Monday, June 24, 2013

IHCC: Got a pulse?

Chickpeas, lentils, beans! Some of our favorite foods around here. Beyond the occasional black-eyed pea, they're not something I grew up eating, but something that's been added to my food vocabulary over time.

A bit of internet searching turned up Ottolenghi's Spiced Lentils with Cucumber Yogurt, which seemed like just the thing on the cold and damp summer days we continue to have.

This recipe starts with soaking red lentils, not something I recall doing before, but why not? It gives you just enough time to get everything else ready for cooking.

The bottom half of a bunch of coriander (leaves and stems) gets coarsely chopped in the food processor with a small onion, some ginger, garlic, and a chili. Black mustard seeds are popped in a dry skillet, then oil added and the coriander-onion mixture is fried for ten minutes on low heat. Then some ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, and curry leaves are added and cooked another five minutes.

Finally the lentils and their soaking water are added, along with tomatoes, a bit of sugar (I used half what was asked), fenugreek (it's not clear if this should be leaves or seeds; I used seeds and that seemed to be the right choice), asafoetida, and a pinch of salt. This mixture is simmered, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile you can stir together some yogurt with finely diced cucumber (coarsely shredded might be nice), some olive oil, and some salt.

When the lentils are done, stir in the chopped leaves from the top half of the bunch of coriander, some lime juice, and some butter.

To my eye, this recipe uses way too much oil. Four tablespoons of sunflower oil are used to fry the coriander-onion mixture. One and a half tablespoons of olive oil are used for the yogurt topping. Seventy grams, more than four and a half tablespoons, of butter are stirred into the cooked lentils! Not in my kitchen, sorry. I used no more than half of the first two oils and only a dab of butter; that could have been eliminated altogether, I think.

The lentils can be served as a stewy soup, over rice, or with bread. I actually cooked some rice, but we decided that eating the lentils plain, topped with the yogurt mixture would be fine. And it was. And very tasty indeed. DH was a happy camper. The whole recipe served two of us generously. With rice, it might stretch to four.

VIsit this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what yummy things other IHCCers have cooked up this week.

This week in the kitchen

Monday/24-Jun-13:  Dinner for IHCC tonight, followed by some yummy chocolate goodies from the boulanger.

Tuesday/25-Jun-13: For dinner I made a recipe collected long ago in my 2BTried cookbook in Mastercook, Tagliatelli with Broccoli and Walnuts. The recipe was interesting because the broccoli is cooked in milk and also because chopped walnuts are tossed with the cooked pasta before adding the sauce. The recipe called for 350g of fresh pasta, which is enough for two or three, to serve four. (My batch of homemade pasta was 280g and served two nicely.) But I've easily got six generous servings of sauce (two batches now in the freezer). Adding the nuts to the pasta was a nice touch; the smoothish sauce was complemented buy the crunchy nuts. Not the most successful sauce, but worth a try. Followed by a salad and that was all.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/26-Jun-13: Dinner at a marché des producteurs this evening. Brought home a kilo of nice fêves and some ostrich sausages for the freezer. Nothing happened in our kitchen.

Thursday/27-Jun-13: I attended a Ladies' Lunch today, so didn't do much for dinner. There was meat from the third lamb shank and sauce over new potatoes from the Ile de Ré, a teeny portion for me, a big portion for Ed. Then a big salad.

Friday/28-Jun-13: Used the last of the Thanksgiving turkey breast halves to make Tandoori-Style Roast Turkey Breast (web). It was good too. And easy. For sides, I repeated the sides I made for IHCC last week, Karhai Broccoli (MJ@Home, p148) and Potatoes with Cumin and Mustard Seeds (MJ@Home, p164). Tasty dinner.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/29-Jun-13: Dinner was Shrimp Fried Rice, a smerge of several recipes. Wasn't the best, but nothing a goodly dose of sriracha didn't help.

Sunday/30-Jun-13: Lunch with Ed's new choir today. Nothing further in our kitchen.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread (Essential, p670) is on overnight, using only 1-1/4 cups of water instead of 1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. And, I'm going to count this as this month's bread even though it won't get baked till tomorrow. Just a little cheat.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 IHCC/COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes, #4 BREAD: yes

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

IHCC: June Potluck

It seems like the monthly Potluck theme falls right about the time I'm getting a serious craving for Indian food. So here we are again with yet another from Madhur Jaffery. This time all from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey. This is a newish book for me that I got during the last IHCC challenge after reading about lots of good recipes from it.

Today being our day for shopping means fish for dinner. So we had Delicious Pan-Grilled Halibut (or Swordfish, or Salmon)—with swordfish since there was no halibut—(p47), accompanied by Karhai Broccoli (p148) and Potatoes with Cumin and Mustard Seeds (p164).

The pan-grilled swordfish was indeed delicious, and also easy to make. First you rub the fillets with turmeric and salt. This sits while you make a mixture of grated ginger, smashed garlic, lemon juice and cayenne which gets rubbed into the fish in turn for another sit. The fillets are then dusted with rice flour (I used ground rice that I used to clean my spice grinder) and quickly browned in a skillet. Then in the oven till cooked through. Almost an hour of wall clock time passes while this is happening, but there's quite a bit of unattended time.

The broccoli was a nice variation on a steam-sautéed veg. Asafedtida, then cumin and mustard seeds are heated in hot oil. When the seeds start popping, stir in the broccoli. After a minute stir in some salt and cayenne. Then add a slog of water, cover, and simmer on low heat until the broccoli is done, stirring occasionally.

The potatoes would be a snap if you kept boiled potatoes in your fridge (as happens in all well-regulated kitchens, right?). The cold, boiled potatoes are cut into smallish dice. Cumin and mustard seeds are popped in hot oil. Then slivered ginger is added, followed by the potatoes. When this has been well stirred together, sprinkle on salt, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Cook till the potatoes are lightly browned. This would be a good dish with most meals, including your breakfast eggs.

This post is linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs, where you can check out what potluck dishes other folks have made this week.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/17-Jun-13: Back from Paris in the early evening. Plain, simple dinner of the leftover chicken, trio rice, and peas.

Tuesday/18-Jun-13: Rain rain rain. Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was a half recipe of Scallops with Chipotle-Orange Sauce (web), a recipe from an old Cooking Light mag. Easy, fast, tasty. Served with polenta and a veg sauté with a bit of red onion, garlic, zucchini, jarred red and yellow roasted bell pepper, and chopped black olives. All pretty good. For dessert there was some vanilla ice cream with raspberries from the garden.

Wednesday/19-Jun-13: Shopping today, trying to get back on schedule. We managed to walk off without the list, but still got all the essential things. Ed can pick up a few after choir practice tomorrow and the rest can wait till next week. They had flats of apricots today, but I don't feel like making jam, so hoping they still have them next week.

An Indian dinner tonight for IHCC. It was good.

Thursday/20-Jun-13: Dinner was sort of a third recipe of Poitrine Demi-Sel aux Lentilles (web), followed by a big salad. A third recipe because that's all the meat I had in the freezer. Sort of because it wasn't really poitrine demi-sel, but poitrine fumé, i.e., smoked instead of salted. At any rate it was good, satisfying on a cool night.

Friday/21-Jun-13: Dinner was Chicken Roasted with Sour Cream, Lemon Juice, and Mango Chutney (Essential, p480; cookbooker), a half recipe because I can't imagine eating two kip filets per person. Really yummy stuff, and easy to make. Served with some curried rice and steamed haricots verts sprinkled with coarse salt and amchoor. Nice dinner.

Saturday/22-Jun-13: Yogurt on overday.

Visited the kitchen guy today to select a new faucet for the new sink, since the one we bought didn't fit properly. Also postponed delivery of the new since till September, which is disappointing, but means the hearth tiles may be here before installation starts, a Good Thing. Looked again at the red countertop and still like it, if a bit worried about the price.

Dinner was Broiled Salmon with Honey and Vermouth (MC), a moldy oldy. Served with Zucchini and Vermouth (Essential, p227) and some multi-grain tagliatelle topped with cilantro pesto. Then some double chocolate mini Magnums for afters.

Sunday/23-Jun-13: How can it be Sunday already?

Dinner was Souris d'Agneau Rôties aux Citrons Confits (VPG). It was good,, but should have been a lot better. Served with coucous and a vegetable melange (carrots, red bell pepper, zucchini). For some reason shanks come in packages of three, so I took the meat off the third one and set aside with the sauce. It will turn into something in the next days. Some vanilla ice cream with blueberries for dessert. I'm full.

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

Monday, June 10, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/10-Jun-13: Katie's strawberry preserves are pretty soupy, but they smell and taste delicious. Tomorrow maybe I'll play with adding some powdered pectin belatedly before jarring it all up.

Both of us having bad tummies today, wondering what we ate. So, a simple dinner, pasta with broccoli and lots of garlic and red pepper flakes.

Tuesday/11-Jun-13: Dinner was Rhubarb-Soy-Marinated Duck with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote (Essential, p468; cookbooker). Served this with orzo decorated with lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, and a dab of butter; plus some steamed asparagus topped with a little vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, and dijon mustard. A bit of young goat cheese topped with piment d'Esplette that we bought at a vide-grenier on the weekend for after. All was good.

Didn't get anything done with Katie's preserves. Gather than I'll have to reheat everything to add pectin and stir vey carefully.

Don't think I'm going to get anything Ottolenghi done this week, and no other seldom used cookbook either. Oh well.

Wednesday/12-Jun-13: Yogurt on overday.

This morning I stirred a half packet of pectin into the preserves and cooked a bit. They still seemed too runny, so I added another half packet. Fear that I now have rubber preserves. Froze four jars; we'll see how they do.

Dinner was Middle Eastern Lentils with Pasta (VeryBest, p293). Pretty good veggie dinner. Then a big salad. That's all. (Sophie was out till about 22.30. :-( )

Thursday/13-Jun-13: Working hard today, trying to get ready to go tomorrow. So much to do!

Dinner was a half dose of Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken (Essential, p494) with kip filets instead of thighs. I forgot to set aside some of the marinade for serving, so it was sauceless, but very good nonetheless. Definitely one to try again. Served with some curried rice and a made-up veggie side with broccoli, tomato, shallots, steam-sautéed with a bit of Jaffrey's My Curry Powder left from something else I've made recently.

Friday/14-Jun-13 - Sunday/16-Jun-13: Off to Paris for a long week. Nothing happened in the kitchen!

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

Sunday, June 9, 2013

IHCC: Something Sweet

So sweet it is. Pear and Amaretto Crumble Cake from Ottolenghi (p218, and on the web) caught my eye since I've got a bottle of amaretto needing to be used up. It turned out to a tasty cake, but can't say it's one I'd ever make again. DH, the head dishwasher, asked if there were any bowls that I didn't use to make the cake. There's a bowl for tossing together the apple, pear, walnuts, lemon zest, and amaretto, plus the one I used for measuring the weight of the fruit and nuts. Then there's a bowl for the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and ground almonds. And a couple more for the separated eggs, plus the small one to crack each egg into. (If you've ever opened a bad egg into a cake batter, you learn to open your eggs into a separate dish before adding them to anything.) And a big bowl for mixing the batter. And a little one for mixing the crumble. (I made a fifth recipe of the crumble recipe to top the loaves.) That's a lot of bowls for what's essentially a tarted up quick bread.

It tastes yummy, I must say, and the balance of cinnamon to cloves is just right. Very moist and full of chunky fruit.

Visit I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what sweet treats people are cooking up this week.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Strawberry bonanza

Barbara's strawberry patch has gone crazy in the last sunny days. This morning David brought over a huge basketful that filled my largest bowl.

First I used about three pounds (i.e., 1.24kg, stemmed weight) to make 2 quarts for making my Grandmother Katie's Strawberry Preserves. Used my basket gadget for cooking multiple rounds of pasta for dropping the berries into boiling water for a minute. For the first 4 cups of sugar, I used up my Dutch witte basterd zuiker topped up with regular white sugar. For the second 2 cups, I used sucre de canne (a natural brown cane sugar). The preserves are now in sit-and-stir mode for three days before they get canned. (I'll freeze the jars rather than topping with paraffin.)

Katie's Strawberry Preserves
– 2 quarts strawberries (about 3 pounds)
– 4 cups sugar
– 2 cups sugar
As Katie wrote the directions:
Wash and stem 2 qts of strawberries. Put berries in colander; drop in boiling water for 1 minute. Then put berries into a kettle; put 4 cups sugar on berries and boil 3 minutes. Add 2 cups sugar and bboil 3 minutes aagain or longer. Pour into a bowl. Let stand 3 days, stirring 2 or 3 times a day. Seal cold, cover with paraffin. (Can stand longer than 3 days.)
Yield: TBD

Also made some Strawberry Balsamic Jam . Not quite enough brown sugar on hand, so topped up with a bio sucre de canne with pectin. (How can I have missed refilling both white and brown sugars?!) Hope it isn't too thick because of that bit of pectin. Had about 3.8# dressed weight (stemmed and chunked), so adjusted other ingredients upwards slightly.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam
– 3 pounds fresh, ripe strawberries
– 2 cups granulated Sugar
– 1/3 cup lemon juice
Wash the strawberries, remove the tops and coarsely chop. Place the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil.
Boil over medium high heat stirring frequently, and skimming off the foam for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to a slow boil, and continue to cook until the jam has almost set, about 45 minutes to an hour.
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 2 teaspoons black pepper, optional
Add the balsamic vinegar and pepper if using and mix well. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Test to see if your jam has set (see below).
Sterilize your jars and lids and while still hot fill with the jam leaving about a 1/2-inch headspace.
Place lids onto the jars and boil in a water bath with jars covered by 3 inches of water for 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let sit an additional 5 minutes before removing from the water bath.
Place the jars on counter and let sit untouched for 6 hours before storing.
Refrigerate after opening. 
Yield: 3 AH fond jars, about 1.5 cups each
Kaye's notes:
  • Found this recipe on the web. Last year I also made the version with black pepper. We decided that, while that was plenty good, the plain version was even better. 
  • To test if your jam has set, place a small plate in the freezer before you begin to make your jam. When you think your jam has thickened enough, take a small spoonful and drop it onto your plate and place the plate in the refrigerator for a minute or two. Take the plate and hold it sideways. The jam should be thick enough to mound on the plate and not run off.
  • The recipe is advertised to make four pint jars. For two years now, I've gotten much less than this. Three 3/4-pints is about what it makes for me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/3-Jun-13: Parboiled and peeled the fêves that I removed from the pods on Saturday (I guess it was). They turned into Peeled Fava Beans with Red Onion, White Wine, and Mint (PeV, p130). I made all the sauce for half the pasta; otherwise it would have been really skimpy. Tasty. Then a big salad. Then we finished the St Marcellin.

Can't get all excited about Ottolenghi this week. The week theme is a sweet; the monthly "community challenge" is hummus. Neither of which really ring my bell. If I don't get something for Ottolenghi done, tonight's dinner will be my cookbook, since this is only the second thing I've made from this book.

I assembled our new Weber grill today, so tomorrow we'll probably bbq. Something easy, but it's time to inaugurate it.

Tuesday/4-Jun-13: Off to the dentist early today; turned into a lazy day. Meant to bbq this evening, but Ed was tuckered out from installing the wallboard behind the stove, so I did everything inside. Grilled some duck sausages, which were good but way too salty. Eating them with some hominy lessened the impact. I think this brand (Le Gaulois) is the source of other very salty sausage we've had. (The packaging was a candidate for Consumer Reports back page: the package was the size of most all sausage packages leading you to believe they're the same length. The printed part of the label covered one end of the package, which give you a clue. Pull back the wrapping, and what you find is a little "step" hidden under the printed part, leaving sausages about 2" shorter than expected.) As a go-with, I made Grilled Zucchini with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar (PeV, p308), which is intended as a pasta sauce, but I served as a side without the pasta. Actually it would probably be okay served as a pasta salad kind of thing. For dessert we had toetjes from the boulangerie where I got bread this morning. Kind of a cream puff thing, covered with yummy dark chocolate and topped with a walnut half; the cream filling was walnuty also. Good, but we could have shared one, rather than having a whole one each.

Wednesday/5-Jun-13: Shopping today. Unfortunately when I got home I discovered that the duck breasts I bought for a meal later this week were the same brand as yesterday's sausages. Didn't even think to look. Same deceptive packaging too!

Dinner was the leftover coquelet, which reheated very well, along with an improvised salad of broccoli, zucchini, and feta, and some trio rice. Some double chocolate mini Magnums for after.

Thursday/6-Jun-13: Made some Rhubarb-Ginger Compote (Essential, p607) today. Served with some broiled salmon. Also made (more or less) some Old-Style Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Asparagus (web), which was quite easy and quite good. And some 5-grain tagliatelle that I picked up somewhere. Tasty dinner. The compote was surprisingly good and will appear again soon.

Friday/7-Jun-13: Yogurt on overday. David brought over a huge basketful of strawberries today, so I spent most of the day in the kitchen making two different strawberry jams.

We went to a murder mystery evening that included a buffet dinner, so nothing happened in the kitchen after the jams.

Saturday/8-Jun-13: Dinner was Chickpea and Potato Curry, Caribbean Style (WorldVeg, p33; cookbooker). Really good stuff. Made a whole recipe, thinking I'd have leftovers, but we ate it all, and the servings weren't that big.

Sunday/9-Jun-13: Make a cake for IHCC today and got it posted just in time for this week's theme.

Dinner was Grilled Eggplant with Chick Pea Purée and Harissa (RealFast, p132). Have made this several times now and enjoy it for a fast and tasty dinner. Then a salad. Then some of the cake for Ed. (I had my piece before making dinner.)

Yogurt on overnight.

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