Monday, July 28, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/28-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday.

Neither of us were particularly hungry this evening, so we finished off the lentil salad from Saturday and called it done.

Tuesday/29-Jul-14: Shopping today.

For as starter we had a fruit and goat's cheese salad for IHCC. Then there were Salmon Steaks with Sorrel Sauce (Saumon à l'Oseille) (BEFCC, p92), using salmon fillets (I don't like the bones around steaks and steaks are harder to find here). A classic, this was good, but nothing special. Served with orzo.

Wednesday/30-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday.

We ate with Patrice and Wim at the marché des producteurs in Massignac this evening. Nothing much happened in our kitchen.

Thursday/32-Jul-14: Today we had lunch out with neighbors before going on a walking tour followed by café gourmand (coffee served with little sweets). Nothing happened in our kitchen.

Friday/1-Aug-14: We had some ripe bananas to use up, so I made up a loaf of Banana Bread (CC1, p553) before dinner. Then with had a melon, ham, and mozzarella salad for IHCC. Then there was Shrimp-Stuffed Mirliton (TLCreole, p102).

Saturday/2-Aug-14: Dinner was Sambal Chicken Skewers (web); I made a half recipe of the sauce, without the brown sugar, and marinated four skinless chicken thighs for the afternoon. Grilled them under the broiler. Yum. As a go-with I smerged a couple of recipes for peanut noodles and topped with some broccoli that I boiled in the pasta water before the pasta. We split a classic magnum for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/3-Aug-14: Most of the afternoon in the kitchen making dinner for Patrice and Wim. For a main, there was Qodban (Marinated Lamb Kabobs) (TLQuint, p65), really yummy. I didn't do the suet between lamb chunks, thought about using bits of bacon, in the end decided I was too lazy. They were fine without this. As sides there was Salatit Batata (Potato Salad with Caraway) (TLQuint, p101) and Slata Mechouia (Roasted Tomato and Pepper Salad) (TLQuint, p102). (I'm puzzled why these are two Tunisian salads, one salatit and one slata.) I've made both salads before, but the making of them seemed completely new! For dessert, there was Sour Cream Fresh Blueberry Cake (MC). The weather was nice so Ed could barbecue the lamb. It started to sprinkle as we preparing to eat, so we moved under the hexagon.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes; #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for July, no for August; #4 FotW: yes for July, no for August; #5 BREAD: no for July, no for August

Monday, July 21, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/21-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday. We made an all-day outing to Family Village (yes, that's the French name), a sort of outlet mall, that included lunch at Alinéa, which is the French version of Ikea. There's also a Grand Frais, a grocery store carrying lots of unusual and exotic fruits and veggies. Just discovered there's on in Soyaux, too; that's a suburb of Angoulême, so it's a bit closer.

Because we had lunch out, we had only fruit for dinner.

Ed drove with two other choir members to yesterday's concert in Limoges; they had to be there quite a bit ahead of time. I travelled with the partners of the other two. We were both surprised that these people had barely visited Limoges before. One couple has been here four and a half years, the other longer than we have. But they'd barely been to Limgoes either for sightseeing or for shopping. Seemed very strange to us.

Tuesday/22-Jul-14: Used the gooseberries I bought yesterday to make a half recipe of Gooseberry-Apple Crisp (Uncommon, p218). A nice easy recipe that could be done with other fruits. Should put this in the HandyBook also. While that was cooking, I roasted lots of veggies, mostly leftovers bits from the fridge—eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, carrot, and some asparagus from the Grand Frais. Served those with polenta. Then the crisp with a bit of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday/23-Jul-14: Shopping today.

Dinner was (more or less) Spiced Fried Fish (RealCook, p120), with two filet of lieu noir (saithe?) cut into thirds. As a go-with there was Fragrant Rice (RealCook, p213; cookbooker). There's a problem with this recipe, which is supposed to serve two as a side; I made less than half and we had enough to serve four as a side. Then there was more of the Grand Frais bounty, two ears of corn. Very good, better than the ones we get at Intermarché. I forgot to note whence they came. Then a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some bramen (blackberries) from Grand Frais.

We drank a whole bottle of wine with the dinner, then sat outside, till the mosquitos got too bad, watching bats and listening to Ed's bat detector.

Thursday/24-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was a half recipe of Green Peppercorn and DIjon Chicken Cutlets (web). Good stuff and easy. Accompanied by butternut squash gnocchi from the freezer with a bit of sage butter, which really wasn't needed because there was  plenty of sauce from the chicken. And some Roast Asparagus with Long Pepper Gremolata (web). Long pepper is what was used by the Greeks and Romans for a peppery flavor before black pepper was available. Can't say I was struck by the flavor, but the whole effect of the long pepper, coriander seeds, lemon zest, and garlic was very pleasing. For dessert, I had the very end of a classic magnum while Ed ate the rest.

Friday/25-Jul-14: Oscar went to the vet a 8am for a biopsy.

Baked a cake this morning for a visitor this afternoon and for tomorrow night's picnic dinner, Chocolate Bundt Cake (web; cookbooker), a super cake. The visitor was Max, just turned 21, the son of long-time Dutch friends. We're not remembering when we saw him last, but now he's all grown up and it was a treat to see him.

The main course as dinner was Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shanks with Aubergine (RealCook, p127) for IHCC, but I don't feel like posting for it. Lamb shanks (souris) usually come in packages of three for some reason. I happened to find a package of four, so now have the extra two in the freezer. As an accompaniment there was whole-wheat couscous, made with the rest of a jar of chicken stock, plus Carrot and Cilantro Salad (WorldVeg, p618), a very nice little salad. I had a tiny slice of chocolate cake after. (Ed had two slices earlier.)

Saturday/26-Jul-14: This evening we went to a benefit picnic with music for the Children of Chenobyl, a charity that brings these kids to France (and elsewhere I think) to stay with local people so they can have a proper vacation in a healthy location. I made Greek-Style Lentil Salad (WorldVeg, p630) for our meal. This is a nice salad I've made before. Made some guacamole to go with corn chips. Managed to go off without the chocolate cake, that I'd hoped to share around.

Sunday/27-Jul-14: Fresh pasta tonight with Spinach and Tomato Pasta Sauce, Romagna-Style (MarCuc, p142). The sauce was good, but not spectacular. I used frozen spinach and a real tomato and some water instead of canned imported Italian plum ones with juice. And a salad. And some chocolate cake with a dab of cream.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes for IHCC, but not posted; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 FotW: no; #5 BREAD: no

Sunday, July 20, 2014

IHCC: July Potluck!!!

Recently I had a hankering for some pork chops, but none were in the freezer. The next time at the grocery, I found a big package of them on special and froze them up individually, waiting for a pork chop night to come along.

Pork chops have never been my forté. Strangely it's Ed, who barely cooks at all, who can fry up a mean chop. In the past I've let him do the honors whenever pork chop time rolls around. For this dinner, I was determined to have a go myself. Since it's potluck week, I looked through my cookbooks for all the I Heart Cooking Club authors and settled on ... yes, it's Nigel Slater again.

Slater's books are certainly spending a lot of time in our kitchen this season. Pork Chops, Mustard Sauce is the 13 February entry in The Kitchen Diaries (p51), a classic sort of way to embellish pork.

Start by putting a bit of butter and olive oil in a skillet and set it over a highish flame while you salt and pepper the chops and squash a couple of garlic cloves. When the fat starts to foam up, plop in the garlic and the chops. Brown the chops on the first side, then turn them over. Brown the second side, then turn the heat down to medium. Let the chops cook through (no pink should show when you peek with a knife), turning them once. Move the chops to plates or a serving dish and keep them warm. (I left my plates on the plate warmer and covered them loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.)

Now comes the sauce that makes this dish especially nice. Pour off most of the fat, leaving the tasty bits in the pan. Turn the heat back up and deglaze the pan with a good slog of white wine, scraping up the browned bits to help it all dissolve. Add some cream and let it bubble a bit. Stir in big spoonfuls of Dijon mustard and a grainy mustard. Add some chopped cornichons. (I forgot this bit!) Taste for salt  and grind in some black pepper. You might add a dribble of the cornichon juice if you think it's needed to sharpen the taste. Serve the shops topped with the sauce and a pile of smashed potatoes so none of the sauce goes to waste. Pork chop success—maybe I'm starting to get the hand of this pork chop thing!

I forgot to add the chopped cornichons, so I'll definitely plan this in again to give that a try. A bit of acid is often a nice touch to cut the fatty feel of creamy foods.

Last week I forgot to take a picture of my "Around the Globe" dish, but you can see other well-travelled posts at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Check  out this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what other folks have turned up for their potluck meals.

Monday, July 14, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/14-Jul-14: It was clear out the fridge and freezer night tonight. I started with a recipe from a store-bought package of pâte brisée, a tart with ricotta and chard. There was a package of pâte brisée in the fridge needing to be used. And a tub of ricotta. No chard, but the rest of a package of fresh spinach. And, look, the end of a wedge of bleu d'Auvergne. And that made a nice tart, although a homemade piecrust is much nicer. We bought thought crème fraîche would have been nicer than the ricotta. Next time. Made a salad of grated carrots with a lemon vinaigrette. For dessert, I made Chocolate Soufflé Cake for 2 (MC). If I ever get my Mastercook back in service (right now it's on a computer that I can't access and it doesn't run on the computer I'm using), I need to include this in my HandyBook, since it's an easy thing to put together if you got a few minutes while everything else cooks.

Tuesday/15-Jul-14: Shopping today. Looking around for things that might be of use for this month's Creole and Cajun cooking, found some rivierkreeftjes (yes, labelled in Dutch), which must be crawdads, frozen, but cooked. Bought a pair of fresh beets and roasted them when I got home. Too often, I buy fresh beets and they sit around waiting to be roasted until they go bad. Fresh beets are a bit unusual here. Four-packs of ones that are already cooked are almost always available, but two of us don't usually eat that many in a week, and they last only a few days.

Dinner was Maple-Chipotle Salmon, a recipe I collected for EAT-L a while ago. (Can't find it on the web. This is no big loss; it's not a keeper.) The salmon was basted/glazed with a mixture of maple syrup, grainy mustard, chipotle powder, and black pepper. Too sweet for our taste. Was accompanied by a sauce of sour cream, mayo, dill, orange juice, and orange zest, was was good in itself (and went well with the sautéed zucchini), but didn't go with the sweet salmon at all. Then there was sautéed zucchini, and "Old Bay" Grilled Steak Fries (web). I took the lazy way and used real Old Bay seasoning, rather than mixing my own, and mixed it with chipotle powder. Actually this is a pretty good way to do potatoes. Whole potatoes are first boiled till they're about 2/3 of the way done. Then cut into fingers. Then mixed with a dab of olive oil and the spices and grilled. It might be good to shake up the fingers, as with Dusolier's Perfect Roast Potatoes, to help give them a good crust.

We were full, but before I made dinner I made some Cranberry Upside-Down Cake. The recipe is supposed to be from the November 1994 issue of Gourmet magazine, but I haven't been able to find the recipe. Too bad because it's good!

Wednesday/16-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday.

The cranberry upside-down cake was really good for breakfast!

We  had kind of a thrown together dinner. The main was Aubergines Farcies aux Falafels et Sauce au Sésame (web), which is essentially roasted eggplants stuffed with a felafel-like mixture with a tahini sauce. This was quite good. With the innards of the eggplants, I made a little salad with some oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer. This was also good. I used one of my roasted beets to make Beet Salad (Roden, p68; cookbooker); this was really yummy, although it wanted way too much yogurt. I used one jar, which is a long half cup, and though it was more than enough, while a whole cup was called for. Nevertheless, it is a yummy salad. And some whole-wheat couscous, nothing special, but good enough. For dessert we had a whole Magnum Classic each. Decadence!

Thursday/17-Jul-14: Dinner was Mara's Broccoli and Scallop Pasta Sauce (MarCuc, p180) over cascareccia, followed by a big salad. I'm full.

Friday/18-Jul-14: Another day of oppressive heat. Dinner was pork chops for IHCC, accompanied by mashed potatoes, and corn and broccoli. Some chocolate mini magnums for dessert.

Saturday/19-Jul-14: Stormy with lots of lightning. Had to shut down the computers before I could write on Saturday.

Dinner was a half dose of Spaghetti with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Capers (30MinPasta, p98; cookbooker). Good stuff. Then a big salad. Then a mini magnum each.

Sunday/20-Jul-14: Ed's Rochechouart choir gave a concert at the Limoges cathedral this afternoon. I left a crockpot dish cooking, so we'd be able to have dinner when we got back. That was a have dose of Pakistani "Old Clothes" Beef Curry (IndianSC, p121; cookbooker). This was kind of so-so. For sides, there was plain basmati rice and Yoghurt with Eggplant (MJ1, p164), which was a nice accompaniment to the beef.

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/7-Jul-14: It was clean-out-the-fridge pizza for dinner tonight. First spread the pizza with pyramid goat cheese; then my no-tomato pizza sauce; then some grilled eggplant, zucchini, and broccoli; then the last round of cabécou; then some chorizo slices (defrosted for something not made); then some mozzarella slices. It was good. For afters, a scoop of kulfi.

Tuesday/8-Jul-14: Shopping today.

Before dinner, I started some Double-Boiler Bread Pudding (MC; HandyBook) to try to attack the stale bread glut. The flame blew out, so it didn't get done. Finished it off and it's cooling now to put into the fridge. Cubed the rest of the bread and dried it for making croutons.

Dinner was Baked Couscous with Chicken and Spices (RealCook, p173), a really nice dish, easy to make. Followed by a salad. For afters we ended up with some Afrikas, since the pudding didn't want to get done.

Wednesday/9-Jul-14: Just realized that last night's dinner was supposed to be my IHCC contribution for the week, but I forgot to take a picture. Oops.

Made lots of croutons from the bread I dried yesterday.

An Indian-ish dinner tonight. The main was Tilapia Curry with Roasted Spices (web, this is the recipe, but not where I got it). The recipe is from Monica Bhide's Modern Spice, which is a book I don't have, but have thought about getting. I made a half recipe with swordfish. (Tilapia isn't sold here, since it's apparently not an "ethical" fish.) Fairly bland stuff, in spite of all the spice that went in. Ed thought this was because the swordfish was pretty bland. Maybe he's right. For sides there were two old favorites: Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce (Q&E, p87) and Spicy, Sour Potatoes with Cumin and Amchoor (SpiceKitch, p50). And we finally got some of the bread pudding for dessert.

Thursday/10-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was Drunken Pasta (web), followed by a big salad (forgot to add any croutons), followed by the rest of the bread pudding with a dab of cream poured over. The pasta was interesting; it finished cooking in red wine that was flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes. Probably it's better as a starter than a main, since there wasn't much to it, but is did taste nice. Ed said it looked like earthworms, so it might be a good dish of Halloween.

Friday/11-Jul-14: Didn't feel much like cooking today, so for dinner we had the leftover pizza, which was quite good warmed up. Then we went to a very nice concert.

Saturday/12-Jul-14: Early dinner tonight before a concert from Ed's Montbron choir. The main was Creamy Lemon Tortellini Bake (web), which was quite good. The recipe says it serves six. Maybe as a side. We ate it all; maybe it would have served three, but six never. Then a salad. Forgot the croutons again. Sigh.

When we got back we had some kulfi with blueberries from the yard.

Sunday/13-Jul-14: Yogurt on overday. Made some Authentic French Bread in the bread maker; this is the only recipe I know out of my head.

Dinner was Squid or Scallops in Spinach-Tomato Curry Sauce (Q&E, p72). Last time with scallops, this time with squid. Half the amount of squid asked was way too much. Tasty, though. Then we ate the rest of the kulfi with more blueberries.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, but no post; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 FotW: yes for June/no for July; #5 BREAD: 0

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IHCC: Starters & Nibbles

Starters and nibbles this week. Nibbles I'm not so good at, but starters are always nice. I often try to follow the French still of meal planning where you have a starter, a main, and an after, either cheese or sweet. This doesn't work all the time, but it's a pattern I try to keep in mind.

A browse through my Slater books turned up Goat's Cheese and Olive Aubergines in The 30-Minute Cook (p33). This is meant as a main dish for two, where you each get a whole eggplant to yourself. I scaled it back so I could serve it as a starter.

Since I needed just two thickish slices of eggplant, rather than frying then, I just brushed on a bit of olive oil and cooked them under the broiler. They ended up with quite nice grill marks which are invisible in the finished dish. Once the slices are done, you simply spread on a thick layer of green tapenade, top with a bit of goat cheese (I used little rounds of cabécou), sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan, and pop them back under the broiler till the cheese is nicely melted. Serve warm.

Only after I scaled the recipe back did I realize this is very similar to a recipe that I picked up from a French cooking magazine for a munchy that can be served with your aperitif or as a starter. That uses artichoke bottoms, either fresh (eh) or frozen (yes!), instead of the eggplant. This is a nice variation, since it can be easily picked up with the fingers for munching. An artichoke bottom is less floppy than a slice of cooked eggplant. I've done this with both green and black tapenade, and prefer the green for the less assertive taste in this case.

Check out this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what kind of nibbling other folk are up to.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Scandinavian Cooking: Sautéed Flounder with Shrimp and Fresh Mushroom Salad

Somewhere I've read recently that Scandinavian food is trendy these days. I must have missed that. Of the Scandinavian countries, I've only been to Denmark and can't say that whatever we ate was memorable, so it's a bit hard to imagine trendiness here.

For tonight's dinner, I planned three dishes from the Time-Life Scandinavian Cooking recipe book, but ended up making only two of them. For the main there was a Danish dish, Sautéed Flounder with Shrimp (p19). I made it with plaice since that was available at the shop today, but it seems this is the traditional fish for the dish. The dish is simply breaded fillets, topped with little shrimp, sautéed. The fillets were breaded by dipping in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs (I used panko), which is the way this should be done. It's a shame I didn't figure out that all three steps are necessary for proper breading until fairly recently. I've lately read the reasons why all the steps are necessary, but can't find the link back. It's something like the flour helping the egg to stick, and the egg helping the crumbs, whatever they are, to stick. Only with all three do you have a chance of getting a nice coating that will stay on whatever it is that you're trying to bread. In this case, the breaded fillets are topped with some some little shrimp that have been sautéed in more butter. This should all be topped with yet more butter, browned a bit, but I skipped that.

One side was going to be another Danish dish, Caramelized Potatoes (p49). I was curious about what caramelized potatoes would taste like. In the end I didn't have the time or oomph to get these made. I just took my boiled new potatoes and tossed them with butter and parsley and called them done.

The other side was a Finnish dish, Fresh Mushroom Salad (p13). In the hardback book, Brown mentioned that mushroom dishes are usually made with wild mushrooms. I bought shiitakes, since those were the most interesting mushrooms at the store today. The pleurotes/oesterzwammen/oyster mushroom looked pretty crummy, and I wanted something "wilder" than regular cultivated mushrooms. The mushrooms are sliced, then briefly boiled in water and lemon juice. (The recipe asks for a half pound of sliced mushrooms to be boiled in a 1-quart saucepan. This seems a bit improbable since they made much more than four cups of slices.) Naturally, I used a bigger pot. After just a few minutes the mushrooms and drained and patted dry. Then they're tossed with a dressing of heavy cream, grated onion, a pinch of sugar, salt, and white pepper, and served on a bed of lettuce (fresh from the garden).

The fish was pretty good, but nothing particularly special. The shroom salad was quite good, and might be something I'll make again. It would be nice with a selection of salads or a salad side as I served it this evening.