Monday, July 25, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-Jul-11: Shopped this afternoon, along with a handful of other errands. After we got home, we had a phone call from our Dutch friends Patrice and Wim, who were on their way to the Intermarché in Montbron. They came along after and I started to make dinner for them, but then we decided to go to La Bellone. Somewhere in there, I started on a sorbet for tomorrow night. Altogether, not much happened in the kitchen.

Tuesday/26-Jul-11: Made a double batch of chicken stock today, from two carcasses in the freezer.

For dinner there was an old favorite, Pork Tenderloin Diane (MC), very tasty. Served with polenta. I'm wondering if the pork slices should just be served and sauced right on the polenta, rather than at the separately on the plate. They all go together so well. For a side there was Mingle Mangle (Warm Zucchini Salad) (GreeneGreens, p399, cookbooker), an interesting way to use zucchini, that might end up as a pasta sauce in its next appearance.

Didn't freeze up the ice cream. It will wait another day.

Wednesday/27-Jul-11: Yogurt on overday.

We had a nice walk today with Patrice and Wim near Le Lindois, then stopped at the grocery and picked up bbq supplies. We started with some frozen pastry finger foods. Then sat down with charentaise melon and pineau. From the bbq, we had merguez, merguez de volaille, and chipolatas, as well as some skewered rabbit and prunes. I made another batch of North African Zucchini Salad with Garlic, Chili Paste, and Caraway (MedHot, p32), and we had some frozen roasted potatoes that weren't too bad. And there was lots of dessert. When we shopped on Monday, I bought a 4-pack of egg custards, then P&W brought 4-packs of ile flottante and tiramisu. We've made a dent in these now, but the ice cream still didn't get made.

Thursday/28-Jul-11: Finally froze up the Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet (Scoop, p117) this afternoon.

Dilly-dallied about starting dinner, so I didn't have time to make what I'd planned. Annoying of me. For a starter there was the last bit of Saturday's tart, plus the last bit of yesterday's North African Zucchini Salad—I think the first time we've had that chilled; it's good like that. Then a made-up pasta dish with broccoli and shrooms, using up the end of the ricotta and marscapone I used for the tart. And sherbert for dessert, of course. I liked it lots; Ed not so much.

Friday/29-Jul-11: Nothing much happening in the kitchen today. Lunched at La Bellone today prior to playing petanque with Lesley and Toby.

Saturday/30-Jul-11: Homemade fettucine tonight (especially good with tipo 00 flour) with Fettucine alle Zucchine e Zafferano (ClassPasta, p91), a tasty and pretty sauce. Followed by a salad. Followed by storebought tiramisu. Followed by a bit of chaource.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/31-Jul-11: Yum, a nice Indian dinner tonight, and Barbara joined us upon a last-minute invitation. For a main, there was Shrimp with Zucchini (Jhinga aur ghia) (MJ1, p90). A first, and seriously yummy. With plain basmati rice and Red Split Lentils with Cumin Seed (Masoor dal) (MJ1, p122). The dal was tasty, but runnier that it's been before. And some Onion Relish (Pyaz ka laccha) (MJ1, p174), which is always good. For dessert, more of the Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbert, served with some slice mangoes I found hiding in the freezer.

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-Jul-11: Used up veggies for dinner tonight. Grilled broccoli (parboiled it a bit first in the water boiling for corn), slices from a globe zucchini, chunks of a red bell pepper, and slices of onion. Served with some trio rice. The yogurt/garlic sauce from yesterday was a good go-with, and so was pyramid cheese when that was done. For dessert there was some crème brulée from the freezer (thank you, Toupargel).

Tuesday/19-Jul-11: Yogurt on overday.

Midday meal today, since we might go out this evening. Jean Yves Legarve's Spaghetti with Lemon and Asparagus Sauce (Essential, p319; cookbooker). Yummy stuff. Followed by a salad of roquette.

Can't have a day go by without working on the zucchini backlog. Too lazy to look up one of my own, I found a recipe on the web for Mom's Zucchini Bread. Two loaves, pretty good, a trifle sweet, and a bit too much cinnamon, which is hard to believe coming from me.

Wednesday/20-Jul-11: Shopping today.

Dinner was, sort of, Zalm uit the Oven met Zeekraal en Rosé, a recipe from Allerhande. The sommelier had skipped a beat so there was no rosé in house, so I used a dryish riesling for the wine. And I did the salmon under the broiler rather than in the oven. It was served on a bed of zeekraal/salicorne (samphire in English?), with a sauce of shallot "sautéed" in wine with cream added. And a side of trio rice. Quite tasty.

For a starter, I vaguely followed a web recipe of Zucchini and Beet Salad. (We do have to have our daily dose of zucchini.) Served on a bit of rucola left from yesterday. A store-bought cooked beet in matchsticks. A globe zucchini in matchsticks, steamed. Some bits of cheese. Some toasted pecans. And a balsamic vinaigrette with chives. Turned out very nice. The cheese I used wasn't quite right. The recipe asked a "creamy mild cheese," which I used. The recipe prolog suggested feta, brie, camembert, or blue. We though a mildish blue would be quite nice. Also walnut oil rather than olive and toasted walnuts. Will try this again.

Thursday/21-Jul-11: Oh dear, a day gone by with no new zucchini cooked. We went for apèros at neighbors and had enough munchies that we didn't feel like a real meal. So I made a big salad and we had some St. Marcellin after.

Friday/22-Jul-11: Oh no, two days without using zucchini. For dinner, there was Ed Giobbi's Sweet Red Pepper Sauce for Pasta (Essential, p318; cookbooker). Easy and tasty. Used a quarter, froze two quarters, and spilled another quarter, messy me. We ate in a rush, going out to a concert.

Saturday/23-Jul-11: Yogurt on overday.

This morning I realized that the music event we'll be attending this evening is a picnic. It's been moved to an indoor venue with tables and chairs provided, but we have to bring our food if we want to eat. Oops. Luckily I'd already planned to make a Tarte Filo Salicornes, Poireaux, Haricots Verts, Marscarpone, et Ricotta (mag clipping) so I just did that a bit earlier in the day.

For a salad, I dressed some plain, leftover couscous with lots of lemon juice and some olive oil. Started out about 1:1, but added more lemon juice after tasting. I lightly steamed slices of, yes, zucchini and cut those into strips. Chopped some red bell pepper. Minced some mint and some flat-leaf parsley. Stirred altogether and tasted. Needed salt and ... a dab of curry powder. Just enough for a hint of curry taste. Very good.

We stopped at the boulanger for bread on the way, and I picked up a pair of what turned out to be extra scrumptious tartlettes chocolats.

Sunday/24-Jul-11: For a starter, I made again a third recipe of North African Zucchini Salad with Garlic, Chili Paste, and Caraway (MedHot, p32). A nice way to use up some zukes. For a main, I heated up the leftovers from the chicken tagine and served it over tagliatelle. Probably a chunkier pasta would have been nice. A bit of St. Marcellin followed by some cookies for after.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP:no, #3 MIDDAY: yes
This month: #4 PASTA: not yet (I do seem to keep postponing this!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-Jul-11: Hot weather coming back. Minnie in an even worse mood today than yesterday. Ended up reinstalling the operating system, and downloading, again, the updates. Think Apple may have reached its end in the household. So many problems with upgrades that have been reported for years and still no fix. You didn't realy want your calendar or address book, did you?

Made a carrot cake for the Club Liseron meeting this evening. Put a bit of cream cheese icing on it, but that's pretty limp with the heat. (But, the icing, and the cake, were a hit. Got to share the recipes for one of the simplest icings you could possibly make.)

Last week I saw an odd, but appealing, recipe on Giuliano and Leah Hazan's blog, and printed it to make soon. This morning I saw someone whose blog I followed had made it, and what's more it's from a cookbook that I have. So, today it was my turn for Spaghetti with Melon (30MinPasta, p73; cookbooker). We had a charentais (cantaloup-like) melon wanting to be used, so this was our late lunch, simple, fast, and nice to eat. For as salad I grated more carrot to go with the leftover from the cake and tossed this with a lemon vinaigrette. No dessert.

No bread in the house. Made Whole Wheat with Bran (BigGerman, p81) (WW/Rapid/Med/—) in the evening.

Tuesday/12-Jul-11: My that's a good whole wheat bread. Doing breads on Rapid (with much shorter cycle) seems to make better breads.

For lunch we had the leftover leek-surimi tart cold from the fridge. Not bad, but it would have been better warmed, or at least at room temp. Then a big salad.

Wednesday/13-Jul-11: Off-piste dinner again tonight. Curried Chicken and Broccoli Couscous (MC), made with the last of the Thanksgiving turkey from the freezer. Pretty good for minimal effort.

Thursday/14-Jul-11: Bastille Day today. We stayed home.

Sometimes I wonder why I make any kind of meal plan, since I hardly follow it at all. Thursday this week, and I'm still working on last week's sheet, mostly not cooked. Oh well. Off the list again, I defrosted two pork chops this morning and found a new rub recipe. The defrosting chops were in a cabinet but Sophie manage to get to them and ate a quarter of the smaller one—mine. Roasted the rest of yesterday's broccoli and slices from half a zucchini/courgette. Defrosted some hominy, added a can of chopped chilies and half a chopped adobo chipotle. Since we finished a package of cookies for lunch, we skipped dessert.

Friday/15-Jul-11: OK, the first recipe using preserved lemons tonight. This was Fish Baked with Preserved Lemons, Eggs, and Onions, (NAfrica, p58). I made a half recipe with panga. Pretty good, interesting taste, easy to make. The stuffing between the fish layers is sautéed red onions with preserved lemons, a fried/scrambled egg, and cilantro. As a go-with, I made a half dose of Moroccan Zucchini Salad, a recipe I found on the web. Also good and will be MC'd one of these days.

My cooking challenge for the next weeks is to keep up with the supply of zucchini coming from the garden. I've used all the regular ones now, but there are several more ready to be picked tomorrow. And I've got four globe zukes in the fridge needing to be used, plus more of these on the way. Not understanding how they can be producing so well without water.

Saturday/16-Jul-11: Working on the squash backlog. Emptied two globe squash and chopped the contents. Defrosted some cooked lamb, left from Jaffrey's leg of lamb, and chopped that. Sautéed some chopped onion, then added garlic, then added the lamb, some turmeric and some garam masala. Added some dried bread crumbs too. Then stuffed the squash with this and steamed them. Accompanied by Rice and Peas with Garam Masala (SpiceKitch, p65). For dessert there was arrowroot pudding, first time I've made such a thing. I was looking for something that tastes like baby food vanilla pudding, and this was pretty close. :-)

Sunday/17-Jul-11: Preserved lemons again today: Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons (NAfrica, p61). Quite good, even though I didn't have the right kind of olives and no coriander. I'll freeze the rest of the sauce and meat for another dinner. (And now I have two chickie carcasses in the freezer, so must get busy making stock now.) Sliced up another zucchini (there are at least three more big ones coming soon and oodles of globe ones), salted it a bit, then broiled it, sans oil, and it was fine. Maybe would have been better if I'd greased the bits, but it was good as it was. Served this with a quickie sauce of yogurt, minced garlic, and salt. And some couscous. Later, some Maroilles cheese, a first for us. Interesting, not a favorite.

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-Jul-11: Finished off the peach butter this afternoon. Pretty tasty, but not much of it. Dinner at the quiz tonight. (We came in third, but aced the 4th of July section.)

Tuesday/5-Jul-11: Shopped this morning. Made Herb Salt (Art, p172), since we're almost out of this.

I checked the website for the magazine where I think I got the lost recipe and turned up one similar, but not the same. This one, though, uses up the surimi that's in the freezer. So, dinner was Tarte aux Poireaux, Surimi, et Curry. Lazy me, I used a store-bought pâte brisée, rather that a home-made one, which really is better. The tart was good. Then a salad. Then some store-bought tiramísu, from a new brand, Gű. Somebody has to give these new things a try. Edible, but only so-so.

Wednesday/6-Jul-11: Almost didn't bbq this evening because of the wind all day (and danger of fire), but that finally died down, so we had Spicy Grilled Peppered Lamb Skewers (BigFlav, p142), which is nice and tingly especially when you use half the rub with a third of the meat. Accompanied by lots of Dusolier's Perfect Roast Potatoes and some sautéed zucchini, maybe the last store-bought one for a while since those plants seem to be doing OK. Finished off the peaches and cream ice cream.

Thursday/7-Jul-11: Yogurt on overday.

I've finally subscribed to Vie Pratique Gourmand, a biweekly French cooking magazine, whose latest issue arrived today (although I saw it at the grocery two days ago). This issue's C'est la saison section is on melons. Wherein I learned there are two major sorts of melons, cantaloups (the orange-fleshed ones) and galia (the green-fleshed ones). Galia melons are favored by North Europeans, which explains why they were largely the only ones available in the Netherlands. Of the cantaloup group, the charentais melon (from the Charente, of course) accounts for 90% of the melons grown in France. I was very happy when these would occasionally show up at our Dutch greengrocers. They look like mini versions of the cantaloups as I knew them in the US, with more or less the same flavor.

Dinner was Eggplant with Hot Garlic Sauce (MC) using lardons fumées for the meat bit. Over rice. Tasty, especially with a squirt of sriracha. Finished with half a petit camembert.

Friday/8-Jul-11: This morning I was rummaging through books looking for recipes for long pepper and for preserved lemons. I found a similar, better written recipe for preserved lemons (NAfrica, p125) to the one I used. This one said to top up the jar with boiling water. I haven't been able to add enough lemon juice to keep the lemons immersed, so I implemented this immediately. It also said to remove the seeds after almost quartering them. I'd wondered about the seeds, but suppose you can remove them at cooking time. Might add a few more days to my lemons, since the top ones, no matter how the jar is sitting, aren't really immersed in spite of the addition of extra lemon juice.

We found more zucchini ready to use in our little potager. These are some big regular zucchinis and some globe zukes.

Tonight, with one of the big zucchinis, I made (very loosely) Kaye's Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant (MC), which started life has a recipe from a Cooking Light book, but I've adapted for our use. This time I replaced the eggplant with zucchini. Pretty good, although I think I made a typo when I entered the recipe into MC because it tasted a bit too strongly of celery seed. For dessert we had some blueberry cheesecake from Gű. This was tasty enough, but also had a soggy bottom, so we probably won't get any more of these in spite of the coupons we have now.

Saturday/9-Jul-11: An evening randonnée (9km) with meal tonight, so nothing much happening in the kitchen.

Sunday/10-Jul-11: Yogurt on overnday. Spent most of the day moving from the old Cube to the new Mini; frustrating to have so many annoying problems to resolve, ones that have been reported for years, but still not resolved for Apple. Grr... More tomorrow.

For dinner I adapted a recipe from an email for a courgette/zucchini pasta sauce. This turned out quite good, and I'll enter it into MasterCook one day. For two people, chop about 250g of courgette and sauté in olive oil. Chop one big or two small garlic cloves, 2 anchovies (the recipe said 5 anchovies for 500g courgette; I used two, but one was big), and some basil. Add these to the courgette after about 5 minutes. Continue cooking and stirring until the courgette is done (it looks a bit transparent). At this point I puréed the mixture, right in the skillet with my staff mixer, leaving a coarse texture. Stirred in a glob of crème fraîche (sour cream would do), S&P to taste, and a pinch of cayenne. Warm through. Toss with about 6oz short pasta. Why short, I don't know. Maybe if you left the zucchini chopped this would be better, but puréed as I did, I think linguine would be nice too. I used some mushroom flavored things that were quite good. In fact, mushroom might be a good addition to this. Then a salad. Finished off the Camembert for afters.

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Peach butter

Barbara brought us a big basketful of peaches from her trees. They're little but quite tasty. I used some for peaches and cream ice cream, and we ate some for lunch. I used up the rest making peach butter. I read a lot of recipes on the web and looked in lots of books in the house, and then made it up.

To peel or not to peel, that was the big question. Some recipes say Yes, others say No. Haven't really found a reason one way or the other. These peels were not bitter (like those of pêches de vigne often are), so I left them on. Except for the ones that decided to peel themselves as I pitted and chunked.

All the peaches, halved, pitted, and chunked came to a good 5 cups. I zapped these in a food processor, along with about a tablespoon of lemon juice. A lot of the peel didn't really blend up, so I strained the pulp, ending up with about 3 cups of good pulp and a cup of peel and other bits. (This actually tastes pretty good, but isn't the best texture. Maybe I'll make some peach skin bread or something else.) I've put the pulp, with 1/4 cup sucre de canne, in the crockpot on High. This will cook about 3 hours. Then I'll taste for sugar, add some spices (1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger,
1/2 tsp ground allspice, and a bit of lemon juice*), and let it go overnight on Low, with the lid ajar to lose the moisture.

And that wasn't long enough. Turned the heat to High, lid still ajar, and cooked quite a while longer until it was finally thick enough, only about 1 cup remaining.

Quite tasty, but I can't say that the crockpot method is any better than the way I do apple butter, stirring on the stovetop.

Fruit butters seem to be an American thing, not known in Europe or the UK. It seems they were "invented" to use up fruit that wasn't good enough for jam or jelly or other preserves. I like making my own because I can control the amount of sugar. US products and recipes are generally too sweet for us.

During the summer fruit season, I should try other fruit butters. Apples are available all year round, so it's a shame to stick to that.

* Should have been more than just a "bit" of lemon juice. Ed thought it needed more tartness. Think about how much cider vinegar is used for apple-plum butter and add something similar here.