Tuesday, May 28, 2013

IHCC: Pattycake, Pattycake ...

So, this week it's time for some patties. Searching a bit turned up a recipe for Chicken Meatballs with Preserved Lemon and Harissa Relish (web), looking more like patties than meatballs.

The relish is made of thinly sliced preserved lemons, a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, and harissa. I've made preserved lemons before, but happened to find some ready-made in the shops recently, so used those. These lemons were a bit small; it took three rather than two to make up the 220g. I halved the lemons lengthwise, then sliced as thinly as I could manage, removing seeds as I went. The harissa was a specialty one I bought recently.

For the patties, the recipe calls for cutting the kernels from a cob of grilled corn. There being no corn worth grilling in the shops, I thought to use a bit of canned corn, but in the end forgot add even this. The corn would be mixed with ground chicken (I ground skinless, boneless breasts), soaked bread crumbs (I used panko), grated onion, garlic, a red chili, an egg, salt and pepper. Sixty gram balls are first grilled, then baked to finish.

The patties were tasty enough, even without the corn, but dry in the way that chicken or turkey burgers tend to be. The relish was a nice complement.

Visit I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what kind of pattycakes other folks are making.

Monday, May 27, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/27-May-13: Finished off the first loaf of No-Knead Crusty White Bread (web) this morning. Last night I made up a half recipe of what should have made three bigger or four smaller loaves. This morning I made one smaller loaf. Got to use my not-so-new baking stone for the first time. And understand why the peel is useful, since you can't easily move the oven shelf out and in when the stone on it. The loaf was fine, even though I forgot to slash it; it was a bit more rounded on the bottom than you'd expect. The loaf wasn't as crusty as you'd think from the name. I think the Lahey no-knead (puddle) bread that's baked in a casserole has a crustier crust.

Made lots of chicken stock with the carcasses of pintade, last week's Indian chickie, and a sackful of chicken thighs. Also took the meat off the lamb bone. There was lots to freeze, both slices and chunks.

Leftovers for dinner. I beefed up (porked up?) the leftover green pepper sauce with some frozen meat and served over rice. Followed by a big salad.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/28-May-13: Made the second loaf of bread this morning. The dough was closer to puddle bread. Why would it have had more consistency yesterday? You'd think it would dry out overnight. Slashing didn't make much difference either. Anyhow, I like the "pattern" of this recipe: make it in the evening and keep it in the fridge till you need it. Then baking a chunk takes an hour sitting and half an hour in the oven, so it's pretty quick to the table.

Pattycakes for IHCC tonight. Accompanied by smashed sweet potatoes and broccoli. Some chocolate squares for dessert during Pogo's evening walk.

Wednesday/29-May-13: Shopping today, then Ed off to dentist again. Leftover Indian chicken and rice for dinner, accompanied by Fried Aubergine (Eggplant) Slices (MJ1, p99), tossed with some olive oil and done under the broiler rather than frying, and Onion Relish (MJ1, p174), which went very well with the eggplant. Some store-bought desserts, vanilla and chestnut, nothing too special.

Thursday/30-May-13: Late night tonight, since Ed went to the doctor's walk-in hours and then to Brico Leclerc from some stuff.  He brought home some fresh tomatoes (me having forgotten to buy some yesterday) for Hot Penne with Chilled Tomato Sauce and Charred Tuna (Essential, p322; cookbooker), followed by a big salad, and then some chocolate roses while walking Pogo.

Friday/31-May-13: Tonight there was Tuscan Zucchini Pie (WorldVeg, p541). Pretty good stuff, although serving 4 as main is a bit doubtful. Then a big salad. Then a bit of St Marcellin.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/1-Jun-13: Dinner was was Cornish Game Hens with Preserved Lemons and Olives (CastIron, p71; cookbooker). Ok, it was coquelets instead of game hens. Whatever the bird, it was good. The sauce is really yummy. Served with polenta and some steamed broccoli dressed with olive oil/garlic slices/red pepper flakes. Some store-bought grandma's rice pudding for dessert.

Sunday/2-Jun-13: Lunch out today. We ate well, but nothing happened in our kitchen!

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

Friday, May 24, 2013

IHCC: May Potluck

Potluck time has rolled around again at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and I was unprepared yet again. But we were both needing an Indian fix, so picked up At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, one of my newer Jaffrey books, and had a look around. Ed thinks roast chicken is about the best thing there is to eat, so I settled on Whole Chicken Baked with an Almond and Onion Sauce (p99).

The chicken was really good and easy to make. First you skin the bird, slash it, and rub with salt and lemon juice. While that's sitting for 15 minutes, you whiz together a paste with more lemon juice and salt, yogurt, onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne, garam masala, and almond slivers. Pop the bird in a ziploc, add the onion paste, rub it in a bit, and let the bird sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400F, find a pan that holds the chicken, pop some cumin seeds in a bit of oil, add the chicken (breast side up) and all the marinade, cover and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid, and bake for another 40 minutes, basting occasionally. Result, one amazingly tasty chicken that fell in half when I lifted it from the pan.

Following some of Jaffrey's go-with suggestions, I also made Yellow Basmati Rice with Sesame Seeds (p208) and Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant (p153). The rice is a fairly easy to make with only two groups of spices to be added in the process (a dried chili, urad dal, mustard seeds, and sesame seeds toasted at the start, then turmeric and salt added with the rice). The sesame seeds were an interesting addition.

The eggplant dish was quite interesting. To make a half recipe, I used a single eggplant of the appropriate weight; baby eggplants are asked, but mine were bigger. (This was a good amount for a side dish. Jaffrey suggests that this dish could serve as a vegetarian main course, but then I think you'd use a whole recipe to serve two.) You start by cutting each of your eggplants lengthwise almost into quarters, leaving them whole at the stem end. These are soaked in water for 30 minutes while you prepare a paste of toasted chickpea flour, ginger, cayenne, ground coriander, ground cumin, salt, chopped cilantro/coriander leaves, and water. Dry the soaked eggplants and coat the cut surfaces with the paste. Brown the eggplants on all sides, sprinkle with salt, add a bit of water, cover, and simmer gently for 25 minutes. (Since our eggplant turned out very soft, I think about 20 minutes would be fine here.) Remove the cover, stir in a syrup of sugar, lemon juice, and water, then cook quickly until a thick sauce remains. We didn't find this sweet-and-sour taste very noticeable, but the dish as a whole was quite good.

And we have another monochrome but delicious Indian dinner.

Visit I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what other folks are make this week!

Monday, May 20, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/20-May-13: Made some Whole-Wheat Soda Bread (Magic, p66) in the ABM this morning to see us through lunch and tomorrow's breakfast. Used milk and yogurt instead of buttermilk. Nice texture this has.

Went to start dinner and discovered I was an hour late, having misread the timing this morning. Oops! So, dinner from the freezer, some pork with green pepper sauce. Served over mashed potatoes with some haricots verts (that I'd cooked on top of the boiling potatoes) on the side. There's enough sauce left to serve with pasta for another quick meal in the next days.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/21-May-13: I've had my eye on High-Temperature Roast Leg of Lamb (CC1, p209) for a long time, just never got around to doing it. Turns out the same recipe is in Essential (p526; cookbooker) as High-Temperature Roast Lamb. With the cookbooker challenge for Essential going on, I decided to give this a try. Yum. Served with asparagus roasted under the grill and Clothilde Dussolier's Perfect Roast Potatoes, which were especially good tonight, I think because I tossed the half-cooked and shaken potatoes with the bit of oil after they were in the baking pan, rather than in the shaking pan. For dessert, there was Chocolate Rum Mousse (Essential, p814; cookbooker).

Wednesday/22-May-13: Grocery shopping today. Bought some panga to use for a half recipe Moroccan Spiced Fish (SimpSups, p157). Made half of the Moroccan Spice Mix (SimpSups, p239) to make the rub. Really easy, really tasty. Accompanied by a pilaf sort of thing and a half recipe of Carrot Salad (Couscous, p75); looks like the first time I've tried this recipe, it's easy and tasty. Finished off the Chocolate Rum Mousses for after.

Thursday/23-May-13: Today's big accomplishment was filing our French tax return. Online. Then I rushed to get the chicken for tomorrow night's dinner on to marinate before we went quizzing. Only to find that it wanted to sit 15 minutes rubbed with salt and lemon, before it was topped with the marinade. So it spent the quiz time, salted and lemoned, in the fridge, and I added the marinade on our return.

Friday/24-May-13: An IHCC dinner tonight, potluck with Whole Chicken Baked with an Almond and Onion Sauce (MJ@Home, p99; cookbooker), Yellow Basmati Rice with Sesame Seeds (MJ@Home, p208; cookbooker) and Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant (MJ@Home, p153; cookbooker). For afters there was a new cheese, Timanoix, a cat-sitting gift from a Trappist monastery in Brittany. A softish cow cheese that has been washed or soaked in walnut liqueur for a brown rind and nutty taste. Oops, there went our resolve to limit ourselves to a quarter of the cheese at a time!

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/25-May-13: Off to a quiz tonight. Baked another Rhubarb Crumb Cake to take to Barbara's for dinner. Otherwise nothing much happened in the kitchen.

Sunday/26-May-13: Put some Authentic French Bread in the ABM in time for breakfast this a.m. I guess I should really learn another ABM bread by heart so I have more of a repetoire.

Dinner was leftover lamb leg, plus more of Clothilde Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes and some roasted asparagus and broccoli. For afters, more of the Timanoix and then a slice of cake.

Started a half-batch of a King Arthur Flour no-knead bread so we have bread for tomorrow's lunch.

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

IHCC: Use your Noodle!

Now, pasta. There's a theme after my own heart, one of my favorite subjects. Mostly I have to stop myself from planning a pasta dinner for every night of the week. Searching the web, I found Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter (reportedly from Plenty). This not only looked good but also contributes to my 2013 kitchen goal of making pasta from scratch at least once a month.

The saffron pasta itself is very nice. I didn't really follow the instructions for making this all that closely, since I'm fairly comfortable making long skinny pastas now. I mixed the dough by hand in a bowl rather than with the food processor, since that's fairly easy to do and involves much less cleanup. Also, I found the direction to roll out the dough before running it through the pasta machine a bit odd. I just flatten mine a bit between my hands and let the machine do the work. That's what it's for, isn't it?

A half recipe of the dough calls for quite a bit more flour that I usually use for pasta-for-two, but the extra flour goes with the saffron-soaking water. I overlooked the turmeric addition and expect this would have deepened the lovely saffron-gold color of the noodles, with the flavor washed out in the boiling. The resulting dough was nice and workable.

Ottolenghi instructs you to roll the pasta out to the thinnest setting (typically 7). Most pasta instructors say that 6 is more than sufficient. When I first started pasta-making I found 7 very difficult to achieve. With experience, I can do this now, but generally don't like pasta rolled that thin. Lately I've been liking pasta with a bit more chew, so I rolled this batch only to 5, making it a bit thicker than normal. The cut pasta is quite pretty, golden in color with the saffron threads still visible. (Sorry the color is lost with the indoor lighting.)

To make the spiced butter sauce you simmer four minced shallots in eight tablespoons butter and two tablespoons olive oil. When the shallots are very soft and the butter begins to brown, stir in the spices, ginger, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, chili flakes, and turmeric, with some salt and pepper. Toss this with the cooked pasta and serve topped with a mixture of toasted pine nuts, mint, and parsley, all roughly chopped.

The result was a nicely tingly and quite tasty; the topping was a nice addition. But the spiced butter sauce for the pasta was way too fat for our tastes. I used only six tablespoons butter where eight were asked since that's what was left in the butter dish and I was too lazy to get out more (also I was already suspecting this dish was heavy on the fat side). I think that two tablespoons each of butter and oil would be more than enough here. 

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/13-May-13: Clean out the refrigerator night. Pizza with grilled zucchini and broccoli. Made a pizza  sauce from the rest of a jar of roasted red bell peppers and froze half. Some pyramid goat cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and black olives. Good stuff. After a week and a half eating with Bill, both of us have gained a bit of weight and are hungry. Instead of eating only half the pizza so we'd have leftovers, we ate three-quarters of it. Oh dear.

Gas ran out in the middle of cooking, as it can only do. Annoying.

Tuesday/14-May-13: Shopping today, a bit off schedule, but supplies were getting too low to wait another day.

Dinner was a half dose of Gently Cooked Salmon with Mashed Potatoes (Essential, p415; cookbooker). Followed by a salad. Followed by a third recipe of Easy Berry Cobbler (MC) with blueberries. I'm full.

Wednesday/15-May-13: Got started late with dinner, so made a change to the plan. We had a half dose of Spinach Ravioli with Zucchini Ribbons (web; cookbooker), which was a pretty good variation on the alla panna style. Should have had a salad, but was too lazy. Some chocolate roses (dark-chocolate-covered corn flakes) for afters.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/16-May-13: Picked some rhubarb at Barbara's yesterday. Made some Rhubarb Almond Crumb Cake (web; cookbooker) today. It was good.

Dinner was Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives (Essential, p482; cookbooker). Served with plain couscous and Zucchini and Feta Cheese Salad (WorldVeg, p640), which is one of our favorite zucchini recipes right now.

Cookbooker's current challenge is on The Essential New York Times Cookbook, which is why it will be appearing frequently on the menu in the next couple of months. It's a huge cookbook and has had lots of good recipes so far (even if tonight's wasn't a favorite).

Friday/17-May-13: Dinner was an Ottolenghi pasta, followed by a big salad. That was enough.

Saturday/18-May-13: Dinner was a half dose of Green Couscous & Shrimp (web); I liked, Ed thought it was just OK. Portions were very small. Fast. Too lazy to do a salad. For dessert the last of the strawberries with some (sour) vanilla ice cream from the freezer. I seem not to have mentioned this in the blog, so no way to find out why it's sour and why it has such an unusual, kind of flakey, texture. Tasty, though.

My interpretation of Authentic French Bread in the ABM overnight.

Sunday/19-May-13: Dinner was a half recipe of Catalan Vegetable Paella (Essential, p323; cookbooker) followed by a big salad. Some double chocolate mini magnums for dessert.

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

Thursday, May 9, 2013

IHCC: A Squash is a Squash, Of Course, Of Course

This week's squash theme seems a bit out of sync with the seasons. In this corner of the world, winter squash haven't been in the markets for a couple of months now, and the garden flood of summer squash has not yet begun. There are some zucchini (aka courgettes) in the shops, coming from more southern climes, and this week there were even some organic ones. A quick look through Ottolenghi didn't turn up anything that appealed for this week, but a search on the web turned up Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad from Plenty, which tickled my fancy.

This is an easy-to-make salad that made a nice starter followed by a pasta dish. You begin by toasting some hazelnuts, letting them cool a bit, rubbing off most of the skins, and chopping them coarsely. While the nuts are toasting, heat a grill pan and slice the zucchini thickly. Toss the slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then grill them to make nice sear marks. Transfer to a bowl and toss with balsamic vinegar.

When the slices are cool, toss them together with a bit more olive oil, handfuls of green and purple basil leaves, and the chopped nuts. Divide salad among your plates, top with sliced Parmesan, and drizzle on a bit of hazelnut oil. I skipped this step, since I forgot to buy the hazelnut oil. But actually I think it might be better to add the hazelnut oil when tossing with the basil to have a salad that's not quite so oily.

The garden supply of basil being very limited right now, I made only a half recipe. This made two servings, nice for a starter, but a bit skimpy if you wanted more substantial servings. It was very tasty. though, and this is a recipe to repeat with the summer's garden bounty.

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

Monday, May 6, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/6-May-13: Yesterday at a plant fair, we bought two eggplant plants. Today the eggplant seeds are sprouting. Geesh.

Yogurt on overday.

Slow starting Monday. I went off to the grocery to do some shopping since Wednesday and Thursday are holidays. Dinner was Skewered Chicken (a moldy-oldy recipe from the green book) done on the bbq, accompanied by Mama's Garlic Coleslaw (MC) and Baked Eggplant Slices (TooMany, p114). Followed by Double Boiler Bread Pudding (MC), three of us (mostly Ed and Bill) finished it all,

Tuesday/7-May-13: Fish and chips for dinner. Nothing happening in our kitchen,

Wednesday/8-May-13: Had a super lunch out today. Nothing happening in the kitchen this evening.

Thursday/9-May-13: Waved BIll off at the train station today.

Dinner was a double dose of Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangritata for One (MC). I'm doing this a bit different from the recipe, and could be more different still, but it's still a nice, satisfying pasta dish. As a go-with there was an Ottolenghi salad. For afters we had a bit of Camembert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/10-May-13: Dinner was Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust (web), which turned out pretty good. And a salad. That was all.

Saturday/11-May-13: Dinner was Eggplant Steak with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Feta, and Olives (MC), an old favorite. Served with rice. Then finished off the Camembert for afters. And had some squares of Lindt chocolate to accompany our evening dogwalk.

Sunday/12-May-13: A lazy day in the kitchen. Had the rest of the broccoli quiche-y thing, which held up well to reheating. Followed by a big salad. Then some double-chocolate mini magnums.

Yogurt and ABM bread (of the "Authentic French" sort) on overnight.

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IHCC: Going with the Grain!

This week, grains. A nice topic, since I've been trying off and on to increase my grain "vocabulary." Nothing in Ottolenghi seemed to appeal for this topic, but a bit of searching on the web turned up Parsley, Lemon, and Cannellini Bean Salad, which seems to be from Jerusalem, although that's a bit unclear. When red quinoa turned up at the grocery store, I knew I'd found my salad. 

This is a really lovely summery salad. First you cook the quinoa by simmering it, then letting it sit covered for a bit. I made a half recipe, but needed to add almost the full amount of water to keep the quinoa from simmering completely dry.

While the quinoa cools, you shred some parsley, mint, and green onion. (I used shallot since green onions seem to be unknown in this part of the world.) Stir these together with some cannellini beans (canned is fine), some finely chopped lemon (all the lemon is chopped, except the seeds), some ground allspice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

I found it interesting that the entire lemon was chopped, peel, pith, and flesh, and worried a bit about the taste being too bitter from the pith. In fact, this wasn't a problem at all. The salad tasted of lemon, but only in a nice tart kind of way.

Stir everything together and serve. A half recipe served three people a bit skimpily; we would all have liked a bit more. The advertised four servings for the whole recipe is probably correct. 

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