Monday, February 28, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/28-Feb-11: Yogurt on overday.

For dinner there was Creamy Roasted Carrot Sauce (found on the web) over Whole Wheat Pasta (Fancy, p77) cut as tagliatelle. The sauce was OK but not one to save (beyond the half that's in the freezer now). This is the best whole wheat pasta recipe I've found. You can't roll it to 6 or 7 as you can white flour, so it has a nice chew to it. For the repeat of the sauce, I think I'll use some of the spinach penne in the pantry.

Sophie didn't come home this afternoon; last we saw of her was shortly after lunch. While I prepared dinner, Ed walked around the hameau calling for her and checked all the close-by garages and barns where she might have gotten closed in. (Catlike, she's very curious and has gotten herself locked into places she shouldn't be.) No luck. Throughout the evening, we took turns stepping outside to call her. No luck. While Ed washed the dishes, I made a major loop through the hamlet and out little farm roads, calling, calling, calling. No luck. One last try—look again in our shed, where Ed had put up some tools earlier in the day. Grope for the light switch. Up pops a sleepy-faced kitty. Too lazy to meow when we called just outside the door. After being cooped up for six or seven hours, she was in major play mode when she got inside.

Tuesday/1-Mar-11: Finished off Teddie's Apple Cake for breakfast. That was a goodie.

Dinner started with some stuffed artichokes. I'd bought two small ones at the market on Saturday, thinking they would be good for two, but they could have served four. No matter, they were tasty.

The main course was Veal Scallopine with Marsala (ClassicItal, p361) served with polenta. I'd also roasted some asparagus, but we were so full after the artichokes, we set those aside. For afters, we worked on a bit of St. Felicien, one of our favorite cheese.

Wednesday/2-Mar-11: Forgot to mention about the apple-kiwi butter. It's not bad at all. Not really a strong taste of kiwi. Don't think you'd guess it if you didn't know, except for the multitude of little black seeds which don't get blended up.

Anchovies. Yesterday when I made the stuffing for the artichokes, I discovered there were no anchovies in the freezer. So I opened the tin I have and used some of those, then rolled up the rest and froze them. (Transferred these to a ziploc this evening.) I'm not a big anchovy fan, but they add a nice taste to some things, so they're good to have on hand. It was nice to discover you can freeze them, since I never use a whole tin in one cooking. What's puzzling to me, though, is that the little flat tins I buy here are bought from the cooler section and say they should be stored in the fridge. The tins look exactly like what I bought in the US and in NL and I never noticed that they should be kept in the fridge. I never did, and we didn't die from it, so I'm puzzled about why they should be refrigerated in France. For the longest time I thought they didn't have anchovies here, since I couldn't find them with other canned fish as I was used to. Finally I found them in the fish-stuff cooler. They also have anchovies in salt which are supposed to be the best, but I've never noticed them before. The jar is much bigger than the little tin, and that lasts months and months, so I'll wait till I find a recipe that asks for them specially.

Dinner was Indian-ish. I made Haddock Baked in a Yogurt Sauce (MJ1, p94), which I've made several times before, this time with julienne, which is ling—does that help? It looks like cod and tastes good but is awfully bony for a fillet. Jaffrey suggests Mushroom Pullao (MJ1, 152), so I made that. For some vegetable matter, I made Broccoli with Garlic and Mustard Seeds (SpiceKitch, p40). Lots of nice tastes, although Ed would have liked more fish.

Thursday/3-Mar-11: More Indian, a moldy-oldy, kind of comfort food that's good on a cold evening. Lentils with Garlic and Onion (MJ1, p124) over Simple Butter Rice with Onion (MJ1, p149). We missed lunch today, so for a starter/munchy we sharedthe last quarter of a jar of pâté and had three cheese-stuffed peppadews each. For afters, we finished on the St. Felicien. Not the most well-balanced meal ever, but tasty.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/4-Mar-11: For lunch, I used last night's lentils to make a burrito filling, sort of faux black bean. Made up some guacamole and sliced some jalapeños to fill them up. Dinner was the roast asparagus we didn't eat with the veal marsala and a big salad of rucola with lots of odd bits of veggies.

Saturday/5-Mar-11: Oh well, what are meal plans for, except to be ignored? Our neighbor (who is home again after six weeks in hospital and nursing home) gave us some leeks today. So dinner was a half recipe of Leek and Goat Cheese Galette (VC4E, p498). This should have served three, but we're making it do for four servings and will have another meal of it. Cold? Maybe. Followed by a salad of mâche and beet strips. A nice dinner.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/6-Mar-11: A fruits de mer meal this afternoon; no need for cooking.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fried Calamari

Cooking Italy Assignment
Fried Calamari, p319

Back in the Cooking Italy saddle with fried calamari. Who doesn't like these, I wonder?

Since I've pidddled with cleaning squid before, there was no challenge with doing that again. Instead, I took the lazy way out and used frozen rings, 500g (a bit more than a pound), for a main course for the two of us. Of course, when you buy a sackful of frozen rings, you don't get any of the cute tentacles.

The recipe really couldn't be simpler: flour the rings, fry 'em up, and serve. Hazan has you toss the calamari with flour in the colander. I kept a dish of flour and dredged the rings before dropping them into the oil. You simply fry them till they're done. She does suggest that you have a spatter screen since squid may burst while frying. Burst! Yipes! I did put down some foil to help keep the stove clean, but don't have a spatter screen.

Frying stuff like this is not one of my favorite kitchen activities. (I love onion bhaji, but don't make them very often, because I don't like all the frying around.) It is kind of fun that you drop the bits in the hot oil and they sink to the bottom in a fizz of bubbles, then come back to the surface to bob around for minutes more until they're done.

We ended up with two platters like this:

The calamari were really very good, and could hardly be simpler to make, especially using the frozen kind. I made some aoili to go with the squid, but I think I really preferred it with just a squeeze of lemon.

Like many fried foods like this, because of the timing and the fact you have to be in pretty close attendance for all the time they're frying, I'm not sure I'd want to make this for company. They might be alright for a starter if the rest of the meal doesn't require much attention to get it to the table.

Monday, February 21, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/21-Feb-11: For breakfast, I made some Zucchini Raisin Bran Muffins from a recipe I found on the web. Pretty good.

Gray and rainy all day—how depressing. For lunch we had the rest of the Squash and Corn Chowder, along with our fruit. So much soup, we had only light dinner, quite late. I made some Lemon-Sage Tortellini with Chicken and Peppers, a recipe I've done before and only vaguely followed this time. Good enough.

Tuesday/22-Feb-11: Back to Cooking Italy with Fried Calamari (ClassicItal, p319). Served with Roasted Eggplant with Peppers and Cucumber (ClassicItal, p55) and Marinated Carrot Sticks (ClassicItal, p56), both recipes I've made before. I made aoili to go with the calamari, but probably liked them best with just some lemon juice sqeezed on. Had a lot of trouble getting the mayonnaise to work, not sure why. (Had the same problem with the Lime-Chili Mayo a couple of weeks ago.) First batch, in blender, just wouldn't come together. Quick search showed that you could make a new batch and add the old stuff once the new batch emulsifies. So I started batch #2 in a food processor. Still no success, although I gave up quite early. Poured the yolk, mustard, and the bit of oil I'd added into a bowl and finished off by hand. Easy enough, but tiring. Not I've got a double-batch of garlicky mayo to use up in the next days.

Wednesday/23-Feb-11: Shop this afternoon. Dinner was Garlic Chicken Bites (MC), adapted to use, yes, aoili, and spiced up a bit. We thought the aoili went better with this, than with the calamari. Served with the last of this batch of trio rice; have a new brand to try since this organic one is getting really difficult to find. Then a salad of arugula and mâche, using the rest of yesterday's eggplant salad. For dessert, two storebought

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

More of the new year's "packets" for a starter. Main was Homemade Broccoli or Cauliflower Casserole (MC 2BTried), meant as a side dish no doubt, but I served is as a main over some pasta (since we had rice last night). Used aoili in the sauce; mozzarella needing to be used ipv cheddar. Not bad, but not worth keeping the recipe, I think. Some dark chocolate "roses" I found at the grocery yesterday. I thought these were based on oatmeal, but they're cornflakes. Very good.

Friday/25-Feb-11: Used up a bunch of apples from the cheapy sack I bought to make Teddie's Apple Cake (Essential, p752) this morning, and good it is too!

For our midday meal with had Thai Chicken Roll-Ups (MC), wraps with a vaguely Thai-flavored chicken filling, made even better by a squirt of sriracha before folding the wraps. A pretty light meal, but tasty.

Saturday/26-Feb-11: A rommel of a day; tossed the plan for the evening's dinner. Instead I finished off the Indian Cauliflower Soup (H2CEV, p130) from the freezer. We had a bit of pâté for a starter, then some apples, carrots and cherry toms (for me), and then soup. Preferred this variation to the Creamy Broccoli one we had earlier (that I made at the same time).

Sunday/27-Feb-11: Visited the Victor Hugo market in Angoulême this morning. Showing restraint. I came away with (only) some olives, a pair of small artichokes, and some asparagus. So many good-looking food things there. I saw some duck "steaks" that were slices, cut horizontally across both breasts; resisted buying any just to see.

We ate lunch in Angoulême before going to a movie. Just some fruit for dinner.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 VEG/FISH: yes, #2 SOUP: yes, #3 MIDDAY: yes
This month: #4 PASTA: not yet (and only one day left this month!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/14-Feb-11: Hmm ... next thing up on the freezer list (oldest, to be used soon) is two small containers of spicy apricot chutney, a recipe from CLmag. Now, what I remember is that we didn't especially like this and spicy, it wasn't. Dilemma: should I try to salvage these or just toss them?

Valentine's day lunch at Montemboeuf's Cafe de la Mairie today. No need for further food today!

Tuesday/15-Feb-11: Yogurt on overday. No one wanted to go to the boulanger, so I made Bran Bread (BMB, p44), a nice dense bread. Early in the day, I did the chop-chop for Squash and Corn Chowder (Soups4Seas, p34) and we had that for dinner. Not bad.

Wednesday/16-Feb-11: Finished the travelogue part of Auberge last night. On to the recipes now. Today's post at Gherkins and Tomatoes was about this book. How about that for a bit of serendipity?

Dinner was Chiles Rellenos Casserole (CL90, p147), a TNT recipe I haven't made in a long time. Recently some recipes billed as chiles rellenos casseroles were shared on EAT-L, but they included chopped chiles rather than whole stuffed ones. That made me think of this oldie. Not bad. I make it with two of those little cans of whole chilies, which usually contain three chilies. This time one of the cans had only two chilies, and I can't say either was especially big. We ate half of the casserole with a big salad. Neither of us especially hungry, so no dessert.

Thursday/17-Feb-11: Shopping today. Avoided most impulse purchases.

Before dinner, I baked some of the finger-food "packets" that I got for new year's eve, but we didn't eat. They were surprisingly good, and all the flavors were tasty. Dinner was Spaghetti all'Amatriciana with Eggplant (MedHot, p77). This was rather similar to Cooking Italy's recent-ish Eggplant Sauce with Tomato and Red Chili Pepper. We might have liked tonight's better, since it was less oily. The eggplant was cut in cubes, salted, drained, then tossed with flour before frying, which gave it a nice crisper outer surface. Followed by a salad, then by some rice gelato.

Friday/18-Feb-11: A day in the kitchen.
  • Yogurt on overday.
  • Made some apple-kiwi butter. How will that be, I wonder?
  • For our midday meal, we had Lamb Shanks with Mustard and Mash (Diaries, p44). (It's a year project to read through Diaries following through the year.) I cooked the shanks in the oven longer and slower than asked, like the Cajun-spiced shanks I did last July. For a starter there was Zucchini and Feta Cheese Salad (WorldVeg, p648), which we've enjoyed before.
  • Made 13 meringue cups (pavlovas, I think they can be called), following recipe in CL88. We had a couple as a belated dessert with some raspberries. The cups didn't work as well as the last time I did them; they're remarkably similar to marshmallows. Hoping the freezer will perk them up.
  • Made a double dose of pâte brisée (Tenth, p256) for the freezer.
  • Used the rest of a jar of roasted red peppers to make some faux pizza sauce for the freezer.
  • Chopped a red chili really fine and macerated this is a bit of rice vinegar. Then I stirred it into one of the containers of not-so-Spicy Apricot Chutney. If it perks up, we'll use it; if not, they both get tossed.

Saturday/19-Feb-11: Leftover chile relleno casserole for dinner, followed by a big salad. Forgot to take the rice gelato out of the freezer beforehand, so we had some cookies for dessert, kind of hazelnut sandies. Tiny cookies, and we ended up eating the whole box. Oink, oink.

Sunday/20-Feb-11: Finished off the jar of fig jam at breakfast, so tomorrow we'll see how the apple-kiwi butter worked.

Dinner was Zucchini Pancakes (Q&EVeg, p220), an old favorite. When I was considering exactly what to do for this, I realized that many zucchini pancake recipes are really pancakes with some zucchini thrown in, while this recipe is zucchini. Since I'm trying to use up some, that's what I chose. This time the bread crumbs I got from the freezer still had some biggish bits in them; those turned out really nice and chewy. For dessert we finished off the rice gelato.

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/7-Feb-11: Well, I've looked for my old snickerdoodle recipe and it seems to be missing. Did find some other ones I've saved. A puzzle.

Dinner was Roasted Cauliflower Pasta (CLmag, oct10), tasty, fairly quick and easy. I used the end of our gemelli and some fusilli for the pasta instead of penne. Actually we thought the green fusilli would have been quite pretty. Followed by a salad of mâche and beets. Then Yogurt and Fresh Pear Coffeecake, an old favorite. (This might need to go to MC.)

This quote from Auberge of the Flowering Hearth (current reading) surprised me. Why did I not know that the House of Orange is from Orange in France?
The name of this chicken dish [Hochepot de Poule du Prince d'Orange] is part of European history. The original recipe came from the town of Orange, near Avignon. Before the sixteenth century, Orange was an independent principality belonging, not to France, but to the kings of Holland. (The Dutch royal family still calls itself the House of Orange.") The original "hochepot" of Orange was transferred to Holland, and today the Dutch national dish is "Hutspot." [p36]
Very much enjoying reading this book. De Groot stayed in the auberge when he went to France to study chartreuse and fell in love with the cooking there. About a third of the book is a discussion/appreciation of the auberge, its menus, the area, history, etc. The rest of the book is recipes.

Tuesday/8-Feb-11: Yogurt on overday. Off to a movie in the day. Dinner was Spinach with Blue Cheese and Pasta (RealFast, p152; cookbooker), using up my extra frozen spinach. Very good for minimal effort. Followed by a salad and some coffeecake.

Another good quote from Auberge. At communal dinners here, we frequently see (and even join in) adding wine to the almost empty soup bowl. Haven't seen anyone add wine to a full bowl, but maybe we're not eating in the right places.
At the Auberge, we all followed the Dauphiné tradtion of faire chabrot with the wine. As the large bowls of soup were served, absolutely piping hot, each guest added a little wine from his glass and stirred it in for the dual purpose of cooling the soup and sharpening its flavor. Then, when all the solid vegetables had been eaten and nothing remained in the bowl but bouillon, one added a little more wine and it was permissible to lift one's bowl to the lips to drink the last few delicious mouthfuls. [p70]
Wednesday/9-Feb-11: Ed's gotten my cold, so neither of us are feeling very chipper. Dinner was Barbecued Raspberry-Hoisin Chicken (EWmag, soon to be MC) with chicken thighs, rather than strips of boned thigh. We had the intention to bbq, but Ed discovered that the necessary gear is closed in by the stacked wood on the kitchen porch and asked me to bake it instead. It was still quite good. The recipe suggested brown rice with some rice vinegar and sliced scallions stirred in as a side, which I did sort of. And some frozen green beans with a squeeze of lemon juice at the end. And off to bed.

Thursday/10-Feb-11: Finished the coffeecake for breakfast—pear and yogurt, it has to be healthy! Shopping this a.m. Dinner was leftover lasagna. Ah, the Lasagna Effect, Ed said. Amazing how lasagna is always better the second night. Salad after. And a dab of H-D Vanilla Pecan ice cream for dessert. Meanwhile, I made up the "brew" for an ice cream to make tomorrow. So far, it did not make up as the instructions said, so we'll have to see how it goes.

This quote from Auberge was especially interesting since we just had a tartiflette dinner, where reblochon stars, last weekend.
The word reblocher means, in the local dialect, to milk the cow a second time within the same hour. It is this second milk, with a slightly stronger flavor than the first, which is used to make the Reblochon. [p84]
A surprising thing (to me) in the book, is that the menus are planned in such detail. Even the aperitif is chosen to complement the meal. I have very much enjoyed meals with a wijn arrangement, where the wine is chosen for each course, but the idea of including the aperitif in that is really a surprise. Even the cheeses are chosen to go with the entire meal. I can only imagine what a treat it must have been to eat at this auberge!

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/11-Feb-11: Start dinner tonight with something for a pair of sickies, chicken noodle soup made with broth from the freezer, farfallini, and chicken from picking the carcasses. Then there was roasted veg (cauliflower, broccoli, snijbonen, shallots, garlic) over brown rice and topped with a bit of feta. Simple and not bad at all. Then a bit of goat cheese. Didn't feel like making up the ice cream. It will wait another day.

Saturday/12-Feb-11: Went to the boulanger too late today—no bread to be had. Got two croissants and two pains aux chocolate for breakfast. Either we'll go back in the morning for real bread or the bread machine will be back in business.

Dinner as Banh Mi Burgers, a recipe from EAT-L, loosely followed. Instead of chopping the cuke and carrot for the pickle, I cut strips with a veg peeler, more in line with pics I found on the web. These didn't need to marinate all that long, since the strips would get a bit soggy if kept too long. Also made up some Lime Chili Mayo I found in another recipe, a strange mayo without oil. Well, I added some, but it remained thin and never got thick as mayo should be, either before or after the oil. It tasted good enough. There were four patties, and I griddled some split pitas for bread. For the second round, we broke into the sriracha sauce I bought recently—pretty good stuff.

While we were eating, I put the Rice Gelato (Scoop, p70) that I started on Thursday evening in the ice cream maker. Turned out pretty tasty, if a bit strong on orange flavor to my taste. Ed didn't mind this, though; he doesn't like the grittty rice texture.

Sunday/13-Feb-11: Made Light Wheat Ricotta Bread (4Seasons, p57) during the day. Not bad at all, with a nice dense texture. Also made the broth for a soup for dinner, but when dinnertime came around, I didn't feel like dealing with the butternut squash. So we had posole from the freezer instead. Then some more of the rice gelato, which still tastes a bit too orange for me, but has a lovely creamy texture surrounding the gritty rice.

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