Monday, December 29, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/29-Dec-14: The beans I put on after lunch for tonight's dinner didn't want to get cooked in time, so they're sitting outside freezing their booties off until tomorrow. Instead I defrosted some chipolatas (sausages); need to note the brand because they were a bit on the salty side. Roasted some broccoli and cauliflower, along with one sweet potato for Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Cream (web), which I saw in the CL I read through this morning. (One sweet potato was plenty for two.) For dessert, we split the last mango ice cream sandwich, which was a reasonable amount (as opposed to the whole one per person recommended in the menu).

Tuesday/30-Dec-14: Late start, then shopping today. Very crowded again, and all the checkout lines weren't open, so there was a bit of a wait.

Cooked yesterday's beans some more, then finished off Pork Stew with Red Chiles and Black Beans (web), about a 2/3 recipe. Red beans, since I discovered I was out of black beans; the red beans seem to be Dutch, so they could be quite old and that could be why they took so long to cook. It was good, but nothing special. Didn't much care for the added honey. Chocolate mini magnums for dessert. Ed was still wanting some chocolate, so I made some Angel's Dreams (TLWine, p33), which were quite good, even though we don't have proper glasses for such things.

Wednesday/31-Dec-14: Ed's been busy hanging new lighting over the kitchen sink. He spent the morning and afternoon occupying the sink area, meaning I couldn't start cooking till much later than intended.

Knowing we're eating out tomorrow, I planned a lightish food for tonight.  For the meal, there was Gingery Cauliflower Soup (Q&E, p13) and (more or less) Easy Potato and Pea Samosas ( web) with Fresh Green Chutney (Q&E, p113). The soup is an old favorite; usually we eat most of it, tonight only about half. This is not the same baked samosa recipe I've made before; couldn't find that one. I made six samosas (I ate one, Ed ate three) to use up the packet of filo that I started with strudel; now I've got some filling leftover for something else. The chutney used mint from the garden. Very unusual for there still to be mint in the garden at the end of December.

Ed thought we needed a picture of me making the samosas.

And I thought we needed a picture of him eating one.

For our late evening munchies, I made a half recipe of Baba Ghanoush (WofE, p334) using some roasted eggplant from the freezer. This turned out especially good. As go-withs there was a plate of carrots, cukes, red and green bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes (for me). I defrosted a second batch of roasted eggplant to make a recipe from WS, but didn't have the oomph. Twas OK in the end because we didn't quite finish the first batch, but will have to do something with it in the next days. For some reason I was exhausted after dinner and Oscar and I took a nap in the rocker. Polished off a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream in the course of the evening; Ed and I were both a little loopy.

Thursday/1-Jan-15: Splendid lunch out today at one of our favorite restaurants. No further food needed.

Friday/2-Jan-15: Tonight was Carrot Ginger Soup (web; cookbooker) with the two extra samosas. For dessert we finished off the last bit of pudding with slogs of crème de cacao and cream.

Saturday/3-Jan-15: Went to mail a package this morning, only to discover that the post office closes at noon, not at noon:30. Stopped at boulangerie for bread and a three king's cake.

Oops, forgot to notice that the chicken for tonight's planned dinner wanted to marinate for four hours. Instead we had Chile-Lime Veggie Noodles (web; cookbooker). Three king's cake for dessert.

Sunday/4-Jan-15: I actually got the chicken on to marinate this morning so dinner was a half-recipe of Grilled Chicken Piquant (CL92, p166). Easy and really good. You're supposed to boil the marinade at the end to use as a salad dressing, but since I made a half dose, there really wasn't enough to boil for five minutes. I just made up another small batch to drizzle my store-bought greens (frisée, carrots, beets, cabbage, and whatever else). A nice plate. We finished the three king's cake and may try to get another before they're gone.

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas dinner 2014

Fig Stuffed with Foie Gras and Salad of Watercress 

Nori Fettuccine and Shrimp with Garlic-Chili Butter Sauce

Spicy Rack of Lamb with Thai Red Curry Sauce
Haricots Verts with Sesame Oil
Basmati Rice

Mango Ice Cream Sandwich with Macadamia Nut Cookies and Tropical Fruit Compote

Bits of this meal got prepared over the preceding days. On the day itself, I got a typical late start and puttered away most of the afternoon. Nothing rushed and everything came together at the right sort of time.

We started with figs stuffed with foie gras, bought at the marché de noël on Sunday, one each, accompanied by a bit of watercress with vinaigrette. Forgot to take a picture of this, so you'll have to imagine a salad plate with a fat fig and a bit of green beside it.

For the next course there was a pasta dish from a mangled recipe (Dinners42, p91; cookbooker). There should been opihi, a Hawaiian limpet, but there were no limpets at the shop (lots of other crustaceans, so maybe they're not in season). Shrimp was given as a substitute, so shrimp there was. The pasta has nori sheets ground up with the flour and sesame oil as the fat (no eggs). Very tasty.

For the main, there was a lovely rack of lamb (6 points) with a tasty sauce (Dinners42, p93; cookbooker). Since the menu I was following didn't include vegetable matter, we had some haricots verts and a bit of basmati rice on the side (but no pictures) of those.

We finished off a bottle of red wine that we won in a charity hamper. The matching rosé, which we took to the choir party, was not bad at all, so we gave the red a chance for this meal. Not the best choice. It was definitely so-so. Drinkable but nothing interesting.

Dessert (Dinners42, p95; cookbooker) was good, if a bit oversized. There's a layer of mango purée at the bottom, then two halves of an ice cream sandwich, topped with some tropical and not-so-tropical fruit (mangos, kiwis, and some mixed berries). Rather than having a whole ice cream sandwich each, we could have split a single one and been fine. A super idea, though, especially because the real work can be done days before.

Altogether an enjoyable meal.

Monday, December 22, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/22-Dec-14: Dinner was a halfish verison of Tuscan Broccoli Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese (web), a recipe from Green Giant, using one of their products that I don't think I would buy after looking at the ingredients. Anyhow, I just kind of winged it vaguely using what I had. It wasn't bad.

Made up the soup for the mango ice cream for Thursday's meal.

Tuesday/23-Dec-14: We thought we'd do our shopping a day early to avoid the rush. Ha. We've never seen the parking lot so full. The shop was full but all the aisles were open, so there was little waiting time.

In the afternoon I made apple butter and the macadamia nut cookies for the ice cream sandwiches for our xmas meal. Not the prettiest things ever, but they'll do.

Dinner was Gegrilde Sliptong met Avocado-Citroencrème (web), that's grilled Dover sole with avocado-lime cream. Don't know if it was Dover sole, but it was some kind of sole. Lots of little pieces. Had do grill two batches of them. The sauce was interesting and we used it over broccoli and rice too. Then we split a classic magnum.

After dinner, I churned the mango ice cream, made up the sandwiches (three of them, rather than only two), wrapped them individually, and popped them in the freezer. We had one cookie each leftover. (We had split one earlier.) Actually the cookies were pretty good and easy to make. If I do them again, I'll make them smaller.

Wednesday/24-Dec-14: Off to the butcher to pick up our lamb rack this morning. Isn't it pretty?

Emptied the freezer to make chicken stock, which is in the natural refrigerator outside overnight.

Made Christmas Eve Beet Soup (Barszcz Wigilijny) (TLQuint, p15; cookbooker) for dinner tonight. Didn't make the "dumplings" go-with but used cêpes-filled ravioli instead. Pretty good, easy to make but takes lots of clock time (could be done a day before). Then a salad. Then some store-bought vanilla rice pudding (really good stuff).

Made pasta for tomorrow's dinner.

The tree is up and decorated. It's missing balls I've hung every year since 1969 I think. And it's got the puny European lights instead of the cheerful American ones. Next year we probably won't bother at all. Made me sad.

Thursday/25-Dec-14: Yogurt on overday. I got it mixed but forgot for an hour and a half to start it, so it will be a late night tonight waiting till it's done to put it away.

Boiled up the chicken stock and froze it.

Worked on our xmas dinner most of the day. No big hurry, just getting everything done. By about 7.30p, which isn't too bad for us.

Had lots of ideas this year, but settled on a three-course menu from Dinners42 (cookbooker), a gift book I've never used before. We had a pre-starter with a foie gras-stuffed fig each that we got at the market on Sunday. Oh my, these are good. One is plenty. (I've got four more in the freezer now for another "event"—they come in a six-pack.)

This is the kitchen with most of the prep work almost done. (Pasta exposed for the photo; yogurt jars finishing drying after the dishwasher.) The bone booties are ancient; I've been toting that half-used box around for ages.

Ready to eat ...

All cleaned up and ready to put away, which will happen tomorrow morning.

Friday/26-Dec-14: A lightish dinner tonight, P.F. Chang's China Bistro Garlic Noodles (web; cookbooker). This is all over the web, all with the same poor instructions. Pretty good to eat though. For dessert we had some store-bought panna cottas with mango-passion fruit sauce that was a bit too sweet.

Saturday/27-Dec-14: We had our main meal in the afternoon so we could go to a movie in the early evening.

We had a half recipe of Tuna-Swiss Baked Patties (CL88, p125), which turned out pretty good. I've never been very good at patty things, but these held together pretty well. I put one egg yolk (hard to halve a yolk) in the patties and used the white to hold on the breadcrumbs (panko). Served with steamed asparagus and trio rice. For dessert, I used up some leftover evaporated milk to make Memaw's Pet Milk Pudding (web). Easy and not bad. Seemed a bit thick to me and not as creamy as my mother's recipe (which doesn't invove evaporated milk).

Sunday/28-Dec-14: Dinner was a half recipe of Saucy Chicken Gyros (web), tasty and quite easy to make. It would be fast if you put the chicken on to marinate in the morning or evening before. Didn't make the tapenade, but opened a jar. For dessert, we had more pudding, with mixed berries.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/15-Dec-14: On a shopping outing with friends today, I did a bit of shopping at Grand Frais near Limoges. Found some greens, labelled as chard, that looked more like bok choy. So I called it bok choy and made Spaghetti with Bok Choy, Poached, Egg, and Romano Cheese (web; cookbooker). Good stuff, this, and and easy dish to make. We shared a magnum classic (2/3:1/3) for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/16-Dec-14: Yesterday I bought a boxful of chanterelles so I could make Tagliatelles aux Girolles (web) for dinner. And pretty good it was too, although the proportions were a bit odd. For two servings, it asked 450g of chanterelles. They come in 250g boxes and that was plenty. Of course more would be nice, but not really needed. Then a big salad. Then some camembert (the house brand, not as good as others). Then some squares of chocolate with nuts and fruits. We're full.

Wednesday/17-Dec-14: Shopping today. Bought a frozen leg of lamb for a good price. Meant to buy a bunch of chicken thighs, but it turned out to be a mixed package with four thighs and three legs.

DInner was Baked Salmon, a recipe I got from EAT-L. Very simple and quite good. I broiled rather than baking, which probably wasn't such a good idea since the garlic and basil in the marinade got a bit crispy. Served with trio rice and Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216; HandyBook). Then we finished off the camembert and the chocolate bar with nuts and fruits.

Thursday/18-Dec-14: Eating from the freezer with odd bits today. Pork Paprikash with Spaetzle (MW@Home, p203) and with roasted cauliflower and broccoli. Then a mini magnum.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/19-Dec-14: Christmas is coming. Eh. Ordered a rack of lamb for our meal. And we bought a tree, a live one that will end up somewhere in the South Forty.

Dinner was a half dose of Cardamom Chicken with Yoghurt and Almond (web), which turned out quite well. It's not spicy hot, but spicy tasty.  As go-withs there were plain basmati rice and Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171), an old favorite.

For dessert, there was Banana Strudel (H2CEV, p880), easy to make and yummy to eat.

Saturday/20-Dec-14: Got our tree today, a live one, but that was about it.

An improv dinner. Sautéed some shallot, oesterzwammen (oyster mushrooms), and garlic, then added the leftover bit of sauce from yesterday's chicken and tossed in some raviolis with cêpes (from the freezer). And a big salad. And more banana strudel.

Sunday/21-Dec-14: Here is something I love about French cooking: This morning I read through a recent issue of VPG (which, I see, is now styling themselves just Gourmand, dropping the Vie Pratique bit). I read an interesting recipe called Terrine de Chou Frisée (dark green cabbage with crinkled leaves), Asperges Blanches (white asparagus), et Poissson aux Herbes. On one side is a little blurb titled "Don't lose anything!" that tells you "With the rest of the cabbage, you can make a velouté ..." and gives brief instructions for what sounds like a good soup. To which you can add some slices of a sausage to make a complete meal. How nice that they're considering leftovers from the beginning. (Terrine things are nice for parties. They travel well and usually serve quite a few people.)

Also on the magazine side, on the advice of a cooking friend, I recently bought an issue of Cuisine et Vins, which sounds a bit pretentious but seems to be chockful of good recipes. I clipped so many that I signed up for a 2-year offer. Like I really need another food magazine. And there's just not time to make all the interesting recipes that I see.

We went to a marché de noël today. Often I buy something for our xmas day meal, but that's already planned. I did splurge on some figs stuffed with foie gras. We'll have one each on the big day for a pre-starter or maybe between starter and main, and the rest will go in the freezer for treats on another day.

Dinner was Pan-Seared Scallops with Walnuts and Spiced Carrots (web). The seared scallops were nice; the sauce OK. Didn't have any walnuts, so used hazelnuts instead. The spiced carrots were just mashed carrots with cinnamon added; I added a touch of ginger too. Too much sugar added to everything for our tastes, even though I cut back quite a bit. Not sure why the nuts needed to be sugar-coated. For dessert we were little pigs and finished the banana strudel. That was good stuff.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 FotW: no; #5 BREAD: none

Monday, December 8, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/8-Dec-14: Dinner was a halfish recipe of A Night in Tunisia Pasta (with Harissa, Broccoli, Cauliflower) (web). Ed thought it was really hot, while I thought it was pleasantly hot. Nothing special, but nice enough. Roasted brassicas are always nice. Then a big salad. That was all.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/9-Dec-14: For lunch we finished off two single serving things from the freezer, so we weren't all that hungry at dinnertime.

It was supposed to be a whole meal, well, soup and dessert, from TLEastern today, but I didn't get myself organized to make the dessert. Dinner was Shaker Potato-Leek Soup (TLEastern, p9; cookbooker), which was pretty good and easy to make. Would also be vegetarian if you didn't add the crumbled bacon or used bacos (whatever those things may be called these days).

Wednesday/10-Dec-14: Shopping today. Having no idea what I'll do for the holidays, I bought a pintade (guinea hen) and two duck breasts (with the idea of making something similar to Shane's turkey roll, but with duck instead). All in the freezer now.

Dinner was Gebakken Pangasius met Mosterdsaus—Fried Panga with Mustard Sauce (web). I used cod (on sale today) and broiled the fish, rather than dredging it in flour and sautéing. For the sauce, I sautéed the onions, then added a bit of flour, then topped up with orange juice, coarse mustard, fresh dill, and a pinch of sugar as directed. The sauce was pretty good but would maybe be better with a stronger tasting fish like salmon. Served with some smashed potatoes  (pushed through a sieve) and steamed broccoli. For dessert, I buzzed up a bit of Coffee Ricotta Mousse (MW@Home, p307), using a dab of leftover ricotta, plus a bit that was frozen until the bakje jumped on the floor and broke. I don't really follow this recipe, but use it for the proportions, using Kahlua instead of instant coffee and brandy.

Thursday/11-Dec-14: Busy day today. It was the first meeting of my BookChatters group, where we sat around and talked books for an hour and a half. In the afternoon, I joined a scrabble group for a couple hours of play and chat. Fun.

For dinner there was leftover enchilada casserole with some rice&peas and guacamole. Then some little chocolate pudding cake sort of things I got from the café where we played scrabble. Lekker!

Friday/12-Dec-14: Dinner was a halfish version of  Penne al Cavolfiore e Panna (ClassPasta, p108; cookbooker), which was very good. Might be good with roasted cauliflower too. Then a big salad. Then we split a chocolate and nut "lollipop" that was part of a charity hamper than I won.

Saturday/13-Dec-14: Hadn't noticed that my planned meal needed quite a bit of wall clock time and I didn't feel like waiting, so scrambled to find a quick dish to use the defrost kip filets. We ended up with Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (MC), with trio rice and some peas and little onions. Mini magnums for dessert.

I'm puzzling about what we're going to have for our xmas meals. Could be guinea hen, could be duck breasts. But I have a bit of an itch for lamb. Or fish. Or ... ???

Sunday/14-Dec-14: The last carol concert this evening was followed by ... a dinner. Ed wasn't paying attention. I thought it was just drinks and nibbles, but it was drinks and food. Luckily I planned only a quick simple dinner, so nothing was wasted.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 FotW: yes for last month/no for this month; #5 BREAD: none

Monday, December 1, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/1-Dec-14: Tonight's dinner was Paprika Chicken Thighs with Brussels Sprouts (EW sep/oct14; web). This was pretty darn good and really easy to make. For dessert we finished off the pumpkin cake, whew.

Authentic French Bread in the bread maker for tomorrow morning.

Tuesday/2-Dec-14: Dinne was Risotto with Morel Mushrooms (web), which was pretty good. I used dried morels, since the real thing is only occasionally available in special groceries, not our everyday one; and cooked it like a real risotto, adding liquid, bit by bit rather than all at once and simmering covered like regular rice. Then a salad. Then a square of chocolate with hazelnuts. That was all.

Wednesday/3-Dec-14: Shopping today. Dinner tonight in Limoges before a very nice concert. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Thursday/4-Dec-14: It was Madhur Jaffrey for dinner tonight. The main was a more-or-less half dose of Salmon in a Tomato-Cream Sauce (MJ@Home, p56; cookbooker). I made the recommended sides Swiss Chard with Ginger and Garlic (MJ@Home, p151; cookbooker) and Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Raisins (MJ@Home, p209; cookbooker). All very tasty, but the salmon was especially wonderful. Used spinach instead of chard, since the chard wasn't very appealing this week. Mini magnums for dessert.

Made up yogurt for overnight, but then realized we'd be gone in the morning before it was ready. Popped it in the fridge.

Friday/5-Dec-14: Yogurt on overday. Added an hour, since I started it cold from the fridge.

Used up the rest of the spinach tonight to make a loose interpretation of Orecchiette with Ricotta and Chard Pan Sauce (web). Fairly tasty, if nothing spectacular. Then a big salad. We were full.

Saturday/6-Dec-14: An early dinner tonight, since we're going out for a bit this evening. I made a half recipe of Egg Curry (web), which was so-so at best. Served with plain rice and Pan-Grilled Zucchini (MJ@Home, p173)

Sunday/7-Dec-14: Dinner was a riff off Chipotle Chicken Enchilada Casserole (web). First of all, cans of enchilada sauce are not something found in the shops here. In the past I've made the Chile Purée from TexMex to use as enchilada sauce. But my stock of dried chiles is low, so I looked for something else. And found Rockin' Robin's Raving Enchilada Sauce (web)—a major good find. Easy to make, with stuff that's usually on hand, and, it tastes like enchilada sauce ought to, thanks to the Gebhardt Chile Powder, I bet. Yes, I used the full amount, and, no, it wasn't too hot. Even after adding the max amount of chipotle powder for the enchilada recipe (wherein the enchilada sauce is embroidered with cocoa, chipotle, and garlic powders), the dish was no where near challengingly hot. The enchilada recipe is intended for a 6-qt slow cooker, which I don't have, so I assembled the whole thing as in Tijuana Pie (Mike Roy's Crock Cookery, p55), with layers of tortillas and filling. It worked pretty well, and we'll have it again later this week. I also made Mama's Spanish Rice for two and guacamole. Very tasty eating.

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