Monday, December 31, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/31-Dec-12: How can it already be the last day of 2012? Not the bestest year ever, I think. Hoping 2013 turns out better for everyone all around. We had a dinner of appetizers for IHCC, including some carrots sticks for dipping the baba ghanoush.

Tuesday/1-Jan-13: A new year's luncheon feast at La Bellone today. For dinner we had some carrot sticks and apple slices.

Wednesday/2-Jan-13: Today's fun task was defrosting the fridge, which has been needed for a month or so. Luckily it was a sunny day, so I put all the shelves and drawers outside to dry. Next up will be the chest freezer, whenever we have a little cold spell since it's much fuller than the coolers we have.

For dinner, I gussied up some basmati rice and added the leftover Shrimp with Garlic and Chilies. And a half dose of Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171). 

Thursday/3-Jan-13: Grocery shopping today. Dinner was Thyme for Lime Salmon, a recipe I got from EAT-L. Quite good, it was, the salmon topped with some honey, lime juice, thyme, and oil. It was supposed to be baked, but I put it under the broiler. Served with some pasta with garlic butter and some steamed broccoli with lemon juice. Then a salad. Then a pair of nice chocolate truffle-y thing each.

Friday/4-Jan-13: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was Confit Duck Leg Pozole (webcookbooker), tasty but rich; followed by a salad; ending up with Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding (web, cookbooker) which was very yummy, although too much.

Saturday/5-Jan-13: Hippie dinner tonight, a half recipe of North Indian Stuffed Eggplant (NewMW, p98). Old recipe. Still good. Then a big salad. That was all.

Sunday/6-Jan-13: Made fresh pasta tonight. For a sauce there was a half recipe of Cremini Mushroom Pasta with Wilted Arugula, Goat Cheese, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Essential, p334). Long title for a fairly simple recipe. This was pretty good, but the goat cheese I had that wanted to be used up was a bit wimpy. Then we has slices of a three kings' cake from the Montemboeuf boulangerie. Ed got the fêve. (It was a dog, some kind of pointer. Weird.)

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #6 PASTA: yes for December; yes for January!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

IHCC: Red and Green

Red and green for the holidays. Well the tablecloth is red and the spinach is green.

Actually, red things were hard for me to think of, but the green was easy. Saag Paneer has been on my make-me-sometime list for way too many years. It's a restaurant favorite, although sometimes the paneer can be a tad rubbery. With this week's them, I finally had the excuse I needed to give it a try. I found recipes in a several of Jaffrey's books, but went with the one in World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking (p240; the paneer is on p238).

As the red go-with, I chose Red Split Lentils with Cumin from Indian Cooking (p122). Red lentils are strangely mis-named. They're orange when you buy them and a rather unappealing gold color when they're cooked, but they taste good. This is a simple recipe I've made several times before so there was nothing new here.

Making the paneer turned out to be quite simple. You simply bring the whole milk to a boil, remove it from the heat, stir in some lemon juice, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then you pour the curdled mixture into some cheesecloth and suspend it to drain overnight. (I used butter muslin, and have recently read that it's actually better for the job than what I know as cheesecloth. When I went to top up my stash of cheesecloth last year, not having found any in French shops nearby, butter muslin is what turned up in online UK shopping.) 

The recipe calls for 5 cups of whole milk; I used a liter and adjusted the lemon juice accordingly. It was strange to me that there was almost exactly a liter of whey after the curds were removed. And, actually, not much more liquid came off beyond the whey that originally formed. It could have evaporated, I suppose, but since it's been raining most of the time of late (we're building an ark), I would expect the humidity to be quite high already. The next afternoon the curds were very dry.

Because they were so dry, they didn't really want to hold together all that well, but after being pressed under a cast iron Dutch oven full of water for a couple of hours, the paneer was solid enough to cut up and cook with, although the pieces weren't all that pretty.

The dish itself is easy to make, although I was pleased to have help in stemming all that spinach. I had only about 500g of fresh spinach (rather than 1-1/2 pounds), but that's still a lot. (Next time I might try this with frozen spinach which will make it a really easy dish.) First you brown the paneer, then remove it from the skillet and sprinkle with with salt, garam masala, and cayenne. Using the same oil, you fry a paste of garlic, ginger, and a chile that you've already whizzed up with water. After 30 seconds, you stir in the finely chopped spinach and some salt, cover, and cook slowly for 15 minutes. FInally you add the paneer and some cream, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. I cut both these times quite a bit short and it didn't hurt a bit.

We were both very pleased with the result. Although the paneer was not as pretty as what you might be served in a restaurant, it was definitely tender and tasty.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas dinner 2012

Another small xmas dinner with just the two of us. It occurs to me that in Amstelveen we had access to a small population of folks who needed dinner, but here we don't  have that network. Our Brit friends like to eat out at British restaurants, where the food is good enough, but nothing special. We both like having a relaxed morning and eating at home.

Our starter was what we've been having for many years now, slices of foie gras wrapped in dried duck, accompanied by a bit of arugula and vinaigrette. Oh so yummy. Oh so rich. The xmas market where we've been getting this has enlarged, but strangely seems to have fewer good food vendors, so this may be the last time we get this.

Finding nothing of interest for a main course at the xmas marché, I fell back on the two coquelets I bought at the grocery as backup. Thinking I'd just roast them simply with some herbs, I was wandering through cookbooks looking for cooking times when I ran across Bademiya's Justly Famous Bombay Chile-and-Cilantro Chicken (Essential, p471). This looked very appealing and I happened to have everything needed on hand, so did a bit of replanning to accommodate this as the main course. I spatchcocked the chickies and marinated them, but ended up cutting them in half to serve since they were a bit too big for the plates. These were accompanied by Cilantro Sauce from the recipe, the suggested String Beans with Ginger and Garlic (Essential, p260), and Indian Mashed Potatoes (Q&E, p90).

We both enjoyed it all, along with a lovely bottle of Sancerre. I expected this to be a bit overwhelmed by the spicy coquelets, but it actually was a good accompaniment.

Dessert was a laugh. I chose a promising recipe for Amaretti Chocolate Cake (web). Promising, yes. Definitely a positive on taste. But a cake, no. More like some kind of mousse, very soggy. A 4 of 5 for taste, but a 0 for presentation. Not sure what the problem was, but I expect the amount of cream is wrong.

Monday, December 24, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/24-Dec-12: Dinner was a half recipe of Sea Scallops with Sweet Red Peppers and Zucchini (Essential, p409), which was very tasty and seasonal in appearance, all red, green, and white. Served with orzo, although possibly some spaghetti or linguine would have been nice. Then a salad. Then a small bit of a petit camembert.

Tuesday/25-Dec-12: Gloomy weather, and neither or us feeling xmas-y. Only got the tree up yesterday and haven't been playing our usual cheery xmas music. Dinner was nice, though, although the dessert was a bit of a failure.

Wednesday/26-Dec-12: Tweede kerstdag. Planned a bigger meal but scaled it back since neither or us were particularly hungry. The main was Pork Steak with Port and Figs (web; N.B.: This is from, but Safari is giving a "watch out" message today; perhaps they've been hacked). Nice, but the sauce was strangely bland. Also odd is the she calls for 8 dried figs at 150g. I used 12 (which was too many) and they were only 125g. Accompanied by some trio rice and some Carrot Timbales following the recipe for Broccoli Timbales (BEFCC, p58). Possibly I've made this more often with carrots than broccoli, but either way it's good. Then a salad using up yesterday's arugula. Then some leftover chocolate dessert.

Thursday/27-Dec-12: Did our shopping today. The holiday season brings lots of exotic and out-of-season fruits and vegetable. In past years there have been lots of mini versions of vegetables. This year I had a recipe to use mini squash, and of course there were none to be found. Oh well.

Dinner was an old favorite, Spicy Cajun Shrimp (MW@Home, p255), over rice. Then a big salad. Then some of the petit camembert.

Friday/28-Dec-12: Kitchen day today. Made a jarful of Apple Butter using the cheap sack of apples I got yesterday. Emptied the freezer to make a big pot of chicken stock. There was at least one chicken and two coquelets worth, plus, I think, some thigh bones, but I didn't count. Boned the last half coquelet to make a salad with leftover rice from last night, the cilantro sauce, some celery and radish bits. Pretty good lunch. Started paneer for tomorrow night's IHCC dinner.

Dinner started last of the foie gras-stuff magret and a bit of vinaigretted arugula. For a main there was Pumpkin Gnocchi with Crème Fraîche-Sage Sauce (web, cookbooker), which was good, although I still haven't mastered the technique for proper gnocchi. Then we had another bit of the chocolate non-cake. Nicely full now.

Saturday/29-Dec-12: A tasty dinner for IHCC tonight: Saag Paneer(WofE, p240), Red Split Lentils with Cumin Seed (MJ1, p122), served with rice and Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172). All but the Saag Paneer have been made before. Finished off the chocolate non-cake for dessert. Whew!

Sunday/30-Dec-12: Made some Pumpkin Cranberry Bread (MC) to use up the pumpkin I defrosted and some of the cranberries that have been lingering in the freezer for quite a while. It's good.

DInner was Tuna with Macaroni and Mushrooms (Ackart, p183). I made half of a recipe that should serve six, and it made a not overly generous dinner for two. But it was good. Then a salad. Then the last of the petit camembert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: no, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Monday, December 17, 2012

IHCC: Foods To Warm You Up!

This was a topic open to a bit of interpretation. At first I thought something nice and hot would be in order, but then again, maybe a comfort food would be more in order. After yesterday's biryani feast, I opted for a tried-and-true dinner, a simple favorite we've enjoyed many times.

This was Lentils with Garlic and Onion (Indian Cooking, p124) with Simple Buttery Rice with Onions (Indian Cooking, 149). Then lentils are intended as a side dish, but I use them as a vegetarian main dish over rice. For a dinner for two, I made the full amount of the lentil recipe and a third of the rice. This is a very generous dinner, and there's a bit of the lentils in the fridge for leftovers night.

The lentils are started by frying some cumin seeds, then adding a goodly amount of garlic, then adding a chopped onion and cooking till it begins to brown. Stir in the lentils and water, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer at a low heat till the lentils are done, about an hour. Finally add some salt and cayenne and simmer a bit longer. I always use the higher measure for the cayenne, and a sloppily generous measure at that. The buttery rice is really good with many dishes. I use about half the butter asked.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

This week in the kitchen

Monday/17-Dec-12: Oldies but goodies tonight for dinner, another post for IHCC : Lentils with Garlic and Onion (MJ1, p124) and Simple Buttery Rice with Onions (MJ1, p149).

Tuesday/18-Dec-12: A neighbor brought us some homemade rillettes and homemade pineau (in a Scotch whisky bottle).

And tonight was TexMex comfort food, cheese enchiladas, "Spanish" rice with lots of veg, guacamole, and some pineapple sherbert for dessert.

Wednesday/19-Dec-12: The Mini decided not to boot last night, so the household is without admin, and I'm without my daily planning. Sigh.

Tried to figure out what we're having for the holidays. Not feeling very imaginative. The timing of xmas day is a problem. Would like to have fish, but one doesn't buy fish on Mondays, so that's kind of out.

Dinner was easy, a slice of Thanksgiving turkey roulade from the freezer, the rest of the sauce from the Garlic Chicken from the freezer, some smashed potatoes, and some steamed broccoli. Simple. Tasty.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/20-Dec-12: Shopping today, one of the priciest of the year.

Made some Pickled Red Onions using a recipe I've adapted.

Dinner was a half dose of Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg (web), with poached eggs instead of soft-boiled. Tasty and easy. Then a salad.

Friday/21-Dec-12: Mike and Sally to dinner. Pulled pork/carnitas from the crockpot, a mishmash of recipes. Served with Mama's Garlic Colelaw made topped up with some chipotle powder, guacamole, grated cheese (mimelotte), and flour tortillas. Sally brought a bread pudding of croissants for dessert. Yum.

Saturday/22-Dec-12: Added another onion to the Pickled Red Onions. Finished off the rillettes for lunch. Tasty, but not so good for your cholesterol level.

Tarragon-Scented White Bean Soup (VegPress, p47) for dinner and lots for the freezer. Made a whole recipe and puréed. Good, but, well, it's bean soup, isn't it? Nothing a good dose of tabasco doesn't help ... which goes surprisingly well with the tarragon.

Sunday/23-Dec-12: Went to our favorite xmas marché at Chassenon today. Neither of us found it as nice as before. It's grown and seems to have lost its way. Usually we come away with one or two sacksful of food and goodies, but this time not. Some of our favorite vendors were missing and the variety was not as big as before. However, if you wanted a capon, you were in good stead. And there are getting to be too many Brits at these things.

Leftover cheese enchiladas for dinner. And double chocolate mini-Magnums for dessert since Ed doesn't like pineapple sherbert as well as I do.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #6 PASTA: no

Sunday, December 16, 2012

IHCC: Rice is nice!

Rice is nice, indeed, and Jaffrey's books are full of delicious ricey things to make. Some of them have already been posted this week. I wanted to do something more ambitious this week, but wasting two days waiting for a DHL package meant no chance for grocery shopping, and other commitments made Sunday the only "big" cooking day, so I'm feeling a bit rushed.

When I saw the rice theme, my first thought was of making a biryani, a favorite. Last week Ms. en Place made Shrimp Biryani, using the recipe I made in May. (It's good!) Shrimp is my favorite biryani, but since that has just been (well)done, I decided instead on my second favorite biryani, one with lamb. A check through my books turned up Lamb and Rice Casserole (Mughlai lamb biryani) in Indian Cooking (p154). A biryani is a festive dish, so dinner became a bit of a feast, with Yoghurt with Eggplant (p164) and Tomato, Onion, and Green Coriander Relish (p172), accompaniments recommended by Jaffrey. When I saw Jaffrey make this relish on TV, she said that mint could be used in place of the coriander or parsley. Since there is no coriander in the shops right now, I used that instead. The eggplant dish was already a favorite; the relish was new to us and a definite keeper.

Making the biryani is quite a long affair, nothing especially difficult but lots of wall clock time passes. You need to allow at least 5 hours from start to finish. It's easy to fit in the side dishes while the biryani progresses. And the last hour in unattended in the oven, so this could be a good company dish.

You start by rinsing, then soaking basmati rice for three hours. Then you prepare some saffron milk which also sits for three hours. You make a paste of chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and almonds. Then there are sliced onions to be crisped up for the garnish, as well as raisins to be plumped and almonds to be toasted. After your lamb chunks are browned and removed to a bowl, you fry the onion-garlic-ginger-almond paste till it starts to brown. You add the lamb chunks back to the skillet, and stir in some yogurt, a tablespoon at a time. When that's done, you add salt and water and let the meat simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. 

While that's happening, you grind up some cloves, black peppercorns, seeds from coriander pods, cardamom, cumin, and coriander seeds, ginger, and a chunk of a nutmeg. That gets stirred into the meat sauce, along with a dab of cayenne, and the mixture simmers for another 30 minutes. At the end of this time, you might need to simmer the pot uncovered for a few minutes to reduce the sauce. I didn't find this necessary, possibly because I was making a third recipe, so liquid tends to be a bit short. The meat sauce is spread on the bottom of a casserole dish. 

Meanwhile, the rice gets drained, stirred into boiling water, and cooked for exactly six minutes. This is drained, then piled into a hill on the meat. You make a hole in center of the rice hill, then pour the saffron milk over the sides and into the well. Bits of butter on the sides, a scattering of browned onions on top, and into a slow oven it goes, well covered, for an hour. At the end, you stir everything together, turn it onto a platter, garnish with the rest of the browned onions, raisins, almonds, and hard-boiled egg, and serve.

Ed said this wasn't quite as good as what's served at our favorite restaurant in Amsterdam, but it was a pretty close second.

Continuing with the rice theme, I made Light Rice Pudding (Phirni) from Climbing the Mango Trees (p262). Scented with cardomom seeds, this was tasty, if a bit too sweet for us.

There's a bit of a problem with this recipe: it calls for 100g or 2oz of sugar to sweeten 2 cups of milk. My scale was set for grams, so I weighed out 100g and marveled at the amount of sugar for this amount of milk. Of course, 100g is 3.5oz of sugar, which would have made it almost inedible, I expect. I used the 2oz (56g), and might cut it back a bit further (50g perhaps), since neither of us cares for really sweet tastes. The recipe is supposed to serve 4, but 2 cups of milk reduces quite a bit and we had only two servings from this. Also, we both thought it would be nice to toast the chopped pistachios a bit next time. But it was very tasty and easy to make, so I expect it will get made again.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/10-Dec-12: Lunched out today, and nothing further happened in the kitchen.

Tuesday/11-Dec-12: Authentic French Bread in the ABM this morning for lunch bread and Thanksgiving rolls from the freezer for breakfast.

Made Chile Purée (TexMex, p50) today, the San Antonio chile sauce that used for enchiladas and chili con carne. Used anchos and pasilla negras. Seemed less bitter than the last time I made this. Some cheese enchiladas will be on the menu before too long. Froze up some of the chile-soaking water in an ice cube tray to have bits to add to beans and whatever.

Gas ran out while I was preparing dinner, luckily at an easy spot. Dinner was Delmonico Hash (Essential, p507), a recipe from 1877, using most of the meat from Sunday's third lamb shank. A light dinner, high-fat, but tasty. Then a big salad. Then two chocolates for after.

Wednesday/12-Dec-12: Another day of waiting for DHL, who never showed up. Now the package status says it will be delivered at an agreed upon date. Agreed with whom, I wonder?

In the early afternoon, I went to make a spice paste for tonight's chicken, only to discover that the prunes I was counting on were moldy. And, Wednesday afternoon, the little grocery that's close-by is closed. Oops. Replan. Dinner was a half dose of Garlic Chicken (web), made with thighs instead of legs. Easy and pretty tasty. Made all the sauce and froze about half of it for later use.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/13-Dec-12: While I waited for DHL (they actually came!), Ed went off to choir practice and did a bit a shopping afterwards. He brought back some sole, which we had for dinner. I spread the fillets with Cilantro Pesto from the freezer, rolled them up, and baked them with a little sauce very loosely based on Fish Baked, Greek Style (Ackart, p24), using up the lump of oven-dried tomatoes that I neglected freeze on a tray. Served with some steamed broccoli and some odd lots of pasta. Then a smallish salad. Then some pieces of 3 Kings' Cake, an impulse buy. (It's not just me!) Ed found the fêve on the first cut. Pogo wore the crown for a while. A pretty good dinner.

Friday/14-Dec-12: Dinner has a half dose of Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi (web, cookbooker), which was pretty good. Then a really big salad (Ed bought a 150g sack of mâche yesterday). Then we finished off the 3 Kings' Cake.

Saturday/15-Dec-12: List-making this morning, shopping this afternoon—Saturday afternoon is a terrible time to shop. The sky opened about the time we were leaving.

Dinner was a half dose of Potato and Mushroom Gratin (Ready, p208). This was good, but took way too long to make, since I overlooked a crucial bit of instruction. While we were waiting, I used up the end of a jar of artichoke bottoms, topping them with dabs of black olive tapenade and pyramid cheese, then popping them under the broiler for a bit. Then we had a nice salad. And finally we had the gratin.

Sunday/16-Dec-12: Yogurt on overday.

DInner for IHCC tonight, a third recipe of Lamb and Rice Casserole (MJ1, p154), accompanied by Yoghurt with Eggplant (MJ1, p164) and Tomato, Onion, and Green Coriander Relish (MJ1, p172). Finishing off with Light Rice Pudding (Climbing, p262). Yum. But I'm stuffed. Here's the post.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: no

Thursday, December 6, 2012

IHCC: Potluck!

This week it's potluck time at I Heart Cooking Clubs, a chance to make something that's caught your eye of late. I chose to make a chickpea flour stew with dumplings. I ran into this idea a couple of years ago, when looking for a way to use up some besan (chickpea or gram flour), and used this week's theme as an excuse to actually try the recipe. (N.B.: chickpea flour/gram flour/besan doesn't seem to keep long in the cupboard, but does well in the freezer.)

Almost exactly the same recipe can be found in Climbing the Mango Trees (p254), but I used the one in A Taste of India (p42), Chickpea Flour Stew with Dumplings (Karhi). I made a half recipe with all the spices (as I frequently do). You start this dish by making the karhi sauce, first frying some cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and fifteen (count them!) fenugreek seeds with dried chilies, and adding some turmeric at the end. Then you stir in the mixture of yogurt, water, and chickpea flour and let it simmer away for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile you make a batter for the dumplings of besan, baking soda, and yogurt. The recipe calls for this mixture to be beaten vigorously with a wooden spoon for ten minutes. I was already thinking of using the food processor for this when I read Julie Sahni's very similar* recipe for Chick-pea Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce (Kadhi) in Classic Indian Cooking (p284). (Yes, that's a one-letter spelling difference.) Sahni admits that vigorous beating is "tiring and time-consuming" and suggests using the food processor instead. Yay!

*Sahni says that in her family they add vegetables to the sauce, frying potatoes and onions with the spices before adding the yogurt mixture. She also adds some ground coriander to the dumpling mixture, which might be a nice touch.

Oops, I slipped a gear while halfing the recipe and added all the yogurt to the food processor, so I ended up making all the dumplings. The batter is dropped by the teaspoonful into hot oil to be fried.

When they've turned a lovely reddish color, the dumplings are drained on paper towels (Jaffrey) or in water (Sahni). I did some of each, but can't say that we noticed the difference in the final product. (Ed found a whole menagerie in all the dumpling shapes.)

When you're ready to eat, you reheat the karhi/kadhi, add the dumplings, and heat gently for ten minutes.

As suggested, I served the dumpling stew with plain basmati rice. For a veg, I made one of my standard Indian side dishes Tangy Green Beans with Ajwain and Ginger (Spice Kitchen, p38), which is nice because you can get everything ready ahead of time, then finish in the last ten minutes or so with minimal attention.

For the two of us, I made half of a recipe that should serve six, although we had all the dumplings. I was expecting to have some of the stew left, maybe to serve over toast for lunch tomorrow. But we decided to be piggy and finished it all off. Strangely, though, we both thought that the sauce that had been standing for a bit was more flavorful that what was first served.

Jaffrey suggest serving this stew with lamb kebabs, rice, and a vegetable. That sounds like quite a good combination. Also, since both the sauce and the dumplings can be made ahead and reheated just before serving, this could be a nice company dish.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, December 3, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/3-Dec-12: What a gray and gloomy day! Simple dinner, a half dose of Conchiglie Salmone e Piselli e Formaggi Caprini (web) and a salad. Used orecchetti because there isn't any conchiglie in the house. Oh well.

Tuesday/4-Dec-12: Warmed up the roast chicken; served with (yet again) Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216, MC, now HandyBook) and mushroom pasta. For dessert with did a taste-testing of four fair trade chocolate bars (one square each). Our favorite was the 70% one from Nicaragua.

Wednesday/5-Dec-12: Shopping today. Had an Asian itch, so dinner was Spicy Fish Cakes (MC), a vaguely Thai dish. Accompanied by Fragrant Jasmine Rice (MWLowFat, p189) and Zucchini with Cilantro Sauce (MWLowfat, p335). For dessert there was a bit of Pineapple Buttermilk Sherbert (MWLowFat, p394), that I made late last summer when I opened a can of what turned out to be crushed pineapple. All stuff we've had before, but good.

Thursday/6-Dec-12: Tonight's dinner was for IHCC's potluck theme. There was Chickpea Flour Stew with Dumplings (TasteIndia, p42) over plain basmati rice, served with Tangy Green Beans with Ajwain and Ginger (SpiceKitch, p38). Yum.

Friday/7-Dec-12: Today's lunch date fell through so we had an unplanned dinner, but one I'd already been thinking it was time for—our annual Dutch zuurkool stamppot. That's sauerkraut mashed with potatoes and topped with a smoked sausage. Comfort food. Another chocolate taste-testing for afters.

Saturday/8-Dec-12: Oops, neglected to notice that dinner wanted two and a half hours in the oven. Replan on order. So it was a half dose version of Poor-Cousin Paella (Secrets, p249). This recipe is good for using up odd bits of things. (That's why it's in the leftovers chapter, "The Squirrel Complex.") There were some small frozen cooked shrimp, the last frozen squid body, some store-bought chorizo (a good brand this time), with peas and artichoke bottoms, and jazzed up with some chipotle powder. Good stuff. Then a salad. Have enough paella left for lunch or a side dish perhaps.

Sunday/9-Dec-12: Dinner was Fall-Apart Lamb Braised with Mustard and Mint (web), with three of the four lamb shanks asked. The meat from the third one will show up in dinner in a couple of days. Good stuff it was. There was no mint in the store and certainly none in the garden, so I sprinkled on some dried spearmint, but can't say I noticed the flavor. Served with smashed potatoes and peas-and-carrots. Double-chocolate mini Magnums for afters, although it wasn't really needed.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: no

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IHCC: Bread Week!

There are so many Indian-style breads to make! Naan has been on my to-do list for a long time, hoping that something home-made will be 1) not too hard and 2) better than the grocery store stuff, which is hardly worth the money. But with last week's holiday leading immediately to a long weekend in Bordeaux, I haven't really had time to research what I'd like to make.

As I lay in bed last night (aah! back in my own bed!), I was pondering what I could manage to do bread-wise this week and how to fit it into the schedule. I reached for the only Jaffrey book that was close at hand, which turned out to be Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook: Food for Family and Friends. There's no proper index in this book, only a list of recipes. Under the heading "Soups and Egg Dishes" I found Golden Sesame Corn Bread. That sounded like just the thing to go with soup or chili, which sounded like something that needed to be eaten in the next days.

This turned out to be a really nice cornbread. In one sense, it's a fairly standard recipe, using yogurt as a large part of the liquid. But it also has chopped chili, grated ginger, and chopped coriander/cilantro in the batter and a topping of fried yellow mustard and sesame seeds. The only criticism either of us could manage was that there were too many sesame seeds—the proportion of mustard to sesame seeds should be maybe 2:1 instead of 1:1. Otherwise, it has a nice texture and taste and made a nice accompaniment to curried zucchini soup from the freezer (part of last summer's garden bounty).

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, November 26, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/26-Nov-12: Back from Bordeaux, having successfully renewed our Dutch passports. Stirred together the leftover couscous with the marinated Brussels sprouts and called it a starter. Then a slice of turkey roulade. Then some yummy chocolate covered things that I bought at the boulangerie where we stopped on the way home.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/27-Nov-12: My tummy not feeling all that good today, on top of being tired out. Dinner was curried zucchini soup from the freezer (starting in on the summer bounty now) and Golden Sesame Corn Bread (MJFamily, p156) , which was my entry for this week's IHCC.

Wednesday/28-Nov-12: Shopping today, kind of a small one since nothing much seems to be on the plan.

Dinner was some halibut filets, cut in small bits, and breaded flour, egg/oil/milk (à la Child), then cornmeal. And some of Clothilde Dusoulier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes. And some steamed broccoli with lemon juice. Then a dab of cheese.

Thursday/29-Nov-12: Yogurt on overday. Off for a quiz in the evening, so no further action in the kitchen (but a lot of ironing on the mezzanine instead).

Friday/30-Nov-12: So much for the menu plan. This morning a interesting recipe appeared in my inbox, looking like something that needed to be made soon. So dinner was Scallops with Linguine and Lemony Pangrattato (web) with a big salad. Good stuff it was too. Wonder what we'll eat tomorrow?

Saturday/1-Dec-12: Surprise, passports arrived in today's mail!

Saw an interesting food picture and, having some of the ingredients needing to be used up, I improvised something sort of similar. Some kip filets à la meunière with a sauce of mushroom (augmented by some dried mushrooms, soaked) and quartered artichoke hearts, pan deglazed with white wine, mushroom soaking water added along with a slog of cream. Served with tagliatelle. Not bad, not good. Double chocolate mini Magnums for after.

Sunday/2-Dec-12: Roast a chicken today, very loosely following the cast iron skillet method. Bird is spatchcocked, salt and peppered and herbed as you want. Then sautéed skin side down for 15 minutes and in a hot oven for another 30 minutes, all with a weight (another cast iron skillet or a brick). I topped the bird with some lemon juice and odd bits of lemon before I added the weight. It was good, although it might have used a few more minutes in the oven. With some polenta and a bit of broccoli. (Most of the broc I managed to drop in the sink on top of the not-yet-cleaned raw-chicken cutting board . Sigh.) Some little bits of cheese for afters.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: yes for November, no for December

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Marinated Brussels Sprouts

Arrosto di tacchino con pancetta ed erbe aromatiche
(Shane's Roasted Rolled Turkey Breast with Pancetta and Herbs)
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme
Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil
Cranberry-Port Relish
Buttermilk Bread Rolls

Fleurie 2010

Pumpkin Cake

Not much energy for Thanksgiving this year, since we're both recovering from cold/flus. We were almost prepared to skip it, but then I was intrigued by the recipe for a turkey roulade that came across on EAT-L, so I built a small, easy menu around that.

The starter and the ender were the same as last year. I only discovered this when I went to write this post—I was just looking for something good and easy.

Tuesday I made the cranberry relish, since that only gets better sitting in the fridge. This felt like an official start.

Yesterday I got the sprouts on to marinate; all that was needed for them today was to was to clean some arugula and plate it all. I put four turkey breast halves on to brine and took the bucket up to Barbara's extra fridge. (How nice to have an extra fridge. But even better might be having a friend with space in her extra fridge.) Made the cake in the evening.

The cake got iced early today. Then we did our shopping (which didn't happen yesterday because we were waiting for a DHL delivery that should have come last week Thursday) and picked up the turkey. Started the real work by making the herb stuffing for the roulades, then assembling one roulade from two breast halves. It appeared that I didn't have enough of the herb mixture to adequately stuff two rolls, so I froze two of the brined breasts. Peeled and sliced sweet potatoes to roast, then topped the green beans. The bread machine mixed the dough and I made my usual cloverleaf rolls. The gravy was just the juice from the roasting turkey topped up with a glug of Marsala, then thickened with a bit of potato starch.

The turkey was a bit of fun to assemble, although it's definitely a hands-on preparation. I started with two boned turkey breast halves, about 3 kilo's worth. These were opened out (the "filet" on one side and a flap cut from the thick part on the other) and flattened to make one big piece (sort of). The surface was coated with an herb mix of rosemary and sage from the garden, flat parsley (fresh and some frozen because there was none at the shop today), garlic, anchovies, and lemon rind, all bound together with a bit of olive oil. This mixture was topped with slices of pancetta. And all was rolled up,  tied with string, and plopped in a baking dish surrounded by a goodly slog of white wine. Nothing really difficult and the results were delicious.

Here's most of the meal served before someone remember to clear the salad plates.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IHCC: Root, Root, Root for Root Veggies!

This week's theme is root veggies, and Madhur Jaffrey's work is full of good things to do with them. It's a busy week so I considered making an old favorite, rather than trying out a new recipe. Let's see, there are the two very good, and frequently made, carrot salads on facing pages in Indian Cooking. There's Indian Mashed Potatoes in Quick & Easy Indian Cooking that I haven't made in a while. There's Potatoes Cooked with Garlic and Sesame Seeds in World of the Easy Vegetarian Cooking. And there are more. But finally I settled on an easy dinner of Easy Chicken Kebabs (Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, p15) and Diced  Potatoes with Spinach (100 Essential Curries, p140).

Aside: Chicken is clearly not a root vegetable, but I will mention that this is a great recipe. It's easy and delicious. I usually skewer the chicken bits and broil them, although they could be served as munchies for a party. I've made this many times, and I have never used the butter or oil for basting. The chicken is moist and tender from the yogurt marinade and we've never missed the fat. Maybe it helps crisp up the outside of the chicken bits, but this has never been a problem for us.

This potato and spinach recipe is somewhat similar to one in Indian Cooking, which I've tried and not especially liked. This recipe looked enough different that I thought I'd give it a try, especially since I had potatoes in the cupboard and spinach in the freezer, both wanting to be used. Jaffrey mentions that fenugreek greens would be preferred for this recipe, but that that's something not available in my neck of the woods. Spinach worked fine, and I suspect any of the strong-tasting greens would be great here.

You start by peeling, chunking, and boiling the potatoes, cutting into 2cm pieces. The recipe says this is equivalent to 1/4 inch, but of course it's not; probably 3/4 inch was meant. My potatoes were not done in the 6 minutes asked; it was more like 10 minutes. While those are cooking, you cook your fresh or frozen spinach, then chop it. Heat a bit of ghee (or vegetable oil) and stir in some black mustard seeds. When they start popping, add some chopped onion and garlic and turn the heat to medium. Stir until the onion begins to brown a bit, then add the chopped spinach. (Actually, the garlic browned well before the garlic, so I think it might be better to add that after the onion starts to soften a bit.) Cook the spinach about 10 minutes; I think this is just getting it very dry. Then stir in the potatoes, some garam masala, cayenne, and salt. I used the maximum amount of cayenne and it was nicely tingly, but not challenging.

Jaffrey's 100 Essential Curries book is a new one around here. I find it a bit odd, since I'm fairly sure there's nothing new here, but repeats of recipes that have appeared in other books. I recognize a fair number of them from books I already have. If anyone recogizes where this potato and spinach recipe comes from, please leave a comment. I haven't found it in a book I already have, but might need a new book based on how much we liked this recipe.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Nov-12: Read the latest VPG today, with the big article on favorite French desserts. Number One was chocolate fondant, followed by crêpes.

Even if you didn't look at the calendar, you could tell the holidays are coming. The shops and ads (that usually come on in the Monday post) are full of chocolate, foie gras, pâtés, and other goodies.

Got other stuff done today, but no work on the menu plan. Have to do that in the morning. Haven't figure out what to do for IHCC; could be an easy repeat of an old favorite, but it would be nice to do something new. And soon.

Dinner was Roast Cauliflower Pasta (MC), except with broccoli since all the cauliflower got used up yesterday. Then a salad. Then the rest of the little Ricotta Pound Cake.

Tuesday/20-Nov-12: Started with a mini Thanksgiving by making Cranberry-Port Relish (MC), easy peasy, using frozen cranberries left from last Thanksgiving. Better use up the rest pretty quick, I guess.

It was an easy dinner with half recipes of delicious Easy Chicken Kebabs (Q&E, p15) and Diced  Potatoes with Spinach (100Curries, p140) for IHCC. A yummy dinner. No dessert needed.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/21-Nov-12: Busy-ish with our mini-Thanksgiving today. Got some Brussels sprouts on to marinate. Put four turkey breast halves on to brine and left the bucket in Barbara's extra fridge. Baked a pumpkin cake, to be frosted in the morning light.

Neither of us especially hungry tonight, so we had a salad and that was it.

Thursday/22-Nov-12: Yes, Thanksgiving dinner. I haven't been feeling much like it, but it happened. And it was good. Give it a look here.

Friday/23-Nov-12, Saturday/24-Nov-12, Sunday/25-Nov-12: Off to Bordeaux for a long weekend, with a visit to the Dutch consulate to renew our passports on Monday. Nothing happened in the kitchen, except for the cats at play.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: no, #4 MIDDAY: yes , #5 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Monday, November 12, 2012

IHCC: Comforting Curries

Comforting curries, indeed! At least one of Madhur Jaffrey's curries is on the Comfort Food list around here. But for tonight's dinner, I opted for a curry that's had a stickie on it for a long time but has remained unmade—Mushroom Curry (Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, p79*). Since I've made a lot of use of this book over the years, It's hard to know why this particular recipe has never gotten made, but this certainly won't be the last time it's served. Like most of the recipes from this book, it's a way of getting a tasty meal on the table in pretty short time. Once everything is prepped it takes less than ten minutes to finish off the dish.

You begin by buzzing up a paste of ginger, onion, garlic, and water in your blender. Chunk up the 'shrooms, gather the other ingredients (yogurt, tomato paste, ground coriander, salt, and cayenne), and you're ready to go. 

Like many of Jaffrey recipes, this one calls for what I think was too much way too much oil. Cutting it by half worked fine. You need just enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. 

First you sauté the mushrooms for a couple of minutes until they no longer look raw, then put them aside. (I put them back on the plate where I'd piled the cut mushroom.) Wipe out the skillet, add a bit more oil, then fry up the ginger-onion-garlic paste. When that starts to look a bit brownish, stir in a third of the yogurt, fry for 30 seconds; repeat twice to use up the yogurt. Then stir in the tomato paste and fry briefly. Add the coriander, stir, and add water, the reserved mushrooms, salt, and cayenne. (I found the recommended amount of water to be slightly too much. Next time I'd start with about a third less and add enough to make it nicely goopy. 

For a simple meal, I served this over rice, with Gujerati Carrot Salad (Indian Cooking, p170) on the side.

To liven things up, we broke into my second pickle attempt one day early. That's Shoba Ramji's Alimucha Oorga, Lime Pickle (Flavours of India, p211) on the side. It sits on the shelf for a week before using, then into the fridge after two weeks. I made a half recipe of this. It's a vast improvement over my previous pickle attempt. It's maybe not as good as a commercial pickle, but I'll certainly make this again if we run out. The only problem I had was the somewhat unclear instruction to cut the limes into 2-cm pieces. I made 2-cm thick slices, but I think what is really needed is for the limes to be very coarsely chopped. In the end, I did a little remedial chopping up after it had cooked. Good stuff, this one.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

*This recipe can also be found in 100 Essential Curries, p136. This little book seems to be a collection of recipes from other Jaffrey books, but no reference is given to the sources. I recognize many of them from my other books.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/12-Nov-12: Out of head, Authentic French Bread in the ABN in time for lunch.

What did we eat (lots of) yesterday? Duck. What was on the plan for today? Duck. Major menu plan overhaul required. So tonight we skipped ahead to this week's IHCC challenge, with a half dose of Mushroom Curry (Q&E, p79), which was pretty good. Served with the lime pickle I made last week; much better than the green chili one. Served the curry over rice, with some Gujerati Carrot Salad (MJ1, p170) on the side. Double chocolate mini Magnums for after. Not very Indian, but what the heck.

Tuesday/13-Nov-12: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was a half recipe of Mrs. Reardy's Shrimp and Artichoke Casserole (Essential, p395; cookbooker), made in individual casseroles. (Mrs. Reardy was Adlai Stevenson's cook. Supposedly this dish was served for lunch to President Kennedy and UN Secretary General U Thant.) Very late 50s/early 60s-ish. But good. Then a salad. Then some hazelnut cake and vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday/14-Nov-12: Forgot to defrost for dinner, so improvised. Quickly defrosted and grilled some lamb-pork sausages, a new brand, which turned out to be very salty. Lightly steamed the last bit of a broccoli and some carrot chunks. Meawhile, sautéed garlic and red onion, then our last zucchini (discovered on the weekend) and added the broc and carrot. And some trio rice. Was best when the sausage was sliced up small and all was mixed together.

Thursday/15-Nov-12: Waited all afternoon for DHL, who never showed up, but then sent an email saying the customer wasn't home. Grrr...

Ate dinner out tonight for Ed's birthday. Further, no action in the kitchen.

Friday/16-Nov-12: Finally got our shopping done today. Went to our local butcher to order turkey for Thanksgiving.

Dinner was a scaled-back version of Grilled (Broiled) Salmon Steaks with Minty Yogurt Sauce (MJFamily, p21). Pretty good, although there was way too much sauce and I had cut it back more than needed already. Will make a good salad dressing perhaps. I didn't have much usable mint in the fridge and there was none in the shop today. At the table I was thinking the sauce didn't have a very strong mint taste at all. When I started clearing the table, I discovered I hadn't added the mint. Oops. It's in the leftover bit. Served with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (MC) and trio rice.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/17-Nov-12: Forgot that I needed to put beans on to soak last night (I really need to find some way of indicating in my menu plan spreadsheet when I need to do a night-before activity), so did a quick-soak thing today. Recipe called for chickpeas or white beans. While rummaging around some chickpeas, I came across the little white beans that Jody sent me a while ago.

Those beans were cooking away and not getting soft very fast. Meanwhile, I made some jalapeño-cream cheese rollups. After we'd eaten those we decided that was enough for dinner—protein, veg matter, and starch, what more could you want? Ok, a double chocolate mini-Magnum. That was dinner. So the beans will wait till tomorrow. And tomorrow's dinner?

Sunday/18-Nov-12: Well, those bean simmered away all day and finally got done enough to eat, although I was starting to worry. So, dinner was Couscous with Beans and Cauliflower (Essential, p287). Made a whole recipe and froze half (or more). Tasty stuff, kind of a soupy, stewy thing, served over couscous. Nicely hot with harissa.

In the morning, I made about a two-thirds recipe of Ricotta Pound Cake (MC, web), two-thirds because that's the size of a bakje of ricotta. Oh my, more-ish, this cake.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

IHCC: Relishes, Chutneys and Pickles

Now, Indian pickles are something that took me a bit of getting used to. When I first tried them in restaurants, I thought they tasted like shoe polish. Yuck! But then I learned to eat them in tiny bits. My husband likes to chop up whatever pickle is on offer and mix it into his food. I tend to put a spoonful on the side and take a tiny bit with each bite. Pickles are usually salty, but they add a zing of special flavor.

At the beginning of the year, we visited the Indian/Pakistani food shop on our old turf in Amstelveen and impulse-bought a jar of green chili pickle. My oh my, did that turn into a favorite! But, just before the Madhur Jaffrey challenge started, the hall-full jar, along with a jar of Dijon mustard, took a leap from the refrigerator door and smashed to the floor. The mustard can be easily replaced, but not the wonderful pickle.

Well, I thought, this would be a very good opportunity to make my own pickle, something I've never tried before. When I searched all my Indian cookbooks, I found remarkably few pickle recipes at all. But, there in World-of-the_East Vegetarian Cooking was Pickled Green Chilies (WofE, p367), sounding like just what I wanted. This went directly onto my make-me-soon list. I asked a friend visiting from the Netherlands to bring me the 1/4 pound of green chilies I'd need to make a half recipe. Knowing that the recipe calls for the jar of ripening pickle to sit in the sun, and sun is very limited at this time of year while we're racing toward the winder solstice in the midst of an unseasonal grey, rainy spell, I decided to get this going as soon as possible. With the "Relishes, Chutneys and Pickles" theme coming up, and a sunny day in the forecast, I started on my pickle.

A (half) recipe calls for 1/4 pound, or about 1 well-packed cup) of fresh hot green chilies. As I weighed out my chilies, they largely filled a 2-cup measure, not packed, but more than I would have expected. (The unused chilies got added to the stash in the freezer.)

The chilies are sliced, then mixed with ground black mustard seeds, salt, cayenne, and minced ginger.

This was mixed with mustard oil that had been brought to the smoking point then cooled, jarred, and set in the sun. (As the mustard oil neared the smoke point, the color changed from very yellow to almost clear. This feature wasn't mentioned in the recipe, but is probably a good way to know that it's time to pay some good attention to what's happening.)

After a day in the sun, it's time add some lemon juice and shake it up. The pickle spends more time (seven days in winter) in a warm sunny spot, which was just a bit difficult because it's mostly been cool and grey of late.

Finally it was time to try my pickle. And the consensus was ... not a success. It is very hot and tastes strongly of mustard. But otherwise, there's not much subtle going on. I might add more lemon juice and consider stirring in some more spices, but I don't hold out much hope for this one. Disappointing, since this is my first real failure with a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, and she's been a favorite author for years.

(In the background there, is Spicy Cucumber Wedges (Indian Cooking, p172), a quick and easy sort of salad that I make fairly often when a meal needs a bit of fresh crunch.)

Meanwhile, having in mind that pickle week was next week, I found another pickle recipe to try. So, I was a bit non-plussed to find that this week is pickle week. But there's now a jar of Lime Pickle (Flavours of India, p211) waiting patiently on the shelf to be tried next week.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/5-Nov-12: Geen zin in het koken vandag, i.e., I didn't feel like cooking. Dinner was Omelette Soufflée aux Courgettes (VPG), which was good enough, but nothing special. Served with Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216, MC, now HandyBook). Very good, as always. We didn't eat all of them, so they will appear elsewhere in the next days. Then a big salad, including some of the roasted cauliflower.

Tuesday/6-Nov-12: Started up Lime Pickle (Shoba Ramji's Alimucha Oorga) (MJFlavours, p211) today. Licking the spoon leads me to believe this is better than the green chili pickle.

Dinner was Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa (web). This is meant as four side servings, but I thought it would do perfectly well as a main. And it did. Tasty, but a bit plain. Then an Easy Berry Cobbler (MC, HandyBook) with frozen blueberries. Served with vanilla ice cream. Yum. Blueberries aren't very pretty, but sure taste good.

Wednesday/7-Nov-12: Did the shopping today after my ophthalmologist appointment, while Ed took advantage of our little sunny spell to work on the new woodshed. Not much impulse buying.

Bought some salmon for Baked Fish with Kumquats and Ginger (Uncommon, p273), using the kumquats I found shopping with BIll. Love this easy recipe, one of the few I've made from this book, but this one repeatedly. Some trio rice and some steamed broccoli. Then we finished off the blueberry cobbler with some vanilla ice cream.

Thursday/8-Nov-12: The latest issue of Vie Practique Gourmand (which is now, I see, calling itself just Gourmand) has an article with 30 best recipes for hamburgers, many of which can't be picked up to be eaten. Quite a few use what look like soft American-style hamburger buns, which I've never seen in the shops. There are burgers that are French (including foie gras), British (cod instead of hamburger), island (shrimp and pineapple), provençale (eggplant, fennel, olives), Greek (vegetarian, in pitas with feta and dried tomatoes), Indian (chicken and Madras curry powder), Thai (lamb, lemongrass, and tomato sauce), etc. The American version is a double cheeseburger with bacon, including what looks whole lot like Kraft American cheese; the ingredients just say slices of cheese, without even suggesting what kind of cheese to use. The "country burger" (in English, just like that) has a sunny-side-up egg on it. The oddest must be the tomato burger, where the bun is replaced by a large tomato, sliced in half at the equator, with a fat hamburger patty and more of the unspecified cheese slices.

There was Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms (web) for dinner. Used my mushroom-flavored chantarelle-shaped pasta instead of fettuccine. Nothing special. Roasted Brussels sprouts work, sautéed don't. Then a salad. Then small slices of store-bought hazelnut cake with a dab of vanilla ice cream.

Yogurt on overnight, with a new starter, since the last batch had some green bits in it, probably parsley bits that didn't get rinsed from the whisk. Or something.

Friday/9-Nov-12: Dinner was a half dose of Rabbit in Mustard Sauce (Essential, p466; cookbooker), quite good. Served with a whole dose of Spaetzle (MW@Home, p203) which was really too much, but was nice anyhow. Then a salad. No room for dessert.

Saturday/10-Nov-12: It was a half dose of Leek & Porcini Pappardelle (JamieMag) for dinner, and, yes, with fresh pasta, tagliatelle instead of pappardelle. Then a salad. No dessert. Especially since I ate a package of corn chips while I was making pasta.

Sunday/11-Nov-12: Remembrance Day or Veterans' Day, we went to the memorial service at our commune, then to a remembrance day lunch at our local ferme-auberge. Not even thinking of looking at food this evening.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: no, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Thursday, November 1, 2012

IHCC: Indian Tea Party!

And Indian tea party—what fun! Jaffrey's books are full of ideas. Some even have tea party menus provided. I was really looking forward to this week's cooking until ... I came down with a cold. No energy and not too much interest in cooking. I paged dejectedly through my stack of Jaffrey books looking for some low-effort inspiration till I came across Salabat (Ginger Tea) (World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking, p342). Just thing thing!

Salabat is a tea served throughout most of Asia. Jaffrey writes:
My own grandmother served it to us in India when we had colds, saying that it would make us fell all better. It did.
This sounded exactly like what we needed around here. So off I went to the kitchen to make a pot of ginger tea. Two 1-inch cubes of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped, are cooked with 4 cups of water and honey. First, it's simmered, covered, for 25 minutes. Then it's boiled, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. Strain and serve. This recipe calls for 3 heaping tablespoons of honey (does honey "heap"?), which seemed way to much to me, so I used only 2. This was still very sweet, but was balanced by the sharp ginger taste.

Do I feel better? Maybe. I might try again when I've replenished my stash of ginger.

More or less the same recipe can be found in Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery (p258), calling for 3 cubes of ginger with 1 liter of water (more or less 4 cups) and only 4-5 teaspoons of honey.

 This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, October 29, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/29-Oct-12: Me feeling sicky with cold. Postponed, yet again, making pasta. Need to get organized earlier tomorrow to get it done.

Instead I opted to make Tunisian Brik-Style Eggs (CL/oct12, web) to use up the filo that was malingering in the fridge. I made a full recipe of four "packets"; the recipe says it serves four. Part way through we both thought we'd save one for lunch, but they were so tasty, we just kept eating. These were baked filo packets filled with potatoes, which had been boiled then sautéed with turmeric and cayenne, an egg, and crumbled feta; then topped with harissa and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. I used some harissa that I impulse bought recently, rather than making from it scratch (which I never do, since harissa is easily available in all groceries). (This is from the store where Bill did some shopping just before going to the train, which has the biggest selection of "imported" foods I've seen at a regular grocery in this area.) Served with a half recipe of an old stand-by, Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171).

You can get filo/phyllo and brique/brik in the stores here. I'm not sure what the difference is. I bought brique once—I seem to remember it was a bit thicker, and maybe square or round, instead of oblong like filo sheets.

Tuesday/30-Oct-12: Got up this  morning and got bread going in the ABM (the same old Authentic French Bread I made frequently) and yogurt in the yogurt maker.

Pasta's gonna get made this month only if I do it first thing tomorrow instead of waiting till later in the day when my energy level is minimal. So, a last-minute change of game plan. Dinner was a half recipe of Spaghetti with Zucchini and Lemon (MW@Home, p195), followed by a big salad. Used the last of the tzatziki-like cucumber salad to make a dressing. Didn't quit get enough vinegar into it, but the idea was good. Some Lindt chocolate things for after.

While dinner was a-fixin', I roasted the rest of the cauliflower, having been inspired by An Everlasting Meal, which is an excellent book. It's really a pleasure to read, and inspirational. Adler describes her two-hour routine following her marketing, cleaning and cooking her veggie haul in preparation for the coming week. Wonder if I could ever be that organized? I think it's a feat to get it all put away in cabinets, fridge, and freezer after a shopping outing.

Wednesday/31-Oct-12: Nope, another month without pasta. I ironed, a job where you can sit, instead of  making pasta. For dinner we had a half recipe of linguine with Carbonara Sauce (ClassicItal, p202). So nice, for so little effort. Then a salad, a sack of lettuce with part of yesterday's roasted cauliflower and some red onion. Then we finished the bits of cheese left from Bill's visit.

Thursday/1-Nov-12: Yogurt on overday.

This afternoon I made some ginger tea for this week's IHCC post. Maybe it makes us feel better. (Ed's got the cold now too.)

It's a holiday today, so the shops are closed. Oops. Defrosted Red Lentils with Zucchini for dinner, made some rice, and some Carrot "Raita" (WorldVeg, p547), for a repeat of the meal the lentils came from. Tried a bit of the green chili pickle I made with the lentils. Didn't like it much.

Friday/2-Nov-12: Finally made it shopping this morning, along with about half the population of this part of the Charente. Nice thing was that on the way there we saw two storks in a field. Must have been taking a rest on their migration trip.

For dinner, there was sautéed tuna steaks with a lemon-caper pan sauce, polenta, and steamed broccoli. A bit of zucchini ice cream for dessert. Simple but tasty, all.

Saturday/3-Nov-12: Dinner was Moroccan Bulgur & Pork Casserole (web). I made a full recipe and froze half for another time. Quite tasty. Suspect the amount of bulgur should be (at least) doubled, since there really wasn't enough of it at the end, but there was a lot of extra liquid. Then a salad.

Sunday/4-Nov-12: It was Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry (WorldVeg, p189) for dinner. This had a strange bitter taste, we weren't sure if it came from the eggplant or from something else, but with a bit of mango chutney stirred in, it was very good. Served with rice and Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172), which make a nice, quick salad sort of thing. Finished off the zucchini ice cream, pretending it was kulfi.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: no, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #6 PASTA: no for October :-( ; not yet for November

Thursday, October 25, 2012

IHCC: Everything's Better with Yogurt

Oh boy, I thought, it's time for yogurt with Madhur Jaffrey! I've had my eye on a yogurt-containing recipe for a good long time and this would have been a good time to find my Round Tuit. But, no, that recipe will still have to wait for another day. We've had company and been busy with events and meals and this and that, and the hecticity continues into the weekend. Thursday was the first time we've eaten at home alone in two weeks. We were both looking forward to something light, and, because we were out for a concert afterwards, it couldn't be too time-consuming. 

Searching my Jaffrey books, I found a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chick Pea Flour Soup (MJFlavours, p79) in one of the books I've recently bought second-hand. It's really easy to make and tastes delicious. 

For the soup base, you whiz together yogurt and chickpea flour (besan), then add water, ginger, chilies, and coriander leaves (cilantro). Moving to the soup pot, you brown cumin seeds in ghee, then add asafetida, some cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaves. Stir in the yogurt mixture with a bit of salt and some sugar, and simmer the soup for 15 minutes.

The headnotes say the soup is usually eaten with rice (I don't think soup is really an Indian concept), so I made some brown basmati rice and piled that on the soup plate before ladling up the soup. (Unfortunately, I discovered this grocery store rice was of the quick-cooking sort and the texture was gummy like Minute Rice tends to be.) 

The soup was very tasty, sour with a bit of sweet, full of spices. I did expect the soup to be a bit thicker than it was. Maybe this was a function of the store-bought yogurt (I usually make my own, but didn't have the time to make enough of it) or maybe it needed a bit more besan. And the dab that was left was a tasty afternoon snack eaten cold.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/22-Oct-12: Tonight I made the Incredible Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb (web) that I didn't make when Lesley and Toby came to dinner. Pretty darn good. My rosemary plant got a good pruning for this. Served with Clothilde Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (MC) and North African Spiced Carrots (MC), which weren't as good as they have been previously. Bill and Ed had some cheese, while I skipped this. Then we finished off the orange chocolate cake topped with some Zucchini Ice Cream, which the cake needed since it was getting pretty dry.

Tuesday/23-Oct-12: Lunched with Bill today before taking him to the train station. Sandwiches and fruit for dinner.

Wednesday/24-Oct-12: Lunch out today. Ate so much delicious food we had nothing for dinner. Definitely didn't shop on an empty stomach afterwards.

Thursday/25-Oct-12: Finally a chance for a light meal. Dinner was Sweet and Sour Chick Pea Flour Soup (MJFlavours, p79), pretty tasty stuff. (This was a post for this week's IHCC.)

Friday/26-Oct-12: Yogurt on overday, with new starter.

Dinner at a quiz this evening, so no further action in the kitchen.

Saturday/27-Oct-12: Nice dinner tonight, a half recipe of Barley Orzotto with Cauliflower and Red Wine (VeryBest, p180)

Sunday/28-Oct-12: Pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove. There were two carcasses and some odd bits in the freezer.

For lunch I mixed the leftover lentils and carrots and dressed them up with a lemon and oil and piment d'Espelette. Made a little vinaigrette for the potatoes and broccoli. These with our usual plate of fruit.

Dinner was Spanish-Style Shrimp with Garlic (Gambas al Ajillo) (VeryBest, p304). My 400g box of shrimp was a bit too much for a half recipe, but used all the spices. It was pretty good. Served with rice and a half recipe of Mediterranean Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (VeryBest, p47), good stuff, like tzatziki. Ed didn't think this went well with the shrimp, but I thought it was fine. Of course, I seem to have gotten a cold, so my opinions might be suspect.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: not yet!