Thursday, February 28, 2013

IHCC: Meat-Free But Flavorful!

Meat-free with Madhur Jaffrey. The big difficulty here is making a choice. Looking for something untried and interesting I found Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry (Vambotu Curry) in  World Vegetarian (p189).

You start by slicing the eggplant in 1/2" slices, rubbing it with oil, salt-and-peppering it, then popping it under the broiler for 4 minutes on the first side and 3 on the second. This gives slices that are a nice reddish color. These are quartered then tossed with salt, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, ground fennel, cayenne, and lime juice.

To finish, you heat up some oil in a frying pan, add a bit of cinnamon stick, then some curry leaves, and finally some sliced onion. When the onion has browned a bit, you add the spiced eggplant and stir for a  few minutes. Then stir some in coconut milk and ground brown mustard seeds. Cook this for a few more minutes, correct any spices, and serve. This is actually quite a quick meal, and nothing is too difficult. But ...
  • It was surprisingly bitter. We had trouble locating the source of this, but it seemed like while most of the eggplant in the dish was fine, some bits were nasty. I had bought two eggplants to make up the weight, thinking to use one and a half for this recipe and the rest for something later in the week. One of them, although it looked lovely on the outside, had a brown bit down through the middle from the stem-end. I discarded this, plus a bit extra, and sliced the rest. My guess is that even though I had discarded the part that looked bad and the rest looked fine, a nasty taste pervaded the entire eggplant. A dose of mango chutney mitigated this somewhat.
  • The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. In the recipe prologue, Jaffrey says that the original recipe called for 2 teaspoons. Since we tend to like things hot, I used that amount. First bite, seconds of nothing, then wham! Good stuff! But only if you like it hot. 
  • I poured the 1 tablespoon of oil for coating the eggplant slices into a little dish and used my fingers to anoint the slices. There was lots left here, so I used that plus just a dab more to finish the dish.
  • Two of us ate all of this dish, advertised as serving 3-4. Three maybe, four not, unless it were part of a larger meal.

After getting a taste of the heat, I quickly made of my favorite raita, Yoghurt with Cucumber and Mint from Indian Cooking (p162), as a go-with. It's better if it gets to sit around and ripen a bit, but good enough when it's tossed together just before serving.

This curry made one of those brown Indian meals. (I find it a challenge to avoid monochrome plates of Indian food.) Not the most attractive meal served over plain basmati rice. We were both surprised and disappointed by the bitter taste, but I will try this again when eggplants are in season.

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-Feb-13: Busy morning in the kitchen. Started yogurt. Started Authentic French Bread in the ABN so we'd have bread for lunch. Started Alice Hart's No-Knead Sourdough Loaf (web) to bake tomorrow.

Found my missing Galloping Gourmet spurtle! I noticed a spatula slipping down the left side of the stove and grabbed it. Then thought to pull out the cabinet to see if anything else was there. Why, yes, there was GG! All that crawling around on my knees for naught.

Dinner was Nigella's Slow Roast Pork Belly (web). While still not a favorite food (the cut is way too fatty), this was much better than Jamie's recipe that I used previously. He starts cooking hot and ends slow, whereas Nigellas starts out long and slow and ends hot. This meant the cracklings were actually crispy. Altogether better, but don't need to do this again. As she suggested, I served with some pasta. And some Haricots Verts in Olive Oil, since I'm out of walnut oil, still waiting for our bottle from the nut-shelling. Now, what to do with the leftover meat, I wonder?

Tuesday/26-Feb-13: Finished off Alice Hart's bread today with success! This is very similar to Lahey's recipe that I've not been too successful with, but it's half whole wheat and half regular bread flour. No idea why "sourdough" is in the title; this is nothing like sourdough. It's just a regular, very good, whole wheat bread. The dough had more form than Lahey's does for me, Lahey's being more of a puddle, while this held together reasonably well. I did use maybe a tablespoon less water than aksed. It's a hit, though. Alice Hart's bread uses weight for the flour, whereas Lahey's measures in cups. I'll have to weigh my cups and see how this goes. It's a bit hard to get into the idea to starting bread almost 24 hours ahead of time, assembling it in the afternoon, so you can dump it out for a 2-hour rest in the morning and bake around noon. Hmm...

We went to Angoulême in the afternoon to look at faucets and cork floors for the kitchen. Back in time for dinner. Which was a half recipe of Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce for Pasta (MarCuc, p168) with home-made tagliatelle. Yum. For afters, we finished off the little bit of goat cheese that was left.

Wednesday/27-Feb-13: Made the meal plan and list for shopping today, then for various reasons it was too late to go, so first dinner for the week is off-plan. Oh well.

Defrosted some duck scallops, floured them, then sautéed. Made a pan sauce by deglazing with sherry, then adding some chicken broth (from powder), and some chopped green olives. Pretty good. Warmed up the polenta disks that I impulse-bought last week, and made a sort of purée of steam-sautéed chard with lots of garlic. Not a bad dinner at all.

Thursday/28-Feb-13: I did the shopping today while Ed was in choir practice. Takes a bit longer with just one person, especially in an unfamiliar store.

A dinner for IHCC tonight. That was Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry (WorldVeg, p189) with rice and Raita (MJ1, p162). For afters, I had a couple of spoonfuls of pineapple sherbert from the freezer.

Friday/1-Mar-13: Dinner was sort of a half dose of Stir-Fried Green Beans with Pork and Garlic (web), made with some of the left-over pork belly (lots of fatty treats for Pogo and more into the freezer than I used tonight) instead of ground pork and fish sauce instead of soy sauce. Used all the spices with half the pork and green beans, which made it a bit salty but not overly so. Over rice. Tasty. This is from a Jaffrey book that I still don't have. Do I need one more, I wonder?

Saturday/2-Mar-13: Early appointment with a kitchen guy in Angoulême today for the sink counter. Home for lunch. Didn't feel like cooking what was on the meal plan. Instead made an old favorite, Warm Broccoli and Potato Salad (MDSalads, p15). Now what am I going to do with the pâte brisée that I defrosted?

Sunday/3-Mar-13: Yogurt on overday. We were off to the annual Fruits de Mer lunch today. Ed and I pretty well finished off this platter for two.

No need for further food, although we did have an apple, a carrot, and some cherry tomatoes later.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 IHCC/COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for February; no for March, #4 BREAD: yes for February; no for March

Monday, February 18, 2013

IHCC: Out of India

With my old World of the East Vegetarian Cooking and the more recent Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, as well as several other of Jaffrey's books, at hand, I was really spoiled for choice with this week's theme. Which to choose, which to choose? In the end, I found several recipes for kookoos, an Iranian kind of frittata or Spanish-style tortilla, in both books which sounded appealing. I finally settled on Shamsi Davis' Persian Egg and Potato Cake (Kookoo Seeb Zameeni) from World Vegetarian (p538).

This is actually a fairly easy dish to make and turned out better than other frittatas I've made in the past. While you're boiling a pair of potatoes, you sauté finely chopped onion and garlic. When these are soft, they're set aside. Unfortunately the recipe instructions never tell you what to do with this. I reread them several times and asked for my DH's fresh eyes to do the same. No luck.

When the potatoes are done, you peel them while they're still hot, then rice or mash them. Stir in four beaten eggs, salt and pepper, and some chives. I added the onions here.

Meanwhile more fat is heated in a non-stick skillet (I used a cast iron one) and the eggy potato mixture plopped in. It's cooked on low for 15 minutes, then popped under the broiler for a short time. Then you turn the kookoo over (I used a plate to help, but more agile people can manage to do this directly in the skillet) and cook it for another 5 minutes. Jaffrey says this can be served hot, at room temperature, or chilled. We had ours hot for dinner, followed by a salad. Looking forward to the rest for lunch one day soon. I expect this would make a nice starter, cut in thin wedges, or a luncheon dish.

The recipe calls for a lot of fat (olive oil, olive oil and butter, or ghee), and I expect the amount for sautéing the onions could be cut by half, and the amount for cooking the kookoo could be cut by at least a third.

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

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-Feb-13: Yogurt on overday.

This week's IHCC dinner was Persian Egg and Potato Cake (WorldVeg, p538). Followed by a big salad. That's all.

Tuesday/19-Feb-13: Spent a long time today working on the next week's menu plan and grocery list for tomorrow, all of which will be thrown to the wind if normal practice is followed.

For dinner I defrosted a chunk of the Thanksgiving turkey roulade and sliced it. Sautéed some shallots and mushrooms, deglazed with a slug of white wine, added some AH paddestoelen fond and some cream, set the turkey slices and steamed broccoli florets on top till all was good and hot. Served over trio rice. For afters we pigged out on some cheese. I'll probably be sorry.

Wednesday/20-Feb-13: Shopping today. Saw some ready-made polenta disks and bought on impulse. Now what will I do with them?

Dinner was a half of Shrimp in Spicy Lime Sauce (web). A bit sweeter than we like, but good enough; easy and fast, certainly. Served over rice. Then a bit salad.

Thursday/21-Feb-13: Made some Garlic Broth (MDSoups, p55) for the freezer.

Dinner was (sort of) Grilled Chicken with Harissa and Mint (Diaries, p203; cookbooker). Ran out of gas in the middle of grilling. I guess it's not possible to run out at a convenient time, is it? Served with an new favorite, Zucchini and Feta Cheese Salad (WorldVeg, p640) and trio rice. Yum.

Friday/22-Feb-13: Yogurt on overday. Another yogurt jar broke in a kitchen demolition accident. Getting low now.

Dinner was Baked Broccoli Egg Supper Bake (Art, p80), broccoli in a cream sauce (with shrooms) and an egg plopped in the middle. Used two individual casserole dishes rather than scooping it out to serve. Then a salad. That was enough.

Saturday/23-Feb-13: Off to visit tiles today. Found some expensive ones (€110/m2) we really liked. Tomorrow we'll see if we have enough of the Amstelveen kitchen tiles left to use here. We're afraid they might be just not enough. Fingers crossed.

Put a pork belly on to marinate for tomorrow.

Dinner was Goat's Cheese and Fennel Risotto with Pea and Pernod (web). Pretty good. Not sure how many it was supposed to serve, but I've got a good serving left. Maybe it will show up as part of dinner soon.

Sunday/24-Feb-13: Oops, got started cooking the pork belly too late, so it will get another chance to marinate in the sub-0C temps outside.

Didn't check out the old tiles today. Tomorrow perhaps.

Dinner was Cavatelli with Slow Roasted Broccoli and Harissa (web). I added some water, rather than oil, during the "roasting" process for the broccoli. Have almost used up the exotic jar of harissa I bought last year. Exotic, rather than the normal toothpaste tube of harissa that's in most groceries. Easy and a pretty good variation on the broccoli-pasta theme. They some double-chocolate mini-Magnums for dessert.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

IHCC: Show Your Love!

This week I made a sweet for my sweetie. He especially likes pistachios right now, so when I found the recipe for Mrs Kumud Kansara's Coco Pista Pasand—Coconut Pistachio Sweetmeats in Flavours of India (p88), I knew I'd found what I was going to make.

Indian sweetmeats are typically very sweet, and these are no exception, but the tastes are very yummy. You start here by making a paste of unsalted pistachios, confectioner's sugar, poppy seeds, and milk. The recipe calls for white poppy seeds, but I read on the web that white and black are interchangeable, so I used those. Perhaps if I'd had white poppy seeds to use, the pistachio paste layer wouldn't have been visible, so the flavor would have been a surprise.

Next you make a simple syrup that makes a single thread when dropped from a spoon into cold water. I'm not at all experienced with this kind of thing and found it a bit hard to see the "thread" when you drop clear syrup into clear water. But after several tries I did think I saw the shadow of a single thread floating, so I called it done. Off the heat, you stir in coconut and a powder of ground cardamom pods (yes, pods and seeds ground together). When that is well mixed, you stir in 1/4 cup of condensed milk. (Now what am I going to do with the rest of that can?)

While the coconut paste is still warm, you roll it into a 9" sausage, then flatten it. My coconut paste didn't want to hold together all that well, making me wonder if I didn't get the syrup "hard" enough.

Next you roll the pistachio paste into a similar length. My pistachio paste didn't really hold together that well, but it was fairly easy to make several string-like bits to lay out on the coconut. Then, using the plastic wrap that you formed the coconut rectangle on, you roll the coconut over the pistachio, making a little log. Cool this, then slice to serve.

We've been enjoying these (very) sweetmeats with our afternoon tea and coffee, and very tasty they are!

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

Monday, February 11, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-Feb-13: Had the rest of the cauliflower tart for dinner. Then a salad. Then some double-chocolate mini-magnums.

Tuesday/12-Feb-13: Yogurt on overday. Made Coconut Pistachio Sweetmeat (MJFlavours, p88) for for this week's IHCC.

We intended to go to a concert this evening, but didn't feel like it in the end. Had our pizza leftovers for lunch and fruit for dinner. (My tummy feeling unhappy, drinking fizzy water.)

Wednesday/13-Feb-13: Shopping today.

Dinner was Yucatan Red Snapper FIllets (Art, p102), using panga and chipotle flakes instead of regular chili flakes. Hadn't made this in a while. Good stuff. Served with trio rice and Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216). Used up the last of last year's walnut oil for this, which is a good thing because this year's bottle should be arriving soon. Ed thought this plate needed a picture:

Thursday/14-Feb-13: Had a nice Valentine's Day lunch at a restaurant, only some apples this evening.

Yesterday we bought a sack of (too many) munchies for tomorrow night's choir party. Tonight I made Sharon Frye's Herb-Marinated Feta and Olives (MC) and Peppered Pecans (Tabasco, p14 ; MC). Will probably make some guacamole tomorrow.

Yogurt on overday.

Friday/15-Feb-13: Nothing happenin' in the kitchen today. Went to make guacamole and discovered there was no cilantro in the fridge. Now have two nice avocados for something or other. Choir dinner tonight after the "performance." Both the pecans and the olives were hits.

Saturday/16-Feb-13: Used the rest of the can of condensed milk to make a scaled down version of Chocolate Oat Bars (web), using up the condensed milk left from the coconut-pistachio roll. Forgot the chopped walnuts, which was a shame because then they really would have been super-duper; instead they were just super. Didn't use any of the same branded stuff, of course, and had to make self-rising flour.

Otherwise we were feeling so full of sweets and other junk left from last night that we just had a salad for dinner.

Sunday/17-Feb-13: Second day of lovely weather and clothes drying on the line. Gave away lots of the Chocolate Oat Bars because there's just too much for us to eat.

Went to make a butternut squash recipe for dinner and found that my slice of pumpkin substitute had gone bad. Replan. Made a halfish recipe of Pasta with Broccoli and Blue Cheese (web); used mini lasagnes instead of fettucine, and only 6 oz. More broccoli. Probably more cheese, but didn't really measure. Good stuff. Some chopped walnuts might have been a nice addition.

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

IHCC: February Potluck!

Potluck time. So I asked Ed what he'd like this week. Lamb, he said. Having some lamb chops in the freezer to be used, I searched my stack of Jaffrey books for a new lamb recipe, one using lamb chops. In At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, I found Pakistani-Style Grilled Lamb Chops (p119). Thinking I had three lamb chops in the freezer, I bought an extra three. When I defrosted  my package, it turned out to be five chops, bringing me very close to a full recipe. And it indeed served three people (it's advertised as 2-3), when a friend showed up a dinner time.

The chops are rubbed with a paste of grated ginger, crushed garlic, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, freshly ground black pepper, and garam masala. Then they marinate for four to twenty-four hours in the fridge. When you're ready to cook, you brush them with some oil (I forgot this step) and broil them 3-4 minutes per side. I'm sure the barbecue grill would work fine too.

This is a really easy dish to assemble and the chops were delicious. It's perfect for a weeknight or company because you can get the meat marinating well ahead of time and the actual cooking just takes a few minutes.

I served this with dishes I've made before: Pan-Grilled Zucchini (p173) and Mushroom Pullao from Indian Cooking (p152).

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-Feb-13: My Galloping Gourmet spurtle went missing last week. I miss it! I've crawled around on the floor looking under things but haven't spied it. Where has it gone?

Off to a movie in the evening, so we had our main meal in the afternoon. Intended to make a dish of baked eggs with my leftover filo, but opened the package to find it was moldy. Harumph. So scrambled the eggs instead. It was good.

Tuesday/5-Feb-13: Leftover night. Took the meat from the chicken Indian chicken and warm it with the leftover sauce. (I wonder if the stock from these bones will have an Indian flavor?)  Sort of made some Indian Mashed Potatoes (Q&E, p90), and then a halfish dose of Gujerati Carrot Salad (MJ1, p170). For dessert there was Chocolate Mousse (MC).

Some Whole Wheat Soda Bread (Magic, p66) in the ABM overnight, so we'll have bread for breakfast.

Wednesday/6-Feb-13: Well, I really liked the Whole Wheat Soda Bread, but Ed didn't ... at breakfast time. Later when I served a snack with a bit of tapenade on a slice of bread before dinner, he though it was great. Go figure.

Shopping today. Went for gas afterwords, just when all the pumps went on strike. Wasted lots of time and ended up getting gas elsewhere.

Dinner was Cauliflower Cheese Tart (web) which wasn't bad at all. Followed by a salad. Then some cookies. Boring, eh?

Thursday/7-Feb-13: Dinner for IHCC tonight. There was Pakistani-Style Grilled Lamb Chops (MJ@Home, p119) with Pan-Grilled Zucchini (MJ@Home, p173) and a quarter dose of Mushroom Pullao (MJ1, p152). For the zucchini, I halved them lengthwise and made 2-3" sections to grill—this worked quite well. I bought three lamb chops yesterday and what I thought was three chops in the freezer was actually five, so we had lots of meat, which turned out to be OK because Yvonne came by at dinnertime and helped us finish them.

Friday/8-Feb-13: Pizza, I thought (thinking of going out to get one). Pizza! said Ed (thinking of me making one). So pizza it was tonight, homemade, with grilled veggies and too much cheese on top. Oh well. For dessert there were some slices of tart I bought when I stopped at the boulangerie on the way home from my afternoon outing. Yummy, but way too rich. We could easily have split a single piece between us. Kind of a pecan pie, but with walnuts, topped with a layer of dark chocolate.

Saturday/9-Feb-13: Made some chicken stock that may turn out to be a bit Indian-flavored from last week's roast chicken. Set it in the outdoor refrigerator where it will likely freezer overnight. I'll have to thaw it to give it a taste before I freeze it up proper.

Also cooked 500g of black beans. Dinner was then a halfish version of Black Bean Enchiladas (Bishop, p337). Oops, used the full amount of beans instead of a halfish amount. Served with Mama's Spanish rice and some guacamole. I'm stuffed. Have a whole lot of beans to do something with now.

Sunday/10-Feb-13: Froze up chicken stock; tasted good and not all that much Indian. Froze up two times 2 cups of black beans. Used the rest (another 2 cups?) to make a soup using up lots of odd bits from the freezer, including a half cup of canned black beans, some thick slices of poitrine nature, a cooked smoked sausage, and some broth from cooking a little ham. That turned into a yummy soup; a trifle salty, perhaps, from the ham that was cooked in it, but still good.

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