Monday, May 30, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/30-May-11: Simple dinner of oldies. Coriander-Pepper Pork Tenderloins (MC) done under the broiler; tasty. Zucchini and Feta Salad (MC), with goat cheese instead of feta, since my feta was moldy and there was no spare. Trio rice. For dessert, the last of the Grand Marnier desserts from the freezer.

Tuesday/31-May-11: The leftover Lunch in Paris tagine was still quite good. The two of us ate all of it in two sittings. It was probably enough for 5 or 6. Oink, oink. We started with half the melon and pineau. Followed the tagine with a big salad of mâche. Then some Prune Cake (soon to be MC). Mixed the cake all in the food processor. At the end, I added the prunes (the rest of the pitted ones I got for the tagine) and the walnuts and pulsed to chop them up. While it was baking the gas cylinder ran out; Ed came in to find it clicking, trying to light. Changed the cylinder and relit the oven. Which now decided to take its time to get up to speed. The cake survived and was quite good.

Wednesday/1-Jun-11: Lunched at Flunch today, very missable fast food. For an afternoon snack we had more prune cake. For dinner, I marinated chicken thighs for Asian Barbecue Chicken (MC), good stuff. Served with a side of Sesame Asparagus and Noodles (VegPleas, p81).

Thursday/2-Jun-11: Cowboy Stew from the freezer for dinner. Prune cake for a snack during the day.

Friday/3-Jun-11: Shopping in the early afternoon. I picked up a single cucumber. The checker kept tell me they were on sale 2 for €1, and one was .89 (or some such); I finally convinced her I really only wanted one for the two of us. Got some tomatoes to make oven-dried tomatoes again (this time I'll pay more attention to the time). Started some lemons soaking, to soften the skins prior to making preserved lemons. Made an eggless ice cream "brew" and pitted a bunch of cherries, so we should have cherries and cream ice cream before long.

Dinner was Da Vinci Cod (soon to be MC), a recipe recently collected from EAT-L. Accompanied by some Quick-Glazed Carrots (H2CEV, p278), which were good in spite of the fact that I forgot to add the butter, so they weren't as glazed as they could have been, and some orzo with grated lemon zest, parsley, black pepper, and butter. All followed by a big, simple salad. Then some St Felicien, which seemed a bit off, so we had some cookies.

Saturday/4-Jun-11: Dinner started with Lemon Thyme Marinated Artichokes (EAT-L, soon to be MC). The artichokes I found on sale (2 for €1.50) were huge, I think; three of us (one backed out) at only three quarters each, so we've got seven in the fridge now. The chokes are half steamed, then marinated, then oven-baked to finish. These were very good, but the recipe greatly understated how much lemon was required. I ended up using the lemons I had soaking to make preserved lemons, so that needs to be restarted.

For the main, there was Farfalle with Wild Mushroom Sauce (EAT-L, also soon to be MC). Very nice and relatively low fat. Then a big salad. No time for dessert before we went out to Montemboeuf.

This was the first time Barbara had had artichokes (I knew this), but also a first for avocados, in the salad!

Sunday/5-Jun-11: Wanting to make some chicken stock soon, so for dinner there was bbq'd Devil's Chicken (Tabasco, p83), which is getting to be a standard. We finished the leftover artichokes, warmed in the oven; they were okay, but not as good as last night. And I cooked up some pasta to serve with the rest of the shroom sauce. For dessert, there was cherries and cream ice cream, eggless ice cream, but still oh so good!

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lunch in Paris

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with RecipesLunch in Paris
Elizabeth Bard
Little, Brown (2010)
ISBN 031604279X

Yes, Cook the Books has come around again, and although I read this book early in April, what with one thing and the other, I'm just getting around to cooking and posting.

I must say that Lunch in Paris is not especially a book I'd have picked up on my own. In the past I've read a lot in the expat-in-France genre, but now I'm living that dream myself (after 26 years in the Netherlands) and don't feel so much the need to share vicariously in someone else's adventure. In this case, I'm a generation older and moved to France for the countryside, weather, food, prices, and lifestyle (i.e., early retirement) rather than for love. Nevertheless, we share many of the same reactions to our expat experience. I did have to laugh at the importance of having your name on a utility bill. I now keep a copy in my checkbook, in case I need to show it somewhere.

"Pardon me, sir, I couldn't help but notice; the cobblestones outside your door are older than my country." For an American (of the US type) who was once awed by sleeping in a 200-year-old log cabin in New Hampshire, living in Europe has really been an eye opener. I no longer think something 200 years old is very old. My house was built in 1900—it's a youngster. Everywhere you go, you're surrounded by history and tradition that are many, many centuries old. Paleolithic cave paintings, Roman baths, traces of Richard-the-Lionheart. Living as an expat, one soon learns that there are many more views of history than we were taught in school. Even the story of WWII more complex and even rather different from what we learned.

And, oh dear, problems with the language. Struggling with numbers at the market. I try to listen, I really do, but sometimes I just don't get it. The nice lady at our post office now shows me her calculator after she's added the total.

Bard and I even share food experiences. Fear of mayo. I grew up thinking Miracle Whip was mayonnaise, and detested all forms of the white, slimy stuff. Real mayonnaise was a revelation, although I discovered this before we ever moved to Europe. Croissants. When I first visited France at not quite 13, I loved to peel off the flaky layers of my morning croissant. (Reportedly Julia Child's recipe for croissants in Mastering the Art of French Cooking is do-able has has good results, but I haven't gathered my courage in hand for this yet.) Also on this trip I discovered the tiny fraises des bois, wild strawberries, each one an explosion of flavor. Now I have these in my garden.

For our Lunch in Paris meal, we started with Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216). I love haricots verts and the walnut oil I used is special. Every January, my commune has a soirée énoissage, an evening of walnut shelling. After several hours of shelling walnuts, we were treated to a simple dinner (onion soup, beans and pork served with dandelion greens, homemade apple tart). We had the option to purchase a liter of the walnut oil produced from our efforts, and this is what I used to make these beans. They were especially good because of our effort, of course.

Next there was Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Lunch, p312). Lamb, North African food, slowly cooked meat dishes, all food I love. And I love the combination of traditions in a single dish (fusion cuisine of a different sort).

I wonder about the "serves 8" part; I think 5 or 6 would be more like it. I started with about about 3 pounds of bone-in shoulder. Boning a chunk of meat like this is something the butcher can do in about 5 minutes, but takes me closer to an hour. (Not my favorite kitchen job.) I neglected to weigh the boned amount.

Since it's largely made ahead of time, this tagine would be an ideal party dish. I suspect you could prep everything the day before and just assemble and pop in the oven before you're planning to serve. As suggested, I served this with couscous, topped with raisins and cinnamon. Very yummy it all was.

And for dessert, a very French choice at this season when our tree is over-flowing with cherries, and one of my favorite meal closers (and occasional breakfast), clafoutis de cesises (Petit, p898, with technique and inspiration from other sources). Here it is fresh from the oven.

Altogether, this project was more fun than I initially expected. Now I've got another book with lots of stickies still to cook. And several links to "real" French cookbooks to help me build my collection in that area.

Thanks to Jo at Food Junkie Not Junk Food for hosting this book challenge!

Monday, May 23, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/23-May-11: Cooked the 2-day marinated lamb for Lamb Curry from the Romertopf site. The recipe was really poorly written, it didn't even give the temperature for cooking, and I ended up comparing the English, French, and German versions. Good enough, we ate it all. Started with a carrot salad I've made before that went with another lamb recipe (carrots, kalamatas, radishes, and parsley with a sauce of olive oil, water, red wine vinegar, and harissa). Finished up with the kulfi I made a couple of nights ago.

Tuesday/24-May-11: Started the lamb for the Lunch in Paris dinner. Our dinner was Stir-Fried Shrimp with Broccoli and Chili-Garlic Sauce (MC), which is about as simple a dinner as you could get. Tasty. Followed by a salad, then the end of the goat cheese.

Wednesday/25-May-11: Went to freeze the buttermilk ice cream, not following instructions. You should assemble the whole thing, start it, then pour in the "brew". I poured in the brew first, but such a layer froze on the sides that the paddle couldn't turn properly. Boo. It will take a day to defrost enough to clean it.

Tonight's dinner was a meal for Cook the Books.

Thursday/26-May-11: Second post-op checkup this afternoon, then dinner and a movie. Nothing happened in the kitchen, even the dishes are unwashed.

Friday/27-May-11: Whew, got all those dishes washed this morning. Yogurt on overday.

Dinner started with some melon and pineau. The main was a half recipe of Rotelle with Asparagus and Mushroom Sauce (365Pasta, p176). Ed stopped for a minor shopping this afternoon, but brought back dried mushroom instead of fresh, so there were a few changes to make. Used the funny new pasta I found, like short bits of a widish tagliatelle with ruffled edges like American lasagne, a useful pasta. I hope I can find it again. Followed by a salad. Ended with some goat cheese.

Saturday/28-May-11: Put some tomatoes in to oven-roast this morning and forgot them. No smell to stir the memory. They were some tomato chips, not very tasty.

Dinner was Chiptotle-Marinated Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce (MC), an oldie with a really yummy sauce. Yesterday we talked about barbecuing, but Ed forgot today, so I did them under the broiler. Good stuff. Baked some potatoes, sliced, with onion slices between the bits and a lemony vinaigrette. More kulfi for dessert.

Sophie didn't come in until almost midnight. We were worried.

Sunday/29-May-11: A vegetarian dinner, using up many of the veggies in the fridge. There were steams haricots verts with cilantro pesto from the freezer. And Greek Eggplant Salad (MedLight, p86), tasty, but a bit soupy; I think the eggplant should be put through the food mill, rather than processed or blended. And Tunisian Zucchini Salad (MedLight, p117), a nice zucchini salad. And Red Couscous (MedLight, p225), which could use a bit more harissa; not wanting to grind caraway seed, I used ground cumin instead. All tasty. I bought some jesuite pastries at the boulangerie this afternoon for dessert.

Sophie out late again today, but we started looking earlier and found her fairly far away. We suspect she's lost territory to a new young cat in the neighborhood. Both nights when she's come in, she's been very nervous around the front door.

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

Monday, May 16, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/16-May-11: Dinner was a one-third recipe of Ginger-Garlic Eggplant (IndianSC), a recipe that came in an email from a cookbook I don't have. Yet. I used all chilies for the third, and it was respectably hot. Probably half the chiles would be enough. Made some raita, using my standard recipe (MJ1, p162). And cherry sorbet for dessert. Not too bad.

Tuesday/17-May-11: For our midday meal today I warmed the broccoli/roquefort/walnut quiche. Still yummy. Then a salad. That was all.

Wednesday/18-May-11: Off to Bordeaux today. Only a small lunch there. For dinner I cooked some brown rice, added some chopped red onion, some chopped red bell pepper from the freezer, a small can of corn, a can of chickpeas, some chopped parsley, and some spices. Not bad all together. More cherry sorbet for dessert.

Thursday/19-May-11: Shopped this morning and really didn't feel like cooking this evening. I bought some cod fillets on sale, which turned out to be really bony. Feeling very uninspired, I used it to make Chile-Garlic Shrimp (MC), with the cod cut in strips. It dissolved so the sauce was tasty, but rather mushy. And a simple salad with a sack of cheap lettuce at its sell-by date. Finished our bit of St. Marcellin for afters.

Friday/20-May-11: First post-op check-up this afternoon, then shopping at Brico Depot. Decided to eat at the Buffalo Grill, which Ed had planned to try last Friday, but didn't have the opportunity. Ugh, very missable.

Saturday/21-May-11: Put some lamb on to marinate for two day before cooking. Made a half recipe of Buttermilk Ice Cream (MC) to freeze in the next days. I inadvertently opened a can of condensed milk (rather than evaporated) while making that, so I also made a half recipe of No-Cook Indian Ice Cream (Kulfi) (MC). Now we're quite well-stocked with ice creams.

Dinner was Sausages and Cream (ClassicItal, p201), made with homemade Italian sausage from the freezer using Guiliano's recipe. When I first made this for Cooking Italy, I used an inappropriate sausage, and it was not a success. This time, with the homemade sausage it was quite good. Kind of comfort food like, actually. I thought about adding peas to it, for some veg matter, but didn't in the end. Next time perhaps. Followed by a big salad. Then we finished off the cherry sorbet, which is a good thing since there are two more ice creams ready to go.

Sunday/22-May-11: Today was the day for French taxes, so not much going on in the kitchen. Defrosted a pair of turkey scallops and breaded them (dipping first in flour, then in buttermilk, then polenta with garlic and chili powders). Served those with shredded zucchini, also from the freezer, more or less following the MW@Home recipe. For a salad we had the rest of Wednesday dinner with red-leaf lettuce from the garden.

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

Monday, May 9, 2011

This week in the kitchen V2

Monday/9-May-11: There was a quart of strawberries, so I made a half recipe of Grandmother Katie's Strawberry Preserves. The recipe seemed clear enough when I typed it up years and years and years ago, but when I actually did it, I've got lots of questions. And no one to ask. Don't we miss our grandmothers! Before being jarred, it has to sit in a bowl (at room temp?) for 3 days or more, getting stirred a couple of times a day. Too bad I'm not such a big strawberry jam fan.

Dinner was a quickie, good, if quick—a half recipe of Tonnarelli ai Canestrelli (Tonnarelli with Scallops) (ClassPast, p107), scallops, with De Cecco linguine in this case. An interesting recipe because a part of the scallops were chopped fine. Probably the larger ones could have been quartered. Served with a salad of mâche.

Tuesday/10-May-11: Yogurt on overday. Busy stirring the strawberry preserves periodically as directed.

We had our main meal at lunch today. Started with a Greek-ish zucchini salad (as that was the only veg in the fridge—where did the broccoli go that I thought was there?), steamed zucch slices tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and mint and topped with crumbled feta. Served with red lettuce leaves from the garden.

For the main, I roasted a pintade/guinea hen in the Romertopf, salted, with a lemon stuck up its bum, sprinkled with lemon thyme leaves from the garden, and surrounded by carrots and potatoes. Its feet came untucked while it was cooking.

It's so easy to cook a bird or whatever in the Romertopf. I just forget about. It is funny that it actually browns while closed in the dish.

Anticipating that I won't feel much like chewing after surgery on Friday, I've started a bit pot of stock, using the pintade and a chicken carcass from the freezer.

Wednesday/11-May-11 and Thursday/12-May-11: Cloud computing, ha! Blogger's gone and lost two days of updates here! If they're restored, I'll update this. Meanwhile, I'll try to remember what was going. Some things that happened:
  • Wednesday evening I made Lime-Pepper Chicken (MC). Served with polenta, and ... a veg, but what veg?
  • Using cherries from our tree, I made up the broth for cherry sorbet. Had a senior moment, intending to make a half recipe, but ended up with a whole recipe, using only a (short) half of the sugar.
  • Thursday, I jarred up the strawberry preserves; took one to Barbara and David, who provided the berries; the other is for us.
  • Dinner was Fava Risotto with Fresh Sage (Uncommon, p185, cookbooker). And a salad. And for dessert ...
  • Froze the Cherry Sorbet (Scoop, p127) using cherries from the garden.
Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/13-May-11: Yay! Didn't have to stay in the hospital overnight! (I had salivary gland stones removed.) Hadn't really planned on dinner, since Ed had planned to eat out during the day, but that didn't happen. Quickly defrosted some Creamy Roasted Carrot Sauce, grated some Parmesan, boiled some spinach penne, and that was our late dinner.

Saturday/14-May-11: Nice healthy chicken noodle soup tonight, well, bird noodle soup. Broth was chicken and guinea hen; meat was turkey; noodles were whole wheat. A big shot of tabasco and it made a tasty soup.

Ed picked a kilo or two of cherries. I'll have to find something more to do with these.

Sunday/15-May-11: Dinner was a quiche/tart thing with broccoli, roquefort, and walnuts, a very nice combination. Then a salad of roquette (rocket or arugula), with a vinaigrette featuring the walnut oil from the nuts we shelled. Then a clafoutis de cerises, (Petit, p898, with touches from others).

Went to the boulanger this afternoon only to find that they're on vacation. Bread in overnight, Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22) the only ATM bread whose recipe I can remember.

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

Monday, May 2, 2011

This week in the kitchen

Monday/2-May-11: Defrosted some kip filets and Ed bbq'd them using the Grilled West Indies Spice Rub (Thrill, p165) from the freezer. Served with Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (MC) that I tossed with a bit of the rub plus a finely chopped pepper. Followed by a salad. Red, White, and Blueberry Parfait (MC), using ricotta instead of cottage cheese. Tasty, if soupy, rather than parfait-y.

Tuesday/3-May-11: Farewell lunch at L'Aromate with Bill today. We had our usual lunch fruit for dinner.

Wednesday/4-May-11: Shopped today at a shop near the clinic (following first pre-op checkup), a chain we don't ordinarily visit. Not bad, except they were out of low-fat milk. Their kitchen stuff seemed nicer than our regular shops actually. (I bought a set of rings for cutting cookies, biscuits, etc.) Didn't really have a proper list, so just took the fridge list and winged it. Still no corn oil, which is getting worrying.

For dinner, there was Tagliatelle coi Gamberi e Asparagi (ClassPasta, p98). Looked at "fresh" tagliatelle at the shop and it looked pretty unpalatable. Made fresh tagliatelle instead, one recipe of pasta (using Tipo 00 flour, which really does make especially good pasta) with about half the recipe of sauce. Used frozen, cooked shrimp, rather than dealing with peeling the uncooked ones; they were fine. Followed by a salad, then by some individual servings of Haagen-Dasz Crême Brulée ice cream that Ed spotted at the shop. A nice dinner altogether, although we finished a whole bottle of wine and feel a bit too happy for it.

Thursday/5-May-11: Yogurt on overday.

No plan for dinner, so did a clear-the-fridge pasta dish with frozen mushroom ravioli, broccoli, pyramid cheese, etc. Followed by a big salad. Yvonne joined us for dinner and brought fruit salad for dessert. Served this with some toasted Belgian waffles. Nice dinner.

Friday/6-May-11: Made some apple butter with rhubarb. Dinner at the quiz, so nothing further in the kitchen.

Saturday/7-May-11: Went to the Phoenix booksale today and fell off the cookbook collecting wagon. Oops. Came home with four new cookbooks and two other food-related books. On the way home I stopped into Intermarche in Montbron while Ed got gas and found corn oil. Hooray.

For dinner I broiled two turkey scallops from the freezer with the last of the West Indies spice rub. Served with mashed sweet potatoes and haricots verts, tossed with butter/olive oil with cajun spice and garlic. Saved some sweet potatoes for a quick bread to make tomorrow. A store-bought dessert, panna cotta with caramel; definitely edible.

Started tomorrow night's dinner with some pickled red onions and a crock pot of spicy pork that will become carnitas.

Sunday/8-May-11: The mashed sweet potatoes turned into Southern Sweet Potato Pecan Bread (MC 2BTried, now K's Keepers). Really easy to put together and tasty too.

Ed collected lots of cherries and more are littered on the ground around the tree. I guess we should spread a sheet or two out there. Barbara and David brought s a pile of freshly picked strawberries.

Dinner was Slow Cooker Carnitas with Pickled Red Onions (web, now MC). Meat cooked like this is so nice. A tasty rub (this wasn't the tastiest perhaps, but still good), then a long sit in the crock. Just what the crockpot excels at. The meat is so tender you shred it with forks (or fingers). The pickled onions are a bit on the sweet side, but a nice addition to the carnitas. I made tortillas to go with. (In recent notes I wrote that I made 7 tortillas from 2/3 cup masa. This time I used 1 cup masa and still had only 7 tortillas, plus one mini one. Weird.) Served with canned corn, gussied up with a chopped pepper, some chipotle powder, and some ground oregano. Froze letfover meat with leftover corn and extra cooking juice. Might add beans and make it a soup/stew. Might make some cornmeal mush and make a tamale pie. We'll see.

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