Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Risotto with Saffron, Milanese Style

Cooking Italy Assignment
Risotto with Saffron, Milanese Style, p246

A risotto this time, a bit different from others I've made before with no wine and meat broth instead of chicken broth. Not sure if that's what makes it Milanese, but it's definitely different, and quite tasty. The technique is much the same as any risotto, so there's not much to say there

Since I didn't have enough of the arborio rice left to do this, I opened the new packet, the carnaroli rice that I got when I mail-ordred the marsala. Can't say I noticed that the carnaroli was especially wonderful, but the flavor of this risotto was different enough that it might have distracted from the rice itself.

The recipe says it serves 6. I made a half recipe and it rather skimpily served two as a main course, with a big salad afterwards. Good to eat, though.

Monday, March 28, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/28-Mar-11: For lunch we had open-faced sliced lamb sandwiches with leftover lamb and lamb juice augmented by some chicken broth. As a side, I cooked the ends of sacks of frozen peas and fêves, with some chopped mint and shallot. For dessert, we finished off the rum cake. (Not as much as it sounds, since we took the same amount up to Yvonne yesterday.)

An open-faced roast beef sandwich with gravy and smashed potatoes on the side. Real comfort food. The lamb wasn't half-bad either.

Ed cut into the lamb bone to get to the marrow, breaking my #2 knife in the process. :-(

Tuesday/29-Mar-11: Yogurt on overday.

For our midday meal there was Broccoli-Cauliflower Bake (web, now MC), a recipe intended as a side dish, but eaten as a main. It was surprisingly good. For dessert, we had Grand Marnier soufflées, straight from the freezer. (Thank you, Toupargel!)

Wednesday/30-Mar-11: Used up my last jar of AH's vleesfond tonight for Cooking Italy's Risotto with Saffron, Milanese Style (ClassicItal, p246). Served with a salad. Too late for dessert.

Thursday/31-Mar-11: For lunch there was a quickie soup from some defrosted chicken stock with a handful of mini bowties (farfallini) and some julienned carrots (thank you, mandoline). Accompanied by an open-faced sandwich with the last of the bread, thinly sliced onions (more mandoline) and some English cheddar, popped in the toaster oven until melted.

For dinner I defrosted some pork chops and some marinade. Served with trio rice and made the Italian Grilled Zucchini and Red Onion (MC) again; the zucch and onion are indeed better on the grill pan than under the broiler. The salad was good, but didn't especially go with the pork chop marinade. We split half of a petit Camembert for afters, then two Lindt truffles each.

Friday/1-Apr-11: Yogurt on overday.

Shopped today. Bought a leg of goat for the freezer. This seems to be goat season. Both of our local shops seem to have goat available at the same time. The rest of the year it's not visible. Don't know what I'll do with it yet but I know I occasionally run across a recipe.

First bbq this evening, really simple. Defrosted the last of our chipolatas, which were very salty; don't remember the others being like this. Then there was Bacon-Avocado Potato Salad (MC); good stuff. Also Gujerati Carrot Salad (MJ1, p170), an easy favorite. For dessert there was some vanilla ice cream on a sticky meringue cup topped with a crumbled chocolate rose.

Saturday/2-Apr-11: Dinner was Grilled Lamb Chops with Curried Couscous and Zucchini Raita (Gourmet mag, found on the web). My lamb chops were the last of a sackful from Toupargel, a bit uneven in size, but tasty. I made up half the coucous, using all the spices. This was still a bit underspiced; the curry was hot but there was not much flavor beyond that. The raita was good and complemented the couscous. For after there was the rest of the Petit Camembert followed by two Lindt truffles each.

I made up some "broth" for ice cream, half Nutella and half coconut milk, a "recipe" I saw somewhere. Very simple and possibly good.

Sunday/3-Apr-11: Lots of lamb bones; made lamb stock today.

Dinner was sautéed duck breast scallops with a sauce of red wine and chicken stock (from a cube). Served with the leftover cauliflower-broccoli casserole.

I clumsily managed to break the paddle on the ice cream maker as I was pouring in the mix. Something else to replace. The ice cream was good, though. Can't be beat for easy.

One wonders why I bother to make any kind of a meal plan. Definitely off piste tonight. In the morning, I'll have to give a thought about how best to use up all the stuff that needs to be cooked.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: no (unless risotto counts), #2 SOUP: for lunch, #3 MIDDAY: yes
This month: #4 PASTA: March yes, April not yet

Goals review:

#1) I had the feeling from last year that I was cooking a lot of meat and not so much vegetarian or fish. Instead, this is feeling like the easiest goal to reach. More challenging might be to serve each week (at least) one vegetarian meal, one fish, and one either veg or fish. Not sure if I'm ready to commit to that right now. Ah well, with last-minute change on Sunday's dinner, I didn't really make this goal this week. Unless risotto with beef broth counts. In Ken Hom's book on vegetarian noodles, he uses chicken broth and still calls it vegetarian. I could follow suit. ;-)

#2) This is being quite difficult. Seems I'm more likely to throw together a soup-for-lunch than to make a meal soup or a soup starter. That counts, the way I've worded the goal, but soup-for-main would be nice.

#3) Since I'm out for line dancing in the early evening on Tuesdays, this has been easier to keep to. It's still difficult to avoid eating after 8pm, especially since we don't usually finish breakfast till 11am or even later.

#4) It takes some focus to get this done, but we enjoy fresh pasta a lot, so it's not too hard.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Embarrassment of Mangoes

An Embarassment of MangoesAn Embarrassment of Mangoes
Ann Vanderhoof
Bantam (2005)
ISBN 0553815555

Look over on the right and you'll see the Cook the Books logo has been added to my CookAlong groups. I really needed another cooking group, didn't I? But this one sounds like it's just up my alley, so I really had to join in. Every two months we read a food-related book (I do that already) and cook a meal inspired by the book (not often, but it's a nice idea). This time, I somehow mis-remembered the deadline, so I'm too late posting, but I'd already planned the meal, and was looking forward to it, so here I am anyhow. Next time I'll do better I hope.

The assignment for February and March was An Embarrassment of Mangoes, wherein the author, Ann, and her partner, Steve, planned and executed and two-year sailing trip from Toronto to the Caribbean. When they started out, Ann is not really a sailor. By the end of their trip, she has become both experienced and confident. They spent their time island-hopping and cooking some of the delicious island food on board. (I must say I sometimes wondered how she equipped her tiny shipboard kitchen. Which gadgets and appliances did she consider worth the space they took up?)

Inspired by all this? Well, I must say I was inspired to try conch, in spite of the mess of preparation, but that will have to wait until I actually find some. Meanwhile, I went for something easier to find and a bit less involved. To stimulate further inspiration, I turned to The Cooking of the Caribbean Islands, part of my old Time-Life Foods of the World series.

One of the characters Ann and Steve met on their trip was Edward Hamilton, the self-styled Minister of Rum. In his honor, we started with Rum Punch (TLCarib, p129) accompanied by Accras—Saltfish Fritters (Embarrass, p300).

We've enjoyed the accras that our English-Jamaican friend serves at her restaurant for Jamaican Night, so it was fun to try these at home. They're quite easy to make and make very good finger food. (Some of them didn't seem to be quite done all the way through, so next time, I think I'll make smaller balls off a teaspoon, rather than bigger ones off a tablespoon.) I did like that these accras have a bit of vegetable matter in them, onion, celery, bell pepper); following Yvonne's advice, I also added a bit of finely chopped chili to liven them up.

For the main course, I considered the roti with chicken curry given in Embarrassment. When we lived in The Netherlands, Surinamese roti with chicken curry was a take-away favorite. But that seemed like more work than I wanted to do today, and there were shrimp in the freezer wanting to be used, so I made some very yummy Trinidadian Shrimp Curry (TLCarib, p23).

The rum theme continued with our dessert. There was Bolo di Rom—Rum Cake (TLCarib, p109). This is a cake that's traditionally served unfrosted (according to the book), but sometime served with a coconut-cream sauce. I served it with the last bit of ice milk that I made recently.

Our Caribbean meal adventure brought a bit of sunshine to an otherwise gray and drippy spring day. And thanks go to Deb for hosting this adventure!

Monday, March 21, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/21-Mar-11: Cleaning out the freezer week. Tonight was Potatoes with Chorizo and Onions (somewhere on the web). It was supposed to be a recipe for Spanish chorizo, but I'm not so sure about that. The recipe was OK, the technique interesting and adaptable. First you brown some thinly sliced chorizo or other tasty, hard salami-like thing in a skillet and remove them to paper towels. Then you add to the pan a mess of thinly sliced potatoes and onion (thank you, mandoline!). Toss these with some salt and pepper and a goodly dash of paprika. Put the sausage on top. Put a smaller skillet on top of the food and press down; weight it down with some heavy cans. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and cook a few minutes more. Served topped with chopped parsley. I expect this could be done with most any kind of meat or protein, as long as it has some flavor. Easily adaptable up or down in size. I served with a salad.

Tuesday/22-Mar-11: A midday meal today. For a starter, I used the last two artichoke bottoms from a jar, spread with black tapenade, topped with a slice of Petit Billy, then popped under the grill till the cheese was nicely done. For the main, I used up most of the open jar of roasted red bell peppers with Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Cream (Desperation, p178) with ricotta-spinach raviolis from the freezer. Really good for a dish that goes together in minutes.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/23-Mar-11: There's a defrosted leg of lamb in the fridge, but it's turn didn't come today. So, dinner was an old favorite, Warm Broccoli and Potato Salad (MDSalads, p15). We both really like this yummy salad.

Made the "broth" for some vanilla ice milk. Now chilling, to be frozen tomorrow. I've never made ice milk before, so I'm curious how it turns out.

Oops, nobody went to the boulanger. Bran Bread (BMB, p44) on overnight.

Thursday/24-Mar-11: Toupargel delivered today and the freezer is full-full-full. And lots of meat from the winter sales to be eaten up.

Just when I'm thinking I could easily live as a pescivegetarian, along comes some meat that changes my mind. Dinner was a Slow-Roast Lamb (Diaries, p62), the 21-February entry. Wow, this was a success, thank you Nigel Slater! A lovely rub (lots of mortar and pestel work), then cooked long and slow. The house smelled wonderful while it was cooking and the results were really good, tasty, tender meat. To go with, I made lots of Dusolier's Perfect Roast Potatoes, always good. Then a salad. Then ice milk on toasted Belgian waffles, topped with (thawed) mixed berries. The vanilla ice milk wasn't bad, but ice cream is better. :-)

Friday/25-Mar-11: Yogurt on overday. Shopping; bought some tuna steaks for dinner. Cooked them under the broiler, trying to save a pan. Mistake. Much better on a grill pan. Served with Carrot Pilaf (MC) and Italian Grilled Zucchini and Red Onion (MC), both moldy-oldies. The salad seemed especially tasty tonight. Ice milk with (French) strawberries for dessert.

Saturday/26-Mar-11: Served dinner just in time for Earth Hour—dinner by candlelight tonight. It was Taglitelle with Peas (30MinPasta, p53), very tasty and very simple, and, yes, done in 30 minutes. Followed by a salad. Followed by ice milk and strawberries again.

Ice milk, it seems to me, is best when you think of it as a milk sherbert/sorbet, rather than as a poor man's or diet version of ice cream. Ice cream is luxuriously creamy; ice milk doesn't even try for that, so it's best to change your expectations.

Sunday/27-Mar-11: Yes, yes, I've joined a new on-line cooking group. Today's meal was a Caribbean one you can read about here.

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

Friday, March 18, 2011

Veal Stew with Sage, White Wine, and Cream

Cooking Italy Assignment
Veal Stew with Sage, White Wine, and Cream, p377

Now, this was an easy and delicious meal. Chunks of veal, floured and browned, then cooked in white wine with lots of sage, and a good slog of cream stirred in at the end. Yummy.

After trimming most of the fat from the meat, I cut it to the size required, more or less.

While the bits were browning, I decided some of them were still too big, so I halved them, dipped in flour, and browned the cut sides.

After the meat is browned, a bit of onion and a stack of sage leaves are softened before returning the meat to the pan with some white wine for a long simmer. The recipe called for dried sage leaves. I gathered mine in the misty morning air. A rinse, a pat dry, and a long sit on a paper towel was about as dry as these got. And they were fine. Since sage can be an overpowering taste, I was a bit afraid the whole leaves would be too strong, but that wasn't the case at all.

The dish smelled so good as it was cooking, I considered not adding the cream at the appointed time. But Ed thought it added a nice richest.

The recipe says it makes 4-6 servings. I had only about 1.25 pounds (where 1.5 pounds were asked) and this served two adequately. I find it hard to believe 1.5 pounds would serve even 4 as a main course.

This was really tasty and very easy to do. It would be a nice company kind of meal, since it doesn't need much attention to get it finished. Once it's simmering, an occasional stir and check on the liquid level is all it needs. This could be served as an easy main course with a starter that's a bit fussy perhaps.

Monday, March 14, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/14-Mar-11: Ok, it's π day. So we had pie, not sweet, but lamb pot pies made with stuff from the freezer. Pâte brisée, some cooked lamb from the Indian leg of lamb, some Cajun-flavored lamb-cooking juice left from lamb shanks, peas, and carrots (not from the freezer). Not a traditional pot pie, but a pot pie none-the-less. And not served at 1:59 or 15:92, but you can't have everything.

I couldn't eat all mine; the leftovers will show up as a starter before long. A dab of bread pudding for dessert.

Tuesday/15-Mar-11: The intention was to have an early meal today, but things kept getting later, so we ended up eating when I need to be getting read to go to line dancing class. Well, it was good. Oven-Roasted Cumin Shrimp With Mango And Avocado Salsa (MC 2BTried, collected somewhere on web). The treatment of the shrimp in this recipe was very unusual (to me). After removing the head, you take off the feet, then peel back the shell, leaving it attached at the tail end. Salt and pepper the shrimp, rub with a marinade of olive oil, red pepper flakes, and ground cumin, then replace the shell and roast them very hot for 4 minutes a side (or less). Quite tasty. The recipe serves four. I made a half recipe of the shrimp and all of the salsa, served with rice; we ate it all. The first time I've used frozen mango slices—very nice they are. Something to keep in the freezer I think. When I got back from line dancing, we finished off the bread pudding.

Wednesday/16-Mar-11: Pizza tonight. Leeks and bacon (lardons) with goat cheese and some oven-roasted tomatoes. Good.

Thursday/17-Mar-11: Leftover night. Had the rest of the lamb pot pie, with the cauliflower potato stuff, and some rice, and some salmon from the freezer rubbed with Indian spices and baked.

Friday/18-Mar-11: Shopped today. Dinner was Cooking Italy's Veal Stew with Sage, White Wine, and Cream (ClassicItal, p377). Served with a big salad. For dessert we had "roses", a favorite treats that's occasionally available at the grocery. For the longest time I thought these were toasted oatmeal coated with dark chocolate, but recently discovered they were corn flakes! Yum.

Hmm, I didn't do much of a meal plan for this week, but I can't say that I've stuck to it much at all.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/19-Mar-11: Didn't feel much like cooking tonight, but had a chunk of cod I bought yesterday than need to be used. It became Bob's Famous Fish (Desperation, p279), accompanied by polenta and some roasted asparagus. Followed by half a petit Camembert and then two roses.

Sunday/20-Mar-11: Tonight I made lemon-pepper linguine for Lemon Pepper Linguine with Artichoke Hearts (MC). It's a recipe I've made before, including the fresh pasta (the recipe calls for store-bought fresh pasta), and followed it not as closely. I used artichoke bottoms rather than hearts and added some strips of roasted red bell pepper (from a jar) for color; both worked fine. For the pasta, I used some Tipo 00 flour that had been languishing on the shelf since I brought it back from NL last fall. And I must stay it was about the best textured pasta I've ever made. I hope I can find this stuff around here. Or maybe the place where I mail-ordered the marsala will have it. Anyhow, worth seeking out. I grated in the zest of a lemon and ground in lots of black pepper for the flavoring. (When I first started making fresh pasta, I used semolina flour, but this turned out quite difficult to use. I've read several places now that it's what factories use, but at home you should use Tipo 00 or all-purpose flour. All-purpose works fine, but Tipo 00 works better!) The pasta dish followed by a salad, followed by the rest of the petit Camembert, and then two roses.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/7-Mar-11: Dinner at a quiz tonight. Nothing much happening in the kitchen beyond defrosting stuff for the next nights' dinners.

Tuesday/8-Mar-11: Lentils with Merguez (MC) for our midday meal. Unfortunately it was well underway when Ed told me he was nauseous. Oops. Tasted good enough to me, and there's a bit left for another day.

Wednesday/9-Mar-11: Ed still tummy sick. We shopped today after visiting the doctor. I bought a sack of salad for one, 45g. All the sacks for two were 100g. Why is it that two people need more than one?

Coincidentally last night I read (in an Inspector Montalbano mystery) that spaghetti olio e aglio is considered food for sick folks, being easy on the tummy. So that's what we had for dinner tonight, to be easy on Ed's tummy. I had a small salad to go with.

Put on two coquelets to marinate for tomorrow

Thursday/10-Mar-11: Yogurt on overday.

Ed doing a quite a bit better; so far I'm not getting this misery. Knock wood. The birds turned into Garlic Chicken (CLmag, soon to be MC). The recipe called for kip filets, but I wanted the bones to make stock, so used the little birds, each about the size of a Cornish hen. The birds were very tasty, and I would definitely make this again; chicken thighs on the bbq would be good.

For a starter there was North African Zucchini Salad with Garlic, Chili Paste, and Caraway (MedHot, p32; now MC; cookbooker), very good. As suggested in the article, I served the birds with a pilaf; sautéed some cumin seed and almond slivers and tossed in some raisins to cook with the rice.

Friday/11-Mar-11: Midday meal was a half-dose (3 servings) of Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Peas (VTmag, Jan/Feb11; toss), which was remarkably bland. Served it with the spiced up apricot chutney, which is spicier, but still nothing special. (Now I'm really not sure what to do with the bit still in the freezer.) Served with basmati rice, my standard raita (MJ1, p162), and Gujerati Carrot Salad (MJ1, p170).

After Ed's choir service, we ate the rest of the leek galette along with some apples and carrots.

Boy, do we have lots of odd bits of things to use up now!

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/12-Mar-11: A repeat tonight, trying to use up the spice mix I made for the recipe last time. Broccoli and Potatoes (WorldVeg, p147), it was. And still good. (Have enough of the spice mix left to do this one more time.) We finished off the raita as a go-with. For dessert there were some (defrosted) mixed fruits in little tart cups topped with crème fraîche.

Sunday/13-Mar-11: It wasn't really planned, but today turned into a kitchen day. Made stock from the coquelets. Made apple-plum butter. Made Double-Boiler Bread Pudding (MC) with the end of a loaf of bread that was getting stale.

For mid-afternoon dinner:
  • I marinated the last two bavettes from the freezer. I do need to add this marinade to MC (2tbl olive oil, 1tbl tamari, 1tbl red wine vinegar, lots of garlic powder, lots of freshly ground black pepper), since it really works well. Should try it on bbq'd something one of these days.
  • With the meat, I served Cooking Italy's Salsa Verde from the freezer. The first time round, Ed suggested this would be good with a steak, and he was right. At my first bite the anchovies threatened to be too strong (they were unnoticeable when the sauce was served with fish), but calmed down after a bit of chewing. Still have a bit of this left, maybe for a salad dressing, maybe for a pizza?
  • Then there was spaetzle. Not sure if this was the best starch choice, but we both had a hankering for it, so there it was.
  • As a go-with there were Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms (EAT-L, soon to be MC), using up some oldish shrooms from the fridge. (Of course, we all read in Cook's Illustrated that old shrooms, the ones getting brown spots, have a better flavor than the shiny new ones. Toss any moldy, icky ones, but go ahead and use the rest. Hooray!)
Of course, in the middle of this, the gas ran out and Ed changed the bottle.

The idea had been to follow this with the bread pudding, but we're too full, so we took Pogo for a walk in the rain instead. He was happy.

A bit of bread pudding after dishwashing. And later still a salad, so we had some fresh veg today.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: yes
This month: #4 PASTA: not yet

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Veal Scaloppine with Marsala

Cooking Italy Assignment
Veal Scaloppine with Marsala, p361

After a bit of difficulty finding the marsala wine, I've finally made the veal scallopine. And good they were. Of course the technique is really simple. Dip some thinnish slices of protein in flour, brown in butter and/or oil and set aside, deglaze the pan with something interesting. Voilà! This version is deglazed with marsala, which makes a lovely sauce, but you can deglaze with all kinds of tasty liquids. (Thanks to Pam Anderson's HowTo for widening my understanding of pan sauces like this.)

I had just over 500g of veal scallops, which was quite too much for two people. This could have served three easily and four as part of a bigger meals. Once all the meat is browned, you deglaze the pan with the marsala, add a chunk of butter and stir till it's melted, then return the scallops to the pan to simmer in the lovely sauce.

Then, on to the platter and off to the table for serving.

So good for such a little bit of work.