Monday, January 26, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/26-Jan-15: Dinner was Roast Chicken with Walnut Sauce (TLRus, p54), a chicken roasted at high temp on its sides, then a slightly less high temp on its back. Resulted in a nice chickie with crispy skin.

The sauce was good, although we're not really saucy people. Saved the rest to do something with in the next days. Served with brown rice and (sort of) String Beans in Walnut Sauce (TLRus, p38). There were no green beans to be found, so there were mange-touts/snow peas instead. This sauce was okay, but nothing special.

Yogurt on overnight.

Got to thinking about Zabar's chocolate salami recently, which made me think that the recipe might be in the Zabar's cookbook I bought. Well, not just Zabar's , but recipes from all (four) restaurants owned by the same people. But I can't find the cookbook anywhere. A puzzle.

Tuesday/27-Jan-15: Dinner took longer than I expected to make, but it was good. It was Red Pepper Pasta with Garlic Pistachio Sauce (KitchHerbs, p142; cookbooker). Served with a big salad. I was full, but Ed had a double chocolate mini magnum for dessert.

Wednesday/28-Jan-15: For lunch we had turkey stroganoff from the freezer. Then we had a light dinner at a concert in Limoges.

Thursday/29-Jan-15: Worked more on sorting out recipes. Discovered another pile that wasn't included in my first sort. I thought that pile had only some loosely sorted soup recipes. Wrong. This afternoon I thought it looked suspiciously big. And it was. Don't know what's happened to the soup recipes though. The bakje where they used to sit is empty. There are as many (or more) recipes for mains than I have in my regular stack. Some sorted, some not. And another big wad of  sweets. Sigh. Brought the sac jaune from the kitchen into the dining room to aid in recycling.

For dinner I used the leftover walnut sauce from Monday's chicken as a pasta sauce over whole wheat spaghetti. Added some broccoli (cooked first in the pasta water) and some leftover roasted red bell pepper that didn't make it into Tuesday's pasta. Turned out pretty good. Then a big salad. Then some (defrosted) chocolate-pear tart things from Toupargel.

Friday/30-Jan-15: Yogurt on overday. We went looking at refrigerators in the afternoon. Whew, what a job. We had kind of decided on one, but then discovered that no one has anything to say about the (rather expensive) brand. Back to square 1.

Dinner was Fish Cakes with Mustard Sauce (TLRus, p42) with Cucumber-and-Sour-Cream Salad (TLRus, p30), served with trio rice. We split a classic magnum for dessert.

The fish cakes were good, bland by themselves, but with a nice sauce. The ingredients were all mushed together in the food processor. It would be easy to use this technique with some more interesting flavors.

Think I've made assorted fish cakes three times in the last few weeks. Something I've never really made before. We've decided we like the idea though, so I might be doing more variations on the theme.

The cuke salad was especially good. The whites of hard-boiled eggs are included in the salad; the yolk is sieved for the dressing.

Saturday/31-Jan-15: We had dinner at the énoisage tonight. Nothing much happened in the kitchen.

Sunday/1-Feb-15: Chicken stock a-making today.

Having a think about the behind-the-sink (and elsewhere) tiling again. We have been thinking of plain tiles with a small line of some (rather expensive) little tiles we both like. But most of the line will be hidden behind shelving, paper towel holder, etc. Also the sizes means that the bottom (or top) tile is only 2cm, rather small. Yuck. I'm thinking maybe to put a double row of the trim tile only under the windows. Weird, yes? Plan B would be to choose another tile altogether.

Dinner was a half recipe of Spicy Tamarind and Channa Risotto Kitcheree (web; cookbooker). Pretty good it was. The half recipe served two fine, although not very generously. A whole recipe should served 4-6, but 6 would be only as a side dish, I think. This wasn't truly vegetarian (I won't tell if you don't), since I ran out of the stock prepared and dipped into the chicken stock also on the stove to top up the risotto.

Served with Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172), an old favorite. For dessert we had another pair of Toupargel's chocolate-pear cakes. Less defrosted this time, and still good.

For the tiling, Ed has suggested running the trim line around just under the window, going from cabinet on the left to cabinet on the right of the sink. Interesting idea. Now I need to check to see how odd that will make the tiles under the window.

Chicken stock chilling outside.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes; #2 UNUSED: yes; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #5 PASTA: yes for Jan/no for Feb; #6 BREAD: no for Jan/no for Feb; #7 FotW: yes for January; no for February

Monday, January 19, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Jan-15: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was Easy 20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli (web). Pretty good for as easy as it was. It seems like not very much chicken for two people (one kip filet?), so I sliced up the shiitakes in the fridge wanting to be used. Also added some red pepper flakes with the chicken. Over rice. We're full.

Tuesday/20-Jan-15: Dinner was Dijon-Cayenne Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Maple Apples (web). Pretty good, not too hard, takes a bit of clock time, although nothing too busy happening. Might make a nice dish for company. First with had a very French salad of shredded carrots with lemon vinaigrette. Served the pork and apples with the last of the butternut squash gnocchi from the freezer. No dessert needed.

Wednesday/21-Jan-15: Grocery shopping today. Nothing too exciting.

Dinner was Broiled Salmon Steaks with Sauce Choron (KitchHerbs, p208). As suggested, I served this with some sautéed cucumber slices and a salad with baked goat cheese. Also some boiled potatoes, skinny ones, the last in the house. Sauce Choron turns out to be, per Larousse Gastronomique, a tomato-flavored version of a béarnaise sauce (but with a peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato rather than tomato sauce). Pretty good. I liked the sauce a lot; Ed not so much. A nice dinner overall.

Thursday/22Jan-15: Yogurt on overday.

For lunch, I mixed a small can of tuna into the rest of the sauce Choron, spread it on bread, topped with some slices of comté, and put in the toaster oven until the cheese began to brown. Nice warm lunch on a cold day, eaten at the dining table since we never lit the fire in the kitchen today. And it's cold outside!

Dinner at a quiz night.

Friday/23-Jan-15: Dinner was a half recipe of Bulgur and Lentil Pilaf (web) which wasn't bad but wasn't especially good either. Plain. A bit dry. But healthy. Used spelt whole wheat bulgur. Since the spices were North African-ish, I made two go-with salads. First the Crushed Spiced Carrot Salad (Morocco, p78) that I made a week or so ago—still an excellent salad. Then some Grated Cucumber Salad with Oregano (Morocco, p73), grated cuke, oregano, and black olives. Sounds a bit odd, but worked well.

The Mini is busy upgrading from 10.6.8 (no longer supported) to 10.8.x (Mountain Lion). Fingers crossed.

Saturday/24-Jan-15: Went to a movie this evening. It was an hour later than I thought, so we stopped and got pizzas to bring home for dinner. Probably if I'd cooked we would have eating at the same time. Oh well.

Upgrade is fairly miserable. The old iCal became Calendar and it doesn't work well at all. Between that and my fumbling trying to fix things up, I've managed to lose my calendar data. Me, what lives by my calendar. :-(

Sunday/25-Jan-15: Dilly-dallied trying to get my Calendar back on the Mac and it got too late to roast a chicken. Dinner was kip filets with a pecan-coconut coating from the freezer. Served with some of the  little Drôme raviolis. And a salad. For dessert we split a classic Magnum

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no!; #2 UNUSED: yes; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: no for January

Monday, January 12, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/12-Jan-15: Today's excitement ... My first voice lesson. We'll see how that goes.

Meant to roast a chicken this evening, but didn't feel like it. Quick change to Curried Penne with Shrimp (MC; p49, 365OneDish), an old favorite. Added peas for some veggie matter. Then a salad. Think a bit of chocolate for a bite of sweet.

Tuesday/13-Jan-15: I made myself some cornmeal cereal (Savory, p292) for breakfast, using the fine cornmeal I bought when we were in NL, rather than the polenta-sort. Prefer the coarser one, I must say. The fine grind tastes OK, but no feel in the mouth.

Made apple butter on and off this afternoon, using part of a sack of Canada Grise I got last week.

Dinner was Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken with Cream Cilantro Sauce (web; cookbooker). I spatchcocked the chicken to speed up the cooking, and rubbed most of the spiced butter mixture under the skin (of breast and leg) rather than on top. Very good. Tasty sauce too. I've tossed the leftover sauce and potatoes together to make a little salad for the next days. Served with a halfish dose of Crushed Spiced Carrot Salad (Morocco, p78; cookbooker), which is definitely a keeper. No dessert needed. (Morocco seems to qualify as a seldom used cookbook, as this is only the second dish I've recorded here. Definitely needs to be used more.)

Before bed, I started up an ABM loaf of White Egg Bread collected from EAT-L. The interesting thing is that it's a tare-weighed bread. You just put the pan on the scale and start weighing things in. In theory you should check the dough about 5 minutes into kneading, but I wasn't getting up that early, so we had it as I did it. And pretty good it was. Now I need to find a simple water/flour/salt/yeast one, or modify my moldy-oldy recipe to fit.

Wednesday/14-Jan-15: Shopping today.

Dinner was Vegetable Quinoa Soup from the freezer (grain!), following by some little red-fruit charlottes. There was a small cup of soup left. I froze it, and have the idea to buzz it up to add the next time I make stock.

Thursday/15-Jan-15: Dinner was Fish Cakes with Herbs and Chiles (web; cookbooker), oh so good. Served with a small bit of Mama's Garlic Coleslaw (MC; HandyBook), which I didn't make quite enough dressing for; and some garlic-ginger basmati rice, sort of made-up recipe after a bit of wander on the web. For dessert a dab of ice cream with some mango chunks.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/16-Jan-15: Oatmeal for breakfast.

Last week my order for the paperback version of Diaries2 was cancelled, and I impulsively ordered the hardback. Which arrived today. Guess I'll play catch-up for January and read it through the year as I did with the first one.

Forgot to defrost for tonight's dinner, so changed tonight's plan. Dinner turned out to be a half recipe of Hoisin-Glazed Chicken with Cabbage Slaw (web; cookbooker). Served with rice. Fast and tasty. The cabbage slaw is worth keeping for itself. The same sauce tasted a bit strong on the chickie, but great (with a dab of extra rice vinegar) on the salad. Some defrosted mixed berries over ice cream for dessert.

Saturday/16-Jan-15: A couple of outings today, so made Lazy Day Slow Cooker Mushroom Soup (web; cookbooker). We liked it. In the end, I didn't have time to mess with the crock pot, so just simmered in a cast iron dutch oven. I see the recipe has been corrected since I printed it and now includes both cream and half-and-half, which seems like overkill to me. I ran out of sherry, so part of that was dry white. For dessert, we had half of another three kings' cake, but didn't find the fêve.

Sunday/18-Jan-15: Went to a concert in Limoges this afternoon. With our post-concert coffee&tea, we finished off the three kings' cake. Ed got the fêve, which turned out to be a dog (pointer). Hmm...

For dinner, Ed wanted some chew in the soup, so I added some cêpe-flavored noodles. Good enough, and easy.

Just thinking that our week has suddenly filled up with busy-nesses. Mondays I have voice lessons. Tuesday afternoons I'm going to a quilting working (take your own project). Wednesday Ed and I are doing a little local exercise group (one of Ed's choir friends has converted a barn to an exercise space); that afternoon is our traditional shopping day. Ed has choir practice on Thursdays. Nothing regular/weekly on the other three days (so far). We've suddenly got a busy schedule.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes; #2 UNUSED: yes; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: yes for Dec; no for Jan

Monday, January 5, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/5-Jan-15: Dinner was a half recipe of Linguine with Spicy Shrimp (web), using rucola instead of watercress. (I think of watercress as a very French thing, yet I rarely see in the stores. It was seasonably available in NL, and much more often than here.) For dessert a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some defrosted mango chunks.

Tuesday/6-Jan-15: Went to my ENT today and came home with a pile of meds from my ongoing sinus problem. Went to Grand Frais after and didn't really buy anything. Then went to health food store and bought some stuff on list.

Dinner was Fusilli alla Siciliana (Lorenza, p99; MC; cookbooker). Then some of the little hazelnut-chocolate things I got at Grand Frais for a treat.

Problem to solve: I cook 7 meals a week at most. I collect from the web and magazines well over 10 main dishes a week. This has been going on for twenty years or more. I've got a huge backlog. How can I clear this out?

Wednesday/7-Jan-15: Shopping early today then hurry back to take delivery of a lot of bales of hay for the potager.

Dinner was Little Shrimp Casserole (web), using cod instead of shrimp (at the suggestion of the person from whom I got the recipe. We thought it was OK, but a bit bland, although I just now see that I missed adding the wine at the end. Might try again with shrimp, or with a mix of shrimp and scallops when I've got two almost empty packages. Served with some trio rice and some green beans.

For dessert I used the pineapple that I never used at xmas, some macadamias, and some pâte feuillieutée from the freezer needing to be used and made a dessert by smerging several recipes. The filling (grilled pineapple slices with whole macadamias laid on a mixture of marscapone, chopped mint, lemon peel, and finely chopped macadamias) was pretty tasty, but might have been better in another setting.

Thursday/8-Jan-15: Yesterday I bought cod and salmon for the little casseroles, thinking the color of the salmon would be a nice addition. But there was more than enough cod for two. So tonight I made a half dose of Risotto de Quinoa Gourmand Courgette et Salmon (VPG; web). It was pretty good, if not really a risotto. We had two more slices of the pineapple tart for dessert.

Friday/9-Jan-15: Had a delivery from Toupargel today, more than half paid for with a Groupon coupon. Lots of frozen fruit. Lots of desserts for two. A package of bavettes. A package of smoked salmon. What kind of people live here?

For new year's dinner, I bought some red caviar for something that didn't get made. So tonight we had a half dose of Pasta with Salmon Caviar (web; cookbooker). Not salmon caviar but lumpfish caviar (dyed red apparently), which is more in our budget. Nevertheless it was pretty good. Then a salad. Then the rest of the pineapple tart.

Saturday/10-Jan-15: Dinner was a half recipe of Orecchiette with Cabbage and Sausage (web). Good it was. I actually had a bit too much sausage, since I package it up in 8oz bits, but it didn't seem too much. Some frozen nougat ice cream with chopped nuts for dessert.

Four nights of pasta dinner this week. Maybe not too balanced here.

Given that Ed seems to have no problems with tomatoes and tomato sauce that I've carefully deseeded, tonight I put all my old tomato-containing recipes back in my green binder. This was instigated because I had an urge for a pork chop recipe that my mother used to make; chops and tomato sauce for tomorrow's dinner are thawing in the freezer now. I was surprised how many of these recipes included eggplant. I don't remember cooking with it that much.

Sunday/11-Jan-15: Just did a quick pass through the print-outs of this year's posts, to start thinking about the cover photos when I print the 2014 posts. So many typos spotted just turning pages. How many are lurking unseen? Oh well.

Dragging out a really moldy-oldy, tonight's dinner was Dinner in a Skillet (greenbook), pork chops cooked with onions, bell pepper, and rice in tomato sauce. Simple, good. Crèmes Brulées for dessert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes; #2 UNUSED: no; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: yes for Dec/WS; no for Jan/RUS

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kitchen goals old and new

Kitchen goals for 2014

I didn't seem to focus much at all on cooking last year, don't know why. We ate OK, but I seemed to spend way too much time making my weekly plan and didn't do too much in the way of imaginative or challenging cooking. So how did I measure up to last year's goals?
  • Cookbooks/IHCC  — IHCC came up with Nigel Slater as guest chef, so I changed to that for 6 months. Did reasonably well on this goal, missing only 7 weeks, not counting a week of vacation. Being uninspired with writing, I didn't make a separate post for all of my Slater dishes, though. Also, the goal was unclear with whether or not the Foods of the World books counted in this goal, so I was probably inconsistent in my counting. (They are clearly in the "unused" category, but have their own goal.)
  • Veg/Fish — We averaged about 3.25 vegetarian or fish meals per week, slightly down from last year. 
  • Pasta — I did reasonably well on this, missing only two months, but still haven't made a filled pasta.
  • FotW — When I made the goal, I thought I might skip December. In fact, it was August that got skipped, and I've planned that into next year's schedule also. I've done fairly well reading and cooking from the planned books, and have gone back to make further recipes from books that have passed. This has been rather fun and I look forward to continuing with it. 
  • Bread — I've made real bread (non-ABM) only twice this year. Too bad for me. 
Overall, not too bad, except for bread making. Again.

Kitchen goals for 2015

Continue with goals, yes or no? I think so. It seems to help me keep focused on some things I want to do. Could be a problem to keep from attempting to do to much. And how can I manage to make myself time to do some bread making? Keep trying

There's one thing I want to work on, not strictly a cooking goal, but related, so I'll include it here. I'd really like to clear my backlog of recipe clippings waiting to be made. I have three big binders and many many stacks in various states of organization around the house. I cook no more than seven meals a week, but must collect 15-20 recipes a week. By the end of the year, I'd like to have severely reduce my backlog and get (and keep) what's left better organized for use. (Informally, I've started saving the recipes I collect in the kitchen from magazines and going through them periodically to toss ones that aren't still appealing before I move them into my standard piles. Maybe I can regularize and extend this.) I've already started with first baby steps here, just need to continue. For the start, I'll just spend at least an each week sorting and tossing and figure out what to do/measure when that part is done.

I won't join any web cooking groups this year, but will focus on using unused cookbooks. I'm hoping this will eventually help me clear out cookbooks I don't need. So I have space for more. :-) 

Also wanting to focus more on cooking whole grains, especially having read recently how healthy they are.  

I'm going to keep counting vegetarian and fish meals, just to be sure I don't go off track. Not likely, but to be sure. 

Three monthly goals, making pasta (the filled kind one day, maybe), making break, and cooking from the Foods of the World continue.

Part of my dealing with my recipe clipping backlog right now involves getting my bread clippings organized, and then more visible. I'll make a sheet in my menu plan spreadsheet just for breads and try to plan in break-baking regularly. And I want to re-start the Craftsy artisan bread baking course and follow it through. (Started this last year, then got diverted by something and never got back to it.)

So we've got four weekly goals and three monthly ones. Hope this isn't too much.
  • Backlog — Spend at least one hour each week on reducing my recipe clipping backlog and working out how this can be contained. Stacks and notebooks all over the house (living, dining, bedroom, office, anyplace else) should be reduced to a single, maintainable, usable system.
  • Unused cookbooks — Cook at least once a week from a rarely used cookbook (i.e., one I've cooked from two or fewer times). And Foods of the World don't count.
  • Veg/fish meals — Cook at least three vegetarian or fish meals per week. Should be easy. I only miss this in odd times where we're eating out a lot or have company.
  • Grains — Serve a meal using a whole grain at least once per week.
  • Pasta — Continue making pasta at least once a month. 
  • Bread — Make read bread (non-ABM) once a month. (It really would be nice to do this weekly or twice a month, but let's be real.)
  • Foods of the World — Continue following my Foods of the World schedule, making at least one dish a month. The period for each book extends for six weeks, so I need to be sure to count in the proper month.