Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Spicy Pan-Fried Cod

For July, I start a new book in my Time-Life Foods of the World project. Since I'll read most of the hardback book before I start cooking from the recipe book, it will be several weeks I'm posting about that food. In the meantime, I thought I'd try to work in an extra book for Cookbook Countdown, 30 Minute Indian, by Sunil Vijayakar.

I'm sure I read some good reviews of this book somewhere that encouraged me to find myself a copy. But it's never really caught my eye. I make lots of Indian food, but mostly from Madhur Jaffrey or Julie Sahni or recipes from the web.  Nobody here is going to complain about eating even more Indian this month, so I'lI use this opportunity to see if this book is one that needs to stay on the shelf or to make its way to the charity shop.

This being shopping day, tonight's dinner was fish, Spicy Pan-Fried Cod (p60), using lieu noir, which is distantly related to cod and happened to be on sale this week. To start, you make a paste of besan (chickpea of gram flour) with all-purpose flour, amchoor, cayenne, cumin seeds, grated fresh ginger, a garlic clove, and salt. This should be dusted on the fish, but given the fresh ginger and garlic, this was not very dustable, so I just rubbed it on. Then the fillets are quickly fried. That's all there is to it. And very tasty they were.

I served the fish with Spicy, Sour Potatoes with Cumin and Amchoor (using some of the extra potatoes I cooked for our Basque Potatoes dinner), Zucchini in a Yogurt Dressing, and plain basmati rice. (The potatoes and zucchini, both also quick to make, are old favorites from Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen.)

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their July cookbook.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Basque Potatoes

For my last official dish from Time-Life Foods of the World's American Cooking: The Northwest volume, there were Basque Potatoes (p77) for dinner. Yes, potatoes and lardons again. I made more or less a whole recipe, which should serve four, and the two of us ate it all, followed by a big salad. Probably it would have served three, but four would be a bit skimpy, I think.

The potatoes are cooked until almost done, then drained and sliced. Meanwhile, the bacon gets cooked and crumbled. The recipe asks for 6 slices of bacon. A 100g package of bacon-like stuff here usually has 8 slices, albeit quite thin. I used a 100g package of lardons instead. You're supposed to pour off all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat. But I didn't even have 1 tablespoon left. (When we first moved to Europe, I was shocked to find recipes that called for cooking bacon slices in butter. You need to do this because bacon and lardons simply don't have as much fat here as they do in the US.) I added a bit of olive oil to make up some of the difference. Some finely chopped onions are sautéed, then the potato slices are added and stirred in carefully. This mixture is topped with four eggs that were beaten with salt and pepper; then the bacon/lardon are sprinkled on top.

After the bottom has browned, you should be able to turn the potatoes out onto a dish and turn them over back into the pan. I found I didn't add enough olive oil for this to work well, so I just turned them as best I could in the pan. The potato-egg mixture is covered for the last bit of cooking. (I took this picture just before they were done. The next time I removed the lid the eggs had puffed up and it was quite impressive to see. But my camera was already put up and it was time to eat.)

This dish is very much like a Spanish tortilla or Italian frittata. It's very satisfying food and can easily be varied with odd bits of veggies and whatever spices are appealing at the moment.

It seems to me that the Northwest volume is more typical of American food as I knew it in the 50s, 60s, and 70s than the others I've tried so far. (Only the southern cooking volume remains now of the American Cooking ones.)

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Potato Salad with Bacon Bits

Tonight's barbecued kip filets* were accompanied by Potato Salad with Bacon Bits (p13) from the Time-Life Foods of the World's American Cooking: The Northwest volume.

* Kip filets are skinless, boneless chicken breast halves in Dutch. It's so much easier to say that it's become part of our household vocabulary.

Ed usually doesn't like vinegary potato salads, but this one was a hit. I made a half recipe, which should served 6-8 and we managed to eat all of it. Oink, oink.

This is an easy salad to make. The potatoes are boiled, then peeled and sliced. I didn't peel mine. They were new potatoes from the Ile de Ré, on sale this week*; some of the thin peel scrubbed off, some of it came off as I sliced them, the rest stayed right where it belongs. The slices are kept warm while you cook a bunch of bacon**, and then some finely chopped onion. Finally some vinegar, water, S&P, and dry mustard are added to the skillet with the onion, brought to a boil, and poured over the potatoes, which are then tossed with the bacon and some chives.

* I picked up two one-kilo sacks of these when we first entered the grocery store this week, from the area where they have this week's specials on display. When I got around to the veggie area, I was accosted by a woman trying to sell me potatoes. When she saw what I had in my basket, she congratulated me on my good choice.

** I used lardons instead of bacon. These are the same bit of the pig as bacon, but cut in thick, short matchsticks. This is a wonderful French invention that's good in many places where you might use bacon.

The result was a very tasty potato salad.

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

This week in the kitchen

Monday/27-Jun-16: Shelled my kilo of fava beans today.

Dinner was Marinated Chicken Breasts (Angostura, p47), a half recipe with two kip filets, on the bbq. Easy and very tasty. Served with Potato Salad with Bacon Bits and Mangetout Salad with Mustard Dressing (web). The mangetout (snow peas) salad used up the rest of the peas that I had. I liked this a lot; Ed thought it was okay. I also liked the potato salad, and was surprised that Ed liked it, since he usually doesn't go for vinegary things. A pari of chocolate squares each for dessert.

Tuesday/28-Jun-16: Parboiled and peeled the fava beans for dinner, which was Spaghetti con Fave e Pomodoro (Lorenza, p102). This wasn't a favorite from this book, which is usually pretty dependable. I used too much tomato purée, but, still, the whole thing didn't come together quite right. The fava beans were lost in the sauce. It asked for colored spaghetti (red, green, or yellow), but I used plain old linguine without color. Then a salad with leftover blue cheese dressing. Then we each had a bit of morbier, bought on sale last week.

Wednesday/29-Jun-16: Another stab at Northwest, there were Basque Potatoes for dinner. Followed by a big salad using the rest of the mustard dressing from Monday's salad. Then Ed went off to choir practice. (This concert is Friday night. Will be glad when it's over!)

Thursday/30-Jun-16: I shopped at Intermarché today while Ed was at his first choir practice of the day. Forgot to buy eggs, duh, so may have to go somewhere to get those.

Starting a day early for July's Cookbook Countdown, dinner was Spicy Pan-Fried Cod [need link to post]. I used the extra boiled potatoes from last night's dinner to make a reduced version of Spicy, Sour Potatoes with Cumin and Amchoor (SpiceKitch, p50). Used a zucchini to make a reduced version of Zucchini in a Yogurt Dressing (SpiceKitch, p58). Both of these are old favorites. Thinking the potatoes looked pretty skimpy, I also made some plain basmati rice. For dessert we had little store-bought chocolate mousse things.

Friday/1-Jul-16: Early lunch today before Ed went off the his choir performance. We had Insalata de Tonno e Patate—Tuna&Potato Salad (TuscTable, p125). Served on a plate lined with lettuce leaves. The salad was supposed to serve four, but it was a lovely meal for two.

Saturday/2-Jul-16: Busy morning in the kitchen:
  • Picked last weekend's chicken and made stock from the bones.
  • Made Oven-Roasted Tomatoes (HandyBook, MC)
  • Make up the broth for Aztec "Hot" Chocolate Ice Cream (Scoop, p29). Only 1/2cup sugar (sucre de canne), 3tsp chipotle.
  • Started Lime Pickle to set aside for 10 days. (That's the most asafoetida in one dish I've ever seen.)
  • Cooked up hominy in the chicken stock. Froze two lots of 2 cups; used the rest for dinner.
  • Made Tamarind & Date Chutney and froze half.
  • Made Croutons (Art, p177)
Dinner was a made-up kind of chile/stew with hominy, xmas lima beans (from the freezer), cooked chicken, a can of green chiles, chopped, onion, garlic, and one of the mole mixes that Jody sent. This one was verde, I think. A tasty meal. Served with some corn tortillas from the freezer (didn't have the oomph to make them myself) and some so-so guacamole. Little ice creams for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/3-Jul-16: We had our main meal early today so we could go to a concert in the early evening. We had Shrimp with Curry Leaves and Fenugreek accompanied by Jeera Rice. As a go-with there were some Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172). All were yummy. For dessert, I froze the Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream I made yesterday. Yummy stuff. And, yes, hot. I put in the max suggested amount of chipotle powder, which was maybe a bit too much. But very very good.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Blue-Cheese Salad Dressing

Tonight's dinner was supposed to be a chicken with mushroom sauce from the Time-Life Foods of the World's American Cooking: The Northwest volume. Oops, I forgot to buy mushrooms while shopping yesterday. We went to a little market today, but there were no shrooms to be found there. Replan for the main course.

But forward with the planned salad, using Northwest's Blue-Cheese Salad Dressing (p11). Picture-wise, there's not much to look at. I kept the salad simple, topped with the last of some (very brown) croutons from the freezer, to highlight the dressing, which was very nice. (I liked it a lot; Ed thought it tasted too much of blue cheese.)

Usually when I want some blue cheese dressing, I just crumble up the cheese in a regular sort of vinaigrette. This is a bit more complex, and quite nice. The blue cheese (I used bleu d'Auvergne, which was on sale this week) is crumbled and mashed together with some heavy cream (slightly less by volume).  A small garlic clove is minced, then crushed in a bowl with a wooden spoon (mortar and pestle worked better), then mixed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt. Then the cheese-cream mixure is stirred in by the spoonful

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Lingcod with Garlic and Tomatoes

More from American Cooking: The Northwest, my Time-Life Foods of the World book for the last half of May and June. Today was shopping day, which usually means fish for dinner. With that in mind, tonight's dinner was Lingcod with Garlic and Tomatoes (p31). Lingcod isn't available (not even sure what it's called in French), but there was lieu noir, which I think is a pollock, not really cod, but related, as is lingcod. With a good taste and cod-like texture, lieu noir has become one of our favorite fish lately.

This is a simple recipe, and reminded me of dishes from The Cooking Spain and Portugal volume of this series. The fish fillets are first quickly fried then set aside. Then, in the same pan, garlic is softened, and a mound of tomatoes that have been skinned, seeded, and chopped is added to cook until the liquid has evaporated. Salt, pepper, and chopped parsley are stirred in, then the fish returned to the pan to warm for a few minutes. And there's you're dinner.

The fish is very simply seasons, and the sauce really depends on some good quality tomatoes, so it's a nice one for this season where the good ones are starting to become available.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Mushroom-and-Potato Soup

Continuing with American Cooking: The Northwest, my Time-Life Foods of the World book for the last half of May and June, tonight's dinner was Mushroom-and-Potato Soup (p6). Considering that this is the second hottest day of the year so far, a nice, hot soup might not have been the best choice, but when I was making the meal plan we were still having unseasonably cool and damp weather. Nevermind, it was soup for dinner tonight.

The recipe says it serves 8 to 10, but I suspect this is not as a main course. For the two of us, I made a half recipe, and I think it would have served three as a main. (I froze the rest for another day.)

The soup takes a bit of time to make, but nothing is difficult and you can be busy with other things for much of the time. You start by slicing an enormous pile of mushrooms. I used shiitakes since they looked especially good on shopping day, and I'm trying to encourage the store to stock them regularly. These are stewed in butter with some finely chopped onion for about 20 minutes. Then you add chicken stock, potato slices, and salt, and simmer for another 25 minutes. (I needed quite a bit more salt than asked since I don't salt my chicken stock when I make it.) 


Meanwhile, sauté some finely chopped celery, scallions, and parsley till the celery is very soft. Mix some sour cream with a slog of the mushroom-cooking stock, stir that into the celery and herbs, bring it to a boil, then stir it into the mushroom and potato mixture. Serve topped with a bit of fresh dill and freshly ground pepper, and enjoy a tasty and satisfying soup.

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/20-Jun-16: Dinner tonight was Sunshine Roast Chicken (Jamie/?; web). This recipe was from a Jamie Magazine feature for six days of cooking mostly based on this chicken. I'll be using most (or all) of the remaining chicken for a meal later this week. The roast chicken was super. It was sitting on top of veggiest (sweet potato, corn cobs in small bits, onion, lemons, and garlic). Juice from the roast lemon halves went into a yogurt-garlic sauce and into some quickly sautéed spinach as a side. Altogether easy and worth doing again.

When I stopped for bread today, I got one slice of the boulanger's wonderful chocolate-walnut tart, which we split for dinner.

Tuesday/21-Jun-16: Lunch out today. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Wednesday/22-Jun-16: Ed's off to sing again tonight, so we had our main meal early. I picked the meat from the chickie and used some of it for Firecracker Chicken Noodle Salad (Jamie/?web). (Funny that this recipe is on the Jamie Mag site, but the roast chicken, from which the meat was supposed to come, isn't.) A yummy little salad. Mini magnums for dessert.

Thursday/23-Jun-16: Oops, forgot to make yogurt last night, so it's on overday.

Dinner was soup, Mushroom-and-Potato Soup, yummy, if not appropriate for the hot day. For dessert, we had fresh picked raspberries with cream.

Friday/24-Jun-16: Shopping today. Label Rouge chickens on a really good sale. Could I resist? No. How can I make progress on my frozen chicken backlog if I keep buying them? And onions from this continent were hard to find. I finally found some bio (organic) ones from France, but otherwise the closest were from Egypt. New Zealand onions were cheap. Why? There were no red onions to be found.

Made some Apple-Plum Butter (HandyBook) in the afternoon.

Dinner was Lingcod with Garlic and Tomatoes, with a bit of trio rice by its side. For a salad, I made (more or less) Mangetout and Avocado Salad (web), which was just so-so. (The ingredients sounded good, but they didn't mesh.) For dessert, some little vanilla custards, bought from the short-date bin, but only because the packaging was damaged. (I don't really care if the plastic cups are dented myself.) Topped with some raspberries from the garden.

Saturday/25-Jun-16: Used the leftover veggies from the Sunshine Roast Chicken to make (loosely) Spicy Veg & Lentil Soup from that recipe group for tomorrow's dinner. (Can't find it on the web.)

Used the last, rather limp rhubarb stalks from the fridge to make Rhubarb Chutney (Thesaurus, p255, under Rhubarb & Oily Fish). Put this in the freezer to serve with boudin noir next time.

Tonight's main was supposed to a chicken with shrooms kind of thing from TLNorthW, but I forgot to by the mushrooms, so I improvised a spatchcocked roast chicken with potatoes and carrots. On the way to a good idea, if not entirely successful. Followed by a simple salad with Blue-Cheese Salad Dressing topped with croutons. Ended with the nice dented cups of vanilla custard.

Sunday/26-Jun-16: Tonight we had  the Spicy Veg & Lentil Soup for dinner, and pretty good it was.

Yogurt on overnight.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Green Bean Salad

This week, I'm starting to cook more with my Time-Life Foods of the World book for the last half of May and June—that's American Cooking: The Northwest. To go with tonight's pork chops, I made Green Bean Salad (p12).

This is a simple salad to make and would be a good one to take along to a pot luck meal or a picnic. I used haricots verts, rather than string beans, since that's what available in the shops. The recipe calls for the cherry tomatoes to be added whole; I halved and deseeded them, since that's required in our house.  (Also, I prefer them halved, since biting into a whole cherry tomato can be embarrassing if you're not paying attention!)

The green beans, cherry tomatoes, and red onion rings are tossed with a mild vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, dry mustard, and olive oil. That's it.

Coincidentally, earlier in the week, I made a very similar salad to accompany a pot roast dinner. (Since we shop right now on Fridays, this was another meal planning cycle.) The other salad used balsamic vinegar  and lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar, added garlic powder and feta, and called for the cherry tomatoes to be halved and for the green beans to be cut into 1-1/2" pieces. The shorter pieces are not as pretty, but are easier to eat. The household opinion on these two salads is divided, since I like feta and Ed doesn't. Both are good.

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/13-Jun-16: Dinner was Lamb Shanks with Onions and Apricots (H2CE, p488). Pretty good, easy, lots of wall clock time, but not that much interaction. Instead of browning the shanks in the pot, I used Bittman's method of browning in a 500F oven. Very good way to do this. Served with Dusoulier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (HandyBook; web); always good these. And Chili Garlic Roasted Broccoli (web); this was easy and tasty, but the broccoli didn't get done in the advertised time. Think the bits should either be parboiled, or the cooking time should be quite a bit longer.

Tuesday/14-Jun-16: Dinner was Curried Potato Salad with Tuna (CL/mar07; web). A half recipe (should then serve 3), was a light dinner for two. Think this was meant as a side dish. Finished the rhubarb clafoutis for dessert.

Put beef on to marinate for tomorrow's meal.

Wednesday/15-Jun-16: Started the crockpot with Balsamic Pot Roast (web), then off for my haircut. That made an early meal before Ed went off to choir practice. So-so, it was. Served with Balsamic Green Bean Salad (web). That was a keeper.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/16-Jun-16: Dinner was yummy, a halfish recipe of Sweet and Smoky Mexican Chicken (web), definitely a do-me-again. Unfortunately, I had only three pretty skimpy chicken thighs. Served with the leftover Balsamic Green Bean Salad. Mini magnums for dessert.

Friday/17-Jun-16: Me pooped today. And shopping day.

Dinner was Tilapia Corn Chowder (web), but with lieu noir. Pretty good stuff. Then a big salad. Two squares of chocolate for dessert.

Saturday/18-Jun-16: This weekend is a fête de la musique through the area (or maybe the country). We had a number of interesting concerts closeby. In the end we decided to stay home, since the weather is so bad, and we'd both been busy all day and would appreciate a quiet evening.

Dinner was Coriander-Crusted Pork Chops with Sautéd Apples and Caramelized Onions (web). This wasn't bad at all. Served with trio rice and Green Bean Salad. A pretty good dinner.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/19-Jun-16: We planned to do too much today and ended up doing nothing. Pooh. Went to a movie, though, after having our dinner early. That was an Easy Curry (web) made with shrimp served over rice. Pretty good stuff.

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/6-Jun-16: Parboiled and peeled fêves for tomorrow's meal. Went to a quiz this evening. Nothing further happened in the kitchen. So tired when we got home, I forgot to make yogurt and start the dishwasher.

Tuesday/7-Jun-16: Yogurt on overday.

We had our main meal early today so we could go to a movie in the early evening. We started with sliced melon topped with gelée de pineau, a syrup; the syrup was much better here than it was on pancakes recently. Then we had Fava Bean Risotto (web), which was pretty good. Spinach stirred in with the favas was a nice touch. Then we had the last pair of the apple-mango tart things. Nice meal.

And we found the theater today. And we enjoyed the film.

Wednesday/8-Jun-16: Another early main meal, so Ed could go off to choir practice in the evening. Dinner was Roast Chicken on a Faux Spit with Lemon and Olives (Morocco, p306). Didn't use a "faux spit," but cooked my chickie on a rack (above water). No nice olives available at the store, so I just used plain old green olives. Pretty darn good, though. Served with Carrot Salad with Cumin, Cinnamon, and Sweet Paprika (Morocco, p79), which is still good. And some whole-wheat couscous, cooked with chicken stock and the carrot-steaming water, and a dash of ras el-hanout. For dessert, some home-made ice cream, which used up cream and crème fraîche from the fridge. We're well-stuffed.

Thursday/9-Jun-16: Last-minute replan. Dinner ended up as Linguine with Shrimp and Zucchini (30MinPasta, p108). Pretty good, all depending on quality of your veggies. Followed by a big salad. Then some mini mags for after.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/10-Jun-16: Shopping today.

Dinner was Sautéed Salmon with Capers (web). This was okay, but nothing special. Served with trio rice and broccoli and carrots. Some yummy, store-bought vanilla custards. That's all.

Saturday/11-Jun-16: Chopped up the meat from the uneaten chicken half, mixed with an egg and the rest of the couscous. Made patties and baked them while Rhubarb Clafoutis (web) was baking. Sautéed a bunch of veggies from the fridge, a half onion, some red bell pepper, a zucchini, two pencil-thin asparagus stalks from then, for a side. Meant to stir in a small can of corn, but forgot. The clafoutis was good. It's supposed to serve six, but will only do four here.

Sunday/12-Jun-16: One of Ed's choir's had a performance today, a long way away. I stayed home and went to a charity meal with friends. When Ed got home he had something from the freezer for a late dinner. That was all that happened in the kitchen today.

Sometime this week I finished reading Richard Olney's Simple French Food. I liked this much better than his French Menu Cookbook. I got this one when I found it on some top-10-ever cookbook list, but I found nothing that I especially wanted to cook. When Simple French Food appeared in a load of books we took to a charity shop, I traded it for the French Menu Cookbook. (Cookbook shelf space is too limited to justify both.) I don't think I like Olney himself, but SFF has a lot more interesting recipes and useful information, so it will probably stay around for a while.

Yogurt on overnight.

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