatoes and zuurkool, maybe for tomorrow.

Tuesday/25-Oct-11: Shopping today between various appointments in La Rochefoucauld. This weeks's choucroûte dinners n offer were not as nice as what I got last week, so we felt good about that impulse buy. During lots of waiting time, sitting in the car, I read through Made in Texas: H-E-B's 100th Anniversary Cookbook, a fun read. Tagged some recipes to try. I wish there had been more pictures of some of the old stores. I have found memories of the "pointed" HEB
on McCullough near my grandparents house in San Antonio. Long gone.

Dinner was Pork Chops in Mustard Sauce (MC), accompanied by the leftover potato-zuurkool mush, and followed by Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Pine Nuts, Feta, Basil, and Lemon (MC), made recently as a main. The sauce was actually a honey-mustard sauce. I used the Charente honey of flowers than I bought at a market recently. Flowers indeed. Even after the carton was closed, I keep looking for the source of the flowery perfume odor. Lovely.

Wednesday/26-Oct-11: Yogurt on overday. Oven-roasted tomatoes on overday.

Went to make dinner and discovered that the contents of my lovely box of mushrooms was covered by a dense white fur. Oops, no mushroom stroganoff for dinner tonight. Since I was already munching a bit of a sausage/salami I'd bought on sale, dinner became, more or less, Spaghetti with Salami and Peas (365Pasta, p55), a recipe we've had a number of times. Pretty good for last minute what not. Then a salad. Not as early as I'd like, but not too bad.

Thursday/27-Oct-11: Made pasta today, vaguely following the recipe for Mushroom Pasta Dough (PastaBible, p47). Second time I've made this, not really following the recipe closely. I soaked the dried 'shrooms rather than grinding them dry; used shiitakes instead of porcini/cêpes; omitted the extra egg yolk and 1tbl of olive oil; used 1 cup tipo 00 flour and 1 cup all-purpose (instead of two of all-purpose). No extra water required. Froze half for another dinner.

Made a little sauce of olive oil, garlic, and pepper flakes. The gas canister for the stove ran out while the pasta was good. Very annoying, since I was leaving shortly and didn't have time to fool with it. But it got done eventually in the not quite boiling water. Tasty.

Followed by a salad using one of the beets I froze up. Worked fine. The beet was still a bit chilly, but should be better if I remember to get one out of the freezer an hour ahead of time.

Friday/28-Oct-11: Dinner was a half recipe of Penne with Green Vegetables and Goat Cheese (SeriousEats, soon to be MC). Very nice. The kind of thing I'd make up myself, although I'd not likely have combined broccoli, zucchini, and (frozen) peas.

What really happens to all the missing measuring spoons in the world? Do borrowers come to take them away? I used to have a glut of 1/2 tablespoon measures (a favorite, 1-1/2 teaspoons, an amount I seem to measure frequently); now I have only one. Where have the others gone? Not many 1 teaspoons either. May be time to break out another set before long.

Saturday/29-Oct-11: A mixed dinner tonight, Mediterranean Chicken Burgers (from the web) and a made-up side dish, vaguely Mediterranean, using the leftover shell pasta and ricotta. The burgers were tasty, more Indian than Mediterranean, but a bit dry. It called for 2 tablespoons of olive oil, I added only 1 tablespoon (with 3/4 of the meat asked), but I wonder if that really made a difference. Needed salt too.

The stuffed shells were good. I had 10 shells left from last week's dinner. Defrosted some ricotta pesto and spread that on the bottom of a dish that held all the shells. Sautéed some shallots, then garlic. First thought to steam some broccoli and chop it it, but decided to finish off last night's zucchini. In 1/4" cubes, sauteed too. Mixed with the leftover ricotta, a squeeze of lemon juice, some pine nuts, and S&P. Filled the shells. Grated on some Parmesan. Popped in the oven till for a bit till they were starting to brown a bit. Good side dish. Thought about starting with some lardons, but decided against that; would have been a bit to heavy perhaps. Thought about adding a bit of chopped tomato, maybe an oven-dried one or two, but was a bit lazy. That might have been OK. Pretty good stuff.

Finished my read through Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys this evening. Very enjoyable. Recipes from this get lots of good reviews, so I'm looking forward to trying some of them.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/30-Oct-11: Lunch out today. Nothing much happening in the kitchen.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: no, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes

Monday, October 17, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/17-Oct-11: Not sure what to do with the Cook the Books book this time around. I've started it, but set it aside for a bit and haven't had the interest to start again. Young woman made a bad marriage, early and clearly doomed from the start, stuck it out for twenty year or so, finally broke free, and got her own life. Should be inspiring, but isn't. Thinking I'd rather spent my reading time elsewhere perhaps.

Dinner was a half dose Zucchini Sauce for Pasta with Tomato, Parsley, and Chili Pepper (MarCuc, p161). Used what were probably the last of this year's zucchini from the garden and one of the last tomatoes. Pretty good and fast. Some bits of cheese for afters.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/18-Oct-11: Used the broccoli to made a quiche for dinner. Pie crust (pâte brisée) from the freezer. Oops, found goat cheese was moldy so used a pyramid cheese instead. And créme fraîche. And a bunch of oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer, sliced. Not half bad.

Some raspberry sherbet for desert.

Fridge is much happier after being defrosted.

Wood pellet heater installed today. Now we're trying to figure out how it works.

Wednesday/19-Oct-11: Shopped this afternoon. Cooked beets were on special, three 500g packages for next to nothing. The typical package usually has four beets, although it depends on their sizes. Once the package is opened, they seem get moldy fairly quickly, so we're lucky if we get three of them eaten. But there were not single packages available and they were cheap, so I went ahead and bought the set. I opened the unused packages, put the beets in individual sandwich bags and all those in one ziploc, and popped them in the freezer. No idea how they'll freeze. We'll see.

Dinner was disappointing. I intended to get it served early (we've been eating well after 8pm of late, which isn't healthy), but didn't manage somehow. Last week I found some tofu at a health food store, so tonight I made an old favorite, Tofu Cutlets (FastShulman, p131). Since the new stove has a proper broiler, I thought I'd try that rather than sautéing. But it didn't work very well. I followed Shulman's instructions to broil 5 minutes per side, but the first side was pretty black when I went to turn them over. Did only 3 minutes on the second side, but that was also too long. Nice idea, but ruined cutlets. Next time ... Froze the rest of the tofu.

Accompanied by a half recipe of Florentine Tomatoes (FastShulman, p171) and some rice pilaf. The tomatoes were pretty good, although there was lots of filling. This was especially good mixed with the rice.

Followed by a half recipe of Middle Eastern Beet Salad (FastShulman, p288), which was especially easy using already cooked beets. The spices are rather like ras el hanout, so I might try that next time. Added a pinch of cayenne too. Good.

Thursday/20-Oct-11: Dinner tonight was Greek Shrimp Scampi. Found this in my 2BTried MC cookbook, but, when I went to put it away, I discovered it was also in my Keepers cookbook. And I'd made twice before. Ha! Well, it was good again. Followed by a salad of mâche and the rest of last night's beet salad.

Friday/21-Oct-11: Dinner was Aubergine & Lemon Soup (Jamie, already MC). Very good stuff. It was supposed to make 4 servings (I was hoping to have another meal in the freezer), but there were only 3. For dessert I used some frozen blueberries to make Easy Berry Cobbler, which is indeed easy, and quite good for minimal effort.

We're working on eating meals at an earlier hour, having fallen into the habit of eating well after 8pm for several weeks now. Don't like going to bed with a full stomach.

Saturday/22-Oct-11: This evening we attended the wine festival at St. Sornin. A super occasion and we look forward already to next year. Nothing happened in the kitchen today.

Sunday/23-Oct-11: Had a goodly chunk of the remaining blueberry cobbler for breakfast. :-)

Dinner was Conchiglioni con ricotta e zucchine (soon to be MC, cookbooker), picked up from a blog, originally from Olive magazine, where it's know as Stuffed and Baked Ricotta Shells. (Kind of a dopey name, since the shells are regular pasta; the ricotta is only the filling.) Used some from this summer's frozen, shredded zucchini and tomato sauce. Good stuff! Followed by a big, simple salad.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: not yet

Monday, October 10, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/10-Oct-11: The topic for tonight's Club Liseron meeting was pumpkins (i.e., winter squashes), so I baked a Pumpkin Cake (adapted from web, soon to be MC) to take along as part of the refreshments. And very good it was, with many requests for the recipe! The meeting wasn't especially well-attended, so I actually got to bring some home.

Dinner was leftover Indian Samosa Casserole, also good as leftovers. Made another dose of my regular raita (MJ1, p162) to go with it.

Tuesday/11-Oct-11: We finished the pumpkin cake off for breakfast, along with two small slices of chocolate cake leftover from someone else's meeting offering.

Today's big project was defrosting the fridge. It hasn't been cooling well (milk has spoiled) and we're hoping the problem was that it wanted defrosting. It's been acting strange for several months and I'm wondering if the last time I defrosted, which wasn't all that long ago, I did it too fast and there was still ice up the back of the fridge part. If it's not acting better in the next days, we may get to buy another one soon.

Found some old semi-sweet chocolate wanting to be used up and made Simply Special Brownies from the Hershey site. Iced them with the last of the cream cheese icing that didn't get used up for the pumpkin cake. Edible, but nothing special.

Dinner was Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Pine Nuts, Feta, Basil, and Lemon from somewhere on the web. Should have been a side dish or served over a bed of greens, but I served it with some pasta dressed with the last of the ricotta pesto I defrosted a couple of days ago.

Yogurt on overnight. While I was putting this together, Sophie, the nervy thing, jumped on the counter right in front of me. The chain reaction of getting her down resulted in yet another broken yogurt dish. We've broken three in the last three weeks, I think. Time to get down the box of spares.

Wednesday/12-Oct-11: Shopping this afternoon.

Dinner started with A Radish, Mint, and Feta Salad (Diaries, p194), which was a very nice salad, I thought. For a main we had Baked Fish, Greek Style (Ackart, p24), with halibut fillets. Instead of fresh (or canned) tomatoes, I used some oven-dried ones from the freezer; these worked fine. The fish was quite pretty served, topped with the red, white (onions), and green (parsley) sauce. With a side of trio rice. And brownies for dessert.

Thursday/13-Oct-11: Finished off the brownies mid-morning. Otherwise, stayed out of the kitchen today. Dinner was leftover rabbit, with some extra boiled potatoes added. (It reheated well.) Followed by a salad of mâche and arugula.

Friday/14-Oct-11: Dinner was Greek Zucchini Cakes (MC 2BTried). Tasty they were, but not very (pan)cake-y. I added extra flour and they still needed to be very thin to hold together at all. Not sure what to do with the recipe yet. Followed by a big salad.

Saturday/15-Oct-11: Off to Ile de Ré for our anniversary. Nothing on the kitchen.

Sunday/16-Oct-11: Gone fishin'.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: no, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: not yet

Monday, October 3, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/3-Oct-11: Quiet in the kitchen all day. Off to a quiz tonight.

Tuesday/4-Oct-11: Two chicken carcasses (maybe one of them was a guinea hen) and some thigh bones made a whole lot of chicken stock. Which is good, because there's none in the freezer right now.

Attended a birthday dinner tonight, so no cooking here.

Wednesday/5-Oct-11: Boiled the chicken stock a bit this morning, then, froze up it up. Out of tupperwares for storing it. Shopped later.

Dinner was Barley, Broccoli, and Cannellini Bean Soup (MarCuc, p90), a yummy soup. I forgot how long barley takes to cook, so we ate a bit late, but this is definitely a do-again.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/6-Oct-11: Finished off the cookies from the freezer from last year's CookbooksEtc contest. (CookbooksEtc recently folded completely unexpectedly when the owner shut it down, not wanting to hand it over to someone else.) Edible, but would have been better with chocolate chips.

Dinner was leftover chicken. The bread layer was really tasty. That's worth doing any time you roast a chicken. Served with some shredded zucchini (from the freezer!), sautéed then tossed with a bit of (thawed) ricotta pesto.

Friday/7-Oct-11: Nothing on in the kitchen today. We had a big lunch before boules today, so no need to cook.

Saturday/8-Oct-11: A lazy kitchen day. Went to make rabbit for dinner and discovered it wanted to marinate all day. So it will wait till tomorrow. Instead there was Indian Samosa Casserole (web, soon to be MC, cookbooker), kind of a samosa pot pie. Quite good it was, and will do for another meal. Served with my usual raita, Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint (MJ1, p162) and some mango chutney.

Sunday/9-Oct-11: A busy morning in the kitchen.
  • Yogurt on overday.
  • Rabbit on to marinate for dinner. The package I bought said entier (whole), but it also said pré-découpé (pre-cut). I could see that cuts had been made in the back. (Not all the way through, actually, but a good start, and the cuts allowed the rabbit to fold up nicely in the package.) Entier really means whole, unfortunately. When I removed the wrapping, the head was hiding under the label. Hmm... And it was chock full of innards, no guts, but heart, lungs, kidneys, liver. Not all tidy in a paper sack. The animals may get some of of this bounty. Ed's boiling up the head; not sure why. (The vitreous humor solidified. Pogo and Sophie got the meat.)
  • And some of Ninfa's Spicy Pickled Carrots (web) underway. I thought I had some chiles de arbol in my stash, but I didn't; so I used moritas instead. We'll see how that goes. Yipes! I forgot to set the timer (or didn't hear it?) at one point, and it boiled pretty near dry. 
At the bread fair today, I got green beans and potatoes to accompany dinner. Munched on some pickled carrots (lekker pittig!) while I made our main course, Fricasseed Rabbit with Yellow or Red Peppers (MarCuc, p286, cookbooker), which turned out to be quite good, much better than the last time I cooked rabbit. Served with boiled potatoes and Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216).

I started Harlot's Sauce, the next Cook the Books selection. As far as I can see, there's only one recipe in the book. Do you suppose everyone is going to make spaghetti with salsa puttanesca?

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: no (or yes if you count eating out), #2 SOUP: yes!, #3 MIDDAY: yes (ate out)
This month: #4 PASTA: no

Monday, September 26, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/26-Sep-11: Easy dinner tonight. The leftover Tuscan veggies over pasta. Then the last pair of crèmes caramels.

Tuesday/27-Sep-11: De-seeded and cooked up another wad of tomatoes today. And slow-roasted some boughten ones, although they didn't seem to get very dry after a long time in the oven. Hmm...

Dinner was Linguine al Cavolfiore, a recipe I haven't made since we discovered Ed's problem with tomatoes. Tonight I used some of the new batch of tomato sauce, and penne instead of linguine. Good stuff. Then a salad. Then the last of a bit of St. Marcellin.

Wednesday/28-Sep-11: Picked another two liters of raspberries at Barbara's today. (No fruit, it's a terrible diet she's on. Too bad it seems to be working.) Made Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake (Molly, p20). A nice cake, but a strange color from the blueberries and raspberries. Made a double dose of the "juice" for Raspberry-Champagne Sorbet (Scoop, p132); used the rest of the clairette de Die topped up with a bit of sweet dessert wine. Having used all my sugar for the cake, I used sucre de canne.

Dinner was Grilled Squid with Fennel Sausage, a recipe collected somewhere on the web. For the fennel sausage, I used Guiliano Hazan's sausage (that I keep in the freezer) with fennel seed added. The outdoor grilling part didn't work well, so we had to finish them off under the stove's grill. But very nice they were, if a bit later than intended. Served with a quickie "salsa" made with corn, chopped tomato, shallot, jalapeño (one of two we manage to harvest this year!), olive oil, S&P. And trio rice. A nice dinner, outside, candlelit. No dessert since we'd sampled the cake already.

Thursday/29-Sep-11: Yogurt on overday.

Fresh pasta tonight. While looking for what I'd make tonight, I found my missing cilantro pesto recipe! For tonight, I made Lemon Pepper Pasta (PastaMach, p65). The dough was a bit dry, so I had to add a bit of oil. Also, it didn't like being rolled out to 6, so I ended up at 5, which made a thickish pasta, still good. Also, my fettuccine cutter, which has trouble separating strands rolled at 6, worked fine at 5. A bit of a puzzle, but something to remember. For a sauce I made Lemon Cream Sauce (PastaMach, p161) and added about 200g of frozen, cooked shrimp. Easy and good. Then a salad using the end of our head of lettuce.

Friday/30-Sep-11: Shopped this a.m. Made up some Cilantro Pesto (PastaMach, p155, soon to be MC) and froze it up in small portions. Used the rest of Barbara's raspberries to make a quarter recipe of Peerless Red Raspberry Preserves (FancyPant, p124). Into the fridge with that.

For dinner there was a sorrel omelet. Couldn't find the recipe I used last year, which I remember as adding the raw sorrel to the omelet as it was folded. This time I sautéed a bit of garlic, then added the sorrel for a brief turn. Then cooked the omelet and spooned on the sorrel along with some spoonfuls of pyramid goat cheese. Pretty tasty. Then a big salad. Then a dab of Morbiers. Then some slices of pound cake. Two small ones left to toast for breakfast.

Saturday/1-Oct-11: But we didn't have them for breakfast. Instead we had pains de chocolate from the grocery store. Sometimes they have them in packages of two, which are just right for us.

Dinner was Scallops and Mushrooms, a recipe I got from a food list and will probably save. The recipe said to serve over farro, which of course I didn't have; used brown rice instead. Probably barley (I thought) or lentils (Ed thought) would have been better, the earthy taste matching the 'shrooms. Might try this again.

As a side, I roasted the end of the cauliflower and some thick slices of zucchini, tossed with olive oil, salt, and a sprinkling of some Moroccan spice I made for something or other.

The end of the blueberry-raspberry cake for dessert. Then a dog walk under the crescent moon and milky way.

Sunday/2-Oct-11: Dinner was Lex's Roast Chicken (EAT-L, soon to be MC), a really nice roast chicken. First the pan is lined with thick slices of baguette; then a layer of sautéed onions, celery, and garlic, spiced with thyme, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes; then the spatchcocked chickie; then in the oven for a good long while. Yummy, with crispy skin. All accompanied by some peas and a little salad of grated carrots with a lemon vinaigrette.

Froze up the raspberry sorbet. Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: no, #3 MIDDAY: no
This month: #4 PASTA: yes