Monday, May 30, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/30-May-16: Embroidered some chili today, more or less following my old tried-and-true recipe. Accompanied by Cayenne Cornbread (BigGerman, p182) and guacamole.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/31-May-16: Used an overripe banana to make Banana Mousse (MC) from an old recipe. Not very mousse-like (my homemade yogurt is not very thick right now), but still tasty.

Dinner was Thai Peanut Curry Noodles (web), which is supposed to serve four. Maybe as a side. We ate all of it as a main course. Used fresh peas instead of edamame, which isn't available, and I don't like all that much anyhow. Cleared out my backlog of broccoli stems. It could have used even more of the pasta water, but it might be that my organic peanut butter is a bit drier than what they used. Tasty enough, and probably healthy. Even followed by the Banana Mousse.

Wednesday/1-Jun-16: I woke up this morning thinking it was Thursday and wondering why I hadn't done some of my usual Wednesday things. Been in a muddle all day.

We had our main meal early, since Ed went off to an evening choir practice. We had Chicken with Bacon Mustard Sauce (web), easy, tasty, and a definite Keeper. Used lardons instead of bacon; probably better for that. Served with trio rice and steamed broccoli topped with a bit of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Thursday/2-Jun-16: Ed's choir didn't meet this afternoon, so had our main meal early, then took the opportunity to head for a movie in the early evening.

Our meal was Fettuccine with Zucchini (BeardPasta, p81; cookbooker). Had intended to make fresh pasta for this, but am glad I didn't since the sauce would have been too much. It was quite good and would be better in the summer when you're getting the veggies (zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes) straight from the garden. Served over dried tagliatelle. Made a salad but it seemed like too much. Plus we were out of time.

Off to the movie. At a theatre we haven't been to before. And haven't been to yet, since we didn't find it. Turns out it's not really in the commune where it's advertised to be. Came home, watched a DVD, and ironed. We lead such an exciting life.

Friday/3-Jun-16: Off plan today. We had our main meal, all leftovers, before we went shopping. That was the rest of the pasta salad with artichokes and shrimp, followed by the salad we didn't eat yesterday. We were full.

Late at the store, which was jam-packed with people. Note to self: Late Friday afternoon is not a good time to shop. Last week there was lots of rhubarb; this week none. What happened? It surely can't be out of season already.

Saturday/4-Jun-16: Early meal today so we could go to a play in the evening. We had Visburgertjes (web), more or less. I used cod and lieu noir for the fish, and cilantro instead of parsley. And I inadvertently used ketjap manis instead of vissaus. Oops. They were good anyhow. Served with rice and Hong Kong-Style Broccoli and Baby Corn (HotWok, p158), which was pretty good.

Sunday/5-Jun-16: It's stopped raining for a while, so we bbq'd some lamb merguez from the freezer for dinner. As sides there were steamed asparagus with lemon-butter and Lemon Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Screamingly, p140), which I've made before and is a really good (and easy) way to do sweet potatoes. For dessert there was, more or less, Feuilleté à la Mangue et aux Pommes (web; VPG), using up some apples and some frozen mango slices. Funny propotions—I used only part of the apples and mangos required. Used some squares of pâte feuilleté, since the whole piece I get is usually circular, not to be cut into squares. Pretty good, and two let for tomorrow night.

Corn stickers. When Ed and I got together, we each brought a set (6 or 8?) of the regular sort of yellow plastic handles for corn on the cob. We moved with eight; not sure if we gave some away as we moved. We're now down to six, since two have split at the metal pegs in the last few months. I'm wondering if we should get more or not. Six is fine for the two of us, and maybe some company. Is six enough to have or not?

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: no for May, no for June; #4 BREAD: no for May, no for June; #5 FotW: yes for half-May/June

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Plum Jam

Continuing with the putting-by theme from The Cooking of the British Isles, today I made Plum Jam (p5). Out-of-season plums are in the shop; these were from South Africa, not exactly eating local.

I had less than a kilo, so I cut the recipe back to about a third and ended up with two jars of jam. This was the first time I've made a stone-fruit jam that called for kernels from the pits. You can see one at the top of the left jar.

Because we have too many open jars of jam-y things in the fridge right now (apple butter, cherry, and strawberry-raspberry), I put these into the freezer. The spoon licking I did was very promising, though. When we're ready for another preserve, one of these jars will be the next one on the table.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook-of-the-month. You could even join in if you want!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cookbook Countdown : Rhubarb Ring with Strawberries

My Time-Life Foods of the World book for the last half of May and June is American Cooking: The Northwest. (Only four more to go to finish the project at the end of the year.)

It's rhubarb season, and I already had my eye on a rhubarb-strawberry pie for this week, since rhubarb is in season (at least at the shops, not yet in my garden). When I saw this rather retro treat, Rhubarb Ring with Strawberries (p115), I made a quick change to the meal plan to use what I'd already bought.

Foods set with gelatin seem to have fallen out of fashion, but I still enjoy them occasionally. Plus I have a lifetime supply of gelatin that I'm trying to make a dent in. (I once asked someone to send me either two or three 4-packs of gelatin, or one 10-pack. Instead I got three 10-packs. Very well supplied, I am!)

This recipe calls for 2 pounds of fresh rhubarb to make 4 cups of 1/2" pieces. I had a kilo of rhubarb, but my 4-cup measure was full with 1 pound left over. (The leftover bit turned into a very yummy Strawberry Rhubarb Quick Jam.) The rhubarb is cooked with sugar for 10 minutes (I used only 3/4 cup instead of the 1 cup asked). Meanwhile gelation gets softened in water, then stirred into the cooked rhubarb. Then all gets poured into a 1-quart mold. Not having a 1-quart mold, I used my smaller bundt pan, which probably hold about two quarts.

After chilling, the rhubarb ring is served with strawberries and whipped cream with a tablespoon of sugar and another of rum added. That bit of rum was a seriously good touch.

Much of my rhubarb not the seriously red kind, but only red-tinged. The result was kind of a pea-green ring, rather than the bright red offered in the book. Maybe not as pretty, but very tasty.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their June cookbook. You could even join in if you want!

Monday, May 23, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/23-May-16: Dinner was Spicy Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry (web; actually from Cook's Country, maybe from a sample issue I was sent a while ago). Spicy? No, but still good. A big squirt of sriracha didn't hurt. Over basmati rice. The recipe is supposed to serve four; three is more like it. Then some canoli-like things I got at the boulangerie today.

Tuesday/24-May-16: My new T-tube had its check-up today. All is well. Two months till the right side gets one to match. Did a little shopping at Grand Frais after.

Came home and got busy in the kitchen. Made Rhubarb Ring with Strawberries (TLNorthW, p115) That didn't use all the rhubarb it asked, so I used most of the rest to make two jars of Strawberry Rhubarb Quick Jam (GrainAM, p71). This was finger-licking good. Looking forward to tomorrow's breakfast.

Dinner was a Greek Omelet (web) using two eggs kindly donated by Clarabelle. Closer to a frittata than an omelet, but still pretty good. Then a big salad. Then some of the Rhubarb Ring. Yum.

Wednesday/25-May-16: Lunch out with friends today. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Thursday/26-May-16: Made Plum Jam (TLBrit, p5) today.

Dinner was three chicken thighs worth of Constance's Chicken (collected from EAT-L). (Wish they would go back to packaging thighs in fours instead of in threes.) This is a really easy and tasty recipe. Served with steam-sautéed potatoes and carrots. Then more of the Rhubarb Ring for dessert.

Friday/27-May-16: Shopping today. Bought a Label Rouge chicken from the almost-out-of-date cooler for only €5; straight into the freezer with that. When we first moved to Europe the breakfast cereal section in groceries (in the Netherlands and in France) was tiny with a very limited selection. Today I noticed that it's grown to almost half an aisle. Nothing interesting, but lots of the American-style cereals with a sugar content that should put them on the candy aisle. Yuck.

There was tuna on sale today, so I scrapped the plan and bought some tuna steaks. It was looking like it might rain, so I broiled them. The storm passed us by and it turned into a lovely evening for eating outdoors. We had Charmoula-Marinated Grilled Tuna (MedHot, p48). This didn't seem as good as it has before. I opened a new bottle of balsamic vinegar and think it may be too sweet. Served with grilled eggplant slices coated with the charmoula marinade, and corn on the cob! Not often Leclerc has those, so I had to buy them. They were good. Finished off the Rhubarb Ring for dessert.

We decided to go to an early evening movie tomorrow, so I started artichoke bottoms to marinate for an early afternoon meal.

Saturday/28-May-16: Our main meal was in the afternoon so we could go to a movie. We had, sort of, Shells with Artichoke Hearts and Shrimp in Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette (365Pasta, p38). Mini-lasagnas instead of shells. Artichoke bottoms instead of hearts. Greek-style olives (in the fridge needing to be used) instead of California olives. These olives were probably too strong a taste, rather than the bland ones. Still, the whole thing was OK, but didn't seem to work. Maybe some feta would help, and the right olives, and some red pepper flakes in the sauce perhaps. Then a salad. Then some chocolate squares. Later we went to a move.

Sunday/29-May-16: A party with food this afternoon. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for April/May; yes for May/June

Monday, May 16, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/16-May-16: Last night I was sitting here wondering if it was the night to make yogurt, and finally decided it wasn't. Wrong. So, yogurt on overnight tonight, but no yogurt for breakfast tomorrow.

Froze up lots and lots of chicken stock.

Dinner was a half recipe of Sweet Potato Cottage Pie (web). It was good; Ed especially liked it. The half should feed 2-3. Two of us managed to eat it all, but it was a stretch. For dessert we split a slice of a yummy chocolate-walnut tart that I bought at the boulanger today. A whole piece each would be too much; the half piece was just right.

Tuesday/17-May-16: Off to the ENT today to get a T-tube in my right eardrum. I got an (optional) injection before it was done. The right side of my face collapsed, my eyebrow and eyelid drooped, but I couldn't close my eye, my nose was stopped up, my mouth was frozen. Very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the anesthesia didn't really effect my ear and it was a pretty painful procedure. (Which I get to do again on the other side before long.)

Dinner was a half recipe of Scallops with Asparagus (web). I had a very fixed idea that this was a pasta sauce, but they meant for you to serve the scallops with the asparagus bit as a sauce. I put them all over tagliatelle. Should have made a salad, but didn't feel like it. Finished the Brillat-Savarin for afters. Then a square of chocolate.

Wednesday/18-May-16: Early main meal today, so Ed could go sing this evening. We had Flank Steak Salad with Plums and Blue Cheese (web). Ed liked it, but thought it was a surprising combination. It would have been nice if it had been a warm, sunny day so we could eat it outside. Oh well. I used bavettes instead of flank steak. Some day I really have to look up bavettes in my French cookery book and flank steak in my US butchery book to see what the difference is.

Thursday/19-May-16: Dinner was a half recipe of Curried Chicken & Broccoli Casserole (web; cookbooker). Edible, but fairly forgettable. Way too little curry powder asked. I more than doubled it, and it was still pretty wimpy.

Friday/20-May-16: Shopping today, after delivering some books (somebody else's, not ours!) to the Hope shop in Confolens. Strangely, they have a piece of fabric on sale there that's the same fabric I used to make a cushion for the rattan chair in the living room. I bought that at the fabric market in Amsterdam, so it's funny to see it here. I was strong and resisted buying it. The shopping list held six jars of spices, two of cumin seeds, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, and cayenne. Why all in one week? There are lots of C spices. Also in my recipe notebooks, Cs predominate.

Dinner was Pan-Seared Salmon for Two (web, the for-two version doesn't seem to be available any more, but it's no big deal). The interesting thing about this is that the salmon is brined (1qt water+1/4 cup salt) for 15 minutes before cooking. I didn't do the pan-searing bit, but cooked under the broiler. Served with Mango-Mint Salsa (web) made with defrosted mango slices, some trio rice, and Lemon Asparagus with Chive Blossoms (web). All good. Some chocolate squares for dessert.

I forgot to make yogurt last night (again), so ... yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/21-May-16: A busy-in-the-kitchen day. First, Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes for breakfast (MC). An old recipe. Yummy and easy. Tried out the pineau syrup I bought recently. Yes, it tastes like pineau. Not for pancakes though. Back to maple syrup.

For lunch there was Turmeric-Tomato-Black Pepper Soup (web). I used up some of my home-made tomato purée and used real tomatoes rather than cherry toms. Pretty good, although the turmeric was a bit strong.

Made Apple-Plum Butter (HandyBook) for Ed.

Made some Roasted Ground Cumin to replenish my supply.

Had a forgettable dinner out, where a friend's band was playing.

Sunday/22-May-16: Dinner was Eggplant in a Tahini Mustard Sauce (web), served over basmati rice, with Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172) on the side. The eggplant was very forgettable. Topped up with some of the Caribbean mango chutney I make, it was edible, but not really enjoyable. Can't win them all, I guess. Mini mags for afters.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for April/May; no for May/June

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Grapefruit Marmalade

As I was thumbing through the recipe book for The Cooking of the British Isles, one recipe that caught my eye was Grapefruit Marmalade (p6). Now, I have never really liked marmalade, but I do like grapefruit and hope springs eternal. I have enjoyed making various kinds of confitures since we've been in France, so I thought I'd give this a try.

The recipe calls for three grapefruits to make 4 pints of marmalade. I decided that a 1/3 recipe with one grapefruit, which should yield over two cups of marmalade, was more than enough. When I went to buy a grapefruit, there were only red ones to be found, so that's what I bought.

Marmalade is actually quite simple to make, at least following this recipe. The only tedious part is removing the peel and slicing it into little 1" by 1/8"strips . Then you remove and discard the white pith. Cut the fruit in half crosswise. Wrap each half in a double thickness of damp cheesecloth and squeeze the juice into a bowl to collect the juice. When you're done with this for all the halves, wrap all the squeezed pulp in the cheesecloth and tie securely. Add enough water to the bowl to make 3-1/2 quarts liquide, for me only 1-1/6 quarts. Drop in the bag of pulp and the strips of peel, then let the bowl stand at room temp for at least 12 hours.

When you're ready to deal with it again, pour everything, cheesecloth bag included, into a stainless steel  pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Because I had a smaller amount, the pot was pretty low on liquid well before it reached two hours, so I added another slog of water. After it's cooked, remove the cheesecloth bag and measure the mixture, then add one cup sugar for every cup of mixture, about 1 cup at this point. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then increase the heat and boil briskly for about 30 minutes until the marmalade reaches 220F on your candy thermometer. This actually took less time than advertised, maybe because I was cooking a smaller volume. Skim off any foam and put in jars.

I should have had over 2 cups, but had close to 1 cup altogether. Not sure if this was because I was making a smaller amount or the recipe is slightly off. This is a small jar with part of the marmalade.

The day I finished this happened to be the birthday of an English friend, so I gave her one of my jars. It happens that her husband doesn't like marmalade, so she doesn't get it often and was happy to have it. She reported the next day "Three cheers for Red Grapefruit Marmalade! Absolutely delish. Thank you!" That was pleasing to hear, because I didn't really like the bit I tried on my morning pain. I'm still not a marmalade convert. But I tried.

Sunday marks the end of the period with The Cooking of the British Isles. I'll start reading the next book on the schedule next week. But I still have several recipes marked to try in the next weeks.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook-of-the-month. You could even join in if you want!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Beef Roll

More food from The Cooking of the British Isles. This time I made about a three-quarter recipe of a Beef Roll (p50). (That's how ground beef comes pre-packaged, and I admit to being too lazy this week to stand in line at the butcher's counter to ask for a whole pound.) I was curious about this recipe because it sounds so strange.

The ingredients are essentially those for a fairly straightforward meatloaf (two parts ground beef, one part ground uncooked ham, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and an egg). This mixture is pressed into a pudding mold and covered. (As far as I can see, a pudding mold is rather like a bundt pan, but with a lid. I don't have one, so used a casserole with a lid, and no hole in the middle.) The the mold is steamed/simmered, bain marie-like on top of the stove, for two hours.

After this, you place weight on the cooked meat (that's two little cast iron skillets making about four pounds), let it cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate it.

When thoroughly chilled, the "roll" can be unmolded and served. When I took the dish from the Dutch oven where it steamed, I bobbled the dish a bit (hot steam and not much working space made it difficult) and thought I got some water in under the lid. I poured off a lot of liquid. I have an idea, though, that a lot of what I poured off might have turned into a kind of aspic around the beef. That would have been more attractive, and probably add a nice flavor and texture to the roll, but it's missing unfortunately.

For the first night we ate slices cold with a grainy mustard* and some bread fresh from the bread machine. Since then we've been having beef roll sandwiches for lunch. It would probably make a good dish for a cold buffet.

* This was actually moutarde à l'ancienne avec cognac, something I bought at a recent food fair and very tasty with this meat.

I've asked several British friends about this dish, but no one admits to knowing what a Beef Roll might be. I'm wondering if it's something regional. I haven't been able to find much information about it, only that this method of cooking is old and there are more modern methods of cooking it, which sound exactly like a regular meatloaf. (I did find a reference to a recipe by the author of this book.) The steaming and pressing seems to change the texture, though, so the meat is much firmer and denser than a typical meatloaf, at my house anyway.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook of the month. You could even join in if you want!

Monday, May 9, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/9-May-16: I hadn't fully realized exactly how long the meal I planned for tonight would take to make, so I changed the plan. Instead I cooked lots of veggies to use up bits in the fridge. There was Noodles with Cabbage (BeardPasta, p88). I used some nettle fusilli, which was fine in flavor, but wrong in shape. (Tagliatelle would be nice, or maybe crozets, or spaetzle.) This was pretty good, either as a main or a side. I roasted some asparagus. I made some Baked Parmesan Zucchini (web), very loosely based on the web recipe. I had some panko leftover from something; added Parmesan, Italian herbs, and garlic powder to that. Put the olive oil in one dish, tossed the zuke sticks in that, rolled them in the panko mix, then baked. Pretty good way to do zukes. Mini mags for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/10-May-16: Dinner was Pie's Succulent Pork Chops (MC) with corn and the cob and steamed broccoli. That was it. In the afternoon, I was supposed to work on the beef roll thing for Thursday's dinner, but didn't feel like it. Hope I'll have some energy after tomorrow's outing.

Wednesday/11-May-16: I had my main meal at a hanging basket workshop today. Sandwich for dinner. Ed had leftovers for dinner.

Started the Beef Roll from TLBrit for tomorrow's dinner.

Thursday/12-May-16: I shopped today while Ed was at choir practice. For dinner we had slices of the beef roll, along with some cole slaw (carrots and cabbage from a sack, with with the dressing from Mama's Garlic Coleslaw) and some Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22) from the bread maker. Some Brillat-Savarin for after, an impulse buy at Intermarché.

Found out the house next door has been sold. Will be final in July. A French graphic artist from Bordeaux. Ed has spoken with him he thinks.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/13-May-16: Started Grapefruit Marmalade (TLBrit, p6) today, using a red grapefruit since that's what was at the store. Started a big pot of chicken stock. Will finish it off tomorrow.

For dinner tonight, I had the choice of a "sophisticated" salmon dish, or an Indian-style fish. Indian won. With Madhur Jaffrey's help we had a yummy dinner: Grilled Fish Steaks (Q&E, p60) with cod, New Potatoes with Cumin (Q&E, p91), and Spinach with Ginger and Green Chilies (Q&E, p94). The first two are old favorites, although this may have been the first time I've actually used new potatoes. The spinach is new, I think. Don't tell Madhur that I used frozen spinach and red chilies (which is all the freezer holds). Nevertheless, it was quite acceptable. More Brillat-Savarin for afters.

Saturday/14-May-16: Simmered the chicken stock again today and didn't get around to freezing it. Finished the (Red) Grapefruit Marmalade today.

Dinner out for a Cath's birthday. Gave her the larger part of the Red Grapefruit Marmalade. Nothing further happened in the kitchen.

Sunday/15-May-16: Cath reported that she liked the marmalade, yay! (I didn't.)

Simmered the chicken stock again today and didn't get around to freezing it. Tomorrow!

Dinner was an easy, quick one: a half dose of Spicy Thai Noodles (web). Quite good, maybe a tad too sweet. And too much sauce too. Used all the add-ins. Tasty stuff. Then, as a complete contrast, more of the Brillat-Savarin for afters.

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

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Potted Shrimp

Next up from The Cooking of the British Isles is Potted Shrimp (p45). This is one of those things you hear about that I always assumed would be difficult to make. Turns out it's not, though. I had the remains of a sack of tiny cooked shrimp in the freezer wanting to be used. So I scaled this recipe back to about a third.

The hardest part of the recipe is making some clarified butter to use. I have to admit that I cheated (as I often do when clarified butter is required) and used ghee.

The shrimp, along with some mace, ground nutmeg, cayenne, and salt are stirred into one batch of melted butter. (I went a bit long on the cayenne, since we tend to like things on the spicy side. Each to their own taste.) This mixture is pressed into small baking dishes. The dishes are sealed by pouring a thin layer of clarified butter over the shrimp. Butter over butter, how can you go wrong? Refrigerate for at least six hours, then serve with hot toast as a starter or at teatime.

I didn't make toast, but cut some thin slices from a stale bit of pain. We've been eating this as pre-dinner nibbles. It's a bit too rich for everyday food, but I'd definitely consider doing this again as finger food for aperitifs perhaps.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook of the month. You could even join in if you want!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Irish Soda Bread

Cookbook Countdown is a cookalong hosted by two food bloggers, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Emily of Emily's Cooking Foray, to help cookbook junkies focus on using their dust-gathering cookbooks. Each month we select one book from our shelves and cook as much as possible from that book. This is something I've been considering on my own for one of next year's cooking goals. Having found Cookbook Countdown, I decided to join in a bit early.

This year, if all goes well, I'm finishing up a long-term project of reading and cooking from all the books of the Time-Life Foods of the World series. I bought these books when they were first issued in the late 70s and they have been travelling with me ever since. Until I started this project in 2014, I'd only rarely used the books, cooked a few recipes, read the odd bit. Now, though, I'm down to the last six (of twenty-seven) books. My current schedule allows me a month and a half to read and cook from each remaining book. That's usually about a month to read and a couple of weeks to cook. This only sort of fits with the Cookbook Countdown schedule, but will do for now. Maybe I'll be organized enough to add another book into the odd month while I'm only reading my Time-Life book, but I'm not counting on that for now. We'll see how this goes.

For the first half of May (and possibly beyond), I'm cooking from The Cooking of the British Isles.

The first thing we've sampled is Irish Soda Bread (p18). This is a really simple recipe—butter a baking sheet, mix together 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt, add 1 to 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, make an 8" disk, slash the top, and bake at 425F for 45 minutes. It's easy and quick to make, especially since I did the hardest bit of the mixing in my food processor. But the dough was quite dry even though I used all of the buttermilk mentioned. You can see the dry edges in the photo and maybe notice that there isn't much rise. My baking soda hasn't expired, but I think I need to test it before using it again.

In spite of the funky appearance, it tastes pretty good. The first night we used the still warm bread as soppy for some shrimp chowder. Sliced horizontally and toasted, with some butter and jam, it made a good addition to breakfast in the following days.

I searched for images of Irish soda bread, and mine actually isn't far off what it might look like. I did find that recipes can be plain like this one or sweet (with currants perhaps) and are frequently more complicated than this one.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook choice of the month. You could even join in if you want!

Monday, May 2, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/2-May-16: Sophie ended up spending the night at the vet, since there were no other emergencies in the afternoon. The hole that we saw when we took her in was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. The actual wound is about three times as long. She is home, cone-headed, and complaining because she has to stay in. Painkiller and antibiotic every day for a bit.

Used up the last bit of some small cooked shrimp from the freezer to make up a partial recipe of Potted Shrimp (TLBrit, p45) this afternoon to try in the next days.

For dinner, I marinated some lamb steaks in my usual marindade (olive oil, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, with lots of black pepper and garlic powder or smashed cloves), then grilled them. Served with Christophe au Gratin (TLCarib, p85), using a zucchini instead since there were no chayotes at the shop last week. This was a pretty bland version of stuffed squash, but not a bad side dish. And some trio rice.

Tuesday/3-May-16: We went to a concert in Angoulême this evening, so had our meal a bit earlier than usual. I made a half dose of Shrimp and Corn Chowder (CL/sep14; web) followed by a salad. Then the end of Mama's vanilla pudding with some fresh strawberries. The soup was quite good and easy to make. Used dried thyme, rather than fresh. Used one small can of corn (no frozen and canned is better imho). Served the soup with Irish Soda Bread (TLBrit, p18); posted about this here. (Well, yes, somewhere I did say that I wouldn't join another cookalong again for a while, but here I am again. Since this one actually matches an idea I'd already thought about for next year, I'm joining in early with my Time-Life books.)

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/4-May-16: Shopping today at Intermarché. Tuna was on sale, but they didn't have any. Very annoying store.

Potted Shrimp munchies before dinner.

Started a crockpot this morning with Simple Beef Curry (Hériteau, p56; cookbooker). Too much liquid, but otherwise pretty tasty considering that it was indeed simple. Served with plain basmati rice, and Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce (Q&E, p87), an old favorite that went very well with the beef. Some store-bought crème brulées for dessert.

Thursday/5-May-16: Working on Ed's hemoglobin level again (although it's pointless right now since he went for his follow-up blood test on Tuesday). Dinner was Boudin Noir Poêlé aux Pommes (web). This was with boudin noir à l'oignon (with onions) and was quite good. Served with a side of
taglitelle and a dish of steamed haricots verts (done to Ed's taste!) with a bit of shallot sautéed in olive oil. For dessert some crêpes with Grand Marnier, an impulse buy from yesterday.

While we were eating outside this evening, we enjoyed watching a pair of blue tits carrying bits of food to the next box in the lime tree.

Friday/6-May-16: A busy day today. On the way back from my haircut, I stopped for a bit more shopping (including four chairs for outside dining). Then home to put it up in time to take Sophie to the vet to have her bandage changed. Actually it was removed. So now we see the bare, green stitches closing a gash about as long as my index finger. Another week till they're removed.

Dinner was Cabillaud au Citron Vert et Baies Roses (web); that's cod with lime and red peppercorns for those whose menu French isn't up to snuff. This was supposed to be cooked in close dishes in the microwave. I did it in foil-covered dishes in the oven. Pretty good. Served with trio rice and Baked Eggplant Slices (TooMany, p114), an old favorite. For dessert we had more Grand Marnier crêpes with the rest of the strawberries.

Yogurt on overnight. Chickpeas soaking overnight

Saturday/7-May-16: Went to a pottery fair today, the one we visited two years ago. Before we left, I put the chickpeas on to cook in the slow cooker.

Dinner was a half dose of Chickpeas Cooked in a Moghlai-Stye (WorldVeg, p32). This is actually pretty easy to make if you have all the ingredients, ground roast cumin seeds (I used up my stash and topped it up with regular cumin), garam masala, puréed tomatoes ( made some and froze the leftover bit). Quite tasty. Served with Cabbage Salad with Mustard Seeds (WorldVeg, p617), Carrot and Cilantro Salad (WorldVeg, p618), and Potato Chaat (MJ@Home, p165). All quite tasty. MiniMags for dessert. We ate well.

Sunday/8-May-16: Early dinner tonight before we went to a movie. We had Swartzuur—Lamb Stew with Tamarind and Dumplings (TLAfrica, p33). Pretty good. Takes some clock time, but not especially hard to make. The meat is not browned, just plopped in the pot with onions and chicken stock, then simmered. After a while tamarind water gets added in. Then some dumplings, the oddest I've ever made. Flour is dumped into boiling stock (rescued from lamb pot before the tamarind was added) and stirred into submission; after that cools a bit, you stir in an egg. Or stir,stir,stir as my mother used to instruct. Tasty sweet-sour result.

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